Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Is the 30-06 Too Much of an All Round Cartridge?

The 30-06 is still America's favorite big game gun. It's versatility is unmatched since it can take anything from varmints to moose/elk/bear. And it does so with manageable recoil.

But the versatility of the 30-06 now works against it. The concept of an "all-round gun" no longer fits how most of us hunt today. We live in the age of specialization and this is true for hunters as well. No matter what we hunt, there are better choices than the '06.

For eastern white tail and black bear, the 30-06 is more gun than required. The 260 Remington or 7mm-08 will get the job done just as well and can do so in a lighter package with less recoil. For long range shooting, there are calibers that shoot flatter whether the game is deer-sized (25-06 or 270) or elk-sized (338 Mag).

A compromise rifle makes sense when rifles were expensive but hunting was cheap. Today, most of us no longer live where the game lives with jobs that let us hunt intensively at low cost. If we hunt a variety of big game we will travel to find most of it. At the same time our prosperity allows us to buy more guns than our grandfathers could afford.

In terms of the total cost of an elk hunt or even one for pronghorn, the rifle is a small fraction of the total. Yet, a compromise choice here can spell failure. Why drop $5,000 or more in permits, travel, vacation time and lodging and then have to pass up shots because the rifle is not suited to the hunt and the game?

A compromise rifle also makes sense when the same hunt encompasses multiple game animals. But outside of Africa that type of hunting is largely a thing of the past. We hunt one species at a time in its specific season and with carefully procured permits. Most of us will never knock-off a cow elk for the freezer while out looking for a mule deer.

I have owned a 30-06 for over twenty-five years. It was the first rifle i bought with my own money. And it is still my favorite rifle. But that is nostalgia and tradition speaking, not logic.