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30-06 Ammo History and Common Uses

30-06 Springfield ammunition was the mainstay of US military small arms in the first half of the 20th century. 30-06 is a powerful long-range cartridge that is quite at home in its modern role hunting deer and other medium to large sized game. As the name suggests, it is a .30 caliber round introduced in 1906. Compared to its predecessors, the .30-40 Krag and .30-03, .30-06 Springfield ammunition fired a relatively light bullet at a high velocity. Notable military rifles firing .30-06 ammo include the M1903 Springfield, M1917 Enfield, Browning Automatic Rifle, and M1 Garand.

The original spec for .30-06 ammo, known as the M1906, fired a 150 grain bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2,700 feet per second. Subsequent mil-spec rounds were loaded hotter, and modern hunting loads optimized for taking large game often fire heavier bullets at a higher velocity, with a corresponding increase in both terminal performance and felt recoil. Though considered one of the heaviest recoiling non magnum rifle cartridges because of this trend, the .30-06 benefits from the availability of a wide range of ammunition. Certain .30-06 loads are optimized to produce reduced recoil, usually by firing a lighter bullet. This sacrifices some power but enables most shooters to use rifles chambered for this caliber comfortably while still being able to take deer and other midsize game with ease.

Much of the .30-06 Springfield ammunition available today fires soft point bullets (sometimes polymer tipped for enhanced ballistics) that expand for maximum lethality against game without fragmenting and damaging meat. However, the round's history as a military caliber, and the wide availability of Garands and other rifles on the surplus market and through the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), means that manufacturers continue to produce relatively inexpensive FMJ ammo as well.