What 308 Sniper Ammo do FBI Snipers Use?

FBI HRT Sniper

The FBI’s sniper teams play a crucial role in law enforcement, requiring precision and reliability in their ammunition.

In 2022, Winchester Ammunition was awarded a $5 million contract to supply the FBI with .308 Winchester loads for their sniper program.

This article will explore what ammunition FBI snipers use, compare it with the .308 ammunition loaded by HOP Munitions, and discuss the importance of these selections in field operations.

Winchester’s FBI Sniper Contract

Winchester Ammunition has a longstanding reputation for providing high-quality ammunition to various military and law enforcement agencies. The specific load provided by Winchester is a 169-grain Sierra boat-tail hollow-point bullet, chosen for its accuracy and performance after rigorous testing by the FBI. This type of ammunition is designed to offer exceptional precision, which is crucial for sniper operations where accuracy can be a matter of life and death.

Comparison with HOP Munitions’ .308 Ammunition

HOP Munitions also produces .308 ammunition, often used by precision shooters and law enforcement agencies. HOP Munitions prides itself on producing high-quality, consistent ammunition. A typical .308 load from HOP Munitions might feature a similar boat-tail hollow-point bullet designed for accuracy and performance. The key differences often lie in the manufacturing process, quality control, and the specific components used, such as the powder and primer.

HOP Munitions’ .308 Ammunition Options:

  • 168gr HPBT: Guarantees unparalleled long-range accuracy, consistent trajectories, and reduced drag. Propelled at 2,600 FPS with an energy of 2,522 ft/lbs.
  • 190gr Subsonic HPBT: Designed for suppressed shooting, delivering exceptional performance with tight sub-MOA groups, a velocity of 1,030 FPS, and 448 ft/lbs of energy. Known for its adaptability across diverse game and environments, promising humane kills and deep penetration.

RELATEDBest Subsonic 308 Ammo For Hunting

Overview of FBI Sniper Ammunition Selection

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) requires high-performance sniper ammunition for its operational and training needs, specifically targeting .308 Winchester / 7.62x51mm NATO calibers. This selection process ensures the reliability and accuracy essential for FBI snipers, who may encounter high-threat scenarios where precise, dependable ammunition is crucial for safety and effectiveness.

The FBI’s sniper ammunition specifications include rigorous projectile performance standards, case integrity, and functional reliability. The projectile must weigh between 165 and 185 grains and have a G1 ballistic coefficient (BC) of at least 0.500, ensuring optimal aerodynamics and accuracy. When fired from FBI-specified weapons, the ammunition is tested to achieve an average velocity of at least 2,400 feet per second (fps)​​.

What 308 Sniper Ammo do FBI Snipers Use?
Members of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Milwaukee Special Weapons and Tactics team practice sniper training from the elevated vantage point of the newly constructed sniper tower on range 18 on April 25, 2016 at Fort McCoy, Wis. Fort McCoy, one of three Total Force Training Centers in the United States, is situated on 60,000 acres providing support to more than 100,000 military personel each year. Fort McCoy also provides facilities for field training to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. (Photo by Jamal Wilson)

The ammunition must function flawlessly in FBI-designated firearms, including the HS Precision HS2000 and LaRue Tactical PredatOBR rifles, to meet operational standards. It must have an acceptable failure rate of no more than one failure per 10,000 rounds​​. The ammunition is also tested for reliability under extreme temperatures, ranging from -40°F to +140°F, to ensure performance in various environmental conditions​​.

The ammunition’s components, including the primer and propellant, must also adhere to stringent quality control measures. Primers must be non-corrosive, securely seated, and have a shelf life of at least five years. The propellant should be clean-burning, minimizing residue and fouling​​.

The selection process includes three evaluation phases: compliance with technical specifications, ballistic performance testing, and functional reliability assessment. Samples must pass all phases to be considered for use, with detailed scoring criteria for accuracy, ballistic coefficient, muzzle velocity, and malfunction rates​​.

Through these comprehensive requirements and testing procedures, the FBI ensures that its sniper ammunition provides the necessary precision and reliability for critical law enforcement operations.

Detailed Comparison with HOP Munitions’ .308 Ammunition

The FBI’s requirements for sniper ammunition are stringent, demanding high performance, reliability, and compatibility with specific firearms. HOP Munitions’ 168-grain .308 ammo offers features that align closely with these criteria, providing a viable option for consideration.

  • Velocity: HOP Munitions’ .308 ammunition has a muzzle velocity of 2,600 feet per second (FPS), which exceeds the FBI’s minimum requirement of 2,400 FPS. This higher velocity can contribute to improved long-range accuracy and terminal performance.
  • Ballistic Coefficient: The G1 ballistic coefficient (BC) for HOP Munitions’ 168-grain Hollow Point Boat Tail (HPBT) rounds is .462, and .48 for the T-Rex loads. While the FBI specifies a BC of at least .500, these values indicate high aerodynamic efficiency, although slightly below the FBI’s optimal specification.
  • Projectile Design and Weight: The projectile weight for HOP Munitions’ 168-grain rounds fits the FBI’s required range of 165 to 185 grains. This ensures compatibility with the FBI’s sniper platforms without causing excessive barrel wear or requiring fouling shots.
  • Reliability and Functioning: HOP Munitions’ .308 rounds are designed to function reliably in various environmental conditions, maintaining performance standards similar to the FBI’s demands. This includes reliable feeding, chambering, firing, and ejection in FBI-approved firearms such as the HS Precision HS2000 and LaRue Tactical PredatOBR rifles.
  • Quality Control and Consistency: HOP Munitions employs stringent quality control measures to ensure each round meets high consistency and reliability standards. This includes ensuring primers are non-corrosive and securely seated and propellants are clean-burning to minimize residue and fouling.
HOP Munitions 168-grain 308 HPBT Ammo

In conclusion, HOP Munitions’ 168-grain .308 ammunition closely meets the FBI’s stringent criteria, offering high velocity, reliable functioning, and stringent quality control, making it a strong candidate for FBI sniper use despite slightly lower ballistic coefficients.

Performance and Field Testing

The FBI’s selection process for sniper ammunition involves extensive field testing to ensure the chosen rounds meet specific operational requirements. Winchester’s .308 load underwent rigorous evaluation, including accuracy tests, consistency in various environmental conditions, and ballistic performance. The FBI’s testing protocols are designed to replicate real-world scenarios, ensuring that the ammunition performs reliably in high-pressure situations.

One of the primary metrics in field testing is accuracy. The 169-grain Sierra boat-tail hollow-point bullet used in Winchester’s .308 load is renowned for its precision. During testing, this ammunition consistently demonstrated tight groupings at long distances, a critical factor for sniper operations where precision can determine mission success.

Consistency is another vital aspect. Winchester’s rounds showed minimal variance in velocity and trajectory, ensuring that each shot performed predictably. This consistency is crucial for snipers relying on their equipment in unpredictable environments.

The FBI’s field tests also assess how ammunition performs under various environmental conditions. To ensure reliability, Winchester’s .308 load was tested in different temperatures, humidity levels, and weather conditions. The rounds maintained their performance, demonstrating they could withstand the diverse conditions that FBI snipers might encounter.

In practical terms, the selected ammunition allows FBI snipers to engage targets with high confidence in their equipment. The reliability and accuracy of Winchester’s .308 load mean that snipers can make precise shots even in challenging circumstances, which is essential for mission success and safety.

Comparing HOP Munitions’ Field Performance

HOP Munitions likely conducts similar rigorous testing to ensure their ammunition meets high-performance criteria. Their .308 rounds, designed for precision shooting, would be subjected to accuracy tests and environmental resilience assessments.

HOP Munitions’ .308 ammunition is designed with a focus on precision, likely showing comparable accuracy to Winchester’s offerings. The consistency of these rounds would be a critical selling point, ensuring that shooters experience minimal variance in performance.

Like Winchester, HOP Munitions must ensure their ammunition performs well under various environmental conditions. While specific data isn’t available, high-quality manufacturers typically test their rounds to maintain performance in different climates and weather conditions.

FBI Sniper Ammunition Selection Criteria

The FBI’s ammunition selection process is thorough and meticulous, designed to ensure that only the highest quality rounds are chosen for their sniper teams. Several key criteria are considered during this selection:

  • Accuracy: The ammunition must consistently deliver tight groupings at long distances. The selected Winchester .308 load meets this requirement with its 169-grain Sierra boat-tail hollow-point bullet.
  • Consistency: Each round must perform predictably, with minimal variance in velocity and trajectory. This ensures reliability in critical situations.
  • Environmental Resilience: The ammunition must perform in various environmental conditions, including varying temperatures, humidity levels, and weather scenarios.
  • Terminal Performance: The ammunition must provide effective terminal ballistics, ensuring the bullet performs optimally upon impact. This includes controlled expansion and penetration, which are crucial for stopping power.

Comparison with HOP Munitions’ Ammunition

HOP Munitions’ .308 ammunition is designed to meet similarly high standards. Key aspects of their ammunition include:

  • Precision Manufacturing: HOP Munitions focuses on meticulous quality control and precision manufacturing processes to ensure consistency and reliability.
  • Component Quality: High-quality powders, primers, and bullets are used to achieve optimal performance.
  • Performance Testing: HOP Munitions conducts rigorous testing to ensure their ammunition performs well in various conditions, similar to the FBI’s requirements.
What 308 Sniper Ammo do FBI Snipers Use?
HOP Munitions 168-grain HPBT Ammo

Advanced Ballistic Performance

Ballistic performance is critical for sniper ammunition, impacting its effectiveness over long distances. The FBI’s choice of Winchester’s .308 ammunition is influenced by its superior ballistic properties, which ensure that the bullet maintains its trajectory and energy over extended ranges.

The 169-grain Sierra boat-tail hollow-point bullet used in Winchester’s .308 load has a high ballistic coefficient, reducing air resistance and helping the bullet maintain velocity. This design ensures greater accuracy at long distances, allowing snipers to hit targets precisely, even under challenging conditions.

What 308 Sniper Ammo do FBI Snipers Use?
(Photo by Jamal Wilson)

Terminal ballistics, the bullet’s behavior upon impact, is another crucial aspect. Winchester’s .308 load provides controlled expansion, ensuring the bullet performs effectively on impact. This balance of penetration and expansion is vital for incapacitating targets quickly and efficiently.

Comparative Analysis: HOP Munitions’ .308 Ammunition

HOP Munitions also focuses on advanced ballistic performance in their .308 ammunition.

HOP Munitions uses bullets with high ballistic coefficients in their .308 loads, similar to Winchester. This feature is essential for maintaining accuracy over long distances, a key requirement for precision shooters.

Winchester and HOP Munitions design their ammunition to perform reliably at long ranges. This includes ensuring the bullet’s trajectory remains stable and predictable, which is crucial for sniper and precision shooting.

Like Winchester, HOP Munitions aims to balance penetration and expansion in its .308 ammunition. Controlled expansion upon impact ensures that the bullet can effectively incapacitate threats, making it suitable for law enforcement and tactical applications.

FBI HRT Snipers and Their Rifles

The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) is the elite tactical unit of the Bureau, specializing in high-stakes operations such as counterterrorism and hostage rescues. Formed in 1983, the HRT’s snipers are among the best-trained and equipped in the world. These snipers undergo rigorous selection and training, often at the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Basic Course, before advancing to specialized training tailored to the unique needs of the FBI’s missions.

What 308 Sniper Ammo do FBI Snipers Use?
(Photo by Jamal Wilson)

RELATEDWhat 308 Ammo Does The Military Use

The Rifles Used by FBI HRT Snipers

Over the years, the FBI HRT has utilized various sniper rifles, each selected for its precision, reliability, and suitability for the team’s diverse operational requirements. Early on, the HRT employed the Remington Model 700, which, while effective, was eventually superseded by more advanced platforms.

Currently, the HRT predominantly uses custom-built rifles from GA Precision. One of the primary rifles in use is based on the Remington 700 action, renowned for its accuracy and customizability. The specific model used by the HRT, often referred to as the FBI HRT Sniper Rifle, includes several enhancements tailored to the team’s needs:

  • Caliber: .308 Winchester
  • Barrel: 22-inch stainless steel with 5R rifling and a 1:10 twist rate for superior accuracy and stability.
  • Stock: McMillan A3-5 with an adjustable cheek rest, providing ergonomic comfort and stability.
  • Trigger: Timney or TriggerTech, depending on operator preference, set to a very light pull for precision shooting.
  • Optics: Typically equipped with high-quality scopes from brands like Schmidt & Bender, Leupold, or Nightforce, ensuring clarity and precision at long ranges.

RELATEDWhat Is the Difference Between 7.62×51 and .308 Winchester?

The rifle also features a Surefire SOCOM muzzle brake and the ability to mount suppressors, aiding in recoil management and stealth. Additionally, the weapon is equipped with a Badger Ordnance top rail and a night vision-compatible front rail, enhancing its operational versatility​​.

HRT snipers are full-time operators who train daily. This continuous training regimen includes marksmanship, tactical maneuvers, and equipment maintenance. The unit’s ability to deploy rapidly anywhere within the United States ensures they are always ready to respond to critical incidents. Their sniper rifles, integral to their mission, are meticulously maintained and regularly tested to ensure optimal performance under all conditions​.

Feedback from FBI Snipers

FBI snipers have reported high satisfaction with Winchester’s .308 ammunition, noting its accuracy, reliability, and performance under various conditions. These real-world applications confirm the results of rigorous testing and highlight the ammunition’s suitability for critical operations.

In real-world scenarios, the performance of sniper ammunition can be a determining factor in mission success. The FBI’s use of Winchester’s .308 ammunition demonstrates its effectiveness in high-stakes situations, where precision and reliability are paramount.

What 308 Sniper Ammo do FBI Snipers Use?
(Photo by Jamal Wilson)

HOP Munitions’ .308 ammunition is also used in various tactical and precision shooting applications, providing similar reliability and performance. This real-world usage further validates the quality and effectiveness of our 308 ammunition.


The FBI’s selection of Winchester’s .308 ammunition highlights the critical importance of accuracy, reliability, and advanced ballistic performance in sniper operations. The 169-grain Sierra boat-tail hollow-point bullet provides exceptional precision and consistency, making it an ideal choice for law enforcement snipers.

Although not part of the FBI contract, HOP Munitions’ .308 ammunition offers comparable quality and performance, making it a viable option for precision shooters and tactical applications. Both brands demonstrate the high standards required for effective sniper ammunition, ensuring that shooters can rely on their equipment in critical situations.

In summary, the FBI’s rigorous selection process and real-world feedback confirm the excellence of Winchester’s .308 ammunition. Similarly, HOP Munitions maintains a high-quality standard, making their ammunition a strong contender in the precision shooting market. Understanding the detailed aspects of these ammunition choices provides valuable insights into their critical role in law enforcement and tactical operations.