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The .25/06: An Unbeatable Cartridge for Deer and Antelope
This past week I got out my beanfield rifle, which is a Savage Model 10FLP in .25/06, and was reminded once again of what a useful cartridge the .25/06 is. Created by a wildcatter named A.O. Niedner in 1920 (!) it’s simply the .30/06 necked down to .257. The cartridge was commercialized by Remington in 1969. It has always sold well, but has never set the fields on fire, and is now in something of a decline, from what I read.
It’s one of those purported dual-purpose big-game/varmint rounds like the .243 or the .257 Roberts, but in truth it’s a pretty poor varmint load—it burns far too much powder for that. For big game, though, it has some fine qualities. Although it comes in a poor second to the .270 as an all-around big-game load, as a deer and antelope cartridge the .25/06 is unbeatable. Used with good 115-grain bullets, it will give you velocities well in excess of 3,000 fps along with very light recoil.
I was introduced to the cartridge by knifemaking great George Herron, a South Carolinian who used a heavy-barreled Ruger Number One in .25/06 to kill something like 150 deer over the years, and George never shot twice at the same deer. As I recall, he handloaded 90-grain Sierra bullets to some outlandish velocity, and it worked, but I prefer 115-grain and 120-grain Nosler Partitions in handloads, and the Federal factory loading of the 115-grain Partition.
One other thing about the .25/06: There is an 87-grain varmint load that really howls along, and if you are looking to terminate the furtive existence of a coyote and don’t care about spoiling the pelt, why, look no farther.