303 british vs 308: Which One Is The Better?

303 british vs 308

Having the perfect cartridge for your rifle is one of the goals of every shooter.

The 303 British and the .308 have proved reliable cartridges in every combat and hunting situation. However, it is important to note that both have similarities and differences.

This article will compare the 303 British vs 308 by velocity, energy, availability, and price. We will also help you identify the best caliber for shooting and the cartridge that is easily available.

Let’s dive into it.

A Quick Comparison Between 303 British and 308

In-Depth Comparison between 303 British vs 308

The 303 British originates in the United Kingdom though it was first developed in Britain as a black powder round before undergoing adaptation in 1891. The .303 Ammo has since been produced and has stayed in service from 1889 until now. It served in world wars, I II, the Irish, and the Greek wars.

In 1952, Winchester introduced the .308 Winchester Ammo based on the foundation of the late T65 series, and the Winchester’s rifle was immediately chambered for the new cartridge.

Let’s have a look at some of the differences.


303 British

308 Winchester


Country of origin:

Great Britain

United States of America

Bullet velocity:

844 m/s

860 m/s

Maximum pressure (C.I.P.):

52,939 psi (365.00 MPa)

60191 psi (415.0 MPa)

Maximum pressure (SAAMI.):

49000psi (337.00 MPa)

62000 psi (430.0 MPa)

Overall length:

3.34 inches

2.800 inches

Energy(150 gr, 10g): 

3463 j

3590 j

Case capacity:

56.2 gr H2O

56.2 gr H2O

Test barrel length:

24 inch

24 inch

Case type:

Rimmed bottleneck

Rimless bottleneck

Case length:

2.22 inches

2.015 inches

Ballistic coefficient:



Neck diameter:

0.340 in

0.3433 in

In-Depth Comparison between 303 British vs 308

In-Depth Comparison between 303 British vs 308

Muzzle Velocity

This is one of the factors to consider for any rifle. That’s how fast a bullet travels once it’s been fired.

Keeping the bullet weights constant at 150 grains, the muzzle velocity of a 303 British is approximately 2,770 ft./sec. While the average velocity of a rifle chambered, .308 Winchester round is around 2750 fps (feet per second). The heavier rounds, like 185 gr (12 g), are lower at 2,510 fps, and the lighter 125 gr (8 g) Spitzer will be around 3100 fps.


The Muzzle energy is the energy of a bullet right when it leaves the barrel of the firearm. This is useful in different scenarios, including the evaluation of cartridge performance, the determination of recoil, and the estimation of stopping power.

If the bullet expands, or “mushrooms,” it may transfer most of its energy. A sluggish bullet whose full force is delivered to its intended victim is even deadlier than a fast one that passes through its intended victim.

The.303 British (10g) produces 3,463 J of energy while the 308 produces an energy of 3590 j. That’s a very remarkable feat. The harm it inflicts on the target is significant.


The .308 fits in compact rifles of all action types. You can find Ammo at gas stations, roadside markets, and probably under your truck seat. Bullet options are endless for the .308,

The 308 Win./7.62X51 NATO is a long-established, global standard. Even at the peak of the recent ammunition shortage, it was easier to find .308 than other popular rounds like the303 British.


The desired trajectory is a flat one in which the bullet travels a considerable distance without losing too much altitude; this is measured in bullet drop and is essential for long-range shooting contests and hunting.

The greater the bullet’s descent, the greater the changes required for an effective shot, and the more difficult it is to hit the target without much practice reliably.

There is no significant difference in comparing the flatness of the 303 British and.308 trajectories. As previously said, these 7mm-08 and.308 cartridges are fairly close.

On the 500-yard range, the average difference in bullet drop is slightly larger than 2 inches, with the 303 British having a less bullet drop.


British 303 – 1.98

308 Winchester – 1.95 (19 ft. lbs)

Recoil is often a key consideration for many shooters when choosing between cartridges. The less the recoil, the better the shot;

Considering two weapons of the same weight and configuration, the .303 British cartridge will have slightly more recoil than the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO.

While there is some variation in the amount of recoil produced by each cartridge, both produce a sizable amount that can make the shooter deviate from the intended shot.

Recoil gets worse with lighter rifles and heavier bullets When a 150-grain. 308 Win bullet is fired at 2,800 fps from a 7.5-pound rifle; the recoil is about 15.8.

Suppose you want a 30-calibre bullet to impact with accuracy and good energy on target while generating tolerable recoil on your shoulder. The 308 Winchester may be your best choice.


The .308 Winchester is a modern high-pressure cartridge that functions in many modern rifles and is one of the best medium game cartridges in the world. You can find bullets weighing anywhere from 110 to 200 grains, so you match the load to the game. The cartridge has proved to be effective even for the modern bolt gun.

The.303 British cartridge is very versatile, as it can be used for hunting, self-defence, or target shooting. It is a low-cost, readily available alternative that will appeal to a wide range of shooters. Furthermore, the 303 British ammunitions can be utilised to fire a wide range of guns with somewhat varying specifications.


One of the best things about the.308 Winchester is how accurate it is. It has a good reputation among people who compete in matches and is often used in 1,000-yard competitions. It has extreme velocity spreads that are unusually low for any reasonable load.

Extreme spreads of less than 20 fps are common in some shot strings, and many of the best loads are less than 10 fps. The 308 Winchester has a 2 M.O.A. accuracy and will shoot comfortably at targets within 500 yards.

The British 303 is among the most precise service rifles ever created. It was the rifle of choice for sharpshooters for decades and remained competitive far into the 1970s.

At 100 yards, Lee Enfield’s 303 British accuracy is around 2 minutes of angle. Therefore, at 1200 yards, the windless accuracy is around 24 inches. Its velocity increases its precision.

It can comfortably fire at 600 yards and 1200 yards. However, this is dependent on variables such as wind and gun type.

Ballistic Coefficient and Sectional Density

Sectional density is the ratio of weight to the diameter of the bullet. Technically, it is the ratio of the weight to the surface area,

Bullets with high sectional density are long and skinny. Bullets with low sectional density are short and fat.

 A 140-grain 7mm 308 Winchester (.284-inch diameter) bullet will have a sectional density of 0.248 (140 grains divided by 7,000 grains per pound, The British 303 cartridge has a sectional density of 0.266.

Ballistic coefficient (B.C.) is a numerical expression of a bullet’s shape; it is a ratio between the bullet’s S.D. and the coefficient of its form. The coefficient considers whether the bullet has a blunt or sharp point, a flat base, a boat tail, and other characteristics. These are assigned a relative numerical factor for calculation purposes.

B.C. Indicates the relative flight characteristics of a given bullet. A higher B.C. means that a particular bullet will have a flatter trajectory and a higher impact energy than a similar bullet launched at the same velocity but with a lower B.C.

The 308 Winchester bullet has a Ballistic coefficient of around 409.93, while the British 303 has a BC of 352.13


In terms of price, the 308 Winchester is cheaper compared to the British 303. This can be attributed to its availability.

Cartridge sizes

The.308 Winchester has a cartridge case capacity of 56 grains. The outer profile of the cartridge was designed to facilitate reliable feeding and extraction in bolt-action rifles and machine guns operating under harsh conditions.

The.308 Winchester can withstand a maximum piezo pressure of 415.00 MPa (60,191 psi). Currently, the.308 Winchester chambered arms in C.I.P.-regulated nations are proof-tested at 519.00 MPa (75,275 psi) P.E. piezo pressure.

The Maximum SAAMI pressure for the 308 Winchester in North America is 427.47 MPa (62,000 psi).

The.303 British cartridge casing holds 3.64 millilitres (56 grains H2O) of liquid.

The case’s exterior was designed to aid reliable case feeding and extraction in bolt-action rifles through its prominent tapering.

The.303 British can withstand up to 365.00 MPa of piezo pressure (52,939 psi).

The current proof test pressure for.303 British chambered firearms in C.I.P.-regulated nations is 456,00 MPa (66,137 psi) P.E. piezo pressure.

The SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) maximum average pressure (M.A.P.) for this cartridge in North America is 49,000 psi (337.84 MPa) (45,000 CUP)

Is a .303 a good hunting rifle?

The.303 is an outstanding hunting rifle. It has enough power and accuracy to bring down any game and is reasonably priced.

When it comes to hunting, the .303 is well known for hunting big game. It’s a highly precise cartridge and can easily take down any game, regardless of the size, at acceptable ranges.

How powerful is a .303 British?

The 303 is a fairly potent cartridge developed by the British. The.303 calibre has been used to kill nearly every known game animal species, from elephants to deer to elk. It can also be used for self-defence, though the.308 Winchester is a superior option. Because of its precision, the.303 British is also a favourite among target shooters.

In general, the.303 British is a multipurpose cartridge for hunting, self-defence, and target practice. Numerous shooters will be interested in this alternative because of its low cost and wide availability. The.303 British is a great option if you need a strong and flexible cartridge.

Is .303 Savage the same as .303 British?

They are not identical. The.303 Savage cartridge is American, while the.303 British cartridge is British. Despite their similar appearance and dimensions, the two cartridges are not interchangeable.

The rim size is the primary difference between the two cartridges. Since the rim of the.303 Savage is smaller than that of the.303 British, it cannot be used in a rifle chambered for the latter. Additionally, the.303 Savage has a somewhat different internal construction than the.303 British, resulting in different ballistic qualities.

Which One should you choose?

Both cartridges have built an excellent reputation over the years. However, the 308 Winchester stood out in terms of availability; the higher muzzle velocity compared to the British 303, the lower felt recoil, versatility, and accuracy.

The .303 is a versatile cartridge used for hunting, self-defence, or target shooting. It is an affordable and readily available option that is sure to appeal to many different types of shooters. If you are looking for a powerful and versatile cartridge, the .303 British is an excellent choice.


What is a 303 British equivalent?

Some cartridges are similar to the 303 British. One such calibre is the 7.7 Arisaka. Both have a successful reputation in actual combat and are “Main Battle Rifle” type rounds rather than today’s lighter lower energy assault rifle rounds.

The difference is that the 303 is a low-pressure rimmed cartridge that will only function in actions designed for rimmed cartridges. At the same time, the 7.7 Arisaka is a modern rimless design cartridge and could likely be used with the same pressure in modern arms.

Can you hunt deer with a 303?

Yes, the .303 British is a fine deer cartridge and a perfect hunting rifle choice for whitetail deer hunting and large deer and antelopes like Kudu, Eland, and Gemsbuck, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.
Since it is heavier and travels at a lower velocity, the.303 provides decent penetration and excellent stopping power without causing as much meat damage as lighter, quicker rounds.

When did they stop making 303 British?

The 303 British was the standard British and Commonwealth military cartridge for military rifles and machine guns from 1889 until the 1950s when the 7.62×51mm NATO replaced it.
It’s still in use today in the civilian market.
Factory ammunition is less readily available than before, but many hand-load and reloading components are still available.

Does 303 British kick hard?

Yes, when used on lighter medium games, such as leaner deer species, 303 loads can achieve a rather quick kill. The velocity of an SMLE rifle loaded with factory 150-grain ammunition is typically around 2600 feet per second.
A 303 projectile produces hydrostatic stress (shock waves penetrating the central nervous system) at impact velocities of 2600 fps or less.

Is 308 enough for a black bear?

Yes, the .308 Winchester is a good choice for black bear hunting. The powerful combination of 165 grains of bullet weight, a velocity of 2,700 fps, and a Muzzle Energy of 2,671 ft/lbs. It makes it an ideal cartridge for hunting big game, especially black bears.
The .308 was developed to effectively kill black bears in the 100–300 lb. range. 

Is 308 enough for Alaska?

Yes, the 308 is an ideal cartridge choice for Alaska. A smaller, flat-shooting cartridge is recommended. Deer in the coastal forests of Southeast Alaska are often shot at less than 20 yards. This falls within the accuracy range of 308.

Can you use a 308 for a sniper rifle?

Yes. There are several reasons snipers may prefer 308 rounds over other rounds. The 308 rounds have a greater muzzle velocity than other rounds. This means they travel faster through the air, hitting their target more effectively. Additionally, 308 rounds are more accurate than other rounds.
The .308 chambering (7.62 NATO) is used worldwide, and ammunition is readily available at affordable prices everywhere firearms are sold.

Will a bulletproof vest stop a 308?

Yes. An NIJ Level III body armor plate will stop a 7.62 x 51mm bullet from penetrating. As with anything, there are caveats as to what armor will stop hand-loaded Ammo.

Why is the 308 win so popular?

.308 is popular because it is a NATO round. Secondly, it is much cheaper to shoot than many other rounds.
Another reason for the .308’s success is that the recoil is moderate and is controllable by most shooters, including new shooters, women, and anybody of smaller stature and build.

Is the 308 obsolete?

Yes. Technological advances in bullet, powder, and case design have rendered the 308 obsolete; In some countries, the .308 Winchester is still considered a military “status” cartridge. Such status makes this cartridge illegal to hunt with or use for other sporting purposes.
The 308 still gets the job done, of course, but other cartridges do the job better, for instance, the superior external ballistics for less recoil and even greater energy at ranges exceeding 600m.

Does anyone still make 303 British?

Yes, .303 British Ammo is still made commercially in several countries. Some .303 rifles are occasionally made, for instance, a special run of Ruger No 1 in .303 about five years ago.
Individual custom rifles are also made from time to time in this caliber. Some countries, for instance, Serbia, produce ammunition.
However, Except for a few fields built in Australia, no modern guns are being built for this cartridge.


We just reviewed the 303 British and the 308. The 308 stood out in terms of its velocity, energy, availability, versatility, and ballistic efficiency. On the other hand, the 303 British cartridges proved an excellent cartridge for hunting purposes.

What else did you love about both cartridges? Feel free to comment below, and remember to share the post with your friends.


  1. “Accurate Powder reload data table” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  2. .303 British vs. .308 Winchester (7.62mm NATO) (guncritic.com)
  3. C.I.P. TDCC datasheet 303 British
  4. C.I.P. TDCC sheet .308 Winchester
  5. 303 British vs. 30-06 [Which One Is Better] (outwardlab.com)


My first deer at the age of 45 I joined the deer hunting fraternity a little late, but the desire to hunt has always been there. I love hunting, so I often have to deal with hunting equipment.