.30-06 Springfield: Cartridge Profile

The .30-06 Springfield is a popular .308″ caliber rifle cartridge which was originally introduced in 1906.  It is popular among hunters for its ability to effectively take any size of North American game, but it was originally released as a military cartridge.

Basic Stats & Specs

Date Originated: 1906 Designed By: US Military Bullet Diameter: 0.308″ (7.62mm) Cartridge Overall Length: 3.34″ Parent Case: 0.30-03 Springfield Maximum Pressure: 60,190 psi

45.86

Backfire’s Hunting Power Rating

What is this?

Our proprietary formula ranks rifles on a scale of 0 - 100 to analyze its killing power. Included in the formula is frontal area of the bullet, speed at several common hunting distances, bullet weight, and sectional density.

48.9

Backfire’s Real Recoil Rating

What is this?

We track average rifle weight in each caliber, and a percentage of popular rifles using a muzzle break in each caliber, to make our composite score of recoil energy and velocity more accurate. A score under 50 is unlikely to make an average adult shooter flinch.

2,723 FPS

Muzzle Velocity

What is this?

We track average rifle weight in each caliber, and a percentage of popular rifles using a muzzle break in each caliber, to make our composite score of recoil energy and velocity more accurate. A score under 50 is unlikely to make an average adult shooter flinch.

.30-06 Springfield Ballistic Trajectory 

Distance Drop Velocity
Muzzle +1.5″ 2,723 fps
100 Yards 0″ 2,587 fps
200 Yards -4.05″ 2,303 fps
300 Yards -14.9″ 2,161 fps
400 Yards -32.9″ 1,995 fps
500 Yards -59.5″ 1,843 fps
600 Yards -96.15″ 1,697 fps
700 Yards -144.4″ 1,557 fps
800 Yards -207.8″ 1,428 fps
900 Yards -289.8″ 1,315 fps
1,000 Yards -394.5″ 1,217 fps

.30-06 Springfield Energy and Flight Time

Distance Energy (FPE) Flight Time (Seconds)
Muzzle 2,965 0″
100 Yards 2,676 0.12″
200 Yards 2,120 0.25″
300 Yards 1,867 0.39″
400 Yards 1,591 0.54″
500 Yards 1,359 0.7″
600 Yards 1,152 0.87″
700 Yards 969 1.07″
800 Yards 815 1.28″
900 Yards 691 1.51″
1,000 Yards 592 1.75″

The data in the above tables averages several different common loads for the cartridge.  It is an average to give shooters an idea of what performance is normal from the cartridge, but faster and slower speeds can be accomplished depending on the particular load.  This data is for cartridge comparisons, and not for creating a dope chart for your rifle.

2,577 Shots of Barrel Life

The .30-06 Springfield has a barrel life of 2,577 shots, which is better than 63% of other rifle cartridges.
We determine barrel life from our proprietary and accurate formula, but your load and barrel quality affect barrel life.

$1.73 Per Cartridge on Average

Across different brands and loads from various online and physical stores, the average current cost per shot for .30-06 ammunition is $1.73 in the United States.  The average price per box of ammunition is $34.66.

6

#2 in Bolt-Action Popularity

6.2% of all new bolt-action rifles are available in a .30-06 chambering.  It is the 4th most popular bolt-action rifle caliber on the market.  Consequently, shooters can easily find rifles and ammunition.

$1.93 Real Cost Per Shot

While the cost of each cartridge is just $1.73, if you factor into the cost of a shot the barrel life and how expensive it is to replace a barrel, the average cost per shot becomes $1.93, which is low for centerfire rifle.

Taylor's Knockout Factor

What is this?

This early 1900s formula accounts for bullet weight, caliber, and velocity to estimate killing power. It fails to account for frontal area and long-range ballistics. A .243 scores 9.9 on this scale, and a .300 win mag scores 24.07

Backfire's Ballistic Efficiency Rating

What is this?

Our proprietary formula ranks cartridges ability to shoot a heavy projectile quickly while using the least amount of powder. The scale is 0 (not efficient) to 100 (perfectly efficient).

Muzzle Mathematic Stress (N/m2)

What is this?

Mathematic stress gives an idea of how much force is placed on each square millimeter of area that the bullet will contact when it initially hits an animal. It is a helpful indicator of penetration.

Bullet Frontal Area (mm2)

What is this?

Bullet frontal area is the surface area of the projectile when placed facing toward the measurer. It shows how much area will be impacted when a bullet hits.

Mule Deer and Whitetail Deer

The .30-06 Springfield is an excellent and very popular deer hunting cartridge, though the current trend is for lighter recoiling cartridges. Traditionally, hunters recommend shooting a cartridge with 1,000 ft/lbs of energy to hunt deer, and the .30-06 has that much energy out to 680 yards, making it an ideal round.

Elk

The .30-06 is an excellent choice for elk hunting, which is why it has taken more elk than any other cartridge.  It maintains over 1,500 ft/lbs of energy out to 420 yards, making it an ideal round for most hunting situations.  Paired with a heavy, controlled-expansion bullet, a .30-06 usually achieves a full passthrough in large-bodied elk.

Black Bear

The .30-06 is an exceptional cartridge for hunting black bear.  Black Bear have heavy shoulder bones and thick hides which some cartridges struggle to penetrate, but a .30-06 is capable of easily breaking through thick shoulders to reach the vital area of a black bear.

Grizzly Bear

The .30-06 is an extremely capable cartridge for successfully hunting grizzly bears when a proper shot angle is offered; however, many hunting guides recommend their clients select a larger caliber to for grizzly hunting so that it can put down a charging grizzly head-on. 

Moose

The .30-06 is an ideal cartridge for hunting moose.  While moose are very large animals often weighing in excess of 1,000 lbs, a .30-06 is adequate for the task.  Many hunters suggest that 1,500 ft/lbs of energy is needed to hunt moose, and the .30-06 accomplishes this out to 420 yards with most loads.

Hog

The .30-06 is a perfect cartridge for hunting hogs.  While some hunters use smaller calibers for hogs and make precise head shots, a hog has dense shoulder bones, so a more powerful firearm such as the .30-06 is excellent for body shots.

Cape Buffalo

The .30-06 cannot be used for hunting cape buffalo.  In most African countries, there are laws prohibiting any caliber smaller than .375 H&H.  While many hunters have used the .30-06 to successfully kill cape buffalo in years before caliber restrictions were put into law, many reported it was inadequate.

Bison

The .30-06 is an adequate cartridge for hunting bison (buffalo).  Bison are thick-skinned game often weighing over 1,300 pounds, so a powerful cartridge with a heavy controlled-expansion bullet is needed. While the .30-06 is a common choice, some hunters prefer even larger calibers for bison.

Theoretical Free Recoil (Assumes 9 lbs gun)

Theoretical Recoil Velocity (Assumes 9 lbs gun)

Free Recoil as Typically Configured (Uses our data on average gun weight for this caliber)

Recoil Velocity as Typically Configured (Uses our data on average gun weight for this caliber)

Backfire's Real Recoil Rating

What is this?

Ballistic efficiency is a cartridge's ability to move a heavy bullet quickly while using the least amount of powder. Backfire's efficiency rating is a scale from 0 to 100 with lower scores being less efficient than higher scores. We consider a score above 45 to be an efficient cartridge.

A Look at Recoil

The .30-06 Springfield is a heavy recoiling cartridge.  It produces 19.78 foot pounds of free recoil and 11.89 foot pounds of recoil velocity, which is manageable for experienced adult shooters. The recoil on a .30-06 is 5% more than a .308, and 34% less than a .300 Win Mag.

A Look at Efficiency

The .30-06 is a very efficient cartridge for the weight of the bullet, caliber, and muzzle velocity.  It is in the 60th percentile for cartridge efficiency.

FAQ

If you have questions about the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, we’d be happy to help! Whether you call it the aught-six, thirty aught six, or just the .30-06, we’re passionate about this cartridge.  Here are a few answers to the most common questions.

Is the .30-06 bigger than a .308?

While the .30-06 and the .308 both shoot the same .308″ diameter bullets, the .30-06 fires the bullet approximately 125 feet per second faster.  This produces about 350 extra foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.

What is the effective range of the .30-06?

The .30-06 can shoot targets out to 1,000 yards with -394.5″ of drop, but it is not as flat shooting as modern magnum cartridges.  In hunting situations, the .30-06 retains 1,000 ft/lbs of energy out to 690 yards on average.

What is the difference between the .30-06 vs the .300 Win Mag?

The .30-06 and .300 Win Mag are both powerful .308 caliber cartridges, but the .300 Win Mag fires its bullets about 300 fps faster, producing 200 extra foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.  The .30-06 boasts a longer barrel life and 33% less recoil than the .300 Winchester Magnum.

Why is the .30-06 considered the best all-around cartridge?

The .30-06 is so widely respected as a good all-around hunting cartridge because of its ability to take large game such as elk and bear, while also not being overkill for hunting deer-sized game.

What animals can a .30-06 kill?

The .30-06 is capable of killing any animal on the American continents, despite being on the light side for what many brown bear and bison hunter prefer.  It is also capable of hunting deer, elk, pronghorn, and all African plains game including eland.

What is the next caliber up from the .30-06?

Most shooter who want slightly more power than the .30-06 move to the .300 Win Mag, which shoots the same .308″ bullet, but does it faster and with more foot pounds of energy.  .300 Weatherby Magnum, .300 RUM, .338 Lapua, and .375 H&H are all rounds with slightly more power.