What .308 Ammo to choose?
So, having been in the world of the M1A/M14, I have become kind of an ammo snob. Not necessarily out of name recognition for the manufacture, or because I think that only expensive ammo or items will do. This has come from the conclusion that I dropped a lot of money into the rifle of my dreams, and I want this rifle to function for many, many years. I would also like to have great accuracy as well, so I have conducted a test of 3 different types of ammo. I started the visit by shooting some Venezuelan surplus ammo, approximately 20 rounds. This was done to get the rifle zeroed, the barrel warm and fouled a little, in an effort to try to create a non cold barrel environment. I was shooting at a local range, 100 yards, benchrest with sandbags. There was little wind and the temp was about 70 degrees. All rounds were fired from a Springfield Armory M1A Standard 22” with Basset low rise mount, Vortex rings and Vortex Viper scope, set to X14. All shots are taken with the crosshairs set for the center of the bulls-eye.
The first being PPU PRVI Partizan Match Line 308 Winchester 168gr ammo
Ammo is manufactured with Boxer primers, making it reloadable. Found it at a local shop know for its vast reloading supplies and components. If I remember correctly, I think I paid about $15.00 for a box of 20, taking it to .75 cents a round. On inspection, the box is well made, no issues. Once open though, the flimsy holder and inner box did very little to keep the rounds separated. The rounds themselves were nice shinny with no wear or corrosion. Headstamp was legible and easy to read. Loading them into the CMI 20 round mag was flawless. I proceeded to fire 5 rounds at the target in slow succession. The first round hit about 1.5” high and 1” left, second and third hit 2” high and .75” left, fourth was a flinch/stringer hitting 1.5” high and .5” right and the last hit within the second and third grouping.
The second was Federal Sierra Gold Medal 308 168gr ammo
Ammo is made with Boxer Primers, making them reloadable. Found this ammo at the same shop as the PRVI, but was slightly more expensive at around $19.99 a box, taking it to almost a $1.00 a round. The box seemed a little sturdier then the PRVI, but the most drastic difference was in the plastic holder that held the 20 rounds. Each round was secured tightly, and the holder could be reused in the future. Just like the PRVI, the rounds, cases and headstamps are clear and legible. Each round feed easily in the CMI mags. First and second rounds hit in a nice group just 1.75” high and zeroed with no left or right drift, third round was a flinch/stringer hitting .5” high and maybe .15” left, fourth round hit slightly to the right of the first and second round group and the fifth was a flinch/stringer hitting 1.75” high but 1.25” right. Flinching sucks!!
The third was Portuguese Military Surplus 147gr
The third was Portuguese Military Surplus 147gr, that I found locally at $100 for a sealed battle pack of 200 rounds. I bought 2 sealed packs, and I am seeking more. At just about .50 cents a round, it is great shooting ammo, clean and non-corrosive. The only complaint I have is that it was manufactured with Berdan primer, making it virtually not reloadable, but still fun to shoot. In the sealed battle pack, sealed boxes held 20 rounds with nice legible labels identifying it. The rounds were bright and shinny with no corrosion. The battle pack plastic material is great and if it is truly sealed, will keep out the unwanted efforts of time and environment. Each round loaded into the mag and off I went, but instead of only doing 5 rounds, I went shot 10 rounds in 5 shot sessions. The first shot hit at .5” high and .5” right, second hit .25” high and .10” right, third hit .10” high but 1” right and the fourth and fifth hit in a nice group just 1” high and about .75” right. No flyers, no flinches and no strings. Second session produced a nice grouping, but had a flinch/stringer. First round hit almost dead center with the vertical being dead on but .25” high, second hit 1” high but .10” left, third .5” high and .25” right, fourth was .75” high and 1” right and the fifth and final hitting .75” low and .25” right.
Some things that I gathered from these 3 different types of ammo
First is my rifle is defiantly zeroed for a light round, around 147gr. Second, my rifle holds tight groups with the slightly heavier and match grade ammo. Third, I got to work on the flinching thing. Fourth, I need to work on getting reloading equipment to cut down costs and develop a specific load that my rifle will do great with. Fifth, I need to buy more military surplus ammo as the prices have gone up about $10-$20 per 100 just within a 3 month time frame. Sixth, I need to test out more types and weights of ammo.
I love the groupings I got with the more expensive ammo, but at double the cost of the surplus stuff, it is not feasible just for range outings. Since this range test, I have taken my M14 out to 300 yards with the Portuguese ammo. It did very will, hitting almost dead center where I aimed my crosshairs at a 2’X2’ steel plate. Hits were consistent and produced that gong sound that just makes me grin ear to ear. I have also just purchased locally, 1000 rounds of some Austrian Military Surplus Hirtenberg ammo. The ammo is primarily 1980 headstamps, but has some 78 and 73 mixed in. I have yet to take any of it out for testing, but as soon as I do, I will get a review created and posted here.
My next article is going to be a step by step process on how to create a range book, with range cards, target diagrams, Mildot info and much more. Thanks for reading the article and keep shooting.
Anyone who is serious about shooting knows that your choice of ammunition is important, whether it’s in a hunting or competition scenario. While your choice of weapon is the primary concern, ammo is definitely a factor and can make a difference in the health of a firearm and in terms of accuracy. A gun as well made as the M1A rifle deserves to have some good quality ammunition fed into it. So how do you know what type of ammo you should use with your rifle?
Well, first off you have to know what size of ammo that you need. The M1A is designed to use ammunition of 7.62x51mm NATO standard. It can also use .308 Winchester ammo, since the two types are essentially the same. Note that you should not just assume any ammo that says “7.62” is going to work for you. There are 7.62x39mm and 7.62x54mm, which are used for other types of weapons. Also, .308 magnum rounds are different from .308 Winchester, and won’t work in the M1A.
Once you’re sure you’ve got ammo that will work with you M1A, then you need to figure out what you’re going to be using the weapon for. If you’re just going to the firing range to unload some rounds, then you’re probably not overly concerned about pinpoint accuracy. However, if you’re going hunting for small game or you’re target shooting in a competition setting, then you may want some top-quality ammo that will give you better accuracy.
When accuracy is the concern, then you have to consider the grain of the bullet. Grain is a type of measurement used for bullets. The larger the grain, the heavier the bullet is. Bullets that are too light are more susceptible to factors such as wind, while bullets that are too heavy are pulled more by gravity, and will be pulled to the ground faster. The M1A can use any grain from 147 to 180.
It’s not a huge issue for relatively short-range shooting or shooting at large targets; so casual shooters can safely ignore grain as long as they’re within the right range. For tournament level shooters, Springfield Armory recommends 168-grain bullets manufactured by a match grade ammo company. 168-grain is also recommend for deer hunting, but a larger grain is better for bigger game, such as moose.
Another consideration is the actual type of bullet casing. Hollow point rounds are known for their improved accuracy, and many hunters also recommend them because they can cause quick and humane kills. The other common option is full metal jacket ammunition, the main advantage of which is that it has less chance of misfiring. The relatively new ballistic tip ammo attempts to combine the advantages of both, but is more expensive.
Finally, for the health of your firearm, it’s important not to use soft-tipped bullets. The problem is that the soft parts get shaved off the bullets and end up in the gun’s inner workings, and this can then jam up the whole gun. Stick to using bullets that are standard full metal jacket, hollow point, or ballistic tip.
- Any grain from 147 to 180 is usable.
- 168 grain is recommended for best accuracy
- Use FMJ, HP, or “ballistic tip” type rounds (Hsoi: i.e. plastic tiped bullets; note that the term "Ballistic Tip" is a registered trademark of Nosler, so it shouldn't be used as a generic term for "plastic tipped" bullets)
- Avoid soft points. The lead can shave and wind up down in the action and jam it up.
- Avoid steel-cased ammo (not necessarily SAAMI spec)
- Avoid Hornady TAP (not sure why this)
- Avoid Cavim ammo as it’s not very accurate and varies in size
- Winchester Silver Tip is OK to use (I'm not sure if they differentiate between Winchester Super-X Silvertip and Winchester Supreme Ballistic Silvertip, and/or if it matters. The Silvertip is an aluminum cap whereas the Ballstic Silvertip is a polycarbonate tip. Don't know if it matters, and it probably doesn't.)
- Hornady Ballistic Tip (technically Nosler makes Ballistic Tip, as it's their registered trademark. Are they meaning A-Max or V-Max? I don't know, but you get the idea.)
- Winchester Failsafe (Winchester doesn't make this any more, replacing with the XP3 line.)
- 168 grain for deer
- 175 grain for moose
- Moly coated bullets are OK to use but when you start to use them you must stay with them. You will have to clean the gas port more often. SAI does not recommend. If you do use them, it will gum up fast, and you’ll have to clean often and clean well.
- Tracer and armor piercing ammo is OK, as long as it’s NATO spec.
- Frangible ammo is too light, won’t work.
There’s a few other things in the posting, but it’s a bit redundant. Their terms are a bit informal so it’s difficult to know exactly what’s what, especially regarding hunting ammo. The key thing seems to be that you can NOT use anything with an exposed soft point. The reason is any exposed lead will shave off, get down into the action, and jam things up. I have read of people using exposed soft points in their M1A’s “without any problem” but why risk any problems?
So, what's on your mind? Have something to add? Feel free to comment below!