A gunsmith friend of mine recently told me he was considering not renewing his NRA membership. It wasn’t because of the NRA or NRA-ILA’s political posturing. He was reacting to a recent opinion piece in the American Hunter titled “The .30-06 Sucks.”

In the article, Mr. Mann argues that it is purely emotion that sustains the .30-06; the caliber’s time has come and gone. In his opinion, if you hunt with the .30-06, that’s OK, but it’s only because you just aren’t “savvy” enough to know any better.

Apparently, Mr. Mann does. Bless his heart.

Mr. Mann notes that “using Hornady’s Precision Hunter ammunition, the .30-06 will deliver about 9 percent better performance than the 308.” What he fails to mention is that this is measured at the muzzle. For some reason I’m ever lucky enough to hunt at quite that close a range.

Still, if you’re confident that you’ll only be hunting at fairly close ranges, he’s pretty much on target. There’s not even a ten percent gain in energy to compensate for a larger gain in recoil (we’ll get to how much recoil that is in a minute) out to 100 yards. But what happens past 100 yards?

Using the exact same data provided, comparing a 178gr ELD for the .30-06 vs. the 155gr ELD in the .308, the gulf in energy delivered widens the farther out we push the round. By 300 yards, there’s a 13 percent advantage to the .30-06. At 400, it’s 16 percent. And at 500 yards, we see an 18 percent advantage in the long action vs. the short action cartridge.

If we take a look at the same round vs. the 140gr ELD in 6.5 Creedmor, the advantage of the old warhorse is even more pronounced: 29 percent more energy at 100 yards, 24 percent at 300, and 20 percent at 500. Around the 900 yard mark the 6.5 Creedmoor catches up to the “antiquated” .30-06. The .308 never does.

The author’s argument is ultimately that the .308 and other less energetic, more modern cartridges are simply more efficient than the .30-06. They give you more bang for the recoil buck. Maybe. But in automotive parlance, “there’s no replacement for displacement.”

At short ranges and all the way out to about 350 yards, there is, in fact, more recoil by percentage for energy delivered from the .30-06 than the .308. After that, though, the advantage shifts to the .30-06. Why? Because, all other things being equal, the .30-06 will be ever so slightly heavier. That very small change in weight translates a big difference in recoil. Don’t take my word for it. Grab your reloading books, check the specs on your favorite rifles, and do the math yourself.

But that increased weight is presented as a negative in the American Hunter opinion piece. And it’s true. The short action is a lighter rifle than the long action, and theoretically easier to carry. But just how much of a difference are we talking about?

Let’s take a look at a modern rifle — and a good one — the current Savage 110. 

Compare the weights and you will find that the difference in the same rifle, with the same barrel length, will weigh literally half a glass of water more in .30-06 than .308. Is it worth sacrificing the power and versatility for 4oz of weight? 

There are so many things on the rifle that can make up that weight, if you so choose. As for me, I’d rather keep the rifle as is and take two good drinks of coffee from my thermos if I want to reduce that amount weight, because that’s about how much we are talking about.

Of course, the argument can be made that the .30-06 is just too much bullet. That, however, depends entirely on what you expect to use it for.

The author offers up W.D.M. Bell’s exceptional record of taking over 1,000 African elephants with a 7X57 Mauser and Bell’s speculation on how well the .308 Winchester would work on large game. I see Bell’s hunts used as justification of smaller calibers for larger animals quite often. It’s an extremely poor argument , and there are good reasons why such a small caliber is illegal to use when hunting dangerous game in Africa.

I will quote to Bell himself about the December 1954 article he wrote for the American Rifleman. Speaking on the 7X57, he said that is was “an inspiring little rifle, requiring knowledge of anatomy and exact pointing”…a “scientist’s rifle.” He only took brain shots, and taking advantage of the elephant’s particular anatomy, shot through a soft spot in their skulls to reach his target.

He insisted on non-expanding rounds of solid hard cast lead with steel jackets. Even so, not only was a perfect understanding of their anatomy crucial, but only certain angles were acceptable. When shooting into the head from behind, he said the likelihood of the round reaching the brain was only one in three.

Bell was shooting herds, often a dozen at a time, purely for the sale of their ivory. His shots were from extremely close ranges, often 20 yards or less. Since the herds weren’t pressured, they would mill about, making so much noise that the report of his rifle would often go unnoticed by the rest of the herd, allowing him to take multiple animals.

My point is simple. Bell’s experience ivory hunting has no relevance to wild game hunting in North America or, in this day and age, in Africa either. That is, unless you’re supremely confident that you will only be taking shots directly into the brains of deer and elk at extremely close ranges, leave your rifle at home and pack a sling shot.

Beyond purely the ballistic advantages of a heavier, higher ballistic coefficient round being pushed at the same or faster speeds as a lighter round, the .30-06 has other significant advantages over the .308 and other relatively lower energy cartridges. First is the wide availability of the .30-06 round. Here in the US, you’re likely to find the .30-06 anywhere bullets are sold. But that’s virtually the same when it comes to the .308.

Head outside of the US, though, and that changes dramatically. In most other countries, you can still find the round that helped storm Normandy just about anywhere guns and ammo for hunting are sold. The same can’t be said for the .308.

Second, the extreme versatility of the cartridge cannot be overstated. Check out J.Y. Jones’s book, One Man, One Rifle, One Land where he uses a single Winchester model 70 in .30-06 to take every game animal in North America. And I mean all of them.

For the hand loader it’s a dream come true. There’s a full 100 grains of play in bullet choice for the .30-06, depending on what you want to do with it. Recipes abound, with an extremely wide choice of components available, and available all over the world.

Don’t get me wrong, the .308 is a great round. It’s extremely useful, efficient, and sufficient for most game at the ranges most people will shoot them. But that doesn’t take anything away from the .30-06. The older cartridge can do anything the short action can do, and then some.

If I had a mule deer tag and an elk tag, I certainly wouldn’t be walking out the door with my .308, but I wouldn’t hesitate with any of my .30-06 rifles.

America’s cartridge is no less relevant today than it was over 100 years ago when it was invented. Its components have changed a bit over the years, serving to improve and expand on an already great design. It remains the king of the American hunting rounds, and the savvy shooter understands why.

107 Responses to The Truth About .30-06

  1. Have not seen an AR in 30-06 so I went .308 for my bolt gun. Works just fine for me and the recoil is better managed.

        • Noreen is reviewed on Youtube by gun professional Chris Bartocci on his channel of the same name. He say’s they are excellent.

          The BN 36 with a 16 inch barrel weighs 7 pounds and has adjustable gas.

      • In the past, once you deviate from .22, 5.56, .308, and surplus rounds, the selection and price usually takes a hit. This is why I rolled with .308. However, I would love to have a rifle in 30-06, or .338LM or WM, but they are all around $3,000.

        That said, I took two seconds to google this Noreen BN36 and its a side charger for ~$2,000… very acceptable and I have something to add to my wish list now. That is, after I get a lawn mower, several hundred more feet of fencing, etc.

      • Benelli Offers the semi-auto R1 rifle in 30-06 and should suite your needs well. It’s also very lightweight, like a model 70 winchester.

    • It fires both, actually, depending on the model.

      Of course, there are also warnings re firing the right .30-06 in the M1 … modern hunting rounds being generally discouraged as a bad idea.

      • While that is the guidance, research that I can’t remember seems to suggest that it actually does no harm. Additionally, aftermarket gas plugs will allow the use of hunting rounds without issue.

        I still stick to CMP surplus rounds for mine, though. Not sure what I’ll do when those disappear.

        • “I still stick to CMP surplus rounds for mine, though. Not sure what I’ll do when those disappear.”

          Confucius say – “Handload, Grasshopper, handload…”

          (You *have* been saving your brass, haven’t you?)

          (The sound of the Gong in Kung-Fu)

        • Modern rounds are likely to damage the M1 garand operating rod over time. In Range TV has a nice test where they ran 3 different loads through a Garand and measured the op rod velocity. A Hornady super mag round resulted in twice the op rod velocity of M2 ball ammunition and even the 200gr buffalo bore resulted in something like 40% higher op rod velocities. Likely gentler .30-06 hunting ammo wouldn’t be “as bad”, but it still is going to be loaded hotter than the M2 is.

          Given enough time pushing the op rod velocities past spec and you are probably going to bend or break the rod. An aftermarket gas plug is pretty cheap insurance to prevent that from happening and then you can put whatever you want through it without extra wear and tear.

          .30-06 is great, but unless you do plan to hunt large game at longer distances or dangerous game at close distances it isn’t needed in NA. A 180gr .308 will do just fine even on Elk out to an easy 300yds. Many loadings are fine on Mule deer, white tail, black tail, black bear, Moose, etc. I wouldn’t want to use it on Grizzly or longer range shots on Elk or Moose and it wouldn’t be my cup of tea for general long range shooting, like a 500yd Antelope shot (are you still hunting?), but I’d look at 6.5 Creedmore or .270 win for that. I’d be looking at a .338 win mag or more powerful for close range Grizzly though (or something like Federal trophy 12ga 1 1/8oz slugs).

          A .30-06 can be used for all of the above, absolutely. However, unless you do reload, what you can’t do is shoot it really cheap. You can find decent quality M80 7.62×51 for under 50 cents a round through sales and other discounts often. Even regular priced, you can find it for around 60 cents a round. You can pickup steel case 7.62/.308 for about 35 cents a round if you don’t mind putting that through your rifle. Cheap .30-06 is around 70 cents a round and even steel cased doesn’t drop much below about 55 cents a round.

          So if you want to do a lot of plinking with a full power rifle round, it is really hard to go wrong with .308 as IMHO the best full power “plinking” round. And heck, even if you reload you are likely using slight light bullets and certainly less powder which still makes it a little cheaper.

          For hunting and longer range precision shooting though, the extra case capacity is really nice

        • Shooting modern commercial 30-06 can definitely be detrimental to any M1 without an aftermarket gas-plug. One might get away with it for a while, but the op-rod will definitely have a shorter lifespan…. especially if it’s an early non-radius cut rod.

          I personally will not shoot anything not loaded to the M2 Ball standard through my Garand, even though it’s a CAI assembly (albiet an extremely rare, sans-citrus Century). Servicable replacement op-rods are not cheap or easy to find.

          In-Range TV did an excellent episode on this topic.

          “Is Commercial Ammo Safe?”
          https://www.full30.com/video/2b685aad8ca63752c22424b4445888a9#

        • Shooting modern .30-06 through a garand certainly will damage it. I personally know 3 people who bent or broke the operating rod shooting modern .30-06 in their garands.

  2. While i do not own a 30-06 and prob never will it is still the most worthwhile all around hunting cartridge in my opinion. versatile enough to load up or down with a yuge assortment of bullets and weights.Ammo can be found almost anywhere for it. Probably the most damning thing i can say about it is it takes away reasons to buy other rifles.

    Leaving the NRA over an article is pretty silly, if we all agreed on gun stuff we would have nothing to talk about.

  3. The 111-year-old .30-’06 is STILL the better cartridge. All the modern cartridges are marvelous, but there’s something to be said for the inherent versatility that God provided to the ’06. My father was a member of the Navy Rifle Team and was a “Frogman” (Underwater Demolition Team member) throughout WW2 and Korea. His rifle of choice? The .30-’06. He preferred the additional range and power in the long run and didn’t see the 4-ounce weight difference as a hindrance. When all is said and done, more is said than done.

    I’ll take the .30-’06, thank you very much!

    • For years cartridge techs have been working on a better cartridge than the 30-06. I’m not saying their are no better cartridges out there. But let’s be realistic, on this planet can you walk in “any” establishment that sells ammo, & they will always have a box of 30-06. Try to find another round that goes from 55gr 4100 FPS—220 gr.. The 06 is here to stay, long live the king.
      Model 70 1959 featherweight……

  4. I just bought a savage 110 in 30-06. Really need to take it out. Any load advice for when I get some dies, or bullet weight advice for factory ammo?

  5. I would not say it sucks.It’s been a stand up cartridge for 111 years. The 308 was based on the 30-06. Performance? the 270 out does it.

  6. Love my old Remington 700 in 30-06. Dropped a bear in Quebec with it and had no problems.
    The Garand is equally as nice. Older IH model from 1953.
    308 is a nice round but I have a fondness for 30-06.

  7. the fact the the 06 is 111 years old, and kills deer or antelope just as dead as these new sooper pooper rounds sais enough.

  8. Of course there is nothing wrong with the .30-06 Springfield cartridge.

    I look at .30-06 as being larger than necessary for game like white-tailed deer, mule deer, feral hogs, and 350 pound (or less) black bears … and small for elk and especially moose and grizzlies (at “typical” ranges of 300 yards or less).

    I figure something like .243 Winchester, .270 Winchester, and .308 Winchester are ideal for the “smaller” flavors of big game. And I like .300 Winchester Magnum or larger for elk, moose, and grizzlies.

    • There have been a LOT of moose taken over the years with the .30-30 let alone the .30-06. The only difference between .308, .30-06 and .300 Win. mag is the ran ge at which larger game can be taken, and in the case of .308 vs .30-06 that difference is maybe an extra 20 or 30 yards for the -06. Shot placement and sufficient penetration are all that really matter.

      Of course, when it comes to grizzlies bigger is always better.

    • A former employer of mine has been hunting elk–successfully–every year for over forty years in Montana with his trusty .270 (and a scope that is far more costly than his old rifle).

  9. IMO it’s the most humane way take larger game. My bro in law once stopped a charging black bear in its tracks with one and the results were delicious instead of catastrophic.

  10. I have never understood fighting over which gun, bullet etc is not fit. While talking about a weapons uses in hunting or defense is good, if we fight and call name we push people away. No one gun or system we please everyone, but we ALL are part of the gun family.

    • Anyone who would leave the NRA over a caliber fight will also turn in his gun when asked. A “gunsmith” who days that will not get my business.

    • Pretty much sums up my thoughts. My eyes are glazed over. I would not be able to read that entire article even if I had a Sig P320 hanging over my head.

  11. I bet the firearms industry would love to see all of those old 30-06 and 30-30 rifles relegated to the gun safe as obsolete relics. The piece in the American Hunter just seems like a way to convince people that they need to buy a new rifle.

  12. I don’t care what is currently in or out of vogue…

    I keep only two full power, rifle cartridges in my safe – 150gr .30-06 and 180gr .30-06.

  13. There was something left out of the article. I’m not exactly an “old-timer” yet, but I’ve certainly had my share of reading about the next “wonder cartridge” that will “revolutionize” hunting/shooting. Most of them have come and gone, or been relegated to niche status. And yet, after all these years, the .30-06 soldiers on. Is some of the love for it nostalgia? Sure, but nostalgia isn’t enough by itself. Results have kept the .30-06 going strong.

  14. One selects the cartridge to get the job done. I promise you the lower power cartridges of yesteryear I can reload more times than the super chargers of today. My rifle barrel will thank me for it too. It would much rather me shoot a 30-06 than a 7mm rem mag or even a 243. For a 30-06 they can be fired in one of my rifles and then I can make 8mm Mauser out of the brass to be fired in my 8mm Mauser. There are many many reasons to select a cartridge over another, and there is nothing wrong with a 30-06 for its use within its limitations. Mr. Mann is trying to sound savvy, but I’m not impressed.

  15. Tear down any statues of W.D.M Bell and any statues with soldiers carrying 30.06 rifles; cause the world has moved on from ivory terrorists and nationalist militarist stormtroopers and their assaultish gun thingies–ya’ know.

  16. My first hunting rifle at the ripe old age of 15 was a Remington 700 BDL with a Weaver K4 scope. I sighted it in at dusk in the hi beam headlights of my buddies fathers car using my knee for support and resting my back on the front bumper. Yeah you don’t need anyone to let you know it went off but even for a 15 year old skinny teenager I didn’t think the recoil was objectionable. Hunted with that rifle from 1965 to 2010, while in Vietnam a friend who’s guns were stolen during a burglary used it for four weeks in two states and took 6 deer with 6 shots. I bought a Winchester mdl70 in 7×57 and took a few deer but not any better that my ’06 so I sold it and continued with the ’06 until I lost interest in hunting for personal reasons and sold it to a friend in 2010. Other calibers are very good, but that doesn’t make them superior to the ole’ granddaddy the ’06!!
    ,

  17. ‘…comparing a 178gr ELD for the .30-06 vs. the 155gr ELD in the .308…’

    This is where you lost me, this is just disingenuous. Why would you compare a 178gr. hun ting bu llet for the .30-06 to a 155gr. match bul let for the .308 when Hornady loads the same 178gr. in the same product line in .308?

    https://www.hornady.com/ammunition/rifle/308-win-178-gr-eld-x-precision-hunter#!/
    https://www.hornady.com/ammunition/rifle/30-06-springfield-178-gr-eld-x-precision-hunter#!/

    You’re whole point is completely invalid and dishonest. Of course a heavier bull et will have a higher BC.

    • The bullets and bullet weights listed are intentional because those are the bullets listed in the original American Rifleman article. Even in the original article, they are appropriate, as they are common bullet weights for those cartridges.

      • Well, wherever the argument originated it’s still invalid. The most common loads for both are 150gr.

        • You ask a question as to why those bullet weights for used, and it was answered. However if you would like to compare both 150 grain rounds, I have provided all of the tools you need to do it. I just did it very quickly. Do it yourself and you will find the percentages remain the same within just a couple of points.
          Or just complain more.

        • I know how to use a ballistics calculator. Theoretically, launching the exact same bul let 100fps faster will result in diminishing gains as the bu llet travels through the air due to the increase in atmospheric resistance at higher speeds. But a slower, heavier and more aerodynamic bull et will maintain much more of it’s energy downrange. Even if the results were identical, comparing apples to oranges is still not a valid argument.

          Bottom line is the .308 launches the exact same bu llets as a .30-06 only about 100fps slower resulting in reduced energy and re coil. (For some reason Hornady chose to give the -06 a 150fps advantage in the 178gr ELD-X.) In practical terms there’s very little difference between the two unless you’re looking to take a 1000 pound bull elk at 400 yards, in which case the -06 is a little less insufficient than the .308.

        • Sheesh. Mr. Taylor is being a bit testy today. This whole argument is stupid. Both cartridges can be loaded with whatever .308 diameter bullet your little heart desires.

          The real differences between .30-06 and .308 are case length and capacity. A more informative article would discuss the pros and cons of those two very real differences and how they translate to both practical application and ballistics. Instead, we get to watch a Ford vs. Chevy drag race where we give each car different size tires.

        • Even if the results were identical, comparing apples to oranges is still not a valid argument.

          Comparing 308win to 30-06 is apples to oranges.

      • I will say that 155gr .308 “match” loads are nearly heresy. When working up 155gr loads when I got my first .308 bolt gun back in the early 2000s, people treated my like I was insane for loading anything but 168gr or 175gr bullets. Specifically because I was giving up BC by using them.

        I think that selection is flawed period if you are also talking about bolt action rifles in that context. The 155 is a bit more accepted in semi auto circles, but still frowned upon.

        About the only thing the 30-06 really shines at compared to .308 is going beyond 175gr. Which is what opens it up to such versatility for game hunting in the US.

  18. The 30.06 is a great cartridge. In a fit of stupidity I sold one that I wish I had back. Easy to reload, flat shooter and good power. It most definitely has its place. Now lots of ideas have come and gone (remember the short magnums) but this one will be with us in the foreseeable future.

    • Sure, the .30-06 will take game humanely from a good distance, but .45 ACP will kill it’s soul. 9mm not so much. And the .9mm is too evil for hunting.

    • hahaha “flame” deleted my ass. Flaming is if I called you all little snowflakes who can’t deal with a hint of criticism. Which I didn’t. But now I am.

  19. There are plenty of reasons to ditch the NRA. This is kind of like them banning 1911’s in their USCCA knock-off classes (the same group they kicked out of their show). It seems the NRA isn’t really pro-gun, they are pro-NRA and it’s their way or nothing.
    Also, #neverforget the Hughes Amendment exists because of the NRA.

    • Yes, but I was doing it carrying your unloaded 22 revolver EDC tucked into the most fashionable jeans possible. But don’t worry, I made sure to receive no training whatsoever in its use.

      • You are mostly correct. Except for the unloaded part. Folks shoot thousands if not millions of game animals yearly with basic 308/243/7mm rifles, basic Bass Pro shop hunting ammo and basic Leopould scopes. Multitudes of self-defense situations are carried out with basic pistols and ammo. Shooting a deer or pulling a pistol out of a basic holster and pulling the trigger just isn’t as difficult as you hobbyist/fanatics make it out to be.

  20. Someone in the gun culture wrote a condescending article? No! Tell me it isn’t so! Next thing you know someone will be arguing that their coice of handgun caliber is superior!

  21. Please. The 06 is an anchor round.

    To dismiss it is stupidity. You may find something that does a particular job better but it is a stellar utility player.

    You can out-power it with 300 Win Mag or 300 H&H but the 06 will take any north american easilyif you can shoot.

    If you can’t shoot, a 300 Whammo Splat-o-matic wont help you much

  22. A long time ago Remington loaded a 30.06 with a light 55 gr slug in a plastic sabot that has a MV of over 4000 fps… it was great fun from my 1917 Enfield for taking the Woodchucks before they got to the vegetables.

    My hunting rifle has always been my Grandfathers 1886 Winchester in .45-70 and here I’m Maine I took everything from coyote to Moose with it at ranges between 20 and 200 yards…. and it a such a beautiful gun hanging over the fireplace in my living room…. and when you drop a moose with a 540 grain paper patched slug you don’t destroy the meat…

    That 4000+ fps 50 grain saboted slug from the 30.06 just about homogenized those woodchucks…. the dogs did not having their meals softened that way but I like my table meat to retain its structure.

    Almost any cartridge will do the job with proper shot placement…. just have the self discipline to hold your fire until you are assured of yo holding point and range and you will have meat for your pot.

    • OMG yes! The Remington .22 Accelerator round. When I first came to shooting, I was an 18-year old know nothing in California, and walked into a gun store and they told me I “needed” a 30-06 rifle. Semi-auto, too, if I remember. Probably not really the smartest purchase for taking coyotes and jack rabbits. But they also sold me a few boxes of those Accelerators.

      When used in varmint hunting, the results were…let’s just say it made for shockingly memorable results. None of the thumpers I came across suffered, I’ll just say that.

  23. .308 vs .30-06 is a stupid, click bait, argument. Beside, everyone knows the .270 is the best traditional long action cartridge ever. Col. Cooper said so himself! (where is the emoji of the smile stirring the pot when you need it?)

  24. You want to bitch about recoil? You want to complain about ballistics? Pick up a Trapdoor and launch a bullet of 405 grains out of a .45-70 – in a carbine. While you’re complaining about that, realize that the Army came up with a “better!” load – one with a 500 grain bullet, that had a better Bc, and a better trajectory. Launch a few of those out of a Trapdoor and get back to us with your complaints.

    Then come to Wyoming and see battlefields where men had to fire a few hundred rounds of this ammo out of such light weapons (which, by the way, had steel buttplates – no rubber recoil pads), almost none-stop, through an entire afternoon, lest they be killed, scalped, their genitals cut off and stuffed down the throat of their corpse.

    Then get back to me with complaints about “recoil.”

    Even more appalling, is to see in the last decade grown men arguing about “which muzzle brake is better on my AR to reduce recoil…”

    What recoil? From a cartridge designed to shoot rats and poodles, that is pushing 55 to 77 grain pills, out of a semi-auto, there are men who claim to be able to grow hair between their legs bitching about recoil?

    Such a lot of whinging and mewling about recoil. I guess we have truly become a nation of hollow men with sunken chests.

    The .30-06 was used to kill the enemy in two world wars we actually won (with such terms from the enemy as “unconditional surrender”), out of bolt action rifles, full-auto rifles, semi-auto rifles, and belt-fed machine guns. It seemed to do the job reasonably well, from my conversations with men of that era. The ’06 has competently taken countless numbers of large game on this continent – and a couple of other continents. It has only 17 to 23 ft-lbs or so of recoil out of a 9lb rifle, and for the effort, it affords you the widest selection of bullets, both target and hunting, extant. Only the 7mm bullet class comes close, but it still doesn’t exceed the breadth of selection afforded to .30 caliber shooters. It is said in engineering circles that the “perfect is the enemy of the good enough, and vice-versa.” Well, the ’06 is good enough – for practically anything. I’ve yet to have a client to whom I recommended the ’06 for a first hunting rifle come back with a complaint. They all reported that their quarry went down from a single shot, so they thought it quite the success. I suppose I didn’t do the shooting industry any favors, because these people are hunters first, shooters second, and once they found a rifle that would kill game, they quit buying any more rifles.

    On can improve upon the ’06 – and some cartridges do, to an extent. Where we’re talking target shooting, there is significant improvement in the 6.5 and 7mm bullet spaces. But here’s what none of those cartridge can do for you: You left home for hunting camp, and somehow, you forgot your ammo. Or somehow, it got lost. It happens. Without ammo, your hunt is over before it begins – and you’ve invested hundreds to thousands of dollars in this hunt. The nearest town to where you’re hunting in the West or Alaska is a fly speck on the map of the US, with a population of perhaps 500. You go down to the corner gas station/grocery mart/hardware store and ask if they have ammo.

    What will they always have? .30-06, in 150 or 180 grain loads, perhaps followed by the .270 Winchester in 130 grain loads, and then (if they’re exceptionally well stocked) followed by the 7mm RemMag in 150 or 180 grain loads.

    What won’t they have? Your new gee-whiz cartridge.

    FLAME DELETED – TTAG’s posting policy prohibits flaming the website, its authors of fellow commentators.

    • Don’t forget that common calibers like the .30-06 have an abundant supply of relatively cheap amm unition available.

      I did buy a muz zle break for an AR-15 this year, but in my defense it’s my wife’s AR.

      Concerning re coil, there’s more to it than an ability to tolerate reco il. Something I call ‘rec oil fatigue’. It’s the point where shooting the rif le just isn’t much fun anymore and you find yourself looking for something else to shoot. I’ve found that I tire of shooting my .308 about twice as fast as my .303 Brit, even though the difference between the two is barely more than the difference between .30-06 and .308. Of course, if the choice is to bear through it or be scalped I’d soldier on (so to speak) but there’s not much point in wasting your am mo budget if you’re not enjoying your ra nge time.

    • Damn, DG. You just marched thru Georgia and burnt that shit to the ground and shot the survivors.

      Can’t say you was wrong, either.

      • *And* got DG a ‘FLAME DELETED’ in the bargain!

        (DG was probably more dyspeptic than normal from the hassle of the still there ‘name and email’ field issue…)

    • They will likely also have 308. Its very common.

      Most places that sell rifle ammo will have 30.06, 223/5.56 , 308 and 270 243 and maybe 30/30. At least if anybody hunts white tail around there.

      • There are many towns in the intermountain west that are 10 minutes away from drying up and dying, thanks to DC’s war on ranching, mining and logging.

        In these towns, you don’t find “gun shops.” You find a gas station, hardware store, etc – that have a few boxes of ammo on the shelf. Some of those boxes of ammo are 10+ years old. I’ve been in gas stations in northwest Nevada where the three boxes of ammo on the shelf were from the 1970’s.

  25. 30-06 is the .38spl of rifle cartridges it will never go out of style. New rounds will come and go but those rounds will just keep humming along. They are both so versitile and can take anything on 2-4 legs.

  26. I agree the .30-06 is a great hunting cartridge, especially for the one-gun hunter. It’s versatility cannot be denied. However, I have thought that it would not currently have the following it does if not for the Great Depression. If I remember correctly, the original M-1 Garand was to have been chambered in a true intermediate cartridge, the .276 Pedersen. But because of the Great Depression and the stockpile of billions of rounds of .30-06 ammunition, the .30-06 got chosen. I wonder sometimes if things had worked out differently if we would have avoided all the arguments about 7.62 vs. 5.56 and would still be using something in the class of the .276 Pedersen. Just something to think about.

  27. Does the author really not know that the Savage 110 is a long-action, and that the proper comparison for weight is 110 in .30-06, and 10 in .308?

    I quit reading at that point.

  28. My great grandfathers used 30-06, my grandfather used 30-06, my father uses 30-06, and now I use 30-06. It’s put meat on the table (and killed Nazis) for my family for generations. It’s been good enough for them and it’s good enough for me. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  29. I don’t know which cartridge has taken more game — the .30-06 Springfield or the .30-30 Winchester. I’ll hazard a guess that those two old timers have probably killed more American big game than all other cartridges combined.

    Performance wise, the .30-06 can do everything that the .308 can do, but not vice versa. Price independent (is anything?), the .30-06 has more to offer than the .308. The latter may lead in value.

  30. I like the 30-06 but I hunt everything we have in Alaska with the 308 and do just fine. Not one of the animals ever said they weren’t going to die cuz I used a 308. I think these writers just make up stuff so they can fill the pages.

  31. I own rifles in both cartridges and I like both. I also reload for both. The 308 is very slightly cheaper to reload for because it takes a little less powder, but not enough difference to gripe about. 308 brass is slightly cheaper to buy and easier to find, but again the 06 brass is not that much more expensive and can be found in most places where brass is sold. My 308 is slightly more accurate, but then again, we are comparing 2 rifles which to me is not a realistic comparison. We are speaking of a quarter minute of angle difference between the two. I think where the 06 really shines is in heavier weight bullet efficiency. That said, bullet technology has improved over the years and its really a toss up as to which rifle I would grab and will depend more on the size of the game than anything else. The 308 is good with hunting bullets out to 180 grains, and handles 190 grain match bullets better than I thought it would, given the 1:12 twist rate. The 06 does really well with bullets 200 grains and heavier. The 1:10 twist helps, plus the additional powder capacity to boost speed.
    Happy Hunting!

  32. *snickers*

    Let’s not forget that .308 Win is 65 years old. Jesus, did anyone here use 65 year-old car? We need, need something modern and efficient!

    Oh, and dump that .300 Win Mag. Because .300 WM to -06 is -06 to .308 Win.

    On more serious note, how the hell did Mr.Mann manage to convince himself that 6.5 CM hits as hard as .30-06? It escapes me; there is something unhealthy in asserting reliance on numbers and immediately getting them wrong.

  33. 30-06 can safely be handloaded (in modern rifles) to knock on the door of 300 win mag. 150gr at 3200 fps. 200 gr at 2800 fps. There are many articles about doing this, usually involving a few of the slower Alliant (Reloader 25 for example) powders with 200 gr bullets at what a 308 shoots a 150. If your 06 is weak, start handloading. Also 30-06 has a perfect combat record as the main service round. We still haven’t really won a war using 7.62×51 or 5.56. I don’t count the Gulf War, as air power and armor did all the heavy lifting as evidenced by lack of casualties.

  34. 30.06, .308, hell even .303 (Brit) for an Enfield they ALL get the job done, a competent hunter/shooter can take ALL of the big game species in North America with any of the aforementioned rounds.

    The 30.06 vs. .308 debate is a marketing ploy by the NRA to help the firearm manufacturers who NEED to sell product. Is a Jeep Grand Cherokee better than a comparable Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Nissan, Toyota? It’s ALL personal preference save for a few options and specs.

  35. If you accept the .308 argument then why does anyone need a .300 Winchester Magnum? As for availability, some foreign countries restrict sale of ‘military’ calibers, so getting 7.62 NATO is impossible. And if you’d really rather use .308, you can quickly, easily and reversibly convert your .30-06 using a chamber sleeve (I keep one and a broken case extractor in the buttstock of my Ruger M-77)

  36. I have hunted with the same 30-06 rifle for 21 years and it has never failed me. I frequently see articles saying it is too much gun for whatever game animal, too much recoil, too old of a cartridge, inefficient, too little gun…. Why are those articles written? Because 30-06 is very popular. You get no attention writing such an article for an obscure or unpopular cartridge. As for recoil, really? My rifle is light weight for caliber and is no fun off a bench but I never even notice the recoil when hunting. It is my hunting rifle, not my paper punching rifle. My first hunting rifle was a 444 Marlin. Plenty of recoil there. I also have a 375 H&H Mag. Now THAT is recoil. I also have lighter calibers and particularly like 243. However, if I had to grab one, and only one, rifle from my safe it would be my Ruger All Weather in 30-06 with the old style “boat paddle” stock.

  37. 7.62x54R, 30-06, 308, 30-30, 7mm08, .270, .243 .223 are all in a gun locker, all are proven game takers, so who gives a rats A** abut which caliber is better than the other all are useful for various purposes, as far as being obsolete one mans garbage is another mans feast!

  38. I won’t quibble about the relative minor differences in performance between these calibers. Whether you choose ’06 or .308 you will want to pay attention to cartridge selection.
    For myself, advantage goes to the .308 as it runs in a short-action rifle.

    P.S. Grendel or Creedmoor?
    And why not Whelen?

  39. The question of cartridge shouldn’t be at question here, but that of quitting an organization over a single article in a single magazine.

    It’s not like there’s some policy statement from the NRA that cannibalism is OK. It’s one writer’s opinion of one cartridge against how many articles written over how many years in how many magazines?

    Geesh, the stupidity of some people is just amazing some times.

  40. Pretty boring article, I’m sure you crypto fascists will douse this flame, but it’s boring nonetheless.

  41. You state: “If I had a mule deer tag and an elk tag, I certainly wouldn’t be walking out the door with my .308, but I wouldn’t hesitate with any of my .30-06 rifles.”

    Why is that? I’ve taken both here Colorado, out to about 250 yards, 1 shot each – and neither ran more than 150 yards before dropping dead… I can understand the versatility of the .30-06, but it seems like someone is just starting up another caliber war?

  42. I never could fathom why people who think that the obvious ballistic advantage of the .30-06 is irrelevant sneer at the notion that the .300 Savage is a better cartridge design than is .308; very much the same way that .222 Remington continues to exist despite the ridiculous level of popularity of the .223 Remington.

  43. Both are too small for Elk and larger and I don’t know why anyone would be talking about a M1 Garand, must be a very old crowd here. Oh Yes, I know what Patton said but that was in the 40’s…this is 2017. The Garand is a relic and I’m sure Patton would agree if alive.

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