I started building deer rifles from WW II surplus 03-A3 Springfield 30-06 rifles back in the 1950’s. The project was a complete rebuild of the original military rifles and they became so well known locality that they paid for about half of my living expenses during my first two years of college.
The bottom line is the 30-06 rifle and that world famous cartridges have been rock solid experiences in terms of being a part of my shooting experiences for just about 60 years to date.
The primary rifle I always turn to when discussing the 30-06 is my own personal Winchester Pre 1964 Model 70 Feather Weight. The rifle has been with me for all of my life, taken untold numbers of big game animals over most of the central timber country of Minnesota and western United States with a serious concentration on whitetail, mule, and blacktail deer as searched out targets.
The short form here is that if I had only one choice in a rifle it would still be the 30-06 Springfield even with all the other offerings on the table today. If studied at all, the gun worlds information is clear that the 30-06 cartridge has been the benchmark for everything else that has come down the pike in the past 90 years or so, and that includes the exact scale build by Mr. John Browning regarding the worldwide known 50 BMG heavy machine gun round.
In the event, you’re thinking about buying the 30-06 in several variations in rifles, here are some tips that can aid you in deciding the direction you would like to turn before putting down your hard earned money on the sporting goods counter.
Best 30-06 Bolt Action
1. Browning X-Bolt
In terms of the discussion regarding the 30-06 Springfield when being considered in the bolt action rifle my task is to come up with an answer as to which rifles are best suited to the challenge of sending the heavy 30 caliber bullet accurate downrange. Also into this area comes the answer to the question regarding what kind of quality exists in terms of better grade 30-06 chambered centerfire rifles.
In the area of a bolt action as offered in a quality rifle, one has not to go any further then looking at the Browning Arms line of turn bolt rifles. Currently, the name of the Browning Arms turn bolt rifle in an X Bolt Hunter configuration stands front and center as a solid example of a rifle chambered in 30-06 Springfield, that can handle the cartridge with ease and also return some outstanding bullet performance downrange.
Browning has moved through a series of rifles when coming up with a new rifle design. I shoot the Browning A-Bolt series of rifles and to be sure if you find one new or used and you are looking at a high grade rifle they will take on the 30-06 with ease
Browning makes use of both wood and composite stocks and regardless of the stock configuration the quality level in terms of fit and function is top of the line. Browning builds their own proprietary rifled barrels so as to maintain a high level of accuracy.
In years past the 30-06 was accurate, but not bench rest level accurate to be sure Browning Arms and companies like this have been game changers in this area of advance barrel and CNC receiver development and production. The Browning 30-06 because it is dealing with a long action cartridge needs to have smooth function and receiver/bolt slide balance. This new rifle in the A or X Bolt meets the test right here and now.
Browning uses a new trigger system named “Feather Trigger” system that is a three level adjustable trigger. This is Browning’s smoothest trigger yet in terms of advanced design and development.
I can say for a fact due to Browning turning about a dozen of us writers loose with their rifle on a mountain side with five gallon water jugs as target full of colored water it became clearly evident as to the quality of their product.
Shooting the latest turn bolts chambered in a range of cartridge types we dialed in the targets, sat back on bench rest stations with sandbag rests and cleaned everything off that mountain side.
The range 400 to 500 yards. The whole event didn’t take but a few minutes time. Accuracy and performance were the obvious terms that came up often during the test shoot. If you selecting a rifle for looks, dependability, and a strong background history that is all American built by all means consider the Browning rifle.
As for the 30-06 part of the story, be careful if you a gun buy kind of man or woman because this just could be the first and last rifle you will ever need. Shooting the old Pre 64 Model 70 30-06 I understood this part of the story well, and about the only reason I shoot everything else today is because that is what I do test, review, and file my work with editors.
Even today some 65 or more years into my hunting of big game with a high power rifle I turn to the old Winchester and that 150 grain Hornady Spar Point bullet in a hand load of my own design. “Never Miss”: is her name, and that never miss part of the deal is a fact.
Why did I select the Browning over the Winchester? For the most part, I didn’t, being both are sold out of Utah within Brownings front door, and both are rock solid good, but the bad news is that we only have space for one rifle here.
Best 30-06 Autoloaders
2. Johnson 1941 Semi Automatic 30-06. ( Military )
You could say the modern development of the 30-06 cartridge as paired to the automatic rifle started with the design of the 1941 Johnson rifle.
With the success of the 30-06 during the first world war, and right up the second, the Johnson stood in line as being accepted by the US Army as the official battle rifle. But in the end, got moved over by the M1 Grand rifle design, it was the M1 Grand and Browning light machine guns with the BAR automatic rifle tacked on that cemented the 30-06 cartridge as a warfighter in stone.
3. Browning BAR 30-06 – Best Semi Auto Rifle
If I were to select the best semi autoloading rifle in 30-06 as a choice, it would be the M1 Grand. But there are issues here and as I carried the Grand in the Minnesota woods for two years then finally selling it as my arms seemed to begin growing longer by the sheer weight of the rifle.
I have to say that today some 50 years later my choice is again a Browning design, and again like the origination Browning full auto assault rifle named BAR( Browning Automatic rifle ) but in a modern sporting class rifle that is the modern king of the 30-06 autoloaders.
The Browning BAR today can be obtained in several different grades, designs, and of course chambered in the ever loving 30-06 Springfield cartridge. As an example of the rifle, I have selected the BAR in the Browning BAR Safari grade with the boss muzzle system. This rifle is the classic designed Browning in a BAR built in the year 2020. The rifle has a completely removable trigger assembly for cleaning and service, new larger trigger guard and an upgraded gas system.
These BAR’s are very well balanced, reliable in terms of function, and handle the 30-06 cartridge just like the rifle was built around them.
While you can buy other rifles that chamber the 30-06 as semi autoloading weapons, all of them save for only a very few are assault rifle designs and more military directed than sport hunting products. (authors opinion)
Benelli, a brand that I shoot in terms of their shotguns and specialized rifles a great deal, and like a whole lot, has just come out with their Model R1 in 30-06 Springfield. However I have not shot the rifle, not had the chance to take it afield as an operational game harvesting system. As such the verdict is out on that system to date.
4. Browning BLR
In still another category but this time in the time homered lever action rifle, Browning again wins the game hands down.
Browning offers the very modern designed Browning BLR (lever-action rifle) in 30-06 Springfield as well. This is currently the hardest hitting lever rifle in modern production today.
This Browning makes use of the very modern and super strong rotating bolt head even as applied to the very old designed receiver, side ejection so as to allow any type of sight arrangement be mounted to the receiver. A 4+1 magazine capacity, button rifled barrel ( very accurate, ) and made with real American walnut stocks. These rifles can be obtained in weather fighter stainless steel and weather fighter composite materials as well.
Designed as tough sheep country mountain rifles or high planes goat hunting systems, the Browning BLR is in a modern day class by itself. The basic rifle was interceded by Browning in 1996 and is still going strong among big game hunters today. While there are other lever rifles about and many very good designs this is the only model that takes on the power level of the long action 30-06 Springfield.
5. Remington 7600 Pump Action 30-06
If I moved long on the subject and passed up the Remington Model 7600 pump action deer rifle in 30-06 Springfield I would have made a major error.
The Remington is not considered a bench rest tack driver among paper and steel target shooters, but it is much loved by deer and other types of big game hunters around the world.
I have a friend that shoots nothing but this rifle in the 30-06 cartridge, and he can stay right with all of ultra modern fancy rifles when taking to the field in search of mule deer or whitetail each fall.
These Remington’s are built with American walnut stocks that are real cut checkered, gloss blued metal finish, and a detachable four-round magazine.
Side ejection and the receivers are tapped and drilled for scope mount rails or bases. The rifles have been upgraded many times over as they have been standard inventory with Remington for most of my adult life.
Now, I am here to tell you that goes back a few years to be sure. The price point n the Remington is $918.00 MSRP, but these can be bought for much less on the open market. I have indicate price here because all the previous rifles will run from a bit over $1000.00, through $1,500.00 depending on the exact model. Again, this is MSRP pricing and deals can be found if you’re willing to do some searching for the rifle that is just right for you.
Getting The Best Rifle For The Money Today
6. Winchester XPR
If the search for the perfect 30-06 is your goal but the budget is getting a bit tight, there are no worries here.
My suggestion comes down to the Winchester companies, new XPR model which is using a composite stock.
This rifle uses a very massive bolt system, retains great balance, and is accurate to within m.o.a. groups at 100 yards.
The recoil system is modern with material used to dampen the recoil of heavy cartridges.
All the receiver parts are CNC machined with the latest techniques used in rifle manufacturing.
If you were to buy this rifle performance 20 years ago it would have cost you thousands.
I shoot this rifle in a very standard designed 6.5 Creedmoor and have made some of my most successful and longer range big game kills with it. After three years of use, I regard the Winchester XPR as fails safe and very effective.
7. Mossberg Scout Rifle
In the event, the Winchester is not for you a turn to the Ruger American series, or the Mossberg Patriot line of turn bolt rifles is also another option.
Both of these brands are solid and will return a very good product as well.
Again, CNC built, accurate, and well worth the money, you can get into these bolt action rifles for about $400.00 and you are not buying junk in the process at all.
I currently shoot the Mossberg bolt action in a scout rifle, and Ruger is a mainstay for me in terms of test rifles used across the board here at Ballistics Research & Development.
Your options are several in 30-06 chambered rifles being sold at a budget price that will return good results downrange.
When the question is asked what rifle is the very best for the money spent I have to go with the Ruger M-77 based Hawkeye every time. Mauser action, very well built, and accurate, this is a king of the pricing hill in terms of bang for the buck. MSRP at about $1000.00 but rest assured these rifles can be picked up for far less across big box sporting goods stores all over the country.
A point in fact is never let the MSRP pricing scare you away. It is just a suggestion by the manufacture to the retail agency. No hard facts here at all.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world including Russia and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American west and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Big Horn mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design, and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems.TM. Web site www.metrogun.com.