Of all the cartridges in the Americas, the .30-06 is the standard of comparison for many hunters, survivalists and at one time bullseye shooters. The .30-06 reigned supreme for most of the last century. Today’s standard is the .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO. The .308 is a western world standard.
30-06 Family of Cartridges
The 30-06 siblings are the .25-06, .270 Winchester and the .35 Whelen which are commercial cartridges based on the 30-06 and there are many wildcats. Thirty-aught-six brass was the basis for the 308 Winchester; indeed, it can be converted to .308 by trimming and running it through a sizing die. In fact, the 30-06 case is the basis for the 44 auto mag and with some trimming and inside reaming it has even been converted to .45 auto brass. The case is probably one of the most versatile cases to ever existed.
7.92×57mm Mauser VS 30-06
The only exception might the 57mm long Mauser cases, like the 7.9x57mm Mauser (aka: 8mm Mauser), the 7x57mm Mauser and is the basis for many European sporting rounds as well as a worldwide military legacy. Even the venerable ’06 design was heavily influenced by the Mauser cartridge.
308 VS 30-06 Ballistics
The .308 Winchester in it’s civilian guise or the 7.62x51mm NATO is a very accurate and versatile cartridge, but the .30-06 handles heavier bullets better when approaching 200 grains. The ’06 may not be the ideal cartridge for everything, it is a bit of an overkill for varmints, but medium game up to the big bruins it is very effective. It may be considered a bit marginal for grizzlies, moose and bison, but it will still get the job done in the hands of an accomplished marksman. For busting silhouettes and other competitive shooting sports it is still viable. The .308 is good to go out to 700-800 yards and kills in combat have even exceeded 1000-yards, but the slight additional pep of the ’06 would ensure solid performance at those ranges. Like the .308 Winchester the ’06 is an inherently accurate round. For the average one rifle hunter it can cover nearly every field of endeavor on the American continents, north or south. Chambered in the Springfield, Enfield and Garand rifles it dominated the battlefields from the early 20th century to the Vietnam War where some sniper rifles and Browning machine guns were still being pressed into service. In war it was a little light as all guns in the .30 caliber range for antiaircraft use, did not do well against light armor, but was a very effective round against thin skinned vehicles and enemy troops. It is the .30-06’s powder capacity that allows it to shove heavy bullets down range. Operating within the pressure limits about 60,000 psi per SAAMI specs, it will still give good velocities with 200 grain bullets or heavier. Nearly every sporting gun maker chambers the .30-06 to this day. Not quite as popular as the .308 it is still a very common caliber met on the trail. If your getting into hunting, but the budget bears only one gun you could do much worse than go with the .30-06 it will take white tails, mule deer up to elk with no problems. Shooting one gun means you can get very adept with it. Javelina on up the grandpappy ’06 will do its part.