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Thread: 308 Win for Big Bears

  1. #1
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    Default 308 Win for Big Bears

    Hello,

    My wife and I drew drag tags for Kodiak bears next spring (different GMUs... will have to decide which to hunt or both...).

    Currently my "all around" hunting rifle is a Browning X-Bolt stainless in .308 win. The question right up front is: Will the 308 win do the job or do I need to start saving my pennies for a new rifle?

    • The animal: I am not interested in a 10' monster bear. I'm not going to be holding out for the biggest baddest bear out there. Still, who knows what you'll run into, and bears don't like to die.
    • The limits: I understand that multiple shots are required. I also know that any shots with the .308 would have to be within ~100 yards to maximize energy. I also realize that a substantial field of fire around the bear needs to be there to ensure follow up shots.
    • The cartridge: The 30-06 seems to be the minimum recommended cartridge for brown bears, and has been for some time. Some of the hottest 308 loads are now creeping up to approach legacy 30-06 ballistics now, with muzzle velocities getting up awfully close to 3000 fps. If a 30-06 using 1990s cartridges had acceptable performance on brown bears, wouldn't a 308 shooting premium, hot 2011 cartridges also work?

    Right now, the vibe I get from reading other threads and looking at the ballistics is, "Well, a 308 may get the job done, but it really is not packing the oomph that you want and is really not a good idea if anything else goes wrong (bigger than average bear, less than excellent shot placement, etc)." Even an entry level magnum rifle is going to provide better knockdown on the animal. Right now I'm thinking its probably wisest to save up the ~$1000 it will take to get into a more appropriate caliber rifle. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Yes (!!!!), it will do the job, as long as you place the shot.

    If you have such a rifle, you should be fine.

    Now for a naysayer or three to write up their theries on what Browngrizz should be shot with, but its quite commonly done with such a caliber, anyway.

    Have fun
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    You need to start saving pennies for airfare, taxidermy, and a whole bunch of miscellanous stuff too. Might as well add a rifle to the list. Anybody with brown bear experience is going to tell you that you need more gun than a .308.
    Now if anybody needs to get ahold of me, I'll be out deer hunting with my .22lr

  4. #4

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    Go to federal ammo's website and look at the numbers for what they claim for their 308 ammo, and compare it to what they claim for their 30-06 ammo.

    180gr Nosler Partition leaves the barrel at 2570fps and is going 2388 at 100yds out of the 308.

    180gr Nosler Partition leaves the barrel at 2700fps and is going 2512 at 100yds out of the 30-06.

  5. #5
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    A 308 Win is NOT what I'd recommend when chasing brown bear "IMO". Sure if youíre lucky {very lucky} & make a perfect shot to break that bear down & it can't get back up,,, then you'd be fine... but again a 308 Win is NOT a caliber that you want if / when ya get into a lead slinging contest w/ such an critter & things do NOT go perfect.
    I'm sure there are tons of very experienced bear hunters that'll chime in w/ their thoughts & I'd bet most would agree to pack a bigger gun / caliber when chasing brown bear?
    - for what itís worth; just my opinion on the subject

    Quote Originally Posted by nittanytbone View Post
    Hello,

    My wife and I drew drag tags for Kodiak bears next spring (different GMUs... will have to decide which to hunt or both...).

    Currently my "all around" hunting rifle is a Browning X-Bolt stainless in .308 win. The question right up front is: Will the 308 win do the job or do I need to start saving my pennies for a new rifle?


    • The animal: I am not interested in a 10' monster bear. I'm not going to be holding out for the biggest baddest bear out there. Still, who knows what you'll run into, and bears don't like to die.
    • The limits: I understand that multiple shots are required. I also know that any shots with the .308 would have to be within ~100 yards to maximize energy. I also realize that a substantial field of fire around the bear needs to be there to ensure follow up shots.
    • The cartridge: The 30-06 seems to be the minimum recommended cartridge for brown bears, and has been for some time. Some of the hottest 308 loads are now creeping up to approach legacy 30-06 ballistics now, with muzzle velocities getting up awfully close to 3000 fps. If a 30-06 using 1990s cartridges had acceptable performance on brown bears, wouldn't a 308 shooting premium, hot 2011 cartridges also work?
    Right now, the vibe I get from reading other threads and looking at the ballistics is, "Well, a 308 may get the job done, but it really is not packing the oomph that you want and is really not a good idea if anything else goes wrong (bigger than average bear, less than excellent shot placement, etc)." Even an entry level magnum rifle is going to provide better knockdown on the animal. Right now I'm thinking its probably wisest to save up the ~$1000 it will take to get into a more appropriate caliber rifle. Any thoughts?

  6. #6
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Okay I will start by being the first, DON'T do it. Yes if you shoot them right a .22 will kill them eventually. We beat this dead bear to death but I have seen experienced grown men miss feeding bears broadside at under 100 yards, bears do crazy things to people. If everything goes right you end up with a dead bear and great stories, if not you have the potential for tragedy. My wife shot a bull Caribou in the shoulder with her 308 and I found the bullet stuck in the shoulder blade. At least one person on a bear hunt should have a bear gun, just my humble opinion. It only takes one time to have a pissed off brownie on you to make you a believer in "you can't have too much gun". Buy a bear gun and sell it after the hunt. If you went with the .308 and something bad happened to your wife could you live with that??? I said this in the other thread, there is a distinct difference in killing and stopping. With big bears I want to control the situation and I do that by getting close and applying overwhelming force. Bears like the think stuff and everyone I have seen shot has made for the thickest stuff they can if not stopped by breaking their spine. I have went into that stuff after them and have vowed to not do it again if at all possible. To be blunt if you can't afford a bear gun, don't go bear hunting. Wounded bear are dangerous and deserve our respect and that respect means a good death, quick and clean.

    That my 2 cents and worth what you paid for it.

    Every single year there are "I shot a bear that got away stories" this can be traced to a couple things.

    #1 Not enough gun.

    #2 Did not get close enough.

    # 3 Poor shot placement.

    Congrats on the tag and good luck

    Steve
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  7. #7
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    i'd do it. shot my first with a .270 140 grain. but i've been in on a few bears so maybe thats just experience with them talking.
    seen bears lost with big guns, never seen a bear that can read a balistics chart. some just give up and some fight it, don't seem to matter what gun it is.
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  8. #8

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    Jake,

    What bullet do you like for brown bears?

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    one of the most experienced guides I know packs an old lever action 308. He has had to sort out more than one wounded bear with it. Use good bullets like the TSX barnes, and dont take unreasonably long shots and you will have no problem. One of the greatest guides to ever enter the woods (Phil Shoemaker) had an excellent article on this very subject in a recent issue of either Rifle or Successful Hunter Mag. that is really informative. Good luck!!

  10. #10
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    No last thing to remember is this, in GMU 8 if you draw blood on a bear, you punch your tag. I for one fully support that rule.
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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  11. #11
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    There is a huge difference between "killing" a brown bear and "planting" a brown bear. I am not interested in a fair fight. My Thompson Contender .223 would no doubt kill a large bear with a well placed abdominal shot. The bear would contract peritonitis after several days and eventually succumb to it's wound. Between the time it is shot and dies it could 1) run off and not be found 2)charge and kill you and your wife 3) after it kills you it could steal your identity and buy a condo on Palm Springs (doubtful). While I am in the minority on this one, I say buy yourself a nice .338 or .375 MAG and sleep peacefully. I am glad I shot my brown bear with my .375 MAG.
    My child was inmate of the month at Mat-Su pre-trial Correctional facility.

  12. #12
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    i like any control expansion bullets, XXX, swift, Trophy bonded, partition, and so on. hate soft points but they've killed piles of bears to.
    I started trapping heavy again this year and found that the NEEDED trap size for everything had gone up, no longer would a double longspring number 1 hold a fox...now i had to have a number 3 or a four coiled number 2, last i checked the fox hadn't changed? but all of a sudden i needed bigger traps according to everyone who knows.
    The same has happened with gun and bullets 30 years ago no one would have ever asked this question, but now with all the choices and stories circulating people believe that a .308 is undergunned, or a .30-'06 is just a deer rifle. Yet they will all go shoot a moose with one...moose are thicker and denser than probably 99.9 % of the brown bears out there.
    I've seen bears take piles of holes from .416/375/338's, saw a 9.5' bear take three from a .378 whbty in the chest and never loose his footing, saw a 9'4" brownie take a .375 and a .416 in the front shoulders facing the shooters AT THE SAME TIME, never lost his footing, turned and ran off. that was 700 grains at once at 40 yards. seen a 10' brownie do a summersault and drop dead from one shot outa a 300, a .270 plant a 8' grizz with one shot to the lower chest, numerous grizzly bounce when they hit the ground from a chest shot from a .30-'06, seen the same with a .338, .375, .416., .444, and see them all run too.
    Get the best bullet you can, take good shots, be a marksman and be smart. Large guns just give you a larger margin of error, maybe more time for a follow up shot. They won't make it die faster. A heart shot with a 308 will kill it just as fast as a heart shot from a .416.
    a spine shot will drop them at the same speed no matter the gun.
    If you can afford a bigger gun, go for it. You migth just get the extra damage thats needed from a goof up shot that the 308 wouldn't have given you. but if you can't afford it, just hunt smart and don't count on the numbers behind the decimal to kill your bear.
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    It must be winter in Alaska.........

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    It must be winter in Alaska.........
    Winter and the draw just came out, same every year. Better threads like this, than what words to hurt people with threads. JMHO

    Steve
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    Winter and the draw just came out, same every year. Better threads like this, than what words to hurt people with threads. JMHO

    Steve
    Roger That..........

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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    Roger That..........
    Exactly... Until about 48 hours ago, hunting brown bear wasn't on my radar scope beyond that $5 lottery ticket! Now I'm trying to learn as much as I can and start budgeting out. Luckily there's more than a year to plan and learn.

    I just attended Joe Want's lecture yesterday sponsored by SCI and ADF&G. Very informative, and I learned a ton, especially about judging animals. He stated a preference for the 300 WSM at a minimum but also felt that a smaller caliber like 30-06 would do the job, as long as you're aware of the limitations (shorter shots, larger field of fire for follow up shots, good trophy judging, optimal shot angles, etc).

    I figured if long term guides like Joe Want and Phil Shoemaker were using the 30-06 successfully for the last few decades, then the 308 might have some capability too given the advances in bullet technology, powder, etc... A .308 cartridge of today probably compares fairly favorably to a 1960s 30-06 round.

    Still, based on the thoughts here and some research, it looks like it might be wise to get into a magnum rifle. I'd prefer to have margin for error. Bears are big critters.

  17. #17
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    I don't have the data in front of me now but I read a test a few months back comparing the 300 WSM to the 300 win mag. They found that the WSM tended to outpace the Win Mag up to about 180 grn bullets. From 200 and up the win mag produced higher velocities. Just some food for thought if you decide to go with a "300" for a new rifle.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    My wife shot a bull Caribou in the shoulder with her 308 and I found the bullet stuck in the shoulder blade.
    Stid,

    As you know I have shot a fair number of critters in my limted hunting career and easily 75% of them have been with a .308. I have never had such poor performance as you and your wife expereinced with the .308 into the caribou's shoulder. Do you think it could have been bullet misperformed or something just curious. I have shot two grizz and one what shot directly in the front shoulder and the bullet was found in the far shoulder through the far shoulder blade. Just never heard of such poor performance out of the caliber is why I am wondering.

    On a side note. If you can't afford to go on the hunt AND buy and new gun. Get some quality bullets that shoot well out of your rifle and rock the .308. Otherwise save your pennies and by a new gun. You ALWAYS need a new gun and a once in a lifetime Kodiak bear hunt is the perfect excuse to buy one.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by nittanytbone View Post
    Exactly... Until about 48 hours ago, hunting brown bear wasn't on my radar scope beyond that $5 lottery ticket! Now I'm trying to learn as much as I can and start budgeting out. Luckily there's more than a year to plan and learn.

    I just attended Joe Want's lecture yesterday sponsored by SCI and ADF&G. Very informative, and I learned a ton, especially about judging animals. He stated a preference for the 300 WSM at a minimum but also felt that a smaller caliber like 30-06 would do the job, as long as you're aware of the limitations (shorter shots, larger field of fire for follow up shots, good trophy judging, optimal shot angles, etc).

    I figured if long term guides like Joe Want and Phil Shoemaker were using the 30-06 successfully for the last few decades, then the 308 might have some capability too given the advances in bullet technology, powder, etc... A .308 cartridge of today probably compares fairly favorably to a 1960s 30-06 round.

    Still, based on the thoughts here and some research, it looks like it might be wise to get into a magnum rifle. I'd prefer to have margin for error. Bears are big critters.
    What is your Wife using for a firearm & cartridge.......?

  20. #20

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    .300 win. mag minimum. trust me on this one. 'nuff said

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