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Forty Plus Years With the .308 Winchester: Part 2. Recent Loads

By Grandpa Mac

In Part 1, I talked about my early struggles with loading a single rifle for multi purposes and concluded with two .308 rifles, one used for hunting and the other for local Deerstalkers target shoots. The story continues.



At the time that my handloading for the .308 started I was using a Lyman C type Spartan press with Ohaus scales and a Bair case trimmer. Lyman .308 Winchester dies were added and a few years later a RCBS .308 Win neck die joined them.


Later a friend who was going overseas left his RCBS Junior press with me and I gave it a try. I liked it better than the Spartan, so I started using it and gave my old press to a new handloader starting out. When my friend returned, I bought myself a new Redding Boss Press.


Mac's Son's loading bench. Mac notes that this bench is much tidier than his!


These are like the junior with 7/8 x 14 threads cut directly into the press and a solid stop to the ram upstroke. To me both add to the precision of the press.


Currently I am starting to use a Lee Collet die for neck sizing and anneal cases using the candle method after each third firing.


Two .308 Winchester chambered rifles; one for hunting and the other for FTR competition shooting.



Target shooting continued in our club competitions, mostly using the loads mentioned in Part 1. In 1998 the Roy’s Hill Rifle Range was closed and over the next decade only interbranch shoots continued. Lacking a range for testing and zeroing I used the Taupo Deerstalkers range and shot in a lot of their competitions.


The .223 was used a lot more especially after a new Remington VSSF elbowed its way into the rifle cupboard. In 2009 our club shoots started again on a new range and for reasons I can no longer recall the .308 got dusted off again.


I had read somewhere that, in the US, a load of 38 to 40 grains behind the 150gr M2 projectile in the .30-06 was popular for midrange target shooting so these were tried.


Target Loads    
Projectile Powder Charge Vel. FPS Notes
168gr Hornady Match AR2206 42gr About 2,600 Accurate. Used in 200 yard shoots. CAC case. Winchester W120 primer
150gr Remington CL AR2206H 40gr About 2,450 Accurate. For 100 metre shoots. R-P case. Winchester WLR primer.
150gr Hornady SP AR2206H 38gr 2,380 Accurate. For 100 metre shoots. R-P case Federal 210 primer. Adopted for Bergara single shot.
155gr Frontier plated AR2206H 32gr 1,910 Accurate. Practice load. R-P case. Federal 210 primer.
155gr Frontier plated Trail Boss 8.5gr About 1,040 Yet to be test fired. Quiet practice load for home range. R-P case. Federal 210 primer.



My son also developed an interest in hunting, target shooting and handloading. Now there is a surprise. He has two .308 rifles, one used for hunting and the other FTR shooting.


The hunting rifle started out as a Remington 700 Tactical in .308 but only the action remains. The barrel is a Kaimai multipurpose barrel 18" long and with a 1:7" twist.

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The stock is a laminated Remington factory stock from another rifle. A DPT suppressor is fitted and a Leupold VX5 HD 2-10x42 scope with a firefly reticule. There are three loads for this rifle, full power and subsonic hunting loads and a reduced light game load all as below.


Hunting Loads    
Projectile Powder Charge Vel. FPS Notes
165gr Nosler BT BM 8208 43gr 2,700 Hunting load. Federal brass. Federal 210M primer.
168gr Lehigh Defence Trail Boss 9.5gr 1,040 Sub sonic load. Winchester plated brass. Federal 210M primer.
125gr Speer TNT Trail Boss 14gr About 1,400 Small game load.


Mac’s Son’s Loads Target


His primary target rifle is a .308 shooting in the FTR class. The rifle is a Barnard Model 07 with a 28 inch one in ten twist barrel. The scope is a Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52.


There is a short and long range load. He uses a full length bushing die for sizing together with Redding Competition shell holders to set head space. Case necks are annealed after each firing as is common with target shooters.


Target Loads    
Projectile Powder Charge Vel. FPS Notes
178gr Berger Juggernaut AR2208 42.5gr 2,625 300 and 600 yard load. Lapua case. Federal 210M Primer
208gr Hornady ELDM AR2208 40.8gr 2,480 1000 yard load. Lapua case. Federal 210M primer.



As promised in Part 1, I have done some testing with some old and new powders and three projectile weights. Rather than trying to develop max loads for each powder I elected to use a standard charge for each projectile weight to determine the powders relative speeds and how closely they compared with their manufacturers load data.



For each projectile weight, a single load was selected that fell between the start and maximum loads for all powders. Velocities were then interpolated for the selected load with each powder.


Most powders give a steady increase in velocity for each grain of powder added so the velocities for intermediate loads are easy to calculate.


Homemade case annealer - kiwi ingenuity at it's finest!


My .308 barrel is now 510 mm (see below) so 80 feet per second was subtracted from the interpolated velocities. This was an allowance of 20 FPS per inch.


The rifle was my old Remington .308 now with the barrel shortened to 510 mm (to remove threads from the old fore sight) and fitted with a DPT suppressor.


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The loads were fired at 60 metres over an Oehler 35P chronograph with the mid screen 3 metres from the muzzle. ADI AR2206H, AR2208 and BM8208 were all recent manufacture. ADI AR2206 was salvaged from my handloads put together in 2005. The powder was a recent manufacture at the time.


Dupont IMR4604 was from my dwindling stock manufactured in the early 1980’s. Load data for AR2206H and AR2208 has pressure expressed in CUP (Copper Units of Pressure) so was likely developed in the early 1990’s.


Data for AR2206 and IMR4064 was expressed in PSI and was likely developed in the late 1990’s for AR2206 and mid 2000’s for IMR4064.


Charge and Powder Estimated Vel. FPS 510mm Barrel FPS Chrono Vel. FPS Notes
125gr Speer TNT. New Winchester case. Federal 210 primer.    
47gr BM8208 3,054 2,975 2,950 Accurate. 1 MOA or less over 3 - 2 shot groups
47gr AR2206 2,990 2,910 2,940  
47gr AR2206H 3,009 2,930 2,900  
150gr Hornady Interlock SP. New Winchester case. Federal 210 primer.    
44gr AR2206 2,790 2,710 2,695 Very accurate. Sub MOA over 4 – 2 shot groups excluding 1 flyer.
44gr AR2206H 2,795 2,715 2,675  
44gr IMR4064 2,715 2,635 2,655  
44gr AR2208 2,790 2,710 2,560  
165gr Hornady Interlock SP (salvaged). CAC case. Fed 210 primer.    
43gr AR2206 2,660 2,580 2,585 Very accurate. Sub MOA over 4 – 2 shot groups.
43gr AR2206H 2,655 2,575 2,575  
43gr IMR4064 2,605 2,525 2,445  
43gr AR2208 2,630 2,550 2,425  
150gr Remington Core Lokt. Federal case. Winchester WLR primer.    
45gr IMR4604 2,765 2,685 2,755 Heavy Federal case boosted velocity.


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: 165gr Hornady Interlock results (See table above).



BM 8208, AR2206 and AR2206H all produced velocities close to that calculated from the Hodgdon (ADI) data. IMR4064 was close with the 150gr but lagged with the 165gr.


AR2208 was much slower with both. This may be a slow batch of AR2208, only further testing would tell. I had been wondering what powder to use once my supply of Dupont IMR4064 runs out and think I have decided on AR2206H. The 165gr projectiles were very accurate despite the well-used CAC cases and projectiles pulled from earlier loads.


“ also amuses me to note, that with a cupboard full of rifles I am still trying to develop loads for different purposes for this rifle.”



There are still those sub sonic loads to test. The .308 has a 10x scope with turrets so it could be zeroed for a hunting load and adjustments dialled for whatever other load I might want to use.


If I am being brutally honest it is probably 4th in line to be going what passes for hunting for me these days. I am sure I can think of a use for it. Would I sell it? Never.


Finally, it also amuses me to note, that with a cupboard full of rifles I am still trying to develop loads for different purposes for this rifle. This started in the late 1970’s and seems to have some way to go yet. We should all be so lucky!


Grandpa Mac


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