Thursday, October 09, 2014


I have been re-reading Cooper's Commentaries, the tidbits of wisdom left for us by the guru, Jeff Cooper.  Cooper, as we all know, was instrumental in the development of the Scout rifle, which is famously chambered in .308 Winchester, and we all know of Cooper's fondness for the cartridge.

But then, we come to this entry, from March, 2000, where we read:
In the last rifle class we had a couple of students show up with Model 700 Remingtons in caliber 308. This puzzles me. If you are going to buy a full-sized bolt-action sporting rifle, why would you choose 308 over 30-06? The 308 is now equivalent of yesterday's 30-06, but still it lacks the versatility of the larger round. Why pay the same price for something less?
Well, or course I have my .30-06, and over the years I've acquired several .308s, and I'm certain that Cooper was a fan of both calibers.  Perhaps I don't understand the question.

I'll have to ponder this some more.


JoeMama said...

Choosing between a 30-30, a 308, and a 30-06 is akin to having to choose between a beautiful blond, brunette and red-head. Bliss waits at the end of each choice.

I think Cooper's comments regarded action length. In his mind, one of the advantages of the 308 was the shorter action. If you opt for longer action why not get the case capacity to boot?

SPEMack said...

I agree with the above sentiment.
Whereas the .308 can be loaded to do just about everything the .30-06 can, there are still a few things the beautiful old .30 Government can do that that the .308 can't. (For my analogy the .30-06 is a homely brunette that you marry, the .308 a killer redhead you take home once or twice in college until your fraternity brothers notice the teeth marks).
For the Scout rifle, .308 makes the most sense, but if I'm dragging out a full blown, long action rifle with a scope and no iron, might as well use the full potential of the rifle, and go .30-06

Old NFO said...

While I 'kinda' agree with both of the comments above, I think it was really the action length he was talking about. The actual ballistics of the rounds at hunting ranges are damn near identical...

be603 said...

"...damn near identical..."

Until you go north and go heavy.

Gerry N. said...

If one looks at the terminal ballistics of the full battle rifle cartridges of WWI and WWII most are nearly identical at 125 yards and further. Why worry about 50 or 100 fps? The target doesn't and bullet construction has more to do with performance on game.

That's pretty much why my three favorite centerfire calibers are 6.5x55mm Swedish, 7,65mm Arg. Mauser and .30-40 Krag in no particular order. When I acquired those rifles they were dirt cheap. My regret is that I didn't get thirty or forty of each.

Anonymous said...

What be603 said.


Anonymous said...

As a military rifle it woule make no sense to build a rifle in any caliber that was not carried in your units inventory.Thinking that,a scout rifle needs to be chambered in 308/7.62 nato.As a hunting gun a 30-06 does have a slight edge in usefullness and power,Especially so with heavier bullets.

Anonymous said...

Go farther back into cartridge development. When 30-06 was developed, the fastest rifle powders were very bulky, not far removed from Cordite. Today, we have magnum powders that cheat SAAMI specs by having a rising curve of pressure instead of a linear track of pressure vs. time. The careful use of these new powders in the larger '06 case gives greater versatility. I haven't tried, but I'll bet that the performance of '06 can now be tuned to approach that of 300 WinMag. I'll further wager that Cooper knew this. The 308 lacks the case capacity for this sort of experimentation.


Retired Spook said...

Yeah, using modern powders in the .30-06 will get it into .300 Win Mag territory, if that's your goal. And loading bullets over 180 grains in the .308 will cut into powder capacity.

But the difference is mostly in the overall length of the actions, and the late L/Col Cooper was a big fan of short actions whereever practical.