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30-06 vs 9 Most Popular Rifle Cartridges (with Ballistic Graphs)

Bullet Energy Comparison of the 30-06 Springfield,308 Win, 270 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 300 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, 223 Rem, 30-30 Win, and 25-06 Rem
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Through detailed ballistic comparisons, we will explore bullet velocity, trajectory, energy, wind drift, and recoil, providing a clear and data-driven perspective on how the 30-06 stacks up vs its contemporaries.

In the ever-evolving world of hunting and shooting sports, the 30-06 Springfield cartridge has stood the test of time as a versatile and reliable choice for hunters and marksmen alike. With over a century of history, this iconic round has become a benchmark for comparing the effectiveness of various hunting cartridges.

In this article, the 30-06 Springfield is compared side-by-side with the:

  • 308 Win
  • 270 Win
  • 6.5 Creedmoor
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 7mm Rem Mag
  • 223 Rem
  • 30-30 Win
  • 25-06 Rem.

I used 150-grain bullets for most cartridges so it would be more of an apples-to-apples comparison. Some of the smaller calibers don’t make bullets that big so I used a common bullet grain for that cartridge. Keep in mind that with different bullet grains, you will get different results than shown below. But you can use the information below to determine the potential of each caliber.

Bullet Velocity Comparison

The 30-06 Has More Velocity Than:

The .30-06 Springfield demonstrates a high bullet velocity, crucial for long-range hunting efficacy. For example, at 300 yards, the .30-06 maintains a velocity of over 2000 feet per second (fps) at 300 yards. It has more velocity than the 270 Win, 30-30 Win, and 308 Win. Within about 200 yards it also has a higher velocity than the 6.5 Creedmoor.

The 30-06 Has Less Velocity Than:

Although the 30-06 has more velocity within about 200 yards, the 6.5 Creedmoor has more velocity out past about 200 yards. The 223 Rem, 25-06 Rem, 7mm Rem Mag, and 300 Win Mag all have higher velocities than the 30-06 Springfield.

Top 3 Cartridges with Fastest Velocity:

  • 300 Win Mag
  • 7mm Rem Mag
  • 25-06 Rem
  • (223 at short distances)

Worst 3 Cartridges with Slowest Velocity:

  • 30-30 Win
  • 270 Win
  • 308 Win

 

Bullet Velocity Comparison of the 30-06 Springfield,308 Win, 270 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 300 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, 223 Rem, 30-30 Win, and 25-06 Rem

Bullet Trajectory Comparison

The 30-06 Has Better Trajectory Than

The .30-06 Springfield has a decent trajectory. It’s flatter shooting than the 30-30 Win, 270 Win, and 308 Win and almost identical to the 6.5 Creedmoor out to 400 yards.

The 30-06 Has Worse Trajectory Than

Although the 30-06 has a decent trajectory, it is not the best in this comparison. The 6.5 Creedmoor is better from 400-500 yards and the 223 Rem, 25-06 Rem, 7mm Rem Mag, and 300 Win Mag are all flatter shooting than the 30-06 Springfield.

Top 3 Cartridges with Flattest Trajectory:

  • 7mm Rem Mag
  • 300 Win Mag
  • 25-06 Rem

Worst 3 Cartridges with Least Flattest Trajectory:

  • 30-30 Win
  • 270 Win
  • 308 Win

Bullet Trajectory Comparison of the 30-06 Springfield,308 Win, 270 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 300 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, 223 Rem, 30-30 Win, and 25-06 Rem

Bullet Energy Comparison

In terms of energy, the .30-06 is a powerhouse. At about 220 yards the 30-06 is the 3rd most powerful cartridge, behind the 7mm Rem Mag and 300 Win Mag. After this distance, bullets that can retain their energy better beat the 30-06. For example, the 25-06 Rem starts to have more energy at that 220-yard mark, then the 6.5 Creedmoor has more energy at about 280 yards.

The 308 Win, 270 Win, 30-30 Win, and 223 all have less energy than the 30-06 at all ranges with the 223 Rem and 30-30 Win not even being close.

Top 3 Cartridges with the Most Energy:

  • 300 Win Mag
  • 7mm Rem Mag
  • 30-06 Springfield (to 220 yards)

Worst 3 Cartridges with the Least Energy:

  • 223 Rem
  • 30-30 Win
  • 6.5 Creedmoor (within 100 yards)
  • 270 Win (past 100 yards)

Bullet Energy Comparison of the 30-06 Springfield,308 Win, 270 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 300 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, 223 Rem, 30-30 Win, and 25-06 Rem

Wind Drift Ballistic Comparison

Again, the 30-06 is right in the middle of the road of all these cartridges. The 7mm Rem Mag, 20-05 Rem, 300 Win Mag, and 6.5 Creedmoor have less wind drift than the 30-06. These cartridges have quite a noticeable improvement in wind drift compared to the 30-06, especially at longer distances.

The 308 Win, 223 Rem, 270 Win, and 30-30 Win all have worse wind draft than the 30-06, with the 30-30 Win and 270 Win being notably more.

Top 3 Wind Drift Cartridges

  • 7mm Rem Mag
  • 25-06 Rem
  • 300 Win Mag

Worst 3 Wind Drift Cartridges

  • 30-30 Win
  • 270 Win
  • 308 Win and 223 Rem (tie)

Bullet Wind Drift Comparison of the 30-06 Springfield, 308 Win, 270 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 300 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, 223 Rem, and 25-06 Rem

Recoil Graph Comparison

The recoil of the .30-06, while substantial, is manageable coming in at about 24.27 ft-lbs of recoil energy with 14.94 fps of recoil velocity. It has less recoil than the 7mm Rem Mag and the 300 Win Mag, making it the 3rd most powerful recoil in this comparison.

The 308 has a similar performance as the 30-06, but you can see that there are about 5 ft-lbs of less recoil for the same grain bullet. It was also interesting to see that the recoil of the 270 was greater than the 308 given the 270 did not perform well in this comparison and that it has less energy generally than the 308.

Top 3 Least Recoil Cartridges

  • 223 Rem
  • 30-30 Win
  • 6.5 Creedmoor

Worst 3 Most Recoil Cartridges

  • 300 Win Mag
  • 7mm Rem Mag
  • 30-06 Springfield

Recoil Comparison of the 30-06 Springfield, 308 Win, 270 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 300 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, 223 Rem, and 25-06 Rem

Comparative Analysis of the Cartridges

30-06 vs 308 Winchester

  • Same Grain, Same Gun: Although the 30-06 outcompetes the 308 Winchester in every measurable category except recoil, the differences between the two are almost not noticeable when using the same grain bullet. The 308 is a smaller more efficient cartridge than the 30-06 and can be more versatile since it can be used in shorter action rifles.
  • Bigger Bullets: That said, the 30-06 has a bigger and heavier bullet selection which makes it more suitable for larger game like elk, bear, moose…etc.

30-06 vs 270 Winchester

  • Inefficient: The 30-06 outperformed the 270 Winchester in every category. Based on the result in the graph, the 270 Winchester did not hold up to what the 30-06 can do, especially at longer distances. That said, within 200 yards the 270 Winchester is a great cartridge. It seems a little inefficient though because it has almost the same recoil as the 30-06 but does not perform as well. Even the 308 Win performed better in every category and had less recoil than the 270 Win.

30-06 vs 6.5 Creedmoor

  • Recoil and Range: The 6.5 Creedmoor has gained popularity for its lower recoil and range, but the .30-06 has a higher energy profile, making it suitable for larger game, especially within 300 yards. Past 300 yards the 6.5 Creedmoor is a better choice due to having more energy, less wind drift, more velocity, and a slightly better trajectory when using a similar grain bullet.

  • Bullet Weight Range: While the 6.5 Creedmoor excels with bullets in the 140-150 grain range, the .30-06’s ability to handle heavier bullets (up to 220 gr) gives it an edge for versatility in hunting various game sizes.

30-06 vs 300 Win Mag

  • Short-Medium Range King: The 300 Win Mag beats the 30-06 Springfield and every other cartridge in just about every category. It has more energy, higher velocity, better trajectory, and less wind drift, and not by a little, it beats the 30-06 by quite a lot in all these categories. Its only competitor is the 7mm Rem Mag, past 220 yards the 7mm Rem Mag is more deadly.
  • The one downside to this cartridge is the recoil. Shooting the same 150-grain bullet, the 300 Win Mag will have 35.12 ft-lbs of recoil to the 24.27 ft-lbs of recoil of the 30-06, that is over 10 ft-lbs difference!

30-06 vs 7mm Rem Mag

  • Long Range King: 7mm Rem Mag has the best velocity (past 220 yards), trajectory, energy (past 220 yards), and wind drift values of any cartridge in this comparison. Using the same-sized bullet the 7mm Rem Mag is far and away better than the 30-06 Springfield, even within 220 yards. The 7mm Rem Mags only close competitor is the 300 Win Mag. which is better within 220 yards.

  • Recoil: I found it surprising the that recoil of the 7mm Rem Mag is only slightly more than the 30-06 Springfield, it is probably noticeable, but not by much. That gives it an edge over the 300 Win Mag for a lot of people and could be a reason to go with the 7mm Win Mag over the 30-06 because now you’ll be more effective for long-range western hunts and it’ll work better than the 30-06 in brush country.

30-06 vs 223 Remington

  • Intended Use and Game Size: The .223 is more suited to smaller game and varmint hunting due to its significantly lower recoil and energy. In contrast, the .30-06’s higher energy levels and recoil make it more versatile for large game.

30-06 vs 30-30 Winchester

  • Recoil: The 30-06 Springfield is far and away better in every way than the 30-30 Winchester. The 30-30 was the worst cartridge in this review in every category, especially for a larger caliber bullet. The only benefit is that it has a much lower recoil than the 30-06 (less than half). Besides the 223 Rem which is a MUCH smaller cartridge, the 30-30 Win had the least recoil.

  • Other Options For New Hunters: Although many new hunters start with a 30-30 Win because of the low recoil, the ballistics aren’t great. Most beginners can handle a 6.5 Creedmoor. I also just finished a blog post on the new 8.6 Blackout cartridge, which is between the .243 and 6.5 Creedmoor. Make it an excellent beginner cartridge. It also has subsonic capabilities which give it a recoil similar to that of a .22 LR – Read Here: The 8.6 Blackout Cartridge: Ballistic Comparisons, Pros and Cons.

30-06 vs 25-06 Remington

  • Bullet Size and Selection: The 30-06 can shoot larger bullets. In this comparison, we had to compare a 120 gr 25-06 bullet to a 150 gr 30-06 bullet because the 25-caliber bullet doesn’t have bullets that big, so it’s not quite apples to apples but it’s a good comparison to a realistic use case. Since the 30-06 can shoot bigger bullets it is more versatile and creates bigger wound channels.

  • Ballistics: The 25-06 Remington does a lot of things better than the 30-06. For example, it has more velocity, which gives it a better trajectory, competing even with the 7mm Rem Mag and 300 Win Mag. Past 220 yards, it has more energy than the 150 gr 30-06 bullet (within 100 yards the 30-06 is quite a bit more deadly). It is the 2nd best cartridge on this list in wind deflection, even beating the 300 Win Mag.
  • Recoil: the 25-06 Rem also has a lot less recoil than the 30-06 (a whopping 7 lbs ft-lbs less!).

Conclusion

In summary, the 30-06 Springfield remains a highly respected and versatile hunting cartridge. It competes closely with both traditional and modern cartridges, offering a balance of power, trajectory, and manageable recoil. Its adaptability for various game sizes and hunting scenarios continues to make it a preferred choice for hunters worldwide.

Since it is such a versatile cartridge a lot of hunters often use it as a benchmark for comparing other cartridges when buying new rifles. Hopefully, this information has helped you determine which caliber is right for you.


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Article Written By: Jason Tome

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