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Old September 2, 2012, 04:33 PM   #1
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.30-06 -- 180gr down to 165gr?

Just put a new 3-9x40 scope on my older bolt-action .30-06...

I used to run a 4x scope and 180gr PSP Remington Core-Lokt, and I have not shot a deer at more than 100 yards.

I am thinking about going down to a 165gr for longer range accuracy.
Would like to build skills in the 100-300yd range, while still retaining accuracy at less than 100 yds.

So where's the happy medium? I sure don't think it's 180gr!

Am I on the right track here?
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Old September 2, 2012, 05:22 PM   #2
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I'd shoot the load that proves to be most accurate. Any bullet weight from 150-180 will be fine at 300 yards or less.

If you are only hunting deer sized game and at only 300 yards, I'd start with 150's. If they shoot well that is what I'd use. They are more than adequate for that purpose and will recoil less. Not a huge difference, but the heavier 165's and 180's tend to be more accurate in my guns.

The difference in trajectory is highly over rated. While the 150's are faster, the heavier bullets are more aerodynamic and perform better at long range. With a 200 yard zero (and my handloads) 165's are only 1" lower at 400 yards than 150's, 180's are another 1" lower, but the heavier bullets hit with far more energy at extended ranges, are less effected by wind and are generally more accurate at extended ranges.

So where's the happy medium? I sure don't think it's 180gr!
180's are certainly more bullet weight than you need, but if it proves to be the most accurate load in your rifle that is what I'd use. Actually for really long range work bullets in the 180-210 gr range are what you'd want. While lighter bullets start out faster, they also slow down faster. Once you reach a certain range, around 600 yards, the heavier 180 gr bullet will be moving faster and be more accurate than the 150 at that range. 300 yards is not long range and deer are not hard to kill, so any bullet accurate in your gun will work.
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Old September 2, 2012, 05:44 PM   #3
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I agree. Within 300 yds the external ballistics are nearly the same for all normal weights. Not enough difference to matter for hunting. At 500 yds or more you will see more difference especially in wind drift, but not at less than 300 yds. Shoot whatever is most accurate as all weights you mention are fine for deer to that range.
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Old September 2, 2012, 05:47 PM   #4
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Thanks a lot for the info. It sounds like I am overestimating the bullet drop/arc everyone talks about with the .30-06...Or misunderstanding it.

I think I will buy some 165gr and compare with the 180gr, once I sight this baby in. Is the Core-Lokt PSP a good enough choice?

I always thought that lighter bullets would generally shoot flatter, but maybe I am missing something?

If I go up to a 200 yard zero, will I have issues with <100yd shots?

I think I will mostly still be shooting deer at close range, but is there a ballistics chart or something online so I can get a better idea?

Last edited by dieseldirt; September 2, 2012 at 05:52 PM.
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Old September 2, 2012, 05:57 PM   #5
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Mine woupdn't shoot the 165's worth a darn and i REALLLLLLLLLY wanted it to. It simply shoots the 150's much much better so thats what i am going with.

Core-lokts for sure.
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Old September 2, 2012, 06:35 PM   #6
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A 200 yard zero should put you about 2.5 inches high at 100 and you'll be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 inches low at 300. Google "ballistics charts for 30-06" to get an idea of the trajectory. Remington used to have them for their ammo on their website.
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Old September 2, 2012, 06:44 PM   #7
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With a 200 yard zero, the variation at 100 yards will be less than a half inch, and the difference at 300 will be about an inch.

Not enough to bother with.
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Old September 2, 2012, 08:34 PM   #8
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The Eatman family deal for the '06 has been pretty much just the 150-grain. I'd guess the total deer take is somewhere over 200. Ranges from 25 yards to 500 yards. Pretty much one-shot kills.
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Old September 2, 2012, 09:51 PM   #9
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Is the Core-Lokt PSP a good enough choice?
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Old September 2, 2012, 11:34 PM   #10
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150 grain is a good load for hunting. I use the 180 grain for hunting feral hogs because the longest shot might be around 100 yard.
Have a nice day at the range

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Old September 3, 2012, 03:57 AM   #11
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150 gr will be sufficient for deer out to 300 yds. 180 gr is better suited for larger game like elk. For pronghorn or coyote, 130 gr seems to work well, and for the bruins 220 gr is usually recommended. Most game is harvested within 300 yards. To set your zero, determine the range that most of your intended game will be harvested. Usually 100 yard zero is fine unless of course the majority of the terrain is further than that. If it is, then zero at 200 yards.

As for the remington ammo, it has brought down a LOT of game. Yes, there is other ammo out there, but the remingtons will do the job if you do yours.
No such thing as a stupid question. What is stupid is not asking it.
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Old September 3, 2012, 07:50 AM   #12
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Bullet weight has nothing to do with "longer range accuracy". I used 180 grain bullets in a 30/06 for many years until I discovered the bullets were spending more energy on the ground beyond the deer than inside the animal. That was also about the time I switched from a semiauto to a bolt action.
With the swap of rifle and ammo change to 150 grain, my area of domination expanded greatly.
As has been mentioned, the heavier bullets are usually more suitable for bigger animals and may not produce the same result when hitting deer. In the case of the 30/06, it has such an amount of power that it can waste some and still be king of the deer woods.
When I choose to use a 30/06 these days, my choice of bullet is the Nosler 165 grain Ballistic Tip. This is absolutely the best bullet(in the rifle I use) accuracy and performance wise that I've tried. I don't name my guns but my kids named my old 03A3 Springfield "The Buck Hammer" for obvious reasons. Powder burn to 400 yards, I haven't had to shoot a deer twice with this rifle in this century.
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Old September 3, 2012, 08:33 AM   #13
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What jmr40 said. I ditto.
Accuracy in a 30-06 depends on the rate of twist. An M1 Garand works best with 170 grs.
The deer I have killed with 150 gr. Nosler Partitions or Ballistic Tips didn't know it wasn't a heavier bullet.
Lighter bullet equals less recoil.
Unless you really need a bigger banger, go light. Versatility is the beauty of the venerable ole 'aught-six'. Love it.
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Old September 3, 2012, 08:38 AM   #14
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We've used 150 grain Nosler Ballistic -Tips since 1987, and they've performed nicely up to and including 300 yds, one-shot kills is the rule.
Thanks for coming!
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Old September 3, 2012, 09:25 AM   #15
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Every rifle is different. The '06 I use the most--a Ruger 77 in a synthetic
stock, 3-9 Redfield--LIKES 165-168 gr ammo. 150 and 180, not so much.
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Old September 3, 2012, 10:20 AM   #16
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Yeah, what they said. I hand load and use Nosler BT's. But for off the shelf ammo I would definately use good old Core-Loks. I've been hunting now for well over 20 yrs and have never heard a complaint or had one about them and I've seen alot of game taken with them. Also the brass is great to reload.
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Old September 3, 2012, 10:35 AM   #17
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I'm with you here!

I used to hunt with a 30'06. I shot 150gr at first. They were fine. When we really got into Antelope hunting and loading our own, I found out that BC gets noticeably higher around 180gr.

So, even at a lower starting velocity, the 180's will catch up.

Play with JBM Ballistics and you will see.
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Old September 3, 2012, 10:44 AM   #18
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I've used the 180 grain on our big whitetails for years with outstanding results. The BAR is highly accurate with them. First used Remington Core-lokt and went to handloads about 10 or 15 years ago. Use what works best in your gun.
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Old September 3, 2012, 12:07 PM   #19
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I use Nosler BT's, but the CoreLokt is a fine bullet and I've used a lot of them over the years. As for which bullet, what the guys said about accuracy is really the biggest determining factor. If you reload, you can try a bazillion different bullet/powder combinations, but if you shoot factory loads just buy an assortment and find what shoots best. The 150 grain should be close to 3000 fps at the muzzle and the 165 will be about 100 fps slower. Like somebody already said, either, if sighted in at 200 will be less than 10 inches low at 300.
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Old September 5, 2012, 02:34 AM   #20
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I've always thought that a std sporter in '06, and 180 gr slugs was a heck of a kicker, and the lighter 165 and 150 especially did not kick as much.

I came up in a family/era where all believed that the .30/ 180 gr roundnose in '06, .308, .300 Savage, etc, was a better deer killer and brush buster. I have since learned that this is not true, and I found that my rifles all shoot 150's better group wise, and do not kick as much, and kill deer just as dead.

The heavy .30 slugs (180 and up) have a place, but are not needed for deer.
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Old September 5, 2012, 09:17 AM   #21
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When I first traded for the Rem. 700 that I gave my oldest son 180 Corelokts is what I fed it,,, but I was hunting deer in "clear cut" thickets and small hollers, that were somewhat brushy, and I used open sights.
My brother got into handloading and loaded me some test rnds, and later we discovered that this particular rifle just dug the heck out of 150 grn B-tips and IMR 4350.... the rest is deer killing history (well known in my family). And I later scoped that rifle to hunt open hollers and pasture land up in northern Missouri, so the 150 Grain B-tips fit the bill nicely.
Thanks for coming!
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Old September 5, 2012, 09:49 AM   #22
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If I go up to a 200 yard zero, will I have issues with <100yd shots?
That depends. I missed a deer last year under that scenario. I was set for a 200 yard shot and she came out just 10 yards from the stand. I was considerably surprised as I had never seen a deer that close to that particular stand, I was out of position, and I rushed the shot. By the time I squeezed the trigger, she was 40 yards away and she took off like a scalded ape. After searching for several hours, I went back to recreate the shot and found my bullet lodged in a sweet gum tree. I had shot over her back.

Will YOU have a problem with <100 yard shots? I don't know. Practice shooting at all the ranges you'll expect to see game and learn the ballistics of your rifle/ammo combination.
Dennis Dezendorf
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Old September 5, 2012, 10:30 AM   #23
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No offense PawPaw but missing a deer at 40 yards has nothing to do with your zero.

The 40 yard difference between a 100, 200, 300, even 400 yard zero is small. Much smaller than a deers vital zone.

For instance, a 180gr Hornady SP from a 30-06 with 2700fps MV and a 300 yard zero would be 1.7 inches high at 40 yards. With a 400 yard zero, it would be 3.1 high at 40. 200 yard zero, 1/2 inch high.

Any of those would kill a deer and CERTAINLY not miss it.


The difference between any of the various zeros shouldn't cause any problems. We might make rush shots and misjudge in the field, it's easy to do and I've done it many times myself but we should also KNOW, as in know by putting bullets in paper, where our bullet will be at any range we are willing to fire one at an animal. If you KNOW where your bullet will be, the "problem" is the nut behind the butt, and we've all been there.
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Old September 5, 2012, 07:11 PM   #24
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The 150 gr is the best choice for most hunting unless you are using it for elk or something like that. It's pretty flat shooting and is heavier then alot of other calibers used on deer.
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Old September 5, 2012, 08:35 PM   #25
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I'm chuckling to myself. I've missed at 40 yards, and I missed 3 times in what must have been less than 5 or 6 seconds. I was working that lever action Marlin for all it was worth, but every TIME I pulled the trigger the deer was 8 feet in the air. It was over so fast. No meat. I remember thinking "did that really happen?". Yup! The whole thing played out in what felt like slow motion. Somedays you're the bug and somedays you're the windshield. Keeps me humble.
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