Comparing .308 Winchester and 7.62 NATO Ammo: A Comprehensive Guide | Last Shot

When it comes to selecting the right ammunition for your firearm, understanding the nuances between different calibers is crucial. In this comprehensive guide brought to you by Last Shot Ammo, your trusted online source for nationwide ammunition sales with same-day shipping and tax-free shopping (excluding Arizona), we delve into the differences between .308 Winchester and 7.62 NATO ammunition. Read on to make an informed choice for your shooting needs.

.308 Winchester and 7.62 NATO: Exploring the Distinctions

What is .308 Winchester?

Vairog .308 Win 147 GR

.308 Winchester is a widely popular rifle cartridge known for its versatility and accuracy. Originally developed as a sporting round, it has found its way into various shooting disciplines, including hunting and target shooting. The .308 Winchester cartridge is commonly used in civilian bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles.

Understanding 7.62 NATO

7.62 NATO, or 7.62x51mm NATO, is a military cartridge developed during the 1950s. It was designed for use in battle rifles and machine guns by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries. While the 7.62 NATO and .308 Winchester share similar dimensions, there are important differences to consider.

Key Differences

Pressure Levels

One of the primary distinctions between these two cartridges is the pressure levels they are loaded to. The .308 Winchester is typically loaded to slightly higher pressures than the 7.62 NATO. This is important to note when considering compatibility with your firearm. While most modern firearms can handle both, it’s recommended to consult your firearm’s manual for guidance.

Chamber Specifications

Firearms chambered for .308 Winchester are built to tighter tolerances compared to those chambered for 7.62 NATO. This ensures better accuracy for the civilian round. Conversely, 7.62 NATO chambers have slightly more generous dimensions to accommodate the potential fouling and debris encountered in military environments.

Case Thickness

Another factor to consider is the thickness of the cartridge case. Generally, 7.62 NATO cases have thicker walls than .308 Winchester cases. This can affect the internal volume of the case, potentially influencing pressure and velocity when the cartridges are fired.

Performance Considerations

Due to the variations in pressure, chamber specifications, and case thickness, there can be variations in performance between the two cartridges. While the differences might not be dramatic for casual shooters, precision shooters and reloaders should pay close attention to these factors.

Choosing the Right Ammunition for Your Firearm

When selecting ammunition, it’s imperative to match the ammunition to your firearm’s chamber specifications. Using 7.62 NATO ammunition in a firearm chambered for .308 Winchester could lead to increased pressures and potential safety hazards. On the other hand, using .308 Winchester ammunition in a 7.62 NATO chamber might result in reduced accuracy.


In conclusion, while .308 Winchester and 7.62 NATO cartridges appear similar on the surface, they have distinct differences in terms of pressure levels, chamber specifications, and case thickness. When choosing ammunition for your firearm, prioritize safety and accuracy by selecting the appropriate cartridge for your firearm’s chamber. At Last Shot Ammo, we understand the importance of ammunition compatibility and safety. We proudly offer a wide selection of both .308 Winchester and 7.62 NATO ammunition, ensuring that you can find the right rounds for your shooting needs. Experience our seamless nationwide shipping and tax-free shopping (excluding Arizona) today!

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Last Shot Ammo – Nationwide Ammunition Retailer with Same-Day Shipping
Phone: (602) 708-2392
Location: 7224 East McDowell Road Scottsdale, Arizona 85257

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