View Full Version : "Best" .30-06 Round For Southern Deer

March 16, 2008, 08:56 PM
Ok gang, I need your thoughts on what the best, or at least a very good load, for southern deer would be. Shot placement is obviously the most important, but all things being equal, which load would have the best chance of stopping the deer in its tracks?

Edit: Whoops, didn't realize I was in wrong forum. Mods, could you please move this thread to The Hunt? Thank you.

March 16, 2008, 09:28 PM
Any one of those will work. I voted for the Federal Nosler mostly for it's ballistic coefficient but I almost always use handloads. I use a 165 gr. Hornady BTBT. I've killed a lot of deer with that bullet and the furthest I've ever had one go was about 40 ft. with a high lung shot.

March 16, 2008, 09:55 PM
I voted for your 150gr option, although I generally go a pricier step up with ballistic tips for Rem. It's fine medicine for any deer; I usually go 165gr, but I rifle hunt in Wisconsin. Think they might have a bit more bulk on 'em up there as compared to down South.

March 16, 2008, 09:58 PM
I'm no expert by any stretch but the need for these premium bullets is way more than you need. In fact I think that you would get the same or better results with Remington 150 Grain Corelokts or Winchester Power Points in factory ammo and if you are handloading Hornady 150 or 165 grain PSP or Speer 150 or 165 grain Hot Cor will get it done very nicely. Deer ammo calls for fairly rapid expanding bullets, not the controlled expanding ones that you list unless you plan on shooting them in the "south" end. Don't get me wrong. Those premium bullets will get it done but the quicker expanding and less expensive bullets will result in quicker kills. The quickest kills on deer that I ever had were 100 grain .243 Hornady Pointed Soft Points. One of these deer was a quartering away shot, high in the lungs, and that buck hit the ground without so much as a quiver. Another was a straight on chest shot and that buck dropped, kicked twice and was gone. Neither of these bullets exited and made an awful mess inside the chest cavity. The quartering round was found just under the hide on the far side and the head on shot round was buried in the bucks diaphram. Just my two cents and you got it for free!:D

March 17, 2008, 05:46 AM
I voted 150 Remingtons, as they are quite adequate for any deer. But you should assess which round shoots best from your rifle. I generally shoot 165 grain Core-Lokts in my .30-06, and 150 grainers in my .308. Since these are "accurate enough" hunting rounds out of my rifles, I don't see the value in spending a lot more for more expensive and only marginally "better" ammo.

March 17, 2008, 08:42 AM
I didn't vote, since I don't hunt in the South, but had good luck with 150 grain Power Points, 150 grain Ballistic Tips, and 150 grain Sierra Game King spitzers to kill Maine deer weighing from 90 to 165 lbs. The 150 grain Ballistic Tips were my favorite due to their better trajectory at longer range.

The only time I shot a deer with 165 grain Sierras, it was a 85 lb doe that ran almost 150 yards with a perfectly placed lung shot at 20 yards. She was in flat-out speed going across a field at the shot. I wasn't impressed, but I believe they've changed the jacket design since then and they've been more reliable.

The bottom line is that, except for very large Northern Maine deer, I agree with others that the 150 grain regular Rem, Win, Fed, bullets will do the job better than many of the controlled-expansion bullets. They were designed for deer and do a great job! (Your job is to put them in the kill zone!)


Your Maine man.

March 17, 2008, 10:26 AM
Alright, thanks for the info. I'm learning as I go here. Would the 150 grain core lokt ultra bonded expand as quickly as necessary, or would a regular old core lokt do better? Maybe I'm a victim of good marketing, but it seems like the bonded bullets hold together better and thus transfer more energy.

March 17, 2008, 11:31 AM
Southern whitetails can get pretty big, depends on food sources. Like I said I mostly use a BTBT. With a heart/lung shot the exit hole is smaller than the entrance hole but it wreaks havoc inside. If I go through the shoulder it may not exit at all but the internal damage is more severe.

March 17, 2008, 11:36 AM
Your original question asked about "stopping a deer in it's tracks". When you talk about transfer of energy why do you want to expend that energy in space after the bullet passes through the deer? No matter what the design of a bullet there are trade offs. If you shoot a deer through the hams or a severe going away angle the controlled expansion bullet will do a better job with the ability to hold together through more mass. Generally, and this is not rocket science, a deer shot in the boiler room will be dropped more quickly with a bullet that destroys maximum tissue and shock within the body cavity. The standard Core Lokts and Power Points IMHO will do that better than the controlled expansion bullets. Remember, you asked about quick kills, not the ability of a bullet to hold together or expansion characteristics. I'm not being critical of you and I myself have been prone to marketing so if you are more comfortable with the high end bullets, go for it. I have killed enough deer in my day that the bullet fragmenting inside a deers chest cavity does maximum damage and that has resulted in many very quick kills. If you want a premium bullet look into the Winchester Ballistic Tips or Nosler Ballistic tips. (As a matter of fact I have a couple of boxes of the CT Ballistic Tips, 140 Grain, just waiting to be loaded for my 7mmWSM). Good luck with whatever you chose. The vast majority of bullets out there will do a good job.

March 17, 2008, 11:58 AM
Whichever one shoots the best out of your particular rifle, each one will shoot differently, find the one that shoots the best and it will work. Shot placement is the most important factor, all those bullets will be enough for deer.

Art Eatman
March 17, 2008, 12:25 PM
Bust a neck, hit the heart/lungs, there are very few '06 bullets that WON'T work just fine...


March 17, 2008, 02:40 PM
Gotcha, Sportdog. It makes sense that a bullet hitting a softer target, i.e. deer, would do better if it expended more of its energy soon after impact, rather than just deforming a little bit and continuing on through. I think I'm going to go to Dick's sporting goods and see what they've got, I know Wally World had the plain jane Remingtons and Winchesters if I decide I want those. I may just buy a few different boxes, and like others have said, see what shoots best...I should be hitting the range later this week.

March 17, 2008, 03:28 PM
Turkeyhead, Not a lot of glamor with those "standard bullets" but they will do a good job. Very good idea to test shoot the different brands and find the one that your rifle likes the best. As others have said, shot placement is more important than the caliber or bullet type. That being said, I really like to play with different calibers, bullets, powders, primers, seating depth, etc. etc. etc. that comes from loading my own. Also if we didn't have discussions about these issues web sites like this wouldn't be in existance!:)

Art Eatman
March 17, 2008, 06:51 PM
I don't guess I've ever used '06 factory ammo on deer. My father always used the Hornady 150-grain Spire Point. I've used the Remington 150-grain bronze point, and mostly Sierras: 150-grain flat base and SPBT, and 165-grain HPBT. A fair number of '06s on the lease; mostly factory ammo of various standard sorts.

(Hey, how much "premium" ammo was there, thirty and more years ago?)

Sure, a few bad hits and the ensuing fire drill of tracking, but I don't recall anybody commenting about a deer going more than 50 yards or so from where it was hit.

I guess I'd worry more about hitting my aiming point than about what bullet I was using...


March 17, 2008, 06:58 PM
I've had good results with Remington Corelokts. Doesn't hurt that they're relatively cheap (about 15 bucks at walmart) and can thus be practiced with a good bit ;).

March 17, 2008, 09:06 PM
I voted other. Hand loads.

March 17, 2008, 09:18 PM
the best bullet Ive seen for dropping deer in their track,was from an old Jack O'connor book.
Buy bullets for reloading for the 30-30,designed to be used at 30-30 velocity.I pick 150 gr RN, I usually use speer or hornady,load them up in an '06 case with enough powder to drive them to moderate for a 30-06 velocity,say 2700fps,and they open up fast on deer.Really puts them down,but very destructive if it lands in the wrong place.

March 18, 2008, 01:24 AM
I voted other because you didn't have an "any" choice

March 18, 2008, 12:32 PM
I voted for the 150gr Core-lokts, simply because thats what I use with great success. But in all honesty, any of those bullets will work. Just try them all out of your gun and pick whatever shoots the best. I was lucky and found that my Savage likes the cheap stuff :D

March 18, 2008, 03:39 PM
The best bullet is the one that gets the job done for each hunter. This could be debated til the cows come home. I prefer 180 GR. bullets because I hunt in heavy brush and the shots are 100 yards or less. Yes 150's or 165's might do just as well, but the deer I shot in 2007 with the 180's went down fast and thats what I like.

March 22, 2008, 04:15 PM
I picked up some standard 150 grain Core Lokts and went to the range. Not bad for the first box out of a new rifle, best groups were about 1.75"-2" @ 100 yards. On both of my best groups (3 shots each), the first two holes were touching each other, and the last round was apparently a flier, about an inch away. The range guy said that could be because the barrel was heating up. I think I'm going to pick up a box of the 180 grainers and see how they do. About how much change from my point of impact should I expect moving from 150 grain to 180 grain?

March 22, 2008, 06:22 PM
If your gonna try different factory rounds ........try the remington 165 gr

March 22, 2008, 07:47 PM
I voted for "other" based on the fact that I buy three boxes of whatever is on sale before hunting season(mostly Winchester). A couple of shots just to be shure the scope is still pointed in the same direction as last year. Honestly I do not use the 06 much and take the Marlin 336 30-30 or 1894 .44 magnum.