Whether you hunt for sport, trophies, or food, having the proper bullet can make the difference between a clean kill and a missed opportunity. The best .308 ammo for deer hunting can be difficult to sniff out, but this handy ammo guide can help point you in the right direction.
Are High Power Bullets Necessary?
Good hunters are always aiming for a clean, quick kill, and the type of ammo you choose can have an extraordinary impact on the success of this goal. While the market is flooded with super high-performance options, the typical deer hunter might not need that much power in a bullet. Deer are much more fragile than big game and don’t necessarily provide the power needed for a high-performance bullet to expand properly. Your ideal deer bullet should be dependable, have enough power to reach the target and ensure a clean kill, be inexpensive, and be able to expand in a deer properly.
Grains, FMJ, and Hollowpoints
Hunters don’t necessarily need upgrades such as FMJ, hollowpoint rounds, and high grain bullets. FMJ rounds are designed to penetrate and won’t expand in a soft target as well as a traditional round. This makes them less than ideal for hunters, who are generally seeking high expansion to make their kill quick and clean. Hollowpoint rounds, on the other hand, are designed to expand. This is not necessarily desirable for hunters, as their pattern of expansion is usually intended to maximize tissue damage, blood loss, and shock. If you are hunting for food or for a trophy, creating this much damage inside your quarry may be to your detriment. Grain count, as discussed here, refers to the weight of the round rather than gunpowder and is relatively subjective. Ammo boxes generally state the round’s intended purpose, and hunters are advised to follow these recommendations.
Remington Core-Lokt is a classic controlled expansion hunting round designed for a wide range of game. These rounds are a classic for a reason. In addition to being one of the most inexpensive rounds available due to their popularity and prevalence, Core-Lokt has an excellent reputation as a reliable hunting round.
- At 150 grains, these rounds have an expected muzzle velocity of 2820 feet per second and transfer around 75 percent of their energy to the target in the first eight inches of target penetration, which helps drop your deer quickly and effectively.
- If you hunt more than deer, the Core-Lokt is still a fantastic choice; this round contains enough energy and expansion to drop larger game just as effectively as it does deer.
- Featuring 2x expansion, a lead core bonded to the copper jacket, deep penetration, high weight retention, and a flat trajectory
Overall, this is a solid classic bullet for hunters looking for rounds on a budget.
Fusion by Federal is another solid choice for deer hunters.
- Specifically built for deer hunting with a muzzle velocity of 2700 feet per second, this round claims to provide the largest expansion and best weight retention in its class.
- It has a soft tip and pre-programmed, skived nose for constant expansion within the target. The boat tail design works to improve accuracy, and hunters who use this round tend to tout its grouping prowess.
- At 165 grains the Federal Fusion has a bit more heft and recoil to it than the other rounds on this list.
- The copper jacket of each round is electrochemically applied, maximizing uniformity around the core.
This is considered a premium bullet and seems to be marketed towards and favored by longer range hunters. Its power also makes it a solid choice for hunters who go after more than just deer, as it does have the heft to take down larger game. Overall, this round is good for long range hunters who want a more premium feel to their bullet.
Hornaday American Whitetail
- Providing a solid 2820 feet per second muzzle velocity, the American Whitetail bullet is effective, accurate, and simple.
- Subdued marketing on this product allows Hornaday to offer it at a lower price point, making it one of the best bullets you’ve never heard of.
- The soft point exposed lead tip offers excellent expansion and clean kills. The ideal range for this round seems to be 80-175 yards, and bolt action rifles work best with it.
- Hornaday’s proprietary InterLock ring keeps the jacket and core locked together during expansion, which improves mass and energy retention in the round.
Consistency is the goal for Hornaday, and this round shows their commitment to it. Overall, this round is a great choice for bolt action hunters looking for a moderate range and a dependable round.
Overall, the Federal Fusion is the clear winner of this roundup. It has a higher muzzle velocity, longer range, better components, and more heft than its counderparts. It is also useful in more applications than deer hunting, making it a good choice for a well rounded hunter. While the price point may be higher, it pays for itself with quick, clean kills and excellent accuracy.