Answer: 30-06 Springfield , If You Could Only Own One Rifle Cartridge?

By Doug Gilmer
What if you could only own one hunting rifle? What Cartridge would it be in?My answer 30-06 Springfield .

30-06 Springfield
Answer: 30-06 Springfield , If You Could Only Own One Rifle Cartridge?
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

USA –  -( In a previous article I asked the question, “If you could only own one handgun what would it be?”

Well what if you could only own one hunting rifle? What Cartridge would it be in?My answer 30-06 Springfield .

Personally, I’ve always loved the 280 and 243 Cartridge. I also have fun with and appreciate the utility and compact size of lever action carbines. Still, if I could only own one centerfire rifle to handle all my needs I’d probably choose the time tested, bestselling and utterly boring 30-06.

30-06 Springfield

30-06 Springfield
30-06 Springfield

The 30-06 is dull by today’s standards but there is no job it can’t handle. Ammo is readily available whether at a big box sporting goods store or the local IGA in Maine.With lightweight bullets it’s a varmint, predator or a light recoiling deer rifle. Bullets up to 220 grains are commercially available and often stocked on store shelves in areas where big game like moose and big bears roam. The 30-06 is the most popular big game cartridge in Alaska and is used for everything from deer to brown bear hunting.

Shot placement and bullet selection are more important than paper ballistics. Many Alaskan residents and even more hunters down here in the lower 48 can attest to this.

Handicap Hunter Moose Kill with 30-06 Springfield
This handicap hunter’s successful Moose kill was with the reliable 30-06 Springfield ammo Cartridge.

The 30-06 recoil is tolerable for most and it’s a standard length cartridge. You don’t need a 26” barrel to make it work; a more compact 22” barrel will do just fine.

There’s no shortage of good 30-06 ammunition and there’s no shortage of 30-06 rifles.

Thirty Ought Six 30-06 Ammo Ammunition
Thirty Ought Six 30-06 Ammo Ammunition

The 30-06 is chambered in rifles by all major manufacturers. Single-shot, bolt action, lever action, pump and semi-auto actions are available and fit nearly any budget. For me, I’d want a repeater and would opt for the bolt action on account of its strength, reliability, and accuracy.

The 308 WIN offers a slightly more compact shooting platform and is the 30-06’s near ballistic twin. There is little difference between the 30 ought 6 & 308 in velocity and down range energy. The 308 is pretty much limited to a maximum bullet weight of 180 grains however. Still, put a well-constructed 180 grain 30 caliber bullet where it needs to go and nothing in North America is going to be able to tell the difference.

The 308 is also widely available, either cartridge is relatively inexpensive. Unless you are buying premium ammo, a box of 20 cartridges can be bought for about $20.

Cartridges such as the 280 and 270 are in the same class as the 30-06. They are highly capable and I’ve seen moose and bear killed with each. The 280 isn’t as readily available and each is limited to 175 and 150 grain max bullet weight respectively. While I love the 280 and the 270 has incredible popularity, my choice is still the 30-06. If I can only have one centerfire rifle I want the greatest versatility I can get.

Hornady Superformance Ammo 30-06 Springfield 165Gr SST
Hornady Superformance Ammo 30-06 Springfield 165Gr SST :

One of my favorite loads for the 30-06 is Hornady’s 165 gr SST Superformance load. This supercharged load combined with bullet featuring a .248 sectional density and a ballistic coefficient of .447 is a long range performer. It carries over a ton of energy at 300 yards and at this distance drops less than seven inches when sighted in dead on at 200 yards.

Your intended use and environment would play a role in your decision if you could only have one hunting rifle. Practically speaking, most hunters in the U.S., at least those of us on the east coast, could do just fine with nothing more than a 30-30. Hunting anything larger than deer or black bear is rare for most hunters and normally shots are well under 100 yards. This is 30-30 territory.

30-06 Springfield antique box
.3006 Springfield ammunition is over 100 years old.

The utilitarian might decide he wants his rifle and handgun to share ammunition as they did in back the late 1800’s. In this case, a lever or bolt action 357 or 44 Magnum may be all they need. Again, considering the game we normally hunt and the ranges we shoot, both of these would work just fine while eliminating the need to stock another type of ammo.

I could get by, I think with a pistol caliber carbine or a 30-06 Springfield if I needed to. However, if my plans included a western big game hunt or a trip to Alaska or the Yukon for truly big game, I’d want a rifle in my inventory I knew could bring the power and margin to be successful at long as I did my part.

No the .30-06 Springfield isn’t as modern as the 30 Nosler or as big and fast as the 300 RUM. Nor is the old 06 as cool as today’s popular 6.5’s. It’s not a magnum, but who cares? As long as the shooter does his or her part, ethically and within the limits of their and the gun’s ability what does it matter? A magnum won’t kill an elk anymore dead and the 06 will do it with less recoil, less noise, and cheaper.

.3006 Springfield ammunition is over 100 years old.

It defended our nation, toppled evil regimes and is still in use as a military cartridge today internationally. It is a cartridge sportsman can rely on whether hunting deer over a North Carolina peanut field, elk in the Colorado timber, or moose in the Yukon.

Thank goodness we don’t need to choose just one rifle and one caliber, however if one is all we could own, the 30-06 Springfield would be a hard one to beat.

About Doug Gilmer,
Building on his over 20 years of law enforcement and military experience, Doug began writing law enforcement and tactical articles as a way to break into the outdoor market. Today, Doug is published in Grand View Media. He also provides content to a number of other traditional print and digital publications. As a professor of Adventure and Outdoor Leadership at Liberty University, Doug is a mentor to dozens of students each year. He’s also a frequent seminar and conference speaker and author of Backcountry Devotions. Also known as the Backcountry Chaplain, Doug and his family make their home in northern Virginia.

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I’ve never committed on this for but having hunted all my life and owning.22 , 308, & 3006 223 and several pistols numerous fishing poles all types of fishing reels so I’m no stranger to outside who can agree that the 3006 is the best power house in my group of hunting rifles


I love my modle 70 Winchester 30 06 , love my pre 64 modle 64 Winchester , 30 30 to, like the 308 also, but I have to agree, if I could only have 1 it would be my 30 06, but I do have a wichester 348 lever action modle 71, Its A tank, love it 4+1,but the ammo so hard to find, not cheap ,lol, Nice job


308 is great but the 3006 rocks a 180gr cartridge theirs nothing it can’t handle

John McCorkle

For bullet casters it is even better. Galley loads as light as 92 grains over a puff of pistol powder up to 240 cruise missiles…paper patch, lubed, powder coated…can use almost every powder in existence…it’s a great cartridge

Jim Hart

With regard to the .308 having the advantage of .243 and .358 siblings, the .30-06 has them, too. They are .25-06 and .35 Whelen. Not as common, perhaps, but real champs in their respective categories. “A hunting bullet with a BC of .42 at 3400fps places the 25-06 trajectory in rare company, and VERY FEW cartridges can touch it.” . “35 Whelen… 250-grain bullets will achieve an honest 2,450 fps, with an energy figure of over 3,200 ft.-lbs., perfect for the large bears and moose, in addition to any and all of the African plains game. ” In short, the… Read more »


I appreciate the author’s sentiment. 30-06 is a great cartridge, one never to not be made. However, it all comes down to money. That means purchasing 30-06 cartridges must be new & commercial production. $25.00-29.00 per 20. There is literally NO surplus or bulk 30-06 ammo.
In my area , I can purchase surplus or eastern block or chi-com 308’s half the price of new 30-06’s. Non corrosive too!
In this light, 308 ammo wins, plus 308 will harvest everything 30-06 will.


I agree having both 308 bolt gun and an 06 browning safari 308 will kill same as the 3006 but the 308 is a little easier on the shoulder but I still love both of mine use both for deer hunting both zeroed loaded to the gills waiting on that next buck to step out lol & pigs count also


Isn’t .308 Win more versatile in that you can swap out barrels to shoot .243 or 7mm-08 Rem, a .335 or .358 or other calibers that use the .308 brass? Then you get a fine varmint round, a terrific 7mm medium game round and a large game round with a heavy .30 cal bullet. All with less recoil. AR-10: one and done.

What can 30-06 do that .308 Win can’t?

John Dunlap

It can drive heavy for caliber bullets to a bit higher velocities. Also, as I pointed out rather obtusely in another post on this thread, during all that panic buying a few years ago, .308 and the other calibers associated with “assault weapons” were almost impossible to find, while feeding your ol’ boring, plain Jane .30-06 was still easy.


Viscount, I being an old man used to remember that the 30-06 cartridge used to be loaded with .22 Caliber sabot rounds for Varmint hunting at a fast FPS. The other end of the scale is 220 grain heavy loads and there were a whole bunch in between loads as well that could cover just about anything a person wanted to hunt. Even I when looking at the .44 Magnum that seemed lacking in variety for factory loads, so I went looking and found the .454 Casull that would shoot anything from .45 Schofield plinking cartridges/.45 Long Colt to full… Read more »

A.R. Reyes

I meant to say Cape Coral , Florida.

A.R. Reyes

I will not give up my Remington 783 (chambered for 30-06) for anything in this world. Would someone help me to
find where I may hunt turkey and/or deer closest to where I live; in the city of Cape Cora, west of Ft. Myers, Florida.
l am considered a beginner. My other rifle is a Mossberg 500, a gauge 12 shotgun.

John Dunlap

This reminds me of the some of the things I witnessed here in California during the Great Ammo Shortage (AKA panic buying and hoarding caused by the Obama administration) a few years ago. .223, .308, 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and similar simply could not be found most of the time. People were actually camping out in parking lots overnight and practically grabbing it off the trucks. .22’s were almost a new form of currency, they were so hard to find. Manufacturers stopped producing some of the less popular rounds to move production to those calibers. When I picked up… Read more »

JorgeNorberto Pedace



You need to check your facts, the difference between the 30-03 and the 30-06 is that the 30-06 has a shorter neck, the diameter of the bullets are the same at .308. It was the 8×57 mauser round that started out with a bullet diameter of .318 and later changed to one of ,323.


One thing that I have kept to in 95% of the arms that I own is KEEPING MY FIREARMS CHAMBERED FOR THE MOST STANDARD CALIBERS AND CARTRIDGES (.22 LR, .38 SPECIAL,.357 MAGNUM, 9MM LUGER, .45 ACP, .45 LONG COLT, .410 SHOTGUN, 20 GAUGE SHOTGUN, 12 GAUGE SHOTGUN, .30-30 RIFLE, AND OF COURSE .30-06 SPRINGFIELD.). I also do have a .454 Casull/.45 LColt firearm as well. With the above calibers and cartridges I can take down anything in the lower 48 states and even some animals in Alaska, so I have covered 99% of all situations that I might find myself… Read more »

A.R. Reyes

I am glad Mr. Doug Kilmer wrote and suggested the rifle chambered for .30-06 cartridge.I have that rifle as well as
a 12 gauge Mossberg shotgun. For a semi-auto pistol, I prefer the Glock G43, 9 mm.

Bob Shell

The 30-06 is the most flexible rifle available. Something often overlooked is its ability to digest reduced loads. I have many such loads & if you like subsonic then this round is for you. I have a couple of loads using a 220 gr cast at subsonic velocities and they are quite accurate and with the high SD of a 220 gr they are deadly at ranges that would surprise many shooters. I have written a book on the 30-06 & its loads and would never be without one. You don’t need a 300 piss ant to obtain low velocities… Read more »


I have owned and still have my 30 -06 for about 40 yrs now,still going.Have 2 other 06 ‘s ,neither is a Sprinfield,BUT still good quality rifles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Roy D.

As shown in the bandolier and the old cartridge box, I miss the old Silvertip ammo; in all the cartridges it was produced. While not as efficient ballistically, it sure did the job on game. Odds are, anyone under the age of thirty has never seen an original Silvertip round though they make one now that they also call “Silvertip” with a plastic nose insert.
As and aside. the same can be said of their handgun “Silvertip” ammo.


As far as I’m concerned, with the possible exceptions of eland and giraffe, the .30/06 is a GOOD choice for all thin-skinned non-dangerous game worldwide. In fact, the game for which I wouldn’t consider it to be a GOOD choice is limited – big bears, elephant, lion, rhino, Cape buffalo, hippo . . . and that’s about it. (Even though ALL of these have fallen to it, with proper bullets and – it should go without saying – shot placement.) I’ve used it myself on deer, leopard, kudu, wildebeest, zebra, and other game with excellent results. What a fine cartridge!


I agree, and with the variety and quality of 30 calbullets available today crafting a round capable of doing the job on almost any game animal is certainly possible.

ELR Resaercher

30-06 is NOT a “caliber”. Real shame to see how many people continue to use the term caliber when they mean cartridge or chambering. 30-06 is .30 caliber, as are the .308 Win, .300 Win Mag, .30-.30 Winchester, and .30 BR. Go into a store that sells ammo and ask for “30 caliber ammo”. Hopefully you will get the polite response, “Which .30 caliber ammo?”


Too bad the surplus 30.06 seems to be drying up, for that reason .308 is my choice

Wild Bill

There has to be at least one voice of mild disagreement, otherwise this would be a boring (no pun intended) discussion. I have always preferred (for hunting game) the 6.5 Swedish Mauser, and more recently the 6.5 x 47 Lapua for targets. Of course during my career, I preferred what ever the Army issued.
One other thought on this subject. I wonder what the paid trolls will have to say about ammunition and caliber comparison?

Ol' Vet

Just one comment. The 30.06 (30 cal created in 1906) is the 7.62X63 in european language. I’ve used pretty much the standard military weapons including the 7.62X51 (M14 due to making it a NATO acceptable calibre). There is no round that compares with the 30.06, anywhere. My preference is the 30.06 for hunting too, mostly human.

Missouri Man

The late Jack O’Conner would disagree with you 🙂


You may be surprised!


Thought is was aught but this is good too.


You know people came to the same conclusion for pretty much the same reasons 50 years ago. The articles were in Sport Afield magazine. I agreed with it then and now, if you can only have one the old ’06 will do the job if you do yours.

Charles Soufflet

I would like to see a 30-06 in a Ar platform , I’m alittle surprised that know one has designed one being that 30-06 is such a common caliber and the fact that the ammo is so ready-able .

Mister Furious

Noreen BN36, Google it

The Genie
Matt in Oklahoma

Its my go to hunting rifle and cartridge


I too agree, with the exception of a .22 lr rifle. I currently own 1 centerfire rifle, a remington 740 in 30-06, and my next rifle is to be a remington 700 in, yes 30-06..


I have a .30-06 myself and I love mine, but I have to get the loads similar to the M-2 Ball. Patton once said my rifle was the finest battle implement ever created or words to that effect.

Vincent Pfeiffer

Anything higher than the 168gr for an M1 is asking for excessive chamber pressure which translates to overpressure on the op rod, which could slam the bolt through the back of the receiver. I love my M1 too. But I also keep a 3006 bolt action which can handle the higher grain loads but that is on a scoped platform designed to reach out and touch something at distances beyond 400 mtrs
Up to 3 or 400 mtrs, the m2 ball in an M1 repeater, will do just fine thanks

The Rifleman

Nice article Doug. and I must say that I agree with you about the 30-06. I have many rifles in any different calibers and configurations, but the 30-06 is still my all-time favorite. Like you said, it gets the job done, and it does it very well.


I would have to agree 100%. The range of bullet weights and types is incomparable and it is readily available anywhere.