by Germán A. Salazar
One of the great virtues of the .30-06 is its flexibility; that is, the ability to accurately shoot a variety of bullet weights across a fairly broad range of muzzle velocities. In some situations - 1000 yard shooting for instance - the best choice is a heavy bullet at a relatively high muzzle velocity. Mid-range matches (300 to 600 yards) by contrast, can be effectively fired with a lighter load, something similar to the old Lake City M72 match load. And, of course, there's always the choice of having a single "do everything" load, which will necessarily be biased toward the heavier load in order to be effective at long-range.
For several years, my "do everything" load has been a moly-coated 190 Sierra Match King at approximately 2800 fps using H4350 in a 28" barrel. With most brass types, such as Winchester, Lapua or Lake City, this requires about 53.5 gr. of H4350 (less with bare bullets). The load performs very well at all distances, but is a bit heavier than you really need at the shorter distances and there might be some room for improvement for long-range. Accordingly, I've been working on two newer loads, one tailored to long-range and the other for the occasional 300 yard match and sometimes at 500 yards.
The Mid-Range Loads
The Long-Range Loads
A specialized load for 1000 yard shooting with the .30-06 might seem a bit redundant in light of the good performance at that distance of my standard load. However, Berger's high BC 210 gr. bullets made this an interesting project. This project, in fact, is far from finalized, but I'll give you a bit of background on it and where it stands right now.
A couple of years ago, when Bob Jensen and I were pressure testing some .30-06 loads, we found that using H4831sc with the 200 and 210 grain bullets, we were unable to reach SAMMI maximum pressure. There simply wasn't enough case capacity in the Winchester, Lapua and Lake City brass we were using and we reached the point of noticeable powder crunching at about 8,000 psi below maximum allowable pressure. We switched to H4350, which is really more suited to the .30-06 case and had no problems reaching SAMMI maximum, then we worked down from there to find our accurate load. That is my usual method for developing a load when using the pressure testing equipment: find instrumented max pressure and work down - that avoids the problem of going past maximum.