Which was/is the best cartridge of its time?


June 18, 2007, 01:24 PM
All four, 303, .308, 30-06 and 7.62x54R, were/are major cartridges of thier time. I guess these days .308 would take a number on any, but given the time when they were introduced, which of these best served the purpose it was intended for?

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Koos Custodiet
June 18, 2007, 01:28 PM
30-30 :-)

And what about .22 rimfire?

June 18, 2007, 01:30 PM
.308 & .30-06 Both similar, both great.

Essex County
June 18, 2007, 01:39 PM
One hundred and sixteen years ago there was no question......7.62X54R... Essex

June 18, 2007, 01:52 PM
I feel that the 30-30 was the biggest "jump"in performance. It was the hot-rod rifle round of its day and offered some serious balistics when compared to similiar rounds of its time.

June 18, 2007, 01:57 PM
30-06 is probably the most versatile. Especially for a reloader.

June 18, 2007, 01:58 PM
30-06 was my vote.

although all listed had their own impact.

In this country it would have to be the 30-06.

Rest of the world?

303 British IMO.


June 18, 2007, 02:21 PM
more guns have chambered 7.62X54R
more people have probibly been killed by 54R
my itsself its midway between the larger '06, and the weaker 308. in modern loading it can achieve decent accuracy. its cheaper in surplus.

but hey, im partial

stiletto raggio
June 18, 2007, 02:38 PM
I vted 30-06 because it was a long-serving military cartridge and still dominates the hunting scene. It was the first American cartridge to use Spitzer bullets and is still considered to be one of the best all-around cartridges in the world.

The .22LR is the best round designed EVER, either for rifles or pistols. It will not go away as long as kinetic energy weapons are in use.

June 18, 2007, 03:35 PM
Considering the years they were introduced, the 7.62X54R is easily the most advanced. All the others came after, and only the 30-06 very slightly eclipsed it. When introduced, it was easily superior to anything else on earth. None of the others can say that.

June 18, 2007, 03:51 PM
So many poor, ignorant, people that have yet to realize the glory of the 6.5x55 Swede. :rolleyes:

June 18, 2007, 07:05 PM
Although the 30-06 was the common cartridge of great weapons I wish I could afford (Garand, BAR, 1903). 7.62x54 has been around a lot longer and is still in use today in the support role, ,and therefore it gets my vote.

Old Time Hunter
June 18, 2007, 07:11 PM
Yea JesseL, I agree because the .45-70 is still going strong!

June 18, 2007, 07:24 PM
30/06 because it can take pretty much every North American game short of bear.

Ian Sean
June 18, 2007, 07:47 PM
Of those listed I opted for the .30-06...venerable military cartridge and great hunting round.

No mention of 8mm mauser though? Tsk-Tsk....much more influential worldwide for its time.:D

June 18, 2007, 08:44 PM
Ummmm, I'm pretty sure the bear I shot with my 30-06 died.

June 19, 2007, 12:02 AM
.30-06 of course. Second would be 8mm Mauser.

June 19, 2007, 12:14 AM
Hands down, Thumbs up, the 30-06 moved the rifle into a new level of long-range accuracy. It also inspired all of the necked cartridges that have followed. It was and is the most researched cartridge ever made.

June 19, 2007, 01:49 AM
Best cartridge of it's time? Easy, 8 mm Lebel.

Well, for a short time anyways.

Ian Sean
June 19, 2007, 03:49 AM
the 30-06 moved the rifle into a new level of long-range accuracy. It also inspired all of the necked cartridges that have followed

I always thought the 8mm Mauser with the Spitzer bullet inspired the copy....errr.....development of the .30-06 that replaced the .30-03?

Let's give credit where it is due on this....8mm Mauser.

June 19, 2007, 04:36 AM
I think .308 is and was the best cartridge. It was adopted by many militaries around the world, and still remains in NATO and many other countries. While, it has also proven its superiority over 30-06 in sporting arena.

June 19, 2007, 04:47 AM
.30-06 .22LR .30-30 .270 or 12 gauge for America
7.62x54 & 7.62x39 for Russia Com Bloc and Warsaw pact countries.
.303 British cuts a wide path through history all over the globe as does the 8mm Mauser round.
Hard to pick only one.

June 19, 2007, 04:55 AM
I voted for the .30-06 not because it's a sentimental, good ole US of A cartridge, but because of its great versatility.

And, well, because it's a good ole US of A cartridge. :D

M1 Shooter
June 19, 2007, 05:53 AM
I'll have to say the 7.92X57(8mm Mauser) as well. It was first introduced in 1888 with a 216gr .318" round nose bullet at a pretty impressive velocity for its day (around 2100-2200fps), loaded in a rimless case when most rifle cartidges of the time were rimmed. When the Germans upgraded to the 154gr .323" Spitz Geschoss (pointed bullet) @ ~2850fps in 1905, it forced the rest of the world to play catch up. It caused the US Army to redesign the .30-03 to the grand old .30-06 (my second pick for "best"). The 7.62X54R (introduced 1891, 208gr round nose @ ~2000fps), although a great and long lived cartridge, was hardly a trend-setter, or unique. Its ballistics were nearly identical with the .303 British (introduced 1888, 215gr round nose @ ~2000fps) and .30-40 Krag (introduced 1892, 220gr round nose @ ~2000fps) of the same era, both rimmed cartridges as well by the way. It wasn't loaded with a pointed bullet until 1908, making it one of the last military cartridges to be so upgraded. They are all great cartidges though, and they all performed their intended purpose (warfare) well.

June 19, 2007, 06:49 AM
30-06 Extremely versatile. Reloads very well. reloaded for long range shooting or plinking. Gonna be around for a long time.

Baba Louie
June 19, 2007, 07:05 AM
Of your poll choices, I'd opt for the 30-06, altho my personal favorite is the 6.5SE.

June 19, 2007, 07:22 AM
Given your list I would opt for the 30-06 but you left the greatest cartridge out. The venerable .270 which offers superior ballistics to the 30-06 at/beyond 200 yds. Just my .02$

June 19, 2007, 07:47 AM
From the poll, I would say the .30-06 Sprg. It can and has, humanely and effectively, harvested literally every game animal in North America. Use 110 to 130 Gn for varmint, 150 for antelope, 165 for whitetail or Mule, 180 Gr for Elk, 200 for Moose and black bear. Launch a 200, 220 or 250 Grn slug through it, and you have a veritable freight train that will dispatch the biggest Griz.

Back in the day and before my fused neck and spinal implant I seriously investigated a grizzly bear hunt. The guide was adamant that I should bring my Wea. Mark V in .30-06 Sprg, handloaded with 200 or 220 Gr Nosler Partitions, and bring my Remington 870 12 gauge with alternating slug/buckshot as back-up. I agree with the man. Although, a Win. Model 70 Classic would be more fun. I personally would choose the 200 Gn. Nosler Partition. However, the following is my choice of all-time best collection of cartridges:

.270 Win.
.30-30 Win.
.30-06 Sprg.
12 gauge

I have read before that the .30-30 Win has harvested more deer than all other cartridges combined.

June 19, 2007, 08:56 AM
As we are looking at centerfire's the 54R has the greatest longevity as it is still killing people today - however you left off the 7.62x39 which changed the face of modern warfare more than any other (AK and SKS) and is still killing people today. The '06, 308 and 5.56 would have to be American favorites spanning 100 years of use.

June 19, 2007, 09:37 AM
30-06 , but for sheer longevity 7.62x54 R beats all others because it is still used by Russian military and countries that use Russian small arms.

June 19, 2007, 10:02 AM
I'd have to add and select the 7x57mm Mauser.

Strictly from the list I would say the .308.



June 19, 2007, 12:01 PM
I agree with you. I do have Zastava double trigger 7mm Mauser (7x57), but I thought it wont be any good to put it up since not many Americans are familiar with it- they rather tend towards .270.

Essex County
June 19, 2007, 12:28 PM
Me thinks some folks did not read the question in it's entireity..........Essex

June 19, 2007, 12:44 PM
Me thinks some folks did not read the question in it's entireity..........Essex

You're right. I surely didn't. :o :D

If it's a matter of longevity, then obviously the 7.62x54R is the winner of the .30-caliber race.

June 19, 2007, 01:42 PM
Difficult to choose only one, but the poll closed before I read this thread, anyway. Being an amateur but serious student of world history, and taking into account the phrase "in its time," I say .303 British. Important in this equation is the SMLE rifle. The SMLE had a high capacity, and working the bolt was/is right quick. I have read multiple accounts of German troops thinking they were facing machIne guns, when it was actually massed SMLE rifle fire. Look at the British Empire at its height to see how important "its time" really was. I would have to look up the birth date of the .303, but it predates the 20th Century for sure. Ballistically, it is not the best; last place among the four listed. But, it did the job. FWIW, my personal favorite is the modern .308/7.62 NATO.

June 19, 2007, 01:51 PM
Well, .30-06 because of the reasons mentioned earlier. 7.62x 54mm is tied with it.

However, I must say that the 5.56x 45mm NATO round is incredibly significant as far as rifle rounds go. That cartridge was really the first widespread example of the small, fast round that could devastate a target. It also influenced the way that other cartridges were developed. The Soviets may have just stuck with the 7.62x 39mm round, but the reports they were getting from observers in Vietnam about the bullet that made a pencil- thin entrance wound and came out making a half- inch hole and disintegrating inside the body changed their minds quickly.

June 19, 2007, 02:26 PM
Of course we have this love affair with the 30-06 because it versatile, powerful and all that but mostly because it American.

When the 06 was introduced there was pressure to make a uniquely American round for service rifles. The problem was the straight wall in dirty, gritty, mucky environments.

Hunters do a better job of keeping their 06s clean and most 06s today are bolt guns. Hands down the most dependable round has been the 7.62x54R. If I recall correctly, some were trying to pressure the US Government into accepting the 54R just because of it power and reliability. I'd have to dig for the article and I really don't feel compelled to do that, but I'm pretty sure that is recorded in at least one historical document.

June 19, 2007, 03:21 PM
30-06 nuff said:)

Shell Shucker
June 19, 2007, 10:05 PM
I have to go with the 8 x 57 Mauser. It is the basis for ALL of the .473" headed rounds. The short versions; 308, 7-08, 243, ect. The long versions; 270, 25-06, 30-06, ect. The standard length versions; 7 x 57, 257 Roberts, 6mm Remington, ect. They are ALL based on the 8 x 57 case! How can any round be more influential than that?

Tony Williams
June 19, 2007, 10:20 PM
I agree - the 7.92x57 is the grandaddy of them all, the true innovator. The .30-03 was developed from it, and the .30-06 loading also. You could add the 7.5x55 Swiss and 7.5x54 French to the list of derivatives, plus other European rimless military cartridges in calibres from 6.5mm upwards - many of them share the same basic head dimensions which the Mauser round introduced.

June 20, 2007, 03:30 AM
The question? Let's re-examine the highlights:Which was/is the best cartridge of its time?
...... given the time when they were introduced, which of these best served the purpose it was intended for?
I still say the 7x57 ... and the .308


I don't even own a 7 ... at the moment. One of these days I'd like another 1952 Mannlicher-Schoenauer so chambered - or perhaps something like a pre-war BRNO sporter.

June 20, 2007, 08:35 AM
If you're re-examining the LIST, it helps to READ and UNDERSTAND written english...THE CHOICES ARE: .303, .308, 30/06, and 7.62X54R! The question isn't about other rounds, and it's not about sporting usage...

Old Time Hunter
June 20, 2007, 08:47 AM
It should have been stated as "which is the BETTER cartridge", instead of "Which IS the best".

June 20, 2007, 09:45 AM
I voted for the .308. Do I really need to explain why? :cool:

June 21, 2007, 03:25 AM

I did pick .308 from the list. And made the observation that I would have added and selected another a being more significant than the .308 in terms of the attributes highlighted.

Incidently, like the other cartridges mentioned, including the 8mm Mauser, the 7x57 was not originally developed as a sporting cartridge. Like the .303, the 7.62x54, 30-06 and .308 it just happened to be ideally so with the right bullets. As they all still are.

And I really do take my scotch seriously. ;)

daniel (australia)
June 21, 2007, 10:31 AM
There are actually two questions:

Which was/is the best cartridge of its time?


...... given the time when they were introduced, which of these best served the purpose it was intended for?

Answering the first, I'd say none of them was particularly outstanding as the best of its time. The oldest, the .303, would have been one of the first smokeless cartridges, but it took a while for the Poms to get the propellant right, so it started life as a black powder round - left long behind by the 8mm Lebel. There was some innovative development work done on hollow point and soft point bullets for a while, but the Hague convention put a stop to that, and once the design had reached essentially its final form with the Mk VII it was no better and no worse than anything else fielded at the time.

The 7.62x54R is nothing special either - a typical cartridge of its time and owing much to the Lebel introduced several years before. As for the .30-06 it was of course based on the .30-03 which in turn was a fairly direct lift of the Mauser rimless design, and updated in 1906 with a spitzer bullet just like the one the Germans had introduced the year before for the 8x57IS.

The .308 was successful in packing .30-06 M2 ballistics into a slightly shorter case, but it is again questionable whether it was the best around by the late 1940s. As an exercise in designing an "intermediate" cartridge which would allow selective fire in infantry rifles, part of the original concept, it was a flop, but it did make for a fair sort of battle rifle cartridge. There were some worthy competitors for the title "best" at the time though, including the various 7mm intermediates proposed by Britain, and theres a bit to be said for the 7.62x39 too.

Taking the second question, I'd say each of them is close to line ball: each was intended for military service in rifles and machine guns, and each served in those roles for many decades. The ballistics in 20th century service loadings were very similar, and fulfilled the requirements of military thinking of the period, providing killing power out to 2000m plus with reasonable recoil, and all of them worked through the weapons for which they were designed. I don't think there's anything in it.

BTW it is interesting to note that all four of these have seen official US service;).

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