Both of these cartridges are often used in the hunting community and are used for a lot of the same large game. In this article, we will take a look at the ballistic and other performance specs that are important for a hunter to take into consideration before heading out into the field.
We will take a brief look at where these cartridges come from, the cartridge specs, and then several categories such as bullet ballistics, recoil, and availability. We will do this not to determine which of the two is “the best” as both are known large game killers. We will make these comparisons in the hope that you can make a better decision as to which cartridge is better suited for you under certain hunting scenarios.
.300 Win Mag vs .30-06: A Brief History
.300 Winchester Magnum
Winchester began producing the .300 Win Mag cartridge in 1963 to use a 30-cal bullet just like the .30-06. Because of its development in 1963, the .300 Win Mag is a much newer hunting cartridge compared to others on the market.
Packing the .300 Win Mag with a lot of powder will increase its velocity, which in turn, affects a lot of other ballistic properties of this cartridge. Additionally, the .300 Win Mag can use a wide variety of bullet weights, most of these fall between 150-200 grain. However, a few rounds lighter or heavier than the average are also compatible with this cartridge.
For the most part, big game hunters and competitive shooters love the long-range shooting capabilities of the .300 Win Mag. While it is mostly seen as a hunting cartridge, the .300 Win Mag is also popular amongst snipers and those in military special forces. When evaluating its hunting effectiveness, it is important to match the type of ammo with the hunting situation
The .30-06 (thirty-ought-six) was developed in 1906 in response to advances in cartridge design in foreign nations and provided a round at the high-end limit of power and controllability. Its name comes from the bullet diameter (.308) and the year it was produced (1906).The .30-06 Springfield saw combat in several wars until it was replaced in the late 70’s.
Once it was retired from use in the military, the .30-06 cartridge still retained popularity in the hunting world. Hunters, especially those shooting big game, love this cartridge because its velocity, power, and flat trajectory allow them to shoot prey accurately over 500 yards.
With the continued popularity of the .30-06 cartridge, most, if not all, retail stores sell the .30-06, which helps make it easily accessible for most people. The .30-06 can be used in a lot of hunting scenarios because of the variety in bullet weights and designs. Finally, if you hand load the .03-06 you will be creating a very hot load, which greatly augments its performance.
.30-06 vs .300 Win Mag Specs
|.300 Win Mag||.30-06 Springfield|
|Parent Casing||.375 H&H Magnum||.30-03|
|Max Pressure (SAAMI)||64,000psi||60,200psi|
Both of these cartridges take a .30 cal bullet. They are very similar in a lot of casing specs including the neck diameter and the case length. With the way the bullets sit in the casing, they both come out to the same overall length in the cartridge. Even with some similar specs, there are some major differences between these two cartridges. The .300 Win Mag is much more voluminous than the .30-06 and can hold a significantly greater amount of powder and can withstand a much greater amount of pressure. Just from that, you can assume that the .300 win mag is going to pack a little bit more of a punch than the .30-06 and we will see how this difference plays a role in affecting the ballistic properties of the cartridges.
To carry out a comparison of two cartridges, we have chosen five different rounds for both the .300 Win Mag and the .30-06 Springfield that provides a broad view of the properties of these cartridges and how they can vary or remain the same from round to round. It is by no means comprehensive, as there are dozens of rounds for each cartridge, but by making careful selections, we have covered the basis. Below is our list of rounds. And we are aware that your favorite round may or may not be present on this list. We also know how protective some of us can be when it comes to our favorite cartridge and rounds. Unfortunately, we are limited in the number of selections we can make due to space and these selections gave us a variety of rounds from each cartridge. So if your go-to round is not on here don’t feel slighted. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you are confident with your selection and it gets the job done.
- .300 Win Mag Federal Vital-Shok Trophy Bonded 180gr
- .300 Win Mag Federal MatchKing BTHP Gold Medal 190gr
- .300 Win Mag Barnes Precision Match OTM 220gr
- .300 Win Mag Nosler Trophy Grade AccuBond Long Range 190gr
- .300 Win Mag Hornady Superformance SST 180grs
- .30-06 Federal Vital-Shok Nosler Partition 165gr
- .30-06 Hornady GMX Superformance 150gr
- .30-06 Federal American Eagle Jacketed Hollow Point 150gr
- .30-06 Nosler Custom Hand Loaded AccuBond 200gr
- .30-06 Federal Gold Medal Sierra Matchking 168gr
The rounds we analyze here are all factory loads and readily available. When doing your own research on forums or blogs, you may come across rounds of this same cartridge type that has much more impressive performance data for velocity and other performance specs. But, keep in mind these specs are likely coming from hand loaded rounds. Factory loads’ are almost never loaded near to their max amounts due to safety concerns.
Also, all of the data we present here comes from the manufacturer of each individual round or—if that is not available—from trusted ballistic calculators. We attempt to keep all of the variables the same when we are forced to use ballistic calculators unless the variables have to change due to differences between the two cartridges such as powder charge. We will also ensure that our when we do have to adjust different variables it will be made clear to you what is being changed when we get to that section.
Keep in mind that just because we provide one set of numbers doesn’t mean that you will see the exact same results when firing these cartridges from your own rifle. Because each firearm has a unique profile there will always be some variations in the ballistic data from one rifle to the next. Even if each firearm was identical, the numbers could change depending on the weather! We choose to use computer-generated data, because it removes these slight differences that you will get from firearm to firearm and really gives us a great way to compare two cartridges. Now, let’s begin our analyses of these different cartridges.
Your preference of the .300 Win Mag versus .30-06 in certain situations will likely come down to differences in recoil energy which correlated loosely to felt recoil. For most young or inexperienced shooters, recoil greatly influences their decision to purchase a rifle chambered for one cartridge over a rifle chambered for the other. Even if you are an experienced shooter, recoil is a factor you should pay attention to. It can cause twitching and pulling for even experienced shooters, especially in situations where the adrenaline is flowing while a bull elk steps into a clearing 300 yards away. It also greatly impacts the amount of time you have to prep a follow up shot as the greater the recoil tends to mean you are pulled further off target.
In this section we examine the force generated when the primer ignites the powder and sends the bullet down range. We should take a minute to discuss what exactly it is that we are looking at. This is not the felt recoil or better known as the kick. The kick is what you feel when firing the rifle. Quantifying the force generated by firing the bullet is quite easy and somewhat translates into felt recoil. Felt recoil is determined by a lot of factors that are not as easily calculable such as the stock design and shooting stance. Because of this, we are going to compare the recoil between the 300WM and .30-06 by using the recoil energy (ft.lb).
If we take a look at the averages for recoil energy from these two rounds provided by the ballistics calculator we see that they are both hard hitting cartridges. While the 300 win mag has a slightly higher recoil energy of a couple ft.lb, you’re going to feel both of them when firing. With both of them having over 25ft.lb of recoil energy there is the possibility of your shot being altered by flinching slightly through the pull.
Let’s take a look at our ten rounds we are going to be using throughout this article and see how varied the recoil is when we take into account different rounds.
Like in the previous graph, we still see a general trend towards the .300 Win Mag rounds producing more recoil than the .30-06. Even so, there is some overlap between the two where we see .30-06 rounds have very similar or more recoil energy than the 300 Win Mag rounds. If you take the averages, the 300 Win Mag rounds are going to be just slightly higher, and even a little closer than the previous graph showed. Both are going to produce some kick, though we don’t think this slight difference in recoil is going to be telling between the two rounds. Whatever you go with, it’s going to be something that you will need to become accustomed to.
Understanding the differences in ballistics of two cartridges is essential for comparing them and drawing any meaningful conclusions to determine which situations one might be better suited than the other. Ballistic data is going to focus more on the flight characteristics of the round and helps you know how well or poorly a round performs in various hunting or shooting situations. Here we look at the differences in velocity, trajectory, and ballistic coefficients for the .30-06 vs .300 Win Mag. This information will help indicate which cartridge is best suited for specific applications. We might even find that there are certain situations where both of these rounds perform very similarly.
The .30-06 and the .300 Win Mag both use .30 caliber bullets, which might make you assume that they have similar performances in various ballistic categories. Even so, the two cartridges have some important differences that affect their ballistic performance. Thus, we will examine as many ballistic categories as we can to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each cartridge.
While we break up our analysis into individual categories, we understand that this does not provide a holistic picture of the cartridge’s performance. The many factors that influence a cartridge’s performance, even those outside of ballistics, influence each other. So while it makes comparing two cartridges much easier it doesn’t give you the overall picture that you really need to make any type of decision. We don’t think you should base a decision solely on one ballistic category. It’s not skin off our bone if you do but just be aware that we think all of these categories should be taken together when making a final decision. We will provide this type of analysis in the application section near the end of the article.
Velocity has a lot of implications with how the bullet is going to perform in other ballistic categories. While far from the only factor, velocity plays a key role in how the bullet penetrates and how well the bullet can resist certain environmental factors during flight. For long-range shots, higher velocities correlate with better accuracy. So, when thinking about the .300 win mag versus the .30-06, how do the two stack up in this category?
To answer this, we simply went and found the manufacturer’s data on each round. All were tested with a 24″ barrel rifle and compared the velocities (ft/s) from the muzzle out to 500 yards.
For our rounds, we see a slight difference in muzzle velocity with the .300 Win Mag. There is overlap between the rounds of the different cartridges, and this trend continues through the entire 500-yard range, but we do see an average higher velocity for the 300 WM over the .30-06. Even with some overlap between the two cartridges, the average difference between the two widens slightly as the rounds move downrange because the gap between the hotter 300 Win Mag and the slower .30-06 rounds and they tend to bleed velocity at a slightly higher rate than the .300 WM rounds. As we mentioned earlier, this increase in velocity helps make the .300 win mag an accurate long range hunting cartridge. The same can be said for the .30-06 rounds that also give you tremendous velocities from the muzzle to 500+ yards.
While there does seem to be a difference between cartridge, both have rounds with muzzle velocities right around 3,000ft/s and all of them over 2,500ft.s. Both cartridges are hot rounds and maintain speeds well over supersonic at 500 yards and several hundred yards beyond. With these velocities, there should be no issue with terminal ballistics if you have hunting in mind.
Ballistic Coefficient (BC)
When you research different cartridges or even different rounds of the same cartridge type, the ballistic coefficient (BC) will likely come up. How the ballistic coefficient is calculated can become a little complicated as there are several different factors that can provide various interpretations of the data. Thus, for clarity and simplification’s sake we discuss BC using the firearm manufacturer’s own terminology that describes their ammo’s flight characteristics.
Simply put, you get BC when you use a formula that measures different cartridge and bullet variables. The output of this equation is the ballistic coefficient and it can be used to indicate how well a bullet will resist wind drag and drift while in flight. Most of the hunting cartridges compared here will have a high BC of around 0.4+ which is normal for both of these cartridges. In theory, the higher the BC, the more accurate a round should be because it can hold its flight path well after being fired. Of course, accuracy is determined mostly by who is holding the rifle. A higher BC should require less adjustments to shot placement which cuts down on the chances of missing your mark. And for shots that come under 300 yards, the BC is not going to be as big a factor unless we are talking about large differences (greater than .2) in the BC between two rounds.
If we look at our ten rounds, we see that the BC can vary from round to round for each cartridge. Generally, you will see a slightly higher BC for .300 Win Mag rounds, but that doesn’t mean there are not .30-06 rounds with 0.5+ BCs. We do see an instance here where a .30-06 round does indeed have a .5 BC. On the other hand, we have four .300 WIN Mag rounds that break the .5 mark and two of which break the .6 mark. Both cartridges, for the most part, show high BC’s which we would expect for rounds that are capable of long distance shots.
And it is important to remember that though we see there is a slight advantage to BCs for the 300 Win Mag, bullet style plays a large role, and there could be some selection bias here given the number of samples we have. We still feel confident with these results because a lot of the same bullet styles are present in our sample. Higher weights also help the BC as heavier bullets take a little more resistance to get pulled off their path and are one of the main factors for the 300 Win Mag has a slight advantage. The 200gr .30-06 round that we looked at has a BC that is more similar to the 300 Win Mag rounds.
All that being said, and as we stated earlier, if you want a round with a high BC there are options available to you in both a 300 Win Mag and a .30-06 Springfield cartridge.
The bullet’s trajectory is another important ballistic characteristic to consider. If you know your rounds flight path, it makes adjusting for shots in the field much more accurate. Of course, good optics can help as well. In this section, we will look at both the short (sighted at 100 yards) and long (sighted at 200 yards) range of the ten rounds. Before we do so, we wanted to present two rounds that are very similar to each other including the maker, bullet design, bullet weight, and ballistic coefficient. By keeping as many of these variables similar to each other, we hope to have a clear picture of both rounds flight path. The reason is that by comparing two very similar rounds, you can get a better idea of the flatness of the trajectory than when we will when comparing rounds that vary a lot more.
Both are Federal Nosler Partition 180gr rounds, and from the graph, you can see that there is not much difference, even negligible up to 400 yards. At the 400 yard mark, the difference is only a few inches. Past that mark, the difference becomes more distinct with the .300 Win Mag showing a less pronounced drop. We will get to this more in our applications, but for the most part, these two cartridges show a flat trajectory that makes long range shots much more achievable.
Short Range Trajectory
While both the .300 Win Mag and .30-06 cartridges are well known for their ability to take large game at long distances, any and every hunter knows that short-range shots often present themselves in the field. For that reason, we wanted to look at the trajectories of both cartridges using our ten chosen rounds.
We are measuring bullet drop in inches out to a range of 300 yards.
From this comparison, we see an advantage to the .300 Win Mag in trajectory at short range though we do see some .30-06 rounds that show similar or flatter trajectory than a couple of the 300 Win Mag rounds. At the 200-yard mark, the difference between the two cartridge rounds is negligible. For the most part, both cartridges show a manageable bullet drop throughout the 300 yards, but there is distinctively less for the .300 Win Mag at 300 yards. Even at the 300-yard mark, the 220gr .300 Win Mag shows similar bullet drop as a much lighter .30-06 round. While at the most it is only 10” of difference between the flattest 300 Win Mag and the steepest dropping .30-06 round, 10” when trying to place at killing shot at that range is significant for a lot of shooters. And besides those two rounds, the remaining eight rounds all fall within five inches of each other, and the average difference between the two cartridges is only 3 inches.
Now, for most hunters and especially competition or just range shooters, choosing between these two cartridges, the long-range trajectory is going to be the section they are most interested in seeing. We are comparing the same rounds with the same units out to a range of 500 yards with the rifle sighted in at 200 yards.
Both of these rounds have excellent long-range properties, especially if we were to compare them to several other hunting rounds. For these ten rounds, and it would hold true if we were to expand to others, the .300 win mag seems to have less drop in trajectory going out to 400+ yards, and this difference would be magnified if we took the graph out even further. Still, even at the 400 and 500-yard mark, there are .30-06 rounds that show trajectories similar to the 300 WM rounds. We do see the rounds from each cartridge begin to group at the 400-yard mark, but the averages between the two only have a difference of 2 inches.
There really is not a significant difference in bullet drop between the two cartridges until you get to the 500-yard range. At this point, the 300 WM rounds show an average bullet drop of 38 inches while the .30-06 rounds have an average bullet drop of 48 inches. And like we mentioned earlier, 10 inches at five hundred yards is pretty significant for most casual hunters and shooters even with today’s rifle optics. There can be a lot larger differences between these two cartridges depending on the round you are working with. If you look at the flattest .300 Win Mag round and the steepest dropping .30-06 round, there are nearly 17 inches of difference between the two in favor of the .300 win mag round. So while there is a trend for the .300 Win Mag having a flatter trajectory at long ranges, you can find a flat shooting round for either of these cartridges.
While having a flat trajectory out to these distances are important, for hunting purposes they don’t matter unless they carry the stopping power along with them and this is the topic of discussion in our next section.
When hunters think about how a certain bullet is going to react when hitting the target, they think stopping power or often referred to as knockdown power. While the hunters are going to be very interested in this section, those looking for a long-range competition cartridge are not going to be as invested in this section. Still, it’s never a bad thing to now as much as you can about a cartridge you plan on chambering. There are several components to take into account. One of those components is the wound type and size. A lot of this has to do with the design of the bullet, and because that branches out from simple cartridge comparison, we will leave that for another article.
The components we want to focus on are the kinetic energy that is carried by the bullet and transferred to the game on impact and the penetration the bullet will have on target. This transfer of huge amounts of energy is extremely damaging to the internal organs and is a major factor in making a clean kill. Penetration is important for reaching vital organs, especially for larger game with thick skin, tissue, and bones. Both of these factors are easily represented by numbers and makes comparisons between the 300 Win Mag vs 30-06 measurable rather than qualitative.
We will measure the force (ft.lb) carried by each of our eight rounds from the muzzle to 500 yards. As a general rule, you want at a minimum of 1,000 ft.lb force when trying to take down larger game, and probably more than that when talking about bear, elk, and moose which these cartridges are often used for. We do think that the amount of energy a bullet is carrying is important to know and understand when using these rounds for hunting purposes, but we also know that those guidelines are arbitrary. Shot placement is equally if not more important than the amount of energy that the bullet is carrying.
So, let’s take a look at the bullet kinetic energy of these rounds and see if there are any noticeable trends.
Right out of the muzzle we see a noticeable difference between the two cartridges. The .300 Win Mag rounds all show a higher bullet energy than all of the .30-06, and it is a considerable difference between the averages. The 300 WM rounds have an average of 3,640ft.lb of energy while the .30-06 rounds have an average energy of 2,839ft.lb.
As rounds from the muzzle to 500 yards, the distinction between the two cartridges is still noticeable just from looking at the graph. Though all of the .300WM rounds still carry more energy at the 500-yard mark, the gap between the averages of the two cartridges closes to 650ft.lbs of energy rather than 800ft.lbs of difference when leaving the muzzle. This decrease in the difference between the two is mainly from several .30-06 rounds that tended to bleed off energy at a lower rate than some of the .300WM rounds.
Both the .30-06 and the 300 WM carry a tremendous amount of energy downrange with them. All ten of the rounds that we examined maintained greater than 1,000ft.lbs of energy at the 500-yard mark. All of the 300 WM rounds were at 1,700ft.lb or greater at the 500-yard mark. This information will be important in our discussion for applications of the 300 WM vs 30-06.
For a bullet to be effective in bringing down game efficiently, it has to be able to penetrate the animal and damage vital organs such as the heart and lungs. For smaller game, you don’t need as much penetration while a lot is needed for large game such as mule deer, elk, moose, and bear where there is much thicker hide and bone to get through.
To compare the penetration potential in this article, we will compare the sectional densities of the four rounds for each cartridge. The sectional density is derived from a calculation that is the bullet’s weight divided by its diameter and then squared. In theory, the higher the sectional density, the greater the penetration of the bullet as more force is applied to a smaller area of the target. Of course, other factors such as velocity and bullet design also come into play when talking about penetration, but we’ll keep the focus on SD.
One of the more popular methods for measuring penetration is through the use of ballistic gels. While that method provides useful information, we are not sure how well that represents the hide of a bull moose. It is also a better method for looking at individual rounds. We would like to step back and look at how the two cartridges compare, and the sectional density correlates to penetration and lets us compare the two cartridges as a whole.
So, let’s take a look at the sectional densities of our ten selected rounds.
Both of these cartridges are .308” in diameter so differences in their sectional densities will come from the bullet weight. We see that on average, the .300 Win Mag rounds have slightly higher SDs and this is because of some of the heavier bullets that can be used.
When we factor in the velocity, we see that both of these cartridges provide a tremendous potential for deep penetration with the heavier .300 Win Mag gaining even more of an advantage due to their increased velocity.
Accuracy is tough to nail down unless you have all the rounds out at the range at the same time with an experienced marksman. Still, we can use the data we have and generate a pretty good idea of how well each cartridge would perform regarding accuracy.
Both are pretty heavy handed when it comes to recoil. Without practice or with the adrenaline pumping, the recoil could easily throw off a shot with both cartridges. The .300 win mag does have a slightly higher amount of recoil energy, but we don’t know if it is significant enough to make it less accurate. It depends on who is handling the firearm.
Up to 300 yards, both of these cartridges have the capacity for extremely tight groupings. We have seen their flat trajectory in previous graphs and it all points towards both being highly accurate rounds at this distance.
When we get out to further distances, 300+ yards, both cartridges still perform well, but we do see a less pronounced drop in trajectory for the .300 win mag rounds. Both cartridges also have relatively high BCs, again with the .300 Win Mag rounds being slightly higher. Just going in general terms of the 300 Win Mag vs 30-06 discussion, the 300 Win Mag has the edge over the 30-06 for long-term accuracy just going from the data we have looked at so far.
As we have stated before, we don’t think the data alone means that you are going to be more accurate just by choosing one cartridge over the other. The experience and instincts of the shooter are the biggest factor for accuracy in our minds. With that, the ballistic performance of the 300 Win Mag should make adjustments for a shot at long range a bit simpler. And even then, there were .30-06 rounds that showed ballistic properties similar to the 300 Win Mag so round selection, along with cartridge type, is also an important factor.
Price and Availability
Listed below are the ten rounds that we used in our comparison as well as associated price. We should note that some of these particular rounds are on the high end of the price range and this particular selection of rounds might not be the best representation of prices for these cartridges. These prices are also subject to change based on availability of the cartridges and the demand for them.
|.300 Win Mag Federal Vital-Shok Trophy Bonded 180gr||$46.99 (20 Rounds)|
|300 Win Mag Federal MatchKing BTHP Gold Medal 190gr||$52.99 (20 Rounds)|
|.300 Win Mag Nosler Trophy Grade AccuBond Long Range 190gr||$49.99 (20 Rounds)|
|.300 Win Mag Barnes Precision Match OTM 220gr||$40.00 (20 Rounds)|
|.300 Win Mag Hornady Superformance SST 180grs||$32.69 (20 Rounds)|
|.30-06 Federal Vital-ShockNosler Partition 165gr||$39.99 (20 Rounds)|
|.30-06 Hornady 150gr GMX Superformance||$54.07 (20 Rounds)|
|.30-06 Federal American Eagle Jacketed Hallow Point 150gr||$25.79 (20 Rounds)|
|.30-06 Nosler Custom Hand Loaded AccuBond 200gr||$65.90 (20 Rounds)|
|.30-06 Federal Gold Medal Sierra Matchking 168gr||$37.99 (20 Rounds)|
The .30-06 is the cheaper ammunition and is widely available, and if you like to reload, the components for .30-06 rounds is also cheaper. While the ten rounds we picked have a few of the high end .30-06 rounds, there are a lot of cheaper options out there.
For availability, again, both of these rounds can be found in most, if not all major retail stores that sell ammunition. Both have plenty of round choices out there as well and are pretty easy to find. The .30-06 is likely to be more available in your area as it is more widely used than the .300 Win Mag, but as far as ammo available, you should be able to find both.
Both of these cartridges are perfectly suited for large game ranging from deer to moose and everything in between. They both have a wide selection of rounds that let you match your ammo well with the game you are hunting. The kinetic energy associated with the rounds we examined in this article are more than enough to take just about any game animal in North America without an issue, especially when taken within 500 yards. The velocity and sectional densities paired with bullets that will hold together will also provide enough penetration to reach vital organs of these large animals from long range.
The .300 Win Mag does have a more effective range in our opinion, but for ethical shots taken in the field, the .30-06 is more than effective and has been proven thousands of time. If you have to take shots at 500 yards plus, the .300 win mag is the better choice. While both cartridges have rounds that carry enough energy to take an animal cleanly at these ranges, the increased velocity and flatter trajectory gives it a more effective range and makes shot adjustments much less pronounced than with the .30-06.
Again, just from our rounds used for comparisons, there are .30-06 rounds out there that have very similar ballistic profiles as the .300 Win Mag, but overall, the Win Mag is much better suited for extreme distance shots.
Both of these cartridges can be used in settings besides long, open field shots. The heavier bullet options make them great brush guns when hunting in much more dense areas where small branches or light brush usually stand between you and your shot. With the high velocity and stopping power, shots in heavy traffic at 100 yards or less should still stay on path and carry enough energy to take down larger game.
Both cartridges might take some practice and getting comfortable with the amount of recoil, but it’s nothing that should dissuade you from using either cartridge. Neither of these is great introductions to large game hunting for our future hunters to cut their teeth.
As for use on the range, we have already covered the ballistic characteristics. While both can hit targets at 500 yards and beyond, the trajectory and the higher ballistic characteristics might make the 300 Win Mag a more suitable cartridge. The difference in recoil between the two cartridges is not enough in our eyes to lean towards one over the other to reduce fatigue at the end of the day. The price tag for a box of either of these cartridges is different enough to bring up. For a casual range shooter just competing with their friends, the cheaper .30-06 rounds might be something you consider. For legit competitions, you might not mind the extra money for the improved ballistics of 300 WM factory loads or for the materials to hand load.
Of the ten rounds we have examined in this article, here are our top picks for hunting and range shooting. These are just our personal favorites. It doesn’t diminish the other rounds in anyway in our eyes and it shouldn’t in yours either. Any of these rounds or any others can be effective when used with the right rifle, experienced hands, and confidence.
Top Hunting Rounds
For hunting, one of our top picks is the .300 Win Mag Nosler Trophy Grade AccuBond Long Range 190gr round. This is a great round if you hunt large or dangerous game. The deep penetration and damaging expansion upon impact allows the Accubond bullet to create a lot of damage even when dealing with tough hide and thick bones. Additionally, the Accubond bullet has 2,016ft.lbs of energy at ranges of 500 yards, which takes away any concern over range and stopping power when shooting larger game. It also has an amazingly flat trajectory up to 300 yards and manageable trajectory at 400 yards with a ballistic coefficient of 0.64. Considering all of these factors together helps prove the Accubond bullet’s desirability for large game hunters.
If you decide on the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, we recommend the Federal Vital-Shock Nosler Partition 165gr round. Some advantages include the 165-grain bullet, which causes excellent expansion and maximum energy transfer upon impact. The Nosler Partition round retains great velocity (over 2,000ft.s) to 400 yards. This velocity creates great terminal ballistics, and with the amount of energy output (over 2,000ft.lb of energy at 200 yards and 1,200ft.lb at 500 yards) this round is capable of taking just about any large game in North America barring the largest and most dangerous game. Finally, the trajectory of the Nosler Partition round is the second-best of our selected rounds while also providing more beneficial hunting performance specs. It shows only 23 inches of bullet drop at 400 yards and 46 inches at 500 yards. With practice, you can be quite accurate at 400 and 500 yards, and trajectory and available energy are nothing for this round at 300 yards.
Top Range Rounds
If you want a good .300 Win Mag round for the range, you should check out the Hornady Superformance SST 180gr. While the ballistic coefficient of this round is not as high as some of the other rounds analyzed, it is by far one of the cheapest .300 Win Mag rounds we have found. It also provides an extremely high velocity and flat trajectory with less than 100 inches of bullet drop at 700 yards. For a factory load at this price, these specs are quite impressive.
The 168gr Federal Gold Medal Sierra Matchking is a wonderful.30-06 round to haul out to the range. An entire box of these rounds is fairly affordable, especially considering their performance. Some of its best specs are the .463 ballistic coefficient and trajectory of under 50 inches of bullet drop at 500 yards. Finally, the recoil is fairly manageable. These may not seem like the best specs in the world, but they are quite good for a factory load especially when you do not need to take quick shots. Will you be bringing this round to your next shooting competition? Probably not. Still, for a practice round or just one for enjoyment, it’s a great option.
Conclusion – .300 WM vs .30-06 Springfield
When looking at the 300 Win Mag vs 30-06 data, we think it is safe to conclude that both of these cartridges can be used on large game effectively. Both are available and have a range of options to match the specific type of hunting you have in mind. Both have factory ammunition that provides excellent velocity, trajectory, and stopping power to take a wide variety of game.
While there are differences between the two cartridges, as we covered, the more important aspect of picking an effective hunting or shooting cartridge is not what the chambering of your firearm is, but the correct bullet weight and design for the situation especially, when trying to pick between the .300 Win Mag and .30-06 Springfield.