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August 29, 2006

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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.


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Kyle Donahue

What about the Remington 260 compared to the 25-06? There doesn't seem to be much comparison of the 2 cartridges. Does anyone have an opinion of one over the other

Ralph the Rifleman

I had a chance to shoot a rifle in .260, and it was accurate,and very pleasant to shoot. Unfortunately, it will be up against some well established rounds like the .243, that I think will be rough to pull shooters away from. Remington is also loading "reduced recoil loads" for a number of other popular calibers (.270.30/06,.308)making out standard hunting gear more flexible to the non-reloaders out there.


i have a couple of questions, first what the heck is two diameter bullets and whats that guy talking about primers falling out in the magazine? anyone?


i have a couple of questions, first what the heck is two diameter bullets and whats that guy talking about primers falling out in the magazine? anyone?

mike shickele

Two diameter bullets is a term that originates from the time when many bullets where round balls; when it is used, it is generally referring to bullets with a high sectional density, ie, the bullet is longer than it is wide. say a bullet was .500" in diameter. Two diameter would refer to a bullet that had a bearing surface of 1.00". Many refer a two diameter bullet as one having a total length of 1.00", so I suppose both could be correct. It's more accurate to just speak of sectional density.

When pressures are high enough, it causes brass to expand; brass expands in most cartridges. If pressures are reasonable, the case will to a large extent assume its' original shape; this is due to the fact that brass is a very elastic metal. The cartridge expands enough that it fills the chamber, but due to elasticity, it does not stay fully expanded, and become stuck in the chamber. If pressures are too high, the brass still continues to attempt to expand, but the chamber is full. The only unsupported portion is the case head. The case head expands abnormally, and when the brass retracts it is still too large to hold on to the primer cup; in sever cases of pressure, the primer simply falls out.

Mike Shickele

Jack Bohm

I haven't tried a .25-06 but from what I've looked at, it seems like an excellent all around cartridge. I'm a young guy, and to be honest, I never really considered a magnum or short mag- partly because of price- lets face it, a .257WbyMag is pricey to shoot at around $40/20, and most magnums tend to have high price tags. When I did pick a rifle, I had a few candidate cartidges- .25-06, .270, .280, .30-06 and .308 were just about the only cartridges I picked from. I've only owned 2 rifles, and both are or were in .270- A Ruger M-77II and Browning BAR


thanks mike,your obviously quite knowledgable about gun stuff. what doyou think about this? I have had a remington model 7 in 7-08 for years. love it taken many critters - mostly hogs and deer-over the years with it. I have other rifles that I hunt with but I always seem to grab the 7-08 first it shoots around 2 inches and I know thats good enough most of the time. I live in east texas and have never taken a shot over 200 yards at an animal,30+ years,anyway,Im thinking of buying a shilen barrel and having the action worked on and all that cool stuff thats supose to make the rifle a tack driver. Im thinking that instead of buying another rifle, Iwould be better off with one I already love that shoots like a custom rig. what are you thoughts?

mike shickele

I'm just learning like the rest of the gun nuts; I do think though, that if I have gone a day without learning, that i must be dead and not know it.

Not long ago, i bought a Rem mod 7 in 7mm-08. This gun is almost perfectly proportioned, and I'm a dyed-in-the-wool 30-06 fan! These are VERY nice guns! Mine, incidentally, has the 18.8" BBL. If asked the same about my own at this time, I would want to leave it exactly as it is, and design my handloads around the gun. I don't think that I would ever want to change the dimensions of that gun; or the cartridge for that matter. I've always thought that Remington should have designed a 277-08 around the 130gr. bullet for deer; in the Rem mod 7 of course. Not any more.

As for having a custom maker build a super-shooter, using a blueprinted action, and benchrest barrel. AHHHH, what are dreams made of.



thanks mike, by the way i have hand loaded 130,140,and 150 gr. bullets from sierra,nozzler,and swift,as well as winchester and remington factory ammo,(cor-loks)shot better than any of my stuff,but im kind of new at hand loading. any way ive made up my mind, im spending the kids college money on the good stuff-you only live once! ill let you know how it turns out.

mike shickele

Good for you; just be careful about which gunsmith that you use. The wrong gunsmith can really wreak a good action.
I've found that bullet seating depth is one of the most important things to play with when it comes to accurate handloads. It has made more of an impact then even a primer change in any rifle that I have ever had. You can pick up a tool called a comparator from Sinclair International, that must be used in conjunction with a high quality caliper. It is easy to use, and each one is good for 6 calibers.



thanks again mike,youve given me more food for thought.theres more to learn about hand loading than whats printed in the manuals i see.


Does remignton offer a .25-06 with a removable clip?


I'm a nube to hunting, interested in a target/hog rifle with as low a recoil as possible. Just looking at ballistics, it seems the 25-06 is nearly unbeatable, about 1500 ft lbs of energy to 300 yds seems more than good enough, even for elk to 100 yds with the correct bullet. Its tempting to neuter a 270 with the reduced recoil loads also. Any suggestions?


I use my custom sendero 25-06 imp. 40. on rockchucks, infact three weeks ago I shot a chuck at 535 yards. 87 grain Speer TnT, 3600fps. Hit popcans at 672, 788 yards at my mountain shooting spot. Its a very accurate cartridge with precision handloads. Mine can shoot under.5" 5 shot groups at 100 yards. I have shot one deer with it, though I mostly use if for varmints, coyotes and plinking. Standards 25-06 or Ackley improved you cant go wrong!


My son uses a Remington Sendero in .25-06. it's extremly accurate and is his favorite varmint rifle. He does his own reloads but recently , he used some Federal ammo loaded with a 100 gr. Ballistic tip bullet. He was impressed with the accuracy but more so on how cleanly the powder burned. We have been trying to find out what powder the Federal cartridge co. uses for this load. can anyone help with this.
Thanks , Bob

White Eagle

Although I have never shot a antelope with the 25-o6 I have shot plenty of deer with it.The 25-06 smashes them with its lights out,game over authority while it may be a little over the edge for coyotes it does that very well too.Just about perfect for the game mentioned....

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