Help Me Pick a Rifle - .308 or 30-06


February 2, 2012, 03:45 PM
I know this is an age-old debate, but I need some help trying to decide between a .308 and 30-06. This will be my first year hunting, and I would like to buy a bolt-action rifle that I can keep forever and use for pretty much any kind of medium-sized animal. I’ve a got a deer hunting trip planned this fall, but I could easily see myself going after feral hogs, and maybe even elk if I hit the KY lottery. There’s also a club here in town that has a monthly NRA Sporting Rifle match that I’m sure I’ll try a few times just for fun and practice. I live in the Midwest, but will be doing any hunting with this gun down south because that’s where my family has some land and OH doesn’t allow hunting with centerfire rifles.

I have an M1 Garand, so I started off thinking that I’d go 30-06 for no other reason than I have a bunch of surplus HXP brass that I could use if I ever decide to hand load. Everything I’ve read pretty goes something like: “The difference is negligible between the .308 and 30-06, so get a .308”. I'm leaning toward a Savage which comes in a short action for .308 and a long action for 30-06. I’ve played with a few of each size in the store and didn’t really see the big deal in the difference. Given my situation, is there any other reason I should be considering a .308 over a 30-06?

I understand the differences in the ballistics charts, but I’m having a hard time getting FACTS on the more subjective stuff like the differences in:
• Inherent accuracy potential
• Recoil & muzzle blast
• Ammo cost / availability

Any advice would be appreciated.

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February 2, 2012, 04:16 PM
Go for the .30-06 for the simple reason of logistics. You already have a .30-06 Garand, so why not have a .3-06 bolt. One less set of reloading dies to buy, one less caliber of ammo to stock.

The .308 has a slight edge accuracy wise, while the .30-06 has a slight edge power wise. Since this is going to be a hunting rifle rather than a match one, you'd more likely benefit from more power than more accuracy.

February 2, 2012, 04:17 PM
I'm glad you put this question up, as I am in the same boat, choosing between these czlibers. I don't have anything constructive to add at this time, but I will be watching this thread. My guy instinct says .30-06, though.

February 2, 2012, 04:24 PM
The only real reason to go 30-06 over 308 is if you are hunting something big enough to require 180+gr bullets (bear, moose, monster hogs, or torphy elk). Other then that the 308 runs neck and neck with the 06 in a smaller package, burning less powder, with less recoil.

February 2, 2012, 04:36 PM
Ammo is readily available for both. Inherent accuracy? It probably would boil down to the luck of the draw with the gun that you bought. Supposedly the 308 is one of the most accurate calibers. I think if you find the right load, or the right factory ammo, either one could out shoot the other easily.

Ballistics wise, I guess the 06 may have a slight edge, but in my opinion, not enough to influence my decision. I have both and if for some reason I had to choose 1 of the 2 to keep, I think I'd keep the .308, if for no other reason than it's easier on my shoulder.

Ultimately, it may depend on your planned use for it. If you are going to be shooting heavy bullets, the 06 may be your right choice. For 165's and under, my choice would be the 308. If you do a lot of shooting just for fun, you probably would like the 308 best.

I'm sure I haven't helped you make your decision, but I hope I didn't make it harder for you to do so. Whatever you decide on, good luck, have fun, and be safe.

February 2, 2012, 04:45 PM
I guess I should think about taking a speed typing course. The were no posts when I started answering this thread, and by the time I hit the submit tab there was 3 posts before me.

Sorry to get off the subject, but it just kind of cracked me up

February 2, 2012, 05:07 PM
I like this sort of problem.

When my wife and I had this come up, she got a 308 and I got a 30-06. And, the biggest thing between them is the 30-06 can use a heavier bullet and kick a bit harder. It's all good.

Keep us posted on what you do.

MAJ Mike
February 2, 2012, 05:22 PM
IMAO stick with .308 Winchester.

It's a standard military ammunition. When/if the SHTF, it will be more available than 30.06. .308/7.62mmx51 and 30.06 are very comparable. Main difference is the length of the cartridge case. 7.62mm NATO was adopted because it was believed that it functioned better in automatic weapons (fewer failures due to the base of the cartridge being pulled off by the extractor).

February 2, 2012, 05:25 PM
I faced the same situation last year for an elk rifle for a trip to Colorado, although I added in a 3rd caliber, the 300 wsm. After many hours of research I ended up with the 30-06, a Tikka T3. One of the reasons was ammo availability, you can find 30-06 anywhere, even out in remote areas in small hardware stores. Also I liked the fact that any of the mentioned calibers can take any game here in North America. Below is a link to some great caliber information for hunting rifles, also take a look at the sighting in section.... very interesting....

Buzzard II
February 2, 2012, 05:25 PM
My .02 cents. I would look for a good used Remingon model 788 CARBINE-not rifle, in .308. Short, accurate, easy to reload for, they like 165 gr Sierra bullets-Federal Premium ammo or reloads, will not break the bank buying one in todays economy, works in heavy woods, tree stands, blinds without banging into closeby equipment. Use good glass-Leupold VX III, and you'll have a great shooting gun that you can pass on later in life. I put a Timney trigger in mine with minimal relief work to the stock. Good luck. Bob

February 2, 2012, 05:38 PM
nodeal, I've owned 2 308's and several 30-06's. I would go with the 30-06 and never look back. I'm a deer hunter and I like being able to load a 150 grain bullet to about 2850 fps with moderate chamber pressures. A 308 will get close but you have to load to the top of the chart. It's easy to load a 30-06 165 grain bullet to 2800 fps whereas the 308 hits only 2650 fps, again with moderate chamber pressures. BW

February 2, 2012, 05:56 PM
Since you already have a .30-06 Garand then the choice is easy. The K.I.S.S. principle applies here, so get the 06.

February 2, 2012, 06:39 PM
308; I'll take the advantage of a short action anyday for the little it gives up to the -06.
In competition shooting 308 hands down winner.


February 2, 2012, 06:52 PM
Were I in your shoes I'd opt for the .30-06. You already have a supply of brass and you wouldn't need another set of dies. When it comes to hunting I think the 06 has the edge because it can shoot heavier bullets and take game at greater distances.

I knew the SHTF would come up, it always does. People use that argument all the time to justify buying a .223 or .308. But, what if the military confiscates all the .308 and .223 ammo for their use? No one ever thinks of that.

Another argument that people bring up is the short action of the .308. The long action is not evil, we're probably talking about 1" longer. I own both short and long action rifles but prefer the long action.

Get the 06 and don't look back.

February 2, 2012, 07:03 PM

February 2, 2012, 07:04 PM

As for the accuracy question, in the real world that depends more on the shooter than the inherant ability of the cartridge given equally accurate platforms. Which brings us to the short vs long action question. My answer is: First prove you shoot well enough to need the stiffer short action before you poo-poo the standard length .30-06 platform. I know that several prestigious accuracy competitions have been won with the venerable ought-6. As for the bolt cycling time; well if ya hit the critter with the first shot it's a moot point. So, deadeye Dick, how well do you shoot?

See how it always seems to come back to the shooter's ability rather than equipment?

Which is to say, in your shoes, the .30-06 makes more sense. At least from my viewpoint.


February 2, 2012, 08:14 PM
Even in our small Mom & Pop General store here in Moose Creek one can always find only four different calibers of ammo. 30.06, 308, 338Win Mag, 44 Mag. and during the summer you may find 22RL.

My vote is for 30.06 for everything in the other U.S.A. The lower 48.

February 2, 2012, 08:20 PM
Wow one of them is .338 win mag? Well it is AK I guess.

February 2, 2012, 08:52 PM
Given my situation, is there any other reason I should be considering a .308 over a 30-06?

Not really. I would suggest you concentrate on buying a rifle that fits you and feels good when you shoulder it. Either cartridge will do what you want to do with it.


February 2, 2012, 08:58 PM
If you do go for .30-06 and start hand loading, here is something to keep in mind. The loads appropriate for a Garand are significantly different than the high pressure loads common in loading manuals meant for bolt action rifles. A load that is perfectly safe in a .30-06 bolt action, say 59 gr. IMR4831 and a 180 gr. bullet for 2800 fps. could damage the operating rod in your Garand pretty quickly. In the past, I have used nickel plated brass for the bolt action, regular brass for the Garand. Then you just make sure the Garand never sees the nickel plated rounds.

February 2, 2012, 09:16 PM
Since you already have a .30-06 Garand then the choice is easy. The K.I.S.S. principle applies here, so get the 06.


This. I have owned rifles chambered for both cartridges, and they both work just fine for deer-sized game. IMO, the rifle itself is the more important part of the equation.

Just my $.02

February 2, 2012, 09:31 PM
New .308 PPU is $10/box at aim while .30-06 is $14/box. If/when you need to re-barrel the Garand would you change to .308? If not then i would go .30-06 to keep it simple, but .308 will be a little cheaper for only slightly less energy.

February 2, 2012, 10:50 PM
Since you already have a M1 Garand I suggest getting a .308. My reasoning is the same as TwoEyedJack's. With different cartridges you don't have to worry about segregating Garand loads from the other. Unless, of course you only load FMJ for the Garand and only hunting or match bullets for the new rifle. Then it wouldn't be hard to tell them apart.

The .308 might have a slight edge in accuracy due to the shorter action having the potential to be stiffer.

February 3, 2012, 12:13 AM
I recently struggled with this myself, with the release of the new ruger american rifle. I went .308, If I need something heavier it is just an excuse to buy another rifle... hehehe...

February 3, 2012, 12:00 PM
look up the savage scout,the ruger scout,or ruger makes a nice ss/synthetic 20 inch 308 rifle.keep it short and light.good 3x9x40 (50 gathers more light)ask if they will work with supplied rings before you buy.remember,you gotta carry this plus other equipment or,find a knight kp-1 single shot in 308.they are light,break down for transfer,and you can get a 308 and 3006 barrel that will fit the same receiver.

February 3, 2012, 12:19 PM
Not much to add. You see the tradeoffs. Maximum versatility comes with the .30-06, especially if you reload. The .308 can do just about everything the ought-six can do with up to 165 grain bullets.

To me, the advantage of the .308 is the shorter action. My "go to" hunting rifle is a Remington Model 7 in .308. I love the pointability of the short, carbine length gun, especially in the eastern hardwoods.

I like and reload for both cartridges. I do not own a Garand. In your situation, I'd agree with those suggesting the KISS principle. Get a bolt action in .30-06 and start reloading for it.

February 3, 2012, 12:31 PM
I'm all about the short action, lower weight and compact sizes of so many .308's. It's something you won't notice till you're half way up a mountain and then it becomes very relevant. I think it's a definite advantage in the field, unless you're a stand hunter where weight and size don't matter.

Of course, if I got a great deal on a 30.06 I'd take it. If price is near the same I'd always go with a short action rifle.

I truly love my Model seven (though it's a .350) for it's size and handling characteristics. I don't own the Ruger Scout, but after handling one at the gun store I think it may even be a better choice than my Model 7.

February 3, 2012, 01:54 PM
If the aditional recoil is not an issue for you, and you don't mind carrying an extra 1/2lbs, or you want to sling 200+gr bullets for moose go with the 06.
If you use normal bullet weights (125-180gr), like a more compact lightweight rifle, and perfer a lighter kicking rifle with less muzzleblast, the 308 is the clear choice.
Both have their appeal, but I lean to the 308, if I want to sling 200gr+ bullets at monster game I will get a 338 cal, they are better for that purpose anyway.

February 4, 2012, 10:27 PM
308 verse 30.06.....modern pot-belly stove version of the 270-30.06 discussion that got Moses and Methuselah kicked out of the Pearly Gate Deer Club...

Buy the 308.
A. If a 165 grn 308 round won't do it you will alot more than a 30.06 to get it done.
B. Short action, Short barreled rifles with good scopes are great hunting rifles
C. It is good not to mix Garand loads with "full powered" up the loads.. (weak but a reason)
D. Having a .308 makes it easier to justify buying a thumper as an Mastodon/Bear/Elk rifle.

For the record I answer the question by building a 7-08 leftie savage to keep my 338 Win Mag 116 leftie company.

Really just buy the rifle that fits you best you won't go wrong with ether caliber.

February 5, 2012, 12:53 AM
you have an m1 already?

buy the 30-06.

even if you didnt have the garand, get the 30-06. its just more versatile.

February 5, 2012, 01:54 AM
My Son and I shoot them both he likes the 308 and I go with the 30-06, it gives us something to augure about on the drive to where we are going hunting. I really belive for the first rifle an 30-06 is best. Go to wal-mart and look at the slection 125gr thru 220gr and at the right time of year you can get some 55gr sabot ammo I think you still can. You usually have twice as maney choices with the 06. This is what you will at most stores and any rual mom and pop shop out in the middle of no where. Pick a rifle that fits you I like a longer barrel 22-24 inch for your 1st hunting rifle, Get a scout rifle the 2nd time around if you think you need one still. Brands of rifles we have a few different but really take a real hard look at a Savage or a CZ we think they are the best going really great triggers, smooth action, and we don`t have a Savage or CZ that won`t shoot under an inch at a 100 yrds,(( dont buy the there cheap model for this rifle you will give to your grandson when you are thru with it )). Buy a good scope and mount it low the first time. Good luck on your choice. ken

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