History, and current 30-06

Southern

Well-Known Member
#2
After WWI, Springfield made an effort to promote the .30 US as a hunting cartridge by marketing their Springfield Sporter. So did Sedgley, on the pedestrian end, and Griffin & Howe on the upper end of custom rifles.

The NRA, through its sponsorship of Service Rifle Matches, motivated target shooters to move to the 1903 Springfield. Winchester continued chambering the 1895 lever action in .30-03 until 1928, but began offering it in .30-06 as well. Winchester brought out their Model 54 in the .30-06, later replaced by the Model 70 in 1937. By that time, Germany and Austria were offering sporting Mausers and Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifles in .30-06. The Great Depression just limited sales of sporting rifles all over the world from 1930 to 1939. Then the war broke out.

And it was WWII, with millions of soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen returning from the war, that the .30-06 became THE cartridge. My father, a pilot, only fired the 1903A3 and Garand in training, but he respected the rifles and the cartridge for their ability to, "reach out". He had seen an ME-109 shot down by mass fire of infantry it was strafing in North Africa. When he decided to buy a commercial deer rifle, it was a .30-06. Naturally, I followed, grading up from my .303 Jungle Carbine to a new Remington 700 BDL in .30-06.
 

Border

Well-Known Member
#3
Over here in Norway it is still a very popular round. The old german M98 s left over from the war were rebarrelled from 8x57 to 30-06 for military use until the 308 became more popular. The 30-06 is one of the three most popular rounds here, the others being 308w and 6.5x55.
 

8x57

Distinguished Member
#5
How popular was the 30-06 between the wars? How popular now? capt david
If you are talking between WW1 and WW2 not very popular. Becoming slightly more popular now probably mainly with those that travel abroad to shoot boar. That has been a fairly recent thing though as several countries have only in recent years eased restrictions on possessing what were military cartridges.
 

ejg

Well-Known Member
#6
30-06 seems very popular in Germany too. Just a very sensible hunting cartridge for their game. Even the longer length over say 308 can be an advantage in that it feeds more reliably from hunting rifle drop plate mags. Here in Ireland 30-06 seems to be well behind the 308 or even 270.
edi
 

8x57

Distinguished Member
#9
I think they used to measure it on the number of sets of dies sold each year not on components because .30 calibre components would cover a huge range of different cartridges.
Guns and Ammo used to publish the list of sales each year and for many years .30-06 was the most popular rifle dies sold but I think it was knocked off its peg some years ago.
 

Laurie

Well-Known Member
#10
I think they used to measure it on the number of sets of dies sold each year not on components because .30 calibre components would cover a huge range of different cartridges.
Guns and Ammo used to publish the list of sales each year and for many years .30-06 was the most popular rifle dies sold but I think it was knocked off its peg some years ago.
Yes, it's usually RCBS' die sales quoted, just that one manufacturer. It appears that factory ammunition sales are also used though.

According to Chuck Hawks, 30-06 was in 3rd place in 2015 behind 223 and 308:

https://www.chuckhawks.com/best_selling_rifle_cartridges.htm

But with 30-30 WCF in 4th place in this listing, you've got to wonder about its reliability even given the USA's longstanding association with and love for leverguns and this cartridge. :???:
 

Roro

Well-Known Member
#11
30-06 seems very popular in Germany too. Just a very sensible hunting cartridge for their game. Even the longer length over say 308 can be an advantage in that it feeds more reliably from hunting rifle drop plate mags. Here in Ireland 30-06 seems to be well behind the 308 or even 270.
edi
The .270 had a long head start though, here in ireland, as .270 was the upper limit licencable for years. I have seen a few nice .30-06's around though.
 

AdrianC

Well-Known Member
#13
Since it's inception the 30-06 has been doing the job the world over with boring reliability.
Whether it be in the military or the dusty plains of Africa or the remote tundra in the arctic circle or the mountains of Europe and Asia, it does the job with quiet efficiency.
It's arguable that the 30-06 could be the calibre that has killed more things globally than any other.
 

8x57

Distinguished Member
#14
It's arguable that the 30-06 could be the calibre that has killed more things globally than any other.
Arguable certainly! I think that you might like to refine that claim a little more Adrian, perhaps just a little bit too broad of a claim maybe.:lol:

No doubt similar claims can be made for; .22lr, 12 bore cartridge, 7.62x39 and even possibly the .303 if only talking about larger game.
 

Roro

Well-Known Member
#16
What about the argument that the .308 winchester can do pretty much all the .30-06 can, and be a shorter neater action ? Pin out, chucks in grenade..............
 

PKL

Well-Known Member
#17
What about the argument that the .308 winchester can do pretty much all the .30-06 can, and be a shorter neater action ? Pin out, chucks in grenade..............
how wrong :) bolt is almost same length but 308 can’t handle 180-220g’ers. Also, can’t send light bullets like lightening. There you have it ;)
 

AdrianC

Well-Known Member
#18
Arguable certainly! I think that you might like to refine that claim a little more Adrian, perhaps just a little bit too broad of a claim maybe.:lol:
Yes, arguable, it's not a statement of fact, it's an opinion.
I'm sure the veritable 12 bore may well have the 30-06 beaten but in terms of rifle then I'm not sure it qualifies.

It's one of the most popular calibres across the world, you would have to go a long way to find a hunting camp that didn't have one in the cupboard.
I would also suggest that if you visit our friends across the pond you will find one in most homes that hunt or own firearms.

If I turned up in Africa, the US, Europe or Asia without bullets, I bet I could find 30-06 more easily than 7.62x39 because of the popularity of the calibre.

Maybe not so popular over here as the .308 but outside of these shores I wouldn't mind betting it's right up there with any other calibre.

When you also consider it's use by the US in two world wars and Vietnam and Korea as well as other nations in their conflicts across the globe, add on it's hunting and recreational use and it's absolute popularity in the largest gun owning nation on the planet then it's arguably a reasonable opinion. :tiphat:
 

Laurie

Well-Known Member
#19
It's long been said that in the USA, the .44-40WCF, a truly low-power number whose performance is way below that of the 44 Rem Magnum revolver cartridge, killed (and likely wounded) more game than any other in the nation's history.

That trophy headcount tells us nothing about a cartridge's performance, superiority, or otherwise just that from 1873 for a couple of decades it was the hunting round with little competition, that being first on the field as a practical centrefire round its rifles sold in vast numbers and people held onto them for decades even as other better, higher performance designs including the .30-06 arrived, and that finally (and crucially) that between the 1870s and WW1, there were vastly greater numbers of heads of medium and large game to shoot at in the USA. By the 30s, the 44-40, 30-30 with minor help from the 270 and 30-06 had literally denuded huge swathes of anything larger than pheasants and turkeys across the USA. The ubiquitous Whitetail deer is only ubiquitous because shooting it was banned or the numbers taken highly controlled in the minority of states where it had survived, and it took over half a century to recolonise the denuded areas, shooting them being banned until relatively recently.

The 30-06 arrived at the right time to be an effective plains game rifle in Africa when herds of zebra and antelope etc were so large as to be literally uncountable and when migrating herds took days to pass a given point. White settlers and visitors reduced those 'uncountable millions' to not that much above today's figures. As with the 44-40 in north America, the 30-06 took enormous numbers because it was affordable and widely available and the quarry species were there in such numbers.

Any cartridge introduced since WW2 will never see a fraction of the opportunity to harvest so much game again, or anything near close. Not only is there a hundredfold more competition from other calibres and cartridges now, but there are only a hundredth of the things to shoot at.

So, it's a fine performer even 115 years after it's introduction, it has a place today, it'll survive as long as there are 'hunters' given the large number of fine rifles in existence, it has many Historic Arms match shooters using it in M1903s and M1 Garands (I've personally owned and shot three .30-06 service rifles on the ranges over 40 years.) There is great affection for it as an 'old soldier' especially in the US. But if we started with a clean sheet of paper today, no sporting rifles or cartridges in existence and people were offered the entire choice we now have to be chosen on their merits without historic baggage, I imagine it would be squeezed by the 308 on the one hand from people who don't want or need a 200-220gn bullet capability, and the .300WSM or suchlike from those who do or want to push a 180 faster than the 30-06 can, at least in the USA and here.
 

8x57

Distinguished Member
#20
Yes, arguable, it's not a statement of fact, it's an opinion.
I'm sure the veritable 12 bore may well have the 30-06 beaten but in terms of rifle then I'm not sure it qualifies.

It's one of the most popular calibres across the world, you would have to go a long way to find a hunting camp that didn't have one in the cupboard.
I would also suggest that if you visit our friends across the pond you will find one in most homes that hunt or own firearms.

If I turned up in Africa, the US, Europe or Asia without bullets, I bet I could find 30-06 more easily than 7.62x39 because of the popularity of the calibre.

Maybe not so popular over here as the .308 but outside of these shores I wouldn't mind betting it's right up there with any other calibre.

When you also consider it's use by the US in two world wars and Vietnam and Korea as well as other nations in their conflicts across the globe, add on it's hunting and recreational use and it's absolute popularity in the largest gun owning nation on the planet then it's arguably a reasonable opinion. :tiphat:
Not disagreeing with most of what you say above Adrian apart from the availability of 7.62x39 because that little round is extremely common in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, but go back to where you said "It's arguable that the 30-06 could be the calibre that has killed more things globally than any other. "

I wasn't thinking about sporting ammunition but the cartridge in general, not that is seems to make much difference to poachers in some African countries from what we hear.
Half of the world has been awash in 7.62x39 at some time or other since 1944. It's probably cropped up in more conflicts and been produced in billions of rounds by almost every communist state plus some others. I'm willing to bet that the number of rounds produced in that cartridge would outnumber the number of rounds of .30-06 produced in its lengthy history by quite a margin.
 
Last edited:

Top