30-30 vs 30-06 – 2022 In-Depth Discussions

| Last Updated: March 17, 2022

Did you know that the .30-06 Springfied is the longest serving rifle cartridge for the U.S Military? Also, the .30-30 Winchester is the first smokeless powder rifle cartridge introduced on the American market. 

The comparison of these cartridges can be termed as a sportsman’s cartridge vs a soldier’s cartridge. Since both of these use .308 inch bullets and were invented and introduced in the same era, you will find a few similarities and some very interesting differences between these cartridges. So let’s start with an overview and dig deeper. 

TL;DR: 30-30 vs 30-06

A quick comparison of the capabilities of these cartridges.

30-30

30-30 ammo

30-06

30-06 ammo

Pros

30-30

Low recoil even with heavy bullets

Inexpensive and a significant number of ammo options

One of the most popular deer hunting round of all time

Powerful and good for short to medium range applications

Available in lightweight and compact rifles. Suitable for defensive roles

30-06

Wide range of rifle and ammo options are available

Extremely powerful, and shoots very flat at long range

Battle tested, longest serving cartridge for the U.S Military

Capable of hunting down the biggest game animals on the planet

A versatile cartridge with a big fan following and good service record

Cons

30-30

Only available in flat nose bullets

A lot of better alternatives are available

Mostly available in lever-action rifles only

Poor trajectory and power beyond 200 yards

30-06

Better alternatives are available today

Recoil can be a bit harsh for sensitive users

Best For

30-30

The .30-30 Winchester is a perfect deer hunting round and also good for some big game within short to medium range. It is mostly available in lever action rifles.

30-06

A battle-tested round perfect for hunting medium and big sized game, tactical uses and competitions.

30-30 Overview

The .30-30 Winchester is a rimmed, bottlenecked, centerfire rifle cartridge which was introduced in 1895 for the Winchester Model 1894 lever action rifle. It was the first smallbore rifle cartridge of the United States designed for smokeless powder. It has been known by many names since its introduction, like the ‘thirty-thirty’, .30 Winchester Center Fire (.30 WCF), .30-30 Smokeless, and several others. The second ‘thirty’ in its name represents the case capacity, which was a common naming convention for cartridges back in the day. 

This round quickly became popular on the market for hunting deer and big game animals. The effectiveness of this round in forested hunting situations, and the capability to leave lower amounts of spoiled meat on the target were the prime reasons for its success. 

Photo credit: clarionledger.com

At the time of its introduction, the .30-30 was deemed to be a flat-shooting and fast cartridge for the time. The 2000+ fps muzzle velocity made it an amazing round for use within 150 yards. Even today, though there are many cartridges that significantly surpass the .30-30 Win in terms of performance, it is still an exceptionally popular hunting round among ungulate hunters, especially against moose. 

The .30-30 is also a very popular cartridge for lever action guns like the Marlin 336W, Winchester 1894, and Mossberg 464. 

30-06 Overview

The .30-06, called the ‘thirty-ought-six’, is a rimless, centerfire, long action rifle cartridge developed in the year 1906, and also adopted in the same year by the U.S Military. It is one of the longest serving primary rifle and machine gun cartridges for the military with a service duration spanning over five decades. Only until it was replaced by the 7.62 NATO in the late 1950’s. 

The U.S Military replaced the .30-40 Krag smokeless powder cartridges in 1903 by .30-03 Winchester, but this replacement was short lived as the .30-03 was a round-tipped and heavy bullet proving inferior to the pointed spitzer type lightweight rounds being adopted by the European militaries at the time. So just after three years of adoption, the .30-03 Winchester was used as a parent case to develop a lighter and better round, which came to be known as the .30-06 Springfield. 

Photo credit: reddit.com

This round has been used with legendary rifles like the M1903, M1 Garand, BAR and machine guns like the M1917 and M1919. It was designed to be suitable for ranges out to 1,000 yards, and it definitely lived upto the expectations. 

The cartridge became very popular among the hunting community for its accuracy, long range and high power even against the biggest targets. 

30-30 vs 30-06: Cartridge Specs

Here is a quick comparison of the dimensions of these cartridges.

.30-3030-06
Bullet Diameter.308 in (7.8 mm).308 in (7.8 mm)
Neck Diameter.330 in (8.4 mm).340 in (8.6 mm)
Base Diameter.422 in (10.7 mm).471 in (12.0 mm)
Case Length2.039 in (51.8 mm)2.494 in (63.3 mm)
Overall Length2.550 in (64.8 mm)3.34 in (85 mm)
Case Capacity34 grains68 grains
Max Pressure (SAAMI)42,000 psi60,190 psi
Typical Casing MaterialBrassBrass
Typical Bullet Weight (gr)150-170 grains150 – 220 grains

The .30-30 and .30-06 are almost a decade apart in terms of innovation, trends and expectations. However, one thing that does not change between these two is the .308 inch diameter bullet.

The .30-03 is a sportsmans cartridge that uses a .38-55 Win parent case, and mostly a round nose bullet because it was mostly used in lever-action rifles, and a pointed bullet could accidently ignite the forward bullet under the influence of recoil. 

This round has an OAL of just 2.55 inches and is suitable for short actions. Additionally, the fact that it was mostly focused on lever-action rifles which use tubular mags justifies its short design. It carries anywhere between 30-36 grains of gunpowder, and is loaded at a pressure of just 42,000 psi. A short case, heavy bullet and lesser powder makes this pressure quite obvious. 

The .30-06 was exclusively designed for battle, and hence used more aerodynamic spitzer bullets. The OAL of 3.34 inches makes it a long action round, and not too much suitable for semi-auto rounds according to modern standards. 

It uses heavy bullets ranging from 150 grains to 220 grains in weight, and is loaded at 60,191 psi which can deliver speeds upto 3,000 fps. It is truly a powerhouse and might seem overpowered by today’s battle standards. However, people back then were tough as nails and too hard to kill, so I think this is all justified.. 

Photo credit: gunbuyer.com

30-30 vs 30-06: Ballistics

In order to understand the potential accuracy, and effectiveness against different targets, it is important to evaluate the ballistics of these rounds. This section will elaborate on the trajectory, velocity and kinetic energy characteristics of these rounds at different ranges. 

30-30 vs 30-06: Trajectory

Here is a compilation of the trajectory for these rounds over a distance of 1,000 yards.This will help us understand the accuracy and the best range. 

.30-30

24” barrel/BC 0.171/125 gr
JHP
24” barrel/BC 0.222/150 gr
Trophy Copper
24 ‘ barrel/BC 0.333/170 gr
Fusion Soft Point
200 yds: 6.7 “ Drop200 yds: 7.9 “ Drop200 yds: 7.7 “ Drop
300 yds: 26.4 “ Drop300 yds: 29.0 “ Drop300 yds: 27.2 “ Drop
400 yds: 67.1 “ Drop400 yds: 69.6 “ Drop400 yds: 62.3 “ Drop
500 yds: 137.3 “ Drop500 yds: 136.7 “ Drop500 yds: 117.2 “ Drop
1,000 yds: 1157.6 “ Drop1,000 yds: 1049.2 “ Drop1,000 yds: 849.1 “ Drop

.30-06

24” barrel/BC 0.410/ 150 gr
FMJ
24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 165 gr
Nosler Partition
24” barrel/BC 0.474/ 180 gr
Nosler Partition
200 yds: 4 “ Drop200 yds: 3.6 “ Drop200 yds: 4“ Drop
300 yds: 14.5 “ Drop300 yds: 13.3 “ Drop300 yds: 14.5 “ Drop
400 yds: 32.6 “ Drop400 yds: 30.2 “ Drop400 yds: 32.4 “ Drop
500 yds: 60.4 “ Drop500 yds: 55.8 “ Drop500 yds: 58.7 “ Drop
1,000 yds: 432.1 “ Drop1,000 yds: 401.2 “ Drop1,000 yds: 393.8 “ Drop

A quick look at the trajectory data clearly tells us that the .30-30 Win is absolutely not suitable for long range. I’m not saying that it was designed for long range, but then there are some rounds that serve a multipurpose role, like the .308 Winchester. 

The 125 grain load for the .30-30 Win has been included just to give you an idea, however, the 150 and 170 grain are the most commonly used loads. The data clearly indicates that the .30-30 Win is a ‘aim head, hit chest’ round after just 200 yards. In fact this will be an effectively accurate round only within 150 yards, and which is where most hunters use it. 

Compared to the .30-06 Springfield, the .30-30 Win is not a match in terms of trajectory. An average drop of a thousand inches at 1,000 yards is horrific for a rifle round. However, I will not blame it because it was inherently not built for long range and mostly for harvesting meat at normal hunting distances. 

The .30-06 is a very flat-shooting round by all standards. It can compete with many other venerable flat-shooting cartridges of today and only fall short by a short margin in terms of trajectory. Additionally, the .30-06 shows better drift (wind) resistance with its higher ballistic coefficients and pointed shape.  

Photo credit: gunsamerica.com

30-30 vs 30-06: Velocity & Kinetic Energy

Now let’s move on to the velocity and energy characteristics for these cartridges.

.30-30

24” barrel/BC 0.171/125 gr
JHP
24” barrel/BC 0.222/150 gr
Trophy Copper
24 ‘ barrel/BC 0.333/170 gr
Fusion Soft Point
100 yds: 2,083 ft/s, 1,204 ft.lbs100 yds: 1,943 ft/s, 1,258 ft.lbs100 yds: 1,950 ft/s, 1,435 ft.lbs
200 yds: 1,656 ft/s, 761 ft.lbs200 yds: 1,625 ft/s, 880 ft.lbs200 yds: 1,719 ft/s, 1,115 ft.lbs
300 yds: 1,309 ft/s, 476 ft.lbs300 yds: 1,354 ft/s, 611 ft.lbs300 yds: 1,510 ft/s, 860 ft.lbs
400 yds: 1,079 ft/s, 323 ft.lbs400 yds: 1,150 ft/s, 441 ft.lbs400 yds: 1,329 ft/s, 666 ft.lbs
500 yds: 952 ft/s, 252 ft.lbs500 yds: 1021 ft/s, 347 ft.lbs500 yds: 1,182 ft/s, 527 ft.lbs
1,000 yds: 638 ft/s, 113 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 726 ft/s, 176 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 851 ft/s, 273 ft.lbs

.30-06

24” barrel/BC 0.410/ 150 gr
FMJ
24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 165 gr
Nosler Partition
24” barrel/BC 0.474/ 180 gr
Nosler Partition
100 yds: 2,522 ft/s, 2,118 ft.lbs100 yds: 2,607 ft/s, 2,490 ft.lbs100 yds: 2,512 ft/s, 2,523 ft.lbs
200 yds: 2,314 ft/s, 1,783 ft.lbs200 yds: 2,395 ft/s, 2,101 ft.lbs200 yds: 2,332 ft/s, 2,174 ft.lbs
300 yds: 2,116 ft/s, 1,492 ft.lbs300 yds: 2,193 ft/s, 1,761 ft.lbs300 yds: 2,160 ft/s, 1,865 ft.lbs
400 yds: 1,928 ft/s, 1,238 ft.lbs400 yds: 2,000 ft/s, 1,465 ft.lbs400 yds: 1,995 ft/s, 1,591 ft.lbs
500 yds: 1,751 ft/s, 1,021 ft.lbs500 yds: 1,818 ft/s, 1,210 ft.lbs500 yds: 1,837 ft/s, 1,348 ft.lbs
1,000 yds: 1,105 ft/s, 407 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 1,136 ft/s, 472 ft.lbs1,000 yds: 1,211 ft/s, 586 ft.lbs

The .30-06 is a faster round compared to the .30-30, even with its heavier bullets. The obvious reason is the amount of powder held by each cartridge and the chamber pressure. The lightest .30-06 loads can clock at 2,900 fps at the muzzle, compared to the 2,700 fps for the .30-30 Winchester. 

The .30-06 retains its velocity better and loses it about 200 fps per 100 yards. Whereas, the .30-30 loses velocity fast out to 500 yards and starts stabilizing at 100 fps per 100 yards. Additionally, the .30-30 Win loses its supersonic speeds at 500-600 yards, whereas the .30-06 can retain it up to 1,200 yards. Making the latter more predictable, accurate and effective at long range. 

Moving on to the energy characteristics, the .30-06 seems to be winning again, and by a good margin. To set a perspective, remember that 1,000 fpe and 1,500 fpe are considered minimum energy values for humanely taking down a deer and an elk respectively. 

The data shows us that the .30-30 with its heaviest bullets is appropriate for a deer out to 200 yards, and only 100 yards for elk. As good shot placement is also critical, I will definitely look out for other better cartridges for dealing with elk. You can call me chary, but the idea of engaging an elk or moose within 100 yards doesn’t seem very appropriate to me. 

The .30-06 Springfield is a powerful round and can hold enough energy to hunt down an elk or moose even at 500 yards with the right load. It’s energy characteristics are a reason why it is popular as a hunting round across the globe. 

Photo credit: americanhunter.org

30-30 vs 30-06: Stopping Power

The next important thing we will be talking about these rounds is their stopping power. In layman terms, this refers to the ability of a bullet to quickly kill or incapacitate a live target. It is also a measure of the deadliness of a cartridge, and also useful in understanding the best uses. 

30-30 vs 30-06: Momentum & Sectional Density

The momentum and sectional density of a bullet are the two most definitive factors in assessing the stopping power of a bullet. 

.30-30

24” barrel/BC 0.171/125 gr
JHP
Sectional Density: 0.188
24” barrel/BC 0.222/150 gr
Trophy Copper
Sectional Density: 0.226
24 ‘ barrel/BC 0.333/170 gr
Fusion Soft Point
Sectional Density: 0.256
100 yds: 37 lb-ft/s100 yds: 41 lb-ft/s100 yds: 47 lb-ft/s
200 yds: 29 lb-ft/s200 yds: 34 lb-ft/s200 yds: 41 lb-ft/s
300 yds: 23 lb-ft/s300 yds: 29 lb-ft/s300 yds: 36 lb-ft/s
400 yds: 19 lb-ft/s400 yds: 24 lb-ft/s400 yds: 32 lb-ft/s
500 yds: 17 lb-ft/s500 yds: 21 lb-ft/s500 yds: 28 lb-ft/s
1,000 yds: 11 lb-ft/s1,000 yds: 15 lb-ft/s1,000 yds: 20 lb-ft/s

.30-06

24” barrel/BC 0.410/ 150 gr
FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.226
24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 165 gr
Nosler Partition
Sectional Density: 0.248
24” barrel/BC 0.474/ 180 gr
FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.271
100 yds: 54 lb-ft/s100 yds: 61 lb-ft/s100 yds: 64 lb-ft/s
200 yds: 49 lb-ft/s200 yds: 56 lb-ft/s200 yds: 59 lb-ft/s
300 yds: 45 lb-ft/s300 yds: 51 lb-ft/s300 yds: 55 lb-ft/s
400 yds: 41 lb-ft/s400 yds: 47 lb-ft/s400 yds: 51 lb-ft/s
500 yds: 37 lb-ft/s500 yds: 42 lb-ft/s500 yds: 47 lb-ft/s
1,000 yds: 23 lb-ft/s1,000 yds: 26 lb-ft/s1,000 yds: 31 lb-ft/s

The sectional density (SD) of a bullet is its mass to cross-sectional area. The higher the value of SD, the more penetration will be delivered by a bullet. That is because with a smaller diameter, the force (mass times acceleration) of the bullet will be pointed over a smaller area.

Bullets with low SD (within 0.220) are considered good for small game, whereas those with higher SD (more than 0.260) are suitable for big game animals. The heavier bullets of the .30-06 like the 200 or 220-grain options are better for such applications. 

Since both these cartridges use bullets of the exact same diameter, the value of SD depends upon the mass of a particular bullet. However, the .30-06 bullets will generally offer better penetration due to their spitzer shaped tip. 

The momentum of a bullet is the product of its mass and velocity and defines the level of energy transfer, or in simpler terms, the hitting power. The .30-06 will have a better momentum spread uniformly along with its range due to the higher velocity and heavier bullets. So at 500 yards, the .30-06 will punch like a .30-30 will punch at 100 yards. 

Photo credit: ammunitiontogo.com

30-30 vs 30-06: Use Cases & Effective Range

Take a look and understand the best applications and use cases for these cartridges:

Medium Game Hunting

The .30-30 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield are great rounds for medium sized game like deer. The heavier loads of the .30-06 Springfield may seem overkill for whitetails, but the .30-30 has long been an insanely popular and reliable deer hunting round. 

The .30-30 Winchester gives you optimal power to hunt down a deer within normal hunting ranges, whereas the .30-06 Springfield Carries extra power for further engagements, along with versatility. 

Big Game Hunting

the .30-30 Winchester has indeed been widely used in the past to hunt big game animals. However, the context has changed with time and today there are tens of better alternatives to it. Like I mentioned in the ballistics section, the problem with the .30-30 when engaging in a big game is its short effective range of within 100 yards. Alternatives like the .375 H&H and .45-70 Government offer better performance when dealing with big game at short range. 

The .30-06 Springfield on the other hand is a perfect big game medicine at short or long range. If you can handle the recoil and a slightly heavy rifle, this round can be used for anything from an elk to a rhino. The advantages are good power retention at long range, heavy bullets, good penetration, and accuracy. 

Long Range Competitions

The .30-30 Winchester isn’t by the slightest chance a good long range round. With its trajectory dropping significantly after 200 yards, it is best used inside that range. The .30-06 Springfield is a proven long range cartridge that has been used by military snipers and competition shooters. 

Photo credit: aimingexpert.com

Tactical Applications

Although the .30-06 Springfield has been used by the military for five decades, it is not a viable tactical cartridge for modern requirements. There are many better alternatives including the 6 mm and 7 mm range of cartridges and options like .300 Win Mag. 

The .30-30 is a potentially viable cartridge for short range defense applications, especially if someone is fond of the old wild-west style lever action rifles. 

30-30 vs 30-06: Costs, Availability, & Compatibility

A quick overview of the availability, pricing, and options for these rounds.

Popular and Economical, but Prone to Scarcity

Both these cartridges have been around for more than a century now, and are also immensely popular among the hunting community. The .30-06 Springfield ammo can be found within a range of $2 – $5.5 per round, whereas the .30-30 Winchester is slightly cheaper and retails at $1.8 to $3.5 per round. 

As soon as the hunting season begins, the prices for these rounds begin to increase by a bit. During the recent Covid-19 pandemic buying, these rounds went scarce very quickly because of their popularity. Almost every gun shop stocks these rounds, but make sure to carry some backup ammo for dire situations. 

Lever Action vs Bolt Action

The .30-30 Winchester is mostly offered in lever-action rifles because of its rimmed design. Perhaps it did not gain much popularity in bolt action rifles and there are very few of them available today. The .30-06 Springfield can be mostly found in bolt-action rifles, with older guns like the M1 Garand and BAR available in semi-auto. 

Bottom Line

The .30-30 Winchester was introduced as a hunting cartridge in 1895 and was the first commercial smokeless powder round on the market. It has been widely used as a deer-slayer and is mostly found in lever action rifles. Although, it only has a maximum effective range of 200 yards, which further shrinks down to a 100 yards for big game. 

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The .30-06 Springfield was intended for use in battle and served the U.S Military for almost five decades. It is a very powerful round that can deliver amazing long range accuracy (1,000 yards) and carries a lot of power. 

Both these cartridges are quite popular to this day and are widely used for hunting. Each of them has its own respective place, but sadly there are a lot of better alternatives available today. However, they are still great and well-known for cartridges that are more than 100 years old. 

People Also Ask

Here’s a quick FAQ section for some interesting facts and answers on the topic.

Are 30 Caliber And 30-30 The Same?

The term 30 caliber is used to denote a family of firearm cartridges that use bullets ranging in .30 inch diameter. The .30-30 Winchester uses a 30 caliber bullet so technically it is a 30 caliber cartridge and belongs to the class. 

Are 30-06 And 308 The Same?

The .30-06 Springfield and .308 Winchester cartridges use the same .308 inch diameter bullet, so they are both 30 caliber cartridges. However, except for their bullet diameters, they are completely different rounds with specific ballistics and other characteristics. 

Is A 308 Or 30.06 More Powerful?

The .30-06 Springfield is a slightly more powerful round within a range of 600 yards because of its higher case capacity and heavier bullet weights. However, the .308 Winchester was designed to deliver performance close to the .30-06 Springfield, and slightly excels in energy values beyond the 600 yards range.

How Fast Does A 30-06 Bullet Travel In Mph?

A 180 grain .30-06 Springfield bullet leaves the muzzle at 1,840 mps (2,700 fps) and moves at 1,712 mps (2,512 fps) at 100 yards and 825 mph (1,211 fps) at 1,000 yards. To give you an idea, a passenger airplane flies at about 550 mph, and an F-35 fighter jet flies at about 1,100 mph. 



Ankit Kumar is an engineer turned writer who specializes in topics related to firearms, gun safety and weapon tech. His passion towards enrolling in the Army drifted his interest towards light and heavy firearms. He’s a qualified competitive air rifle shooter and an avid nature lover. His other areas of expertise include survival, prepping and firearms/ammo storage. When he’s not writing, he’s either learning a new skill, trekking or enjoying a long drive.