There have been three fashionable write-in votes when the MeatEater viewers chosen The Best Whitetail Cartridge of All Time earlier this month: the .270 Winchester, the 7mm-08 Remington, and the .25-06 Remington.
A lot of you argued that these three cartridges deserved an opportunity to compete within the October Insanity event. We had been restricted to the cartridges chosen by the Wired to Hunt crew, however these three write-in choices are wonderful decisions for a lot of massive sport animals, together with whitetails.
We already coated the .270 vs. the 7mm-08 on this Caliber Battle, so now it’s time for the .25-06 to take its shot. If you happen to’re making an attempt to resolve between the 7mm-08 and the .25-06, you’ve come to the suitable place.
As a normal rule, the 7mm-08 shoots heavier, wider bullets shifting slower whereas the .25-06 shoots lighter, smaller bullets shifting quicker.
Halfway USA, one of many largest on-line ammo sellers, affords 7mm-08 cartridges loaded with bullets between 120 grains flying (roughly) 3,000 feet-per-second (fps) and 162 grains flying nearer to 2,500 fps.
The .25-06, however, will be discovered loaded with bullets as gentle as 85 grains touring 3,470 fps and as heavy as 120 grains touring 2,980 fps.
Eagle-eyed readers will discover that there’s one level of overlap: with 120-grain bullets, every cartridge shoots about 3,000 fps. To match apples to apples, the 120-grain 7mm-08 possibility in Federal’s Fusion line drops 12 inches at 300 yards with a 100-yard zero and 45 inches at 500 yards with a 200-yard zero. The .335 ballistic coefficient (BC) bullet drifts 27 inches at 500 yards with a ten mph cross breeze.
The .25-06 of the identical weight and line performs barely higher. Its .468 BC bullet drops 11 inches at 300 yards with a 100-yard zero and 40 inches at 500 yards with a 200-yard zero–one and 5 inches, respectively, higher than the 7mm-08. It bucks the wind even higher. With a ten mph cross breeze, this .25-06 solely drifts 18 inches.
However the 7mm-08 isn’t out of the ballistics race but. First, the cartridge shoots a (barely) wider bullet which is able to produce a (barely) wider wound channel. Whether or not this makes a lot distinction is debatable, however searching is difficult, and we want all the assistance we are able to get.
Second, and extra importantly, the 7mm-08 can fireplace heavier bullets that produce extra vitality at nearer distances. These 140-grain bullets, for instance, produce 2,525 ft.-lbs. of vitality on the muzzle and 1,479 ft.-lbs. at 300 yards. That’s greater than even the most popular .25-06 hundreds, similar to this 117-grain possibility that produces 2,385 ft.-lbs. on the muzzle and 1,354 ft.-lbs. at 300 yards. The vitality hole turns into narrower at longer distances, however usually talking, the 7mm-08 hits tougher on the overwhelming majority of distances you’re prone to pull the set off.
The .25-06 is a legendary varmint cartridge, and it affords flatter trajectories and fewer wind drift. However the 7mm-08 produces extra vitality with heavier bullets whereas nonetheless being a comparatively flat capturing cartridge that may be loaded with high-BC bullets.
It is a shut one, however I believe this spherical goes to the 7mm-08.
These cartridges are shut ballistically, however they’re even nearer in the case of recoil, ammo price and availability, and rifle availability.
Each cartridges are simple to shoot and produce about 12 ft.-lbs. of recoil vitality. (For context, a .30-06 Springfield hits with nearer to twenty ft.-lbs.)
Each cartridges additionally price about the identical, with the most affordable searching choices operating about $1.50 per spherical whereas higher-quality cartridges run nearer to $2.25 per spherical.
The 7mm-08 begins to tug away within the availability class. The .25-06 isn’t unusual–you’ll find it at your native sporting items retailer, and it’s extensively accessible on-line. However you’ll have extra choices with the 7mm-08 (29 in comparison with 23 on Halfway USA), and it’s extra prone to be in inventory (12 in comparison with 6 on Halfway USA).
Identical story with rifle availability. Scheels has 12 .25-06 rifles accessible on-line, all of that are cheap bolt-action searching rifles. However that very same sporting items retailer has 40 7mm-08 rifles in inventory. All of those rifles are bolt-action, however they run the gamut from sub-$500 Savage fashions to light-weight mountain rifles from Christensen Arms.
You’re unlikely to note a lot distinction between these two cartridges whereas capturing them on the vary, however you’ll discover a distinction once you’re on the lookout for a rifle and ammo on the gun retailer. For that cause, this spherical additionally goes to the 7mm-08.
The .25-06 is a good varmint cartridge. As Frank C. Barnes put it in “Cartridges of the World,” “some have claimed it’s unsurpassed” with the 87-grain bullet. However whereas it’s greater than ample for whitetail (as lots of you rightly famous), it’s underpowered for bigger sport like elk and moose.
The 7mm-08 can be a terrific varmint cartridge, and it actually shines within the whitetail class. You’re unlikely to need to path a buck very far should you hit him within the vitals with a 7mm-08. The query is, can it bounce as much as elk-sized animals?
By most accounts, the reply is, “Sure.” In the identical reference e book, Barnes says that with bullets heavier than 140 grains, the 7mm-08 “can be appropriate for heavier sport, similar to elk.” He’s most likely being slightly conservative. The success of 6.5mm cartridges on elk, as most of the MeatEater crew have skilled, signifies that the 7mm-08 could be equally as efficient. It shoots a wider bullet shifting quicker than the 6.5 Creedmoor, so whereas its vary could be extra restricted than a .300 Win. Magazine., it’s nonetheless greater than able to bringing down an elk.
The identical could be mentioned for the .25-06, however fewer folks would say it.
And the Winner Is…
In most Caliber Battles, when a cartridge loses the Ballistics class it could actually typically make up floor within the Shootability class. However as a result of the 7mm-08 additionally affords manageable recoil and higher ammo availability, it made a clear sweep of the .25-06.
That doesn’t imply the .25-06 is a nasty cartridge. It’s caught round for 54 years as a standardized cartridge, and it’s been round even longer as a wildcat. It’s a improbable possibility for varmint and deer, and it deserves a spot alongside the perfect in that class. However the 7mm-08 is barely higher as an all-around hunter, which is why it wins this matchup.
General Winner: 7mm-08 Remington
Characteristic picture by way of Ray J Gadd.