Monday, December 26, 2016

The .25-06

Hat-Tip: Paw-Paw's House

It is my personal opinion that the .25-06 is the finest all-around rifle caliber in the world today.
There are those who think that the .270 deserves that accolade, but my experience with the "Bastard Ought-Six" ... while it may not put the lie to that accolade, certainly challenges it.

I inherited my .25-06 from my father, who was a "stock maker" and whose brother (my uncle "Shorty") was a machinist.

My father's favorite rifle was the 1903-A3 Springfield rifle, and between the two of them they built many fine rifles in variant calibers, based on that platform.

They got rid of everything except the action, and from that point they combined their various skills (Uncle Shorty, the machinist; Pop, the stock-maker) to build some of the most beautiful and functional rifles the world has ever seen.

For under $500, including their time.

But the .25-06 was perhaps their finest creation.

My father ("POP") was the imagination.  He conceived of many bizarre configurations of caliber, stock, barrel and accoutrements.  Uncle Shorty did the machining and always worked to spec.

Between them, the most disappointing creation was a .22-250 (obviously not using the 1903-A3 Springfield as a platform .. it was a "spec" creation) which my father built for me for varmint shooting.   I had demanded that they use the entire barrel-blank, to keep the most metal on the barrel so that I could shoot ground-hogs all day from 300 yards to 500 yards and  not warp the barrel.
Pop and Shorty decided it just looked ... ugly.  So they tapered the barrel by 1/8" over the 30" length of the barrel.   Yes, it looked better, and it never wavered from zero at 500 yard ground-hog shooting, all day long.
But I digress ... we're talking about the .25-06.
Pop bought a new .25 caliber barrel (after 50 years, I disremember the well-known barrel maker ... "Black" something?), Shorty tapered the barrel, bored the chamber to .25-06 and fitted it to the action.

Pop fitted it with a "Birds-Eye Maple" stock, with a Pachmeyer Recoil pad (that .25-06 was soft shooting, but after 100 rounds during an afternoon of Ground-Hog shooting in a prone-over-a-shooting-stick position, I was grateful for the padding!)

The stock was a full cheek-piece that lapped over to the over side ... dense wood, lots of it, and it looked as if it had tailfins and a V8 engine it would  rip up a dragstrip and still take "Best In Show" at a vanity car show.

Better yet, I could shoot Jack Rabbits, Mule Deer or Antelope (with the 10x Leopold scope) at distances from 70 yards to 500 yards ... and did!

Okay, I wasn't shooting Jacks at 500 yards.

Deer and Antelope ... yes, after I learned the right "hold".

I initially sighted the gun in at 200 yards,  It was still dead on at "Hopping-Jackrabbit" distances, and close enough at 100-yard "Startled Deer: distances.

But how did it perform at long distances?

I once (nineteen-seventy something) shot an Antelope which was just disappearing over a knoll at 500 yards, from a supported kneeling position.  I held one-body-thickness over the horns, to allow for the time-to target. After a second or three, I heard the distinctive "THUMP" of a solid hit.

Pop and  my uncles, and our host at the private ranch, disbelieved the hit; but when we fetched the trucks and drove over the hill, there was a DRT antelope with a chest shot.

I named him "Fred", and paid $300 to mount the  14-1/2"trophy head.  He hangs over my stairwell today.

It wasn't me; it was the .25-06 shooting 117-grain Nosler Boat-tail bullets during an atypical windless moment in the Rawlins, Wyoming hunt area.

And yes, I have posted this information before, and I'm still waiting for someone to call me 'lair' on it.
It doesn't matter.  I know it was a million-to-one shot, but it worked.  I saved the head and I ate the meat, and the meat was delicious stir-fried in a hot pan with grease and some fried potatoes.\

I also have a very nice .30-06, but I could not have made the shot with that calibre;  I tried hunting with a .30-06  using 130 grain hollow point bullets, but they ruined the meet a close * (under 100 yards distance) * and they were erratic at longer distances.

I love the .25-06 because the ballistics are very easy to dope at various distances, it accommodates a variety of bullet weights, and the ballistics are a gentle arch which allows you to guestimate the proper hold over a wide variety of distances.

And it's a killer of jack-rabbits!


Mark said...

In my younger days, I shot a lot of Jacks with a .30-06. The load I developed was with a 110 gr Speer spire point at about 2250 fps. It often went in like a dime and out like a cash register ;-) CA, UT & CO all have a lot of jacks.

Anonymous said...

Often the 25-06 is a rifle for the experts.

Jerry The Geek said...

The .25-06 is no more a rifle for experts than is the .270.

But it's an excellent rifle for mid-range shooting of varmints under 300 yards, and also for deer and antelope at even longer ranges.

I put the range limit for varmints at 300 yards only because the rifle is usually scoped with a 6x at most. However, a 3x-10x variable (for example) can extend the range. A Nosler HP boat-tail bullet in the 120 grain weight will hold up at longer ranges quite well, as I learned at a Boomer Shoot several years ago.

Jerry The Geek said...

And by the way, Mark, I used a 30-06 with 110 grain hollow-point bullet to kill my second dear. Your experience was much like mine; in a 110 pound Mule Dear, I got a perfect left-to-right running heart shot with a dime-size entry hole ... and about 10 pounds of meat blasted out the off-side.

And the amount of blood-shot meat on that side netted a half-deer of meat.

I've seen deer which were even worse for wear (ever drag a deer out of a deep canyon by the antlers?), but I was only 13 at the time and I relied on the judgement of my father at the time. He was similarly astonished at the amount of blood-shot meat wasted.

Heavy Hollow-point bullets aren't really the optimal choice for deer and antelope.

But they're excellent for ... um ... gound hogs?