During the 1920's, a number of wildcatters worked with the .30-06 case necked down to .257" caliber. To name a few, there were the .25 Niedner, the .25 Griffen & Howe, and the .25 Whelen. All were similar in powder capacity, and all were handicapped by the lack of slow burning powders. It was not until DuPont introduced IMR-4350 during the early 1940's that the .25-06, as it became more commonly called, began to exceed .257 Roberts performance by an amount worth talking about. Then, during the late 1940's, B.E. Hodgdon introduced H4831 to handloaders and the .25-06 took off like a scalded dog. In 1969 Remington took note of all the noise wildcatters were making with the cartridge and domesticated it.
Everything including accuracy, recoil, trajectory, and down range punch considered, the .25-06 comes awfully close to measuring up as the all time ideal cartridge for hunting deer and pronghorn in open country. Probably the worst that could be said of the .25-06 is that it operates best in barrels no less than 24".
Even though the .25-06 was originally developed as a varmint cartridge, it is a little too much of a good thing for that purpose. As a big game cartridge, it is most often associated with Western shooting but many Eastern hunters who shoot deer across timber slashes and cultivated fields consider the .25-06 to be the final word in cartridge design.
For shooting deer sized game the 100 grain spitzer is an impressive performer but really doesn't offer anything not offered by the 6mm cartridges. The 120 grain bullet is what separates the .25-06 from the rest. H4831 is the powder that made the .25-06 what it is today and the owner of a rifle in this caliber will do well to give it a try. Other good .25-06 powders are H450, H4350, H414, IMR-4831, IMR-4320, and H1000.
The 25-06, originally a wildcat cartridge, was picked up by Remington and added to their commercial line late in 1969. The wildcat version dates back to 1920, when it was introduced by A. O. Niedner. Remington has stuck to the original configuration of simply necking down the 30-06 case. The remington Model 700 series bolt action rifles were the first to be offered in this newly adopted caliber. At the present time Remington, Intraarms, Ruger, Savage, Winchester, Weatherby, Sako and almost every other manufacturer of bolt action rifles offer at least one version in 25-06. In addition, the Ruger single shot is available in this caliber. Since its commercial introduction, the 25-06 Remington has become a very popular number.
The 25-06 was probably the finest of the 25 caliber wildcats. It emergence as a standard factory load has been welcomed by many. As a varmint cartridge with the 87 grain bullet it is said to be unsurpassed. However, a comparison of factory ballistics and a little chronographing can be most informative. Comparing factory data, we see that as a varmint cartridge both the 6mm Remington and 270 Winchester beat anything the 25-06 can offer in every category that matters. Amazingly, in spite of its much smaller case, the 6mm Remington 100 grain load is only marginally behind the 25-06 120 grain load in retained energy at a long range. There really isn't any comparison between hunting loads of the 25-06 and the 270 Winchester. Chronographing results suggest that factory data is equally representative of what each can realistically do. So just exactly what does the 25-06 offer? Evidently something, because many laud the 25-06 as among the best. Federal, Winchester and Remington offer this caliber in several bullet weights.