In today’s gun world of constant new caliber offerings especially in high powered rifles, so many in fact that I can’t keep up, one may wonder if some of the “old time” cartridges still have a place?
One cartridge that has stood the test of time and that I would happily settle for if I could own no other, is the venerable .30-06 Springfield.
There can be little doubt the “aught six” as it is sometimes referred to, has stood the harsh test of time. The cartridge was also called “30 Govt’ 06” by Winchester and was adopted by the US Army in 1906, hence the 06 designation.
The good ole 30-06 is still in use today by the US Military if that gives you any indication of its tenacity.
There are of course many more modern rifle calibers (like this Savage Stealth in 6.5 CM)I have experience with. So why would I choose the .30-06 for my one rifle caliber?
Many folks will disagree that the .30-06 is deserving of adoration when so many other, more modern choices abound. But read on to see what I believe is solid reasoning to place the 30-06 into the rifle cartridge hall of fame so to speak.
30-06 and the US Military
It is a well-established fact the US military has and continues to use the “aught six”, and maintains several variations of firearms designed for the cartridge in its arsenals.
Beginning in World War I with the M1903 Springfield and then with the M1917 Enfield, M1941 Johnson semiauto, and of course, the M1 Garand semi auto during WWII, the 30-06 has traveled the globe.
The US Military continued use of the “thirty-oh-six” into the Korean and Vietnam wars. Although the .30-06 has seen diminished use in the US military today, it still remains in the military arsenal as for a variety of our troops needs.
30-06 and Law Enforcement
Nationwide there has been a long standing and historical use in the American law enforcement community of the .30-06.
Agencies such as the FBI, US Border Patrol, and hundreds of state and local departments have kept the 30-06 in their inventories over the years.
Although it is not likely to be at the top of the list today, it has earned its place over many years of law enforcement service and no doubt still exists there today.
Hunting With The 30-06 Springfield
Without any hesitation my personal experience with .30-06 cartridge comes from the hunting field. There is little question as to the ability of the cartridge to take big game anywhere on the planet.
I’m not saying it would be my first choice for, say, elephant, but on the flip side I’ve personally seen Cape Buffalo taken with this cartridge in Zambia.
Additionally, friends of mine who have served as game rangers in Zambia have utilized the .30-06 for elephant when need be, and were successful.
Shot placement is critical regardless of what caliber you are shooting. But having taken a variety of big game both in the US and Africa with this time-honored cartridge, I need little convincing of its ability.
It would be easy to go on and talk about the legacy of the .30-06 in rifle shooting competitions such as the well-known Camp Perry National Matches.
And we could discuss the wide selection of rifle action types, ammo choices, and ammunition availability both far and near. A wide selection of factory ammunition choices for various needs in the .30-06 continues to be available in bullet weights ranging from 110 to 220 grain.
There are indeed flatter shooting cartridges with less recoil and better ballistics today, but the .30-06 can hold its own against the more modern era cartridges.
Unfortunately, the .30-06 gets a bad rap in many modern circles. For example, recently I read an article where the author blasted the ole .30-06 proclaiming that it “sucked.”
Aside from the above points and years of personal experience, a real-world story that convinces me that more modern is not always better is as follows–
About 35 years ago while on a tour of Zambia with personal friends who worked with Zambia Parks and Wildlife, I found myself in the enviable position to provide game meat by means of hunting for the native park staff.
Two rifles and a shotgun were made available to me for this endeavor. They included a Winchester Model 70 chambered in .458 Win Mag and a Winchester Model 70 in .30-06.
A problem existed however, only a handful of cartridges were made available from the “powers that be” in parks and wildlife for the .30-06.
The solution was a half-day drive to many of the professional hunting camps in the area which produced 30 to 40 rounds of .30-06 ammo for my use.
End result, the park workers were well supplied with meat for quite some time. The moral to the story, besides some express magnum calibers that safari camps were not willing to part with, most of these camps had enough spare ammunition to provide the much needed .30-06.
As previously stated, this .30-06 can still be found around the world today.
My dad carried and fought with the .30-06 in the South Pacific during WWII, and I have taken more big game with it than I can remember.
If I had to live with one rifle caliber for the rest of my life, I know I could get by very adequately with the “outdated” 30-06.
Harvesting even the largest of game is within reach of the ole “aught six” while having more than adequate precision distance capability. The ability to find ammo in trying times than many “more modern” rifle calibers is a notable advantage as well.
Make no mistake, I enjoy many of today’s newest calibers, but will never give up on a caliber that has been time-tested and proven in countless ways all over the world, the .30-06.