The .30/06 Springfield cartridge is worn out. Outdated. Over the hill. Look, computer systems have changed typewriters. Smartphones have changed land traces. Isn’t it time we phased out the drained, antiquated .30/06 for higher, extra modern cartridges?

The previous .30/06 hatched as a army cartridge within the horse-and-buggy period, 1906. That was two years earlier than the Ford Mannequin T hit the streets! It was 14 years earlier than industrial radio started, and 48 years earlier than Elvis Presley’s first hit file. There’s no method it may well compete with the likes of the .308 Winchester, .300 Ruger Compact Magnum, and even the little 6.5 Creedmoor. Or can it? Let’s dive deep into this well-known previous centerfire rifle cartridge and see simply the way it holds up towards a few of immediately’s scorching prospects.

The M1903 Springfield. Springfield Armory

Historical past

The .30/06 was born of army necessity after the Spanish American warfare of 1898. After our troops, together with Teddy Roosevelt and his volunteer Tough Riders, felt the sting of 7x57mm Spanish Mausers in Cuba, the U.S. army got down to develop an equally efficient rifle and cartridge. They got here up with the Mannequin 1903 Springfield bolt-action and .30-03 cartridge throwing 220-grain round-nose bullets 2,300 fps. That also wasn’t ok, so three years later they shortened the case size barely, changed the stodgy round-nose with a 150-grain spire level at 2,700 fps and voila’. Meet the .30/06.

Each this cartridge and the Springfield bolt-action rifle had been so just like the Mauser that our authorities needed to pay royalties to Mauser in Germany. (The .30/06 is just about a 7x57mm case lengthened about 1/4-inch and necked as much as maintain a .308” bullet).

.30-06 Springfield
A camouflaged M1903 Springfield sniper’s rifle with telescopic sight, photographed in France, Might 1918. Wiki

How good had been the brand new army cartridge and rifle? Nicely, each helped win WWI and WWII. However hunters didn’t anticipate wars to check the arrange. Teddy Roosevelt, recent out of the White Home in 1909, took a sporterized Springfield .30/06 on his African safari. Regardless of his poor taking pictures, it proved so efficient that his buddy and creator Stewart Edward White adopted swimsuit in 1911. Earnest Hemingway shot a .30/06 on his 1933 safari, stopping a giant lion and making a one-shot kill on a working rhino at some 300 yards.

By the mid-Twentieth century the .30/06 was properly established as the best, middle-of-the-road, do-it-all “mild” cartridge towards which others had been judged. It fired the whole lot from 100-grain plinkers to 220-grain solids and dispatched the whole lot from carrot-raiding rodents to hut-stomping pachyderms. From equatorial jungles to the Arctic, the .30/06 was king regardless of competitors from its personal offspring, the .270 Winchester, plus the magnum-length .300 H&H and .300 Weatherby Magnum. Not till Remington launched its 7mm Remington Magnum in 1962 and Winchester unveiled its .300 Winchester Magnum in 1963 did the .30/06’s star start to dim.

barrett fieldcraft 30-06 rifle
The creator with a Barrett Fieldcraft in .30/06. Ron Spomer

Judging the .30/06 Springfield Right now

Trendy powders and bullets make the .30/06 more practical immediately than it’s ever been. Most ammunition will now push a 150-grain bullet 3,000 fps, a 180-grain 2,800 fps. However assessing the .30/06’s worth as a searching cartridge hinges on what you worth. Some hunters rank ammunition selection highest, others ammo price or availability, relative recoil, downrange vitality, drop, wind deflection, even the size of the rifle’s motion. Let’s think about many of those:

Ammunition Selection

On this class the .30/06 continues to be king with roughly 100 completely different mixtures of bullets and types in the marketplace. Just about each ammo producer hundreds the .30/06. The lightest bullet provided is Remington’s 55-grain Accelerator Pointed Gentle Level rated 4,080 fps. The heaviest is Federal’s 220-grain Sierra Professional-Hunter SP Spherical Nostril. Handloaders can high the previous -06 with the whole lot from stumpy 100-grain plinking drugs to 225-grain Match bullets and hit velocities as excessive as 3,500 fps. On the manufacturing facility aspect, main producers nonetheless provide the .30-06 of their flagship ammo traces.

Prime .30-06 Searching Ammo

Ammo Availability and Price

If there’s a retail outlet promoting centerfire rifle ammunition that doesn’t inventory .30/06, likelihood is you’ll by no means discover it. As for price, you will discover .30/06 fodder as low cost as 50-cents per spherical. That’s $10 per field of 20. Respectable searching hundreds typically run from $15 up. Premium fodder like Swift High Grade Ammunition with Scirocco and A-Body bullets goes for as a lot as $66 per 20.

winchester m1895 lever action rifle
The Winchester M1895. Winchester

Rifle Availability and Selection

Once more, just about each well-liked rifle maker chambers .30/06. AR-15 and AR-10 platforms are exceptions for apparent causes. The lever-action M1895 Winchester was the primary industrial rifle ever chambered for .30/06. It’s been adopted by break-action single pictures, falling block single pictures, pumps, auto-loaders, turn-bolt bolt actions, straight-pull bolt actions, over/unders, side-by-side double barrels, Hoenig’s rotary motion, and numerous hand cannons. Practically each new rifle mannequin launched—from $300 bargains to $20,000 semi-customs—is obtainable in .30/06.

Rifle Dimension and Weight

The unique Springfield army rifle in .30/06 weighed 8.6 kilos unloaded. Recoil vitality of 17.81 foot-pounds at a recoil velocity of 11.54 fps was deemed manageable by the standard soldier for prolonged motion and each day use. Trendy rifles in .30/06 may be had as mild as 5 kilos with 7- to 8-pound fashions being most typical. Recoil of a 150-grain bullet from a 7-pound .30/06 could be about 25 f-p at 15 fps.

Trajectory and Ballistics

With its unique 150-grain spire level bullet at 2,700 fps, the Springfield .30/06 was licensed for an excessive attain of 4.75 miles, an efficient firing vary of 1,000 yards. A flip up rear leaf sight was graduated for ranges out to 2,850 yards. Level-blank vary for a standing, man-sized goal was 500 yards. Whether or not the army rifles had been correct sufficient to reap the benefits of that is moot. Im certain just a few had been, most weren’t. However that doesn’t imply immediately’s sporting rifles aren’t…


The .30/06 has been used to win many quick, medium, and long-range goal taking pictures competitions. Trendy searching rifles commonly print Minute of Angle with choose ammunition, and punctiliously tuned rifles usually obtain true 1/2 MOA efficiency, generally even 1/4 minute precision. Rifle/cartridge accuracy relies upon extra on a concentric and balanced rifle and bullet than the form of the cartridge.

Exterior Ballistics

For many severe shooters and hunters, exterior ballistics is the actual measure of a cartridge’s worth. The flight of the bullet is the entire cause for the rifle, scope, primer, brass, and powder. The sooner a bullet leaves the muzzle and the upper its Ballistic Coefficient, the flatter it shoots, the much less it deflects within the wind, and the extra vitality it retains in any respect ranges. Given the identical MV and B.C., all bullets scribe the identical trajectory, however the heavier ones retain extra vitality. Placing that bullet within the appropriate place is the ultimate piece of the puzzle (see Accuracy above).

Take into consideration all this for a minute. Muzzle velocity, B.C., and mass are the three legs on which each bullet runs. Shorten one and also you shorten efficiency. Lengthen one, and also you improve efficiency. That is how some seemingly smaller calibers and lighter bullets can outperform giant, heavier ones. Each cartridge/bullet mixture is a compromise. Elevated velocity and mass improve powder consumption, recoil, and expense. In any given caliber, elevated velocity decreases barrel life. With that in thoughts, let’s evaluate the previous .30/06 to another mid-sized, general-purpose searching cartridges generally used for giant sport searching (pronghorn, deer, black bear, elk, and African plains sport).

To make these comparisons constant, we’ll zero every cartridge for its most level clean vary (MPBR) on an 8-inch goal. Which means we zero bullet influence as excessive as wanted (normally about 3 inches) at 100 yards to make sure bullets strike no increased than 4 inches above the aiming level at peak trajectory (normally round 150 yards). The space at which they drop 4 inches beneath level of intention is that cartridge’s most level clean vary. As well as, we are going to choose applicable bullet weights for deer searching and try to hold bullet B.C. scores as excessive as fairly doable for every. Remember that lighter, heavier, or higher B.C. bullets in any cartridge will change ballistic efficiency. Growing bullet weight to extend kinetic vitality (downrange punch) at all times requires a sacrifice of MV. With a constant kind issue (boat tail spire level, for example) further weight reduces muzzle velocity, will increase B.C., decreases wind deflection, and will increase drop.

We’ll “shoot” every of the cartridges beneath in 8-pound rifles in equivalent atmospheric circumstances for consistency.

Cartridge Bullet/BC Recoil f-p/fps MV MPBR
.243 Win. 100-gr./.410 11.2/9.5 3,000 fps. 325 yds.
6.5 C.M. 143-gr/.625 14.3/10.7 2,700 fps. 307 yds.
.270 Win. 150-gr./.525 20.4/12.8 2,850 fps. 319 yds.
7mm-08 150-gr/.555 19.4/12.5 2,800 fps. 315 yds.
.280 Rem. 150-gr./.555 20.7/13 2,950 fps. 331 yds.
7mm R.M. 162-gr./.630 26/14.5 3,000 fps. 340 yds.
.308 Win. 165-gr./.490 19.4/12.5 2,750 fps. 306 yds.
.30/06 165-gr./.490 23.9/13.9 2,950 fps. 327 yds.
.300 W.M. 180-gr./.510 33.8/16.5 3,050 fps. 339 yds
.300 RUM. 180-gr./.510 37.2/17.3 3,300fps. 364 yds.


Listed below are the trajectories and downrange energies for a few of the above bullets. Not each rifle will hit these precise MVs, and altering to increased B.C. bullets will considerably alter downrange efficiency, however the bullets/hundreds right here symbolize a few of the extra generally offered and shot in manufacturing facility searching ammunition. Discover how increased B.C. bullets contribute to raised downrange ballistics by minimizing drag and conserving vitality.

Cartridge/Bullet/B.C. Drop inches/Drift inches/Power f-p
Vary: 300 yds.
6.5 C.M. 143 gr./.625 -3.2/5/1,658
270 Win. 150 gr./.525 -2.3/5.8/1,831
280 Rem. 150 gr./.555 -1.4/5/2,016
308 Win. 165 gr./.490 -3.4/6.5/1,809
.30/06 Sprfld. 165 gr./.490 -1.8/6/2,108
7mm R.M. 162 gr./.630 -0.8/4.4/2,359
300 W.M.180 gr./.510 -0.8/5.4/2,514

Essentially the most revealing takeaway from these numbers is how related all cartridges carry out at 300 yards. There isn’t 3 inches of drop distinction between the most effective and worst and solely 2 inches of wind deflection distinction. Power ranges are greater than satisfactory even for addressing large bull elk.

Learn Subsequent: Why New Rifle Cartridges Are Superior to the Classics

How In style Alternate options to .30/06 Springfield Stack Up

.308 Winchester

The .308 is actually a “.30/06 quick.”

This civilian model of the army cartridge (7.62 NATO) has develop into the go-to “police/sniper” spherical, the primary cataloged in any new goal, precision, police/army, or long-range rifle. Heck, it’s even provided in most predator/varmint rigs. But it’s nothing however a “.30/06 quick.” Identical rim, identical head, identical physique diameters, simply 1/2 inch shorter. Which means the rifle generally is a half-inch shorter, perhaps 4 ounces lighter, and 0.001 second sooner (only a guess) to cycle. Many declare the 308 Win. can also be extra environment friendly than the .30/06. If, by that, they imply it makes use of much less powder, they’re appropriate. However that comes on the lack of 100 to 200 fps MV with most bullets. Sport received’t discover the distinction, however you may when your bullet lands simply quick attributable to extra drop and drift. The .308 Win. is a effective little cartridge greater than satisfactory for taking most large sport, however with 10 grains much less powder in its engine room, there’s no method the .308 Win. can outperform the .30/06.

One professional win for the .308 is barrel life. The U.S. army way back decided the common .30/06 Springfield barrel misplaced acceptable accuracy after about 5,000 rounds whereas 7.62 NATO barrels grasp in there for about 8,000 rounds. In case you’re taking pictures a whole bunch of rounds a month for apply or competitors, the .308 is your more sensible choice. In a pure searching rifle, I can’t think about anybody burning out a .30/06 in a lifetime. Personally, I don’t select searching rifles for longest barrel life. I select them for efficiency. Barrels are like truck tires. When worn out, you change them.

.270 Winchester

The .270 has a fame as a flat shooter, particularly with 130-grain bullets.

Squeeze the neck of a .30/06 to grip a .277” bullet and you’ve got a 270 Winchester. Now you’ve the identical engine (powder) pushing a narrower bullet which, in a given weight and kind, is the next B.C. bullet. It higher resists drag so it drops and drifts lower than the fatter, .308” bullet. Thus did the .270 Win. achieve its fame for taking pictures “flat,” particularly with 130-grain projectiles. However bullets heavier than 150 grains are onerous to seek out within the 270. Given related supplies and development, heavier bullets carry extra vitality, hit tougher, and penetrate farther than lighter ones, so the .30/06, with its 165- to 220-grain choices, stays the higher all-round cartridge for giant stuff like elk, moose, kudu, and eland.

7mm/08 Rem. and .280 Rem.

The necked down .308 and necked down .30/06, respectively.

Each of those wonderful cartridges throw .284” diameter bullets. Just like the 270 Win., they’ve increased B.C. advantages with identical weight/kind bullets than .308. The 7mm-08 is simply the 308 Win. necked down. The .280 is actually the .30/06 necked down. With 150- to 175-grain bullets, the 280 Rem. wins the ballistic race. However for shear horsepower delivered on sport, it may well’t match the .30/06 loaded with 190- to 220-grain bullets. The 7mm-08, thought of the last word whitetail cartridge by many, is restricted by the identical diminished powder provide because the 308 Win. With 140- to 150-grain bullets, it hangs proper with the .30/06, however go any heavier and the .30/06 pulls away.

.300 Winchester Magnum et. al.

Magnum cartridges burn extra powder and push bullets sooner.

The winner! In fact. Any 300 magnum — and the checklist is lengthy — outshoots the .30/06 as a result of it burns extra powder to push the identical bullets. Within the case of the .300 Win. Magazine., about 20 grains extra powder. The .300 RUM and .30-378 Wby. Magazine. devour 30- and 40-grains greater than the .30/06, respectively. The downsides to all magnums embrace decreased barrel life, elevated recoil, costlier ammunition, and sometimes longer, bulkier, heavier rifles. Earlier than divorcing your .30/06 to marry a 300 tremendous magnum, ask your self if you actually need the additional weight, expense, and recoil. In case you’re not commonly taking pictures sport past 400 yards, you in all probability don’t. The decrepit previous .30/06 dances inside a few inches of the 300 Win. Magazine. at cheap searching ranges and does it with 10 f-p much less kick to your chops.

6.5 Creedmoor

This mild-shooting spherical has a excessive B.C.

At first look you’d suppose the little 6.5 Creedmoor pushing a 143-grain bullet at simply 2,700 fps doesn’t belong on this comparability, however many hunters are utilizing it to take lots of the identical species generally hunted with a .30/06. Because the trajectory tables present, this mild-shooting spherical hangs with the extra highly effective rounds and even begins catching many at longer ranges, due to its excessive B.C. bullet. In terms of bullet efficiency, air drag is a drag. However the higher restrict of bullet weight in .264 means the 30-06 is extra versatile. Take a look at it this manner: would you relatively face a charging brown bear with a 143 grain bullet up the spout or a 220-grain?

winchester m70 featherweight
The creator with an Alaska moose, taken with a .30/06 in 1990 (the .30/06 will nonetheless kill moose immediately). Ron Spomer

Last Ideas on the .30/06 Springfield

After greater than a century of flattening the world’s largest, meanest, and tastiest sport animals, the .30/06 Springfield stays an extremely properly balanced, versatile, reasonably priced searching cartridge. With trendy ammo it shoots 100- to 200 fps sooner than it used to. If it was ok to cease lions, rhinos, buffalo, and elephants 100 years in the past, it’s in all probability ok to cease deer, elk, and moose immediately.

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