The .30-06 Springfield cartridge (pronounced “thirty-aught-six” or "thirty-oh-six") or 7.62 x 63 mm in metric notation, was introduced
to the United States Army in 1906 (hence “06”) and standardized, used until the 1960s and early 1970s. It replaced the .30-03, 6 mm Lee Navy and .30 US Army (also called .30-40 Krag). The .30-06 remained the US Army's main cartridge for nearly 50 years before it was finally replaced
by the 7.62 x 51 mm (7.62x51mm NATO, commercial .308 Winchester). It remains the most popular big-game cartridge in North America, and among the most popular worldwide.
Much of the rest of the world at the turn of the century was in the process of adopting the pointed spitzer bullet: France in 1898, Germany in 1905, Russia in 1908, Britain in 1914. When it was introduced, the .30-03 was thus behind the times for this among other reasons. A new case was developed with a slightly shorter case neck to fire
a higher velocity, 150-grain (9.7 g) spitzer bullet at 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s).
The M1903 Springfield rifle, introduced alongside the earlier cartridge, was quickly modified to accept the .30-06 cartridge, known as the M1906.
Modifications to the rifle included shortening the barrel at its breech and recutting the chamber. This was so that the shorter
ogive of the new bullet would not have to jump too far to reach the rifling. Other changes included elimination of the troublesome
'rod bayonet' of the earlier Springfield rifles.
Experience gained in World War I indicated that other nations' machineguns far outclassed American ones in terms of maximum effective range. Additionally,
before the widespread employment of light mortars and artillery, long-range machinegun 'barrage' or indirect fires were considered important in U.S. infantry tactics. For these reasons, in 1926, the Ordnance Corps developed the .30 M1 Ball cartridge using a 174-grain (11.3 g)
bullet with a 9 degree boat tail, traveling at a reduced muzzle velocity of 2,640 ft/s (800 m/s). This bullet offered
significantly greater range from machineguns and rifles alike due to its increased ballistic coefficient. Additionally, a
gilding metal jacket was developed that all but eliminated the metal fouling that plagued the earlier cartridge.
Wartime surplus totaled over 2 billion rounds of ammunition. Army regulations called for training use of the oldest ammunition
first. As a result, the older .30-06 ammunition was expended for training; stocks of M1 ammunition were allowed to slowly
grow until all of the older ammo had been shot up. By 1936 it was discovered that the maximum range of the new M1 ammunition
and its 174-grain (11.3 g), boat-tailed bullets was beyond the safety limitations of many ranges. An emergency order
was made to manufacture quantities of ammunition that matched the ballistics of the older cartridge as soon as possible. A
new cartridge was developed in 1938 that was essentially a duplicate of the old M1906 round, but with a gilding metal jacket
and a different lead alloy, resulting in a bullet that weighed 152 grains (9.8 g) instead of 150. This cartridge,
the Cartridge .30 M2 Ball, used a flat-based bullet fired at a higher muzzle velocity (2,805 ft/s) than either of its
It was used in the bolt-action M1903 Springfield rifle, the bolt-action M1917 Enfield rifle, the semi-automatic M1 Garand, the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), and numerous machine guns, including the M1919 series. It served the United States in both World Wars and in the Korean War, its last major use being in Vietnam. Large volumes of surplus brass made it the basis for dozens of commercial and wildcat cartridges, as well as being extensively used for reloading. The .30-06's power, combined with the ready availability of surplus firearms chambered for it, and so demand for commercial
ammunition, has made it a popular hunting round. It is suitable for large mammals such as deer, elk, and moose.
The .30-06 is a powerful cartridge designed when 1.0 km (1100 yards) shots were expected. In 1906, the original M1906 .30-06
cartridge consisted of a 9.7 g (150 grain), flat-base cupronickel-jacketed-bullet. After WWI, the U.S. military needed better long-range performance machine guns. Based on weapons performance
reports from Europe, a streamlined, 11.2 g (173 grain), boat tail, gilding-metal bullet was used. The .30-06 cartridge, with the 11.2 g bullet was called Cartridge, .30, M1 Ball. The new M1 ammunition
proved to be significantly more accurate than the M1906 round.
In 1938, the unstained, 9.8 g (152 grain), flat-base bullet combined with the .30-06 case became the M2 ball cartridge.
According to U.S. Army Technical Manual 43-0001-27, M2 Ball specifications required 835 m/s (2,740 feet per second) velocity,
measured 24 m (78 ft) from the muzzle. M2 Ball was the standard-issue ammunition for military rifles and machine guns until
it was replaced by the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO round for the M14 and M60. For rifle use, M2 Ball ammunition proved to be less accurate than the earlier M1 cartridge; even with match rifles, a target
group of 5" (125 mm) diameter at 200 yards (183 m) using the 150-grain (9.7 g) M2 bullet was considered optimal, and
many rifles performed less well. The U.S. Marine Corps retained stocks of M1 ammunition for use by snipers and trained marksmen throughout the Solomon Islands campaign in the early years of the war. In an effort to increase accuracy, some snipers resorted to use of the heavier .30-06 M2 armor-piercing round, a practice
that would re-emerge during the Korean War. Others sought out lots of M2 ammunition produced by Denver Ordnance, which had proved to be more accurate than those produced by other wartime ammunition plants when used for sniping at long
Commercially manufactured rifles chambered in .30-06 are popular for hunting. Current .30-06 factory ammunition varies
in bullet weight from 7.1 g to 14.3 g (110 to 220 grains) in solid bullets, and as low as 3.6 g (55 grains) with the use of
a sub-caliber bullet in a sabot. Loads are available with reduced velocity and pressure as well as increased velocity and pressure for stronger firearms.
The .30-06 remains one of the most popular sporting cartridges in the world.
The .30-06 Springfield has 4.43 ml (68.2 grains) H2O cartridge case capacity. The exterior shape of the case was designed to promote reliable case feeding and extraction
in bolt action rifles and machine guns alike, under extreme conditions.
.30-06 Springfield maximum C.I.P. cartridge dimensions. All sizes in millimeters (mm).
Americans defined the shoulder angle at alpha/2 = 17.5 degrees. The common rifling twist rate for this cartridge is 254 mm (1 in 10 in), 4 grooves, Ø lands = 7.62 mm, Ø grooves = 7.82 mm, land width = 4.49 mm and the
primer type is large rifle.
According to the official C.I.P. (Commission Internationale Permanente pour l'Epreuve des Armes à Feu Portatives) guidelines, the .30-06 Springfield case can handle up to 405 MPa (58,740 psi) piezo pressure. In CIP-regulated countries,
every rifle cartridge combination has to be proofed at 125% of this maximum C.I.P. pressure to certify for sale to consumers.
The 8x64mm S is probably the closest European ballistic twin of the .30-06 Springfield. The 8x64mm S was intended as a ballistic upgrade
option for the Mauser Gewehr 98 rifles that were then standard issue in the German military. The German military chose to keep their 8x57mm IS rifle cartridge, avoiding rechambering their service rifles for a larger and heavier cartridge.
U.S. military cartridge types
NOTE: .30-06 cartridges are also produced commercially with many different bullets and to a number of different
- This cartridge is used against lightly armored vehicles, protective shelters, and personnel, and can be identified by
its black bullet tip. Bullet is flat base, weight 163-168 grains.
- Armor Piercing Incendiary, T15/M14 and M14A1
- This cartridge may be substituted for the M2 armor piercing round and is normally employed against flammable targets.
The tip of the bullet is colored with aluminum paint. The M14A1 featured an improved core design and incendiary charge.
- This cartridge is used against personnel and unarmored targets, and can be identified by its silver-colored bullet. The
M1906 has a 9.7 g (150 grain) projectile and flat base. Its jacket is a cupro-nickel alloy which was found to quickly foul
- The M1 has a 11.2 g (173 grain), nine-degree boat-tailed projectile designed for aerodynamic efficiency. Though it had
a lower initial velocity, velocity and energy were greater at longer ranges due to its efficient shape. The jacket material
was also changed to gilding metal to reduce fouling.
- With a 9.8 g (152 grain) bullet based on the profile of the M1906, this cartridge incorporated the gilding-metal jacket
of the M1 projectile combined with a slightly heavier, pure-lead core. It had a higher muzzle velocity than either of the
- This cartridge is used to simulate rifle fire. The cartridge is identified by having no bullet, and by a cannelure in
the neck of the case which is sealed by red lacquer.
- This cartridge is used for training. The cartridge has six longitudinal corrugations and there is no primer.
- Development of a cartridge that contained a small explosive charge which more effectively marked its impact. Often referred
to as an "observation explosive" cartridge, the T99 was never adopted.
- Early incendiary cartridge, bullet had a large cavity in the nose to allow the material to more easily shoot forward on
impact. As a result the M1917 had a tendency to expand on impact. The M1917 had a blackened tip.
- Variant of the M1917 with a normal bullet profile to comply with international laws regarding open-tipped expanding bullets.
- This cartridge is used against unarmored, flammable targets. The tip of the bullet is painted blue.
- This cartridge is used in marksmanship competition firing, and can be identified by the word "MATCH" on the head stamp.
- Tracer for observing fire, signaling, target designation, and incendiary purposes. The M1 has a red tip.
- Tracer for observing fire, signaling, target designation, and incendiary purposes. Has a short burn time. The M2 originally
had a white tip, but then switched to a red tip like the M1.
- Improved tracer over M1/M2. Designed to be less intense in terms of brightness than either the M1 or M2 tracers. The M25
had an orange tip.
- Rifle Grenade Cartridges, M1, M2, and M3/E1
- These cartridge are used in conjunction with the M1 (for the M1903 rifle), M2 (for the M1917 rifle), and the M7 series
(for the M1 rifle) grenade launchers to propel rifle grenades. The cartridge has no bullet and the mouth is crimped. The differences
between the three cartridges have to do with the powder charge and the subsequent range of the launched grenade. The M3E1
also featured an extended case neck.