Best .30-06 hunting Cartridge, primarily for whitetail ?


September 26, 2006, 06:57 PM
It almost hunting season here, so its time to sight in my rifle. I like to sight it in using the same cartridge that I'll use hunting (whitetail, mabye coyote or two). I'll also be using this rifle for recreational shooting, which will use the same cartridge as well. What .30-06 brand/type/grain cartridge do you recommend for my needs?

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Al Thompson
September 26, 2006, 07:30 PM
Factory? I'm very partial to the 165 grain Hornady. Decent price, good results.

Handloads? I like 165 grain Speer Hot Cores (may have the name wrong) or Ballistic Tips over about 47 grains of 4750 - check your reloading data.

September 26, 2006, 07:30 PM
Best? Can't say. Deer would tend to suggest a bullet at the heavier end of the spectrum, while coyotes would suggest a lighter, flatter shooting bullet. I'd start with something readily available and see what is "accurate enough" in your gun. Personally, I'd head to your local gun or sporting goods store and pick up some basic Remington 150 gr Core-Lokt cartridges and start there. You could go up to 180s, or even 220s, or down to 125s in factory loads. But the 150s would be a good compromise if you want one cartridge that will do it all.

September 26, 2006, 07:43 PM
Something in the 150-170 grain area is plenty for white tail. Just buy a box of different brands and pick the one that gives best accuracy. Don't worry about the coyote,he won't complain that you got him with a deer round.

Al Thompson
September 26, 2006, 10:07 PM
Legionnaire, remember this is down south - we don't have those horse sized deer here.. :D

September 26, 2006, 10:24 PM
our whitetails are smallish here in the southwest as well, so for a factory load, i'll second the 165 grn Hornady. it's a good solid performer with a lot of versatility.

i really need another '06. mine was stolen a couple years back. good thing i still have my .30-30 :D

not that i've been drawn for deer in the past few years :(

September 26, 2006, 11:50 PM
For factory ammo I'd suggest the Cor-lok since its a good price and has served many hunters well. Wont break the bank for recreational shooting as well since Wally world sells them pretty cheap.

For reloads, I'm impressed with 165gr Sierra Gameking JSP over 59gr of IMR 4350 out of my Savage 110 -06.

Art Eatman
September 27, 2006, 10:07 AM
I've no argument against a 165-grain; I've used them. But there is 10% less recoil with a 150-grain, which is the only bullet weight my father ever used--even on really big deer--and the weight for probably 95% of my own '06 kills.

My father only used Hornady bullets. I've used various Sierras, and the Remington Bronze Point. They all work; I guess most any brand or tip-design will work just fine. As far as accuracy and group size, that's up to your particular rifle's choosiness. The only "horrible" I ever found was some el-cheapo Winchester SilverTip from Wal-Mart; yuck.

I like a 110-grain bullet for coyotes and jackrabbits. "My daddy used 'em," so I guess the Hornadys. :)


September 27, 2006, 10:41 AM
Mostly I shoot 150 grain Core-Lokt.

Smokey Joe
September 27, 2006, 11:18 AM
Streetstang67--Art Eatman has it right (of course):As far as accuracy and group size, that's up to your particular rifle's choosiness.I take it from yr post that you're NOT handloading (pity.) That being the case, yr only option is to shoot as many different factory loads through yr rifle as possible--it will like some more than others.

There may be a bullet weight that it favors; from 150 to 180 grains is OK for deer--use what yr rifle likes best.

My own preference is 165 grain bullets, but I live where there IS the occasional horse-sized deer. And my go-to '06 likes 'em.

A thought--go to a deer rifle sight-in clinic (they are advertised in local sptg gds stores) and buy 5 rounds of several different ammo brands/weights from the assembled hunters. Keep 'em all accurately labelled, take 'em and shoot 'em thru yr rifle for comparison. Would be cheaper than buying boxes of 20 of several different ammos, and you wouldn't have boxes of 15 each of the ones yr rifle hates, to dispose of.

September 27, 2006, 11:36 AM
Good point, Al. I don't see a lot of horse-sized deer here, either, although there are some. I mostly hunt with a .308 and use 150 gr Core-Lokts; they go just under 2" consistently in this rifle, which is good enough for its purpose. I'm still tinkering what what's more accurate in my .30-06, and I'd be willing to go up to a 180 if it were more accurate than the 150. Guess I should have spoken more plainly. I believe that from a .30-06, anything from a 110 to a 220 grain bullet is going to do the job on whitetail. Based on primary application alone (deer hunting), I'd start with 150s. If they grouped 2" or less, I'd probably stop right there. If they didn't, I'd try moving either direction to find something that did and wouldn't worry too much about "overkill" or "underkill." Dead is dead!

September 27, 2006, 11:50 AM
Another +1 for the Hornady 165 gr. I have used the Interlock and the Interbond and have been impressed with both.

September 27, 2006, 02:07 PM
I once shot a whitetail buck with a 220, I was young and dumb. He went about fifteen yards and died, luckily. When I dressed him out it looked like a laser had gone through him. Im lucky he went down right away.

I've never shot a deer at more than 200yds and I've killed plenty. Within those distances just about anything will work for accuracy. I shoot 150gr. Winchester SuperX. The cheap stuff. It blows big holes in deer, and they go down QUICK. I've not had the chance to examine the terminal effects of the 165's but if they perform similarly with the increase in accuracy then i'm all for them. Anything over that imo is too heavy to be reliable in deer.

September 27, 2006, 02:25 PM
likes 165 accubonds, although I haven't gone hunting in years:mad: , I tried out a few "premium" hunting rounds a few months ago, and that is the one that groups the best, and from what i've read and heard it is a great performing bullet.

September 27, 2006, 04:17 PM
Go to your local 'mart' store and get 2 or 3 boxes of 150 grain,. Shoot about 1/2 of them and get used to her and sighted in and your ready to go. Save the brass to send to me.

150s are more than enough for good sized deer, prefered on caribou and the coyote as noted wont know what happened. get Randy Andersons coyote calling DVDs and see how it is done.

September 27, 2006, 05:37 PM
I'd say run a nice range test and see what shoots best out of your set up.

With the size of deer you have I'd say anythin in the 150-165grain class should be plenty.

I've always liked Federal Premium and Hornady ammo. Price (IMO) shouldn't matter with big game hunting. If you invest all the time and energy into the hunt, like I do, I don't care if the ammo is even $20 a box more. Accuracy and reliability is what I'm after. I'd feel awful stupid if I missed that once in a lifetime animal because I wanted to save a $1 a round.

September 27, 2006, 06:24 PM
For deer hunting, I swear by Federal's 180-grain High-Energy Noslers.

I realize most people would consider those 'overkill' for eastern whitetails, but I'm OK with that. If I'm in the woods and see a buck just 30 minutes before sundown, I like having enough confidence in my ammo to know I can take the shot without worrying about tracking a wounded deer in the dark. If that means sacrificing a little more meat from tissue damage, then I think that's a reasonable trade-off.

They're too expensive for casual range shooting and zero-ing though, in my opinion - so what I usually do is zero with something cheap, and then confirm and tweak it with a few rounds of the Federal's before I go hunting.

September 27, 2006, 07:01 PM
+1 for 180gr.
I have 1:11 twist, it works the best with 180. Nosler or Hornady reloads

Al Thompson
September 27, 2006, 08:42 PM
I dunno legion, went thru PA a few years back and was astonished at the size of the road killed deer. Ours look like big dogs, but sure do eat good. :D

September 27, 2006, 09:03 PM
SC deer arn't the biggest but neither are Georgia deer. Just have to shoot more to fill up the freezer. Not like they are short of deer in those two states.

The 150's will serve you well on the SC/Georgia deer. Enjoy.

September 28, 2006, 12:05 AM
I've put it out there in other threads, so I won't be very detailed, but I find that the Remington 165gr Accutip Boattails shoot very tight groups. My deer last year was down before I could see what happened. Bullet didn't expand much judging by the fact there wasn't much difference between entrance and exit wound, but it was clean through the heart, and I'd have to think if I'd caught more bone it would've been good to be a little on the "extra oomph" side. West central Wisconsin, good sized whitetails but not goliaths compared to further north.

September 28, 2006, 12:11 AM
Oh, in terms of sighting in, too. Sure, shoot a box, shoot two. But don't do it all from a benchrest, and make sure you give yourself a break between groups. Before my first deer season I went into it with the "it's only a 30-cal" attitude, put a bandolier of 150gr milsurp downrange over the course of a couple hours, to fully "break-in" the gun and get some solid practice in. Shoulder looked like a canteloupe that evening. It's no magnum, but it'll wear you down on a bench.

September 28, 2006, 12:12 AM
Not to be a smart-***, but, in my opinion, just about any 30'06 load will toast a deer.

30-06 lover
September 28, 2006, 09:07 PM
Bullet construction-Partition or Accubond
Bullet weight-165

September 28, 2006, 09:26 PM
Heavy bullets=less walking:D

September 29, 2006, 02:43 PM
Now I'm not saying that our deer are small, but we got eight of them last year. It was a cull year and we took mostly old does. My wife and I have finally just eaten all of the steaks and have only some ground meat left.

The 150 gr bullet maximizes energy at ranges up to ~280 yards. Beyond that 180 to 200 gr pointed boat tail carry their energy best. Some rifles are picky about their ammo. I had a Remington that could not shoot into a 2" hole at 100 yards with Rem ammo. I switched to Federal Premium ammo and it shot 3/4 MOA at 100 yards.

The 165 gr mensioned often above is a good compromise. All in all, a rifle will shoot better with a heavier bullet if no other tuning is done.

September 29, 2006, 03:36 PM
benelli12 "Heavy bullets=less walking"

I don't get this. Are you saying that heavy bullets mean that you would have to track your deer less? Cuz i dont think that the terminal performance is as good with a 220 as a 150 in deer. those big bullets just punch through, while the lighter ones blow up and create massive trauma.

uk roe hunter
September 30, 2006, 02:10 AM
I use 150gr hot cores and they are great. I shot a roe buck about 3 weeks ago with my ,243 win with 87 gr spitzer and it made a real mess and still ran. when i get them with the .30-06 with 150s they are normally DRT.


September 30, 2006, 03:19 AM
Winchester SuperX 180 grain Power Point. I hunt from a tree stand in Missouri. Heavy slug to avoid deflection by twigs/branches that might not be visible in scope. Twice I have found pencil sized or smaller limbs clipped by my bullet. 50 yards is a long shot for me, but twice in 30 years I have shot deer at 100 or so yards. My last deer I shot twice in rapid succession, first shot through the heart, second through a lung. It ran 75 yards straight uphill. I guess we have tough deer here.

September 30, 2006, 09:55 PM
I have always found Hornady factory ammo to be very accurate in my rifles. I would try Hornady's 150 grain Interlock, I bet you will be pleased in it's performance.

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