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.30-06 Springfield
From left to right 9.3x62mm, .30-06 Springfield, 8 x 57 IS, 6.5 x 55 and .308 Winchester cartridges. The 7.62x51mm NATO (not pictured) is similar in appearance to the .308 Winchester.
Type Rifle
Place of origin  United States
Service history
In service 1906
Used by USA and others
Wars World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War
Production history
Designer United States Military
Designed 1906
Produced 1906-present
Parent case .30-03
Case type Rimless, bottleneck
Bullet diameter 7.823 mm (.308)
Neck diameter 8.63 mm (0.340 in)
Shoulder diameter 11.20 mm (0.441 in)
Base diameter 11.96 mm (0.471 in)
Rim diameter 12.01 mm (0.473 in)
Rim thickness 1.24 mm (0.049 in)
Case length 63.35 mm (2.494 in)
Overall length 84.84 mm (3.340 in)
Case capacity 4.43 cm³ (68 gr H2O)
Rifling twist 254 mm (1 in 10 in)
Primer type Large rifle
Maximum pressure 405 MPa (58,700 psi)
Ballistic performance
Bullet weight/type Velocity Energy
150 gr (9.7 g) Nosler Ballistic Tip 2,900 ft/s (880 m/s) 2,820 ft·lbf (3,820 J)
165 gr (10.7 g) BTSP 2,800 ft/s (850 m/s) 2,872 ft·lbf (3,894 J)
180 gr (12 g) Nosler partition 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s) 2,913 ft·lbf (3,949 J)
200 gr (13 g) Partition 2,569 ft/s (783 m/s) 2,932 ft·lbf (3,975 J)
220 gr (14 g) RN 2,500 ft/s (760 m/s) 2,981 ft·lbf (4,042 J)
Test barrel length: 24 inch
Source: Federal Cartridge[1] / Accurate Powder[2]
30-06 Spring.PNG
Eight .30-06 cartridges loaded to an en bloc clip for the M1 Garand.
Naval ordnance men loading a belt of .30-06 into an SBD Dauntless.

The .30-06 Springfield cartridge (pronounced “thirty-aught-six”, "thirty-oh-six") or 7.62 x 63 mm in metric notation, was introduced to the United States Army in 1906 (hence “06”) and standardized, used until the 1960s and early 1970s. It replaced the .30-03, 6 mm Lee Navy and .30 US Army (also called .30-40 Krag). The .30-06 remained the US Army's main cartridge for nearly 50 years before it was finally replaced by the 7.62 x 51 mm (7.62x51mm NATO, commercial .308 Winchester). When loaded with a bullet that expands, tumbles, or fragments in tissue, this cartridge is capable of delivering devastating terminal performance, including remote wounding effects known as hydrostatic shock.[3][4][5]



Much of the rest of the world at the turn of the century was in the process of adopting the pointed spitzer bullet: France in 1898, Germany in 1905, Russia in 1908, Britain in 1914. When it was introduced, the .30-03 was thus behind the times for this among other reasons. A new case was developed with a slightly shorter case neck to fire a higher velocity, 150-grain (9.7 g) spitzer bullet at 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s).

The M1903 Springfield rifle, introduced alongside the earlier cartridge, was quickly modified to accept the .30-06 cartridge, known as the M1906. Modifications to the rifle included shortening the barrel at its breech and recutting the chamber. This was so that the shorter ogive of the new bullet would not have to jump too far to reach the rifling. Other changes included elimination of the troublesome 'rod bayonet' of the earlier Springfield rifles.

Experience gained in World War I indicated that other nations' machine guns far outclassed American ones in maximum effective range. Additionally, before the widespread employment of light mortars and artillery, long-range machine gun 'barrage' or indirect fires were considered important in U.S. infantry tactics.[6] For these reasons, in 1926, the Ordnance Corps developed the .30 M1 Ball cartridge using a 174-grain (11.3 g) bullet with a 9 degree boat tail, traveling at a reduced muzzle velocity of 2,640 ft/s (800 m/s). This bullet offered significantly greater range from machineguns and rifles alike due to its increased ballistic coefficient. Additionally, a gilding metal jacket was developed that all but eliminated the metal fouling that plagued the earlier cartridge.

Wartime surplus totaled over 2 billion rounds of ammunition. Army regulations called for training use of the oldest ammunition first. As a result, the older .30-06 ammunition was expended for training; stocks of M1 ammunition were allowed to slowly grow until all of the older ammo had been fired. By 1936 it was discovered that the maximum range of the new M1 ammunition and its 174-grain (11.3 g), boat-tailed bullets was beyond the safety limitations of many ranges. An emergency order was made to manufacture quantities of ammunition that matched the ballistics of the older cartridge as soon as possible. A new cartridge was developed in 1938 that was essentially a duplicate of the old M1906 round, but with a gilding metal jacket and a different lead alloy, resulting in a bullet that weighed 152 grains (9.8 g) instead of 150. This cartridge, the Cartridge .30 M2 Ball, used a flat-based bullet fired at a higher muzzle velocity (2,805 ft/s) than either of its predecessors.


It was used in the bolt-action M1903 Springfield rifle, the bolt-action M1917 Enfield rifle, the semi-automatic M1 Garand, the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), the Remington 700 hunting rifle and numerous machine guns, including the M1919 series. It served the United States in both World Wars and in the Korean War, its last major use being in Vietnam. Large volumes of surplus brass made it the basis for dozens of commercial and wildcat cartridges, as well as being extensively used for reloading. The .30-06's power, combined with the availability of surplus firearms chambered for it, and so demand for commercial ammunition, has made it a popular hunting round. It is suitable for large mammals such as deer, elk, and moose.


The .30-06 is a very powerful cartridge designed when 1,000 metres (1,100 yd) shots were expected. In 1906, the original M1906 .30-06 cartridge consisted of a 9.7 grams (150 gr), flat-base cupronickel-jacketed-bullet. After WWI, the U.S. military needed better long-range performance machine guns. Based on weapons performance reports from Europe, a streamlined, 11.2 grams (173 gr) boattail, gilding-metal bullet was used. The .30-06 cartridge, with the 11.2-gram (173-grain) bullet was called Cartridge, .30, M1 Ball. The .30-06 cartridge was far more powerful than the smaller Japanese 6.5 x 50mm Arisaka cartridge and was still much more powerful than the Japanese 7.7 x 58 Arisaka as well. The new M1 ammunition proved to be significantly more accurate than the M1906 round.[7]

In 1938, the unstained, 9.8 grams (151 gr), flat-base bullet combined with the .30-06 case became the M2 ball cartridge. According to U.S. Army Technical Manual 43-0001-27, M2 Ball specifications required 835 metres per second (2,740 ft/s) velocity, measured 24 metres (79 ft) from the muzzle. M2 Ball was the standard-issue ammunition for military rifles and machine guns until it was replaced by the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO round for the M14 and M60. For rifle use, M2 Ball ammunition proved to be less accurate than the earlier M1 cartridge; even with match rifles, a target group of 5 inches (130 mm) diameter at 200 yards (180 m) using the 150-grain (9.7 g) M2 bullet was considered optimal, and many rifles performed less well.[7] The U.S. Marine Corps retained stocks of M1 ammunition for use by snipers and trained marksmen throughout the Solomon Islands campaign in the early years of the war.[8] In an effort to increase accuracy some snipers resorted to use of the heavier .30-06 M2 armor-piercing round, a practice that would re-emerge during the Korean War.[9] Others sought out lots of M2 ammunition produced by Denver Ordnance, which had proved to be more accurate than those produced by other wartime ammunition plants when used for sniping at long range.[10]

Commercially manufactured rifles chambered in .30-06 are popular for hunting. Current .30-06 factory ammunition varies in bullet weight from 7.1 g to 14.3 g (110 to 220 grains) in solid bullets, and as low as 3.6 g (55 grains) with the use of a sub-caliber bullet in a sabot. Loads are available with reduced velocity and pressure as well as increased velocity and pressure for stronger firearms. The .30-06 remains one of the most popular sporting cartridges in the world. Many hunting loads have over 2800 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle and use expanding bullets that can deliver rapid energy transfer and hydrostatic shock to living targets.

The newer 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester cartridge offers similar performance to standard .30-06 loadings in a smaller cartridge. The greater cartridge capacity of the .30-06 allows much more powerful loadings if the shooter desires.

Cartridge dimensions

The .30-06 Springfield has a 68.2 grains (4.43 ml ) H2O cartridge case capacity. The exterior shape of the case was designed to promote reliable case feeding and extraction in bolt action rifles and machine guns alike, under extreme conditions.

.30-06 Springfield.svg

.30-06 Springfield maximum C.I.P. cartridge dimensions. All sizes in millimeters (mm).

Americans defined the shoulder angle at alpha/2 = 17.5 degrees. The common rifling twist rate for this cartridge is 1 in 10 in. (254mm), 4 grooves, Ø lands = .30 (7.62 mm), Ø grooves = .308 (7.82 mm), land width = .1768 (4.49 mm) and the primer type is large rifle.

According to the official C.I.P. (Commission Internationale Permanente pour l'Epreuve des Armes à Feu Portatives) guidelines, the .30-06 Springfield case can handle up to 58,740 psi (405 MPa) piezo pressure. In CIP-regulated countries, every rifle cartridge combination has to be proofed at 125% of this maximum C.I.P. pressure to certify for sale to consumers.

The 8x64mm S is probably the closest European ballistic twin of the .30-06 Springfield.

Cartridge 30-06.png

.30-06 Springfield cartridge dimensions. All sizes in inches (in).

U.S. military cartridge types

NOTE: .30-06 cartridges are also produced commercially with many different bullets and to a number of different specifications.

  • Armor Piercing, M2
This cartridge is used against lightly armored vehicles, protective shelters, and personnel, and can be identified by its black bullet tip. Bullet is flat base, weight 163-168 grains.
  • Armor Piercing Incendiary, T15/M14 and M14A1
This cartridge may be substituted for the M2 armor piercing round and is normally employed against flammable targets. The tip of the bullet is colored with aluminum paint. The M14A1 featured an improved core design and incendiary charge.
  • Ball, M1906
This cartridge is used against personnel and unarmored targets, and can be identified by its silver-colored bullet. The M1906 has a 9.7 g (150 grain) projectile and flat base. Its jacket is a cupro-nickel alloy which was found to quickly foul the bore.
  • Ball, M1
The M1 has a 11.2 g (173 grain), nine-degree boat-tailed projectile designed for aerodynamic efficiency. Though it had a lower initial velocity, velocity and energy were greater at longer ranges due to its efficient shape. The jacket material was also changed to gilding metal to reduce fouling.
  • Ball, M2
With a 9.8 g (152 grain) bullet based on the profile of the M1906, this cartridge incorporated the gilding-metal jacket of the M1 projectile combined with a slightly heavier, pure-lead core. It had a higher muzzle velocity than either of the earlier cartridges.
  • Blank, M1909
This cartridge is used to simulate rifle fire. The cartridge is identified by having no bullet, and by a cannelure in the neck of the case which is sealed by red lacquer.
  • Dummy, M40
This cartridge is used for training. The cartridge has six longitudinal corrugations and there is no primer.
  • Explosive, T99
Development of a cartridge that contained a small explosive charge which more effectively marked its impact. Often referred to as an "observation explosive" cartridge, the T99 was never adopted.
  • Incendiary, M1917
Early incendiary cartridge, bullet had a large cavity in the nose to allow the material to more easily shoot forward on impact. As a result the M1917 had a tendency to expand on impact. The M1917 had a blackened tip.
  • Incendiary, M1918
Variant of the M1917 with a normal bullet profile to comply with international laws regarding open-tipped expanding bullets.
  • Incendiary, M1
This cartridge is used against unarmored, flammable targets. The tip of the bullet is painted blue.
  • Match, M72
This cartridge is used in marksmanship competition firing, and can be identified by the word "MATCH" on the head stamp.
  • Tracer, M1
Tracer for observing fire, signaling, target designation, and incendiary purposes. The M1 has a red tip.
  • Tracer, M2
Tracer for observing fire, signaling, target designation, and incendiary purposes. Has a short burn time. The M2 originally had a white tip, but then switched to a red tip like the M1.
  • Tracer, T10/M25
Improved tracer over M1/M2. Designed to be less intense in terms of brightness than either the M1 or M2 tracers. The M25 had an orange tip.
  • Rifle Grenade Cartridges, M1, M2, and M3/E1
These cartridge are used in conjunction with the M1 (for the M1903 rifle), M2 (for the M1917 rifle), and the M7 series (for the M1 rifle) grenade launchers to propel rifle grenades. The cartridge has no bullet and the mouth is crimped. The differences between the three cartridges have to do with the powder charge and the subsequent range of the launched grenade. The M3E1 also featured an extended case neck.[11][12]

United States Military firearms using the .30-06 cartridge

View from the turret of an M67 "Zippo". On the right is a mounted M1919 Browning machine gun with an attached box of linked .30-06 ammunition.

See also


  1. ^ "Federal Cartridge Co. ballistics page". Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  2. ^ "Accurate Powder reload data table" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  3. ^ Chamberlin FT, Gun Shot Wounds, in Handbook for Shooters and Reloaders, Vol. II, Ackley PO, ed., Plaza Publishing, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966.
  4. ^ Courtney A, Courtney M: Links between traumatic brain injury and ballistic pressure waves originating in the thoracic cavity and extremities. Brain Injury 21(7): 657-662, 2007.
  5. ^ Scientific Evidence for Hydrostatic Shock
  6. ^ George, John (Lt. Col.), Shots Fired In Anger, NRA Press (1981), pp. 402-403
  7. ^ a b Dunlap, Roy, Ordnance Went Up Front, Samworth Press (1948), p. 303
  8. ^ George, John (Lt. Col.), Shots Fired In Anger, NRA Press (1981), p. 409
  9. ^ Rocketto, Hap, Biography: William S. Brophy, Civilian Marksmanship Program
  10. ^ George, John (Lt. Col.), Shots Fired In Anger, NRA Press (1981), pp. 81, 428, 434-435
  11. ^ "Gary's U.S. Infantry Weapons Reference Guide - .30 Caliber (.30-06 Springfield) Ammunition". Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  12. ^ "An Introduction to Collecting .30-06". Retrieved 2007-09-21. 

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