The “quarterbore” does not enjoy the popularity it deserves these days. The various .24 calibers on one side and the shiny new 6.5s on the other seem to cast a giant shadow on the once popular 25s. But if someone does own a .25-caliber rifle, chances are good that it’s a .25-06 Remington. Legitimized in 1969, this laser beam of a cartridge has been around in wildcat form since the 1920s. Without exception, it may be the best deer, antelope and sheep cartridge ever conceived.
My introduction to the round goes back to high school. When my grandfather passed away, I inherited his .25-06. A barely used Remington Model 700 ADL with an inexpensive 3-9x32 scope, it quickly became a favorite. To me it made perfect sense. I had a light-recoiling rifle pitching 120-grain bullets faster and flatter than the various 6mm cartridges could huck 100-grain bullets. I am not sure why I thought that 20 grains made much difference at that age, but I digress.
A favorite deer rifle, I’ve also taken a couple of boat loads of coyotes with it. I’m still waiting to draw a pronghorn antelope or bighorn sheep tag, though. Having used it to take two elk, I’ve come to believe that there are better choices for an elk rifle. It’s adequate for elk in the same way the .22-250 is adequate for deer, though neither are ideal for such employ, respectively.
In those days I didn’t do much handloading, but since the 120-grain Corelokts came at a then-precious $12.95 a box, within a year or so I purchased dies. While I think I’ve tried almost everything under the sun in .25 caliber, like I do in every other caliber, I’ve come to rely on a couple of “go-to” bullets for everything.
In factory loads, I espouse the aforementioned 120-grain Remingtons or the Federal Premium 117-grain Sierras, while in handloads I’ve come to prefer the Nosler 115-grain ballistic tip. Dubbed “blue cyclone” by a friend of mine, they are absolute dynamite on everything I’ve used them on. I’ve used the lighter 80- to 100-grain bullets as well but find they don’t hold up as well at higher velocities on deer as the 115- to 120-grainers; while some use their .25-06 as a varmint rifle, mine is used for deer et cetera. The blue cyclones shoot flat and hit hard, what more can you ask for?
Since those days I’ve made a few improvements to my .25-06. Namely I acquired a BDL stock and had Marc LeQuieu glassbed it for me. One of the older ones with the fleur-de-lis pressed checkering that used to come standard. A trigger job and a Nikon 4.5-14x Buckmaster scope set in a Leupold mount and rings have been welcome recent accoutrements. My favorite handload featuring that 115-grain Nosler and Retumbo powder will regularly shoot three-quarter inch five-shot groups at 100 yards if I hold my mouth the right way. If you’re in the market for a reliable, accurate, low-recoil deer rifle, give the .25-06 Remington an honest chance. It compares quite favorably to anything out there including the seemingly anointed 6.5 Creedmoor. Compare the ballistics before you drink the Kool-Aid. It may surprise you how similar they are for hunting applications.
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