The .25-06 Remington

By Chuck Hawks

.25-06 Remington
Illustration courtesy of Hornady Mfg. Co.

A popular wildcat since the 1920's the .25-06, which is simply the .30-06 case necked down to accept .257 caliber bullets, was finally given a factory home by Remington in 1969. The SAAMI maximum average pressure for the .25-06 Remington is 53,000 cup. It has since become the best selling .25 caliber cartridge, and is available in many factory built rifles.

The .25-06 can be used as a long range varmint cartridge, but burns too much powder and has too much muzzle blast to be ideal for that purpose. It is probably at its best as a long range antelope and deer cartridge. Using a 120 grain bullet, it rivals cartridges like the 6.5mm Rem. Mag. and .270 Winchester.

.25-06 factory loads are supplied with bullets of 90 (SD .195), 100 (SD .216), 115 (SD .249), 117 (SD .253), and 120 (SD .260) grains. The 90 grain bullet is usually a varmint bullet. Standard factory loads kick out the 100 grain bullet at 3,230 fps with 2,316 ft. lbs. of energy at the muzzle. The 115-117 grain bullets leave the muzzle at 2,990-3060 fps with 2,289-2,391 ft. lbs. of energy. And the popular 120 grain bullets depart at 2,990-3,130 fps carrying 2,382-2,610 ft. lbs. of energy. With the 120 grain bullet at 2,990 fps the remaining velocity and energy figures are as follows: 2,730 fps and 1,985 ft. lbs. at 100 yards, 2,484 fps and 1,644 ft. lbs. at 200 yards, 2,252 fps and 1,351 ft. lbs. at 300 yards, and 2,032 fps and 1,100 ft. lbs. at 400 yards.

The trajectory with a 120 grain bullet fired from a scoped rifle at about 3,000 fps looks something like this: +2.6" at 100 yards, +2" at 200 yards, +3" at 140 yards, and -3" at 284 yards, which is its maximum point blank range (+/- 3"). This is comparable to the trajectory of the 100 grain .243 Winchester or the 150 grain .270 Winchester factory loads, and is nearly as good as it gets for a standard (non-magnum) cartridge.

The long .30-06 case has a lot of powder capacity compared to the small diameter of a .257" bullet. Thus the .25-06 is at its best with the heavier bullets in the caliber. Needless to say, with its small bore and large case capacity, the slow burning powders like #4350, #4831, AA3100, and IMR 7828 are recommended.

The fifth edition of the Nosler Reloading Guide shows the following loads for their 115 and 120 grain Partition bullets using IMR 4350 powder, which proved the most accurate powder with both bullet weights in their testing. 45.0 grains of IMR 4350 gave the 115 grain bullet a MV of 2877 fps and the 120 grain bullet a MV of 2860 fps. 49.0 grains of the same powder gave the 115 grain bullet a MV of 3095 fps, and the 120 grain bullet a MV of 3080 fps.

.25-06 rifles should have barrels no shorter than 22", and 24" to 26" barrels will give better performance and less muzzle blast. The .25-06 is a reasonably pleasant cartridge to shoot. The recoil from shooting a 120 grain factory load in an 8 pound rifle amounts to about 12.5-14 ft. lbs. The muzzle blast from a full-house .25-06 is considerable, similar to that from a .270 Win.

With good 120 grain bullets, the .25-06 is a deadly, flat shooting cartridge for medium size game. Remington is to be commended for giving this old wildcat a home.

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Copyright 2001, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.