These two cartridges are more than a century old. Both have experienced military service, with one still used by the Russian military. This speaks to their reputation of highly effective cartridges at medium to long range. But how do these two cartridges perform when used for hunting? And, more importantly, which is the better cartridge for hunting – let’s find out!
What Is Biggest Difference Between 30 06 vs 7.62 x54R?
1) Ballistic Comparison
The ballistics of a cartridge is a great way to identify how well your cartridge will perform at comparable distances. And more importantly, it reveals the effective range for ethically hunting different game. Therefore, when you compare two cartridges’ ballistics, you can determine which cartridge will be the better hunting cartridge. After testing these rounds, it is clear they perform similarly to the 338 lapua vs 338 norma rounds we already reviewed.
For the 30-06, we use Remington’s Core-Lokt Tipped 150-grain hunting ammo, which has a ballistic coefficient of .415. For the 7.62 x 54R, we use the Russian Military Surplus ammo 7N1 151 grain rounds. Just like we saw in our comparison of the 303 vs 30-06 rounds, the 30-06 is a high performance cartridge.
Here are the statics for these bullet’s velocity by yardage. As you can see, the 30-06 is fired with higher velocity than the 7.62x54R.
- Muzzle Velocity – 2,930
- 100 Yards – 2,705
- 200 Yards – 2,492
- 300 Yards – 2,287
- 400 Yards – 2,093
- 500 Yards – 1,908
- Muzzle Velocity – 2,700
- 100 Yards – 2,485
- 200 Yards – 2,280
- 300 Yards – 2,084
- 400 Yards – 1,899
- 500 Yards – 1,725
- Muzzle Energy – 2,859
- 100 Yards – 2,437
- 200 Yards – 2,067
- 300 Yards – 1,743
- 400 Yards – 1,459
- 500 Yards – 1,212
- Muzzle Energy – 2,444
- 100 Yards – 2,070
- 200 Yards – 1,742
- 300 Yards – 1,457
- 400 Yards – 1,209
- 500 Yards – 998
- 100 Yards – 0
- 200 Yards – -3.3
- 300 Yards – -12.1
- 400 Yards – -21.2 (zeroed at 200 yards)
- 500 Yards – -42.8 (zeroed at 200 yards)
- 100 Yards – 0
- 200 Yards – -4.2
- 300 Yards – -15
- 400 Yards – -33.9
- 500 Yards – -62.5
From the data above, it is evident that the 30-06 is the overall winner. The 7.62x54R’s velocity is almost identical to the 6.5 Creedmoor, which uses a 140-grain bullet weight. Aside from the better velocity, the 30-06 can still take down big game at 400 yards. In comparison, the 7.62x54R is limited to big game hunting within 300 yards.
The 30-06 also has a flatter bullet flight path – making it a much easier round to predict in terms of shot placement. Hence, the 30-06’s accuracy is better. I was able to perform closer groupings at the same distance with the 30-06 compared to the 7.62x54R.
So, the 30-06 is the better cartridge in terms of ballistic performance.
2) 30 06 vs 7.62 x54R Recoil Comparison
Several factors influence the felt recoil a cartridge produces, including loads, rifle stock, the position of the rifle against the shoulder when aiming, and rifle weight. Aside from ammo loads, rifle weight probably has the second biggest influence on the recoil you experience when shooting. Both of these cartridges have more recoil than smaller rounds like the 357 & 10mm rounds!
The rifle weight is inversely correlated to the recoil – meaning if the rifle’s weight increases, the recoil decreases. This is important to consider when comparing recoil to make the results more reliable.
The 7.62x54R with 150-grain factory loads has a recoil energy of 13.1. Whereas the 30-06 has a recoil energy of 17.6. Therefore, the 7.62x54R is much more pleasant to shoot with than the 30-06 in terms of force exerted on the shooter.
It is important to note that the 7.62x54R was chambered in a rifle of 9 lbs and the 30-06 in a rifle of 8 lbs when testing. Therefore, if you increased the weight of the 30-06 rifle, the recoil would be less and very similar to that of the 7.62x54R.
However, most people would argue that the felt recoil of the 7.62x54R is higher than the 30-06’s. As mentioned earlier, several factors influence the felt recoil. The 7.62x54R rifle is known to have a design that, let’s just say, is not for comfort.
Ultimately, we can say that the 30-06 does produce more free recoil, but sporting companies design the 30-06’s rifles to dissipate free recoil energy very efficiently – not a common characteristic of the 7.62x54R. Therefore, the chances are very good that the 30-06 has a lower felt recoil than the 7.62x54R.
3) Stopping Power Comparison
Stopping power is important as it determines how efficiently you can take down targets of different sizes.
The 30-06 has a higher stopping power as it retains higher energy at any comparable distance. It is comparable to the stopping power of the 5.56 NATO rounds that I ‘ve tested. In addition to this, the 30-06’s sectional density, a method to evaluate bullet penetration, is higher than the 7.62x54R. It will be easier to penetrate thick hides and hit vital organs with 30-06 hunting bullets as opposed to the 7.62x54R’s hunting rounds.
4) Which Is The Best Hunting Ammo?
You can probably already guess which cartridge is better for hunting. Yes, that’s right – the 30-06. The 30-06 dominated the previous discussion points- all factors determining your success as a hunter.
In addition to this, the 30-06’s ammo availability is just that much higher. Almost every gun shop will have 30-06 ammo. Plus, there is an abundance of ammo choices to choose from. The rifles are also much more commonly found than the 7.62x54R.
Another point I like to discuss is game size. Both these two cartridges are well capable of taking down medium to big game. However, the 30-06 also has 200-grain and 220-grain ammo options – something the Russian round doesn’t have. Therefore, besides deer hunting, you just feel more assured that your 30-06 will ethically kill an elk or moose.
5) Price & Availability Comparison
I remember the days when 7.62 Russian spam cans were cheap and in abundance, and we would just shoot round after round, hosting plinking competitions with the neighbors. Unfortunately, those days are gone. Nowadays, you can get a spam can for $200-$300.
Plinking is fun, but what about hunting ammunition? Well, the 30-06 has no shortage of that – with a variety of ammunition options, it is safe to say that the 30-06 is the winner for ammo availability. Just like with the 300 HAMR and 300 Blackout, this round is easy to find!
Surprisingly, 7.62x54R ammunition is cheaper than 30-06 ammo. General hunting rounds cost the same – $1.40. But if you want premium, optimal-performing ammunition, a 30-06 round will cost you in the range of $1.8-$4 per round, and the 7.62 costs between $1.50-$2 per round.
History Of The 30-06
The 30-06 is embedded with history – surviving two world wars and being the popular choice for American snipers in World War II. The US Army introduced the 30-06 in 1906 and served the military for more than 60 years before it was replaced in the 1970s by the NATO weapons, specifically the .308 Win (7.62×51 NATO).
The name can be described as follows: the “30” is the caliber of the cartridge, and the 06 to the year it was released. The 30-06 replaced the venerable .30-03 6mm Lee Navy and .30-40 Krag cartridges as the military wanted a cartridge that performs with higher accuracy and delivers more energy on target. After retiring from military service, the general public adopted the cartridge and it is now a popular hunting round.
- Parent case – .30-3 Springfield
- Case Type – Rimless, bottleneck, brass
- Bullet diameter – .308 in
- Land diameter – .300 in
- Neck diameter – .340 in
- Shoulder diameter – .441 in
- Base diameter – .471 in
- Rim diameter – .473 in
- Rim Thickness – .049 in
- Case length – 2.494 in
- Overall length – 3.34 in
- Case capacity – 68 gr H2O (4.40 cm3)
- Rifling twist – 1-10″ (254 mm)
- Primer type – Large rifle
- Maximum pressure (SAAMI) – 60,000 psi (410 MPa)
History Of The 7.62 x54R
The 7.62x54R is the second oldest combat service round that is still in use today, second only to the .303, the world’s longest serving military cartridge. It was developed and introduced to the Russian military in 1891.
The 7.62x54R was originally intended for use in the Mosin Nagant rifle. Nowadays, it is used in the Dragunov and SV-98 sniper rifles as well as the PKM and Pecheneg machine guns.
- Case Type – Rimless, bottleneck
- Bullet diameter – .312 in
- Land diameter – .300 in
- Neck diameter – .336 in
- Shoulder diameter – .457 in
- Base diameter – .487 in
- Rim diameter – .570 in
- Rim Thickness – .063 in
- Case length – 2.115 in
- Overall length – 3.038 in
- Case capacity – 64.2 gr H2O (4.16 cm3)
- Rifling twist – 1-9.45″ (240 mm)
- Primer Type – Berdan or Boxer Large rifle
- Maximum pressure (SAAMI) – 56,565 psi (390 MPa)
Who Is The 30-06 Best For?
The 30-06 is best for any hunter who wants a versatile hunting cartridge. The cartridge is well-equipped to take down any small to medium game. It is also a great choice for anyone who doesn’t want to struggle with finding ammo or “upgrades” for their rifle. I like recommending the 30-06 for intermediate shooters who are done training with low-recoil cartridges and want to take their shooting to the next tier.
Who Is The 7.62 x54R Best For?
The 7.62 x 54R is truly one of the most distinguished cartridges. However, several cartridges perform better than the 7.62 x 54R, like the 30-06. Therefore, I recommend this cartridge to someone who is looking for something different – it’s not every day that you get to go deer hunting with a Mosin Nagant.
Additionally, the 7.62x54R is a great option if you want a plinking cartridge that can pack a punch – with spam cans costing fairly cheaply.
Note: I have heard of cases where using corrosive ammo can cause problems to your rifle if not well maintained – meaning regular service and cleaning. People often complain of the cartridge getting stuck when the rifle chambered it. Personally, I have not experienced this problem, but it is important to mention it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What caliber is 7.62 x54 equal to?
Can you shoot a 7.62 x54 in a 30-06?
What is NATO equivalent to 30-06?
Is the 7.62 x54 a powerful round?
Will 7.62 x54 penetrate body armor?
The Bottom Line
These two cartridges are well aligned with war history, and both provide the hunter with a versatile and effective hunting platform. However, the 30-06 is just a better cartridge all-round. Still, it’s pretty cool to go deer hunting with a Mosin. But if you want a more versatile cartridge – go for the 30-06. Do you like our 30-06 articles, feel free to read our article on the 25-06 vs 30-06.