Should a prepper looking for a big game rifle choose the good old 30-06 or the 308 Winchester?
Let me preface this by saying I don’t think most urban preppers really need a big game rifle. I don’t see urban preppers taking to the hills hunting deer during a major disaster. There just won’t be that much wild game. Preppers in rural areas will have a better chance to succeed in hunting. In a few areas, big bears can be a concern and this is another reason to own a high powered rifle. For most of us, though, a big game rifle isn’t necessary.
In many hunting areas, deer hunters must use shotguns with rifled slugs. The concern is that the rifle bullet will travel too far and hit an innocent person. If you live in heavily wooded area, a few boxes of rifled slugs would give you the ability to secure a deer or defend yourself from a bear.
The ballistics for the 30-06 and the 308 Winchester are nearly identical with a slight edge in power going to the 30-06. In most factory loaded ammo, whatever you can do with one caliber, you can do with the other. Both will kill anything in North America.
The longer neck of the 30-06 makes it suitable for use with heavier bullets. In the farther parts, the 30-06 is common. With heavy 220 grain bullets, it can stop moose and bear. But the 308 Winchester with 180 grain bullets would work too.
The 308 is loaded to higher pressures in factory ammo. Reloaders can push the 30-06 to approach the 300 H&H Magnum in a modern rifle. You don’t need to do that, though. Some like the slightly lower recoil of the 308 Winchester.
Both calibers are widely available. Because the 308 Winchester is shorter, it can be used is slightly shorter actions, which translates into a shorter bolt throw and (maybe) faster rifle operation. Most of us don’t practice fast repeated shooting of a bolt action hunting rifle. To many, this isn’t an issue.
The long history of the 30-06 assures it will be around for quite sometime into the future, but the 308 Winchester appears to be the round of the future. So, it comes down to what you want. Either one is great.
Most preppers want to stay with common calibers, but for a hunting rifle or outdoor survival rifle, I’m not so sure that’s absolutely necessary. If you have a few hundred rounds on hand, and, especially, if you know how to reload, you can keep hunting a very long time.
If you have a 6.5×55 Swedish and two hundred rounds, you have all the rifle you’d need in most areas. Preppers are buying up Russian Mosin Nagants as a low-budget hunting rifles. In the day, many survivalists and outdoorsmen sporterized British 303 Enfields. A 270 Winchester or 7mm-08 would be good for those who want less recoil and who don’t need to worry about bear or moose. The 7mm Mauser is another great caliber.
Some preppers think they could be separated from their ammo supplies and they’ll need to trade to get ammo. I guess it could happen, but at this point, you’re out of ammo and you probably don’t have anything to trade with either. If it does happen, preppers have squirreled away tons of ammo for both the 30-06 and the 308 Winchester.
For all practical purposes, the 308 Winchester and 30-06 are equally accurate calibers. It depends on the specific rifle and load. Shot placement will be helped by a good optical sight and a good trigger.
Charlie P., author, The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning
Here’s another prepper’s take on the caliber comparison:
308 vs 30-06; What’s the Real Difference?