Best 30-06 Hunting Rifles

What is a 30-06 Cartridge?

A 30-06 (thirty-ought-six) is a cartridge that is primarily used in hunting large game in North America, such as deer, elk, moose, bear, and mountain lion. It got its name from it’s 0.30″ diameter and the 06 from the year (1906) it became standard issue in the US military. This cartridge has been used in every major war since WWI until the end of the Vietnam conflict. Once it was replaced by the  .308 cartridge, it became popular as a hunting cartridge, still used by thousands of hunters today.

How Far Can a 30-06 Shoot?

A 30-06 can shoot up to 400-500 yards with ease in good weather conditions and keep a sub 4 MOA. If you’re a good enough shot with a lot of experience, you could hit targets up to 700-800 yards, but I would never try this shot without supreme confidence in my ability. My brother, who served 2 tours as a machine gunner in Afghanistan with the United States Marine Corps, shot an elk at 1000 yards in the Rocky Mountains outside of Pueblo, Colorado. He’s been hunting since he was 7 years old and became an even better shot during his time in the Marine Corps. If you feel you have the confidence of a decorated Marine and life-long hunter, a 30-06 is more than capable of incredible distances.

What are the Best 30-06 hunting Rifles?

A 30-06 hunting rifle has been used since the Roaring ’20s and has been used exclusively for hunting since after the Vietnam conflict. Today, we’re going to discuss the best hunting rifles chambered in 30-06 that are still popular today and why they are still so popular. We have chosen rifles from Remington, Browning, and Weatherby, and have rated them on a scale of 1-5.

Most Affordable: Weatherby Vanguard Select 30-06 Hunting Rifle

The most affordable 30-06 hunting rifle is made by Weatherby, an American company created in California, but now residing in my 2nd favorite state of Wyoming (Montana is my favorite place to be). The Weatherby Vanguard Select is chambered in 30-06 and is designed to be a starting point for novice hunters who want to get their feet wet in hunting big game. Weighing less than 8 lbs and a 24″ barrel provides the novice hunter with the ability to carry this lightweight rifle across great distances in the Rocky Mountains. With a nice Leupold scope, you could have a rifle that shoots sub 1.0 MOA at 100 yards for less than $1,100, after taxes. The price and capabilities of the Weatherby Vanguard make it the best option for the price. 4.2/5

Specs:

Weatherby Vanguard Select
Weight 7 3/4 lbs
Barrel Length 24″
Overall Length 44 1/2″
Caliber 30-06 Springfield
Length of Pull 13 5/8″
Magazine Capacity 5+1
MSRP $549.99

Pros:

  • Best in Price!
  • Lightweight
  • Large magazine capacity
  • 24″ barrel is the perfect size
  • Vanguard recoil pad provides a great buffer for felt recoil (perfect for beginners)
  • I love the safety feature

Cons:

  • Very little customization
  • The stock feels cheap, compared to Remington and Springfield
  • Experienced hunters will want a better-made rifle
  • The two-stage trigger has more creep than I would like

Features:

  • Vanguard Recoil Pad
  • Hooks for sling attachment
  • Cold-Hammer-Forged barrel
  • Adjustable Match-grade trigger
  • 3-position safety

Why You Should Buy The Weatherby Vanguard

I would buy the Weatherby if I were a novice hunter looking for a great rifle to learn how to hunt large game, such as deer or elk. The Weatherby Vanguard is great for new shooters who may be frightened by the sound of a gunshot and the feel of the recoil. The Vanguard recoil pad reduces the felt recoil from this rifle and has about a 3-4 lb trigger pull weight. You could buy a new Weatherby Vanguard for less than $600 and I’ve seen used for less $400 on places like Gun Broker and Armslist.

Where Can I Buy the Weatherby Vanguard Select?

You could buy the Weatherby on their website, or you could buy from our favorite place to purchase guns, Palmetto State Armory.  Gun Broker is another option to buy from if you’re looking for used guns, but remember you’ll be giving up warranty options when you buy used. Personally, a brand new rifle for less than $600 is worth the money and buying from a place like Palmetto State or buying directly from the company is your best option.

 

 

 

REMINGTON 700 SPS .30-06 SPRINGFIELD 22″ BOLT ACTION RIFLE

The Remington 700 SPS (Special Purpose Synthetic) rifle is one of the most popular rifles in the world for hunting large game. Remington 700 is the most popular hunting rifle in the United States, by the number of rifles sold and the SPS model is one of the better models of 700. If you’re not sure about the different models of the 700, read our blog on the Remington 700 to get all the info you’ll need to make the best decision. 4.5/5

Specs:

Remington 700 SPS
Weight 7.3  lbs
Barrel Length 22″
Overall Length 42.5″
Caliber 30-06 Springfield
Length of Pull 13.3″
Magazine Capacity 4
MSRP $600

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • A shorter length of pull prevents anticipation
  • Durable
  • Mossy Oak Camo
  • Accurate up to 600 yards with ease
  • Great trigger pull weight (3 lbs)

 

Cons:

  • Not a great stock trigger

Features:

  • Supercell recoil pad
  • X-Mark Pro externally adjustable trigger
  • Drilled and tapped receiver

Why You Should Buy the Remington 700 SPS

You won’t find a better looking or more camouflaged rifle than the Remington 700 SPS sold at Palmetto State Armory. I would buy this rifle as my primary hunting rifle, regardless of my experience because I know Remington 700 is one of the most reliable hunting rifles in the world. This is a great rifle for hunting whitetail deer on the east coast in my home state of Virginia and perfect for the large Mule Deer you’ll see in the Rockies.

 

 

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BROWNING AB3 COMPOSITE STALKER

The Browning AB3 Composite Stalker is another great option for novice hunters due to its incredibly lightweight and cheap price. The barrel is matte blued finished to prevent corrosion, triple-checked for straightness and air-gauged to ensure a consistent diameter throughout the barrel. The matte blued finish helps to minimize reflection and prevent corrosion of the barrel. This rifle is fitted with a synthetic stock and has a rugged textured grip that is specifically designed to withstand all weather conditions. 4/5

 

 

 

Specs:

Browning AB3 Composite Stalker
Weight 6.9 lbs
Barrel Length 22″
Overall Length 42″
Caliber 30-06 Springfield
Length of Pull 13.5″
Magazine Capacity 4
MSRP $499 (Used)

Pros:

  • The lightest rifle we rated
  • Durable
  • Excellent Barrel
  • Affordable
  • Light trigger pull weight (3-4 lbs)

Cons:

  • The synthetic stock feels cheap
  • More felt recoil than the other rifles we rated

Features:

  • Matte Blued finish barrel
  • Matte Blued finish receiver
  • X-Bolt accuracy barrel

Why You Should Buy the Browning AB3 Composite Stalker

I would buy this rifle if I were new to hunting and didn’t have a lot of money to put down on a new rifle with a new scope. The Browning name is synonymous with excellence and even though this is their cheaper model, it will perform just as well as any other rifle. Due to it’s lighter weight, the felt recoil is going to be a little stronger, which could make shooters anticipate shots more.

 

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Accessories

As we’ve mentioned many times before, accessories on your hunting rifle should be kept to a minimum to ensure the capabilities of the rifle are met. A scope, a sling, and an aftermarket stock or trigger are more than enough for any hunting rifle you’ll shoot. The biggest purchase you’ll need to make is the scope because, without one, you’re going to be limited to very close distances. Just like with most things in life, you get what you pay for in rifle scopes, so we will focus on the best ones used by expert and professional hunters.

Leupold VX-6HD 3-18x50mm Riflescope

I don’t expect everyone to be able to afford this scope, but if you’re looking for one of the best scopes for any rifle, this is going to be the one to buy. The Leupold VX-6HD is 100% waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof to ensure your scope works in wet and cold conditions. One of the most overlooked aspects of hunting is the ease in which you can calculate your distance with the right scope. This Leupold has the patented Zero Lock CDS-ZL2 (Custom Dial System), which saves time and pressure by eliminating the need ballistic calculations. The Guard-Ion Hydrophobic Lens Coating protects the lens from scratching, prevents fingerprints and is water-resistant.  This ensures you’ll always have a clear window to shoot from, regardless of what life brings your way.

 

 

 

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Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24×50 Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

I chose the Viper HS-T riflescope because it’s about $600 less than the Leupold and it’s still an incredible tool for long-distance shooting in the mountains. Besides being 100% fog-proof and waterproof, the Viper has the XR coating on the lens to gather as much light as possible under low-light conditions. As all hunters know, the last hour of daylight is our best chance to get a kill. This scope provides that extra edge to make sure you get the best possible sight picture when the light is going out and your time is running down. A 4x zoom gives the shooter the ability to adjust to the target while removing the parallax often associated with an adjustable zoom feature. Finally, the CRS Zero Stop allows the shooter to adjust back to their zero after making elevation changes for a specific shot attempt.

 

 

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Conclusion

A 30-06 rifle is the most traditional modern rifle caliber we have in our country and has been relied upon since before both World Wars. Even after the .308 cartridge replaced the 30-06 in 1970, the 30-06 has still been a very reliable round to use for hunting large game. I have noticed that my 30-06 brings down my deer just as easy as a .308 and doesn’t destroy as much meat in the shoulder. If you’re searching for a great and dependable 30-06 rifle to hunt with, you can’t go wrong with any of these I rated above. Good luck and happy hunting!

5 Comments

  1. I can’t argue with anything you’ve said about the .30-06 or your choice of rifles. My go to in .30-06 is a long ago sporterized M1903A1 from Springfield. She carries a 1922 dated bbl and shoots quarter sized groups at 100 yds (5 rounds.) The newest thing on her is the sling, which I purchased new in the late ’80s.

  2. For a just getting started hunter I’d look for a used rifle most big game rifles have less than a hundred rounds through them ( based on 8 to 10 rounds a season ) one older rifle to consider would be a Ruger 77 light weight accurate and good trigger

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