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.25-06 bullet selection

29 Feb 2016
@ 09:48 pm (GMT)

Charles Turner

Hi All,

I'm about to be in possession of a .25-06, so I'm looking at components. It's not a popular caliber here in the UK, or in Europe generally, and I'd like a bit of advise on bullet selection.

The rifle will be used mostly for Roe and Fallow deer. So it needs to take game from 20 -120Kg. Extended range hunting isn't a consideration, most shots will be under 200 yards. Basically I want a bullet that will cleanly take a big Fallow buck, but not blow a Roe deer to bits at normal hunting ranges.

My initial thoughts are that the 100gr Swift Scirocco would be my best option. Other bullets in contention are the 110gr Accubond, 115gr Partition and 100gr TTSX.

What do you reckon?


29 Feb 2016
@ 10:36 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
Hi Charles, yes you are on the right track with any of those. One of my favorites (or favourites if we are to speak the queens tongue) is the 117gr SST but this will do a good deal of damage to Roe and Fallow unless neck or head shooting.

Keep in mind that all will cause quite a bit of damage. The .25-06 is quite emphatic on game of this size. The only way to obtain a true reduction in meat damage is to opt for a homogenous copper bullet but I would prefer to see you use the 80gr TTSX rather than the 100gr bullet.

If you want to, start with the 100gr Swift so that you are kind of in the middle and can establish a base line for performance on local body weights. If you find the load is too much (damage), then opt for the TTSX. If you get runners, you can opt for something like the SST.

The Swift can be a wee bit finicky to work with so do be patient it. It would be good if you could obtain a chronograph for test work so that you can observe velocities while also studying cases to check pressures and explore where near max. Once you find near max and if accuracy is poor, you will then need to experiment with seating depths, utilizing dramatic steps (.5mm steps back). My reloading book can help you through this.

When you start out, set the jump at .2mm off the lands for initial load work. This is very close to the lands so you need to be able to make an accurate assesment of the max COAL.

01 Mar 2016
@ 05:50 am (GMT)

Chris Murphy

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
another one to consider may be the 115 BT not sure how your test have gone with it Nath but i load it for my brothers 25-0sexy with great results from goats/ chamois to large red stag he even bagged a big red ( round 130kg) at 540 yard i think it was luck but first two shot made him crook 3rd dropped it ( i told him off for this as it was too far for the caliber and animal size)
01 Mar 2016
@ 10:13 am (GMT)

Charles Turner

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
Nathan, I thought about the 80gr TTSX, but 80gr seemed a bit light for a big Fallow buck. So you think it'd be OK? People have been reporting good results with 100 TTSX in their 6.5x55 here, so I thought the 100 would be fine out of a 25-06.

I've found a supplier that has all of the above bullets mentioned in stock, so without wanting to waste a load of money buying all of them to test I'd like to narrow it down to the two best options really. Do you think the 110 ABs would be too explosive in this cal.? The ABs will probably be the most reliable in terms of supply for me. I've been shooting 150gr ABs in my 308 at 2900fps and they're OK damage wise on Roe, if that helps to give some sort of perspective.

As an aside: The worst I've tried (damage wise on Roe) were factory Hornady 150gr SF IBs. They were very accurate, 3 shots touching in a cloverleaf, but they were absolutely devastating. Never seen anything like it, and I used to shoot the same load but with SSTs before I started hand loading. They would perforate the stomach of the deer with ordinary chest shots and leave a fist size exit. I have a couple of pics of one I skinned if its of interest. I only shot 3 deer with this load before I changed though, but that was enough for me - this is the reason I'm being careful which bullet to choose in the 25-06 really. Not sure if it was normal, but it seemed odd that the IBs did more damage than the SSTs)

And Chris, yes I've read good reports of the 115BT. But I thought it would be best to stick to bonded or homogenous bullets given my performance parameters. The same reason that I've thought it best to avoid SSTs.
01 Mar 2016
@ 09:42 pm (GMT)

Bob Mavin

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
Hi Charles
I'm not a big fan of Barnes unless you keep the velocity up high. As Nathan said the 80gn TTSX will work well, I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a Red deer with them in a 25-06. You'll be able to get them up around 3500 to 3600fps
02 Mar 2016
@ 03:34 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
Charles...I wouldnt even hesitate in the slightest bit to shoot a larger deer with a 80grn barnes doing over 3000fps if range was under 200 yards,not even a little bit.
Having seen what 50 grn TTSX do from my .223 to red deer Im very impressed....I havent used the 110grn in my .270 because of cost (Im a tight wad) and doing ok with normal projectiles.
Im waiting for our great leader to post up the photos of the 50 grn TTSX I sent to him,to my eyes the damage is similar but opposite what I get with a std cup n core 130grn out of the damage is the other way around,near shoulder Vs off side one takes the brunt of bruising.
02 Mar 2016
@ 03:36 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
Charles...I reckon Nathan has said 80 over the 100 is because you get more velocity with the lighter weight and you NEED speed to open these bad boys up properly, thats why I run the 50 grn rather than anything heavier in my .223
02 Mar 2016
@ 04:31 pm (GMT)

Charles Turner

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
Hi Mike, that sounds like incredible wounding from such a small bullet. I've never used copper bullets before, I guess I'll have to give them ago before passing judgment on them being too light. I have some 7mm 140gr TTSXs for my rem mag but have yet to try them out. Anyway, I'll give them a whirl and see how they go.
02 Mar 2016
@ 06:15 pm (GMT)

Bryan Webster

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
The 7mm Rem Mag does well with the 140 grain tsx bullets for deer and maybe for elk if you restrict your range to distances where the bullet is still going quite fast and avoid bones.

My personal view on the Barnes bullets is that I do not chose to use them as an all around choice. My oldest son however loves them for elk and moose out to 300 yards in 180 grain bullets loaded into his 300WSM to 3000fps at the muzzle.

He had some loads of 140 grain tsx bullets for use in his 7mm-08 and his daughter killed a large bull elk at 35 yards with a shot between the eyes. Interestingly however, the bullet did not exit the back of the skull, so for general shooting elk I would be wary of light bullets. Even at the 2700fps that bullet was going at on her elk makes me think there is too little penetration if bones get in the way.

For what you describe on lighter animals I would expect there would be no problem
02 Mar 2016
@ 09:56 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
Hi Charles, we need to start this over again.

Whatever you use in your .25-06, it is going to cause wide wounding. The .25-06 utilizes high velocity and therefore massive hyrdaulic force to create wide disproportionate to caliber wounding.

It does not matter which bullet you use, the cartridge you selected is going to cause wide wounding via high velocity on game of this size. It is not uncommon for the .25 to produce 3" wounds both internally and externally.

A copper bullet will cleave to some of its energy. In one sense, the only reason they work well for meat saver shots is that they are failing to work as they should in other areas- energy transfer. But when we use a fast bullet like the 80gr on very light framed deer, we can still obtain a good measure of hydraulic shock and can eat meat close to the wound without any worry of lead fragments. If you use a 100gr TSX bullet, you risk runners, the new TTSX work much better than the former Barnes designs. This must be taken into consideration. You can use either. I only offered up the 80gr for reasons others have covered. We could go around in circles with the statements I have made in this paragraph.

Yes, the 110gr Accubond can be easier to work with than the Swift. Both are good bullets but the more I look at this, the more I realize the need to make you aware that the .25-06 is a hard hitter on light game no matter what you use. This is why it is so effective.

The more we try to minimize meat damage, the less effective we make the cartridge.

Coming from the other way, a guy can load a 120gr Sierra Prohunter to mid point book loads, lets say he is timid about hand loading. The bullet may leave the muzzle at 2800fps and be fairly mild in its performance on game out at a couple of hundred yards (2400fps). The internal wound may be say 1" to 1.5" in diameter and if the shot was placed in such a way as to avoid bone, then all will be well.

Another guy might load the .25-06 to full potential but then complain about meat damage. Winchester went through this with the .270 many years ago.

Following on from the above, another aspect of the .25-06 is that although it is a devastating cartridge, its performance does wane. You can push this cartridge too far and experience very lack luster performance. For example out long, it suffers immense wind drift and a huge loss in energy in comparison to the 7mm-08 loaded with an A-max ELD, even though velocities may be up to 600fps in favor of the .25. So if you are a .25 user, you need to work your way through all of these factors and learn just how to make the most out of the .25.

One way to make the most of your .25-06, is to try neck and head shooting. You have a good measure of velocity on your side. If you can obtain desirable accuracy, then it does not matter which bullet you use- a 100 grain Sierra SBT might just be the very best as it can just about remove the head completely on a meat animal if you hit the upper neck. If you are using shooting sticks due to long pasture or crops, you may not be able to do this. By the same token, if you are using shooting sticks and get a wobble on, then it can be good to have a cartridge which produces a wide wound in lieu of shot placement error.
08 Apr 2016
@ 07:02 am (GMT)

Danny Clayton

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
Hello I've used my Tikka T3 stainless lite in 25-06 on East Texas deer (150 lbs avg) and Elk in Arizona and New Mexico (800 lbs ) it shoots Nosler 110 gr accubonds in .2 inch group. Longest shot on Elk 275 yds DRT. East Texas whitetail longest shot 425 DRT. I used to use 100 gr Nosler partition on deer and 115 gr Nosler partition on elk but the best groups with the partitions was .75 inch groups which were fine but Natchez had a sale on the accubonds once and I got a bunch of them I tried them and now I use them on both.

10 Apr 2016
@ 02:51 am (GMT)


Re: .25-06 bullet selection

I've used a 25-06 for years at the same basic ranges that you are speaking of here. Mostly I've hunted Central Texas whitetails (90-110 lb); and Axis Deer (130-180 lb). Mostly I've used standard factory loads like Winchester Positive Expanding Soft Point, or Federal Fusion. All worked well.

Recently I began reloading standard cup and core bullets like the Sierra Game King. I've also used 117 grain Hornady SST's. They work well too. I take a lot of front chest shots. Nathan refers to this as the Autonomic Plexus in his article on bullet killing power, and the animals just hit the deck. You're going to get addicted to that round because it's so good for the uses you describe herein. Hope you have fun with it!
25 Apr 2016
@ 11:07 am (GMT)

Andy Stewart

Re: .25-06 bullet selection
I've been shooting 25/06 forever, think decades!, always building and playing with other calibres, have had everything from.340Wby to .243 and many in between, but always come back to my "quarterbore express" as my favourite hunting rifle. I have shot out three barrels in that calibre. Currently building a .264 Win mag, just coz! ( Had a 6.5 Lilja barrel on the shelf and a lonely Rem 700 action looking for something to do)

Except for the Berger VLD: G1 bc .483, .25 cal bc is not great, you need to compensate for that with outright velocity, but that has to be matched with a projectile that fits the impact speed, after killing hundreds of animals of varying sizes at all sorts of ranges with one, and tried many of the different projectiles on offer, I would say this:

-117gn Sierra Prohunter
-Load hard! ( with experienced help if you are not a practised handloader)

That bullet will punch through and lights out on just about anything on just about any angle, within sensible ranges, eg out to 400yds, and doesn't overly destruct on it's way in and holds together to exit after lots of internal damage. (most of the time) You do not need the premium 100gn Swift or TTSX type bullets.

Hornady make a useful factory load with the 117gn SST Superformance load, this load actually give the velocity claimed on the box and the design of the 117 SST projectile is flat base so it holds together when it hits something hard.

Practical example of how hard the Prohunter driven hard, can hit and punch through: My mate and I practise our crosswind shooting at 300yds on 4"x 8" mild steel plates that are 10mm thick, at that range the Prohunter punches straight through the plate. At 400yds, I can flatten a large bodied Bull Tahr on the spot with it , and get the same result at 50yds. Cheap, easy to load with, and effective.

My two cents on my favourite calibre.


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