Best .300 Win Mag Loads

In the field of tactical precision rifle cartridges, there are…

In the field of tactical precision rifle cartridges, there are a number of contenders for top gun and they are formidable indeed. Beginning with the .308 (7.62x51mm NATO) and continuing through the .30-06, .30-338 and .300 Weatherby to the mighty .338 Lapua, there exist about a dozen various cartridges capable of exceptional accuracy and long-range performance.

hornady.gifWithout a doubt, the .308 is the most popular, mostly because of its use by the US military as a sniper cartridge for the last 40 or so years. However, though it’s well understood, highly accurate and produces minimal recoil, it lacks the capability for truly efficient performance past 600 meters.

The famous .30-06 is a superb cartridge and is so versatile that it is often considered to be the “universal cartridge.” However, though its case capacity is greater than the .308, allowing it to hit noticeably harder at ranges past 200 meters, it still isn’t an especially high-performance cartridge, particularly with the 168- to 200-grain bullet weights usually associated with long-range or precision shooting.

Its detractors often claim that it’s not as accurate as the .308 (which was designed to duplicate its .30 M2 150-grain military loading), but I’ve found this to be untrue. In identical custom precision rifles I’ve tested over the years, the .30-06, even without match ammo, consistently exhibited superior accuracy at all ranges. Nonetheless, while with carefully developed loads, it can drive 168-grain bullets at 2900 fps (feet per second) with excellent accuracy from a 24-inch barrel, a magnum-class cartridge it is not!

Magnum Cartridges
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the relative new .338 Lapua. With its heavier, larger caliber bullet, driven at velocities in the 3000 fps range, it has gained significant popularity, particularly within the European military community.

Its problem is excessive recoil. In nearly every instance, in order to keep its considerable recoil under control, exceptionally heavy rifles, such as those from Accuracy International, are required. Weapons are unquestionably accurate, but are so large and heavy that they’re virtually useless unless shot from a rest or integral bipod, which is not always possible in the field. As well, these same characteristics prevent their use in a more traditional role, should the shooter be forced to fight his way clear during departure from the target area.

This leaves the .30-338, .300Win Mag and .300 Weatherby, all of which have a long and deserved reputation for excellence. The .300 Weatherby first appeared in 1944 and was Roy Weatherby’s first high-performance cartridge. Since then, it has enjoyed a loyal following of both sportsmen and precision rifle shooters alike and with good reason. With its long, high-capacity venturi-shouldered case, it can drive bullets of 180- to 200-grains at velocities over 3000 fps with ease.

However, it does produce considerable recoil, which is considered by many to be intolerable if one must get down behind the rifle and shoot 40 to 50 shots in a session. While this particular criticism is somewhat overstated, its basis is essentially sound. The .300 Weatherby is a hot number and does produce serious recoil, requiring a relatively heavy rifle to control and prevent shooter abuse.

First appearing back in the late 1950s, the .30-338 is perhaps the most efficient of the .30 caliber magnum-class cartridges and is also highly popular, particularly among long-range high-power competition shooters, which is
why it was created in the first place.

Being based upon the legendary .338Win Mag, its case is highly efficient and considerably shorter than traditional .30 caliber magnums, thus offering a number of advantages. First of all, it produces virtually the same ballistics, but with about 10 grains less powder. Second, it offers more flexibility in bullet seating depths than the longer .300 Mags. Third, it enjoys a justifiable reputation for exceptional intrinsic accuracy.

Still, the .30-338 is a hot .300 magnum-class cartridge and does therefore generate serious recoil, requiring a fairly heavy rifle to control. It’s major drawback is that while it has on several occasions been considered for factory production by major ammo manufacturers, it remains a wildcat cartridge, requiring custom loading to produce. For many, this alone disqualifies it from further consideration.

So, when compared to one another, the .300 Weatherby, .30-338 and .338 Lapua all exhibit the same fundamental characteristics with the minor exception that the .30-338 is noticeably more accurate than the other two. However, to keep a realistic perspective, it must also be said that with thoughtful loading, all of them are capable of exceptional accuracy, accuracy that is beyond the marksmanship ability of even the most expert operator.

.300Win Mag
And this brings us to the .300Win Mag. First offered more than 40 years ago, its popularity has continued to grow and not without good reason. With a case capacity far greater than either the .308 or .30-06, it rivals the .300 Weatherby in performance, differing only in the fact that it utilizes a more traditional shoulder design and its neck is a bit shorter.

As well, as opposed to the other magnum class .30 caliber cartridges, it’s offered by all of the major ammo manufacturers in a wide variety of bullet weights and loadings. This single characteristic makes the .300Win the dominant cartridge of its class.

Typically, for long-range competition or tactical purposes, factory-loaded .300Win Mag ammunition most often utilizes a 180- or 190-grain bullet, driven at 2850 to 2950 fps. However, with a 150- to 165-grain expanding bullet, it’s capable of 3,000+ fps velocities, equal accuracy with noticeably less recoil, a flatter trajectory out to 750 meters or so and excellent terminal ballistics on living targets.

Those that prefer target-type BTHP bullets have a good spectrum of factory loads from which to choose. Black Hills and Remington dominate this arena, both offering excellent 190-grain BTHP match loads for a reasonable price.

Range Time
In my test rifle, a full-house custom Remington M700 with a Leupold 3.5-10x50mm tactical scope, both consistently shot 100-meter, 3-shot groups of less than 1/2-MOA.

Still, if all other things are equal, why not use an expanding bullet? Personally, I prefer this option, since nothing is being sacrificed in order to achieve it. All that’s required is a careful evaluation of available loadings to determine which one performs best in our particular rifle, a process that would also be required with BTHP match loads as well. And the superior terminal ballistics produced by expanding bullets make a huge difference, particularly at longer ranges.

In my test rifle, factory 150-grain loadings with expanding bullets shot exceptionally well, though they represent those that shot best in my test rifle. And while the heavier bullets do range slightly better past 750 meters than the 150- to 165-grain types, the difference is so small that it’s unnoticeable because it’s well within a given shooter’s error margins at those distances.

What’s more important is that lighter bullets produce less recoil, allowing a lighter-weight rifle to be used. Lighter weight, in turn, translates to easier field carry and less shooter fatigue. This factor, along with the virtually equal performance and less recoil of a properly selected 150-grain bullet, is why I personally prefer the lighter bullet.

The performance also discloses another reason for the .300Win Mag’s popularity, its versatility. As such, it appeals to almost everyone who prefers a more potent cartridge than the traditional .308 or .30-06, but without the shoulder-numbing recoil produced by many of the big magnums.

Final Notes
Without a doubt, it isn’t for everyone, but with careful mission-definition and subsequent ammunition selection, it will perform nicely in a tremendously wide variety of tactical circumstances. It’s highly accurate, powerful and can do things not possible with either the .308Win or .30-06. Thus, it’s an especially good choice if rural as well as urban and suburban missions are involved.

Load Comments
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  • Round House Zulu

    300 Win Mag. shoulder numbing recoil? Give me a break, I shoot numerous rounds through my Browning Eclipse and often the same in the 300 RUM. I don’t know what it is about people who can’t handle recoil, especially when it isn’t especially heavy. My 7MMX300 Wby. in a Ruger No.1, and I shoot it quite often as it has more recoil than the 300 Win or the 300 RUM. Don’t understand people who can’t handle recoil. I have shot the big centerfires since I was 14, and am now at 76.

    • I’mBaaaatmaaaan!

      why deal with it when you don’t have to.

  • i tought i had already posted my comment, but guess not, so i will try again.
    im an older codger thats usually close to broke. saying that, i will get to my question– im wanting to learn long distance shootin–1000 yard stuff– am i wasting my time using an old model 111 savage in 300 win mag? 221/2 inch barrel, plastic stock. etc. takes me loooong time to save the bucks needed to purchase a better rifle, although this old gun works just fine for stuff out to 300 yards. i have a 10x milldot bushnell on it. love that scope, so far its a good combination. would appreciate any comments. thanks.

  • To answer Brads question, yes a 150 gr bullet will take a deer. I just loaded up 130 gr BTHP using 76 g on IMP 4831 at 3300 fps, will also take deep and hopefulley with less recoil.

  • Hank Uhrig

    I just got my .300 win mag in a remington 700xcr tac. longrange and equipt it with a huskemaw blue diamond 5-20×50 scope. I also have a holland quick discharge break ready to put on. the bullet that Im going to try 1st is the burger 168gr VLD hunting. Im going to load it with reloader22 powder at 77gr and work from there. I think it should go good. I am going to mess with rounds until I reach about .25moa @ 100yds. does anyone have any info on anything I might be missing or does it seem like I got it figured out?

  • Brad

    I just purchased my first Ruger 77 in 300 am..Wanted to know if a 150gn bullet is the best weight for deer size game.

  • Dean

    I have been working on a 300 win mag, long range loredo it had the boss system which was removed and replaced with a vias brake, TImmany trigger,4.5×14 x 50 lr leopold with 30 mm tube. Still working loads but I think I will be happy with the end result

  • shilo

    own my own 300 win mag iv shot everything from antalope deer and elk with i choose the 180 gr barnes ttsx for all. this power house with this bullet is the most leathal rifle i own. just bought it this year havent ever had an animal pack this round without dropping in their tracks if you want a gun that will give you drt performance if you can tollerate the recoil this is a great choice.

  • Ken

    I’ve got a Magnum Research/Mountain Eagle, rifle chambered in 300 Win.Mag. 26inch Kreiger barrel.This rifle just loves Sierra 180 gr.Spitzer/74.0 grs.of Reloader-22/Federal 215 Mag.Match primer.


  • roche

    try barns 180 grain ttsx bullets my chonograph is saying 3225 fps with 69 grains of powder very acc urate (scope 3.5 10-50 leupold) not a custome rifel but savage came throug and put a 28 in stanless barrel and i am putting the the bullet through the same hole at 100 yds but to shoot the gun comfterbaly have to have a muzzle break thanks to savage boyeds stockes and lee dot i now have a long rang gun 1000 yds that is not custome and saved me alot of money and can shoot with the big boys if you want more info on how i did it emaile me at

  • I recently bought a Remington TAC 700 XCR chambered in .300 WIN MAG with a Bushnell 4200 Elite 8X32-40 scope. I have tried 3 kinds of ammo through it so far. German RWS, Federal Shock-Locked, and Remington Core Lokt, all 180 grain. Out of the three the RWS shot the best. I could have drove nails at 100 Yds with the RWS. The Federal was disappointingly low at 200 yds and the Remington shot a little high, but pretty good. The Remmy 700 in .300 WIN MAG is a sweet combo. If you can’t consistently keep a 3″ pattern at 100 yds, you got bad eyes. 🙂

  • Just bought a Rem 700 PSS in .300 Winchester Magnum and installed a Leupold MK 4- 6.5 X 20 scope on it.
    shooting my own reloads using Sierra Match BTHP, 200 Grains and 74 grains of H1000 at 200 yards it shoots at .75 MOA. Recoil in not bad at all but I’m a big man. I Love this rifle and plan on using it often.

  • Alan Clarkson

    I purchased a Thompson/Center Venture in 300 Win Mag, in May, 2010. Have put about 200 rounds through it, and wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I also used a Bushnell Trophy 4-12 X 40 scope, and a Harris 1A2-LM bipod. Nothing could be better!

  • Bonhomme

    Sorry guys, I meant to say .6 MOA. Not.4MOA. Sorry.

  • Bonhomme

    I just bought a Winchester 300 WM from Hill Country Rifles, In Bourne, TX, just north of San Antonio. Those guys have squeezed .4 minute of angle out of the 26″ barrel with off the shelf Federal Premium ammo. It is a sweet shooting thing. I have always used 270/308/30-06. I love this gun and the 180 grain off the shelf ammo results. Good shooting guys. Autumn is on it’s way to a pasture or woods near you.

  • Jorge Floresvillar

    Have you tried the R1 .300 WIN MAG from Benelli? I will appreciate your comments. Thanks.

  • The .300 Winny is the top dog on the average porch. It will handle any reasonable task with ease. Mine has been confiscated by my 16 year old son, and now it is his any range – Buck dropping, hog rolling can of whoop arse! The Model 70, .300 Winny is already a legend!!!

  • hercammer

    there is no replacment …for displacement

  • Dalane Rice

    Use a knoxx stock , and a silencer, and it will tame any recoil.

    Have you use hornady heavy magnum/light ammo for the 30-06? Not to far off from a 300 win mag.

  • Dalane Rice

    Use a knoxx stock , and a silencer, and it will tame any recoil.

    Have you use hornafy heavy magnum/light ammo for the 30-06? Not to far off from a 300 win mag.