.308 Win vs 5.56 Nato | Cartridge Comparison
What You Plan to do with It
If you’re prepping for the zombie takeover, you’ll likely want to have two rifles; one chambered in each. The reason for this is while the bigger of the two is better ballistic wise, the 5.56mm will be more abundant. This makes it a great addition for when it’s time to start putting zombies out of your misery. Semi-automatic rifles using Winchester Nato rifle ammunition will likely do the job. Bolt-action rifles chambered in the correct bullet rounds are as deadly.
Both rifle cartridges can be used in both defensive and hunting situations but the similarities end there. If the main goal of your weapon is to stop an advancing enemy, the top performer is going to be the .308 all day long. The same is true if you want to hunt deer. Regardless of the barrel length, it’s a bigger cartridge that contains more powder and a bigger grain bullet. But, let’s take it a step further than what we all know to be true about these two. Because, as usual, there is more that goes into it than ballistics.
But, if you only want to do some target practice just for fun, the 5.56 would likely be your best bet based on the cost. Its usefulness also extends to the tactical department.
Price of Ammunition
When it comes to price, bigger projectiles usually cost more money. There are a few reasons for this, but to keep it simple, they require more material for production. Because of this, the 5.56 Nato ammo is cheaper by about 6-7 dollars per box of 20 rounds. Reloading with these bullet rounds are slightly less expensive than the other. While that much money doesn’t seem to break the bank, a closer look reveals just the opposite.
If you think that running 20 ammo rounds through your rifle every week for a year (52 weeks total) will make you a better shooter, you will wind up saving over $300 if you choose the 5.56. Of course, shooting a gun is like eating potato chips and we all know you can’t eat just one. In other words, who goes to the range and only runs 20 ammo rounds through their rifles?
Confidence in Shooting
Confidence comes from constant practice. You’ve heard the saying “practice makes perfect.” While I don’t agree with this statement %100, I understand the philosophy. If you want to be a great shot, you’ll need to practice shooting on a regular basis. If you’re going to practice more with the smaller cartridge because it costs less per round or is an overall more manageable cartridge, that is the better choice for you.
There is another thing to consider when talking about confidence in shooting. And that is the amount of felt recoil that is going to hit your shoulder with each steady squeeze of the trigger. If you don’t like the feel of getting punched in the arm, you may want to opt for the smaller of the two. Plain and simple, the .308 packs a bigger punch than the 5.56 does. Although, if you listen to some guys, shooting an AR in 5.56 is like shooting a bazooka.
Watch this video by Edwin Sarkissian about the 5.56 vs 308:
To sum it up, it really is a matter of preference. I suggest figuring out which gun you are more comfortable shooting (both physically and financially) and decide what you need the gun for. The answer to that will help you in your quest to find an answer to which rifle cartridge is better. Or, you could choose one of the many other rifle cartridges out there, because there are literally hundreds of them.
What do you think about your own comparison between the .308 Win and 5.56 Nato? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.