Letter Re: Advice on Military Surplus .308 Ammo

Dear Jim:
Recently several of us were having a discussion about the best .308 ammo available these days. I had recently bought some South African mil-spec stuff, but somebody thought that it might be of questionable quality.

1.) What do you think of South African 7.62 ( or any of the mil-spec) as far as quality ammo vs. other brands?

2.) The South African stuff is 147 grain. What grain .308 / 7.62 bullet do you like for your MBR?

Thanks for you response. B’Shem Moshiach Yahshua (In the Name of Messiah Yahshua) – Dr. Sidney Zweibel

P.S.: I loaned out my copy of “Patriots” about four months ago and still have not got it back. It is really making the rounds!!

JWR Replies: My all time favorite military surplus .308 ball ammo was West German ball, which was imported briefly in the early 1980s. It seemed to shoot as well as U.S. match ammunition! Then in the mid to late 1990s, there was a profusion of Portuguese ball. It was also excellent. Unfortunately, it too has dried up. A couple of years back there was a decent quantity of Australian ball on the market. That didn’t last long, either. The South African .308 ball is non-corrosively primed and is of good quality. Its accuracy is comparable to U.S.ball ammo. (Lake City or Winchester/USA commercial white box.) It seem to leave a bit more powder fouling, but it is far from “messy” ammo.

Be advised, however, that some of the South African 140 round battle packs have been received from importers with tears or pin holes, and some of the ammo is tarnished. (Some suspect that at least a few lots have been re-packed. So to prevent any further degradation, my advice is to store your battle packs in large ammo cans (big 20 mm cans work great), and just in case, throw in a bag of silica gel desiccant to absorb any residual moisture before you seal the can.

From what I’ve heard, the ballistic curve for 147 South African grain ball is not significantly different from U.S. ball ammo . (I have not yet done any extensive tests.) Hence, a rifle scope with a “U.S. ball” ballistic compensating cam should work fine with the South African ammo.

Given the current shortage of surplus ammo–at least some calibers– I recommend stocking up. The South African ball ammo is a good choice, but again, the battle packs should be stored in large ammo cans with desiccant. I’ve noticed the price of South African ball is starting to creep up. Buy a bunch while it is still cheap and plentiful!