Optimum Bullet Weight


November 19, 2012, 04:50 PM
I have heard that the 165 Gr Bullet is the best all around bullet weight for .30-06 Springfield, and that 130 Gr is the same for .270 Winchester. Do you guys have any opinions about "optimum" bullet weight by caliber?

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November 19, 2012, 07:16 PM
As a general rule I've found that 165's tend to be a little more accurate in my 30-06 and 308. But saying they are the best for everyone and everything is hard to say. You can make a good argument that 180 gr for 30-06 and 150's for the 270 are better. While the lighter bullets are faster and flatter shooting, the difference is less than many think.

The heavier bullets are more aerodynamic and while they start slower, at some point the heavier bullet will be moving faster than the lighter, less aerodynamic bullet. The differene between a 180 gr bullet and a 165's drop at 400 yards is only about 2" if both are zeroed at 200. For most people 2" at 400 yards is not enough to matter. The difference in energy and wind drift at longer ranges is significant in favor of the heavier bullet.

November 19, 2012, 07:19 PM
Best/optimal for what? Long-range accuracy? Close-in whomping power? Impressing your non-shooter friends?

Ammo loads are always a compromise, so there is not a clear "best overall."

November 19, 2012, 07:31 PM
Optimum is, per my definition, what loads shoot best in YOUR rifle. As a dedicated handloader, I've often started with the "accuracy" loads, but tend to test until I'm happy. I've had 270 loads that seem to shoot well in every rifle I've tried, and I've had 308 loads that only fit one rifle.

November 19, 2012, 11:44 PM
150 grains are going to be the flattest shooting and 180 grain is going to have the most muzzle energy. At 100 yards 150 grain and 180 grain are about even in energy. Inside of 100 yards the 180 grain might be a marginally better hunting round.

November 19, 2012, 11:58 PM
Since I do a lot of hunting with the .30-06, mostly larger game, I think that the optimum bullet weight for the cartridge is 180 gr.

While it might be a little on the heavy side for small game, it is still effective and it can take anything on the continent and then some whereas that cannot be said of the lighter bullet weights. Even on some of the longer shots, it's trajectory is manageable enough to make such shots doable.

Andrew Leigh
November 20, 2012, 02:27 AM
I find 165gr. to be marginally more accurate than 180gr. but only load 180gr. for hunting.

One hunt was shooting Impala with the 180's with no meat loss, my mate was getting meat damage with a smaller ans faster calibre.

November 20, 2012, 10:16 AM
Yes, optimum for what? For long range target shooting with the .30-06, my vote goes for the 190gr Sierra MatchKing. I shot in 1,000 yard competition with it for several years. For the various 6.5mm cartridges for the same long range target shooting, the 139-142gr HPBT bullets are optimum. Just MHO.


November 20, 2012, 10:19 AM
with the barnes tsx or ttsx being available now, yes 165 is the optimum weight for 30-06

December 1, 2012, 03:16 PM
I suggest it depends a lot more on what you're shooting with it than what you're shooting it from.

December 1, 2012, 03:39 PM
My -06 bolt gun like heavy bullets and shines with 200gr Sierras. The way you find out what your gun likes the best is try different weight bullets and try different powder loads until you have something that is consistently accurate.

With a new high quality rifle, the barrels these days are consistently awesome, but if you have an older rifle, I would recommend slugging the bore first to see what size your barrel actually is. For some rifles, they will perform significantly better with 0.311" bullets. I have a Spanish Mauser, for example, that is 2' at 50 yards with 0.308" bullets because the barrel slugs at 0.315". I feed it 30 caliber pistol bullets and it shoots great.

1911 guy
December 1, 2012, 04:09 PM
Rule of thumb says 165-168 is the optimum weight for a .30 cal projectile.

However, since every rifle is a rule unto itself, mine had to be different. It shoot 150gr Hornady SST into just over 1/2 MOA.

I think the general "rules" are a great starting point, but be willing to bend them a little to suit your rifle and downrange performance needs.

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