Best Subsonic 308 Ammo For Hunting

best subsonic 308 ammo for hunting

Subsonic .308 ammunition is valued by hunters for its quiet performance and reduced recoil, offering distinct advantages in stealth and precision. 

Unlike supersonic ammunition, which travels faster than the speed of sound and creates a loud sonic “crack,” subsonic rounds move slower and are significantly quieter, making them ideal for not startling game. This makes them particularly effective for hunting medium-sized game like deer. 

The HOP Munition subsonic .308 has enhanced the effectiveness of subsonic 308 ammo, providing reliable expansion at lower velocities. All that said, successful hunting with subsonic ammo demands precise shot placement given its limited range.

Understanding Subsonic .308 Ammunition

Subsonic .308 ammunition is designed to travel at velocities below the speed of sound, which is approximately 1,125 feet per second at sea level. This reduced speed eliminates the loud sonic “crack” that is typically associated with supersonic bullets breaking the sound barrier, resulting in a much quieter shot. This characteristic makes subsonic ammunition particularly valuable for hunters and shooters who hunt suppressed.

best subsonic 308 ammo for hunting
Barrett MRAD .308 sniper rifle with suppressor

The typical bullet weights for subsonic .308 rounds usually range from 175 to 220 grains, with heavier bullets favored to maintain momentum and energy at reduced velocities. These heavier bullets also aid in stabilizing the projectile’s flight path at lower speeds. Common bullet types for subsonic .308 rounds include full metal jacket (FMJ) for practice and target shooting, and expanding bullets like hollow point (HP) or soft point (SP) for hunting. The expanding bullets are engineered to open upon impact, increasing the diameter of the bullet to create a larger wound channel while transferring more energy to the target. This is crucial for ensuring a quick and humane kill.

Some manufacturers offer bullets with specific features like a wider meplat (the flat or open tip of a bullet) or a tailored jacket thickness that promotes expansion at these speeds. Companies like HOP Munition have been at the forefront of developing subsonic .308 rounds that provide reliable performance in terms of accuracy and terminal ballistics, making them a preferred choice among hunters who need to maintain stealth without sacrificing reliability and effectiveness.

RELATED -> Best 308 Hunting Ammo

Effectiveness of Subsonic .308 for Hunting

The key appeal of subsonic rounds lies in their ability to operate below the speed of sound, significantly reducing the noise level which is especially beneficial in densely wooded areas where sound travels and can easily startle game. This feature, coupled with a suppressor, can make the hunter virtually undetectable.

However, the practical effectiveness of subsonic .308 varies and heavily depends on bullet design and shot placement. Many hunters have shared their experiences, noting the critical importance of selecting the right type of bullet to ensure adequate expansion and terminal performance at lower velocities. For instance, on forums like Long Range Hunting, hunters discuss their mixed results with subsonic rounds; some recount successful, clean kills with bullets that expanded properly, while others mention challenges with bullets not performing as expected, resulting in wounded animals that escaped or required tracking.

best subsonic 308 ammo for hunting
A hunter poses with their harvested buck during the annual deer hunt at the US Air Force Academy. These hunts are used to control the deer population on the base and decrease animal-vehicle accidents.

Challenges frequently highlighted include the limited range and reduced kinetic energy of subsonic ammunition. Typical hunting scenarios for subsonic .308 are often restricted to shorter distances—commonly under 100 yards—to compensate for the decreased velocity and flatter trajectory. This limitation requires hunters to be closer to their target, which can be both a challenge and a thrill, demanding stalking skills and precise shot placement.

Bullet expansion is another significant issue, as not all bullets are designed to perform optimally at subsonic speeds. Hunters often have to select specialized bullets designed for lower velocities or modify existing bullets to improve performance. Experiences from the field suggest that well-designed subsonic bullets like those from HOP Munitions can offer reliable expansion and energy transfer, essential for humane kills.

Bullet Selection and Performance

When selecting bullets for subsonic .308 hunting, the focus must be on types that perform reliably at lower velocities. This includes ensuring they can expand properly to deliver lethal terminal performance, a challenge given the reduced velocity at which they travel.

A standout in subsonic .308 is the HOP Munitions 190gr Subsonic HPBT (Hollow Point Boat Tail). This bullet is engineered to offer hunters a reliable and effective option for subsonic applications. The design of the HPBT aids in maintaining ballistic efficiency over distance, crucial for subsonic loads that inherently have reduced kinetic energy. Moreover, the hollow point design facilitates controlled expansion upon impact, which is essential for transferring lethal energy to the target efficiently and ethically.

  • Velocity: 1,030 FPS
  • Energy: 448 ft/lbs
  • 20 rounds per box
best subsonic 308 ammo for hunting

Other popular choices include Maker Bullets and Lehigh Defense bullets, which are frequently mentioned by hunters for their reliable performance. These bullets are designed to expand at the velocities typical of subsonic rounds. Maker Bullets, for example, are often praised for their precision engineering, which includes features that promote expansion and penetration at lower speeds, crucial for ensuring that the bullet performs as needed when it strikes the game.

The expansion capabilities of these bullets are critical for subsonic hunting. At subsonic speeds, bullets do not benefit from the hydrostatic shock that higher velocity rounds deliver, which can incapacitate an animal quickly. Therefore, the bullet must create a sufficient wound channel and penetrate deeply enough to reach vital organs, ensuring a humane kill. This is where the engineering behind HOP Munitions’ 190gr Subsonic HPBT shines, as it combines the necessary aerodynamics with material properties that promote expansion even at reduced velocities.

In summary, while subsonic .308 rounds face challenges such as reduced range and lower kinetic energy, selecting the right bullet type—such as the HOP Munitions 190gr Subsonic HPBT—can significantly mitigate these issues, providing hunters with a capable option for effectively taking down game stealthily and ethically.

Comparisons with Other Calibers

The subsonic .308 Winchester is often compared with other popular subsonic rounds, particularly the 300 Blackout and the newer 8.6 Blackout, each designed with specific uses in mind, especially in suppressed firearms.

RELATEDSubsonic 308 vs 300 Blackout

300 Blackout has become a favored choice for many shooters due to its versatility and efficiency in shorter barrels and suppressors. It was specifically engineered to achieve optimal performance both in subsonic and supersonic loads within a compact, suppressed platform. The ability of the 300 Blackout to provide effective performance with a reduced sound signature makes it ideal for tactical applications and hunting. In its subsonic form, it can fire a 220-grain bullet effectively, which provides significant stopping power at short to medium ranges without the sonic boom.

On the other hand, the 8.6 Blackout is relatively new and is designed to bring subsonic capabilities to a larger caliber. It typically uses heavier bullets (ranging from 250 to 300 grains) and is intended to offer even greater stopping power and energy transfer, especially at closer ranges. This makes it particularly suitable for bigger game and defensive roles. The 8.6 Blackout also aims to maximize terminal ballistics by increasing the diameter of the wound channel at subsonic velocities.

Subsonic .308 Winchester, while effective, generally offers less flexibility compared to the 300 Blackout when used in a subsonic load. The .308 is traditionally used as a long-range cartridge, and using it in a subsonic configuration limits its range and effectiveness significantly. The heavier and slower subsonic .308 rounds don’t retain energy as effectively as the 300 Blackout in similar conditions. However, it can still be a viable option for hunters who already own .308 firearms and wish to utilize them in a quieter capacity without switching calibers. This can be more economical for those not looking to invest in a new firearm system.

Pros and Cons

Pros of Subsonic .308 Winchester:

  • Utilization of existing platforms: Many shooters already own .308 rifles, and using subsonic loads allows for versatility without the need for new equipment.
  • Heavier bullet options: Allows for the use of bullets that can potentially offer better terminal performance at subsonic speeds due to their weight.

Cons of Subsonic .308 Winchester:

  • Reduced ballistic performance: At subsonic speeds, .308 bullets lose much of their long-range efficacy and energy retention.
  • Limited application: Best suited for short-range scenarios; the performance drop-off at distance is significant compared to its supersonic capabilities.

300 Blackout and 8.6 Blackout offer more optimized performance in subsonic applications with better suppressor efficiency, making them generally more suitable for users specifically looking for a firearm built from the ground up for suppressed and stealth operations. These calibers provide functional advantages in tactical and hunting scenarios where noise reduction is crucial.


Subsonic .308 ammunition offers a unique blend of stealth and effectiveness, making it a great choice for hunters looking to keep noise to a minimum. 

For those who already own .308 rifles, switching to subsonic rounds such as the HOP Munitions’ 190gr Subsonic HPBT can significantly improve your hunts without sacrificing the rifle’s performance. This specific load is favored for its dependable performance at lower speeds, ensuring ethical kills. 

Although the range might be limited, the trade-off for reduced noise and recoil is considerable.

Explore HOP Munitions today and discover the silent power of subsonic ammunition