When we talk about mainstream sporting calibers, the .30-06 always stay highly ranked as an immensely versatile cartridge and respected old-timer with more than 100 years of recorded active life. Although this article is about rifles, for the riflemen and hunter perhaps the more important thing is a cartridge and caliber of the rifle than the gun itself.
Why a .30-06 Cartridge?
A .30-06 or “thirty-ought-six,” or simply “nought-six”, are familiar words for every hunter and sportsman in the USA. First about its name. Usually, ammunition calibers have a two-part designation indicating the bullet diameter and manufacturer, or in the metric system the bullet diameter and case length. However, the .30–06 Springfield means that this is a .30-inch caliber introduced in 1906 by Springfield Armory.
This venerable cartridge owes its existence to the new developments in European small arms and ballistics at the end of the 19th and the rise of the 20th century. The .30-06 and its predecessor the .30-03 cartridge used case design and ball round based on the German Mauser 8x57mm and Swiss 7.5x55mm caliber rounds.
Officially, the”.30 caliber U.S. cartridge of 1906” is the cartridge developed by the military and was a basic rifle and machine-gun round of the United States and many other nations for more than 70 years.
Along with distinctive military career, the .30–06 saw great success in the hands of hunters and civilian shooters worldwide. Though the U.S hunters, who pioneered the use of the .30-06 cartridge, in the first years had little choice of civilian rifles, a thirty-ought-six soon became a true milestone in ammunition and firearms history. Today, well 100 years after its introduction the .30-06 is a benchmark by which big-game cartridge performance is compared.
The .30-06 is still very popular in the USA and the rest of the world not because it is necessarily superior to the modern calibers and cartridges, but because it is easier and cheaper to find, both as factory-loaded cartridge and as reloading components.
Specs of the .30-06
As an effective, well-balanced load, the .30-06 (7.62x63mm metric) round still is a great choice for hunting mid-sized game. Today, most ammunition makers offer the .30-06 Springfield in a number of loads with the average projectile weight ranging between110-250 grains.
That load choice makes the .30-06 incredibly versatile round for hunter who intends to use one rifle for a variety of game weights.
Though available in a wide range of bullet weights and styles, the .30-06 most common factory loaded bullet weights are 150 grain, 165 grain, and 180 grain.
A standard.30-06 heavyweight 180-grain bullet at 2,700fps of muzzle velocity carries 1,968 ft-lbs. of energy. Firing one of today’s superb high-performance bullets, at 400 yards the .30-06 would actually outperform the .300 Winchester Magnum loaded with a traditional soft-point bullet.
Things to Consider while Buying a .30-06 Rifle
Choosing a .30-06 rifle can be overwhelming as there are many makes and models available. But if you have a good idea of what purpose you will use it for, your search might get a little easier. The rifles chambered in .30-06 are best used for hunting for casual target shooting. Specifically, hunters will use this for mid- to large-sized game such as wild boars, deer, and even bears, to name a few.
Depending on your hunting area, shooting style, animal habitats, and type of game, you should select the best .30-06 rifle option suitable for your needs. At this place, we mean at the appropriate type of action for the above-mentioned scenarios.
Currently, hunters and sport shooters are using .30-06 bolt action and semiautos as the two most common action types. The most reliable are turnbolt rifles of bolt-actions, but they are also the slowest to bring the new cartridge in the firing chamber for a follow-up shot. There are faster bolt-action variants such as Weatherby Mark V with shorter bolt-throw of 60 degrees instead of the standard 90 that makes a lot of difference in loading a new cartridge.
On the other hand, you can opt for the semi-automatic rifles that re-chamber very fast, but as with all complex mechanisms they are sensitive at dirt and ammunition quality. In that case, you have to count on possible stoppages and jams when you need it the most.
The other .30-06 action styles as lever action, slide (pump) action, and break barrel rifles are not very common today. While the first sporting rifle chambered in the .30-06 Springfield, was Winchester’s Model 1895 lever action box magazine fed rifle, today the firearm industry is offering .30-06 caliber rifles mainly as bolt actions and semi-automatics.
In addition to these widespread action types in .30-06 caliber, there are rifles in the slide- or pump-action like Remington 7600 and Krieghoff Semprio, a specialized .30-06 weapon for driven hunts.
A .30-06 Springfield is undoubtedly a great all-around caliber, also because of its balanced firepower and recoil force. Many gun authorities consider a .30-06 caliber is at the upper end of what the average shooter can handle. Still, though that feature is subjective, it mainly depends on the weight of rifle and selection of bullets.
A rule of thumb is that heavier guns provide a much softer recoil than ultra-light rifles. Besides faster follow up shots, the semi-automatics have another advantage over the bolt actions reflected in better recoil taming due to the mechanism functioning.
As for the accuracy, a modern single shot and turn bolts equipped with a free-floating barrel give a lot more accuracy than gas-operated auto-loading .30.06 rifles. In numbers, you should expect from a decent bolt action close to 0.25MOA firing group whereas, a 1 MOA is usually the best you can get from an excellent semi-automatic rifle.
Choosing the Best .30-06 Bolt Action Rifle
Anyway, the prevailing factors when you are acquiring the .30-06 should be the intended purpose, your preferences to a particular action type, and of course, your budget.
In the next part of this guide, we’ll try to present to you what is currently the most popular among .30-06 enthusiasts and hunters.
One of the newest Remington’s budget bolt action rifle, applying a modern design, new technologies, and materials upgraded the century-old bolt-action system for modern times. Model 783 rifle is Remington’s competitor for the best low-price hunting rifle on the market.
As you may know, during almost 60 years of existence, the top-selling model Remington 700 was manufactured in more than 900 variants. Surprisingly, though some claim otherwise, the Model 783, doesn’t have any similarities with the legendary Remington series except the initial number “7” in the model designation.
That number clarifies that it is a type of bolt action weapon coming from the 700 line of rifles, and there is the end of any further closeness.
In fact, the Remington Model 783 bears much more resemblance to the Marlin XL7 than Remington 700 lower-cost version. Similar to the system used on the Marlin XL7, the barrel is attached to the 783’s cylindrical receiver via a barrel nut system.
This SKU is fitted with slightly thicker 22-inch magnum contour barrel topped with the crown also spared from the Marlin XL7. Furthermore, the Model 783 includes an adjustable CrossFire trigger system, which is Remington’s version of Marlin’s Pro-Fire safety triggers but also and of Savage’s Accutrigger. The trigger system consists of a center lever that locks the trigger until it is fully depressed.
These consumer adjustable triggers come from the factory set at 3.5 pounds, but you can set them (according to Remington) to only 2.5 pounds, which is amusing for that class gun.
Another pleasant surprise for a long gun of that price tag is a detachable box magazine capacity of four .30-06 rounds. While the double stack box magazine fits flush with the bottom of the stock, it is made of plastic and metal parts with a proper measure making magazine’s retention and release much better than other comparable rifles.
Though located at a standard place just rear of the bolt, the non-bolt-locking safety isn’t like tang safety which slides up and down, but 783 safety goes back and forth in two positions (safe and fire).
The Model 783 is available with a walnut stock, but this cheaper model features durable a nylon-fiber reinforced synthetic stock. The stock is somewhat beefy, providing very good support and paired with Supercell recoil pad reduce felt recoil more than 50 percent by the manufacturer’s statement.
The rifle offers a great adjustable trigger, heavier barrel, and quite a decent box magazine in a budget rifle. Still, this very favorable impression spoils loud and clicky safety and molded plastic sling studs that feel cheap and weak.
Along with .30-06, the Remington is offering this budget bolt action rifle in a couple of standard chamberings, but also you can get it as a combo with riflescope and mounting hardware.
Browning X-Bolt Stainless Stalker
Bolt-Action Rifle – .30-06 Springfield
Model Number: 035202226
Like the Browning well known A-Bolt series of hunting rifles, an X-Bolt design is a favorite among bolt-gun enthusiasts. Even more, hunters are turning to the composite long guns; the X-Bolt represents a Browning’s vision of a classic bolt action rifle for the 21st century by integrating many novelties of the modern age.
The Browning X-Bolt is designed as a rifle extremely resistant to the elements and a hard-working weapon for the harshest conditions. This modern hunting rifle has furniture made of tough composite with a Dura-Touch Armor coating over a flat, black finish and textured grip panels with a soft, rubbery feel.
The stock on the X-Bolt is lean of the modern pattern. It has no raised cheekpiece, but with a high-quality Inflex soft recoil pad thick over one inch it provides for the mighty ‘ought 6’ cartridge, a very gentle recoil on the shoulder.
The Browning X-Bolt Stalker bolt-action rifle features a fully fluted, stainless steel, non-reflective barrel. The 22in long target-crowned barrel is a button-rifled and free-floating to enable accuracy of 1MOA (1in at 100 yards).
Another factor in delivering precision accuracy is the new Browning’s three-level Feather trigger system. The trigger is adjustable from 3 to 5 lbs. and allows for a clean, crisp pull with no take-up or creep.
The heart of the Browning X-Bolt Stalker is a three-lug bolt similar to that on the A-Bolt rifles. That said, the bolt comes with a three-lugged front locking ring for exceptional strength and efficient single claw extractor assisted by a plunger ejector. With a short 60° bolt lift, the action cycles smooth and fast, while at the same time bolt throw provides plenty of thumb clearance without the scope getting in the way.
Along with the gun’s straight hand pistol grip, switching a top-tang safety also aids a feel of a good shotgun. The safety catch has two positions, but an unusual square button at the bolt shaft enables you to open the rifle`s bolt for loading or inspection with the safety on.
Another trendy feature is A detachable rotary magazine with a capacity of four .30-06 rounds. The heavy plastic magazine is a tight, flush fit owing to a simple spring tensioner, and unlike conventional magazines, it feeds cartridges directly in-line with the bolt.
Browning’s X-Bolt Stainless Stalker rifle in .30-06 is an excellent choice for deer hunting offering superb accuracy and consistency with match grade ammunition.
TIKKA T3X LITE SS
Stainless steel, .30-06 Springfield
Model Number: JRTXB320
In a plethora of very good .30-06 hunting bolt actions, we have singled out one of the lightest models on the market- the Tikka T3x Lite from the Finnish Tikkakoski factory. As a subsidiary of well-known Finish Sako, Tikka T3 has expanded its offer on 15 sub-models that often come at twice the lower price compared to the Sako.
As a next generation of the renowned T3 rifle, the Tikka T3x features a redesigned, wider, oblong ejection port that facilitates feeding rounds one at a time.
With perfectly matched 22-inches barrel and the black synthetic stock, the Tikka T3 Lite chambered in .30-06 Springfield weighs in at just 6.5 pounds, making them easy to carry over rough terrain or in a long hunting pursuit.
Some of you may think the ‘ultralight’ rifles to be hard on your shoulder and suffer from a lack of balance. Contrary to your belief, T3x Lite’s stock is a highly ergonomic design with a foam-filled one-inch recoil pad which helps mitigating recoil, as well as keeping the T3x Lite properly on the shoulder.
This model boasts a stainless-steel receiver and a cold-hammer-forged barrel with carefully handcrafted barrel muzzle crown for superb accuracy. The Tikka manufacturer claims that each T3X Lite rifle is capable of a 1-MOA, meaning these rifles can shoot 1″ groups at 100 yards with factory ammunition.
Another significant component to contribute to shooting accurately from such a light rifle is a single-stage crisp trigger with adjustable trigger pull from two to four pounds.
The Tikka T3x Lite sports a push-feed bolt-action design with a plunger ejector, a Sako spring-loaded extractor on the bolt rim. While a bolt arrangement with two locking lugs at 180 degrees dictates a large bolt throw, the Finns managed to reduce bolt’s lift from the usual 90 to 70 degrees. That feature makes handling a pear-shaped knob more comfortable with mounted scope as well as more natural cycling from the shoulder.
As standard, a T3 action is controlled by a two-position safety which locks bolt and trigger.
The Tikka T3X Lite Stainless features a detachable magazine with a 3-round capacity. A Single-stack magazine and bolt shroud are the only components made of lightweight polymer on the Tikka’s T3X Lite Bolt-Action Rifles.
The Tikka T3X Lite Stainless bolt-action rifle is lightweight, well-designed and highly accurate hunting rifle impervious to all weather conditions that come at a reasonable price.
As one of the most reliable long gun actions, the bolt action rifles are still the number one choice for both beginners and seasoned hunters. The reliable, more than a hundred years old design won’t let you down in adverse field conditions or in extremely dangerous situations.
A larger projectile like .30-caliber and long-range ability makes the bolt action rifles in .30-06 Springfield makes an excellent combination among hunters who appreciate its historical heritage and incredible ballistic features.