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Thread: A respectful look at an old friend

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    A respectful look at an old friend

    There are some cartridges that have become so iconic that it is nearly blasphemy to even questioning their use.
    One of those iconic cartridges is the .30-06.
    Now - Before everyone pulls out the tar & feathers allow me to say that I believe the .30-06 is a fantastic cartridge with an amazing history of success and it continues to serve well. However, I also believe that the reverence or the "ought six" is based more on reputation and familiarity than it should be.

    We all know the history of the cartridge and we all know its performance is well established. However, there's a tendency to shun other cartridges in favor of the old .30-06 and maybe that familiarity is preventing people from seriously looking at other cartridges. Again, please refrain from vilifying me for even suggesting that other cartridges may be a better fit for the job than our old friend the 06.

    When the .30-06 was adopted, long range fire was an accepted military convention and the case capacity of the .30-06 reflects that desire to achieve those ranges. After two world wars and the Korean conflict, the conventional wisdom had changed and the short action .308 was seen being a bit more in line with the needs of the real world.
    There's NOTHING wrong with the .30-06 but there are alternatives to the old 06. The massive amount of rifles chambered for .30-06 and the availability of cheap ammunition may have led to the love for the 06 but it may also lead to some bias against other cartridges.

    The .30-06 can launch a heavier bullet at useful velocities than a shorter case 30 caliber cartridge and gives the .30-06 a real edge at the extreme end of the performance envelope. But really? How often does a rifleman need that extra performance at those extreme ranges? The useful upper limits for bullet weights in the .308 top out around 170-180 grains where the .30-06 can take advantage of bullets in the 200+ grain range.

    Target shooters have long expressed that the shorter .308 casing is more efficient than the longer .30-06 casing. The evidence is strong that in terms of accuracy the .308 is every bit the equal of the .30-06 out to about 600 yards and there is some evidence that the .308 may even beat the .30-06 at ranges below 600 yards. We've certainly seen some amazing performance from the short/fat casings of cartridges like the 6mm PPC and the newer short magnums. Unless you really need that extra case capacity, there are some very good reasons to use a shorter casing when possible.

    Again, not saying that the .30-06 is a bad cartridge in any way ! Just saying that there are alternatives.

    Please don't tar & feather me.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    O MY I can't believe you said that out loud .

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    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    If you look back at the popularity of rifle cartridges, you will notice that the ones that have been military cartridges have a popularity with hunters that exceeds that of most others. The 30-40 Krag may be most notable exception to this.
    30-06, 308, 45-70, and 223 are some of the most popular cartridges out there. All were former or current military rounds. There are many, many cartridges out there that will do the same job. Some will do it better than these will. Much depends on exactly what you want to do.
    One could make a good argument for a 243 and 7mm mag being everything you need short of an African hunt. Or even just the 7mm mag.
    I own rifles in 223, 243, 308, and 30-06. This covers all the bases I need covered. In most cases, the 243 does everything I need done including shooting 600 yards accurately.
    There are many other popular calibers out there that do nearly any job you want done, particularly, if you handload for them. I am not going to claim the ones I own are superior to others. They are easily acquired and easy to obtain ammunition for. I just have an affinity for these cartridges. No other special reason.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    It seems as if the 308 is slowly trying to over take the 30-06 .

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    Boolit Bub
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    Let's see, the .308 is the commercial version of what was the T65 cartridge. Ordnance wanted a cartridge roughly equal to the original .30-06 in a shorter case. They did in fact start by experimenting with the .300 Savage. When that did not come up to their expectations they just about split the difference. 7.62x51 firing a 147-grain bullet at 2,750 feet per second can be considered a .300 Savage improved or a .30-06 wannabe.

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    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
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    I agree. It's just like a mans tastes in women which one is better some like em a little shorter and chubbier (308) some like em taller and skinnier (30-06) I like em both ! Lol
    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!

  7. #7
    Boolit Bub BigAlofPa.'s Avatar
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    The 30.06 was the 1st big game round i have ever used for the past 40 years. I recently stepped into the 7.62x54r world. And i love my mosin. Going to use it for deer next year. Just loaded some plinking rounds for it. Just need a break in the weather to test them out.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Petrol & Powder View Post
    The .30-06 can launch a heavier bullet at useful velocities than a shorter case 30 caliber cartridge and gives the .30-06 a real edge at the extreme end of the performance envelope. But really? How often does a rifleman need that extra performance at those extreme ranges? The useful upper limits for bullet weights in the .308 top out around 170-180 grains where the .30-06 can take advantage of bullets in the 200+ grain range.
    There's no doubt that the .308 is a fine cartridge, but I think you made the case yourself for the continued popularity of the '06.

    The first real improvement on the performance of the '06 was the .270 Win., as used and hyped by Jack O'Connor. But advances in
    bullets and loads have made the two almost indistinguishable in range and performance.

    Everything considered, the .308 is a fine cartridge and good all around performer. It's here to stay, and rifles in that caliber sell well, but an '06 it ain't.

  9. #9
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    without the correct rifle barrel twist rate the 200+gr bullets don't really do that well in an -06
    Death to every foe and traitor and hurrah, my boys, for freedom !

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I have built 26,06's over the ears on Mauser 98's and Savage 110's. Several of them were heavy barrels, and most had 24" barrels or more, due to the fact I bought a bunch of FN surplus 06 barrels, new, wrapped in wax paper and grease. I got great velocities' out of them and the 26" heavy barrels. Over the past 30 years as ammo and load components have advanced, so has the .308 and 30/06. The 06 can now be run close to 300Win Mag velocity, with no pressure signs, and the .308 aint even close. As far as accuracy goes, I have found the 06 to be every bit as accurate as the .308, when shot out of tuned rifle, and shooting quality handloads. Heck even the factory loads are shooting better than ever, and Hornady's light magnum loads push the envelope even more. The .308 is a accurate round from the get go, but the 06 is right there with it. Last year I was down at the range with a buddy shooting some 165 Hornadys in in SS Ruger 77 06, which I had went thru the trigger and glass bedded/floated the barrel. We were chronoing some loads, and another guy was there shooting his Browning 300WSM, with a 165 gr factory load. He looked at the readout on the 06 loads, and wanted to shoot his 300 thru the Chrony. I told him to go ahead, and when the three shots were averaged, he was shooting 40fps slower than the 06!! He couldn't understand why, I explained that factory velocities were obtained thru a 30" pressure barrel, with hot loads, to sell products, new rifles, ammo etc. I have had the same results shooting .270 Win. against .270 WSM, the older .270 with a 24" barrel and hand loads were 100fps faster for the .270 Win. Just my two cents worth.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    All good points but I still think the 06 is selected over the 308 simply because of tradition and recognition.

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    I like the 8 millimeter Mauser better than the 30 ought 6 Springfield.
    If you're going to hang me, please use a brand new rope!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

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    I have both, and love both the 308W and the 30-06. Both will do just about anything needing to be done in the lower 48. My favorite? It's the 30-06, because that's what all my Garands and 1903's eat. As to the 8mm Mauser, loaded to it's full potential, it ain't no slouch!

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    For me the choice was simple: In my early twenties I was about to buy my first center fire rifle and could only afford one. So I bought the one that seemed most flexible. The '06 turned out to be as good a choice as any but I have since filled two gun safes with rifles chambered for nine other cartridges.
    Back then there were a lot of folks who swore there was nothing 30-06 can't do. Maybe, but I decided there were a few things it shouldn't be expected to do.
    Warning: I know Judo. If you force me to prove it I'll shoot you.

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by atr View Post
    without the correct rifle barrel twist rate the 200+gr bullets don't really do that well in an -06
    The .30-06 does better with heavy bullets because it inherited the 1:10 twist from the .30 Government barrels Springfield was making for the Krag. 7.62 was intended to be equivalent to M2 ball so a 1:12 twist was chosen. Hard for that little case to drive a 220 grain bullet fast enough to stabilize at that twist.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSnover View Post
    ..............
    Back then there were a lot of folks who swore there was nothing 30-06 can't do. Maybe, but I decided there were a few things it shouldn't be expected to do.
    /\ It is that exact sense of "we've ALWAYS used the 06" that I'm talking about.

    The .30-06 is a fine cartridge but its reputation overshadows all other comers to the point that it stifles the sales of other cartridges.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    That used to be the case, but I wonder if it still holds true. Used to be that one of the ways "what is the most popular cartridge" was gauged was by the sale of reloading dies. .30-06 did hold top spot for many years, but I haven't seen the statistics lately. One could also go by the various manufacturers' statistics on how many of what rifles they made and sold, if they care to share the numbers.

    Aside from the fact that the .30-06 is just a flat out good cartridge, a large part of its popularity was familiarization and use by military members, all the way from 1906 - 1962. That a lot of veterans and a lot of years, at least 3 generations. Many guys wanted a rifle like the one they used in the service, and if they couldn't have one exactly like it because it was restricted to military use, then another rifle that used the same cartridge would do.

    Since the mid-'60's the cartridge has been the 5.56mm and it's .223 Rem. cousin. That's about 2 more generations of veterans, and the hot seller seems to be all of the AR-15 type rifles. I have not seen the current statistics for die sales and rifle sales, but the ARs are so popular that it's hard for me to imagine that the '06 is still king. On the other hand, I recall a couple of instances where I was picking up .223 empties at the range and was asked by fellow shooters, "Do you actually reload those?" So, I think that the newer generation which views most things as being disposable just buy more, and the die sales statistics might be misleading for that reason.

    So, modifying your original subject just a bit, how does a 5.56mm stack up against the .30-06 for sporting purposes? Not so well, I believe. Great for groundhogs, but not very sporting at all for the larger game animals. But, perhaps superior for certain kinds of combat. And the .308? Somewhere in the middle, I guess. When in the military I was fortunate enough to have an M1, followed by an M14, and to have shot on the battalion rifle team with both on successive years. I liked both, and own both (an M1A), but prefer the M1, shot it a bit better and liked the cartridge a bit better. Transfer this over to the sporting world, however, and I just don't see much difference. I have an Israeli '98 Mauser in 7.62mm/.308 made by FN that is on my "very last to go" list. Wonderfully accurate with the issue sights.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master LAH's Avatar
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    Looking back my first was a 70 Winchester in '06. I've had one most my life but if I was starting over it might be the 308. As I grow older though I'm more of a 30-30 man with an eye on the 300 Savage.
    Joshua 1:9

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by LAH View Post
    Looking back my first was a 70 Winchester in '06. I've had one most my life but if I was starting over it might be the 308. As I grow older though I'm more of a 30-30 man with an eye on the 300 Savage.
    Yes sir! I'm with you. When you get to the top of the hill you're glad that you left the 8lb. bolt action at home and took the 6lb. lever!

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    One of the draws of the 30-06 is it presents the shooter with just about as much recoil in a standard hunting rifle as an average shooter can absorb fairly easily. If you go with a more powerful cartridge, you get into unpleasant recoil levels. If you go with a less powerful cartridge, you get loads that tend to under-perform on some of the larger game animals in the USA.
    Everything is a trade off.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check