The Excellent 308 Norma Magnum

Norma-USA

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The excellent 308 Norma Magnum

A review by Jerry B Bauduin

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There are many excellent cartridges on the market today. Many of them are new and innovative, some exceptional and some are hype. It seems like there’s a new cartridge, new bullet, new scope, and countless other innovations being released day in and day out. New ideas are born and old ones laid to rest. There are still those oldies by goodies that never die and will continue to live on in the shooting and hunting world. One such cartridge is the venerable .308 Norma Magnum.

Over the course of my 23 years, I have shot and have had first hand experience with over twenty rifle cartridges. From old to state of the art. I have been a gun enthusiast and avid hunter and shooter for my whole life. I have helped and worked with many custom rifles and precision cartridges. I have experimented and tinkered with everything I can to better myself, my ammo, my rifles, and my techniques. Out of all of my rifles and past experiences, I continue to praise the .308 Norma Magnum and I continue to support it. No other excellent cartridge has been as overlooked as the Norma has been. The unfortunate ways of the market stopped this cartridge from being one of the most popular cartridges there ever could have been. Today’s advancements in ammunition, bullets, brass, powder, and precision manufacturing keep the .308 Norma neck and neck with other powerhouses such as the .300 WSM and .300 Win Mag. I have tested the later cartridges against one another and my Norma never fails to match or exceed them. Few cartridges have as much of my attention, love, and respect as the .308 Norma Magnum does.

I was introduced to the .308 Norma Magnum by my father. He grew up shooting the Norma and even competed in long range competition with a custom 40X Remington chambered in the cartridge. I built two custom rifles with the help of my Uncle, retired gunsmith, and fell in love with the Norma Mag. I have had experience with many magnum cartridges, but none have been as accurate or easy to get to shoot quite like the .308 Norma.

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My first .308 Norma Magnum is a full custom rifle built by my Uncle.. He did most of the work while I just watched and did my best to learn his craft as he worked on it. The rifle is built around a reworked Winchester Model 1917 Enfield action that’s been cleaned up, reblued, the bolt has been polished and jeweled, and the rear sight has been milled off, and it has been drilled and tapped for a Model 70 Winchester scope base. The military trigger has been replaced with a crisp Dayton Traister trigger and it has been converted from cock on close to cock on open like most modern sporting rifles. The barrel is a custom contoured Hart match grade barrel with a 1-10 twist finished at 28”. The most beautiful and catchy part of the entire rifle is the magnificent AAA grade American Black Walnut thumbhole stock. My uncle is a master with wood and he did his best to make this stock a work of art. I very much appreciate his efforts and time he put into this rifle for me. When the rifle was first completed I loved it so much I decided to keep it as a safe queen for awhile for fear it might get scratched haha. I plan to top it with a scope in the future and use it as a long range Varmint rifle.

My primary long range rifle is built on a trued Remington 700 magnum long action fitted to a Bartlein 5R 1-9 twist Sendero contour barrel that's all bedded into a Bell and Carlson M40 stock. A Trigger Tech trigger resides in the BDL bottom metal and a Sightron STAC 4-20x50 sets in a one piece DNZ scope mount. This rifle is fitted with a custom 3 port muzzle brake and makes the roaring Norma Mag a pleasure to shoot. This rifle has gathered attention over the years for its sharp looks, small groups, loud bang, and deadly performance from the potent .308 Norma Magnum.

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The old Norma Magnum may be obscured by some, but it sure is revered and respected by many. The name Norma is as recognizable and prestigious in the world of firearms as Ferrari is to cars. In the world of super magnums and ever bigger cartridges, the .308 Norma is still an effective and potent option. The Norma is able to keep up or be right on the heels of today’s .30cal magnum cartridges. It’s relatively compact size but slightly longer than caliber length neck make it an exceptionally accurate and diverse cartridge. It can handle bullets from 150 grains up to 220+ grains and everything in between. It fits and feeds in all long action and magnum action designs. It also doesn’t require a special action, complicated modifications, or an extended magazine box. The pure accuracy and efficiency of the Norma far outweigh the small loss in velocity it gives up to bigger cartridges such as the .30 Nosler, .300 Weatherby, and .300 RUM. Even while burning 8-20 grains less powder, the sweet old Norma is able to stay within 100FPS of the big boomers and still do it with extreme consistency and accuracy. Just like my Dad says “speed doesn’t kill anything if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at!”

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Following this article, I will be writing another following the steps I take as I work up a load for my custom Remington 700 chambered in .308 Norma Magnum. Currently, my go to long range hunting and shooting load consists of a 208gr Hornady ELD bullet, Alliant’s Reloder 26 powder, and Federal 215. Together, these components produce 3/8” groups at 100 yards and maintain sub MOA performance out to 1000 yards. My .308 Norma is able to push that heavy, high BC Hornady at 3050FPS with single digit standard deviations. This combo is extremely consistent and accurate.

In conclusion, the .308 Norma Magnum has been around for half a century and it’s now more impressive than ever before. Today’s advancements in ammunition and reloading supplies make the .308 Norma a serious candidate in the field of magnum rounds. I have no doubts or regrets choosing to build rifles in this cartridge and invest in it. As long as Norma continues supporting their fine cartridge, the .308 Norma will be an excellent and top notch choice. From target shooting to Grizzly bear hunting, there’s not much it can’t do well. Its efficient and well thought out design lends itself useful with a huge variety of bullet options and allows it to be a tack driver while still running with bigger magnums. When other cartridges and rifles fail me, I know I can forever count on the .308 Norma Magnum!

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Alexandro Faria

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You guys don't get how much I wish it had made more of an impact in the industry. Whether it was marketing, bad time or just hard luck, doesn't matter- it's an AWESOME cartridge and should have made the 30-06 and 300 win mag obsolete for most hunters. If you guys are going to give it another crack, PLEASE don't forget those of us in Africa...
 

Hogpatrol

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You guys don't get how much I wish it had made more of an impact in the industry. Whether it was marketing, bad time or just hard luck, doesn't matter- it's an AWESOME cartridge and should have made the 30-06 and 300 win mag obsolete for most hunters. If you guys are going to give it another crack, PLEASE don't forget those of us in Africa...

An excellent cartridge but unfortunately for this and others the gun world is moving away from belted magnums and their extra long, heavier actions.
 

Shootist43

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My 308 Norma Mag. started of life as an Interarms Mark X. A previous owner (a grandfather to the guy I bought it from) had it converted to a 308 Norma Mag. and a really nice piece of wood put on it. The rifle feeds and functions flawlessly. Accuracy with Norma ammo is under an inch at a hundred yards. I'm happy with both the gun and the caliber.
 

Bullthrower338

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I had full intentions of owning one, even bought ammo for it. Just got to the point of where it would be redundant with all my other 30 cal magnums. Great cartridge though, if my ammo doesn’t sell I may end up with one yet!
 

lwaters

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I always thought the 308 Norma mag. And 30-338 were better rounds than the 300 win. mag. The Norma round came out first and Winchester had to make a round a little different than the 30-338.
 

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Great write up. Please do another on the .358 NM...................FWB
 

Pheroze

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I am a cartridge nerd, and I looked at so many cartridges before deciding to build my 308 NM. Very happy I did. Powerful without being difficult to shoot. Nice to load. Looks great. Shame it is not more popular. An impractical but practical cartridge lol.
 

Shootist43

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Cody I like your style. If you can't sell $150 bucks worth of ammo you are willing to buy a rifle for 5 or 6 times that. I made the decision to use Norma's 200 Grain Oryx or I'd help you out of your dilemma.
 
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I always thought the 308 Norma mag. And 30-338 were better rounds than the 300 win. mag. The Norma round came out first and Winchester had to make a round a little different than the 30-338.
@Iwaters
In the USA they suffer from NIH ( not invented here). Like a lot of excellent European calibers are not readily liked in the US. Look how long it took the 6 5x55,7x64, 9.3x62 and others have taken to get a foothold. Because of this they have missed out in a lot of brilliant cartridges. We won't mention anything in 8mm that doesn't last long even the 8mm rem mag and the 325WSM and we wint talk about the 8mm Mauser.
Just my 2cents worth
Bob
 

Pheroze

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The more I reload and use it, the more I like it!
 

C.W. Richter

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As a big fan of quality, early actions, 'once had the opportunity to buy an Eddystone (PA, USA) Enfield-style P17 action (pre-Remington purchase) made by the WWI converted Baldwin Locomotive Works that first began building them prior to selling out to Rem. It was sporterized into a .308 NM. I passed, but should've purchased it. Performance wise, pretty much a .300 WM'ish. Nothing wrong with it at all, although factory ammo would not be readily available (in American stores) for the non-handloaders. I like the .358 NM even better...the perfect Med game cartridge!!!
 

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