I would suggest that for the average hunter there is no practical difference between a .30-06, a .308 or a .308 Short.
Except, for another new powder development that would indeed make a "short" do as well and sometimes better than a long. I consider myself an average, run of the mills hunter, and see a big advantage in weight to recoil ratios, and as i get older the few pounds less in a short makes the world of difference.
The great promise of the Shorts is efficiency â€“ which allows Magnum velocities to be reached with less powder. Less Powder means less recoil. But then they package the Shorts in smaller, lighter rifles, which increases recoil. If one wants a .30 with low recoil, get a .30-30, shoot lighter bullets, or slow them down. There is no free lunch.
Letâ€™s look at some specifics:
Ruger .308 M77 MKII == 7.5 pounds + 12oz scope == 8.3 pounds
Ruger M77 MKII .30-06 == 7.5 pounds + 12 oz scope == 8.3 pounds
Ruger .300 WSM == 7.0 pounds + 12 oz scope == 7.8 pounds
From Nosler 5th:
.308 Win == 168g @ 2820fps with 46g powder == 18.2 foot-pounds recoil
.30-06 == 168g @ 3002fps with 63.0g powder == 24.4 foot-pounds recoil
.300 WSM == 168g @ 3181fps with 64.5g powder == 28.5 foot-pounds recoil
Again, Iâ€™m talking about practical advantages for the average hunter â€“ not the gun nut shooter who goes to the range as often as I do. Many people shoot a few rounds to check their rifle then head to the field to hunt. For these folks a .308 or .30-06 will do everything they need and at significantly less recoil than the WSM. Even if you put the WSM in a 7.5 pound rifle the recoil only drops to 26.8 foot-pounds.
The .308 Win load will deliver over 1500 foot-pounds of energy out past 485 yards with a Nosler Ballistic Silvertip and if zeroed for Maximum Point Blank Range for a 6â€ diameter target the bullet drop is less than 18â€ at 400 yards. Thatâ€™s plenty of whatâ€™s needed even for elk.
My battery of .30â€™s includes a Marlin .30-30 which I regularly use to shoot clay pigeons at 200 yards, a .308 Win and a .300 Win Mag. In 24 years of hunting Coloradosâ€™ antelope, deer and elk, I can count on three fingers the number of times the .30-30 wouldnâ€™t have been appropriate for the shots Iâ€™ve taken.
Nothing wrong with choosing a Short or Long or whatever pleases you, but where is the practical difference for the average hunter who typically shoots his game at ranges under 300 yards?