If you’re here looking for the favorite argument of shooters, “what’s the best caliber for…?”, this isn’t it. This is more autobiography than anything else.
Let me begin by giving you a nickel’s worth of background. The .30 caliber cartridge has been around since the 1890s and went through several refinements by several folks before Springfield made the final adjustments in 1906 (if you don’t know, the .30 is the caliber and the 06 is the year). I won’t bore you with the ballistics history, but in 1906 the U.S. military, namely the Army, made it the primary caliber rifle cartridge and it remained the primary cartridge for over 80 years seeing combat in all of the wars and skirmishes the U.S. was involved in over that time as well as being a favorite of big game hunters throughout the 20th century.
Now, in 2018, the .30-06 isn’t sexy anymore. There are newer cartridges such as the 700 Win Mag or 6.5 Creedmore. There is nothing wrong with any of them and all are great big game cartridges. However, I think the choice of cartridge says a lot about a person. Perhaps you are a woman or have a smaller frame, you may feel more comfortable shooting a .270. Perhaps you have to have the latest and greatest thing, whatever the hunting and gun magazines tell you is the sexy caliber of our time. Perhaps you just shoot what your buddies shoot or what your dad shot.
Me? I’m old school. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I like wood stocks, classic calibers, using my backpack as a rest and you might even find me wearing red plaid. I’m not totally against the 21st century, I have a scope on my rifle, I’m typing this on a MacBook Pro, I’m not a dinosaur, but I also don’t think that everything new is automatically better either. I’d like to think that I share a lot of traits with the big game hunters that came before me when it comes to faith, family and conservation. And, I’d like to think I share at least some qualities with those brave men in uniform from the 20th century who risked or gave their lives for our great nation. My sense of bravery, duty, patriotism and honor may pale in comparison to theirs, but I’d like to think they serve as inspirations to me even if I’m not worthy of standing alongside them.
As I knock upon the door of middle age, I know I’m becoming a relic, just like the .30-06. I hope and pray that those coming behind me will take my generation and learn from us. That includes correcting our mistakes, but I hope they don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Not everything that has worked and worked well for a long time needs to be discarded just because it’s “the old way”. Some things are tried and true and battle tested.
I’m not much one to judge, not about preferences anyhow, so go ahead and shoot whatever caliber you want, that you’re comfortable with and that works for you. But ask yourself, what does it say about you? Maybe it says nothing, maybe I’m just a guy who looks for meaning in everything I do, down to the smallest of details and my affection for the .30-06 is nothing more than me paying tribute to many great men who came before me, hoping that a little of what they had rubs off on me.