Reloading The .308
Q: I have a Kimber 84M bolt-action in .308 Winchester fitted with a Leupold 2-7x scope. The rifle has a matte finish and 550mm barrel. I've been shooting factory ammo in this rifle ever since I got it, but am going to start reloading for it to utilise 200 once-fired cases I have saved. Can you suggest a good load for deer? I hunt fallow, rusa and red, but intend going after sambar later thisyear. What is the best powder for use in the .308 with bullets weighing 150 and 165 grains? What kind of accuracy should I be looking for? Cecil Wallace
A: Kimber rifles are renowned for the kind of accuracy they give. Even the lightweight Montana I tested averaged under one-inch for three shots at 100 metres. My standard load in my old Remington Mohawk .308 was any good 150gn bullet over 48gn of W-748, but AR2208 seems to be the more popular propellent nowadays.
The ADI powder is temperature resistant and produces uniform velocities in a wide range of temperatures. However, I've gained excellent results using Alliant Reloder 15 which has a similar burning rate to AR2208. For most deer hunting I favour the old 150gn Remington Core-Lokt bullet and either 48gn of W-748 or 47gn of AR2208. Velocity with both loads is 2830fps in a 550mm barrel. For sambar which are bigger and tougher, I'd use the Barnes 150gn TSX BT over either 47gn of W-748 or 46gn of AR2208 for about 2760fps.
I've tested a number of .308 rifles, including a couple of lever-action and a Remington 7600 slide-action as well as a Bergara single-shot. All proved capable of 3-shot groups with premium factory ammo or handloads that averaged 1.20 inches at 100 metres, while some bolt-actions averaged under an inch. I carried a .308 rifle for deer hunting for many years and bagged all species with a 150gn bullet which barely achieved 2700fps in the short 454mm barrel of my Mohawk.