.30-06 vs 7mm – 2022 Comparison

The .30-06, the longest serving cartridge of the United States Military, is still a venerable and widely popular round even after 115 years of its introduction. Can you believe that a thinner .284” diameter bullet from the 7mm Rem Mag can cause more damage downrange than the .308” diameter bullet of the .30-06?

Keep reading this guide and you will get a better idea of when to use .30-06 or the 7mm Rem Mag.

TL;DR: 30-06 vs 7mm

.30-06

7mm

Pros

.30-06

Suitable for long range use

Capable of handling any game animal

Heavy bullet options up to 200+ grains

Can be fired from semi-auto and bolt action rifles

Widely popular with a ton of ammo and rifle options

7mm

Powerful magnum round suitable for long range

Flat shooting round with good ballistic coefficient

Retains good amount of energy and momentum at long range

Offers performance similar to heavier bullets with its lightweight bullets

Cons

.30-06

Semi-auto rifles are heavy

A bit obsolete compared to similar modern cartridges

7mm

Ammo can be expensive

Only available in bolt action

Rifles are long and clumsy to maneuver

Best For

.30-06

The .30-06 is a predecessor of the 7.62 NATO and is great for hunting, competition, and range practice.

7mm

The 7mm is exclusively a long range round good for big game hunting and F-class competitions.

.30-06 Overview

The .30-06 also known as the 30 Government 06 and commonly called ‘thirty ought six’ is a rimless bottlenecked cartridge that fires a .308 inch diameter bullet. Also known as 7.62x63mm in metric notation, the .30-06 was adopted by the United States Military in 1906 and replaced the .30-03 and .30-40 Krag cartridges that were prevalent at the time in military service. 

This cartridge served as the ammo for primary service rifles and machine guns for the U.S Military for over five decades until being replaced to a major extent by the 7.62 NATO in the early 1950s and then the 5.56 NATO in the 1970s.

The predecessor of this cartridge, the .30-03 remained short-lived and lasted for only three years before getting replaced by it in 1906 due to its poor accuracy. The .30-06 solved problems of accuracy, recoil, and also the ability of being fired from semi-auto firearms. 

The .30-06 has been an extremely popular cartridge for hunters across the globe due to its good stopping power and reliable performance. Additionally, this is a long range cartridge and suitable for distance out to and beyond 1,000 yards. 

Photo credit: skyaboveus.com

7mm Overview

While the 7mm caliber covers a family of many cartridges, here we will be specifically talking about the 7mm Remington Magnum cartridge. It is a rimless bottlenecked cartridge introduced by Remington Arms Company on the market in 1962. It has been modeled around the venerable .375 H&H Magnum cartridge which is a popular bear country guide gun magnum cartridge. 

The 7mm Rem Mag fires a 0.284-inch diameter bullet and is almost the same in length as a .270 Weatherby Magnum round. Upon its introduction on the market, this round quickly rivaled the .264 Winchester Magnum cartridges due to its amazing ballistics, long range, and power. 

Photo credit: americanhunter.com

It is also a formidable competitor for the .30-06 cartridge and is said to have slightly better ballistics and performance over a long range. We will evaluate these claims in the next sections. 

This cartridge never gained traction as a popular military round, but it is fairly popular as a big game hunting cartridge across North America and Canada and also a competition round. Another important factor to note is that this cartridge requires a 24 inches barrel as the bare minimum barrel length to achieve the desired performance.

.30-06 vs 7mm: Cartridge Specs

Let’s do a quick side-by-side comparison of the dimensions of these two cartridges.

.30-067mm
Bullet Diameter.308 in (7.8 mm).284 in (7.2 mm)
Neck Diameter.340 in (8.6 mm).315 in (8.0 mm)
Base Diameter.471 in (12.0 mm).512 in (13.0 mm)
Case Length2.494 in (63.3 mm)2.5 in (64 mm)
Overall Length3.34 in (85 mm)3.29 in (84 mm)
Case Capacity68 grains82 grains
Max Pressure (SAAMI)60,190 psi61,000 psi
Typical Casing MaterialBrassBrass
Typical Bullet Weight (gr)150 – 220 grains140 – 165 grains

The 7mm Remington Magnum is a slightly longer cartridge when compared to the .30-06 with a difference of around 0.5 inches. Both these cartridges suit standard/long rifle actions, however, the 7mm being a magnum cartridge is only suitable for bolt action rifles. On the other hand, the .30-06 has many bolt action rifle options and some semi-auto options to choose from, like the venerable M1 Garand. 

The 7mm is also a fatter case compared to the .30-06 and has a larger rim diameter along with a steeper shoulder angle. So the 7mm has a 30% more case capacity and will deliver a better velocity. As far as loading pressure is concerned, both these cartridges are loaded at almost the same level with the 7mm having a 900 psi higher pressure rating. 

The .30-06 fires a .308 inch diameter bullet whereas the 7mm fires a .284 inch diameter bullet. Given the same bullet weight and being loaded at similar pressures, the bullet size plays an important role in deciding factors like sectional density and hence penetration. I will elaborate more on these technical details in further sections. 

As far as bullet weights are concerned, the most common weights for .30-06 bullets fall in the range of 150 to 180 grains. Uncommon loads as light as 110 grains and 220 grains are also available on the market. On the other hand, the 7mm Rem Mag offers common bullet weights in the range of 140 to 168 grains. 

.30-06 vs 7mm: Ballistics

Ballistics describe the path of motion of a bullet at varying distances. The factors evaluated under ballistics include the trajectory, velocity, and energy of the bullet. The ballistics describes how the bullet will perform at different distances and if it is suitable for hunting down a specific game animal. 

There are flat shooting rounds which are more suitable for competitions, sniping, and other tactical uses. Whereas some rounds have more energy and are suitable for short range application.

30-06 vs 7mm: Trajectory

.30-06

Range 24” barrel/BC 0.410/ 150 gr FMJ 24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 165 gr Nosler Partition 24” barrel/BC 0.474/ 180 gr Nosler Partition
200 yds4“ Drop3.6“ Drop4“ Drop
300 yds14.5“ Drop13.3“ Drop14.5“ Drop
400 yds32.6“ Drop30.2“ Drop32.4“ Drop
500 yds60.4“ Drop55.8“ Drop58.7“ Drop
600 yds99.8“ Drop92.4“ Drop69.1“ Drop

7mm

Range 24” barrel/BC 0.408/150 gr Jacketed Soft Point24” barrel/BC 0.434/140 gr Nosler Partition24” barrel/BC 0.475/160 gr Nosler Partition
200 yds2.7“ Drop2.6“ Drop3.1“ Drop
300 yds10.4“ Drop9.9“ Drop11.5“ Drop
400 yds24“ Drop22.7“ Drop26.1“ Drop
500 yds44.6“ Drop42.2“ Drop47.7“ Drop
600 yds73.5“ Drop69.2“ Drop77.5“ Drop

Since both of these are long action cartridges and rated for long range use, it is important to closely compare the trajectory. This will give you a better idea of whether one cartridge is better than the other for long ranges. The trajectory is an important measure for competitive shooting and sniping applications. 

What is clearly evident from the data is that the .30-06 and 7mm Rem Mag bullets are almost similar in terms of ballistic coefficient. So the wind drag will affect both these bullets almost equally. 

Now comparing the bullets of equal weights from both these cartridges, we can clearly see that the 7mm Rem Mag is a flatter shooting bullet as the distance progresses. The rifles used for this testing have been zeroed at 100 yards and the .30-06 and 7mm Rem Mag have an average muzzle velocity of 2,800 fps and 3,000 fps respectively. 

Photo credit: longrangehunting.com

The difference in drop starts showing significantly beyond a range of 300 yards and increases as the bullets progress. While a 150 grain .30-06 bullet has a drop of 60.4 inches at 500 yards, the 7mm Rem Mag bullet drops only 44.6 inches. This difference in drop increases to more than 100 inches at 1,000 yards.

The 7mm Rem Mag is clearly a better choice than the .30-06 for long range engagements as it shoots flatter, requires lesser adjustments (for windage and elevation), and will have slightly more usable range. 

30-06 vs 7mm: Velocity & Kinetic Energy

The velocity is the measure of how fast a bullet moves at a specific distance, whereas the kinetic energy is the amount of energy it carries which can be transferred into the target. Approximately, a speed of more than 1,100 fps is considered supersonic and is more preferable because at such speeds the performance of a bullet is more predictable. A bullet traveling at a speed slower than this is called subsonic and each of these has its pros and cons. 

Talking about energy, the bullet loses its energy as it progresses in its flight path. However, how rapidly or slowly it loses this energy helps us decide the effective range of the bullet. 

.30-06

Range24” barrel/BC 0.410/ 150 gr FMJ24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 165 gr FMJ24” barrel/BC 0.474/ 180 gr FMJ
100 yds2,522 ft/s, 2,118 ft.lbs2,607 ft/s, 2,490 ft.lbs2,512 ft/s, 2,523 ft.lbs
200 yds2,314 ft/s, 1,783 ft.lbs2,395 ft/s, 2,101 ft.lbs2,332 ft/s, 2,174 ft.lbs
300 yds2,116 ft/s, 1,492 ft.lbs2,193 ft/s, 1,761 ft.lbs2,160 ft/s, 1,865 ft.lbs
400 yds1,928 ft/s, 1,238 ft.lbs2,000 ft/s, 1,465 ft.lbs1,995 ft/s, 1,591 ft.lbs
500 yds1,751 ft/s, 1,021 ft.lbs1,818 ft/s, 1,210 ft.lbs1,837 ft/s, 1,348 ft.lbs

7mm

Range24” barrel/BC 0.408/150 gr Jacketed Soft Point24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 140 gr FMJ24” barrel/BC 0.475/160 gr Nosler Partition
100 yds2,872 ft/s, 2,747 ft.lbs2,924 ft/s, 2,657 ft.lbs2,752 ft/s, 2,691 ft.lbs
200 yds2,647 ft/s, 2,333 ft.lbs2,709 ft/s, 2,281 ft.lbs2,563 ft/s, 2,333 ft.lbs
300 yds2,432 ft/s, 1,969 ft.lbs2,504 ft/s, 1,949 ft.lbs2,381 ft/s, 2,014 ft.lbs
400 yds2,227 ft/s, 1,652 ft.lbs2,308 ft/s, 1,656 ft.lbs2,207 ft/s, 1,730 ft.lbs
500 yds2,033 ft/s, 1,376 ft.lbs2,122 ft/s, 1,399 ft.lbs2,040 ft/s, 1,479 ft.lbs

Both these cartridges offer supersonic loads and the bullets stay supersonic at 1,000 yards. However, the 7mm Rem Mag stays supersonic up to a range of 1,300 yards, and the .30-06 drops below that at just 1,050 yards. 

According to our ballistics data, the 7mm Rem Mag is a faster bullet and maintains a difference of 300-400 fps in velocity compared to the .30-06 out to a range of 500 yards. This difference expands slightly more with increasing distances. 

It is an interesting fact that both the .30-06 and 7mm Rem Mag bullets lose velocity quite uniformly and are mostly not too much affected by yaw. 

Photo credit: rifleshooter.com

It is also important to remember that both these cartridges work best with rifles having a long barrel. While the .30-06 can reach optimal performance with a 22 or 24-inch barrel, the 7mm Rem Mag must be fired from at least a barrel length of 24 inches, with 26 inches being optimal. 

After velocity, now let’s talk about kinetic energy. With an average weight of 150 grains, the 7mm Rem Mag delivers a significant amount of energy out to 600 yards. The .30-06 has a wide range of bullet weights and surprisingly retains lesser energy even at increasing ranges. 

Comparison of the data explains that the 7mm Rem Mag is a better hard-hitting at short or long range when compared to the .30-06. However, both these cartridges carry enough energy to kill a deer at 400 yards. I will elaborate more on that in the next section.

It is also important to remember that both these cartridges work best with rifles having a long barrel. While the .30-06 can reach optimal performance with a 22 or 24-inch barrel, the 7mm Rem Mag must be fired from at least a barrel length of 24 inches, with 26 inches being optimal. 

After velocity, now let’s talk about kinetic energy. With an average weight of 150 grains, the 7mm Rem Mag delivers a significant amount of energy out to 600 yards. The .30-06 has a wide range of bullet weights and surprisingly retains lesser energy even at increasing ranges. 

Comparison of the data explains that the 7mm Rem Mag is a better hard-hitting at short or long range when compared to the .30-06. However, both these cartridges carry enough energy to kill a deer at 400 yards. I will elaborate more on that in the next section.

.30-06 vs 7mm: Stopping Power

The stopping power of a bullet describes how effectively it kills or maims a target at varying distances. Cartridges that can bring down bigger targets with a single shot have the best stopping power. 

The major factors used to evaluate this power are the momentum and sectional density of a bullet. 

30-06 vs 7mm: Momentum & Sectional Density

The sectional density of a projectile is the ratio between its mass and cross sectional area. The higher the sectional density of a bullet, the better will be its penetrating power. Hence, this factor is widely used to evaluate which bullets are suitable for bigger targets and long range. 

The next important factor is momentum which is the product of the mass and velocity of a projectile. A lightweight object moving at a fast velocity or a heavy object moving at a slow velocity can carry similar momentum. It is a measure of how effectively a moving object can transfer its energy into another object. 

.30-06

Range24” barrel/BC 0.410/ 150 gr FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.226
24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 165 gr FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.248
24” barrel/BC 0.474/ 180 gr FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.271
100 yds54 lb-ft/s61 lb-ft/s64 lb-ft/s
200 yds49 lb-ft/s56 lb-ft/s59 lb-ft/s
300 yds45 lb-ft/s51 lb-ft/s55 lb-ft/s
400 yds41 lb-ft/s47 lb-ft/s51 lb-ft/s
500 yds37 lb-ft/s42 lb-ft/s47 lb-ft/s

7mm

Range24” barrel/BC 0.408/150 gr Jacketed Soft Point
Sectional Density: 0.266
24” barrel/BC 0.409/ 140 gr FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.248
24” barrel/BC 0.475/160 gr Nosler Partition
Sectional Density: 0.283
100 yds61 lb-ft/s58 lb-ft/s62 lb-ft/s
200 yds56 lb-ft/s54 lb-ft/s58 lb-ft/s
300 yds52 lb-ft/s50 lb-ft/s54 lb-ft/s
400 yds47 lb-ft/s46 lb-ft/s50 lb-ft/s
500 yds43 lb-ft/s42 lb-ft/s46 lb-ft/s

Let’s first talk about sectional density (SD). As far as bullets are concerned, a sectional density of less than .200 is considered fit for hunting varmints and small game. An SD of 0.200 to 0.250 is considered fit for CXP2 (Class 2) game like deer and an SD of more than 0.260 is considered suitable for big game like elk and moose. Densities above .350 are considered ‘anti-anything’ rounds

According to our data analysis, both these cartridges with their 150 grain bullets are suitable for taking down deer-sized animals. Additionally, the heavier bullets carry enough power to penetrate deeper and cause more tissue damage. 

The .30-06 uses a fatter bullet (0.308) inches compared to the 7mm Rem Mag (0.284) inches, which gives it the capability to punch a bigger hole and cause more tissue damage. 

Photo credit: all4shooters.com

When speaking about comparable bullet weights, the .30-06 and 7mm Rem Mag have almost similar momentum, but with a slight edge to the 7mm Rem Mag. However, when we talk about heavy bullet weights like the 165 grain and above mark for the .30-06, it does have a slight edge in momentum at up to 400 yards.

.30-06 vs 7mm: Use Cases & Effective Range

The .30-06 and 7mm Rem Mag are quite similar in ballistics and stopping power, with the latter having a slight edge. Let’s understand where one excels over the other and their effective range. 

Medium Game Hunting

The .30-06 has been the go-to hunting round for a lot of hunters for many decades. It is one of the most reliable, accurate, and hard hitting rounds out there. The .308 caliber bullet is appropriate for bringing down medium game and the heaviest bullets retain ample energy to bring down a deer at 500 yards. The sectional density range of 0.226 to 0.270 makes it appropriate for that. 

The 7mm Rem Mag uses a .284 inch diameter bullet which is certainly smaller in diameter. But the high velocity, better momentum and energy characteristics make it an amazing deer cartridge out to 500-600 yards. Although not practical, that distance can come into play during mountain hunting. 

Neither of these cartridges is appropriate for small game hunting or varminiting as it will definitely be an overkill. Plus, if you’re looking to harvest some meat, there’s little probability you will find it. 

Photo credit: shootingmystery.com

Big Game Hunting

Big game hunting covers Class CXP3 animals like elk, moose, kudu, and similar. The .30-06 is a suitable and quite appropriate big game hunting round within a range of 300 yards. As a general rule of thumb, a bullet should be 150 grains in weight and have 1,500 foot-pounds of energy to take down an elk. 

Going by the numbers, the .30-06 and 7mm Rem Mag are appropriate for taking down big game out to a range of 400 yards. Good shot placement is obviously an important factor and that sort of range is quite uncommon for big game hunting. However, the point here is that both these rounds (bullets heavier than 150 grains) carry more than 1,500 fpe of energy at that range. 

As far as taking down big game is concerned, I would prefer taking a .30-06 rifle to the field because of its shorter barrel length and slightly lesser recoil characteristics. 

Long Range Use/Competitions

Both these cartridges are suitable for 1,000 yards and beyond. In fact, the 7mm Rem Mag is seen as a long range round because of its very flat trajectory and energy characteristics. It has the capability to punch down holes through light armor at long range and the flat trajectory and high BC is very helpful characteristic for snipers.

Photo credit: gameandfishmag.com

7mm Rem Mag is a better choice for very long range engagements. Plus, this cartridge can only be fired from bolt action rifles due to its magnum potential and long cartridge design. 

.30-06 vs 7mm: Costs, Availability, & Compatibility

After discussing the ballistics, performance, and applications of these rounds. It is also important to learn about their economics, availability, and compatibility.

Similar Pricing and Different Availability

The .30-06 is among the top 10 most popular cartridges in North America. Whereas the 7mm Rem Mag does not fit into that frame and is occasionally owned. The difference in price between these two rounds can be quite minimal. Match grade rounds of any cartridge are always expensive, but talking about commonly used loads, the price is generally very close. 

A box of 20 rounds of .30-06 costs an average of $25, whereas a 20 round box of 7mm Rem Mag can be found as low as $30. Additionally, .30-06 is a more commonly found round on the market, but the same cannot be said for 7mm Rem Mag.

Recent market shortages after the Covid-19 panic buying have started to fade now. But it is always important to store some backup ammunition. Both these rounds are great for handloading as well. 

Rifle Options and Compatibility

Like I said earlier, there are many rifle options available for the .30-06 cartridge. That’s because of its extensive military service and the ability to be fired from a semi-auto or bolt action rifle. The same is not true for the 7mm Rem Mag as it can only be fired from bolt action rifles and the rifle options are very limited. 

Bottom Line

A close comparison of the .30-06 and 7mm Rem Mag cartridges pointed out that these rounds are very much similar in terms of terminal performance. However, these similarities does not mean they are the same. The 7mm Rem Mag has a flatter trajectory, more energy and better momentum downrange. However, this comes at the cost of a slightly higher recoil, a longer barrel (clumsy rifle to handle), and only bolt action rifle options. 

The .30-06 is a more favored round for hunting because of the rifle options. However, the 7mm Rem Mag has more hitting power at longer distances. The latter is a more suitable round for long range F-class competitions, range use, and occasional hunting. 

People Also Ask

Here are the answers to some generally asked queries about these cartridges. This will probably help you decide which cartridge to choose. 

Is a 7mm or 30-06 More Powerful?

Taking into consideration the ballistics data, the 7mm Rem Mag is a more powerful round with more kinetic energy, momentum, and better sectional density for penetration with lighter and thinner bullets. However, this difference somewhat pivots towards .30-06 on a short range when using heavy 200 grain bullets.

Is 7mm Mag Good for Moose?

Absolutely yes. The 7mm Rem Mag is an amazing choice to hunt moose. It retains more than 1,500 fpe of energy at 400 yards which is considered the minimum to kill CXP3 big game animals like a moose.


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