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7.62×51mm NATO and the commercial .308 Winchester

7.62×51mm NATO and the commercial .308 Winchester

7.62×51mm NATO vs .308 Winchester

7.62×51mm NATO and the commercial .308 Winchester

Although not identical, the 7.62×51mm NATO and the commercial .308 Winchester cartridges are similar enough that they can be loaded into rifles chambered for the other round, but the Winchester .308 cartridges are typically loaded to higher pressures than 7.62×51mm NATO cartridges.

7.62×51mm NATO

The 7.62×51mm NATO (official NATO nomenclature 7.62 NATO) is a rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge developed in the 1950s as a standard for small arms among NATO countries. It should not be confused with the similarly named Russian 7.62×54mmR cartridge, a slightly longer rimmed cartridge.

It was introduced in U.S. service in the M14 rifle and M60 machine gun in the late 1950s. The M14 was superseded in U.S. service as the infantry adopted the 5.56×45mm NATO M16. However, the M14 and many other firearms that use the 7.62×51 round remain in service, especially in the case of various sniper rifles, medium machine guns such as the M240, and various rifles in use by special operations forces. The cartridge is used both by infantry and on mounted and crew-served weapons mounted to vehicles, aircraft and ships.

Although not identical, the 7.62×51mm NATO and the commercial .308 Winchester cartridges are similar enough that they can be loaded into rifles chambered for the other round, but the Winchester .308 cartridges are typically loaded to higher pressures than 7.62×51mm NATO cartridges. Even though the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) does not consider it unsafe to fire the commercial round in weapons chambered for the NATO round, there is significant discussion about compatible chamber and muzzle pressures between the two cartridges based on powder loads and wall thicknesses on the military vs. commercial rounds. While the debate goes both ways, the ATF recommends checking the stamping on the barrel; if one is unsure, one can consult the maker of the firearm.

.308 Winchester

The .308 Winchester (pronounced: “three-oh-eight”) is a rimless, bottlenecked rifle cartridge and is the commercial cartridge from which the 7.62×51mm NATO round was derived. The .308 Winchester was introduced in 1952, two years prior to the NATO adoption of the 7.62×51mm NATO T65. Winchester branded the cartridge and introduced it to the commercial hunting market as the .308 Winchester. Winchester’s Model 70 and Model 88 rifles were subsequently chambered for the new cartridge. Since then, the .308 Winchester has become the most popular short-action, big-game hunting cartridge worldwide.[2] It is also commonly used for civilian hunting, target shooting, Metallic Silhouette, bench rest target shooting, palma, metal matches, military sniping, and police sharpshooting. The relatively short case makes the .308 Winchester especially well-adapted for short-action rifles. When loaded with a bullet that expands, tumbles, or fragments in tissue, this cartridge is capable of high terminal performance.

Although very similar to the military 7.62×51mm NATO specifications, the .308 cartridge is not identical, and there are special considerations that may apply when mixing these cartridges with 7.62×51mm NATO, and .308 Winchester chambered arms. Their interchange is, however, considered safe by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI).

7.62×51mm NATO and the commercial .308 Winchester

Sincerely,

Eric Beer | BC Firearm Academy

3229 Fraser St, Vancouver, BC V5V 4B8

604-592-2410

http://bcfirearmsacademy.ca

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