View Full Version : Looking for a bullet suggestion for my 30-06 for deer sized game.

February 26, 2001, 11:19 AM
I have been using a Remington model 7400 .270 to hunt with for the last 8 years. I was using 150 gr Grand Slams for both mule deer and cow elk. I recently gave my dad back his .270, and bought a Sig SHR 970 in 30-06. I picked up a box of Federal High Energy shells that have 180gr Trophy Bonded bullets for a bull elk hunt in November. What I am asking for are suggestions for mule deer sized game. I hunt in Oregon. Mixed terrain. On the same hunt I can be shooting through brush/forested area, and later could be in a very open area taking up to 250 yard shots. I think the Federal HE shells are complete overkill for mule deer.


Hard Ball
February 26, 2001, 12:04 PM
165 grain bullets are an excellent compromise.

Keith Rogan
February 26, 2001, 12:32 PM
Those 180 grainers may not be "overkill", they may be underkill. The heavier bullets are designed to expand on big animals like elk and moose and they often fail miserably on deer, particularly on rib hits where they don't encounter enough resistance to open up at all. They can act like a FMJ and just poke a .30 caliber hole through the animal which can run for miles before dying. I've seen this a bunch of times here because people always want to use heavy bullets in fear of running into bears, but they can be miserable choices on deer.

I would go with something like a Nosler Partition in 150 or 165 grain which you can pick up in the Federal "premium" line of ammo. I'm suspicious of the "Ballistic Tip" style of bullets because I'm always afraid they'll do a lot of damage on a marginal hit but leave no exit wound - no exit wound, no blood trail.
At any rate, all the 150 and 165 grain bullets are designed for deer - I would use one of those.

February 26, 2001, 02:07 PM
I was very impressed with a 150 grain Hornady Interlok that I used this year on mule deer. The load I used was 59.4 grains of IMR4350, which according to the manual achieves 3000 fps. The shot wasn't challenging. I was still hunting some low brush, crested a hill and came upon five mulies eating calmly. Two were bucks. I picked out the bigger of the two and hit it right behind the front shoulder at about 50 yards. As the rifle started to recoil there was now four deer standing there. One simply disappeared. I got nice expansion and the bullet held together well dispite the relatively high velocity. This is certainly no kind of difinitive test, but I will be using them again next year.

February 26, 2001, 02:23 PM
For white tails I have gotten excellent results using 165 grain sierra game kings, spitzer point boat tail.

The same weight hollow points should shoot to same poi, however, since the year the guy I reload with experienced a .308 hole in and out of a deer, he no longer recommends them. (I used up the rest of his box on the target range when starting reloading for my .30-06.)

IMHO putting the bullet where you are supposed to is more important than which 150-165 grain bullet you use.

Try different loads to determine accuracy in YOUR rifle. My rifle happens to like the 165gr sierra and 54.0 grains of IMR4350. Which is nowhere near a max load, but IS very accurate in MY rifle. (I even got a chonograph reading at teh range, it was IIRC about 2470fps. not real fast for an 06 bullet, but faster than any deer.)



Hot Core
February 26, 2001, 08:07 PM
Hey sig970, I go along with the 150gr-165gr bullets in your 30-06. And, I've found over the years that you have a better chance for an "Exit" with the 165gr ones. Where I hunt, an "Exit" is a Major advantage.

Now the question is what bullet to recomend and here I would say it depends on what shots you are willing to take. For example, if you see nothing wrong with taking "Gut Shots" or shots at the "Wrong End" of your Deer, then you would be better served with one of the Premium or Super Premium controlled expansion style bullets.

If you only take shots at the forward 1/3 of the Deer, then a good old Standard Grade bullet will kill all the Deer you will see, and in some situations do it "better" than the Premiums.

Good hunting and clean 1-shot kills, Hot Core

Art Eatman
February 26, 2001, 08:08 PM
I've killed a fair number of deer with 150-grain: Rem. Bronze Points, Sierra and Hornady flat-base Spitzer, and Sierra SPBT. They all seemed equally effective on whitetail out to 450 yards.

The Sierra 150-grain SPBT didn't exit the two mule deer I used them on; one heart/lung cross-body shot, one neck shot.

I've used the Sierra 165-grain HPBT on whitetail; devastating.

I've not used the Sierra 180-grain SPBT on game, yet. I do know it makes a noticeably greater impact-damage on a 1" steel plate at 500 yards than either the 150- or 165-grain bullets.

26" barrel on my '06.

Since you're apparently not hand-loading, I'd go with the Federal HighEnergy in 165-grain for mulies. I get as good a group with them as with my handloads. (Wuz hoping to use one on a mulie this last season, but the doggoned deer didn't cooperate.)

Hope all this BS helps,


February 26, 2001, 09:44 PM
165 grain Nosler Ballistic tip an excellent all round deer bullet.

February 27, 2001, 03:04 PM
I used to like the bronze points but they "expand" like a varmint round and may exit with HUGE holes or just blow up on the surface.. you'll likely still kill the deer but you can waste a great deal of meat hitting it with one of these 'hyrda shock" - like rifle rounds. Super accurate for a flat base.. I hunted with these for years.

Controlled expansion is far better. from the factory take a look at federal premium 165 gr sbt bullets (that's sierra's 165 gr game king bullet) it has some of the best long range energy and knock down power.

Taking a good shot is far better than wonder bullets and "overkill" ballistics for "texas heart shots".

Even a tiny antelope should expand a 150 gr core lokt bullet at 2900 fps, the exit wound will be the size of a dime but the shock is amazing. the only problems with these rounds is the flat base ond shorter length, making them less stable in long range shots.

February 27, 2001, 04:56 PM
i would suggest the plain old remiington core-lokt 150's that are about 12 bucks a box. the seem to work fine for deer. i have shot deer with more expensive bullets and haven't noticed a big difference in deer sized animals as far as performance, both kinds seem to kill a deer well if you put in where it belongs. the 150's are also easy on the shooter.

February 28, 2001, 07:51 PM
SIG970, I have had real good luck with the Federal (P3006L) Premium 180 GR. Sierra Gameking BTSP shells on whitetail deer. I shoot them in my Bar MK II safari and they do an excellant job especially in thick cover (never lost any deer with them). Sure if you were shooting wide open areas all the time the lighter bullets would probably be ok. The way I look at it there is not a hill of beans difference in the 165 GR. and the 180 GR. other than the 165 GR. shooting a little flatter and geing 15 GRS. lighter and that the 180 GR. will bust through brush better.

Johnny Guest
March 3, 2001, 02:35 AM

I agree with headroom about the good ol', moderately priced, Remington 165 PSP Core- Lokt bullet. My hunting group has shot a bunch of whitetails with these, over a stoutish load of IMR 4350 powder. Really good accuracy and always good performance.

Also agree with Art Eatman about the Sierra Game King 165 BTHP. I used this bullet for years with 4064 and later 4350 powder. Several Texas whitetail deer and one largish black bear in Western Colorado.
NOTE: Do not confuse this bullet with the excellent Sierra 168 BTHP MATCH bullet. It is about the accuracy standard but is not a good game bullet.

I've also been messing with the Sierra Game King 165 SBT. It flies very much the same as the BTHP but I don't think I've shot any game with it. It is recommended for .308 and .30-06 applications, over the 180 gr. Game King, which is more solidly constructed and is said to really shine in the .300 mag cartridges--- no personal experience taking meat with that bullet.

Heck, my group has had good results with the Nosler Ballistic Tip bullets in .30-06 and in .257 Roberts. I've heard they are too fragile for BIG deer, but they've served us very well on small, medium and a couple pretty large whitetails.

I must respectfully disagree with BIGR about ANY .30 bullet being effective at "busting through brush." A heavy, slow round nose bullet MAY pop thru a leaf or weed or two with little or no deflection, but none of the pointy-nose bullets under discussion here can be expected to work at all well after touching a branch, twig or limb.

Whatever you choose, sig,
Good Hunting.


Art Eatman
March 3, 2001, 08:36 AM
Brush-busting? Omitting the blowup bullets from hot .22s, the only common factor is the distance between the brush and the target animal.

Round nose or spitzer, .45-70 or .270, or whatever: They all deflect. The angular change in direction depends on pure luck, not bullet weight or shape.

The above is the gist of a test study done by the NRA some 30 or 40 years back.


Bud Helms
March 3, 2001, 09:04 AM
I use ballistic tips whenever I can. Very high quality. But for Elk, I'd use a partition. And for Muley too, maybe. Nosler has divided their Ballistic Tip line of bullets into "Hunting" and "Varmint". FWIW, this is from their site.



... from 22 through .416 (35 cal. 225 grain shown here), Nosler® Partition® ...(edited)

1. Fully tapered jacket ruptures instantly at the thin jacket mouth, yet the gradual thickening along the bullet's axis controls expansion and curls the jacket uniformly outward, at high or low velocities.

2. Nosler's special lead alloy dual core construction provides superior mushrooming characteristics at virtually all impact velocities.

3. Nosler's integral partition supports the expanded mushroom and retains the rear lead alloy core.

4. Special crimp locks in the rear core section, adding strength to resist deformation under the pressure of heavy magnums.

5. Enclosed rear core retains more than half the original bullet weight for deep penetration.


Nosler 30 cal. 180 grain Ballistic Tip® Hunting

1. The Ballistic Tip® Hunting bullet's polycarbonate tip resists deformation ... (edited)

2. Fully tapered jacket and special lead alloy core allows controlled expansion and optimum weight retention at all practical velocity levels.

3. Heavy jacket base acts as a platform for large diameter mushroom.

4. Ballistically engineered Solid Base® boat tail configuration combines with the streamlined polycarbonate tip for extreme long range performance.


Nosler 6mm 70 grain Ballistic Tip® Varmint

1. Nestled in the jacket mouth is the streamlined polycarbonate tip, color-coded by caliber.

2. The Ballistic Tip® Varmint's ultra thin jacket mouth assures violent expansion at either end of the velocity scale.

3. The uniform, gradual thickening of the jacket wall at the bullet's mid-section is designed to keep the Ballistic Tip® Varmint together until impact at any velocity.

4. The heavy jacket base prevents bullet deformation during firing.

5. Nosler's unique Solid Base® boat tail design, combined with the polycarbonate tip, dramatically increases long range ballistic efficiency.


It looks like primarily a different jacket design.

You could probably tell more if the .30 cal vs 6 mm bullets were scaled better. I just did a cut'n'paste. They are on different web pages and Nosler probably didn't plan on a side-by-side comparison of the images.

March 3, 2001, 04:51 PM
Johnny Guest, I didn't mean to make it sound like the 180 GR. .30 CAL. bullet could bulldoze through brush. It is my opinion the 180 GR. bullet would have a better chance of not getting deflected off course as much as a 165 GR. bullet. Naturally a heavier bullet would stand a better chance in brush.