Three ways to reload the .25/06 for game of all sizes


Outdoor Life - - NEWS - BY JOHN HAVILAND

The .25/06 has kept the .25 cal­iber alive for more than 50 years be­cause a hunter shoot­ing just three loads in his .25/06 ri­fle is ready for game from mar­mots to big deer. The first load rock­ets a light­weight bul­let that will tum­ble a coy­ote slink­ing along on the far edge of a farm field. The sec­ond is for a fast 100-grain bul­let for shoot­ing deer and an­te­lope across prairie basins. And the third load is for 115to 120-grain con­trolled-ex­pand­ing bul­lets that will hang tough on big deer up close in the tim­ber or out across a sage­brush flat.


Ground squir­rels over­run­ning an al­falfa field are tempt­ing tar­gets.

But high-volume shoot­ing will toast a .25/06’s bore. My in­abil­ity to re­sist that temp­ta­tion is why my Ruger M77 .25/06 wears a new bar­rel. The .25/06 is bet­ter suited for slow­er­paced shoot­ing, like 20 shots a day snip­ing mar­mots or a cou­ple of shots when call­ing coy­otes.

For years I tried

85-grain bul­lets in the .25/06 for their the­o­ret­i­cal abil­ity to re­tain ve­loc­ity at long dis­tances. But their muz­zle ve­loc­i­ties—for me, at any rate—al­ways came up short. Reload­ing man­u­als list im­pres­sive speeds for 85-grain bul­lets shot with some new pow­ders. For in­stance, the Hodg­don An­nual Man­ual in­di­cates a ve­loc­ity of 3,494 fps with 52.9 grains of IMR 4451 pow­der. But 52 grains shot Nosler 85-grain Bal­lis­tic Tips at just 3,300 fps from the 24-inch bar­rel of my .25/06.

So, in­stead, I go with Hor­nady 75-grain V-MAX bul­lets for mar­mots and coy­otes near and far. Sev­eral reload­ing man­u­als list ve­loc­i­ties close to 3,800 fps for the V-MAX. Maxed-out loads in my ri­fle shoot about 100 fps slower. An ac­cu­rate load for me is 57.5 grains of H4350 and Winch­ester Large Ri­fle primers in Rem­ing­ton cases for a speed of 3,653 fps. If, like me, you just have to ham­mer away at ground squir­rels, load the V-MAX at a milder speed of 3,337 fps with 52 grains of IMR 4451.


Hunt­ing pronghorn an­te­lope can be a lon­grange game. A 100-grain bul­let is cus­tom­ary for that type of hunt­ing, with fac­tory .25/06 car­tridges shoot­ing them a touch over 3,200 fps. Bul­let choices avail­able to hand­load range from con­trolled­ex­pand­ing bul­lets, such as the cop­per Barnes Tipped Triple Shock, to the plain lead-core Sierra Gamek­ing. Sier­ras have held to­gether and punched clear through an­te­lope at dis­tances from 150 to 400 yards for me. With such good re­sults, I see no rea­son to use any­thing else. An ac­cu­rate and fast load is 55 grains of Ramshot Hunter pow­der that pushes Gamek­ings at 3,412 fps. With the Sierra bul­let sighted 3 inches high at 100 yards, the bul­let is right on aim at 310 yards.


Fir­ing the right bul­let in the .25/06 is es­sen­tial when hunt­ing big mule deer and elk. Great con­trolled­ex­pan­sion bul­lets up to the task in­clude 115-grain Barnes Triple Shocks and 120-grain Nosler Par­ti­tions, Swift A-frames, and Speer Grand Slams. Over the years, I’ve killed two elk with 120 Par­ti­tions and two with Grand Slams.

All the bul­lets went com­pletely through the elk. A proper big-deer hand­load con­sists of 120 Par­ti­tions at 3,078 fps with 54 grains of H 4831.

A bonus of these three .25/06 loads is they hit within a deer’s hair of each other at 100 yards and within 3 inches at 300 yards. So with one sight set­ting, a hunter car­ry­ing a .25/06 is ready to cover a lot of hunt­ing ground, fast.

From left: A 75-grain V-max, a 100-grain Sierra Gamek­ing, and a 120-grain Nosler Par­ti­tion. These three bul­lets al­low the .25/06 to take on ev­ery­thing from small varmints to elk. The .25/06 is an ideal round for pronghorns.

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