Special Report

The .30-06 Springfield Is the Most Versatile Rifle Cartridge on the Market

Today a national historic site in Massachusetts, the Springfield Armory has been at the forefront of U.S. Army’s firearm innovation for nearly two centuries. Among the armory’s inventions was the .30-06 Springfield rifle cartridge – caliber .30, model 1906. The cartridge was used in both World Wars, helping give the Allies an advantage over Axis models. (Here are the 18 biggest battles fought during World War II.)

Though it is no longer in use by the military, .30-06 Springfield cartridges are still being manufactured today, including by Remington and Browning, for hunting rifles. For modern rifles, the .30-06 Springfield is among the most versatile available for game hunting today.

Outdoor Life magazine recently named it as the “best for big game hunting.” In the magazine’s tests, it bested more modern cartridges. Outdoor Life’s editors wrote: “By the mid-20th century the .30/06 was well established as the ideal, middle-of-the-road, do-it-all “light” cartridge against which others were judged.”

Ideally, hunting rifles are accurate and effective at a number of distances, and the most versatile rifles can be used with a wide range of bullet grain sizes with different ballistics profiles. And although a great deal of what makes a good hunting rifle is based on personal preference, some measures are fairly objective.

Using ballistic data compiled by outdoor gear retailer Sportsman’s Warehouse, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most versatile hunting rifle caliber. We considered over 90 different rifle calibers, measuring their capabilities – in foot-pounds of delivered energy – at ranges between 100 and 500 yards in 100 yard increments, while accounting for variations in commonly available bullet masses. We then ranked the rifle chamberings with a versatility index score, ranging from 0, the least versatile, to 5, the most versatile.

The .30-06 achieved the highest versatility index score of 4.9. With the right bullet at the right distance, a .30-06 rifle is capable of humanely taking virtually any game in North America, from bear and moose to smaller varmint and predators.

It is important to note that this index ranking is an approximation and does not account for variations in barrel length. Rankings are also based on a limited, and not necessarily comprehensive, list of available bullet weights. Additionally, hunting laws vary by state and municipality, and in some parts of the country, hunting with a rifle is not permitted. It is always important to be familiar with your quarry and with all local rules and regulations before selecting a firearm for your next hunt.

See 24/7 Wall St.’s complete list of the most versatile rifles for big game hunting.

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