Overall the Whitetail is not that hard to kill. Just about anything you put into it is going to get good results. 30-06 is probably the best general purpose round out there. On deer at normal deer ranges, it is probably a bit of overkill, but that’s okay– I’ll take overkill any day. In fact, ’06 is one of my favorites.
I started out with 180 grainers and shot the first 10 years with them. I’d started out hunting boar, and I found a good load and bought as much of one lot as I could find. That was over twenty years ago, and I still have some left. The cache outlasted the rifle (long story). If you had asked me 15 years ago, I would have said 180 grain was IT. I saw one plow through a deer lengthwise (another long story) and keep going. I was sold.
Then about 8 years ago I had started reloading, and I was going on a deer/boar hunt in Texas and tried 165 grain. It just so happened I found a load that worked well in both my Ought-Sixes at the time, and I switched. The trip fell through, but the load stuck, and I went on to use it in 4 different rifles and bag oodles of deer. The bullet I picked was the 165 grain Hornady Interlock SP. It worked so well I used it in a bunch of different projects and it became my goto deer bullet for 308 Win and 7.62X54R as well.
If I had to do it all over again, I would probably start with 150 grain– haven’t hunted boar in years. I have dabbled a bit with 130 grain, and it will also do a nice job-
Stop, Shaman! You haven’t given this guy anything. What is your recommendation?
I guess what I was trying to say is that as long as you stay in the middle, you probably can’t go wrong. I could say 165 spire points, because that’s what I’ve killed the most deer with, but I could have done it with any of the others I’ve mentioned. The next guy will come in and say he’s done it with 200 grain or 120 grain. They all work.
Deer are just so doggone easy to kill. If deer were bigger or meaner we could talk sensibly about choices, but there is only so much deer to go through, providing a narrow operating window before you either a) blow up the bullet going too fast or b) blow through the other side of the deer. Ought-Six tends towards the latter unless you’re getting downright silly.
The Remington green box Wally-World specials are fine. Winchester is fine. Federal is fine. I will tell you that you do not need premium bullets, but I can remember a time when Remington Core-Lokt was considered premium, and the deer haven’t changed a lick in the intervening years. They can be pointy or round-nosed. Neither you or the deer will notice a difference in the first 200 yards.
So which one?
I don’t know. How is that for and answer? Remember what I said at the beginning about finding a load and then buying a bunch of it. That is my advice. Just about any store-bought stuff will hit a pie plate at 100 yards. However, to go beyond that you need to find the best for your individual rifle. To go from pie plate patterns and Minute-of-Deer accuracy down to Minute-of-Angle groups is whole nuther bunny hole.
Start with Remchester 150 grainers; they’re cheap and easy to find. See if you can get a good group with them. If not, go to 165 grainers. If that doesn’t work, try Winnington. Somewhere in the first $100-200 of ammo, you’ll find a sweet spot. It may be a 4 inch group or a 2 inch group or maybe you come up lucky and your rifle can put them into an inch at 100 yards. Somewhere along the way your rilfe and your wallet will get together and tell you that enough is enough. Go back and grab a bunch of the stuff you just shot. There, you’re set for life.
Here is where I went wrong the first time out. Instead of concentrating on Remington or some other ubiquitous brand I found that 180 grain Musgrave Round Nose worked just fine in my Remington 742. I went back to the store from the range and bought a bunch of it. It was cheap, so I bought all the guy had. Musgrave? Musgrave is a South African manufacturer, and I have not seen Musgrave in a store since 1984. In deer country, every store that sells ice and beer sells Remington 30-06 150 grain PSPCL. Try going to that same counter and asking for Musgrave, or for that matter Remington Premier Accu-tips."Best 30-06 Ammunition?",