Best 30-06 Ammunition?

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.

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Best 30-06 Ammunition? — 2 Comments

  1. I think you have to consider another aspect for hunting,another dimension- your rifle! I have found that every gun I have owned has it’s appetite for ammo. For example, one gun fires everything, another gun has a preference for 130 grain cheaply ammo, other guns need a 165 grain bullet. The idea here is the fun of finding that perfect round- that sweet round that sails exactly where you want it. Some of us find that sweetness only rarely,but the pursuit of perfection is part of my hunting experience with my sometime stubborn friend- my rifle.

    The marriage of your rifle and a scope is another dimension of your hunting experience. Like half of all marriage , a scoop will fail( mounts as well). Perfection is a must here.

    Well what is left? Skill and your natural born instincts. Here I can’ t help you. But, with the perfect hunting rig, you have a key that unlocks what you are made of, what your we’re borne with- the instinct the hunt and the joy in rekindling that wonderfully drive to be the perfect hunter
    Like our distant relatives and what you will become if you hunt long enough.

    • Oh believe me: I have spent more than the past decade running down that bunny hole. When you’re into reloading, you’ve got so many variables to exploit– powder, bullet, seating depth, primer. I have one rifle that just will not take 150 grain, and won’t shoot 165 grain accurately unless I run 5 rounds through it to dirty up the barrel and then not clean it until after season. If I do that, it’s a tack driver. It took two years and I don’t know how many loads to find that out– probably why that rifle was up for sale in the first place.

      Yep! I hear ya, brother. Thanks for coming around. Thanks for sharing.

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