Born from the .30-03, the .30-06 Springfield is one of the most important cartridges of the 20th century. Developed in 1906, the name derived from a 30-caliber bullet in the year 1906 and most commonly pronounce it as thirty-aught-six. This iconic cartridge needed an equally historic gun for its debut and it found one in the Springfield Model of 1903, which would not be the only famous rifle that chambered the .30-06. Later the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) would utilize this cartridge to become one of the more devastating infantry weapons of World War II.
This is a monster cartridge. The energy that disperses in this round is overwhelming. So much so that you will remember firing a 1903 Springfield the following day—and so will your shoulder.
With around 3,000 ft-lbs., this is like a city bus hitting your target. While this seems awesome, as I stated previously, it is a lot less awesome for most after a day at the range. The recoil and the long cartridge stroke prompted developers to begin work on a shorter version of the .30-06, known as the .308 Winchester. The .308 Winchester is virtually the same bullet, but in a shorter cartridge. The .308 would eventually replace the .30-06 as the cartridge of choice for the military.
While designed as a military cartridge, it has become a staple cartridge for hunters. Other than very dangerous game in Africa and Asia, very little game will not surrender to this round. The first sporting application was in the Winchester Model 1895 lever action rifle. It would become a staple hunting round and would be used in the Remington Model 30 1921, the Winchester Model 54 1925, the Savage Model 40 and 45 1928, and to the present day in numerous hunting rifles from all major manufactures.
The military rifles that made it famous were the Springfield 1903, the 1917 Enfield, the 1941 Johnson Light Machine gun, and the 1941 Johnson Rifle. In the machine gun platform, it saw usage in the BAR, M1909 Machine rifle, M1919 M37 Machine gun, M1917 Machine gun, some limited Lewis guns, and a machine gun designed by Marlin which is similar to the BAR.
However, the most iconic weapon that it saw use in was the United States Rifle, Caliber .30 M1, or M1 Garand. “The greatest battle implement ever devised,” were the words of General George S. Patton. Whether single shot, semiauto or fully automatic, this was a devastating bullet in a military platform rifle.
With almost infinite civilian variations and nearly 20 different military applications, this is without a doubt one of the most versatile cartridges ever designed for the modern smokeless powder rifle.
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.30-06 Springfield Ballistic Comparison
|Cartridge||Bullet Weight||Muzzle Velocity||Muzzle Energy|
|.243 Win||100 Grains||2,850 fps||1,805 ft-lbs|
|.30-30 Win||150 Grains||2,715 fps||2,048 ft-lbs|
|.30.06 Spr||150 Grains||2,900 fps||2,820 ft-lbs|
|.308 Win||150 Grains||2,750 fps||2,518 ft.-lbs.|
|.300 Weath Mag||150 Grains||3,200 fps||3,412 ft-lbs|
|.300 Win Mag||150 Grains||3,290 fps||3,570 ft.-lbs.|