Michael Shive writes articles about ammunition and personal defense.
Before I start, I'd like to say that this review is dedicated to everyone who's read it.
Ping! is the loud, audible noise you hear from the renowned 8-round battle rifle that helped America win the Second World War. The M1 Garand. Which also happens to be the surname of the rifle's inventor, John C. Garand. The rifle is best known for 3 things: 1). It's WWII's most popular firearm. 2). It has 8 rounds in a clip and 3). it fires a rather large and high velocity ammunition. The .30-06 (thirty aught six; 7.62x63mm).
The ".30" refers to the caliber of the bullet, and the "06" refers to the year the cartridge was adopted: 1906. During the 1890's, a slightly heavier .30-03 (7.62x65mm) was used and most soldiers insisted on having a lighter bullet that was faster and had the same stopping power. By WWI, the .30-03 was still in service but was slowly phased out and the Springfield M1903 was hastily modified to accept the new ammunition. The new ammunition was to have a cartridge case 2 millimeters shorter than the powerful .30-03, but had a surprisingly faster bullet. This was achieved because the .30-03 was using 220 grain (14 grams) bullet weight whilst the .30-06 was using the much lighter and therefore faster 150 grain (10 grams) bullet weight. Didn't think a difference in 4 grams could phase out the .30-03, didn't you? Not to worry, dear readers, I didn't think so either. But, shiver me timber, it does. Bear in mind that, had the scumbags used .30-03 with 150 grain bullets, it'd still be in service today.
Attaining a velocity of 2,910 fps (890 mps), the 150 grain .30-06 was 400 fps faster than the 2,500 fps (760mps) used in the 220 grains of the .30-03. It was more accurate too, not only because it was lighter, but because it's sheer velocity kept it aloft longer. And another intresting little ding-dong from using the .30-06 was that soldiers noticed an increase in range.
And under the authority vested upon the Army Generals and liaisons and whoever else was involved and by the results they saw, the .30-06 was the new service bullet from 1906-1957, making it one of the longest running service bullets in U.S. history. Sure, it's still in service today, but in small numbers. In fact, most militaries rarely use it as it was replaced by smaller cartridged ammunition, the .308 Winchester. A shame, really.
.300 Winchester Magnum
Now, I shall introduce you to one of the most powerful .30 caliber bullets ever made. So powerful, in fact, that it is superior in every way to the .30-06. The very tight. The very sexy. And the very long .300 Win Mag (7.62x67mm). It was introduced by Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1963 as a member of the family of Winchester Magnum cartridges. It's parent case is based off the mighty .375 H&H (9.5x72mm) bullet and this was created by cleverly cutting the cartridge down 5mm and necking down the massive 9.5mm cartridge neck to accept the 7.62mm bullet. Ta-da! A legendary .30 caliber round was made!
Prior to it's development, however, was a whole smorgasbord of different competing ammunition. There was the .300 H&H Magnum, the .270 Weatherby Magnum, .264 Winchester Magnum, .338 Winchester Magnum and the .458 Winchester Magnum. In all this confusion, I don't know exactly what happened, dear readers, but the .300 Win Mag was spontaneously and miraculously made; Manna from Heaven, if you ask me.
This bullet is special in that, it has a degree of accuracy that can match that of the venerable .338 Lapua (8.6x70mm). Of course, it's noticeably shorter ranged and has lower velocity compared to the .338, but I'll get to the .338 Lapua in another review.
This bullet is used by hunters, civilian shooters, competitions, law enforcement and military units. It's accuracy is such that it was, and still is, used by one of the most accurate sniper rifles in the world, the Walther WA 2000. And although, the .300 Win Mag has been surpassed by more powerful ammunition, like the .300 Weatherby Magnum and the .300 Remington Ultra Magnum, the .300 Win Mag is still the most popular American Magnum ammo used in hunting Moose, Bear, Elk and Bighorn Sheep as it can deliver better long range performance with better bullet weight than most other .30 caliber cartridges.
.308 and the .30-06
Cartridge case similarity
You're probably wondering why the .300 Win Mag is more powerful than the .30-06? That's like taking a hammer for no reason at all and placing it back in place. It's like buying a ship ticket and expecting to get on a plane. Why, if I didn't know better, I'd take a car and drive it off the end of a pier here in Cebu and attempt to reach a distant island. Because that's really what this is. There's only 4 millimeters of length between the two cartridges and it's so close between the two, you could...... Well, what could you do? Slap a politician in the face and dip him in boiling oil, perhaps?
Yes, even I wonder about that sometimes. The real difference, I suspect, is the propellant powder used. The .300 was never intended for subsonic use and - dare I say it - I do not know of or have not heard of a subsonic .300 Win Mag. But do correct me if I'm wrong, dear readers. Life is an ever learning process and my grey matter can only take so much information.
Just a quickie
Ok, Ok, Ok, the .300 Win Mag is supersonic and because it's supersonic, it has better performance, kinetic energy or terminal velocity and more range. And since the lightest weight is 165 grains (11 grams), you're guaranteed a one-shot, one-or-two kill. Perhaps even 3 kills in one shot if the three targets you intent to hit are standing in-line. To elaborate the illustration of in-line, think of two or three people positioned one behind the other.
This is achieved because the bullet is traveling so fast through the air with enough momentum and force to keep it going. It's all relative to bullet weight and powder propellant.
Of course, you could attempt to craft your own .30-06 .300 hybrid. How? By buying .30-06 ammunition with 150 grains and buying .300 cartridges. That ought to actually be made, you know. I'd like to see a hybrid like that in action. What would happen if you put 150 grain bullets in a .300 Win Mag supersonic case? Surely, it'd be a most interesting project, not to mention wacky idea.
.30-06 and .300 Winchester Magnum, Compared
.300 Winchester Magnum
So which is better or best?
That's a rather interesting question. I'd say, if you want to drop someone with the nostalgia of WWII and the honor of being able to say: "I got that prick with a .30-06 in my handy dandy Garand", then go for the .30-06.
If, however, you're after big game like bear, dear, moose, elk or even large two-legged animals and want to keep your distance as a sniper, you're better off with the .300 Win Mag.
However, like in the last two ammunition reviews, I never chose any of the two bullets I review. That's because they're both senior citizens and need to retire.
If I really wanted to hunt big game or big humans, I'd toddle along a bigger more powerful bullet. I'd fancy a .338 Lapua Magnum, yes, that should do nicely, thank you.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.