30-06 Springfield Ammo

30-06 springfield overview

.30-06 Springfield: In Depth

Starting with the Springfield Model 1892 (Krag-Jorgensen) rifle, the US Army moved away from the large bores of the 19th century and into what they believed was the future; perhaps even the finest rifle platform available at the time. The new Krag was a magazine-fed repeater with a quick bolt action and a stout and capable cartridge, all of which were features every modern infantryman lusted after, and the .30-40 Krag cartridge it fired used the new smokeless powder that all influential militaries were adopting. By contrast, the old Springfield 1873 Trapdoor the Krag replaced had none of these features: it was a gun whose big bore, single shot, black powder, and overall Old-West nature virtually guaranteed its unsuitability in 1892. So, the Krag was the new .30 caliber king in the US – but only for “ein Augenblick” (literally, an eye blink), as the Germans say.

In fact, the untimely downfall of the Krag was due in large part to the Germans – specifically the Mauser rifle designs of the 1890s and the various cartridge improvements surrounding them. The impressive performance of the Mauser Model 1893 (sometimes called the Spanish Mauser) would feature prominently in several entanglements during the Spanish-American War, leading the US to rethink their commitment to the Krag, which was slow to reload, and not as flat-shooting by comparison. In addition, the Mauser-produced Gewehr 1898 was equally influential worldwide, and would become a long-serving arm for the Germans through both World Wars, as well as the foundation for US rifle designs shortly to follow. Mauser and Co. were also leading the way in cartridge development in other ways, helping to bring both rimless ammunition and charging clips into widespread use at that time.

Almost immediately after the Spanish-American War in 1898, the US committed to replacing the Krag, beginning with the ammunition. The rim of the .30-40 Krag was chopped off to enable better feeding from a magazine, and the powder charge was increased. This short-lived round, .30-03 Springfield, was designed to fire from the M1903 Springfield rifle, a gun that found much (most) of its inspiration in the Mauser designs of the previous decade – particularly the Gew98. And so, the Army may have happily used this new cartridge for some time had the Germans not spoiled things yet again.

In the span of a few years between 1903 and 1905, the German military experimented with the velocity and bullet weight of their 8mm (7.92x57mm) standard rifle load. Among the several permanent modifications they adopted were a lighter-weight, pointed bullet and a faster-burning powder. The results on target were impressive, especially when it came to long-range fire. The US, unwilling to fully deploy its new infantry cartridge in the face of such advances, tweaked the .30-03 to use a 150-gr. spitzer (pointed) flat base bullet rather than a 220-gr. round nose, and shortened the case by 0.070”, resulting in a velocity of about 2,700/fps – 300/fps faster than the .30-03. Though it was officially known by a much longer name, this cartridge became widely known as .30-06 Springfield due to the date of its acceptance and its intended rifle. 

Roughly a decade later during WWI, the .30-06 Springfield would go to Europe, where it would excel at most tasks. Paired with the M1903 Springfield rifle, it proved to be an accurate and able cartridge. Similarly, with the M1917 rifle, the “American Enfield”, performance was good, as it was with the novel M1918 automatic rifle (Browning BAR) and M1917 Browning MG that made it to the front lines late in the war. Notably, however, the cartridge lacked when it came to long-range volley fire from machine guns – a tactic that still held sway in those days. Sometime in the middle of the war, the Germans began using a heavy weight 8mm bullet in many of their machine guns to great effect – it would take another ten years before the US would implement such a change.

The interwar years were a significant time for .30-06 Springfield firearms development. Directly after WWI, Browning’s air-cooled M1919 machine gun emerged as a successor to the heavier, and therefore less maneuverable M1917 MG. 1926 witnessed the US adoption of “M1 Ball”: our answer to Germany’s 7,9mm Patrone s.S., which featured the heavier bullet. The American round used a 174-gr. FMJ boat tail bullet, @ 2,640/fps, and consequently had a far greater effective range than the previous load, especially in machine guns shooting “indirect fire”. However, even before WWII, the US would return to the 150-gr. flat base bullets for the “M2 Ball” load; larger .50 caliber machine guns would occupy the indirect fire role when necessary.

Perhaps the most memorable development of this period, however, was the clip-fed, semi-automatic M1 Garand rifle. During his time at the Springfield Armory, weapons designer John Garand worked on several different rifle concepts over the course of the 20s and 30s. For a time, the US toyed with adopting a 7mm (.276 caliber) round for use in Garand’s rifle platform, but ultimately decided that multiple calibers would create logistical issues for the armed forces, so the decision was made to stick with .30-06 Springfield. The first M1s began arriving to the Army late in 1937 – slowly at first – until production fully ramped up by the start of US involvement in WWII.

By the time the war began, the US military was teeming with weapons chambered in .30-06 Springfield – from bolt action and semi-automatic rifles to both light and heavy machine guns. The M1 Garand saw action as the primary combat arm of the infantry throughout the war, and later on in the Korean conflict. Though larger .50 caliber machine guns were increasingly used for infantry support roles, as well as in tanks and on aircraft, the cartridge remained a vital battlefield partner, serving in many different combat roles until the 1960s.

With the introduction of the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge and the M14 rifle, the .30-06 Springfield’s days in the infantry largely came to an end. Although the end of the 1950s is generally considered to be the end of large-scale military .30-06 production, some plants continued to produce the cartridge – notably Lake City – until the late 1970s. Commercial ammo production, on the other hand, had been booming for decades.

In fact, from the very beginning it was clear that the .30-06 Springfield was a fantastic hunting and target cartridge. The power it developed was sufficient to take nearly any game in North America; it certainly didn’t fail the likes of Hemingway when hunting much larger beasts in Africa, either. Loads such as Remington’s Core-Lokt have been around since 1939, and other manufacturers have been hard at work creating dependably expanding projectiles for nearly as long. Many surplus military rifles from the US and even from foreign services were modified for hunting use after WWII, a practice known as “sporterizing”. These rifles harvested countless deer and other game animals over the years. In addition, competitive shooting events associated with the military such as the National Matches at Camp Perry started soon after the introduction of the Springfield 1903 rifle, long considered one of the most accurate service rifles in existence – certainly this is a testament to the cartridge as well!

While no longer an active military cartridge or the reigning target king, the .30-06 Springfield still has plenty of staying power as a hunting option and for the enjoyment of collectors shooting M1903 variants, M1 Garands, and sporterized military surplus rifles. Organizations like the Civilian Marksmanship Program continue to make quality, collectible surplus rifles available to the American public and modern hunting rifle manufacturers chamber for this cartridge by default. Given the sheer number of rifles chambered in .30-06 Springfield since 1906, the military significance of the cartridge, and the hunting versatility of the round, there’s bound to be something of interest here for most shooters. 

.30-06 Springfield: Guns

For the most part, .30-06 Springfield guns come in two main flavors: hunting, and military surplus. The vast majority of the hunting arms are bolt-action and – similar to other hunting firearms – range from budget, polymer-stocked deer getters to ornate examples of fine craftsmanship. There are some semi-auto hunting rifles out there, but in smaller numbers compared to guns in .308 Winchester, for example. The US-based Civilian Marksmanship Program has offered a number of military surplus guns chambered in .30-06 Springfield over the years, though supply is dwindling and not likely to be replenished. However, online auction sites still trade in these firearms, and fine examples are available for collectors and shooters alike.

Bolt-Action Rifles

  • Browning X-Bolt Hunter
  • Ruger American
  • Tikka T3x Hunter
  • Remington 700
  • Winchester Model 70 Super Grade
  • M1903-A3
  • M1917 Enfield

Semi-Auto Rifles

  • M1 Garand
  • Browning BAR Mk 3
  • Bear Creek Arsenal Huntmaster

.30-06 Springfield: Why Choose .30-06 Springfield?

While it’s not quite to the level of “dangerous game” cartridge, this is one of the US’s most beloved hunting rounds; capable of dropping any game in North America with proper round placement. Most, if not all, bolt-action hunting rifles offered in multiple calibers will have a .30-06 among the options, so you won’t be lacking for choice here. For target shooting, there are certainly options that are both easier on the shoulder and capable of the same accuracy or better. However, the community of shooters who enjoy .30-06 surplus / historical firearms – particularly those who focus on the M1 Garand or M1903 – is alive and well, and appropriate ammunition for these guns is widely available.


  • Deer, moose, elk and smaller bears are no match for this cartridge. Anything smaller, and you might want to reach for a smaller caliber, if possible.
  • Wide variety of hunting loads are available for medium-sized game and larger.
  • Accurate, lightweight, and inexpensive hunting rifles chambered in .30-06 Springfield – sometimes even with a scope – are commonplace in major retailers across the US.

Target / Competition

  • National Matches and other historical competitions still use firearms chambered in .30-06 Springfield, especially the M1 Garand and M1903 Springfield.
  • Military surplus guns are highly prized and collectible – and also fun to shoot!

.30-06 Springfield: Ammo Brands and Loadings

Much like the rifles, most .30-06 Springfield ammo is specifically intended for one of two things: medium-large game hunting or target shooting. It’s a cartridge that’s been at the very center of hunting culture in this country for over a hundred years; many folks even consider it the default for this purpose. Furthermore, ammo manufacturers that were responsible for some of the first-ever breakthroughs in modern hunting bullet technology, like Remington’s “Core-Lokt” design, definitely had this cartridge top-of-mind. Unfortunately, surplus ammunition is rare since .30-06 Springfield was phased out of the US military beginning in the late 50s, but most big manufacturers still make a 147-gr. or 150-gr. FMJ load appropriate for shooting in an M1 Garand.

Note for M1 Garands: ammo that creates excessive gas port pressure can damage the M1, so it’s best to stick with lower-pressure ammo if you can find it. On the other hand, modern semi-autos, the M1903 Springfield, and other bolt-actions are much more tolerant of higher-pressure ammunition.


Standard Loadings

  • 150-gr. FMJ @ 2,740/fps - Military Load
  • 150-gr. JSP @ 2,920/fps - Hunting Load

Bullet Types

  • FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) - Target, military surplus ammo
  • JSP (Jacketed Soft Point) - Hunting, target
  • Polymer Tip / Ballistic Tip - Hunting, target
  • HPBT (Hollow Point Boat Tail) - Match, target

Bullet Weights

  • 125-gr. to 139-gr. - Small-medium game hunting 
  • 147-gr. to 150-gr. - Standard weight / target and hunting
  • 165-gr. to 180-gr. - Match and hunting
  • 200-gr.+ - Hunting


  • 125-gr. to 139-gr. - 2,700/fps to 3,100/fps
  • 147-gr. to 150-gr. - 2,740/fps to 3,000/fps
  • 165-gr. to 180-gr. - 2,700/fps to 3,000/fps
  • 200-gr. and up - 2,400/fps to 2,650/fps

.30-06 Springfield FAQ:

Thirty aught six.

Thirty is for .30 caliber, aught is apparently an American shortening of “naught,” or zero, and six is for 1906, the year in which the cartridge was introduced to the market and military.

Many manufacturers such as Federal, Prvi Partizan, and Selliet and Bellot offer new-production loads tailored to the M1 Garand. These are by far the safest options.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program advises not to shoot ammo with bullet weights above 172-gr. or chamber pressures above 50,000 CUP, but it may be difficult to find what pressure ammo is loaded to. When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and only use ammo specifically made for the Garand.

Pretty much any game animal in North America. With the exception of large bears, you likely won’t be underpowered at reasonable hunting distances.

This round is a little too beefy for predators like coyote and fox, which may be better served by 6.5 Creedmoor or even smaller calibers. 

Nope. Rifle cartridges with this level of power typically make poor choices for home defense. Excessive recoil, noise, flash, and the inability to point a long rifle indoors might steer you away from a .30-06 firearm. Bullets may overpenetrate walls, too. Consider a firearm chambered in .223 Rem / 5.56 NATO if you want to use a rifle in this context.