25-06

Remingtom
At the left is a factory-loaded 25-06 by Federal, of the V-Shok line, that has a 90-grain Sierra HP for Varmints at a comfy 3440 fps. The smack delivered by these bullets at that velocity cannot be matched by anything in the 6mm category. Here's where a 26-inch barrel really pays off.
 
For comparison, in the center is a 30-06 cartridge loaded with the now-discontinued Barnes XLC bullet of 168 grains at 2750 fps. The XLC, which is about the color of the legs and feet of the blue-footed booby (look it up), came along as an alternative to the Barnes X. The blue coating significantly reduced the amount of copper fouling in barrels prone to that malady. It left blue streaks on the muzzle, which caused concern for some, but we personally liked the bullets very much and bought as many as we could find when they were discontinued. They did reduce fouling, and the coating never was a problem for us when cleaning the barrel or during extended shooting sessions.
 
At the right is a second 25-06; that's the box it came from in the background. It is a factory-loaded Federal using nickel-plated cases and the 115-grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw at 2990 fps. This is an outstanding hunting load, and surprisingly accurate for being a tough, relatively heavy-jacketed, bonded bullet.
 

 

The 25-06 Remington has a long history. I'm not so sure that cartridge history is particularly important, because it's usually a hand-me-down from a previous victim of not-entirely-correct information in the first place. Cartridge design, even in the "wildcat" stage, is often credited to the most well-known individual involved, as long as the time frame isn't too far removed from what is expected or rumored to be fact. In the instance of the 30-06 cartridge case being necked down to 25 caliber (0.257"), let's just say that the parent cartridge wasn't yet dry behind its ears before that was being done. Later experimenters and one gunsmith in particular have been given the credit, which is why the history as written isn't particularly important. Matter of fact, it's entirely wrong. Here's what's right: The 30-06 case was necked down to 25 caliber by a number of shooting enthusiasts early on, but suitable powders were in short supply, as were good bullets. Much of the experimenting was done with bullets intended for cartridges like the 25-35 Winchester, a 25-caliber variant of the 30-30. The 25-06 became popular enough that Remington adopted it in 1969, and then it wasn't a wildcat anymore. Let's take it from there...

Rifles for the 25-06 have a 10-inch twist, as do most rifles for 25-caliber cartridges. There are probably some exceptions, but who cares? You can't get serious and argumentative over little things like that. Important things, like where's the remote control, are another matter. Okay, you have a 30-06 cartridge case with the neck sized down to 25 caliber. With just a few thousands of dimensional differences in body and neck length, you also have a 30-06 case necked to 0.277" to make the 270 Winchester, and to 0.284" to make the 280 Remington. There are others in the family, but we don't need to include them to talk about this: Every time you take a step down (0.284", 0.277", 0.257"), the volume of the cylinder becomes less. Huh? Well, then, the volume of that hole in the barrel. And because it becomes less, to properly push the bullet out with that expanding envelope of gas, you have to progressively go to slower burning powders to maintain top performance. The trick is to chase the bullet down the bore, kicking its butt all the way with increasing vigor as you go. This is accomplished with proper powder selection; faster powder for the larger bore that needs the speed to keep up with the volume, and slower powder for the smaller bore that has less volume. For example, powders in the burning-speed range of IMR-4831 and RE-22 work well in a 25-06 with 115- to 120-grain bullets, which are on the heavy side for a 25-06, which is good. Heavy 25-caliber bullets is what the 25-06 is all about when it comes to hunting deer and pronghorn. On the other hand, faster-burning IMR-4064 and RE-15 is about right for bullets in the popular 165-grain range for the 30-06. Move up to 180 grains and the somewhat slower IMR-4350 and RE-19 start working quite well.

What all this leads up to is an angry complaint; most commercial rifle manufacturers are putting the same length barrels on the 25-06 as they are 270s, 280s, and 30-06s. The barrels for a 25-06 ought to be, according to my absolutely incredible calculations and more than a lot of testing, no less than 25 inches long. Ever. And 26 inches is even better. It's just that 25 is the minimum, and we're probably not going to see any cooperation for more than 26. The reason that rifle manufacturers don't do it right is because real shooters don't make the decisions. The bean counters do. It's cheaper to make those barrel exteriors all the same, length included. Extra setups cost money in downtime. As far as the customer is concerned, it appears obvious that they just don't give a damn. It's all about the money.

If you're going to have a 22-inch barrel on a 25-06, then try to find a nice 257 Roberts instead and cut down on the muzzle blast. Or even a 250 Savage. You can go to a get-by length of 24 inches, with which you aren't being blatantly screwed quite so badly, but you're not getting the full potential of the 25-06.

The 25-06 is a dandy for long-range work on larger predators like coyotes, or the wolves that have been brought into Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming from Canada to slaughter the elk, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, and domestic livestock. Okay, they've had their turn at it. Time to round up the wolves and move them into places like Central Park and the District of Columbia. The round is also ideal for deer and pronghorn. With a 22-inch barrel, it is too much cartridge. The muzzle blast is the size of a Volkswagen Bus. Twenty-five inches settles it right down, especially with the selection of the faster powder in a situation of where several are appropriate. In the 27-1/4-inch barrel of a Remington 40-X, the round is pure magic.

JDC

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