30-06 and 180 gr bullet load suggestions

280ackimp

Active Member
Jul 4, 2017
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New Hampshire
All, I have been loading for 30 plus years but never loaded for a 30-06 with 180's and could use some guidance. I am helping a buddy get ready for his first elk hunt, a migration hunt. He wants to use his 30-06 and 180 AB's I am trying RL22 because that's what is shown to give good velocity and accuracy in the Nosler 9 book. This is a 22" M700 BDL of the 1980's vintage, he put a synthetic B&C an and is using a Leupold. We are working on bench habits so this is a work in progress. Any first hand experiences with loading the 180gr ABs in 30-06? What powder? Is it a waste of time looking for 2,800 fps ? How do you guys feel about the TTSX 165's or the Nosler AB in 165's for what is expected to be a longer distance shot (less than 400 yds) on a migration hunt
 

JimP

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Mar 28, 2016
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I personalty go with the Barnes 165 grain TTSX. The current load data on the Barnes site does not mention RL 22 but does RL 19. I looked at two other Barnes manuals and neither one of them list RL 22. But you may be limited to what powder you use to what you have on hand due to the shortage.

I think that 2800 fps with a 180 grain bullet out of a 06 is close to a pipe dream. It would require a max load of a powder to even approach it.
 

BuzzH

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Apr 15, 2015
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You MIGHT get to 2800 with a 180...but I'd be careful trying to get there with maybe RL-22, 17, or 19. IMO/E 2700ish is a good place to be, safely, with the 180's. Performance on game was always good for game too in that 2700 fps range when I shot the 180's out of my 30/06.

As JimP pointed out, if you want to reach those velocities, 2800+ with room to maneuver, I would be looking to go with 165 AB's. Plus, you'll have a wayyyyyy bigger herd of powder choices to get you to 2800 with the 165's. Depending on barrel twist, you may be in a much better place as well with the 165's over the 180's.

I just don't see much different at all in how a 165 performs versus a 180...for that matter, not much difference between 150-200 grain 30 caliber bullets for 95% of the game I've killed or seen killed with same.

I've shot a lot of animals with accubonds, great bullets IME.

Good luck.
 
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RICMIC

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Feb 21, 2012
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I found that my Tikka T3 prefers 165 grain, in that groups are 1/2" tighter. It isn't enough of a difference to make a difference until longer range, but I suggest if you have the bullets that you load some 165 and 180 gr. and also try different powder measures. Such is part of the fun in reloading, and that is how I found my sweet spot for the Tikka. I shot my last cow elk at 460 yards using a 165 gr. Nosler Partition bullet. Every rifle may be different.
 

Slugz

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Oct 12, 2014
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We have been a one gun model one caliber family for many years. We shoot nothing but Nosler AB with 4350 powder. 150gr or 180gr. Rem700s 30-06. If you like when I get home I can post the recipes.

Lastly, Id reccommend shooting at bonded bullet that has a 75% ish weight retention. Ive seen plenty and the internet has many stories of elk sucking up solid bullets, minimal to no blood and animals not found. Hope that helps.
 
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memtb

Active Member
I’m a big proponent of Barnes Bullets. The wife and I have used them exclusively since the early ‘90’s. My suggestion.....the 165 TTSX. You can push it pretty fast, generally very accurate, excellent BC’s, retains near 100 % of it’s original weight after impact, and is a great performer from the muzzle until the bullet velocity has dropped to it’s minimal reliable expansion velocity of about 1800 fps! memtb
 

shootbrownelk

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Apr 11, 2011
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I used 150 gr. Barnes TTSX bullets with IMR 4350 powder and had excellent results on Antelope, Deer & Elk with them. Light for caliber is what Barnes recommends. You can drive the lighter bullets faster.
 
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Hilltop

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Feb 25, 2014
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I shoot factory 165 grain Hornady Interbonds our of my 30-06. I have taken numerous elk with this load with the furthest being 477 yards- the bull in my avatar. I am not a fan of the solids but they will kill an elk.
 

Colorado Cowboy

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Jun 8, 2011
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As mentioned...2800 is probably not where you are gonna get too. I do like the 165 gr bullet better and I don't think you will notice any difference in performance....dead is dead! I like 4895 in my 30-06. It performs really well., but every gun is different.

Good luck.............
 
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gonhunting247

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Jan 21, 2014
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If you end up needing a factory option that's cheap and typically, readily available, try the old green and yellow box Remington with the 180 PSP core- lokt bullets. I know most people use the next level of premium bullets now, but in a 30.06 at factory velocities, the regular Core- lokts have preformed very well for me on elk, deer, bear, antelope and sheep for 40 years. They've worked very well out to 400 yards, although most my shots have been 300 or less.
Just my experience if you have trouble finding other options or reloading supplies
 
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Hilltop

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If you end up needing a factory option that's cheap and typically, readily available, try the old green and yellow box Remington with the 180 PSP core- lokt bullets. I know most people use the next level of premium bullets now, but in a 30.06 at factory velocities, the regular Core- lokts have preformed very well for me on elk, deer, bear, antelope and sheep for 40 years. They've worked very well out to 400 yards, although most my shots have been 300 or less though.
Just my experience if you have trouble finding other options or reloading supplies
We took quite a few elk with those back in the late 80s and early 90s. We probably would still be shooting them if we didn't get into long range shooting.
 

RICMIC

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I agree with memtb on liking the performance of Barnes bullets. I only ended up using a Nosler Partition for my last cow elk because it had an accuracy edge for my rifle. I use Barnes TSX in my .338 and it has smoked 3 bull elk (2 at 60ish yards, and one at 480 yards). In all cases the bullets performed as advertised. The most impressive expansion was from a 128 yard shot on a 4th bull using a 50 cal. muzzloader
 
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AKaviator

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If you end up needing a factory option that's cheap and typically, readily available, try the old green and yellow box Remington with the 180 PSP core- lokt bullets. I know most people use the next level of premium bullets now, but in a 30.06 at factory velocities, the regular Core- lokts have preformed very well for me on elk, deer, bear, antelope and sheep for 40 years. They've worked very well out to 400 yards, although most my shots have been 300 or less.
Just my experience if you have trouble finding other options or reloading supplies
A good friend of mine who is a master-guide on Kodiak, swears by Cor-lokt bullets for brown bear.
 

Micah S

Active Member
Jan 11, 2016
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Sandy Oregon
You can probably get to 2800 fps with reloder16. Run it up until you see pressure signs. Just because it will shoot 2800 does not mean that that is the best load. Load data is available on alliantpowder.com

Don't be afraid to use match bullets like eldm and berger on elk. The past 4 elk we have killed dropped in place.
 

memtb

Active Member
If it is someone’s first elk hunt or perhaps, their only elk hunt...go with the bullet that offers the highest degree of reliability when a “less than ideal” shot....may be the only shot!

There are lots of bullet designs to choose from. Some offer the utmost in bullet weight retention, even if heavy bone is encountered. These bullets by design, do not offer “explosive” expansion,....but retain a very high percentage of their weight, giving much greater penetration. This penetration is a huge asset if, the shot contacts heavy bone or must travel through feet of tissue rather than inches.....if the only shot offered will place the hunter with this scenario! These bullets work well from point blank range to the range at which the velocity has dropped below the velocity required for good expansion. These afford the “one time” elk hunter more opportunites to take his elk, by “not” having to wait on the perfect shot!

There is another school of thought, pertaining to bullets. The attendees of this school, desire the highest degree of accuracy, the highest BC’s for flatter long range trajectory and less wind drift, with good expansion at extended ranges. These bullets by their design give excellent expansion at longer ranges, where velocity has dropped significantly.....often preferred by long range shooters. The potential negitive with these bullets, is the “near surgical” precision placement of the bullet at close range. This almost eliminates a “steeply” angled shot, or a shot that will place the bullet encountering heavy bone, it must penetrate to reach the vitals! These bullets are ideal for the hunter that will likely have many opportunities to take an elk..... giving them the option of passing on less than perfect shots, or will be taking game at extended ranges.

The bullet selection may depend upon the number of opportunities for a shot the hunter will have, or the restrictions/ limitations the hunter will place upon his/her self!

Obviously, these are just my opinions......and should be valued as such! memtb
 

mallardsx2

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Jul 8, 2015
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168 Grain Norlser BT (Green)
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I believe I was somewhere at 47 grains when I started to shoot good but I would have to go back and look. I didn't get any velocity measurements on anything. I just kept jumping up in .5 grain increments from the minimum published data until she started shooting tight groups. Its my 100 yard GA deer gun so I dont get too hung up on things.

Its "was" a cheap load to shoot. Thats a fact.