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October 28, 2008

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.30-06: The Ultimate Grizzly Cartridge

“Anyone who says the .30-06 is not effective on brown bears or grizzlies either has never used one or is unwittingly commenting on their marksmanship.”
—An Alaskan Bear Guide

When most people think of grizzly cartridges, something on the order of a .338 Win. Mag. is what usually comes to mind. The .375 H&H also ranks up there, or used to at any rate. I've killed a couple of bears with the .375 H&H and I'd certainly put it at the top of my list, though for reasons as much sentimental as practical.

Today, a lot more guys head north on bear hunts with souped-up .30-caliber magnums of some sort. I attribute this to the compromise that hunters who travel a lot reach to find that one "do it all" round that is big enough for heavy game and will shoot flat for longer shots they might encounter. By that yardstick it is hard to fault a .300 Win. Mag. or any of the newer or more exotic mags out there in .30 caliber.

I've never killed a grizzly but I would  be very comfortable using a .30-06 loaded with 180-grain bullets on one. But I'm also kind of a cartridge freak too. I like to shoot big stuff with small cartridges and vice versa. I've used a .260 Remington on elk and a .338 Federal on moose, neither of which are particularly large, and I've also used a .450 Marlin on caribou and have shot a whole petting zoo worth of critters—including the tiny duiker—with my .416 Rigby.

So is the .30-06 enough gun? Jack O'Connor killed a number of big bears with a .30-06 (more than with the .270, despite what some people say) and found it up to the task. And there's no doubt what my guide pal has to say on the subject.

Would you take one on your grizzly hunt?

—John Snow


Tom Obuhanych

No. I wouldn't take my .30-06...I have several...but for Grizzly or Brown Bear I'd use my .358 Norma Magnum...
What I wonder about is there is always discussions related to a cartridge that is a minimal or lower
powered choice. Sure, a .30-06 will work OK in most situations with a good shot...but why bother when you can use more Power? The
heavier cartridge is more insurance should any problem arise, it will put down the animal better. The old expression: "Use enough gun"...I say "Use more gun!" When I hunted Africa recently, I used my .358 Norma Magnum on everything...all game shot dropped on the spot. Completely effective, including a near 2000 pound Cape Eland. Use your pea shooters so you can brag that my .30-06 did it? I disagree...use more power instead of less...I see it as that choice.
Tom from Cody


With the proper bullet and powder combination I wouldn't have any problems with the 30/06 as a big bear gun.

Jim in Mo

It would take nerve and pinpoint accuracy. I have two '06s. If I had the money for a griz. hunt my new gun minimum would be .338 or .35 Whelan.


I have to agree with Bear guide,I lived in Alaska 75-84,many a native has used the 30-06,as it was and is the cheaper and most accessable ammo,shot placement.
Ask some Eskimo's from Barrow AK,Polar bear with the 06,cause thats what there hunting seal's with when Whitey shows up.

Harding Dies

How about my .303 British? I'd be confident of that - especially with proper placement. And my follow-up shot would be ready in 1-1.5 seconds - just like the Tommies in WWII with the "Magic Minute".


I lived in Alaska from '77-'84, and got to travel all over the state. As I have mentioned elsewhere on this site, while I was there the local paper ran an article on an old timer who had killed 400 bears with a .30-.30. For what it's worth, the cartridge of choice for walrus was generally .223.

John Hussynec

There is no animal on the Canadian continent that the 30-06 cannot handle, I would and do use this caliber for anything. I know hunters who buy big magnums and then buy reduced load bullets dropping them to 06 standards because the recoil from magnums are to much on them. Better to have a 30-06 and shoot it well then to have a magnum and be scared of it.