By Tom Kelly
All of the bear species have been taken with a .30-06, moose, elk, bison, musk ox, wolves, coyotes, and every species of deer have been dispatched. Was this the optimum choice for each of these animals? Perhaps not, but nonetheless, it did the job.
There is an old saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I suppose that is true. However, there is another type of admiration. When something is used as a standard, it’s because it is considered to be a good example of what should be expected from that which is being compared. Such is the case with the venerable .30-06 caliber when comparing hunting rounds. The .30:06 came to be familiar to the public when it was adopted by the US military in 1906. Millions of servicemen became acquainted with this caliber during their military service.
As hunting rifles started being offered in .30-06, it was a natural choice. The more rifles being purchased in this caliber and the more types of game being hunted encouraged ammo manufacturers to put round development into high hear. Today there is a vast array of ammo available for the .30-06. Further, this major push in development efforts has benefitted all of the hunting and competition calibers. In today’s ammo starved world, .30-06 ammo is made from 125 gr. varmint loads up to 220 gr. dangerous game loads. The most popular hunting loads are 150 gr. pointed soft points and 180 gr. soft points in both pointed and round nosed configurations. These choices have been successful in taking virtually every North American game animal that exists.
All of the bear species have been taken with a .30-06, moose, elk, bison, musk ox, wolves, coyotes, and every species of deer have been dispatched. Was this the optimum choice for each of these animals? Perhaps not, but nonetheless, it did the job. So, whether we love it or hate the caliber, the .30-06 has become the standard by which we compare the performance of all the other hunting calibers. If you are a hand loader, the options are nearly endless. Every major, and most minor rifle manufacturers make this caliber. It is available in every rifle action we could ask for from the Ruger #1 single shot to a top-of-the-line model 70 bolt action.
So, in addition to availability and variety, what about this round is standard? The factory ammo offerings provide admirable performance. A 180 gr. pointed soft point from either Remington or Winchester gives 2700 fps in velocity and 2913 ft. lbs in energy. A comparison with one of the newer super popular rounds in 6.5 Creedmore shows some areas where the 6.5 excels and some areas that it does not. Thus, comparing it to the 129 gr. projectile, 2950 fps, 2403 ft. lbs energy standard. The .30-06 is also considered a standard-length cartridge. Shorter than say a .300 Win Mag, but longer than a .308 and its derivatives. It’s not new. It may not be exciting to many, but you can count on it to do the job you require it to do. If you have a specific need for a long-range tack driver, or a close-range sledgehammer, then by all means, buy that particular rifle. However, if you are concerned about utility and flexibility, compare your super caliber to the standard and you may be surprised.
Tom is a Registered Maine Guide. He is the owner/operator of Shamrock Outfitters in Orient Maine with his wife Ellie. He is a retired police officer as well as a retired manager from two major firearms manufacturers. He is an NRA Certified Instructor as well as a Hunter Safety Instructor in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. You can reach Tom at Shamrock Outfitters (207) 694-2473. Please visit our Facebook Page: Shamrock Outfitters and Properties and come visit us on East Grand Lake.
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