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Choosing A Hunting Rifle: Some .30-06 Models Compared

The .30-06 is a real American icon.  Rounds first offered in 1906 by Frankford Arsenal were used in United States .30 caliber service weapons for almost fifty years – until 1954, when they were replaced by .308 Winchester (NATO rounds.)   Rifles designed for the venerable .30-06 round have remained a favorite for all kinds of gun aficionados, particularly hunters.

Whether you want to bag a whitetail or mule deer, an elk or moose, a good rifle loaded with .30-06 can help you get the job done.  Here are some popular models to consider, along with some additional tips for finding the best rifle for your money.

Browning Bar Safari Lightweight .30-06

The Browning Bar Safari Lightweight .30-06 is an excellent example of a semi-automatic rifle that just about any member of the family who has been trained to shoot can handle.  It is equipped with an excellent rubber recoil pad, and although there are some naysayers who think a semi-auto should not be used for hunting, a gun like this can make the difference if you need to take an extra shot to bring down your game.   This is a powerful rifle, and it is accurate.  Browning rifles generally cost more than the competition, and this gun is no exception.  Expect to pay over $1000.00 for a brand new rifle from the Browning Bar line.

Howa Lightning (Model 1500)

While the Howa Lightning is not a remarkable weapon to look at, field tests conducted by the experts at proved it to be accurate and well-made.  It has a steel receiver, barrel, and floorplate with a blued, shiny finish.  The Howa Lightning has a black synthetic stock, and the internal 5 shot magazine and aluminum alloy trigger guard have a black finish – definitely not a pretty gun, but one you won’t worry about scratching or denting.

Testers were impressed with trigger movement, which let off at 3 ¾ pounds according to their self-recording trigger gauge.  They were impressed by the fact it felt about a half-pound lighter.  They also felt that the Howa was evenly balanced and comfortable to grip.  The rifle has a 1.73 inch wide forend and a 1.43 inch wide pistol grip.  In addition, testers felt the raised cheekpiece allowed for a good stockweld with excellent cheek and jaw contact.

At just over $400, the Howa Lightning is a good, affordable, all around hunting rifle.

Ruger No. 1 International .30-06

The Ruger No. 1 International .30-06 is a powerful single shot rifle recommended for solid long range shots.  Not only is this a handsome weapon equipped with a classic looking, yet totally modern Farquharson-style hammerless falling block action, it has a beautiful satin-finished walnut stock that has been carefully hand checkered.   If you’re a good shot, and you don’t mind making a good investment in a weapon, the Ruger No. 1 is an outstanding choice.  It’s just under $1,000.00 brand new.

.30-06 Hunting Rifles To Avoid

While any gun is better than no gun, there are some .30-06 rifles that fall below the mark.  If you are not an experienced gun owner, get someone who is to go shopping with you.  If you’re buying a used weapon, check to be sure it has been maintained well.  If you’re checking out pawn shops, avoid anything that has visible dirt or rust on it, no matter how cheap it is.  A gun that has been poorly maintained can jam, which can cause problems like missed shots or even a round going off in the chamber – and that can cause serious injury or death.

Save Money: Buy A Used Rifle

Buying a used rifle from a reputable dealer is one of the best ways to get a high quality .30-06 from a maker like Winchester, Remington or Browning.  Dealers have a reputation to uphold and they don’t sell weapons without testing them.

Gun shows are another source for reliable .30-06 rifles as well as other weapons and ammunition.  Go at the beginning of the first day for the best selection, and be sure to bring your ID with you.   If you need ammunition, gun shows are a great place to get it.

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  1. Pretty good write on a very powerful and affordable weapon. The 30-06 will literally take any game on the planet, certainly in our fine country and is manageable for most shooters. We use a Remington 760 pump style that is totally reliable and uses either a 4 or 10 round magazine. Ammo is affordable and a wide selection is available. A good calber for any prepper and deserves a good consideration.

    • hickabilly ive got a remington model 760 gamemaster rifle in 30-06 it came with a 4 round magazine im interested in where you got a 10 round mag for it mine was made in 67 and just recently got an upgraded scope when i bought it she came with a simmons 8 point scope and i recently purchased a redfield scope as they are now made by leupold and can be purchased fer round the $200 mark while at cabelas i may have went a lil overboard as i found in their used gun rack a browning bar in 338win mag turns out its a 89 model hardly used so i added one o these redfield scopes to her the ammo is a lil pricey but i like the gun and it shoots great

  2. Got the 10 round magazines from and they work fine. About $20 each. Lots of other good stuff too and decent prices.

  3. rdnkrfnk, you might check out midwayusa too. Good folks and products there also.

    • thanls imma check them out too i prolly coulda shot more hogs if id had a bigger clip i got 4 n ran outta ammo not bad fer a pump gun but there was 30 to 50 hogs out there

  4. The Ruger No. 1 is not a particularly accurate rifle , as is often the case with the Brownings . Also , the Remington pump and semi-auto tend to wear out and are not reliable . I’m a gunsmith and I’ve worked on too many of these rifles . Best buys are the Howa with the Nightforce scope – sale priced at $400-450 , or the Savage 110 . Both are quite accurate and reliable . You won’t wear one out . Above all , get a good cleaning kit and use it – 90% of gun repairs are dirt related . Keep them clean , your life may depend on it .

  5. Thanks bmmm03, my 760 is old, but has had good care and shoots well. Haven’t tried a Howa, but they have a good reputaion and since I’m in a buying mood will check one out.

  6. Have to agree on the Savage. Like a Suzuki motorcylce, it is the best for the price. And (Like a broken record) whatever you get practice practice practice!
    One last thing, as a commander, I began to share the opinion of my armorers that too much cleaning destroys a rifle. If you shoot a round or two every day, cleaning once a week is fine. If you shoot a whole box in a day you need to clean. Like my horse, I never use them hard and put them away, hot or dirty. If you are not going to use it again, for a while, clean it before putting it away. But constant and obssessive/compulsive cleaning can wear a gun out.

  7. 30.06 is a time proven choice. But, with the economy like it is, here’s an affordable option that will take down any size game in North America, is also time proven, and at a fraction of the cost. A good Bristish .303. I personally have two. One was given to me, the other I bought for only $97.00. It’s a good solid bolt action. Take down is also exceptionally simple. Cleaning couldn’t be easier. Just remove the bolt, Brush and swab the barrel, clean the bolt and your done in less than 10 minutes. Rugid and touch. They are a bit on the heavy side, but not as heavy as a Spring feild 03. And my 1917 British 303 (my favorite) is the most acurate weapon in my survival arsenal. Smooth action, not bad on recoil, and I can lube it with oil from the crank case of my truck in an emergency. Personally, I consider it the timex of rifles. There were so many produced and put on the world market that they’re supply is mind boggling.

  8. well i love my o3a3 but i picked up a pair of remington 742s last fall in 308 and i hate to say this but i think that they are nicer to shoot than my old 06 about half the recoil and only about 200fps slower so id say that anything the old 06 will do the 308 can do out to 300 yards anyway and my wife enjoys shooting the 308 lots more than the 06 but im sure if i do draw a moose tag of my own ill be useing my 7mm rem mag again and my wife will be useing her 308 now instead of the 06 that she used on her moose i also have a 303 brit that shoots well but to me the recoil is much harder than any of my hunting rifles and i only paid 75 bucks for it at a gun show but what ever you have to hunt with rember to shoot that gun as often as you can so that you know what you can do with it just because your gun can drop a deer at 600 yards doesent mean that you can shoot that well out to 600 yard i know some guys that hunt deer with the magnums that can hit the side of a barn past 200 yards and its not the guns falt its the one behind the trigger that cant do it

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