The Iconic 30-06 Springfield
In 1903 the German army adopted the 7.92x57 Mauser as its standard military cartridge. Also known as the 8mm Mauser, it revolutionized modern military cartridges, and set of an arms race, of sorts, as various other countries tried to match the design and power of the 8mm Mauser. That “race” resulted in the development in the United States of a cartridge that to this day is a truly iconic cartridge that has withstood the test of time.
Soon after the Civil War, the United States military adopted a black powder cartridge developed by Winchester and know as the 45-70 Government as its primary military cartridge. The 45-70 Gov’t as it was know, would be the main stay of the military until 1894 when the US military changed to the new smokeless powder round designated the 30-40 Krag. Like so many cartridges of the late 1800s the 30-40 Kraig carried a 220 grain round nose bullet. At the same time the Germans used a cartridge designated as the Patrone 88. Like our 3-40 Krag, the Patrone 88 was loaded with the new smokeless powder and fired a 227 grain round nose bullet. But as the new century dawned that was all about to change.
In 1903 the Germans introduced their new 8mm cartridge, designed from the 7.92x57mm Mauser (8mm Mauser) with a revolutionary new bullet know as the “spitzer” bullet. Spitzer is German for pointed and the bullet was actually that - a pointed nose bullet – gone where the round nose bullets. The ballistics was much better with a pointed bullet and every country was off to the races – so to speak. The US Military turned to Springfield Armory, and from the United States came an answer in 1903, a cartridge known as the 30-03, but the performance of the cartridge was less than stellar, so back to the drawing board they went. Three years later Springfield offered their new and improved cartridge and the 30-06 Springfield was born. The cartridge would come to be known as the “30 aught 6” and was a 30 caliber (7.62mm) cartridge. The name derives from the 30 caliber designation and 1906 – the year it was adopted by the US military. Originally the 30-06 Springfield fired a 150 grain bullet at close to 2700 FPS with 2429 foot pounds of energy. Like the German 8mm Mauser, the bullet was of the “new” spitzer design.
The 30-06 Springfield would go on to be used by the US Military in three conflicts – WWI, WWII and Korea. It was first used in the bolt action rifles know as the M1903 and M1917 Springfield during WWI. With the outbreak of WWII the 3-06 cartridge was used in the MI Garand. The MI Garand was also during the Korean conflict. As a result, as the soldiers returned home, the 30-06 Cartridge became a favorite of many hunters. As the gun was carried afield what many hunters soon realized was that the 30-06 was an incredibly versatile cartridge. Designed as a truly 1000 yard cartridge, soon 30-06 ammunition was available in a wide variety of loads and bullets. By the 1920s it is was, and to this day remains, the most popular sporting cartridge not only here in the United State but around the world. It’s almost impossible not to find ammunition for the 30-06 at any firearms store. Even with all choices in ammunition today, the most popular and widely produced cartridge is the 30-06.
The 30-06 Springfield is suitable for every hunting pursuit in North American as well as most pursuits overseas. It is just as comfortable chasing plains game on the savannas of Africa, or stags in the mountains of New Zealand as it is chasing whitetails here in the states. I’ve personally known of hunters who have taken large coastal brown bears with a 30-06, then used it to hunt pronghorn antelope in Wyoming. When it comes to loads for the 30-06 Springfield the sky is the limit. There are literally dozens of bullets in various weights, ranging 110 grains to 220 grain, available for the 30-06.
Iconic is the only way one a can truly describe the “30 aught 6”. Since its inception, the cartridge has been the mainstay for sportsman and women around the world. Its manageable recoil, yet impressive energy on impact, guarantees that the 30-06 Springfield will be here for decades to come. As long as men and women head afield, many will carry a rifle chambered in 30-06 Springfield with them…..