If there is a multi-purpose and versatile cartridge on the broad market of ammunition, that is the .308 Winchester. The .308 is able to offer excellent performance in both sports shooting and military use. Powerful, reliable and accurate, this cartridge is also known by its metric designation 7.62×51 mm. It has become one of the most widespread ammunitions in the armaments sector.
A Historical Cartridge
The .308 Win, 7.62x51mm, or 7.62 NATO is just some of the terms used to refer to it. It’s one of the most important cartridges of history. Its origins lie in the middle of the twentieth century, a moment in which the war industries decided to develop a new type of gauge for the innovative assault rifles. The base from which was born the 7.62×51 belongs to the mythical .30-06 (7.62x63mm). Indeed, among the pods of both gauges, there are just a few millimeters difference. Thus, with the .30-06 as a source of inspiration, the US military authorities developed the first draft of what would be the .308. The US cartridge .30 T-65. This ammunition would lead to the final 7.62x51mm in 1950, a gauge that later became the official NATO cartridge.
In this regard, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was looking for at that time a gauge for all long guns. Thus, among many others, analyzed the .30-06 (7.62x63mm) of the U.S. Army, Belgian 65x54mm, 7x56R British, and the 7.92×57 Mauser German. Finally, they decided to bet on the novel 7.62x51mm to equip all long guns of NATO.
First Weapons to Use .308 Win
The first weapons that were calibrated for this gun stand out the mythical American M-14 and the legendary FN FAL. If there is any weapon that is linked to the .308 Win history it is the FN FAL assault rifle. In fact, both the birth and the expansion of the Belgian rifle are directly related to the entry on the international scene of the .308. A powerful and reliable ammunition it became the official caliber for much of the second half of the 20th century. Thus, in addition to the Americans who used it in the M-14, Spaniards rode it in its CETME C, and the Germans to equipped the HK G3 with it, among many others.
A Mult-Purpose Cartridge
A multi-purpose cartridge the .308 is a real multi-purpose. Its behavior in different situations is so bright that it is appreciated by hunters and soldiers alike. In the first case, the .308 Winchester has a ballistic properties similar to the of the .30-06, one of the most popular cartridges among hunting lovers. By the way, the first sporting rifle that was calibrated for this ammunition was Winchester M70, one of the great classics of bolt rifles. Similarly, the 7.62x51mm is a cartridge that is widely accepted among select shooters. Mount it with different types of projectiles (especially curious is the one that is equipped with a flat-tip bullet), coupled with its greater effective range (more than 300 meters), make it a very suitable ammunition for combat in urban areas. For example, one of the semi-automatic rifles designed for long distance shooting and is closely linked with this caliber is the HK PSG-1.
Semi-Automatic Rifles Using .308 Win
Speaking of semi-automatic rifles in .308, such weapons are banned in Spain for the civilian shooter. The reason is that the current regulation of weapons considered for 7.62x51mm caliber military, and therefore prohibited for civil society. In this sense, the .308 ammo only can be used in manual repeating rifles, i.e. in models driven by bolt, lever, or rifles single shot rifle. To overcome this absurd prohibition, Spanish shooters use the .307 , a cartridge that is identical to the .308. The only difference is that the .307 has a small tab on the shorts of their pod.
Despite this absurd prohibition, most manufacturers sell a wide range of cartridges in this caliber. In this sense, they produce projectiles with loads ranging between 150 and 200 grains. Manufacturers are able to develop rates that in some cases exceed the 1,000 m/s. These features make sure despite more than half a century behind them, the .308 is now more current than ever.