Downloading a 30-06?


July 23, 2004, 03:17 PM

I've talked myself into a real hunting rifle. Just about settled on a Tikka T3 in 30-06. I want the -06 rather than something lighter since I will soon be moving to Washington state, and want Elk and distant Mule deer to be well within this gun's capabilities. Also, it's a long-action gun, so I might as well use a long cartridge, I figure.

However, I've got nothing to prove, manliness-wise, and so, when I bring home my dies and supplies for this new-to-me cartridge, and I've emptied my first box of factory rounds for the brass, I'd like to be able to load a moderate but accurate training round, to get some trigger time on the gun without coming to resent it or anything. It is a light little thing, that Tikka.

How amenable is the 30-06 to downloading? My previous reloading experience is strictly with straight-walled pistol cases (45acp, 357, 41mag), and I just don't know if there are any issues I need to be aware of.

If anyone is willing to share anything approaching a recipe, I would consider it nothing more than a welcome guideline, and not a reason to ignore common sense or sue you ;) .


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Jim Watson
July 23, 2004, 04:31 PM
Well, just follow standard loading procedure for bottleneck cartridges and use the lighter published loads.

Hodgdon has what they call "youth loads" listed at:

Norma used to sell in Europe, where handloading is less usual, a factory load they called the .30-30-06; that is, a .30-06 at .30-30 ballistics. It was a 150 gr JSP + 38.1 grains of Norma 200 for 2411 fps. Ken Waters says 40 grains of H322 or 41 grains of 3031 will do about the same.

Target shooters used to make up light loads for comfort at the 300 metre match; a 173 grain USGI boattail and 36.4 grains of Hi-Vel No 2 for 2200 fps. Hi-Vel powder not being made any more, about 42 grains of 4895 will be similar.

For handbook loads, look in Lyman. They give the lowest tested starting loads of about anybody with numerous loads for 150 grain bullets in the 2500-2600 fps range or 180s at 2300-2400 fps.

If you want lighter loads still, there are some specialty loads with 4759 and 5744 powders in the sub-2000 fps category.

Anything much under that probably ought to be with cast bullets.

CAUTION: The phenomenon of excess pressure with reduced loads of slow burning rifle powder is pretty well established. You will likely want 4350 or something similar for bear bumpers but don't try to cut a load of it way down for plinking. Use only fast to medium fast burning powders, preferably extruded. 4895 (both Hodgdon and IMR) is well known for safe loads as low as 60% of maximum.

July 23, 2004, 05:17 PM
That sounds great, Jim--thank you. I hadn't really envisioned fooling with cast bullets in 30-06; I don't need anything TOO light, just wanted to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on either barrel or shooter.

But perhaps one of these is unfounded; am I correct in assuming that faster loads will erode the barrel's throat more quickly? Or is this a 'tens-of-thousands-of-rounds-down-the-road' kind of concern?


Jim Watson
July 23, 2004, 05:47 PM
I don't know what is considered normal barrel life these days.
Springfield Armory (the real one, not the present importers from Brazil) once found that test barrels shot with the old M1 173 grain boattail had visible throat erosion after 6000 rounds, but accuracy was IMPROVING. One of the Scandihoovian lands, Norway, maybe, got 30,000 rounds of acceptable service rifle accuracy out of a FAL, but I doubt it was anything to gladden the heart of a trophy hunter or target shooter by then.

Lighter loads at the .30-30 level will put less wear on a barrel. I doubt you could wear out a barrel with a career of cast bullet schuetzen loads.

Don't worry about it. It will take lots more dollars spent on ammo to wear out a barrel than it will cost to replace it.

July 23, 2004, 09:40 PM
When reloading, best accuracy is often found in loads that are 100 to 200 feet per second below maximum loads. Such loads operate at reduced pressures and should extend the useful life of the barrel. These loads are frequently well above the listed starting loads, but well below maximum, so hang fires and wild pressure spikes should not be a problem.

July 23, 2004, 10:53 PM
i consider the 30-06 an already reduced recoil cartridge... you may find that recoil is quite tolerable in the 30-06, especially after you spring for the sims recoil pad...

July 23, 2004, 11:05 PM
I agree, the 30-06 is less than hyped to be. Get a vest or a pad for the stock and try it again to see how you feel.

I personally found that recoil wasn't as bad as I thought once I got the stock to fit me and found a good vest.

That being said, I still think downloading the 30-06 would be interesting. It seems to me that you'd be able to use National Match .308 bullets to reload it with, 125gr IIRC.

If you come up with anything good, keep us posted.

July 24, 2004, 12:33 AM
I shoot a lot with my 1903s and my 1917. 90% of the time it is within 100 yards and lately, I have been doing a lot of shooting at 25 meters on a reduced target put out by Fred's M14 stocks. So, I had the same question you had. So, I called Sierra and asked them. In the past they have put me on to some great loads. It only makes sense that since they work with this stuff every day, they probably know what they are talking about. The load I ended up with is 15 grains of Unique and a 150 grain bullet. It seems to be a more than adequate load for my purposes. It shoots about as well as full power ammo. It is much cheaper to load and case life is much greater than with full power loads. I also use my older cases for these practice loads. I have been using Sierra 150 grain Match King bullets, because that is what I had on hand, but it is a waste to use premium bullets like that at short range. Today I ordered 2000 Remington 150 grain soft points that will take over the practice role.
I didn't do this because of recoil. I just considered it silly to shoot full power ammo at 25 meters. I figured that since I was loading the cartridges and can make them do whatever I wanted, why waste the powder ?
Last weekend I shot over 500 rounds of .30-06 over three days: recoil is way over blown and has become an urban legend.

July 24, 2004, 01:08 PM
Medium and slow burning pistol powders have long been used in rifles when shooting cast lead bullets. One big word of warning, rifle shells will easily hold double and triple charges of pistol powders. Should a round have a double or triple charge, the operating pressures will likely be sufficient to destroy the rifle and injure the shooter and possibly anyone standing nearby. Just be very careful when using pistol powders in rifle cartridges.

July 24, 2004, 02:14 PM
Either of the 4895's and a 150 grain bullet will make a good load at about 30-30 velocities. I don't remember the charge weight. Use the lowest starting load in the book and work down a little. IIRC the starting loads will be around 2500-2600, so they are almost there. If you are aimimg for something slower than that I would go to cast bullets, or switch to a 110 grain carbine bullet for a low recoil jacketed bullet load.

July 25, 2004, 12:46 AM
There are a million sportsmen in WA state, and only 10,000 opportunities.
Those who devote their lives to getting a deer every year for 40 years and now not getting a shot since 2000.
And you can't just drive to Montana and shoot a deer anymore, they are sick of us Wahingtonians, and make us draw in a lottery for a deer permit.

Today there was a one day salmon season on Lake Washington, and there was a 3 hour wait to launch a boat and a 3 hour wait to get out for the 8,000 boats using a half dozen boat launches.
I got around that by carrying a light boat to the water and dropping it in to launch.

There was good hunting in WA in the 1950s for those from Western WA that drove to Eastern WA.
But by the 1960's all the land was getting posted, and hunters had to drive further.
Now there are 10 times as many people, and they were not born here. Like yourself, they moved here.

Western WA is right behind Los Angeles in being an economic paradise, and a sportsman's hell.

July 25, 2004, 01:22 AM
Read your manual and pick a load with a lighter bullet. A powder that gives lower velocities will also give you less felt recoil. Mind you, the .30-06 isn't that heavy to start with, depending on the rifle. Your's won't hurt you. Pull it tight into your shoulder and you'll be fine.
You should practice with the load you intend to hunt with. Elk and mule deer? A good 170 to 180 grain bullet will take them both with no fuss. A 150 for shooting just for fun and a 168 match bullet for targets. Follow your manual religiously. You doing the same thing to a rifle case you do with a pistol round. Resizing/depriming, repriming, putting in powder and seating a bullet. Same excrement. Different pile.

July 25, 2004, 08:00 AM
Come to Virginia, more whitetail deer than you could shake a stick at if you spent your whole life shaking that stick! Recently heard a report that Virginia now has twice the number of deer that it was estimated to contain when the colonies were founded!

Of course, the anti-hunting anti-gun anti-animal eating anti-Constitution people are always up in arms and want to stop all hunting.:fire:

And I must admit that I am a member of PETA.



July 25, 2004, 08:55 AM
Darn, when did I turn into a computer geek,

"Downloading a 30-06" My first thought...What URL let's me do that :what:

Seriously though. Most of my 06 shooting has been from full sized sporter-wieght rifles, never had a problem w/ recoil. Firend just bought a new feather-wieght in 06 and I helped him with the barrel break in. Shot well over 75 rounds loaded to 3/4 power. Nice and comfortable, no where near my 300 at all.

I say don't worry about it. Have the stock fitted for you and load to where the rifle likes it.

As for wearing out the barrel. Even the "barrel burners" like 22-250, requier 1000s of rounds before they eat a barel up. I would just watch the barrel heat and not shoot too many rounds without a cool-down period in between.

July 25, 2004, 04:55 PM
The '06 is wonderful downloaded! Griz nailed it perfectly in his first sentence. I defer to him!

Good luck and have fun.

Vern Humphrey
July 27, 2004, 03:45 PM
I like to down load the .30-06 myself. A good way to do this is to pick a bullet weight (say 150 grains) and look for the LOWEST velocity starting load in your manual. For example, the Hodgdon #26 manual lists 56.0 grains of H4831m with a velocity of 2366 fps (150 grain bullet).

By comparison, the max loads for the .30-30 for this same bullet are all right in that same ball park -- the same manual lists twelve .30-30 150-grain loads with muzzle velocities above 2300 fps.

For cast bullets, I like to start with the lowest and slowest .30-30 loads listed and use those for cast bullets in the .30-06. Seventeen grains of H4227 behind a gas-checked 160 grain Lee cast bullet gives pretty good accuracy.

July 27, 2004, 08:47 PM
I don't know how much you want to "download"? just for giggles I loaded 18 grains of Unique with a Nosler 130 grains Ballistc Tip. out of my Ruger # 1A this load does 1850 fps and into one inch at 100 yards it is a lot of fun to shoot. I think that 18 grains of Unique and a 150 grains bullet in the 30-06 would be the same type load.

July 27, 2004, 10:51 PM
Look at Speer #13 loading manual. They have many reduced loads listed. I've used them to help several young shooters get started.

July 28, 2004, 12:33 AM
Accurate 5744.

July 31, 2004, 02:12 AM
I've been shooting the 'ole '06 since 1975. I shot my first deer with it in 1976. I've loaded about every combination of powder/bullets reasonable from "0"-buck to 228gr GC-RN cast bullet.

I think that for your purpose you should decide what bullet weight you intend to use for hunting (I'd suggest the 165gr, though the 150 works quite well too.)

Use either of the 4895's, starting with 43.0g. This is a load that was recommended to me by a Korean war Vet who had shot a lot of NRA 'High-power' back in the late '40's, '50's and '60's.

It is/was the least that will cycle the M-1 with 147-150gr bullets and is a superbly accurate mid-range load for the '06.

With the 165gr bullets, the 4895's will give adequate hunting power for most deer or smaller game, and Remington Cor-lokts are available for less than $10/100. Point of aim/point of Impact is usually quite close to that of 56.6-58.0gr of IMR4350 for top-end hunting loads which are also the most accurate I've used through my bolt action '06's. Just stick with the 4895's if loading for an auto-loader. However, my older brother and I have also gotten outstanding accuracy with IMR4064 with 150gr bullets. Imr4064 can be dropped about 15% and still maintain excellent accuracy and is also a good all-around powder for the '06. (I can't leave out RL-15 for 150gr or H4831 for 180gr loads- about anything works well in the '06!)

Unique will also work, but poa/poi will change greatly from that of "normal" powders.

Having busted the bolt in an '06 with an accidental double charge of Unique under a cast bullet, I'm now reluctant to use any of the fast pistol powders in the large case bottleneck cartridges. I got by for many years, but it only took one double charge to damage an "heirloom" rifle.

Your Tika should give you outstanding service. I advise against using a chronograph with it. SERIOUSLY!
You will be very satisfied with an '06 if you stick to shooting paper and big-game. However, you will be much less satisfied with it if you start chasing numbers on the chronograph. An '06 will kill any suitable big game just as well as one of the "Magnums", and without any "exotic" bullet. Just put a Sierra 150 or 165, flat base, or boat-tail where it belongs, and it will do the job nicely. For practice or general use, the much less expensive but still seriously accurate Remington Cor-lokts will suffice for all but the most demanding purposes.

My younger brother uses a pre-64 Wichester m70 feather weight in .308 for "Every-thing", with a Nosler 150gr Partition. Kills 500lb elk just as well as it does 100lb whitetails, and 200lb+ Mule deer at 250+yds. He only uses one powder charge- of H4895. He's something of a "mimimalist" as his only other guns are a Remington m870 in 12ga, a Ruger 10/22, and a .50cal muzzleloader. He has killed everything from ground squirrels/pararie dogs, to Moose and a Black Bear, and he's mostly a Wester hunter -he lives in Nevada. (he did use Sierra 110gr HP's for the p-dogs though, but still used H4895!)

Works for him, I'd bet the '06 will do it for you too.

(Me?, I'm a gun nut!, and a deer/pig killer. My biggest decision after where and what I'm gonna hunt, is what do I use today??? -.17 to .72cal., rifle, shotgun, or handgun?!!!!)

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