.25/06 Loads for Big Game and Predators

From left: 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 second is for a fast 100-grain bullet for shooting deer and antelope across prairie basins. Reloading manuals list impressive speeds for 85-grain bullets shot with some new powders. But 52 grains shot Nosler 85-grain Ballistic Tips at just 3,300 fps from the 24-inch barrel of my .25/06. Maxed-out loads in my rifle shoot about 100 fps slower. 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. Sierras have held together and punched clear through antelope at distances from 150 to 400 yards for me. An accurate and fast load is 55 grains of Ramshot Hunter powder that pushes GameKings at 3,412 fps. Big Deer Firing the right bullet in the .25/06 is essential when hunting big mule deer and elk. Over the years, I’ve killed two elk with 120 Partitions and two with Grand Slams.
V-Max, Sierra GameKing, Nosler Partition ammo
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.

From left:

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.

Varmint Load

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…

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