Ruger American in .308

sbhooper

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For elk, I would generally stay with a 165 grainer or bigger. My American loves 150 Interlocks over CFE223 powder at 2934 fps, but I don't think that I would probably want to push it past 300 for elk. Accuracy matters, too, though. My rifle does not like the heavier bullets as well and it does not like 150 Accubonds very well, either.
 

Muskeez

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Don't mean to hi-jack this thread, but, Hooper, do you know why your gun doesn't like the heavier bullets? and what do you mean by heavier? As in anything over 165?
The reason I ask is because I have had the same issue with my Rem. Model Seven .260 . I am told that the rate of twist is not fast enough to stabilize the heavier bullets well. It loves the 129 Interlock, but the 140 Partition has been less consistent. The 130 Barnes all copper (longer bullet to get the weight) absolutely sucked!
Maybe some of this info will help the OP not have to try a bunch of heavy bullets if they don't shoot well from this model gun?
 

sbhooper

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It does not shoot them badly, just not as well as the 150 Interlocks. The groups were not bad, but there seemed to be less consistency with the 165 Interlocks and even the 150 Accubonds. Both would have been fine for hunting at 300 yards, but the 150 Interlocks have shot 1/2 minute at 300 a few times when I did my part correctly. Just leaning over the bench with a bipod yesterday, I put three rounds inside 2 1/2 inches at 300 yards using my fixed 6x SWFA scope.

The other reason that I stayed with the 150, was that I can get 2900+ fps and I was only around 2700 or less for accurate 165 loads. 200+ fps is significant, and I think makes up for that 15 grains of bullet. With the CFE223 powder, I could get over 2800 fps with the 165, but the accuracy was not good. The standards-Varget, 4064 etc.-showed mediocre velocity from the 22-inch barrel.
 

JohnCushman

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My wife can make about quarter sized groups at 200 yards with 150 grain Federal Fusions out of her .308 Ruger American off a bench with a good rest and she's a fairly new shooter. At 100 yards she can touch shot holes together.
 
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Bambistew

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165 grain Accubond. mtmuley

Yep. I played around with quite a few and settled on this, and they shot the best. Coupled with IMR4064 or Varget. I have been thinking about switching to E-tips though. Mostly due to small children in my house eating lead bullet fragments.

I survived eating lead tainted meat, but there have been too many studies come out recently, and its not that big of a deal to switch.
 

charliebravo77

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Don't mean to hi-jack this thread, but, Hooper, do you know why your gun doesn't like the heavier bullets? and what do you mean by heavier? As in anything over 165?
The reason I ask is because I have had the same issue with my Rem. Model Seven .260 . I am told that the rate of twist is not fast enough to stabilize the heavier bullets well. It loves the 129 Interlock, but the 140 Partition has been less consistent. The 130 Barnes all copper (longer bullet to get the weight) absolutely sucked!
Maybe some of this info will help the OP not have to try a bunch of heavy bullets if they don't shoot well from this model gun?

This is a problem with a lot of factory guns, you also run into issues shooting heavier bullets due to COAL and magazine size.

Think of it this way, if you're throwing a football and you don't put enough spin and speed on it, it'll drop quickly and not fly as stable through the air. Put a good spin on it and some power behind the throw and it'll fly straight and far. Same thing holds true for bullets in flight. A heavier bullet requires a faster twist in the rifling to increase the spin and thus the stability of the bullet.

If you have the measurements for your bullets, you can use this calculator for twist rates here: http://www.jbmballistics.com/cgi-bin/jbmstab-5.1.cgi

In the example of a .260 Model 7 it looks like the factory twist rate is 1 in 9" which means that the bullet will make one revolution for every 9" of travel through the barrel. The shorter the distance to make one revolution the faster the twist rate is, so a 1-8" is faster than 1-9" and a 1-10" is slower.

A stability rating of 1.0-1.5 is marginal, 1.5 or greater is preferable, and anything under 1.0 is unstable.

For a 1-9" .260 this is what the calculator says for your 129gr projectiles (approximated MV):

on2GUA3.png


Naturally, with a 1.464 stability rating, it's not surprising you are seeing good results with that load.

130gr Barnes Copper Solids yield increasingly poorer results:

xVHLAoV.png


Interestingly, the 140gr should perform fairly well with that twist rate, though perhaps the MV may be different for you, affecting performance. I took the 2750fps rate from some factory Remington ammo of the same weight.

MKgg3jX.png


The 1-9" twist is fairly slow for .260, most recommendations are for 1-8 or 1-8.5, which as you can see by these results would yield much better results with the 130gr copper solids:

l1WUb2R.png


A 1-8 barrel with the 140gr Nosler Partitions would yield a very stable load as well:

LkloSsG.png


Another piece of the ballistics puzzle is what's referred to as the Optimal Barrel Time which simply explained is that the harmonic vibration of a barrel during firing can impact both the accuracy and precision of a load's performance. As the barrel vibrates, you can time the exit of the projectile from the muzzle by calculating the points in time (nodes) where the barrel is at its resting position by adjusting muzzle velocity/charge weight. Some more scientific explanation here: http://www.the-long-family.com/OBT_paper.htm

As for the question at hand for a elk load in .308 for 300-400 yards, I'd be aiming for something in the 165-185gr range as you need to carry more energy the further your target is in order to remain lethal. Most people tend to agree that around ~1500 ft-lbs of energy is the minimum required to efficiently kill an elk. A 150gr bullet (Federal Fusion .308 Nosler B-Tip factory load) is retaining only 1400 ft-lbs of energy at 400 yards whereas a 168gr (HSM Trophy Gold) is retaining 1535 ft-lbs at that distance and a 185gr (HSM Trophy Gold) is still packing 1651 ft-lbs at 400 yards.
 
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charliebravo77

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I agree with this.

With copper bullets like the Barnes it's good to have much speed as possible. So in the 308 don't go any heavier than 150 grain.

You do get better sectional density with a copper bullet like the TTSX, but taking their VOR-TX loading for instance, a 150gr .308 is only retaining 1348 ft-lbs of energy at 400 yards, and even their 168gr loading is only retaining 1452 at 400.

What the TTSX and similar copper bullets will gain for you is better penetration due to the increased sectional density, and typically a better ballistic coefficient along with it which will yield a flatter trajectory. You could load up a hot 69gr .22 cal solid copper projectile and achieve laser gun effect on elk and other big game, but they aren't going to die quickly without a massive energy dump along with the penetration which is why a larger diameter bullet is needed.

That said, the VOR-TX loadings or similar in .308 should provide adequate results in either 150gr or 168gr if you keep your shots under 350 yards. If you're truly pushing out to 400 then you will probably want to err on the side of caution and go with the 168s to gain about 100 ft-lbs of energy at that range.
 
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old man

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400yards

I am sorry, but I don't see any ethical hunter shooting elk over 300yards with a 308 no matter what he or she uses for bullet.
 

charliebravo77

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Elk vitals are a roughly 12" diameter circle assuming a broadside shot. At 400 yards as long as you and your equipment are capable of shooting 2 MOA then you still have 4" of wiggle room to spare.

I don't mean 2 MOA off a bench with a rest, I mean in field conditions, either prone, kneeling and shooting from an improvised rest, leaning against a tree, etc.

I don't expect every elk hunter to be able to do it, and as I said, even a heavier .308 is bordering along the generally accepted minimum for energy to kill an elk, but I don't think it's unethical as long as adequate preparation is made and shooter and equipment limitations are taken into consideration.

Sure, there's more to it than numbers, but from a purely ballistics point of view, a 165-185gr .308 bullet at 400 yards could kill an elk.
 

HighDesertSage

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I am sorry, but I don't see any ethical hunter shooting elk over 300yards with a 308 no matter what he or she uses for bullet.

What?! I killed a cow quartering away from me at 379 yards last month with a 130 gr TTSX fired from a 270. She went 40 yards and piled up. The damage was impressive. I would not hesitate to go out to 500 with this setup on any elk. Sorry I call BS on this. Shot placement and bullet construction are king.

http://onyourownadventures.com/hunttalk/showthread.php?t=266065
 
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sbhooper

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A .270 has a lot better penetration potential due to bullet shape, velocity etc. I have never shot an elk with a .308, but my kids have. It worked well for relatively close shots. I use a 7 mag with 160 Partitions for elk and it does very well.

I have a 3/4 inch steel plate on my 300-yard range. I saw how much impact difference there was when I shot the 160 at the steel. I compared it to the .308 shooting 165 and 150 Hornady Interlocks. The results were pretty stunning. The 160 penetrated nearly 2/3 of the way through the steel at 300 yards and had tremendous splash. The .308 projectiles just made OK dings in the plate comparatively.

Deer are one thing, but I think for most hunters, 300 yards on elk is a pretty good max with a .308. They have been killed out to 900 yards with the .308, so it can be done, but it won't be by me.
 

charliebravo77

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A .270 has a lot better penetration potential due to bullet shape, velocity etc. I have never shot an elk with a .308, but my kids have. It worked well for relatively close shots. I use a 7 mag with 160 Partitions for elk and it does very well.

I have a 3/4 inch steel plate on my 300-yard range. I saw how much impact difference there was when I shot the 160 at the steel. I compared it to the .308 shooting 165 and 150 Hornady Interlocks. The results were pretty stunning. The 160 penetrated nearly 2/3 of the way through the steel at 300 yards and had tremendous splash. The .308 projectiles just made OK dings in the plate comparatively.

To expand on this, both the Nosler Partitions and Hornady Interlocks are soft points, but the 7mm Rem Mag isn't a whole lot faster bullet than the .308 out of the bore. The big difference is that the 160gr 7mm has a better sectional density and ballistic coefficient as compared to the .308 offerings.

If you split the difference between the two .308s ballistic data compared to the bullet weight with the 7mm, you're looking at roughly a 200FPS gain in muzzle velocity with the 7mm Rem Mag, but at 400 yards the 7mm is still retaining 1808 ft-lbs of energy as opposed to the .308's roughly 1252 ft-lbs even though the 7mm left the barrel at 2925 FPS and the .308s somewhere around 2700 FPS. Even though they're only ~200 FPS faster out of the gate, they have almost 600 ft-lbs of more energy by the time both reach the 400 yard mark.

Energy is the name of the game, but another factor in an effective bullet and caliber selection also comes when you look at expansion of projectiles. When looking at bullets like the Barnes TTSX or Berger VLD which are very effective longer range hunting bullets, even they require at least 1800 FPS to provide optimum expansion of the projectile. Fortunately, in all examples so far even the 168gr Barnes TTSX based VOR-TX loads are still zipping along at 1900 FPS at 400 yards so with adequate expansion and roughly 1500 ft-lbs of energy at around 350-375 yards it'd be an effective elk round. Maybe even around the 400 yard mark provided a solid hit on vitals.
 
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1_pointer

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Charlie bravo- All bullets of the same diameter and weight have the same sectional density regardless of the material they are made from. The formula only deals with weight (mass) and diameter. It also changes as soon as the billet hits something and begins to deform.

Sbhooper- What is special about the bullet shape of .277" bullets vs .308" bullets? Looking the the ballistic data it appears that a 150gr out of either a 270 or 308 are close enough that I doubt an critter could tell the difference.
 

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