Top 5 Best 30-06 Ammo for Deer Hunting: Put Bambi in Your Freezer
The 30-06 Springfield is an American cartridge through and through. It’s a two-time World War champion, can take down any big game animal North America can throw at it, and you’ve selected it for deer hunting.
All we can say is, "Good call!"
The 30-06 has been putting venison on plates and in freezers for well over a century, and as such there’s a lot of different hunting rounds available. But with so much variety, it can be hard to pick the best one for your deer hunting needs.
If you’re in a hurry, then we’d recommend that you pick up a box of Barnes 150 Grain TTSX. It’s the best 30-06 ammo for deer hunting. However, if you have some time and want to see our entire top 5 list, just keep reading.
If you’re new to deer hunting or looking for more information about the 30-06 Springfield, check out our Buyer’s Guide HERE. Otherwise, scroll just a bit down to review more of our list…
- Barnes VOR-TX 150 Grain TTSX
- Remington CoreLokt 150 Grain Scirocco Bonded
- Hornady American Whitetail 150 Grain SP
- Winchester Power Point 165 Grain PSP
- Federal Fusion 180 gr FSP
- Casing - Brass
- Bullet Type – Tipped Tripple-Shock X (TTSX)
- Bullet Weight - 150 Grains
- Muzzle Velocity – 2,970 fps
- Muzzle Energy – 2,937 ft-lbs.
- Designed for rapid and controlled expansion
- Near 100% weight retention
- All-copper bullet legal in California
- Pricier than other options
The best deer hunting rounds for the 30-06 are affordable, in stock, and have additional features that control expansion and adequately maximize penetration. The 150-grain Barnes TTSX meets all our standards, and it’s something we can recommend to everyone.
Barnes takes extraordinary measures to produce insanely high-quality ammo, and the TTSX line is no exception. The polymer tip makes the TTSX more aerodynamic, raising the ballistic coefficient and helping the bullet penetrate before expanding.
The bullet’s terminal performance is nothing short of superb. The 150-grain bullet penetrates deep and expands to nearly double its original diameter (assuming impact occurs between 1,800 and 3,000 fps). The brilliant design and all-copper composite make an extremely effective wound cavity. All you need to worry about is shot placement!
In addition to being a slam dunk for deer season, we love this round for its versatility. Not only can the Barnes 150 gr TTSX easily take down a deer at 500 yards with proper shot placement, but it can also be used for larger game animals like black bears, elk, and moose.
If you want an efficient round that’s pretty easy to find, pick up a box of the Barnes 150 gr TTSX. The high ballistic coefficient, superior Barnes quality, and flat trajectory make it well worth a few dollars per round.
Nosler Trophy Grade 150 Grain Nosler Partition - Another excellent round you should grab for deer hunting is Nosler Partition ammo for the 30-06. The Nosler Partition bullet has two components separated by a partition, the front for penetration/expansion and the back for weight retention. Of course, if you need a round for hunting large animals, consider the Nosler 150 grain Accubond. However, we found Nosler Partition ammo easier to find in stock.
- Casing - Brass
- Bullet Type - Swift Scirocco Bonded
- Bullet Weight - 150 Grains
- Muzzle Velocity – 2,910 fps
- Muzzle Energy – 2,821 ft-lbs
- High availability
- Extremely accurate in our hands
- Perfect for deer and elk hunting
Remington 150 Grain Scirocco Bonded ammo is an excellent round for hunters during deer season. It’s a hard-hitting bullet with a flatter trajectory than some other rounds and leaves an impressive wound channel.
Like the Barnes TTSX, Swift Scirocco Bonded bullets have nearly 100% weight retention to maximize penetration. The polymer tip is responsible for initiating expansion, but the electro-chemical bonding process is what keeps the lead core and copper jacket together to ensure deadly terminal performance.
You’ll get adequate expansion at velocities as low as 1,650 fps (around 500 yards). This gives you a little more distance than some of our other recommendations. It’s also slightly cheaper than the Barnes TTSX but still pricier than some other options on our top 5 list.
Not only does the Remington 150 gr Swift Scirocco Bonded bullet do amazing work on deer, but we also love it because you can ethically hunt elk, black bears, and moose too.
- Casing - Brass
- Bullet Type – Jacketed Soft Point (JSP)
- Bullet Weight - 150 Grains
- Muzzle Velocity – 2,910 fps
- Muzzle Energy – 2,820 ft-lbs
- Low price tag makes it easy to buy in bulk
- Backed by Hornady’s high-quality reputation
- JSP (Jacketed Soft Point) for great terminal performance and expansion
- Shorter effective range on deer
Hornady American Whitetail is a phenomenal choice if you’re looking for excellent factory ammo on a budget and you don’t have time to work on handloads. Easy on the wallet and effective on the hunt, this 150-grain cartridge offers phenomenal terminal performance and exceptional accuracy.
Hornady Whitetail is an extremely popular choice for avid hunters because it’s a high-quality round that deals a lot of damage to the deer and not your pocketbook. With Hornady’s patented InterLock® design, the lead core and jacket stay together on impact giving you high levels of penetration and expansion.
Hornady Whitetail utilizes a soft point bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2,910 fps that can accurately bag a deer within 400 yards (just over 1,800 fps) and still achieve the expansion necessary to bring down a trophy buck.
Although Hornady American Whitetail is soft on the wallet, the jacketed soft point bullet design is less effective at long range shots when compared to other offerings on our top 5 list. However, if you hunt in wooded areas like New England, the Midwest, and forests of the Pacific Northwest, then Hornady American Whitetail 150 gr SP ammo will offer more than enough range for deer season this fall.
Prvi Partisan 150 Grain SP: This is another excellent budget round that simply gets the job done. If you’re looking for an affordable deer hunting cartridge, Prvi Partisan is an excellent backup choice. It’s readily available and the soft pointed lead core will easily penetrate medium-sized game animals.
- Casing - Brass
- Bullet Type - Pointed Soft Point
- Bullet Weight - 165 Grains
- Muzzle Velocity – 2,800 fps
- Muzzle Energy – 2,872 ft-lbs
- Affordable and easy to find
- Excellent expansion
- Not great for large game like elk
We love a good, tried and true 30-06 cartridge, and Winchester Power Point 165 grain fits that bill perfectly. This low-cost cartridge has a flat trajectory and packs more than enough wallop to take down any deer in your sights.
Winchester designed its Power Point bullets for accuracy and penetration. The soft lead core is encased in a copper jacket, so you’ll have the controlled expansion necessary to create a sufficient wound cavity and ethically take home your deer.
The Winchester Power Point was deadly accurate in our hands and expands perfectly between 3,000 and 1,800 feet per second. Assuming you keep your shots within 300 yards, you’ll bag a deer for less than $2/round without having to trek through the woods following blood trails.
However, while many hunters have taken down large creatures with the 165-grain Winchester Power Point, it’s a bit risky to use it for hunting bigger game (larger than 300 pounds). Shot placement and distance will play a significant role in your success.
If you want to ethically hunt deer, this round will work. But if you want to hunt larger game, try one of the other rounds on our list.
Federal Power-Shok 150 Grain - Another excellent round that works well on the medium-sized game, like whitetail deer and mule deer. It’s a traditional lead core soft-point bullet with no bells and whistles. If you’re looking for a low-cost conventional 30-06 ammo for deer hunting that simply gets the job done, then look no further than Federal Power-Shok.
- Casing - Brass
- Bullet Type – Fusion Soft Point
- Bullet Weight - 180 Grain
- Muzzle Velocity – 2700 fps
- Muzzle Energy – 2,913 ft-lbs
- Developed specifically for deer hunting
- Incredibly accurate
- Inexpensive and abundant
- Not great for hunting larger game animals
If you’re looking for the first round developed specifically for deer hunters, then look no further than the Federal Fusion 180 gr FSP.
Utilizing a skived nose, the Federal Premium Fusion Soft Point is built for immediate and deadly expansion the moment it encounters soft tissue. This is perfect for thin-skinned game like whitetail and mule deer, where you want maximum penetration, weight retention, and a wide wound channel.
The copper jacket used on FSP rounds is electrochemically bound to the soft lead core. This makes for a perfectly uniform jacket that is incredibly accurate for a soft point round.
The massive 180 grain bullet really does a number on medium sized game, transferring the maximum amount of kinetic energy possible into that trophy whitetail that wandered in front of your tree stand.
Although the Federal Fusion is perfect for deer, it’s not the best choice for larger game like elk. However, if you want the original purpose-built deer round, then Federal Fusion 180 gr is a perfect choice to take out into the woods this fall.
Congratulations! You made it all the way to the end. No matter which of these factory loads you choose, you’ll be well armed to put Bambi in your freezer this deer season.
But since you made it this far, do you want to keep learning more about the 30-06 Springfield? We’ve shared a vast majority of our wisdom in the sections above but keep scrolling to take a gander at our 30-06 buyer’s guide.
Or if you’re ready to order a box from our list, click HERE to go back to the top.
The 30-06 Springfield is considered by many as the quintessential hunting round. It has served the US military through two World Wars and has been taking down deer, elk, and moose across North America for over 100 years.
It is the round that all other hunting cartridges are compared to. Often you’ll hear hunters make the comparison of, “Well is it any better than a 30-06?” Which tells you that the old warhorse has quite a long track record of putting game down humanely and efficiently.
As such, the 30-06 has seen a lot of work done on it to make it one of the best all-around hunting rounds on the market. With multiple bullet designs and grain weights, picking the best hunting load for your needs can be difficult for newer shooters or hunters.
But don’t worry! We are here to help you cut through all the hype and buzzwords to explain what you should be looking for in an excellent deer hunting round.
As experts in the field, we analyze a lot of hunting loads, from weight to bullet types and more. So, take some time and read through the following sections to learn more about choosing hunting ammo.
Although the weight of the bullet affects numerous factors, including wind resistance, terminal performance, ballistics, and expansion, shot placement and knowing your rifle always prevail over the “best bullet weight.”
But, for those curious, how do you know what weight is best for hunting deer? Well, the answer to that question is highly subjective, and for good reason! You’ll have to consider distance, how your rifle handles the round, and what you’re shooting (deer, in this case).
The lighter the bullet, the more muzzle velocity, and therefore, the faster it will travel. This creates for a flatter shooting bullet that is more forgiving or ranging mistakes.
On the other hand, heavier bullets tend to travel slower but are more resistant to wind drift and pack more kinetic energy.
If you’re trying to shoot an elk at over 500 yards, you’re going to want something that hits a bit harder to make sure you have enough kinetic energy to ensure a clean kill. But if you’ve got a whitetail in your crosshairs at 400 yards or less, you don’t necessarily need a massive bullet to get the job done.
For whitetail deer, hogs, or pronghorn, the 150 gr and 165 gr bullets offer a happy compromise between stopping power, lower recoil, and a flatter trajectory.
However, do keep in mind that your next deer won’t ask you, “What grain weight is that TTSX bullet you just shot me with?” Because if you’re using premium expanding hunting ammo and can put the bullet inside the vitals, the deer won’t be asking you anything at all!
You’ve surely seen a lot of acronyms online and on ammo boxes. But what do they all mean?
Hunting is a lot different than competitive or long-range target shooting. The goal isn’t just to hit your target, but to put down your quarry quickly and humanely. The hunting ammunition you choose needs to keep working after the initial impact.
So, it’s important to put a little more thought into your hunting rifle cartridges. To put it simply, match-grade ammo won’t cut it.
For example, you don’t want to use FMJ (full metal jacket) ammo for hunting. It’s typically a lead core bullet that won’t expand.
To further complicate things, match-grade ammo is typically loaded with Boat-Tail Hollow Point (BTHP) bullets. Although hollow point bullets are typically used for self-defense handgun ammo, these rifle bullets are designed for extreme accuracy and NOT terminal expansion.
To help you sort things out, we made a list of some of the most common hunting bullet types deer hunters utilize and why they are effective.
You’ll see a few variations of SP rounds. From Soft Point to Pointed Soft Point and the beloved Jacketed Soft Points, all are perfectly suitable for hunting deer. But let’s break down the differences.
Of course, you’ll find soft point bullets are just that; they have a softer lead core than other bullet types. Unlike FMJs (full metal jackets) which have a dense lead core, soft points consist of a softer core with an exposed nose cavity allowing the bullet to expand easily. However, if a bullet expands too quickly, it will not penetrate, which leads us to jacketed soft points.
Like JHPs (jacketed hollow points), a JSP (jacketed soft point) is a jacketed round. Except, a small part of the lead core is still exposed. This design allows for both penetration and controlled expansion while also maintaining a high ballistic coefficient.
You will also see PSP, which stands for Pointed Soft Point. These bullets have the same overall design as soft points, except the pointed tips make them more aerodynamic and more accurate for longer range shots.
These days, polymer tipped bullets are all the range for hunting ammo. The polymer tip not only provides a more aerodynamic bullet, but it also aids in expansion.
Bullets like the Barnes TTSX, Hornady SST, and Nosler Ballistic Tip utilize the tip to initiate bullet expansion. This creates a more uniform wound channel and puts down game more quickly and humanely.
A bonded tip bullet is one where the jacket is chemically fused to the lead core rather than pressed. The reason for this is better penetration. As per the Scirocco recommendation above, a bonded tip will hold together much better and control expansion. There are a variety of bonded tip bullets, they typically have a higher price tag, but they’re well worth the extra coin if you’re hunting or buying self-defense ammo.
Before we leave you with nothing but a vast technical knowledge of the 30-06 (which we know you appreciate), let’s talk 30-06 fun facts.
To start, the 30-06 is a 30-caliber round. So, where does the -06 (aught six) come in? Well, the round was first produced in 1906. That’s right. The 30-06 simply means it was the 30 caliber round of 1906.
Before retiring into an American hunting cartridge, this round was used with the M1 Garand during WWII and in Korea. As a matter of fact, it was the military’s favorite rifle bullet for nearly fifty years. It was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt, who took a keen interest in hunting (he left North America in 1909 and hit up Africa for a big game hunt).
Most 30-06 ammo will be incredibly accurate within 400 yards. However, you also want to consider the muzzle velocity for an effective shot. If the round exceeds 3,000 fps, it may not expand. If it drops below 1,800 fps (excluding the Scirocco Bonded rounds), it also won’t expand.
Of course, do keep in mind that the effective range can vary based on your rifle barrel length. A longer barrel will result in a higher muzzle velocity thanks to a more complete powder burn than a shorter barreled rifle.
Therefore, if you’re using the Browning Gold Medallion lever-action rifle one day and a Ruger American bolt-action the next, you may get extremely different results.
Absolutely! The 30-06 Springfield has been bagging deer for well over a century and shows no signs of slowing down.
However, we can’t say that a deer will be able to tell the difference between a 30-06 Springfield, 270 Winchester, or the 6.5 Creedmoor, provided you select an appropriate bullet that expands and penetrates well. Smaller rounds like the 223 Rem can be used but many states prohibit them for deer hunting.
As stated previously, there are some 30-06 rounds that may leave you following a blood trail in the woods for hours. But as long as you choose one of the options we listed (or something similar), you’ll have an excellent hunting round.
Premium hunting bullets are those that are manufactured specifically for controlled expansion and penetration. The term first reflected Nosler’s partitioned ammo because, before that, bullets didn’t exactly focus on terminal ballistics.
Today, several ammo manufacturers push the limits of imagination and engineer all sorts of ways to make bullets better for hunting. Premium bullets often have higher ballistic coefficients and are incredibly accurate. You’ll still find them with a common boat tail and spitzer design, but it’s what’s inside that counts!
Others love that they can purchase a few rounds and start reloading. No matter your preference, a premium bullet typically performs better.
Yes! The caliber may be old, but you’ll find Ruger, Mossberg, Remington, Savage, and many others still make bolt-action rifles chambered in 30-06.
Yes. Notably, the Sierra Gameking uses a nickel-plated brass case.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of how to choose the best ammo for deer hunting with a 30-06, you can head back to our top 5 list by clicking HERE!
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