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Old January 14, 2019, 11:05 AM   #1
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Probably Replacing the 30-06

I've been having problems with my 30-06 hunting rifle and have decided I will replace it or rebarrel it. It's been my hunting cartridge for 20 years (not that I hunted most of those years) so I'm a big 30-06 fan. I'm also a fan of shopping around to see if any other cartridge fits my needs better. I narrowed it down to 280 Rem, 270 Win and 270 WSM because all 3 seemed to offer less recoil and similar ballistics, if not better.

I am not asking for feedback on which caliber/bullet weight I should choose, only curious in feedback on my methodology in comparing the cartridges. Here is what I did:

Step 1: Go to Nosler and average together all the max velocities listed for the cartridge and bullet weight. Do this for all 4 cartridges.

Step 2: Using the average max velocity and JBMBallistics, calculate drop and energy at 400 yards which is the max I want to be able to shoot at an animal. The plan is to use Accubonds, but because Nosler doesn't list the BC for the 150 gr 7mm Accubond yet, I used the BC of their Ballistic Tips to keep the comparison apples-to-apples.

Step 3: Using JBMBallistics, calculate the recoil energy for each caliber assuming rifle weighs the same (8.5lbs) and the powder charge that most closely matched the calculated average velocity. (For example, if the average velocity was 2800, but Nosler had two recipes that resulted in 2775 and 2805 I chose the recipe that was at 2805 and reduced the load by .1 gr)

Step 4: Put all the data into an Excel spreadsheet and ranked each caliber from best to worst on three different categories (Velocity, Energy @ 400, and Drop @ 400). First place was worth 4 points and last place was worth 1.

Step 5: Add up all the scores. I also added up all the scores giving a 2x weight to the category that is most important, 1.5x weight to the second most and a 1x weight for the least important. First and second place were very close. Weighting them caused the 1st and 2nd place calibers to switch places.

Of course each barrel is its own set of rules, so figuring out the expected velocity is the key to this whole process. My assumption is that by using the average velocity published by a reputable company like Nosler gives me as even of a baseline as I can expect.

Thanks! Long post, I know.. and I'm sorry.

Last edited by ndking1126; January 14, 2019 at 02:29 PM.
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Old January 14, 2019, 11:16 AM   #2
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Man! You like math way, WAY more than me. The way I look at it, is kinda how I look at MPG in the truck I want... If it is the truck I want, mileage per gallon is immaterial! I'll drive it and when it gets low I'll go add some to it. Find the rifle you want, with the barrel length you like and shoot the bullet you like best for it and shoot according to the dynamics that it altogether produces. I hung with you until you started talking about making spreadsheets...:~)
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Old January 14, 2019, 11:20 AM   #3
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Yes, I do! Haha, and I respect your opinion. It's almost a curse, sometimes. I over-research basically any decision that requires more than about $100.

The first conclusion I came to was all 4 calibers were perfectly capable of doing what I wanted to do. The differences were splitting hairs and would have minimal affect on me, the shooter, at the range or in the field. Recoil category was the one that I gave the most importance to because all 4 were fast enough and had enough energy @ 400 yards.
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Old January 14, 2019, 11:48 AM   #4
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I respect anyone that goes to all that effort to find the right caliber. It seems like you're pretty well settled in on the 270 and I do not disagree but to get out to 400 yards and remain fairly flat you'll probably want to go with the WSM.

You might also look at the Weatherby 270 Magnum. I personally prefer the 300 Weatherby. The recoil is about the same for both. They shoot relatively flat and are very accurate rifles. The Vanguard line is priced in line with most other rifles and is guaranteed to shoot sub moa.

If you go with the WSM what I think you'll find is that it is more of a push compared to the sharp recoil of the 30-06. Many of your magnums are because they often use a slower burning powder.
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Old January 14, 2019, 12:12 PM   #5
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Interesting read.

I am not really sure how well of a comparison that is, but as an average across all of them it seems like a reasonable approach.

I too have been a fan of the 30-06, But I have had several 30-06 rifles that just seemed to be pretty abusive in the recoil department. "Stock design had a lot to do with it."

I bought my first .270 Win on recommendation from a friend and fell in love. Flatter Trajectory and less recoil for sure. Also seemed to kill deer like Lightning.

Then I wanted something flatter so about 6-7 years ago I bought a Winchester Model 70 in 270 WSM. I very much love that rifle. Recently sold it, and missed it immediately. I was regularly getting 150+ fps over my 270 win and still with recoil comparable to most 30-06 rifles. "not the ones I had that were rifles from hell"

I recently traded for a TC Venture in 270 WSM. It has a 22 inch barrel and handles nicely. Recoil, again comparative to a 30-06. In a slightly lighter package. I have not been able to chronograph it yet. Still in load development.

I would be interested to know which Cartridge scored highest in your calculation...
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Old January 14, 2019, 12:14 PM   #6
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I think you did good, except you took numerical data and evaluated it qualitatively, instead of quantitatively. You should set a weight multiplier on each category(you did) and then measure each item as a % over/under your 30’06 baseline. Then you will be making a decision based on what you know about 30-06. Make sense?

Then, I noticed you missed practicality factors like cost of rifle meeting your requirements, cost of brass, cost of bullets, availability of ammo in hunting destinations, availability of brass, bullet selection, magazine capacity, action length, etc

Also, expand your options to options like 6.5x55 or 300 Weatherby that you probably won’t choose for reference....they can help steer you.
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Old January 14, 2019, 12:45 PM   #7
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I haven't used the 30-06 a lot but using one last several years as my elk cartridge. Something about that round, you'll find faster cartridges and sexier cartridges but you won't find better. I'm a 6.5 and 7mm fan and of the cartridge's you mentioned I'd go with the 280 Rem. I will probably shoot a 140gr bullet faster than the 270 by some little unimportant bit and everyone doesn't have one. I doubt you'll find ammo for it everywhere though! Never been a 270 of any kind fan but truth is it will kill as well as anything. 400yds is not that far but my thought is people pick out range's to shoot for some off the wall reason. Most people shooting over 200 yds don't have a place to practice and probably couldn't hit the barn at the distance they think they need to be able to shoot at! So my idea is the 280 Rem. It will do all you need it to do as well as any cartridge on your list. Use the though you put into selecting a cartridge into selecting a bullet for whatever you choose!
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Old January 14, 2019, 12:54 PM   #8
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Nathan, exactly the type of feedback I was hoping for. As an example, 1st and 2nd were really close while 3rd was a distant 3rd. 2nd place should receive more points than if it were an even distance between 1st and 3rd place. Is the example below how you would work the math?

Recoil of 280=18ft lbs. 30-06 = 23.1 ft lbs. 18/23.1= 77.9%. Multiply raw score * my weight/preference multiplier * 1.221= final score?

In regards to the practicality measures, I reload and don't shoot a high volume of rounds so cost and availability aren't important to me. I've also never cared either way on the short vs long action discussion.. I have and shoot both and the difference isn't enough to bother me. Magazine capacity is probably worth factoring, but I've never had to shoot more than 3 shots without having a few seconds to put more bullets in. I don't think for this exact comparison I'll factor it. I will when looking at rifles though.

I am not a statistician and only somewhat of a mathematician. I'm glad there are people smarter than me on here Once I get confirmation on my math I'll upload the results for everyone. You'll probably be surprised.. I know I was!

Last edited by ndking1126; January 14, 2019 at 01:09 PM.
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Old January 14, 2019, 12:58 PM   #9
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I like your weighted averages approach, but didn’t see what your category bias is (drop #1?). Subscribed to thread for future consideration.

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Old January 14, 2019, 01:46 PM   #10
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I think I'm right on my math, so I'll go ahead and post it. If anyone disagrees, please let me know.

And the winner is.. the 280 Rem.

Here are the results by category:

And the rest of the data:

Last edited by ndking1126; January 14, 2019 at 02:54 PM.
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Old January 14, 2019, 01:48 PM   #11
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I love the approach. I'm a bit of a geek, too, and have my share of excel documents with ballistic parameters dumped in.

Nathan brings up good points. If you're including 400Y drop and velocity, you might as well include wind drift, since, when it's an issue, can be harder to correct for than drop, so ideally, you'd want it as low as possible.

Also, it may only be good as a first approximation at best, but I've multiplied the bullet's sectional density by velocity (at the target) to get a feel for the relative penetrating ability of the rounds. Bullet construction matters, but since you're using Accubonds, so it's interesting to look at, especially in relation to the price you pay in recoil and powder charge.

Originally Posted by ndking1126
Once I get confirmation on my math I'll upload the results for everyone. You'll probably be surprised.. I know I was!
lessee...30-06, 280 Rem, 270 Win and 270 WSM...I have a strong suspicion I know who won
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Old January 14, 2019, 01:50 PM   #12
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You're way over thinking this.

Every cartridge 26 caliber up to 375 caliber is intended for the same game animals. The 30-06, 270, and 280 are almost identical in performance and recoil. You can load any of them with appropriate bullets to kill any animal in North America including big bear. All of them will take elk size game at 500 yards and deer size game much farther if the shooter is good enough and the right bullets are used.

Trajectory is within just a few inches with all of them. The 270 or 280 might be 2" flatter than 30-06 at 500 yards, you can't see 2" at 500 yards. If I were to hand you 3 rifles, one in each cartridge, and asked you to shoot them without knowing which is which you couldn't tell me which recoiled more. Depending on the exact load any of the 3 could recoil the most, or the least.

The 270 WSM does the same thing 50 yards farther down range with more recoil than either of the other 3 and with 2 fewer rounds in the magazine.

If you want to really split hairs I think the 280 is probably the best option all around, but by a razor thin margin. At least on paper, no game animal will ever know the difference.

If you're limiting your self to 400 yard shots on game you need to be looking at 308, 7-08, 260 or 6.5 CM. They do the same thing at 400-450 that 30-06 270,and 280 do at 450-500 yards and the same thing the magnums do at 500-600 yards. But with noticeably less recoil, better accuracy, and less cost.

You only need to know a few things

#1, Use a bullet with enough mass and constructed stoutly enough to penetrate the game hunted.

#2 That bullet needs to impact at the speeds it was designed for. Most jacketed lead bullets work best at 1800-2800 fps. Too fast and they risk blowing up and not penetrating. Too slow and they don't expand. Most copper bullets need 2000 fps minimum impact speed with no upper limit.

Any bullet that meets that criteria is going to give good, and near identical results regardless of the caliber, bullet weight or muzzle velocity.
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Old January 14, 2019, 01:59 PM   #13
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Got beaten a lot as a kid by a nun, so math isn't fun. However, if you do the math, specifically looking at the ballistics, you'll find there's very little difference between any of those cartridges. Start by looking in your local gun shops for the available ammo by bullet weight and to a certain extent the chambering. Cabela's, for example, only carries Remington brand .280 Rem.
"...Recoil of..." One must compare like things. As in bullet weight, its velocity and the weight of the rifle.
"...Step 1:..." No$ler is just one brand. Max velocities will be different out of a rifle and the universal receiver used by them. And reloading manual velocities are averages anyway.
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Old January 14, 2019, 02:00 PM   #14
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You're way over thinking this.
jmr40, I completely agree. And this is why I mentioned in post #3 that my first conclusion is that any would work. I wouldn't try to change anyone's mind if they said they were so close in performance that you might as well just pick one out of a hat. I'd agree with them. This is the reason why I picked recoil as the most important category - it seems to be the only one that could make a difference. I find less recoil is easier to shoot consistently. For the other categories, I figured if I'm going to pick a new caliber I might as well pick the one that has the least drop and more energy, even if only by a little. I'd never buy a 280 or 270WSM if I intended to keep the 30-06. They are just too close in performance.

I enjoy crunching numbers and doing research. I also love being surprised by finding out something I long held to be true isn't actually right, so I did this research. My surprise was just how much recoil the 30-06 has over the magnum, at least according to these numbers. Certainly there is no replacement for getting out there and actually shooting, so that's what I'll do next.

MrBorland, I was a little surprised by wind drift. That and recoil velocity were close enough that I decided not to factor it in. You can see the numbers on the last picture.

Last edited by ndking1126; January 14, 2019 at 02:58 PM.
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Old January 14, 2019, 02:06 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by ndking1126
You're way over thinking this.
I enjoy crunching numbers and doing research. On the other, I love being surprised by finding out something I long held to be true actually isn't
heh...yup. We do it because it's fun and we might actually learn something instead of absorbing what gun boards on the interweb tell us is true.
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Old January 14, 2019, 02:37 PM   #16
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Don Fischer, I have reasonable access to a 600 yard range. It's far enough away that it isn't my first choice, but close enough I could easily do it on a Saturday or even half day of work. I've also got a good range finder for field use. I won't take a shot that I'm not comfortable with even if it's within 400 yards.

I chose 400 yards for a couple of reasons. Mostly time of flight. All cartridges were taking about .4 to .45 seconds to travel 400 yards. Any longer seems like I am running the risk of the animal moving and being wounded. I've shot farther than that and in reasonable wind usually do ok. I will keep practicing at longer distances for the fun of it, but I don't see myself shooting farther at an animal. For the record, I'm not trying to tell anyone what distance they should stop shooting at. That's just my personal level of comfort and encourage other hunters to stay within their comfort zone, regardless of distance.

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Old January 14, 2019, 03:29 PM   #17
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Interesting... but a little Academic.

Sure, the higher energy rounds did better - and produced more recoil.

1. The 270 WSM requires a longer Bbl.
2. The .30-06 will have higher recoil and lower velocity.
3. The .270 Win w/ a 150 gr. bullet (SD) - will do what a .280 does w/ a 160 gr. bullet and more recoil.
4. The 7mm has the highest BC's.

Your hunting style, intended game, and rifle preference will tell you more than academics.

To 400 yards, the 270 Win/150 gr. works for me. It is a 22" M700 sporter bolt rifle that is used for still hunting big deer and pigs in swamps, woods, and Western plains.


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Old January 14, 2019, 03:41 PM   #18
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Thats a heck of a lot of work.

I think all the math though misses the real issue (its not you can't do it by math, its just hard to have the right weight and even factors to do it with)

What really matters is the bullet and the hunter capable of putting the right bullet where it needs to go.

What do you hunt? - certainly an 06 as fine a cartridge as it is not needed. Not that it is not fine, my dad did, but he went form 1500 lb moose to 90 lbs deer.

For Deer, 30-30 had done a grand job (more so at closer ranges).

Frankly what has impressed me the last 4 years are the 6.5s.

Light recoil, fully capable up to Moose.

Not that it matters a lot if its a 6.5 CM, Lapua, 260 Remington or 6.5 Sweed.

For Alaska its not what I would pick, the moose do get huge, you can run into a brown bear, occasionally hostel black. So 30-06, 7mm in that area but for deer up to Elk a 6.5 would do fine.

243 has taken larger numbers where the ranges were more open than back East.
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Old January 14, 2019, 03:43 PM   #19
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Ummm, wow....

First off i would use another publication other than Nosler. For several reasons..

1) Their barrel lengths tend to be un realistic for a hunting rifle. Who hunts with a 26" 7mm-08?

2) Their velocities seem to be, ummm, optimistic shall we say.
Totally made up for some calibers. ( there i said it).
Example would be the 140gr bullet out of the 280 Rem. Puts a 7mm Rem Mag to shame.

I would use something more..... Realistic. Such as the Hodgdon, Hornady, Sierra, Berger, Ramshot, Barnes, Alliant...
Ok everybody but Nosler...

They make some great bullets though. :
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Old January 14, 2019, 05:11 PM   #20
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Overthinking the question.


270 Win
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Old January 14, 2019, 11:08 PM   #21
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Different strokes for different folks. You are not wrong with your process or choices. Its your rifle.

For myself,I leave consideration for pure blind emotional preference. What I like,what I have confidence in.

For myself,I leave room to consider,and choose,a .250 Savage,a 30-40 Krag,or a 7x57 Ackley...not for any reason I can justify.Preference does not require justification.

Sure,I might select the rifle equivalent of a 5 iron or a putter or a #2 wood,but the last big game animal I shot,even though I may have had "better" choices,I used my fake 1903A4 Springfield sniper rifle with a 2 1/2 X scope.Why? It was more fun,IMO.

It ain't the arrow. Its the "Indigenous Individual". Any and all of the cartridges on your list will do an excellent job IF you to your job,which is placing the shot.

On any given day,conditions vary. One day,the .270 might have an edge.Another day,the 30-06 might have an edge. None of it matters that much.

Have fun doing what you are doing..IMO,all of your charts and spreadsheets say "All of these are great choices." I'll learn from numbers but Im not a slave to them.

I might pick a 63 Ford Falcon and a three legged dog and an Iver Johnson single shot 16 gauge and I bet I'll have some priceless fun.
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Old January 15, 2019, 01:35 AM   #22
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With equal weight bullets at equal velocity and rifle weights, they all recoil the same. If a 30-'06 kicks too much for you, going to a 270 Winchester, (my favorite), will probably not solve your problem. If you need to reduce recoil, you must sacrifice something to get there. You could decide to carry a twelve pound 30-'06 or sacrifice some power by choosing a 7 pound 243 Winchester. Perhaps the 270 with 130 grain bullets will get you down to acceptable recoil if the rifle isn't ultra light weight. But maybe not. You can have an apple or an orange, but neither one is free. If you want the power of your 30-'06, but with flatter trajectory and less recoil, it just doesn't work that way.
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Old January 15, 2019, 03:54 AM   #23
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You'll find your 150 gr accubond long range BC here. My guess it's a competitor to hornady's eldx with a better tip than the regular accubonds. If you hand-load your ammo--the latitude the cartridge/chamber gives you in bullet seating is a pretty big consideration in my book. From the ballistics point of view I think you'll be very happy with a 284. It will take your game at 400--and leave you the option of going much further than that if you ever decide to just for the fun of it.

BTW--I'm looking for a new girlfriend, do you have a similar rating system in a spreadsheet for making that choice?
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Old January 15, 2019, 05:59 AM   #24
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I'm guessing you'd considered this, but did you look at the barrel length/bore diameter listed of the velocities for the various cartridges?

If the velocity is based on a barrel length you wouldn't purchase, you may need to look at other data or a correction factor. Likewise if different manufacturers use different bore diameters or twists and the manufacturer isn't one you'd purchase, you may want to get your reported data elsewhere.

That being said, all are good choices and likely whichever is the "winner" and the one you purchase, you will likely be happy with the capabilities.
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Old January 15, 2019, 07:11 AM   #25
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I have been hunting with a 30-06 for more than 50 years, for me using a 165 grains bullet at 400 yards will offer the most kinetic energy than the 270 or 280 will being that the bullets weigh the same and are made for hunting. There are other more modern bullet designs that will provide you with more BC, but are not necessarily made for hunting. Now if I want to to reduce recoil I may shoot a 150 grainer but I find that the 165 delivers the most at this weight and at longer distances than a 150 or a 180 grain bullet. If I ever do feel that the recoil is too much than I will consider using a 130 grain bullet but will change the barrel to a faster twist like a 1:11 that will shoot this bullet accurately, which at this point your 270 or 280 won't match either, just my 2¢.
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