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When people ask me about hunting cartridges and cartridges for general use, I seem to always gravitate towards two of the most popular rifle rounds ever: the .30-06 Springfield and the .308 Winchester. These two rifle cartrdges have a long and intertwined history, with the .30-06 being sort of like the .308’s father, in a manner of speaking. In this article we will take a look at the two cartridges, head-to-head, and talk about what each offers independently.

The .30-06 is probably the most successful and popular centerfire rifle round that has a military past. The cartridge has a history dating back before the First World War and has been used to hunt virtually every animal — including big game — alive today. There will be people who fervently deny this, but in my opinion there isn’t a better general use cartridge than the .30-06. There is nothing it can’t do, from setting records at Camp Perry to fighting wars to dropping an animal on that once-in-a-lifetime hunt.

The .308 Winchester isn’t far behind in usefulness and success. It’s a much longer story than I care to tell here, but the .308 is essentially the same as the 7.62x51mm NATO, which was the result of the efforts to arm all the post-WWII allied countries with a standard set of cartridges. The .30-06 M1 Garand was used as the basis of the M14 rifle and the 7.62 NATO was designed to take advantage of new propellants, thus allowing a shorter case length. The .308 went on to become one of the most popular post-war cartridges for hunting and target shooting, even at long range.

When looked at side-by-side, the two rifle cartridges are quite similar, but occupy slightly different spaces in the shooting world. The .30-06 Springfield is, marginally, a better hunting rifle cartridge when firing the same bullet weights as the .308. For years, the 150 grain soft point was considered the standard for both, and their performance was nearly identical. The advantage went to the .308 because the rifles made for it were slightly smaller and had somewhat shorter barrels, thus making them lighter and handier.

The performance gap begins to widen when heavier and more aerodynamic bullets are considered. The .308 has enjoyed excellent match-quality ammo in 168 and 175 grain bullets for decades. These have not only seen service in sniper rifles, but also on the line at prestigious matches. The 175 grain .308 was, and still is, the bar for all precision rifle rounds. As weight begins to further increase, the .308 begins to lose case capacity and velocity. The separation, at least in my mind, occurs after bullet weights reach 180gr.

When looking at these heavier bullet weights, the .30-06 can take advantage of the heaviest available in the .30 caliber family, often between 220 and 240gr. The generous case capacity and long case neck allows the use of these bullets. The .308 can’t really take advantage of these because of available case volume and overall cartridge length.

The .30-06 can push a big Hornady 208 grain ELD bullets at about 200fps faster than the .308 can. In fact, the .30-06 can fire rounds as large as 225 grain bullets at the same muzzle velocity that the .308 can launch a 190 grain projectile. When it comes to light bullets, the .30-06 takes advantage again. The large case capacity of the .30-06 and typical barrel length of 24” allows 110 grain bullets to be loaded at 3700fps, which makes it devastating on varmints.

.30 Caliber variety: Lehigh Defense 78gr bullet next to Hornady 225gr ELD Match. Both can be used in .308 and .30-06.

This article isn’t intended to be critical of the .308. The .308 gets enough hate these days because of its “rivalry” with 6.5 Creedmoor, so now we’ll talk about the major disadvantage of the .30-06 — modern rifles. The .308 has enjoyed a substantial following in terms of innovative rifles. Today we have rifles the world over that chamber the round, from excellent AR-10-style rifles to the new bullpup IWI Tavor 7. The number of available systems that chamber the .308 makes it a serious contender for today’s gun owner.

Despite the hype of the 6.5 Creedmoor, the .308 is still a world standard and is logistically superior in that regard, even over .30-06. The worldwide span of the .308/7.62 NATO means that inexpensive rifles and ammunition are available nearly everywhere. It is the choice cartridge of preppers because it is powerful enough for most all game and available in quantity for stockpiling.

.30-06 125gr Reduced Range CMP Match Load vs. Hornady .308 Win 155gr Critical Defense. Two externally similar rounds with very different ideas behind them.

When looking at the availability of rifles, there’s simply no question that the .308 takes the lead. In a bolt action rifle, the cartridge is wasted, at least to me, unless there are other semiautomatic rifles available. The .30-06 is, for the most part, a better round in a bolt gun and is able to be loaded with ammunition that is more powerful across the board than .308. If I were to have to pick based solely on the merits of the round, I would pick the .30-06. If it was a matter of choosing based on available rifles, I’d go with the .308. It truly depends on your needs and what you’re getting out of the deal in the end.

So there you have it. The .308 and the .30-06 are two classic short action cartridges that have maintained their relevance after so many other rounds have come and gone. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but at the end of the day they are more similar than they are different. You really can’t go wrong with either and, seeing as how I own rifles chambered in both, I can attest to their utility. If I had to choose, I’d look at the fact that I’m a hunter, competitor, and handloader. I would probably pick my all-American original 1943-dated M1903A3 in .30-06 Springfield if I had to pick just one.

Don’t agree with me on this or have your own observation? Let me know what you think about these two titans of the cartridge world below and state your own case.

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  1. Split the difference and use the original they were copied from, the 7mm Mauser. Better BC, less kick.

      • The 30-06. It’s bigger and older and has more numbers. What’s not to like. Plus the long action allows you to savor the action much longer than those short action sissy cartridges.

        • I like 30-06 brass. I don’t have a firearm chambered in it. But I like 30-06 brass, because I can make 8mm Mauser out of it.

        • Some of us seem to work magic with our shorter equipment.

          I am a fan of short-action cartridges if for no other reason that “just because.” .308 is my go-to caliber. That being said, I have steered more people to the .30-06 over the years due to them being “on a budget” and needing “one gun for everything.”

          I believe I read it in a reloading manual years ago: “The 30-06 will do everything the .308 will do, but 200 yards farther, at the cost of increased recoil and decreased barrel life.” (I’m probably horrifically misquoting it, but the sentiment is there.)

      • My FN49 in 8×57 is a brass annihilator. Other than that, and the cost of 8mm, it’s a neat rifle. But, if I had to go to war with an old ass gun, I would bring my M1 Garand (.30-06 of course).

    • How many new rifles are made for the 7×57? I like the round. But how many new shooters/hunters are going to take up what is basically an obsolete round?

      And if you’re not set up for reloading?

      • Maybe consider the 7mm-08? It’s kinda like a modern 7×57. I have a BLR in it and I like it for hunting in PA.

  2. Ballistically, .30-06 can do everything that the .308 or 7.62 NATO can do. The reverse cannot be said. Alas, the .308 and especially the 7.62x51mm are cheaper, and that counts too.

    However, all things considered, if I was taking a once-in-a-lifetime shot at man or beast, and I had a choice between those two very good cartridges, I’d want to take that shot with the old soldier.

    • My first center fire rifle and my first milsurp were the 03 springfield. If I was told only one centerfire rifle it would likely be the 06.

      I would hate to give up my .243. But if I could only have one…..

      • I went from a .300 to a .308. Like you talk about in the article, the main reason was the rifle i liked was in .308 (heavy barrel savage 110).

        But the problem with the ballistics argument in favor of the -06 is that the -06 immediately loses out to other cartridges if that is your consideration.

        • At my age and my limits I was thinking the 06 was the upper end of what I could comfortably handle. In a ‘I could only have one rifle’ scenario. Anything heavier than an 06 and it becomes a matter of ‘ do I really want to do this anymore?’

        • That’s no argument. That there are other .30 bores that are faster with the same bullet? Well, let’s count up some more .30 bore cartridges:
          .30- 30 WIN, 7.62X39, 7.7 Japanese, .30 carbine, 7.62X54R, .308, .30-06, .300Win mag, .300 Norma mag, .300 H&H mag, .300WSM, .300WBY, .300 BLK, etc., etc.
          It should be clear: there are a LOT of cartridges out there for the.30 bore. If the only thing that matters is bigger is better, then why are there so many .308s and 7.62X39s in the world? Why are the smaller and less capable .30s so much more popular than the bigger, faster rounds? Why aren’t all .30s the .300WBY? In fact, why haven’t the Weatherby rounds taken over ALL the bore sizes? They’re the biggest and fastest in most of them. And yet they remain a niche market. Unpopular, at least by the numbers. Don’t get me wrong here. Weatherby’s are beautiful, and I love mine, but when it comes to numbers they can’t compete with the .308 or .30-06, even though they perform much better, across the board.
          It’s because bigger is not really better. The rifles for the smaller calibers are lighter, faster to deploy, the rifles and the ammo are cheaper, recoil is less, the ammo is lighter so more rounds can be carried, and for military use it’s very important that a smaller round uses less lead, copper, and brass(all strategic metals).
          OFC, if one’s goal is the longest possible shot, then one is better off with the giant rounds, even if you can only carry a few and the rifles weigh 20+ pounds. It’s all worth it if that one shot is at a high enough value target. Everything is a trade off.
          That is what you must give up to get the biggest round. Size, weight and convenience. You pay with those, and with money too, but it’s less important, because some have enough that cost is not an object. But, no matter how rich an individual might be, he still won’t like carrying around a 20 pound rifle, plus ten pounds of ammo, around all day.

    • Kenneth: you oddly seem to be arguing with me by restating my argument and then saying I have no argument.

      • I think you must have missed my point. You said: “the problem with the ballistics argument in favor of the -06 is that the -06 immediately loses out to other cartridges ”
        This seems to be stating that the .30-06 cannot compete with the larger .30 bore rounds, at least not ballistically.
        I think you missed that perhaps from the ballistic standpoint, bigger numbers ARE always better. At least, it would appear so on paper. But things that appear best on paper often suck when they get off the paper and have to exist in the real world. The Japanese idea to send balloons across the Pacific and bomb the US in the 1940s for instance. Looked like a good idea on paper, but after they launched 10K of them at us, we didn’t even take notice. The same could be said of our bat bomb to attack Japan. It looked good to somebody, but a huge fail. And the British training dogs to blow up German Tiger tanks, but all the dogs did was to blow up British vehicles. Turns out that dogs aren’t good at picking targets by official markings or different camo patterns. Who’da thunk it? Certainly not the entire British defense dept…. until they tried it.
        The point I was making is: there are a LOT more considerations in anything than just the numbers from a lab. Labs are useful, but only if one can manage to remember that laboratories AREN’T the real world. And that includes ballistic labs. So I guess I could boil my point down even a little further. IMO, the .30-06(and the .308 also) are so popular in the world BECAUSE of their positions smack in the middle of the .30 bores. In most things this is so. The far ends of the spectrum are the niches for certain, very specific uses but not good for much else, vs. the middle, which tend to be less specialized, and so better for general, all around, use. Naturally, the more versatile something is, the more it is desired. So the .30 carbine and .300BLK remain niche markets, as do the various .300 magnums. Meanwhile .308s and 5.56s sell like hotcakes. There is a time and place for all of these, but there is also a time to keep in mind the intend use of an object, rather than just dismissing the middle ground, for whatever reason.

  3. Po/ta/to – po/tot/o. Differences are pretty much moot. Either one is more accurate and reliable than most people wasting time debating them rather than practicing. Either one will carry the freight and no one can tell after they are used properly which one successfully punched the ticket. Blonds or Redheads, 4 speed or automatic, coffee or tea, your father or your mother? Next pointless debate? -30-

    • Did you actually read the article or just the headline?

      Because what you just complained about is actually a good summary of the article.

        • Hakim’s are 8X57 Mauser and they used to have 20 round mags available. Back when the gun was available also. Not the .30-06 but just as capable. But they weigh a lot, just like all full power semiautos.

        • For the sake of intellectual honesty I will answer my own question:

          Noreen also makes 20 round 30-06’s for about $1700 (last time I checked a few years ago, probably more now) and $75 per magazine.

          Oh and they have a 300 win mag for 2700, 10 rounds per magazine.

    • Get a Noreen Bad news, 20 rounds of 30-06 pew pew,, in an ar-10 style. And lighter weight gun then many.Kick..hardly felt with that muzzle break on it….. yes..big fan here.

  4. The main problem I see with .30-06 is that it’s the smallest of dedicated bolt gun cartridges. Sure there are bolt guns in smaller calibers, but I’m talking about cartridges that only really exist in bolt guns. That means that you’re giving up all the numerous advantages of a semi-auto while not picking up a lost of the advantages of a bolt gun. The .308, on the other hand is the largest, typical, semi-auto cartridge. That means that you’re picking up all the advantages of a semi-auto platform, while sacrificing relatively little in throw weight.

    Full disclosure, I own and shoot bolt guns in both calibers and have numerous .308 semi-autos. If I was to pick a dedicated bolt gun cartridge, I’d go with something a bit beefier than .30-06. I’ve been eyeballing a .338 bolt gun for several years, but will admit I have nowhere near the skill set to take advantage of it. With a bolt gun, you’re not going to be dropping 300-400 rounds in a single range session, so ammo price is not all that much of an issue. But hey, I might just go crazy one of these days and pick up a AI AX50 in .50 BMG just to say I own a “50” that is significantly different from things I already own.

    • I think your comment is spot on. I grew up hunting with (among others) a 30 06 bolt.

      But when it came time for me to start my own collection, I wanted to avoid having lots of different types of cartridges. And since I added a socomm 2 to my collection, it was a no brainer to work backwards and pick up a .308 weatherby as my “hunting rifle” (no longer hunt, too lazy.) this allows me to hoard more .308 and forego 06 plus leaving open the AR-10 option should I ever choose. And the m134 also if I wanted a $1000-$3000 minute of fun.

  5. First “real” gun (non-.22) I ever fired was .30-06, at 800 yards, with a Marine instructing me on his M1 (my dad was a Navy officer asking a favor) when I was 14. Some things you don’t forget. He got me all tied up in the sling, and when he saw I was grouping, he adjusted the sights (iron, of course). And he got me on target, which impressed HIM!! He began recruiting me on the spot.

    • {A Marine}

      “He began recruiting me on the spot.”

      And you ended up in the Air Force?

      (Hey, I get it. The only tankers the Corps flies are turboprops, and there’s life after military service…) 😉

  6. To me, for hunting purposes with factory ammo, they’re practically the same with similar bullet weights/types. .30-06 seems to have a wider variety of factory hunting loads and offers handloaders greater versatility. .308 seems to do better in slightly shorter barrels, recoils a bit less, and sometimes comes in shorter/lighter actions. It’s all good, IMO.

  7. The .308 and 30-06 Creedmoor’s are vastly superior to the two cartridges outlined in this article.

    • Vastly. Wow. In a world where sub 100 yard shots are more likely than more than 300…it might actually be inferior

  8. If Elk are on the table, then 30-06. If you only plan on shooting things that are deer size or smaller then the .308 makes more sense from a cost perspective.

    • .270 is perfectly capable of taking elk. I know a guy whose been doing it once a year for over 30 years.

      • .270 is indeed capable of taking elk, and many people have used it for that, but I have to admit that I feel more comfortable with 180 gr. or higher 30-06 than 130-150 gr. .270 for the big critters. Depending on the exact load recipe, there is about a 5-10% increase in muzzle energy for the 180 gr 30-06 over the .270 at 150 gr and that might just matter on an elk. 130-140 gr. bullets in the .270 are great for deer or antelope but a little extra insurance is nice when trying to down something really big. The difference between the two rounds is relatively small, to be sure, but elk loads in .270 (i.e. max pressure 150 gr. rounds) are at the top of its capability while elk loads in 30-06 (i.e off-the shelf 180 gr. loads) are in the middle of the available range. All that said, I have two principle big game rifles in my safe – a .270 and a 30-06.

    • Everyone commenting here is on the mark.

      The real advantage of .30-06 is using HEAVY bullets (200+ grains) for shooting BIG animals such as elk, moose, and brown bears.

      Having said that, I personally feel like .30-06, even with 200+ grain bullets, is actually not a large enough caliber to ensure promptly downing such critters. I would feel much better with .338 to .45 calibers and even heavier bullets. Have people killed thousands of BIG animals with .30-06? Of course. If you knew a seriously mad brown bear was going to charge you from 50 yards and you could have any firearm for self-defense, would a rifle in .30-06 be your first choice? Nope. I would want a rifle in .45-70 Government or a shotgun shooting slugs.

      I suppose that means .30-06 is the compromise that can do everything in North America. Lighter bullets (150 grain) are excellent for medium game. And the heaviest bullets (200+ grains) will do the job (eventually) on large game.

  9. As a reloader I like them both. I have a CMP Garand in 06 of course and I’ve loaded hundreds of 150gr “Garand” rounds. I also have a Winchester Model 70 in 06 and my son shoots a Browning BAR in the same caliber. A couple of years ago I got into the scout rifle thing and picked up a Mossberg MVP in .308. I found a good deal on a DPMS .308 AR and added that to the collection. I use the same bullets and the same loads for each round and the only real difference is in the length of the action. Lots of people claim that the .308 cartridge is “faster” in a bolt gun due to the shorter cartridge but this old man really doesn’t see much if any difference. I believe that the 06 and .308 rounds are so close that the question is really what rifle you own. I started with 06 because of my Garand. 30 years ago I felt that I could find 06 ammunition in any hardware store in West Greasy Snot America so I stuck with that caliber. Today I like my .308s as well and the rifles I own in that caliber aren’t anywhere near as ammunition sensitive my old Garand. If I was starting from scratch today I’d go .308 and be pretty well set for a full power long range round that still has some military applications should things go bad.

  10. Within it’s limitations I prefer the .308. One reason left unmentioned in the article is recoil. According to Chuck Hawk’s recoil table ( ) that extra 100fps comes at a cost of 10-15% more recoil. Outside of the .308’s limitations I think their are better choices than .30-06. If you’re looking for a flatter trajectory I’d prefer a .270 or 7mm mag. If you’re looking to take advantage of those 220 grain bullets to go brown bear hunting I’d prefer a .300 Win mag or .338. But I would concede that if you want one rifle that can do it all, it’s hard to beat the .30-06. But for deer and up to elk at reasonable ranges the .308 does it with a shorter action and less recoil. Of course if you’re sticking to white tails you can get by with a .243/.260/7mm-08 etc. and reduce recoil that much more.

    • Shooting 150 grain bullets between the .308 and the 06 you’re probably spot on. But that same .308 that is actually less weight( a good thing if not taken to extremes) than an 06 when you’re using 180 grain+ bullets?

      My son’s savage 110 with .308 190 grainers has quite the jump to it.

      • I think the growth in ultralight hunting rifles has led more factory loadings for cartridges like the 7mm-08 that are decent deer/black bear/elk/sheep/goat calibers that won’t beat up their shoulder as much as the more common options.

  11. As long as they both have a 150gr Nosler ballistic tip stuck in the front, I’m good with either one !

  12. The 30-06 is available in several semi auto and bolt gun configurations the 7600, the BAR, the M-1 and a few others.

    It is the most versatile of all cartridges in the world. There is nothing 2 or 4 legged I would not feel comfortable going after with one.

    It’s what every 308 wants to be when it grows up.

    • Others have called the .375 H&H the most versatile cartridge in the world, but its neither .308 or .30-06.

      • I agree with those that think the .375 is the most versatile round, simply because it CAN do almost everything, but it does few of them really well. It has maintained popularity in Africa for a century.
        I believe this is because on safari, many will take any legal game they see, from lion to zebra to antelope to buffalo. If, all on the same day, I might have to shoot a buffalo at 30 feet or a 50 pound gazelle at 300 yards, what caliber fills that bill any better?
        Yet, for me in Montana, it isn’t so versatile at all. It would fill a niche, like hunting the big bears, but versatility is the opposite of a niche. Or perhaps one should say everything is a niche, and the biggest of the niches is the most versatile.
        But here we don’t go hunting for prairie dogs and bear all on the same trip. Like always, the situation must be taken into account. In my situation, I shoot a lot of different things, and so I tend towards having a favorite in each niche, and attempt to cover them all. Thus I have a 28″ bull barreled .22-250 that weighs 18 pounds! Niche: Prairie Dogs and Gophers. We have lots of these pests, so we just shoot them whenever we see one. Thus I never have to pack that beast around for any more than a hundred yards from the truck, so the weight isn’t a factor.
        It sure shoots good though, and the 28″ barrel produces velocities in excess of 4000 fps, plus it takes many rounds to heat up the barrel. That is very useful on a specific Prairie Dog hunt, where one sets up at a large town for many hours, just shooting at whichever one pops up next. I bring many rifles from .22RFs to a .270 WIN. Shoot the first ones with the rimfires, then when they get more spooked and are only active farther away, 5.56s or the .22-250. Then the .270 or .257 when shots get far away. I have lots of strange stuff like that.
        Filling many different niches. I do that instead of attempting to pick which shooting niche I care the most about. I like them all, and about the only personal items I like are firearms, so that’s where most of my discretionary income goes.

  13. The aught six takes the gold for me. My family has used it for generations and it’s never failed. From killing Nazis to putting meat on the table, it’s a staple for us.

  14. Haters gonna hate and I really don’t care. It’s how I was raised up, can’t help it and wouldn’t if I could. Sonny, you get close, good, now get closer. You want a small group, shoot once. Aim small, hit small…one shot, one hit, one down…that’s what my Gramps and my Pop taught me…and in more than fifty years, not a single basic thing about hunting/shooting for meat has changed. Today, the Designated Marksman, be praised, can do 800M, with a spotter, lot # specific, Black Hills match ammo, a bipod, one at a time, match built, 18″ barreled, M-16 rifles, top shelf optics, rings and mounts alone that cost about as much as a good, mechanical wrist chronometer, daily observed and recorded precision practice and knowing their stuff all day and all night long, and good on them…it’s still only a .22…but I sure wouldn’t want to be hit with one. Truth be told, almost everyone else should be willing to (or should be) honest with themselves and be able to settle for consistant shooting accuracy that has been dialed down to between 75 to 200M range, and that’s not a bad thing. A man’s gotta know his equipment (if your rifle scope cost less than your rifle and if you haven’t shot at least 200 rounds of the same brand and bullet weight ammo over laser range finder measured distance and accurately recorded the results…) and his… The few old timers that remain, when they have to, can still pull one plumb out to about to 2 to 3 measured city blocks …and nothing about real world, practical, field shooting has ever changed that …and nothing ever will until the last one of ’em moves on to the next life to regroup. Bring on the hate. -30-

  15. I’m a self admitted fan boy of both. I love 30-06 and .308. I love battle rifles too. I only wish garands could handle the modern 30-06 loads. Or someone would start making new garands that can take the beating. Either way I think the article makes a great point. Round alone is 30-06, but .308 has a much better rifle selection. And as stated, .308 is the best SHTF round.

  16. I his have a lever gun, bolt action, and AR in .308
    Couldn’t do that with 30.06 without paying crazy money or custom stuff.

  17. For 600-1,000 yard target shooting in my .30-06 Savage 112BVSS I use 200gr. Sierra BTHPs over 4350. I get higher velocity with a heavier bullet with lower pressures.

    I no longer have the time or a place to shoot rifle, but if I ever shot out the throat, I’d have it rechambered/rebarreled to .30-06 Improved.

    • Usually, when a barrel throat gets eroded, a gunsmith can just set your barrel back one thread and sink the new chamber deep enough to machine out the eroded part. But, since the barrel has to come off and be re-chambered anyway, it shouldn’t cost any more to do so in the improved version.
      Watch out though. Ask your smith the prices for both first. If he doesn’t already have the chamber reamer for the improved round, he will probably charge you for the tooling as well. In that case the standard chamber would be significantly cheaper than the improved one. Almost all smiths will already have reamers for the .30-06, but the improved? Perhaps not.
      The only improved reamer I have is for the .22K Hornet, and that was for a personal project. Little demand for such specialties here in a County of 7K population. If you brought the gun to me, I’d charge you for the reamer too, as I am highly unlikely to ever use it again. But if your smith already has one, he would be unlikely to charge you for a new one, since he doesn’t need two. So seek out a smith that already has the required tooling about you should get the improved version for free.

  18. Stayed off this blog for a while, but I had to jump into this. It doesn’t matter. Got custom built rifles in 30-06 and 308. Everything from really nice conventional hunting rifles (HS Presion stocks, Shilen [sic?] Barrels to a custom scout built by Jim Brockmant he time in Montana. Last I heard he was at Gunsite. Not a dimes worth of difference between the two. I was at an autopsy once and asked the medical examiner, “If I wanted to know what caliber rifle killed this man; 30-06, 308, 270, 243, can you tell me?” “He said, Sure, bring me the spent case.” Guys, within a given caliber group it doesn’t matter. Well, I have to deal with Hurricane Michael. Just need to look around the neighborhood to make sure no one is shopping.

  19. Oh, that’s easy if the choice is between just those two. 30-06. Load it up with a 208 AMAX and ~61 gr of RL22 and you have a load that can actually hit something at a mile with a 28-30in barrel. Plus it’s a better large game cartridge. There are multiple 6.5s better than .308 at everything a .308 does, so .308 is now completely obsolete and has no purpose left whatsoever beyond being run through legacy rifles.

  20. I would probably pick my all-original 1943-dated M1903A3 in .30-06 if I had to pick just one.

    I’ve gotten more sensitive to recoil as I’ve gotten older. I can shoot my Garand all day long. The same ammo in my 1903A3 starts to grate on me pretty quick. After 2 or 3 mag-fulls and I need to set it aside and take a break.

    One time, I went directly from my 1903A3 to my 10/22. On the first shot from the .22, I flinched. That taught me a good lesson. If I was flinching with the .22, then I was flinching with the .30-06. I now shoot my 1903A3 much better. Even if I do start to get a little fatigued after about 10-15 rounds.

    • This is why new recruits are trained to shoot with guns loaded by the instructor first, and why he secretly loads a dummy round down in the magazine. When that dummy round comes up but the shooter doesn’t know it, any flinch becomes painfully obvious.

  21. I guess it’s nice to be able to own a pile of firearms… I love my ’06 bolt guns and M-1rifles. I’ve killed both deer and 2, 1-shot elk with 30-06 180s between 90 and 188 yards.

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t trade my M1-A for anything, I’ve used it for service rifle match and even as my “drive gun” in MN woods for deer. And the couple of FAL-types are great shooters as well as a big, heavy AR 10-type thing I just built up. Oh, yeah, plus an old Winchester 100, a Steyr Scout (very cool) and old SSG 69.

    .308 or 30-06? Depends on which gun I choose to grab or what I’m doing. I do load more .308 than ’06 right now but most of it is just to shoot- no real purpose or intention. Of course my .300 Win Mag out-classes both of these, but that’s another story. And my old 30-30s are as deadly now as they were a century ago. Haven’t done much with my .300 Blackout other than punch paper so far but we’ll see.

    30 cal is a pretty good place to be.

  22. The ’06 used to occupy the same position in the American civilian arms market that the 7.62×51(.308 Winchester) does now: it was “the” default, low-cost major-power centerfire cartridge, thanks mostly to huge amounts of military surplus ammo and rifles.

    Lots of you younger shooters will squawk like geese when I say “it was the low-cost choice” – but then you’re young. The wars of your era have been entirely within the period of time when the 5.56 and 7.62 were the default US DOD small arms cartridges. After WWII and Korea, the US (via CMP and other sources) had surplus ’06 ammo practically falling off shelves in gun stores. When I was a kid, ’06 surplus ammo (some with corrosive primers) was fantastically cheap. It’s hard to imagine now, but relatively speaking, the ’06 surplus stuff was so cheap it makes today’s surplus 7.62 ammo look expensive. It took until the late 1990’s to work off all that WWII surplus ammo – for years and years, it seemed as tho we would never run out of WWII/Korea vintage ammo. But here we are, we finally burned most of it up.

    As a result of that huge surplus of ammo and rifles, when gun cranks, gunsmiths, etc wanted to create a wildcat from the 1950’s through the 1980’s, the ’06 was the default choice for the parent case and the ’06-length action was the “standard” to use. Why? “Because it was there, and it was cheap.” ’06-length bolt actions are known as “standard length,” not “long length” actions. American bolt actions lengths are “short” (.308 length), “standard” (.30-06 length, but also .300 WinMag, .338 WinMag, etc), and “Magnum” (.375 H&H Magnum length). The assumption was that the ’06 was the “standard” length cartridge.

    OK, fast forward to today. The attempt to create a full-auto infantry rifle in the M14 was the impetus behind the 7.62×51. John Garand told the DOD that a full-auto rifle in ’06 would have to be as heavy as the BAR, and in fact we already had the BAR – at over 20 lbs.

    The Army brass behind the M14 project insisted on two things: A .30- cal bullet (“because ‘Murricans shot nothing smaller than .30” – no kidding, that was an actual argument in the cartridge wars in the M14 timeframe), but John Garand said that it wasn’t possible to make a 10lb full-auto rifle in ’06; the cartridge had to lose some velocity if they wanted to keep the approximately 150gr bullet weight.

    So here we are, 60 years or so later, with a “new standard” .30 cal cartridge that is the functional equivalent of a cartridge from the 1920’s: the .300 Savage. Why do we have the 7.62×51? Beats me. There’s nothing the .308/7.62 can do that the .300 Savage can not. It was probably the “NIH” within the Armory system in the 50’s.

    From my perspective of making hunting rifles, the ’06 and its case are more versatile. From the ’06, you get the following
    – .25-06
    – 6.5-06
    – 7mm-06
    – .30–06 Ackley Improved (gives you maybe an extra 100 fps)
    – 8mm-06
    – .338-06
    – .35 Whelen
    – .375-06

    For big game hunting at up to about 300 yards, the .35 Whelen is tough to beat. It will handle anything on the North American continent, including moose. It’s basically the American implementation of the 9.3×62 Mauser. You would not be under-armed with a .35 Whelen when dealing with a bear.

    All the .308/7.62 has to recommend it over the ’06 is that now it is the “new normal.” That’s it. Yes, some top-level competitive shooters might pull smaller groups over the very long run by shooting a .308 over an ’06, but that’s damn few shootists who will compete at a high enough level, long enough, to see the difference.

    There’s nothing “wrong” with either cartridge. They both work and work well. Given the number of “standard” length actions out there to sporterize (eg) the Mauser (and clones), the ’03/03A3, P1917, and then older rifles like the Model 30 Remington, Model 54 Winchester, older Win70’s, etc – the ’06 gets my nod as a better choice because then you’re not leaving potential performance in a ‘standard’ length action on the table.

  23. Bow hunters must find these arguments silly, if not a complete waste of time. Generally, I find them to be a waste of time, but since I’ve nothing better to do at the moment…read up on Jack O’Connor who popularized the .270 as a great elk gun, keep reading articles from 40 years ago before the bigger is better bs begin to take hold and find that all game in North America can be had with the measly .30-30. Lastly, have an honest conversation with yourself, that if you really can’t close the gap to less than 200 yards before taking a shot, maybe you’re just a shooter and not really a hunter after all.
    In fairness, some have brought up military application, which may have merit. However, the author begins with “When people ask me about hunting or general use cartridges…”.
    My two cents – For hunting and general use, find a low recoil, easy to handle cartridge which can be had in many, if not all actions and practice. In other words, just go with an iron sight, lever action Winchester or Marlin chambered in 30-30 and then how to hunt.

    • The archery world is arguably bigger worldwide than the shooting scene. There is easily as much, if not more, technical sophistication in archery when it comes to bow technology. If only they could attach a 6.5 creedmoor to the end of an arrow…

    • Good advice… BUT: would you really want to hunt an Alaskan Brown Bear, or a Montana Grizzly, with a .30-30? It will probably kill them, sooner or later. Perhaps even before they can sink their teeth and claws into your flesh… if you’re lucky.
      I think what you meant was: The .30-30 is adequate for ALMOST all North American game, excluding the big bears.

  24. I see a lot of people are still dreaming about shooting over 300 yards. I would wager that 90% of all hunting shots are less than 300 yard. 30-06 is maybe 100 ft/sec over the 308 at the 150gr range. We are trying to count the number of angels on the head of a pin. It really make little difference. My 7.62 AR10 is quite adequate for any task I would put to it. I consider these fun guns.

    For serious self-defense, my 1895 Marlin mated to a 45-70 405gr JFN spitting out the barrel at 2000ft/sec beats all comers, or maybe even a Garret HardCast HammerHead 540gr……..
    When that big flat front on the Garret 540 hits you it’s not a pretty sight as it tears a billiard ball size tunnel into your innards….. I guess they should have called it the Ventilator 🙂

  25. I look at design of use. I have 16, 18, and 20″ barreled.308s. It isn’t terribly efficient over long range, so why shoot it out of a long barrel? (I don’t do Palma.) The .30-06 is longer, and my Winchester 70 Ultimate Classic has a stainless 24″ barrel for extra velocity and distance. They are both great rounds. The .308 stomps the ’06 in terms of readily available firepower and semi auto / full auto capability, and the ’06 has a slight advantage in power which increases with heavier bullet weights.

    If I could have only one rifle it would be a .308. And 30-06, .45-70, .223 Wylde, .30-30, .22 LR, .22 CB short, 300 BLK, 6.8 SPC, .300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua…

  26. I have both in bolt action rifles and the 10% difference between the two doesn’t make me want to take a shot with the 06 that I wouldn’t take with the 308 in the hunting fields. I do note that the 308 has taken most if not all of the records formerly held by the 06 in Camp Perry matches and in that shooting discipline, but we are talking about competition rifles tuned to the nth degree, not store bought rifles completely stock from the factory. My 308 can shade my 06 on the target boards, but not to a significant degree, and I attribute that to the individual rifles rather than a cartridge vs cartridge comparison. I’m no expert, but I have heard the so called “experts” claim the 308 case is more efficient, which I would expect given the 50 years time span. However, for the 308 to equal the 06 in the 150 grain military load, the 308 generates more pressure for the same speed. There is no free lunch.

  27. Short action, (ie .308 Win. length), bolt actions have become so popular that few hunting scopes now have sufficient tube length to mount on “standard length” actions. That is without resort to arguably weaker extention rings or action access blocking multi-slot bridge mounts.

    Such is the sad state of affairs for fans of the standard length bolt action rifles.

  28. Why not both? Why does it always have to be a friggin caliber war? They both are chambered in some pretty good rifles, both are accurate enough for government and competition work, both put food in the freezer or threats in the ground. Why not just get a rifle in each and call it good? Why the eternal struggle to engage in this never ending dick measuring contest? No rifle and no cartridge is ever obsolete so long as it’s still useful. Yeah you may not find it in every store and yeah it may require YOU to manufacture (reload) new ammo for it but if it still works and does what it should it’s still a great round.

    Ok just to make sure I piss the maximum number of people off. The 6.5 Creedmoor isn’t THAT great of a round.

    • Accurate statement in a curmudgeon sort of way.
      In simplest terms, most new calibers (majority of all new products for that matter) are made to separate us from our hard earned dollars. Real world performance between similar calibers is virtually the same. Caliber “wars” polarize. The only winners are the product manufacturer who wins the “war”.

  29. All of my guns are the most popular calibers. 556, 308, 12 GA, 9mm, 45acp 22lr with 22WMR conversion. If I ever need ammo those will be much easier to find than 30 06, or 300 blackout, 6.5 creedmore. I’m not really worried about running out of ammo anytime soon, but ill pickup what I can if I need it or not. No wildcat, or 20 gauge, 357 sig, or 5.39×45. Keep it simple. Now if you have those calibers, and plenty of ammo stashed, more power to you. I won’t give out my round count, but I would say I have more 12 Gauge having 3 shotguns. Everyone knows in the movies everyone has sawed off 12 Ga shotguns. After the apocalypse Lol. Of course I won’t leave any ammo on the street or with the unfortunate. Could be good trading goods for those with the crazy calibers.

  30. .308 wins because it’s a more modern cartridge and is in wide use globally. This combined with the lighter weight platform, and wider availability of both bolt action and semi auto rifles, and magazine availability make the 308 the superior choice.

  31. 3006 outshines the 308 in bullets 180, 200 grains and heavier. However, when the hunter tries to take the much larger game with the 3006 instead of a belted Magnum such as the 338 Winchester MAGNUM or 375 WIN. MAG.
    The hunter is literally taking his
    INTO HIS O W N HANDS. 🤠 👀👀 👀

  32. This was actually one of the better, more intelligently written articles that I have read from this site. Great job to the author! Thanks!

  33. again with this. its the same fucking bullet with more or less powder, different intended uses.

  34. There is no “vs.”
    “vs” discussions are clickbait for suckers and rookies.
    No one is forced to choose between 308 and 3006. There is no either-or. There’s only and-and in these types of discussions.
    And cartridges don’t compete with each other. They’re just inanimate pieces of metal.

  35. In a national emergency there will be available from government stockpiles more .308 than .30-’06.

  36. I’ve had both in my hunting career and liked both. Had better knock down with .30-06. I later settled on 7MM Winchester Mag and totally loved that gun. Almost flat trajectory over 200 yards.

  37. I like the 30-06 I grew up hunting and using the caliber my grand dad,father,and brother all use 30-06 I tride other calibers befor 308,270, 357 mag I still use 357 along with the 30-06. I like the 06 because I know it will get the job done with any thing that I am hunting or for self defense out while I am hunting. I like how the 06 when shot it’s more of a straight back recoil and not all muzzle flip like the 308 I can keep on target Eaiser and yes it more powerful then 308, I know 308 fan boys be like they have basically same ballistic as the 06 bla bla bla on paper not out in the field go hunting elk with both calibers and see what one works best I bet it’s the 06 every time.yes the 308 is faster flatter shooting but still not as powerful it has smaller casing and less powder. It’s like saying a 223 has more power than the 7.62×39 not happening. How ever the 308 has a lot more choices as far as rifles you can choose from like if you can hunt with a Simi rifle in your state the 308 has more options then the 06 there are some but not as much as 308 like my m1a I love my m1a if I could use it in my state for hunting I would for coyotes faster fallow up shots if needed I wish Springfield would make one in 30-06 caliber. Any ways I like both but the 06 a little more because I grew up using it and that’s what I’m better with.

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