Saturday, July 11, 2009

.308, The Highpower Isuzu

Mark Target 34!

Bill turns to Fred and says, “I didn’t hear anything.”

“Me neither, lets pull it,” replies Fred.

Bill and Fred dutifully perform a thorough search of the 1000-yard target, they find no bullet hole, place the scoring disc in the top center of the target and run it back in the air.

Several minutes pass.

Mark Target 34!

“This guy can’t get on paper,” says Fred.

Another search, no hole, the miss disc is displayed and up goes the target.

“Mark Target 34!” is repeated from five to 20 times.

Finally, Fred says, “I felt something. Pull the target.”

This hole is easy to find. The bullet has gone through sideways, leaving a bullet silhouette in the paper.

Target pullers from nearby come and remark, “Guy must be shooting a .308.”

Others reply, “Yeah, looks that way.”

Bob Faure and I in the Fort Ord, California target pitts, 1987.

If you haven’t pulled targets on a 1000-yard range you may ask, “How would someone know the cartwheeling bullets came from a .308?”

Well, for nearly the same reason that the .308 makes a piss-poor elk rifle—it’s running out of gas. Read your history of the development of the .308—it’s the economy model—essentially, you get more for less (yeah, I bought some of that crap.)

You won’t be shooting an elk at 1000-yards, but the empty tank of gas runs out faster when the bullet must perform on hide, hair, meat and bone than when it must punch a hole through parchment.

1000-yard line at Fort Lewis, Washington, 1996. Shooting a Model 70 in .22 BR Remington.

Target pullers use two methods of knowing when a bullet has passed through their target: vibration and sound. Many pullers put their hand on the target frame—below the berm—and feel vibrations of the bullet cutting paper. Others listen. Highpower bullets remain supersonic—unless they tumble—and a “CRACK” can be heard as it passes overhead. Many pullers use both methods.

If you pull targets, you won’t have to wait long before you experience Bill and Fred’s lack of “CRACK” and lack of vibration, but you won’t run into the problem if your shooter is shooting a 30-06. It just doesn’t happen.

.223 Remington, .22 BR Remington, 22-250 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington, 30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum (l to r). With the exception of the 7-08, I have shot all of them at 1000 yard matches. They all perform well. The .22s need 80 grain VLDs to make the trip.

Some who hear me say, “The .308 Winchester is a piss-poor elk rifle,” will roll their eyes and say I’m deluded. I can only speak from elk hunting experience, elk guiding experience, elk outfitting experience and highpower competition experience. In the spirit of a recent vice-presidential debate, “I knew a 30-06, and the .308 isn’t one.”

1000-yard Leech Cup Match at Camp Perry, Ohio, about 1995. The USMC guy isn't watching me, he's watching David Tubb.

Finally, I’ve never heard anyone shooting a 30-06 on a 1000-yard line ask, “Is there some way I can load my cartridges to cartwheel like Billy Bob’s .308s do?”

Go for the gas. Shoot a full-power cartridge, 270, 280, 30-06 or bigger for full-power game.

Leave the economy model for the weak game.


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hodgeman said...

Interesting take on the .308 Winchester.

I guess I never thought of mine like an Isuzu before... but then again I've never shot targets past 500 yards either!

Lots of food for thought. I'd like to hear what you think of the .300 WSM and .300 WinMag. for that kind of distance shooting.

Dennis A Carroll said...

Thanks for the comment.

I'm not down on the .308, I shot thousands through an M-14 and XM-21, it's just not a good elk cartridge.

As for the .300s I will put it in the bin. I haven't had any experience with the WSM, but for years all I shot at 1000 was a 300 Win Mag.

Times have changed. Now the 6.5-284 is winning matches. Low recoil and good external ballistics, but all it has to do is cut paper.

Have a great day.

dlkuhnel said...

Hey, nice blog ...

I have a bit off topic question- what gun to use for Buffalo hunting.

I drew a buffalo tag in WY this year (I live in Pinedale).

I have had friends hunt them in the past successfully with a 30.06. I myself am strongly considering using my Browning BLR PG 30.06.

That said, others have told me to use a BLR .450 or Marlin 45.70. What do you think? Thanks for the comments.