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7mm Remington Magnum and .30-06 Springfield are two of the titans of the hunting world, and they’re similar enough that there ends up being a lot of comparing and debating about them.
Today, we’re going to put all that to rest, take a deep dive into these two excellent cartridges, and try to figure out which one is better (or at least help you figure out which one is better for your needs).
We’ll start with some stats and ballistics numbers, and then we’ll closely examine some real-world applications.
7mm vs. 30-06 Comparison Table
Let’s start with a side-by-side comparison of the basic stats for these two different rounds:
|7mm Rem Mag (150gr)||.30-06 Springfield (150gr)|
|Parent Cartridge||.375 H&H Magnum||.30-03 Springfield|
|Bullet Diameter||.284 in (7.2 mm)||.308 in (7.8 mm)|
|Base Diameter||.512 in (13.0 mm)||.471 in (12.0 mm)|
|Case Length||2.5 in (64 mm)||2.494 in (63.3 mm)|
|Overall Length||3.29 in (84 mm)||3.34 in (85 mm)|
|Case Capacity||82 gr H2O (5.31 cm3)||68 gr H2O (4.4 cm3)|
|Max Pressure||61,000 psi (420 MPa)||60,000 psi (410 MPa)|
|Trajectory (in.)||100 Yards||2.5||1.4|
*Note that ballistic performance varies based on many factors, including the particular cartridge, bullet weight, barrel length, and environmental factors, so these numbers should be considered approximate. Recoil also varies depending on rifle weight. These numbers assume an 8.5-pound rifle for 7mm and an 8-pound rifle for .30-06.
7mm Caliber – A Quick Review
7mm Remington Magnum is a versatile cartridge known for its excellent ballistic performance over extended ranges, up to around 600 yards. 7mm Rem Mag is used for hunting medium and large game in open spaces, for target shooting, and even by snipers.
This round was first introduced in 1962, continuing a trend of new magnum rounds from Winchester that first started in the period after World War II.
However, this time Remington wanted in, leading to the development of the 7mm Remington Magnum, AKA 7mm Rem Mag. Remington also produced a new bolt action rifle with the new round, the Remington 700.
7mm Rem Mag is a necked-down version of .375 H&H, with a 25-degree shoulder allowing greater case capacity and a 0.284-inch bullet diameter. Most frequently, 7mm Rem Mag uses bullets between 139 and 175 grains, with 150-grain being the most popular.
You may notice that these bullet weights are very similar to the classic hunting round, .30-06. So did big game hunters at the time, who noticed that it fired those bullets with a flatter trajectory and only a little more recoil. The round also stands up very well to wind drift.
Naturally, this led to 7mm Rem Mag becoming very popular among big game hunters, especially in areas where they were shooting over extended ranges, like the Western US and Canada, in the mountains around the world, and across the plains of Africa.
That same excellent performance over long ranges led the United States Secret Service to adopt the 7mm Remington Magnum as a sniper round for use in urban environments.
Similarly, the 7mm Remington Magnum is also well-loved by target shooters for its manageable recoil paired with excellent long-range ballistic performance.
Finally, that moderate recoil paired with its stellar performance makes the 7mm Remington Magnum very well-suited for new and experienced shooters.
30-06 Caliber – A Quick Review
.30-06 Springfield is a classic hunting round that’s still popular, more than a century after it was first developed. This round is popular because it balances a heavy bullet with high energy for a stable trajectory. It makes it effective for medium to large game like moose, elk, and black bears.
The story of .30-06 begins right around the start of the Twentieth Century.
Since the early 1890s, the US military had used .30-40 Krag, a rimmed cartridge with a round-nosed 220-grain bullet. Then, around 1901, the military began experimenting with other options, trying to develop a rimless cartridge that would function in a Mauser action and box magazine. This led to the creation of .30-03 in 1903.
Unfortunately, .30-03 couldn’t match the lighter, higher velocity spitzer rounds that European countries were using. In response, the US modified .30-03 to be lighter and use a spitzer bullet, creating a higher velocity round, .30-06 Springfield.
“.30” designates the bullet caliber, while “06” (pronounced “aught-six”) refers to the year the round was adopted.
The .30-06 was an immediate success. It was adopted by the US military and quickly gained popularity among civilian hunters. The round offered impressive ballistics and range compared to other contemporary rounds without much recoil.
The .30-06 remained in military service through the late 1970s and is still a popular big game and long-range hunting round, with modern versions achieving even more impressive performance than the original round. It’s also well-loved by target shooters.
Most frequently, .30-06 comes in bullet weights of 150 or 180 gr, but rounds are available with weights as low as 110 grains and as high as 220 grains. Generally, target shooters prefer the lower weights, while hunters like heavier bullets.
There are lighter recoiling rifle rounds these days, but it’s still hard to match the accuracy of .30-06, especially modern rounds.
Check out this article on the Best Combat Knives by Marine Approved.
7mm vs. 30-06 – Major Similarities and Differences
7mm Rem Mag and .30-06 Springfield are ultimately very similar, with comparable ballistic performance in many ways. However, they’re not identical. The amount of felt recoil and the bullet’s trajectory is perhaps the most noticeable differences between these two rounds.
Let’s review how 7mm and .30-06 stack up on a few different factors.
Recoil is one of the more noticeable differences between 7m and .30-06. 7mm Rem Mag, on average, has between 15 and 20 ft-lbs of recoil with an 8.5-pound rifle. In contrast, .30-06 produces between 17.6 and 20.3 ft-lbs of recoil with an 8-pound rifle.
Since a heavier rifle reduces the amount of felt recoil, those .30-06 numbers would be even lower with a comparably weighted rifle, making it clear that .30-06 has less recoil than 7mm.
Still, it’s very close and neither of these rifles is super hard-hitting, so recoil alone isn’t necessarily a reason to choose .30-06 over 7mm Rem Mag.
Penetration varies between rounds, depending on bullet weight and design. However, regardless of which round you use, the difference in penetration between 7mm Rem Mag and .30-06 is virtually non-existent.
You can expect pretty much identical penetration between these rounds.
A bullet’s ballistic coefficient (BC) is a measurement that represents how well the bullet overcomes air resistance and wind drift, basically showing how aerodynamic the bullet is. The higher the ballistic coefficient, the more aerodynamic the round.
As you might imagine, as the weight of a bullet increases, typically, so does BC. However, other factors are at play, like the shape of the bullet.
Generally, 7mm has an edge over .30-06 when it comes to ballistic coefficient, thanks to 7mm’s higher muzzle velocity. Still, .30-06 is no slouch and only falls just behind 7mm.
Ballistic coefficient describes a bullet’s trajectory, but trajectory describes the bullet’s actual flight path. Obviously, a flatter trajectory is better since it requires less correction from the shooter. And, of course, no bullet has a perfectly flat trajectory thanks to gravity. In fact, most rounds actually increase in height initially before lowering as their flight continues.
So how does the trajectory of these two rounds compare?
Well, at first, it’s basically indistinguishable. However, the difference begins to appear once you get past about 400 yards. At this point, .30-06 begins to drop slightly faster than 7mm, almost -19 inches compared to about -16.5 inches.
By 1,000 yards, the difference is quite large, with a 7mm dropping, on average, about -287 inches, while a .30-06 round will have dropped about -398”.
And remember that those larger .30-06 rounds that are so popular among big game hunters will drop even faster due to the stronger pull of gravity on them.
So to recap: within about 400 yards, you could go either way, but for longer ranges, 7mm Rem Mag is the clear winner.
Availability & Cost
When it comes to hunting rifles and rounds, your options for .30-06 and 7mm are pretty similar. Both have plenty of bolt-action rifle options (in fact, often, the same rifles are available chambered in either round). There are also semi-auto rifles available for both, but you’ll have a bit of an easier time finding one for .30-06.
The cost is even similar for new production rifles. If you’re looking to save a bit of money by going with a military surplus rifle, though, you’ll have much better luck with .30-06, notably with rifles like the M1903 Springfield.
Even beyond cost and the number of available options, there are some differences you should expect to see between rifles chambered for 7mm and those chambered for .30-06.
For one, rifles for 7mm, to start, tend to weigh more. This is helpful for counteracting the extra recoil of the round but does mean extra weight to carry through the bush during your hunts.
Similarly, 7mm rifles tend to need a longer barrel to help shooters get the most out of the round’s flat trajectory, usually at least 24 inches. .30-06 rifles, on the other hand, tend to have more moderate, 22-inch long barrels. Those shorter barrels are, again, much more maneuverable in the brush.
As for the ammunition itself, .30-06 is available in a much broader variety of options. That’s the benefit of the long history and military service. 7mm is certainly no slouch when it comes to variety, it just doesn’t match the .30-06.
And to top it off, .30-06 tends to run a bit cheaper too. 7mm tends to run about $2.50 to $3 per round. Sure, that’s not too bad, but when good .30-06 rounds are less than $2 per and cheap plinking ammo can be bought for as little as $1.35 a piece, the difference adds up fast.
Now, one way to bring that cost down is by loading your ammo yourself instead of buying factory rounds.
One problem with that for 7mm Rem Mag, however, is that it doesn’t actually fire a 7mm bullet; it fires a 7.2mm one. 7.2mm bullets are available, but they aren’t as popular. That makes it harder to find the necessary bullets and means they’re pricey than other bullets.
.30-06, on the other hand, uses a .306” diameter bullet, which it shares with several other rounds, including the ever-popular .308 Winchester. This ensures that there are plenty of options available and that those options are very budget-friendly.
So you can certainly save money over factory 7mm by handloading, but if you want to cut your ammo costs by as much as possible, you still come out ahead by handloading .30-06.
Like magnum cartridges in general, the 7mm Remington Magnum has earned a reputation for significant recoil. Expect to feel that recoil even more if you shoot the round out of a lightweight hunting rifle. However, it’s certainly not an unmanageable amount of recoil.
7mm Remington Magnum and .30-06 are very similar in dimensions, but .30-06 is a touch larger in terms of both bullet diameter and overall length. Bullet weights also tend to be very similar, with the most popular bullet weight for both rounds being 150 grains.
The .30-06 is an incredibly effective long-range round. The maximum effective hunting range tops out at 500 yards, but I’d cap a whitetail shot at around 380 yards to ensure an ethical kill. You can get accurate shots at targets at significantly longer ranges, around 1000 or so yards.
At the end of the day, these are both great rounds with proven track records of excellence in the field. They’ve taken big game on nearly every continent, and in the case of .30-06, served honorably in combat and helped win a world war.
All in all, you can’t really go wrong with either; it’s all a question of whether you need slightly bigger bullets, slightly better long-range performance, or what have you.
You’ve got all the info now…the rest is up to you.