The Greatest Whitetail Cartridge of All Time

Caliber Battles
The Greatest Whitetail Cartridge of All Time

The people have spoken. According to the MeatEater audience, the .30-06 Springfield is the Greatest Whitetail Cartridge of All Time. The ‘06 spanked the .243 Winchester in the championship matchup by a resounding 49-vote margin: 70 to 21.

October Madness Champion Bracket

Springfield supporters made one simple argument: the .30-06 kills deer dead.

“At the risk of sounding fuddy, the ‘ol 06’ generally gives me a pass through, and I usually don't have to chase at all anyway,” said commenter jacobeimer13. “Bigger bullet, more power, better flop, deader deer, less chasing. Ladies and gentlemen, the .30-06 Springfield.”

Commenter MartinOels pointed out that while bullet placement is always most important, “the power of the .30-06 provides a great ‘back-up’ should you get unlucky. Never had to search for any deer shot with .30- 06,” he said. “Usually, they drop in their tracks or stumble a few paces.”

“Good for big woods and the field, or big deer, small deer, and everything in between,” ZJDenton added. “Simply the best deer cartridge ever made.”

As for the .30-06’s stout recoil, many of you dismissed that drawback as irrelevant to most hunting situations.

“The recoil has never entered my mind when there's a deer in my crosshairs,” said Homebrewer75. “If you hit a deer with a 30-06 it does not live to tell the tale.”

Others were less sympathetic to those who might be prone to flinching.

“The .243 is for little little soft boys!” said “If your shoulder can’t handle the 30-06, get in the weight room! 30-06 forever.”

Not everyone was so dismissive of the .243’s abilities, however–even some of those who voted for the ‘06.

“I am partial to the .30-06, more for nostalgic reasons than practical reasons,” said Pauljoeck. “That said, all this talk about ‘knockdown power’ is overstated. I've killed a ton of deer with both calibers. Find a decent hunting bullet, shoot them in the boiler room with either and they won't run more than 50 yards.”

At the end of the day, that’s true of all the cartridges in the October Madness tournament. Though some offer advantages over others, they all prove themselves in the whitetail woods year after year.

If you have a rifle in any of the cartridges on this list, you’re well on your way to taking home some venison. And if you don’t, you’re still probably good to go. As many of you pointed out, other cartridges like the .270 Win., the 7mm-08, or the .25-06 are also excellent deer calibers and could have easily won this tournament.

Click the links below to check out the comments for any matchup in the tournament.

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