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 115- to 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 slower-paced 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…