30-06 Powder

  • Last Post 20 January 2021
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Idahocaster posted this 20 January 2021

I have a sporterized 1903 Springfield that I have been playing with lately. I have a Lyman/Ideal 311291 mold that I plan on using. I am interested in what powders you all use for approximately 170 grain cast bullets between 1600 and 1900 fps? That way when powders show up on the shelves again I will know what to try.

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corerf posted this 20 January 2021

Ill beat Ed Harris to it.


.30-06 Part I of III
America's Greatest, All-Around .30-'06

By C.E. Harris - Rev. 7-8-94

The most popular deer camp discussion for generations has been that of the proverbial "All-Around Rifle". What would be YOUR
choice if you could have only one rifle? Forget the apocalyptic, "Red Dawn" scenarios and consider only the present, and the realistic future. For me, the answer is plainly obvious. A .30-'06 bolt-action, because there's not much a skilled rifleman and handloader can't do with it.

Some years ago I was invited with a group of gun writers to a "bring your own rifle" hunt in Texas. One of the scribes was intent on doing a survey of what the "experts who could pick anything their heart desired" did, in fact, choose. The fellow doing the survey had built his own wildcat, just for the
occasion. Of the dozen or so "experts" in attendance besides our wildcatter, one was a fancier of the .270 Winchester, and the rest of the rifles in camp were all .30-'06 boltguns. Now THAT would have made an interesting article, but the wildcatter, who had embarked with other ideas, never wrote it, a shame to be sure.

My gun rack currently holds six .30-'06 rifles, if you don't count the half-dozen or so extra barrels for my switch-barrel silhouette, target and bench rifles. My first .30-'06 was a DCM M1903A3. My second was an M1 Garand. My third was a custom Winchester Model 70 target rifle with Hart barrel and stock by Roy Dunlap. I'm sure my early exposure to highpower rifle competition, ROTC, handloading, DCM ammo, a particularly fine lot
of TW54 Ball, and some even better LC63 National Match ammo had something to do with my love for the .30-'06. But, 30 years later, as I inspect and care for the brass I've hoarded, it still makes sense.

The variety of factory loads in .30-'06 is greater than for any other American cartridge. When handloading options are added, the possibilities are simply staggering. To keep it simple, five classes of .30-'06 loads cover all possible uses for a rifle. These are: small game and gallery loads; light varmint and target loads; service rifle loads; long range loads, and big game loads. There is, understandably, some overlap, as a "service rifle" load
with match-type bullet becomes a fine "big game" load, with the substitution of a hunting-type bullet.

I recommend the .30-'06 handloader keep a limited selection of powder and bullet types which have flexibility for multiple purposes. One "reduced load" powder, one "service rifle" powder and one "long range or big game" powder will do it all. Similarly, for bullets, one light cast bullet plinker, a 160-180-gr. gas-checked target bullet, a "general purpose" 150-168-gr. jacketed hunting or match bullet, and a heavier 180-200-gr.
specialized hunting or long range target bullet for the serious shooter round out the whole menu. Coordinate your .30-'06 component requirements within other needs when possible. This enables you to produce economical, safe, and effective ammunition without accumulating odd lots of components which cause problems for storage or disposal later. With this goal in mind, I'll describe each load class, and make some recommendations based upon my experience.

30-'06 Part II of III

SMALL GAME AND GALLERY loads are quiet and low-powered, intended for use at 25 yards or less. I use them for indoor target shooting, and camp meat for the pot. They are also fine for easing the transition of youngsters from a .22 rimfire to a big game rifle. Cast bullets are best for this purpose. Light, jacketed bullets may be used, but require caution, to ensure that the bullet's bore-exit is totally reliable. Most rifles produce 3/4" groups or less at 25 yards or in proportion to 100 yards. A few shoot ragged holes at 50 yards after load refinement. Light .32 revolver bullets can be used,
but more satisfactory are heavier bullets from 130-170-grs. I cast these of soft backstop scrap, and shoot them tumbled in Lee Liquid Alox, without sizing or gascheck. I use the same ....Lee .312-155-2R bullets I normally use, but without the gascheck. The Lyman #311291 and RCBS 30-150FN also work well for these light loads. Typical charges for plainbased loads are 5-6 grs. of Bullseye, SR-7625, W231, Red Dot, Green Dot or 700-X.

You can safely increase these charges up to 2 grains as needed to get best accuracy, but they will lead above 1300 f.p.s. unless
gaschecked. Some individual rifles with smooth barrels shoot quite well up to 7 or 7.5 grs. of these powders, but best accuracy is usually obtained when velocities are kept subsonic. I generally look for a velocity of 1080 +/- 30 f.p.s. These loads will usually shoot 2-1/2" to 3" groups at 100 yards using minor visual defect culls, which is OK for practice. The minimum safe load which will always exit the barrel for indoor gallery work is about 4 grs. of the above powders.

More caution is required when assembling subsonic loads with jacketed bullets, because there is some risk of the bullet becoming lodged in the bore at near-subsonic velocities. You should not attempt to use less than 6 grs. of the above pistol or shotgun powders when loading jacketed bullets unless you check the bore after every shot and keep your hammer and ramrod handy!

There are important safety considerations for all reduced loads. I don't recommend heavier charges with pistol powders (even though some manuals list them) unless the particular powder is bulky enough (like Red Dot), that an inadvertent double-charge fills or overflows the case so an error is immediately obvious to visual inspection. Extreme caution must be used with dense powders such as W-W231 in reduced loads, because even a double charge is hard to see with all that airspace, so an error is not apparent. If you use fast pistol or shotgun powders in reduced loads, ensure the charge is light enough that a mistaken double-load will only blow primers, rather than destroying the rifle! 

Spitzer bullets generally give poor accuracy below about 1600 f.p.s. due to gyroscopic instability, blunt round- or flat-nosed bullets are best. The 100-110-gr. .32-20, .32 H&R Magnum and .30 M1 Carbine bullets are often suggested for small game loads, but in my experience won't produce 1" groups at 50 yards, my accuracy criteria. Any decent .22 rimfire will shoot 1" groups at 50 yards, and a center-fire small game load should do as well, right?

The most satisfactory jacketed bullet reduced loads are assembled using my standard 200-yard target charges used with gaschecked cast bullets. Accurate boltgun practice loads which will shoot "on" at 200 yards close to your normal 600-yd. sight dope with either 150-175 gr. pulled GI bullets or 150-200 gr. cast, gaschecked bullets are: 12-13 grs. of Red Dot, Green Dot or 700X, 15-16 grs. of #2400, 18-20 grs. of 4227 or 21-23 grs. of 4198. 

My favorite jacketed bullets for reduced .30-06 loads are the bulk Remington 150-gr. .30-30 soft points. This is because I keep them around to load .30-30s, but they are also highly accurate at minimum velocities in the '06, and they are also suitable for mild '06 deer loads with 35 grs, of 3031 or RL-7, which approximates .30-30 ballistics.

The 123-gr., 7.62x39 spitzer FMJ bullets give good plinking accuracy above 1600 f.p.s., using the above listed "200-yd. Target" charges.. Grouping is improved by increasing the charge, not to exceed 27 grs. of #2400 or 30 grs. of 4227 which approximates 7.62x39 ballistics. With 150-gr. .30-30 bullets, do not exceed 25 grs. of #2400, which gives 2100 f.p.s., a nice deer load for youngsters or women who elderly hunters with pacemakers who can't take the recoil of a full '06. 

"SERVICE RIFLE" loads approximate the performance, and accuracy of military "ball" or "match" ammunition for target shooting over the National Match Course. It is important that the powder charge, bullet type, and ballistic parameters not vary significantly from arsenal ammunition, in order to ensure they function as intended in semi-automatic, quasi-military arms.

The ballistics of Ball M2 service ammunition, (2740 +/- 30 f.p.s.) with a 150-gr. spitzer, flatbased bullet are approximated in GI cases with a charge of 47.5 grs. of current Hodgdon or IMR 4895, [or Varget], or 50 grs. of IMR-4064 [or RL15].....In commercial brass these powder charges intended for
GI cases may be increased 1 grain. These are fine match loads for offhand and 200 rapid in the M1 using the 150-gr. Sierra MatchKing or the new 155-gr. "Palma" bullets.

Prior to the introduction of the 168-gr. Sierra MatchKing, the 125-gr. spitzer was favored for 200-yd. offhand and sitting rapid-fire stages of the National Match Course. These are highly accurate, and ideal for the reduced scale courses for use by junior shooters, to reduce costs and minimize recoil. The charges for 150-gr. bullets, listed above, function the M1 rifle and are accurate. They also make dandy woodchuck loads.

WITH 168-SIERRA OR PULLED GI [M72/M118] MATCH BULLETS [or the 175 Sierra MK] a charge of 46 grs. of 4895 [or Varget]; or 48 grs. of 4064 [or RL15] approximates .30-'06 M72 match ammunition (2640 +/- 30 f.p.s). With 168-gr. match bullets, these charges may be increased 1 grain, but if the 180-gr. Sierra MatchKing is used (a GREAT 600-yd. bullet for the M1) they should be REDUCED the same amount. I do not recommend slower powders or heavier bullets for the M1, because heavier charges of slower powders operate the mechanism with more force than service
ammunition, and may damage the operating rod or other parts. You are free to use the "long-range" loads below in your Springfield or M1917, and they also work well for hunting loads in bolt-action rifles, using soft point bullets of the same weight.

..30-'06 Part III of III

"LONG RANGE" loads are heavy target loads for bolt-action match rifles, intended for use at the 600-yard stage of the National Match Course, and for longer ranges, such as 1000 yard events. The loads which follow are for use in bolt-action rifles only. (Semi-auto and slide-action rifles should be used with the "service rifle" charges listed above).

I consider it routine for all long-range target loads in boltguns to uniform the flash hole diameters with a No.2 long center drill, and the primer pockets, using the Whitetail Match-Prep tool. In addition, I neck turn all cases to 0.011-0.012" neck wall thickness, and check-weigh all cases to +/-3 grains to ensure uniform powder capacity. I used to check cases to +/- 1 grain, but while this is appropriate for a small case like a .223, in the '06 it is "measuring with micrometers while cutting with axes! Uniforming flasholes, primer pockets and neck wall concentricity gets you the most improvement. Weighing cases is only used to isolate the extremely "heavy" or "light" ones. These can still be used for load development, or for slow-fire standing stages. Don't pitch them. In boltguns cases should be are fire-formed in the particular rifle they will be used in, and then neck-sized only, using a Jones sizer with .330" ring or Lee collet and dead-length seater.

It is entirely unnecessary to weigh every powder charge if you use a good powder measure and consistent technique, but you should always verify the measure setting with a scale when you set up. My favorite powders for long range loads in the .30-'06 are either IMR or Hodgdon 4350..... With Hodgdon or IMR 4350 powder, using commercial cases with an average weight of 185 grs., and either Winchester WLR or Federal 210M primers, I use 56 grs. with the 180-gr. Sierra MatchKing, 54 grs. with the 185 Lapua, or 53 grs. with the 190s at 600 yards. For windy days at 600 and for 1000 yards I use 52 grs. with a 200-gr. Sierra MatchKing.

Overall cartridge length is 3.40", or adjusted to clear the lands upon chambering by 0.010" to 0.030". You should avoid "jamming" bullets into the rifling, but "jump" should not exceed 1/10 of the bullet diameter. These cartridge exceed magazine length and are intended for single-loading only. If using these charges for hunting loads with softpoint bullets, to be magazine fed, reduce the charges 1-1/2 grains. Powder charges should also be reduced 1/2 grain for each 5 grain difference in average case weight to compensate for heavier military brass. 

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corerf posted this 20 January 2021

Again, Ed would likely post this. If its not a sticky it should be.



The Load" is 13 Grains of Red Dot"
(If you missed this when it appeared in Handloader's Digest, 10th Ed. here it is again...
By C.E. Harris, Revised 2-16-94
My success in economizing by using up leftover shotshell powder has changed my approach to handloading. I had a caddy of Red Dot, and no longer reloaded shotshells, so asked myself, "what can I do with it?" My shooting is now mostly high-power rifle. I needed several hundred rounds a week to practice offhand, reloading, and working the bolt in sitting and prone rapid, but didn't want to burn out my barrel or my wallet. Powder used to be cheap, but today is $20/lb. (or more), so cost is a factor in component choice.
I used to ignore pistol or shotgun powders in reduced rifle loads for the usual reasons: the risk of accidental double-charges, fears of erratic ignition, and concerns with maintaining accuracy, and reduced utility with a low-power load.
Still, the caddy of Red Dot kept "looking at me" from the corner. Would it work? Looking at data in the RCBS Cast Bullet Manual No. 1 and the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook suggested it would, so I tried it, much to my delight! Red Dot is bulky, compared to the usual rifle powders used in .30-'06-size cases. It occupies more powder space in typical charges than common "reduced load" rifle powders, such as #2400, IMR4227, IMR4198 or RL-7. The lower bulk density of Red Dot adequately addresses my safety concerns because it makes an accidental double charge far less likely.
After considerable experimentation, my friends and I found "The Load" IS 13 grains of Hercules Red Dot, in any FULL SIZED rifle case of .30 cal. or larger."The Load" has distinct advantages over more expensive alternatives, within certain limitations, which are:
1. The case must be LARGER than the .300 Savage or .35 Remington.
2. The rifle must be of MODERN (post 189 design, suitable for smokeless powder, with a bore size of .30 cal. or larger.
3. The bullet weight must be within the NORMAL range for the given cartridge.
4. Inert fillers such as Dacron, kapok or are NOT RECOMMENDED! (Nor are they necessary).
Within these restrictions I have now engraved in stone, "The Load" works! 
The bullet may be either jacketed or cast. Gaschecked cast bullets required in the .30 cals., otherwise you will get leading, but plainbased ones work fine in the 8mm Mauser or larger.
"The Load" has shown complete success in the .30-40 Krag, .303 British, 7.65 Argentine, .308 Win., 7.62x54R Russian, .30-'06, 8x57 and .45-70 (strong-actioned rifles such as the 1886 Winchester or 1895 Marlin -- 12 grs. is maximum for 400 gr. bullets in the Trapdoor Springfield -- Ed.) Though I have not tried it, I have no doubt that "The Load" would work well in other cartridges fitting these parameters, such as the .35 Whelen, .358 Winchester, .375 H&H or .444 Marlin, based on RCBS and Lyman published data.
"The Load" fills 50% or more of a .308 Win or .30-'06 case. The risk of an accidental double charge is greatly reduced, because the blunder is immediately obvious if you visually check, powder fill on EVERY CASE, as you should whenever handloading! A bulky powder measures more uniformly, because normal variation in the measured volume represents a smaller percentage of the charge
Red Dot's granulation is somewhat less coarse than other flake powders of similar burning rate, such as 700-X, which aids metering. Its porous, uncoated flakes are easily ignited with standard primers. So-called "magnum" primers do no harm in cases larger than the .30-'06, but are neither necessary nor recommended in smaller ones. I DO NOT recommend pistol primers in reduced rifle loads, because weak primers may cause erratic ignition, and their thinner cups can perforate more easily, causing gas leakage and risk of personal injury!
The velocities obtained with 13 grs. of Red Dot appear mild, but "The Load" is no pipsqueak! In a case like the .308 or .30-'06, you get (from a 24" sporter
barrel) about 1450 f.p.s. with a 200- gr. cast bullet, 1500 with a 170-gr., or 1600 with a 150-gr. cast load. "The Load" is fully comparable to "yesterday's deer rifle", the .32-40, and provides good expansion of cheap, soft alloys (10-13 BHN) at woods ranges. 
Jacketed bullet velocities with "The Load" are about 120-150 f.p.s. less than a lubricated lead bullet of the same weight.
Regards, Ed

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corerf posted this 20 January 2021

I will vouch that THE LOAD is awesome. Ed is right on as usual. Proven many times by me, the load (the guidelines), works!


Good luck.

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Boschloper posted this 20 January 2021

I inherited a jug of surplus 4895. 28 grains under a 311291 works pretty good. Check my results in this years season military benchrest. 

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Spindrift posted this 20 January 2021

Vihtavuori N110, around 19grs

Norma 200, around 26grs

Vectan Tubal-3000, around 30grs.

No fillers used. N110 is my favourite powder for these kind of loads.

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Larry Gibson posted this 20 January 2021

Agree with boschloper, 4895 is the perfect powder for the 311291 in the 30-06 for velocities of 1600 - 1900 fps.


Concealment is not cover.........

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