The 30-06 Obsession
The 30-06 cartridge can generate massive amounts of opinions on how great the cartridge is and its great killing abilities and many other issues.
As a gunsmith and salesman in the gun business for many years, I was able to shoot many different cartridges and the 30-06 cartridge was no exception. I have had the pleasure over the years of being able to shot and enjoy all manner of firearms and cartridges.
It was of course very popular when it was introduced and rightly so as it was a marked improvement over many of the cartridges of that day. My opinion has been that the 30-06 cartridge by the end of 1950s had been passed by with better and more practical cartridges, in my humble opinion.
Now the 30-06 cartridge when it was introduced and used by many hunters in its early years were used in military style guns or military firearms converted to commercial hunting guns. Many custom rifles in those days were made on the military actions that were chambered for the 06 cartridge.
The military guns of that time were usually heavy and in some cases were semi-automatics like the M1 Garand. In both cases this helped considerably with the recoil issue.
But once the guns started to be made in lighter and sleeker looking firearms the recoil of the 06 became more pronounced and with this the comfort level on the bench became much more noticeable.
I have a story in one of the articles in this web site and the article is about a pre-World War II 06 in the Winchester 70 that I called Old Thumper. I encourage you to read the article.
So my main point of why I do not recommend the 06 or many of the 30 caliber rifle cartridges is because of the recoil and not being able to spend enough time shooting it because of the recoil. (IMHO) This would also be an issue with the 308 Winchester cartridge. (IMHO)
A person who is going to get very good at target shooting or become a marksman or an expert shooter has to spend time shooting the firearm. One of the best ways to do this is going to the range and sitting down with your rifle and shooting it on the bench. This gives you the opportunity to correctly feel the trigger and get used to that trigger. This gives you an idea of balance and just general all-around comfort with that particular rifle.
I remember as a gunsmith in the early 80s going to the range to sight in a couple rifles. Two or three benches down from me were a man with his young son. They were shooting the fathers rifle which was a 30-06 and the young man was just starting out shooting and getting into the hunting scene as I recall.
The young boy had fired the rifle two or three times and was not interested at all in shooting that gun anymore and his father was demanding that he take a couple more shots. Now the issue with this scenario is you are not making a pleasant experience out of shooting for that young man and starting him off on a 30-06 that is pounding him is not going to encourage his hunting experiences.
To be honest the father was not all that comfortable when he was shooting the firearm either. They would have been more comfortable and really enjoyed themselves if they had used an old Winchester 94 30-30. (IMHO)
Now many people have also given this old cartridge much reverence in its Whitetail killing abilities and I have heard all the stories. Because of my unique job experiences as a gunsmith and gun salesman over the years I was able to hear many stories of men getting their deer and what cartridges they would have used in those experiences.
And to be quite honest with you I don’t believe the 30-06 was much better at putting the Whitetail deer down then was a much softer shooting 30-30 in my humble opinion.
Many of the newer developed cartridges from the 1950s and 60s would be much better at shooting on the bench and enjoying it. The newer cartridges would also be just as good and in some cases even better with performance and ballistics.
The 284 Winchester is a prime example of a cartridge that is not only a short cartridge and can be chambered in short action rifles. But ballistically was just as good as any 30-06 and was a better firearm to sit on the bench and shoot.
I know from my experiences while working at the Remington Arms Company that the 700 Remington line of rifles still produces probably more 30-06’s than any cartridge in that line. In my mind at this time I do not understand why it is still so popular.
The only reason being that I can see is its tradition and nostalgic appeal. It is certainly not based upon sound ballistics and all-around cartridge performance. Again this is my own humble opinion and you are welcome to yours but I still believe the 30-06 cartridge is way over hyped.
This is the most common cartridge from the 1950s era. They are available in most any model firearms from that period. If you are looking for a collector firearm from the Golden Age of Classic Firearms the 30-06 is for the budget minded. If you can find them in excellent condition then they make great additions to any firearms collection. They will also gain good value in time but not like the harder to find cartridges.