Is .308 Powerful Enough for Grizzly? | What You Need to Know

Video 308 vs bear

It’s a nightmare scenario but one that becomes a reality several times a year. You are in the wilderness and come face to face with one of the scariest animals that anyone could ever encounter. If a grizzly comes after you, then knowing if you can protect yourself is a legitimate concern.

.308s are powerful enough for grizzly bears in a technical sense. They offer the right mix of stopping power and low recoil, making it a viable option when you come face-to-face with this animal. However, grizzlies are very tough and might require multiple shots from a .308.

This article will cover a few related topics, such as what the .308 is, how powerful it is, and why it’s a suitable choice for grizzly bear hunting.

How Can You Take Down a Grizzly With a .308 Cartridge?

308 Ammunition Is .308 Powerful Enough for Grizzly? | What You Need to Know

To take down a grizzly with a .308 cartridge, you’ll need to hit it in the right spot. The .308 is powerful enough to penetrate a bear’s skull. However, if you fail to do enough damage on the first shot, you’ll likely need to have one, if not several, additional rounds ready.

A grizzly bear can weigh anywhere from 675 to 1,700 pounds (306.18 to 771.11 kg), and they can reach speeds of up to 35 miles (56.33 km) per hour. That’s why it’s so important to have a powerful cartridge if you plan to hunt them.

People have used a .308 to take down bears in just a few shots, but it depends on the situation. If you’re in the backcountry, you might consider using a larger cartridge. But if you encounter a bear in close quarters, the .308 might work better.

The idea is to have a rifle that you can shoot relatively fast. For example, you don’t want to be fumbling around with a cumbersome bolt-action rifle when a grizzly is bearing down on you. You want to be able to shoot as quickly as possible.

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How Important Is Accuracy When Shooting at Grizzlies?

Accuracy is extremely important when shooting at grizzlies. The more time you have to set up a shot, the better off you’ll be. You need to be able to hit the bear in a vital spot. Otherwise, you might just injure the animal and make it even more dangerous.

It’s possible to kill a grizzly bear with guns that are less powerful than a .308 as long as you properly place your shot.

That said, sudden grizzly encounters may not leave you with enough time to be precise with your shooting, which is why it’s important to be prepared to take multiple shots.

A slightly wounded grizzly isn’t something you want to deal with. They’re powerful animals that’ll viciously fight back.

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Have People Taken Down Grizzlies with a .308 Before?

Despite what you might have seen in the movies, the .308 Winchester round can take down a grizzly bear. In fact, it’s even been used by hunters in Alaska to take down this big, brown bear for years.

People have taken down grizzlies with a .308 before. However, a grizzly bear’s reaction to being shot isn’t always predictable. It’s important not to assume that a single good shot will be the end of the encounter.

If you think you might encounter some grizzlies, the .308 should be more than powerful enough for the job. Just make sure that you’re using a high-quality rifle and ammunition and are taking care to be proficient in your marksmanship. With those things in place, the .308 will do its job.

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.308 vs. 30-06 for Grizzly Bears

30-06 cartridges are more powerful than a .308 cartridge. The 30-06 can take down larger animals at longer distances. However, it also has more recoil and is less accurate than the .308.

The .308 is a reliable rifle for the inexperienced hunter as it’s easier to control. This is especially true if you’re hunting at close quarters. The 30-06 might be better for an experienced hunter operating in the backcountry.

While the 30-06 is more powerful and more likely to take down a large grizzly bear, the .308 is still a viable option with quality ammunition.

How Likely Are Aggressive Bear Encounters?

Close up of an adult grizzly bear

Not every bear encounter requires the use of a weapon, but it’s always good to have one in case you need it.

Aggressive bear encounters are more likely in the backcountry than they are in developed areas. However, bears might get aggressive whenever they feel threatened, regardless of location.

That said, aggressive bear encounters or full-on bear attacks are relatively rare. While a .308 rifle might protect you against an aggressive bear, there’s no guarantee that you will need to use it. In fact, using your rifle with a non-aggressive bear might make the situation worse.

The National Park Service provides a number of ways to handle a bear encounter before resorting to the use of a weapon.

How To Survive a Grizzly Attack?

To survive a grizzly attack, you need to identify bear territory, the type of bear you’re looking at, and have a solid survival strategy. A .308 rifle can be of great help, but some bear spray can also do the trick.

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Naturally, grizzlies won’t attack unless they feel threatened. And this usually happens in the backcountry without you knowing. The only time you’re likely to see a grizzly is when it’s too close, and that’s why most people have great success with the .308.

During a sneak attack, your first line of defense should be bear spray. Hopefully, this will stop the bear in its tracks, giving you the chance to shoot your shot.

But if the grizzly does manage to get on top of you, your best bet is to play dead. Curl up in a ball and protect your vital organs. And whatever you do, don’t fight back.

Fighting back will only agitate the bear and make the situation more dangerous. Play dead and wait for the bear to lose interest and wander away. Then, you can make your escape.

Bear attacks are rare, but they can happen. So it’s wise to be prepared for all eventualities.


For many people, the .308 won’t be the first choice against a grizzly bear. However, if this is the only weapon you have on hand, you’re much better off with it than you are without it. The .308 is fully capable of taking down a grizzly bear, especially if you place your shot well.

However, if you do find yourself in a battle with a bear, remember to play dead, protect your vitals, and wait for the bear to lose interest. This might seem cowardly, but it can save your life.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>