Looking for the best bullet for a .25-06? Deer


September 30, 2006, 10:15 PM
For the last three years I have been shooting a 117gr Hornady SST and have had some success, but i'm beginning to have some doubts.

Two years ago I shot an Antelope in Wyoming at 410 yards and the bullet performed wonderfully. The antelope dropped in its tracks, and the bullet left a nice exit wound.

But, last year I shot a 32"+ mule deer at 100yards and lost the animal. Part of me believes that I hit a twig and just grazed the deer, thus the small amount of blood. But the other part of me thinks that since the bullet did not exit, the deer did not lose enough blood.

So, I am thinking of maybe switching bullets.

What bullet do you recommend?


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September 30, 2006, 11:18 PM
I've not used either on game, but I'm told that the Sierra 117gr ProHunter is more robust than the SST. I've been meaning to try the Speer 115gr Trophy Bonded Bear Claw - they have an excellent reputation for penetration in general.

September 30, 2006, 11:25 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. I think my problem might be from 125 yards on in, so i'll go look at the sierra and speer.


September 30, 2006, 11:39 PM
i run sierra 120's in my 25-06.

a deer vs. antelope isn't a like comparison. a goat is much more fragile, and i think the bones are more brittle. for big mulies, i have had success w/ the 25-06, but i have never had a one-shot-drop w/ it. whitetails, sure, but not mulies. they usually suck it up, run a few yards and pile up. so, for mulies, i tend to run a little more rifle, and leave the 25-06 as a dedicated antelope rig.

October 1, 2006, 02:24 AM
My 'quarter-bore' is a .257Roberts, but my handloads run very close to the .25/06.

I've had great luck with the various 100gr bullets on whitetails.
Perhaps my favorite, though I haven't used any in 10yrs was the Hornady 117gr BTSP.
I used this on the largest "bodied" whitetail buck I've ever killed.
Shot was approx. 270yds, and shot entered the left rear rib, and was expanded -balled up- under the hide of the opposite far shoulder, and still weighed 108gr, in classic mushroom. Deer weighed in excess of 240lbs field dressed (pegged-out the scale). It collapsed at the shot. This is the only one (bullet) I've ever recovered. I used up 2 100rd boxes of them over 7yrs.

I also had good luck with the 120gr Sierra BTHP "GameKing".

My best friend has used this bullet exclusively through his .25/06 for over 20years. He killed 3 deer with 3 shots over the last two seasons in S.W. Pennsylvania, not to mention the deer he's shot over the last 20+yrs in Georgia.
One of the shots in Penn. was over 300yds. Complete penetration. Deer ran a short distance from lung shot.

However, you couldn't go wrong with any of the Nosler Partitions.
I just can't justify the work-up cost of the Barnes and Bear-Claws.
By the time I get a load worked up, I could by approx 200rds of Nosler's, and be set for the Rest of my life.

Oh!?, I already am,.....................?
Never mind !!!!!!!!

Peter M. Eick
October 1, 2006, 07:13 AM
I have found that the Seirra 120's seem particularly accurate and reliable out of my 25-06. I see they were mentioned above also.

October 1, 2006, 09:19 AM
I have good results with the 100 gr hornady sp on whitetail and turkey in open area's & longer shots.in the brush I us my 375 win puts them down hard.

October 1, 2006, 10:10 AM
My 25-06 is a M98 action with a 26" Shilen barrel. It LOVES Nosler BT's-100 gr (pushed by IMR 4350) and that works VERY well on whitetail deer. Now, the deer I have shot with it are not huge by any means, but I got GOOD penetration, expansion and the desired reslut.

I might not suggest the above, however, for something like mule deer or even the big, heavy bodied whitetails in the cold, north woods. It should be a top notch choice, however, for antilope.

October 1, 2006, 05:03 PM
I have been using Nosler 120 grain Partition bullets. I have yet to have one fail to penetrate completely on the whitetails here in Texas so far. I don't think I would have a problem shooting larger deer with these bullets. I think they would perform just fine.

October 2, 2006, 04:16 PM
I've been using the Sierra 120gr HPBT for years. It has accounted for several Texas white tails, a Montana mulie doe, a coyote, and a turkey; all one shot stops. It is very accurate in my Winchester with a good dose of 4350. Actually, I'm a bit surprised at the number of folks in this thread that are using the 120s. I figured most would use bullets in the 100-115gr range to keep the velocity up.

October 2, 2006, 04:33 PM
I am sorry if my suggestion isnt the most interesting or the most exotic. I, my father, and grandfather have used inexpensive Winchester Powerpoints/soft points for everything. Animals have never failed to drop quickly with 1 shot.

October 2, 2006, 04:34 PM
Thanks everyone, I may have to try the 120gr Nosler Partitions or something similiar next year.

My only concern, has been my hunting buddy really wants an SST/Ballistic Tip type of bullet. The only one that I am aware of that is a bonded core is the 110gr Accubond.

But, this year I may have found my '06 bullet of choice. How about a 165gr 30-06 Federal Fusion being shot out of my reconditioned 1967 Remington Model 700.

She is a Pawn Shop salvaged gun. The stock was sanded and everything had been camo'd at one point. I smoothed the stock and sprayed it with black bedliner. The rest of the gun has been sanded and sprayed matte black.

I just got done mounting my Nikon Pre-Buckmaster 3-9X40 in Leupold PRW rings. I had planned on keeping the factory sights, but they interfered with the scope caps, but they are no more.


October 2, 2006, 04:36 PM

If I do take the 25-06 hunting this year, it will be loaded with Hornady 117gr BTSP bullets. So your boring answer really does make sense, along with the recommendations for the Nosler Partitions.


October 2, 2006, 09:19 PM
My pet load for my .277-06 is a 130 grain Sierra Game King over 54.9 gr or therabouts (safe in my rifle, you need to make sure it is in yours) of IMR 4350, a WLR primer and Winchester brass. I'm just under 3100 FPS at the muzzle with that load. I know it's not a .257-06, but hey it's close. Those Sierra Game King bullets are IMHO just the ticket for deer sized game, they have done the job for me from 15 to nearly 400 yards. I really don't think you need to be shooting a premium construction/delayed expansion/maximum penetration bullet at whitetails.

October 2, 2006, 11:17 PM
Every animal I've taken with my .25-06 has been hit by a 117 gr. Sierra Game King. I load them kinda warm (3,221 FPS avg. @ 15'). They haven't proven overly destructive at close range, yet plenty effective at longer ranges. Furthest a deer ever got after being hit was 13 yards.

Sierra has been making bullets for a long time; they seem to know what they're doing.

October 2, 2006, 11:44 PM
To quote MachVIshooter:

"Sierra has been making bullets for a long time; they seem to know what they're doing."


I've had most of the Sierra's I've shot through my .257Roberts completely penetrate deer. The few I've recovered were perfect mushrooms with no separation.

I shot a doe at ~225yds in 2001 with a 100gr Sierra BTSP GameKing over 46.5gr of H4350 for 3,150fps. Bullet broke left shoulder, spine, and penetrated right shoulder blade, and was balled up under the hide and weighed 89.5gr. To quote Sierra; "Reasonable performance for an expanding bullet on deer sized game". The only other recovered Sierra BT was in .30cal. It was a 150gr BTSP GameKing over 60.0gr of H414 and ran over 3,100fps from my 24"bbl. Impacted a ~150lb whitetail buck that was standing facing me. Bullet struck just under the white throat patch and ranged rearward. Broke the neck, traveled on through and doward breaking the spine again just behind the shoulders, then ran along the spine and lodged against the pelvis. Recovered bullet weighs 109gr and is classic mushroom. This is where I discovered that after expanding, the bullets will rotate and travel base foward with the petals of the mushroom acting like the vanes on a badmittin "shuttle cock" as the bullet was lodged base first against the pelvis.

I'm going to see if the 180gr ProHunters will do the same from my .300 RUM at 3,300fps, in Oh, 3 weeks or so.

I'll report back then.

October 3, 2006, 03:36 AM
A friend had an old Winchester 70 in 257 Roberts. Always got his deer using the old 115 grain Nosler Partition. I imagine the 120 Partitions would work fine in a 25-06.

October 3, 2006, 05:06 AM
Remington brass trimmed to 2.494, 52gr AA3100, 117 gr Sierra BTSP seated to 3.2 OAL. Hell on antelope, will downright flip a prarie rat at 400+ yards. (if you so desired)

Rifle is a Ruger M77V. Great accuracy but a pig to carry all day with a 4x16 scope and sunshade and bi-pod.

Had really good results with Hornady 117 as well, but the taper crimp is just below the channelure.

October 3, 2006, 07:57 AM
My 1971 Remington BDL shot 2.25" groups with 120 gr Remington ammo. I switched to Federal Premium ammo when it came out with 117 gr Sierra BTSP. Shot to .75" if I did my job. I got a Ruger in 1976 and while I fed it a couple dozen different hand loads, it never broke the .75" mark.

The game performance is outstanding! 280 yard shot into deer's ear was perhaps a lucky shot. A friend was walking through some cover and the deer just let him walk past and then got up and slipped away. I waited until my buddy could not see it and then shot. Yeah, I yelled for him to turn around but no luck hearing in the cold with ear flap hat. I could only see the deer's head. Buddy was safely 90 degrees away by then. Oh yeah, I already told this story last year.

2004 I shot a 3.5 year old white tail buck quartering away at 175 yards. The bullet traversed the liver, rear left lung, front right lung, torn a neat half circle about 1" through the bottom of the heart and ended up breaking the right front leg without exiting. The thing should have dropped but ran into woods. They always seem to go 1 1/2 leaps into the woods and stop.

You can't ask more than 27" of penetration with a bone at the end from a .25"

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