I’ve been reviewing/testing rifles and reporting the results in gun magazines for nearly a quarter of a century. One thing I’ve learned is that no matter how bad a rifle might seem to shoot—precision wise—I can almost always find at least one load it likes. I might have to go through a lot of factory ammunition to find it, or I might have to try several handloads, but if I work at it hard enough, there’ll be one load that delivers respectable precision on target. Rarely is that load the same; most rifles are like humans and food, they’re very finicky when it comes to what they like to digest. However, recently I stumbled upon a load for the .308 Win. that shoots quite well regardless of the rifle from which it is fired, and that’s a rarity.
You’d probably expect this load to be some sort of match-grade fodder. After all, there’s a good assortment of match loads available in .308 Win., and some of them do indeed shoot well in some rifles. It’s not a match load, it’s a load specifically developed for long-range hunting. In 2019, Browning introduced a new line of ammunition called Long Range Pro, loaded with tipped Sierra MatchKing bullets. But, in 2021, Browning added a 165-grain tipped GameKing load for the .308 Win. to that line of ammo. Admittedly, this load slipped under my radar, partly because I’m not a practitioner of long-range hunting, but also partly because Browning ammunition is relatively new and until now, I’d not thought of it as something I’d use for extreme precision. Shame on me!
Browning sent me a case of it for some rifle testing I was conducting; I did not ask for it specifically, it’s just what showed up. In fact, for the testing I was doing, I was not at all particular as to what load the company might send. While I was zeroing a rifle, I picked up a box to try, and after a scope adjustment, the next five shots went into a neat little sub-inch cluster. Impressed, I fired two more five-shot groups, and the average for all three groups was .92 inch. I figured this was just one of those situations where a certain rifle liked a certain load, and I didn’t think about it anymore. That is until I was zeroing another rifle in .308 Win., which was an AR-10 with a 16-inch barrel.
That rifle’s first five-shot group measured 1.31 inches, but the succeeding two groups both came in at less than an inch, for an overall average of 1.00 inch. Now the load had my attention, and I began looking at it a bit closer. Going back to the chronograph data for those two rifle-zeroing range sessions, I found that the average standard deviation for velocity (SD) for this load was only 14.0 fps. That’s extremely consistent, especially considering it was for 20 shots—10 shots from a 16-inch barrel and 10 shots from a 20-inch barrel. If two rifles shoot the same load very well, you can call it a coincidence. If three rifles shoot the same load with precision, it’s not just a fluke.
I decided to shoot this load in several other .308 Win. rifles. Another 20-inch-barreled rifle averaged .99 inch for three, five-shot groups, an 18-inch-barreled .308 Win. rifle averaged .91 inch and a 22-inch-barreled .308 averaged better than all the others at .81 inch. The worst performance this load displayed was with an inexpensive rifle which has a suggested retail price of only $489. For three, three-shot groups it averaged 1.54 inches, but it still printed one group that measured less than an inch. The average for all of the five-shot groups out of all six rifles in which this load was tested was 1.02 inches, with an average for the best five-shot group with each rifle at .80 inch. I’ve never seen a single load for any cartridge from any manufacturer deliver velocity or on-target precision this consistently through so many different rifles.
GameKing bullets have always been regarded as accurate and lethal. They’re what’s called a cup-and-core bullet. They have a lead-alloy core that’s encapsulated up to near the tip in a gilding-metal jacket that gets progressively thicker toward the base to assist with weight retention. Untipped GameKing bullets have an exposed lead point, but the newer tipped GameKing bullet, which Sierra calls the “GameChanger,” has a polymer tip. The addition of this polymer tip increases the ballistic coefficient of the bullet from .404 for the standard GameKing, to .530 for the tipped GameKing. This is a substantial increase. Factoring a muzzle velocity of 2,700 fps, it equates to a difference of 6 inches in trajectory at 500 yards, and with a 10 mph, 90-degree crosswind, the tipped GameKing drifts 7 inches less.
I also fired this load into blocks of Clear ballistics at a distance of 50 yards out of the 16-inch-barreled AR-10. On average, it penetrated 24 inches and the bullet upset with a frontal diameter of .58 inch, retaining between 70 and 75 percent of its weight. The 31-percent increase in BC also means that this bullet should deform on impact 200 yards past the distance an untipped GameKing will upset. This sets its maximum terminally effective range out of a .308 Win. to about 725 yards.
This ammunition is also loaded in nickel-plated cartridge cases. While this does nothing to enhance ballistics, the slicker nickel finish does allow the cartridges to feed from the magazine more easily and smoothly. This is never a bad thing, and with the nickel plating, you won’t get the corrosion you see on brass cases exposed to the elements.
With its proclivity for precision and consistent velocities, whether you’re ringing steel, punching paper at distance, hammering feral hogs or a bull elk or need an accurate load for personal protection, chances are high this load will shoot well in your rifle. It’s an excellent general-purpose load for the .308 Win. and has become the first one I reach for when I’m testing a .308 Win. rifle.
Ammo is expensive, there’s lots of it from which to choose, and none of it comes with an accuracy guarantee. You might as well stack the odds in your favor before the trigger-pulling ever starts. A box of 20 rounds retails for about $37, and I’m betting your favorite .308 Win. rifle will like it. If it does, I’d suggest buying a case.