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8mm Mauser vs 30-06: Which is better?

When selecting a new hunting cartridge, it’s easy to stick with the classics. But every once in a while, you might want to try out a new type of cartridge to give yourself a novel experience or to branch out into international markets.

Today, let’s take a look at the 8mm Mauser – a popular sporting and hunting cartridge from Germany – and compare it to the classic .30-06 Springfield, arguably one of the most famous American hunting cartridges of all time.

Hunting with the .30-06 Springfield and 8mm Mauser: Which is best?

8mm Mauser (7.92x57mm) vs the .30-06 Springfield

The first thing most people comparing the 8mm Mauser and .30-06 Springfield will ask is: which of the two cartridges is better for hunting overall? That’s a tricky question with a relatively complicated answer.

Power and Trajectory

From the specs below, you can see that the 8mm Mauser typically has the power to carry a heavier bullet. This translates to more energy with every shot you fire from your rifle. This may make the 8mm Mauser slightly better for taking down larger game, though there are some other things to consider.

For example, the .30-06 Springfield has a flatter bullet trajectory overall. Naturally, this will allow you to take longer shots more easily without compromising on accuracy. To some, this may mark the .30-06 Springfield as a better sporting or target shooting bullet, at least if you are competing against fellow snipers.

That said, the 8mm Mauser’s heavier bullet may allow the project to retain its trajectory more consistently over a distance, at least when you consider wind and other factors that could throw it off course.

Origin

There’s one big downside you’ll have to keep in mind if you choose to go with the 8mm Mauser: it’s mostly produced in Europe, and there are very few domestic options if you want to buy from American companies.

This is a problem since domestically produced cartridges in Europe are loaded with lower than average pressure chambers compared to the US (and other European cartridges). This could cause you to experience a different muzzle velocity or overall bullet performance than you might expect. More importantly, the pressure difference could cause loading issues if you try to load your 8mm Mauser into certain types of rifles.

Price

8mm Mauser cartridges usually run for anywhere between $.25 and $3 per round, whereas the .30-06 Springfield can be picked up for $.59 to $3.09 per round. Of course, you don’t want to go for the cheapest cartridge possible – some cartridges from Ethiopia in particular are known to have loading issues or poor performance.

Recoil

The .30-06 Springfield certainly has more recoil compared to the 8mm Mauser – this isn’t surprising since the .30-06 Springfield has high recoil energy overall. So if you have trouble retaining control over your rifle with high recoil projectiles, the 8mm Mauser could be a better choice.


The 8mm Mauser Overview (7.92x57mm)

Technically called the 7.92x57mm Mauser, the 8mm Mauser is a German-made rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge. Originally designed for and adopted by the German Empire in 1903, it was actually one of the most common service cartridges for Germany in World War I and II. Naturally, that made the 8mm Mauser one of the most popular military cartridges at that time. 

Today, you can find the 8mm Mauser produced in European factories and by some United States brands. It remains a popular sport and hunting cartridge thanks to its reliability and accuracy at a distance.

Typically, the 8mm Mauser can reach a muzzle velocity of 2600 ft./s and over 3000ft./lb of energy output when using a 198-grain bullet. These cartridges are usually loaded with .323 caliber bullets and have lower chamber pressure compared to most other European bullet loads. Because of their stopping power and muzzle velocities, 8mm Mausers can be used to take down a wide variety of game.

8mm Mauser (7.92x57mm Mauser) Bullet
8mm Mauser (7.92x57mm)

8mm Mauser Specs

Production Dates1903–present
Case TypeRimless
Bullet Diameter8.22 mm (0.324 in)
Overall Length82.00 mm (3.228 in)
Case Length57.00 mm (2.244 in)
Neck Diameter9.08 mm (0.357 in)
Rifling Twist240 mm (1 in 9.45 in)

The .30-06 Springfield Overview

The .30-06 Springfield cartridge, also called the .30 Gov’t ‘06” by Winchester manufacturers, is one of the most popular hunting cartridges in the United States despite its age. It was originally developed in 1906 for use by the U.S. Army, though it was standardized shortly after. It was even used in a military capacity until the late 1970s (when it was replaced by the 7.62 x 51 mm and 5.56 x 45 mm NATO rounds).

Regardless, the .30-06 Springfield is still one of the most popular hunting and sporting cartridges in the US. As a result, all major firearm and ballistic manufacturers produce new .30-06 Springfield cartridges all the time.

Typically packed with a 160 – 220 grain bullet, the .30-06 Springfield cartridge can produce muzzle velocity averaging around 2500 ft./s with energy output at around 3000 ft./lb. As a result, it’s a capable cartridge for taking down big game species like deer and moose.

.30-06 Springfield Bullet
.30-06 Springfield

.30-06 Springfield Specs

Production Dates1906–present
Case TypeRimless
Bullet Diameter.308 in (7.8 mm)
Overall Length3.34 in (85 mm)
Case Length2.494 in (63.3 mm)
Neck Diameter.340 in (8.6 mm)
Rifling Twist1-10″ (254 mm)

The Bottom Line

So, bottom line – which of these two cartridges should you choose? It all boils down to your personal preferences and where you plan to hunt.

Because of the flatter trajectory you can expect from the .30-06 Springfield cartridge, you may wish to use this cartridge if you are hunting in the plains or if you are trying to hit very distant targets while taking wind into consideration.

On the other hand, the 8mm Mauser produces slightly more stopping power and can knock down your target more easily, particularly at closer ranges. Thus, if you are trying to shoot your target at sub-1000 yard ranges, the 8mm Mauser may be a better overall hunting cartridge for your needs.

That said, you should consider whether you can actually purchase 8mm Mauser cartridges. Again, it may be much easier for you to find affordable .30-06 Springfields in the US given these cartridges’ origins.

Overall, the .30-06 Springfield and 8mm Mauser are solid hunting and sporting cartridges with good performance, great stopping power, and reasonable reliability in the field. For the best results, we recommend picking up a box of both and testing them out yourself before deciding which is your favorite!

19 thoughts on “8mm Mauser vs 30-06: Which is better?”

  1. I use the Springfield 06 for everything from coyote to moose. Bullet weights are available from 55gr-220gr. The best Bullets I’ve used are Nosler Partition or AccuBond. Use Remington 180gr. Cor-Lokt primarily with outstanding results. When hand loading I’ll use the Noslers. 55g of IMR 4350 gets my Nosler 180gr. to 2,800 fps. from my 24” Weatherby. No experience with the 8mm Mauser. Great article and thank you.

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  2. I own both a 03 Springfield and a Gewehr 98 . And the performance and accuracy of the.30-06 is hard to ignore. The 8 mm Mauser doesn’t have the range or nearly the accuracy of the 03 Springfield and it’s .30 – 06 cartridge. Don’t get me wrong, the 8 mm is a fantastic rifle and cartridge that’s very accurate and absolutely powerful. But it just doesn’t have the range or accuracy of the Springfield. And with accuracy and long range comes versatility because it’s great at both long as well as Short range. The 8 mm definitely doesn’t appear to be a more devistating round as far as knockdown power. In my experience owning and using both for over 25 years I can say without any doubt that the.30-06 is just as hard hitting and close range as the 8mm and exceeds the 8 mm in both power and accuracy at long range.

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    • Are you shooting factory loads of 8 mm or handloads? My 8 mm shoots a 150 grain bullet at nearly 3,000 fps and is very accurate. A.323 diameter leaving the muzzle at 3,000 fps is very8mpressive.

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    • You must be shooting factory ammo. I reload 53 grains of BLC2 with a 150 grain bullet and the ballistics are impressive at just under 3,000 fps for my 8 mm. A .323 diameter 160 grain bullet going that fast beats the 30-06 in every category of ballistics.

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    • The comparison of Calibres is irrelavent. Both the 8×57 and 7.62×63 are excellent cartrdges. The type of bullet is really the important thing. Of course the ’06 has had much development work. Either cartridge can be loaded to take anything on the Planet.

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  3. I bought some 7.9 mm at a gun show that’s all it says on the box the seller said it was what I wanted for my 8 mm Mauser rifle. Is this correct

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  4. I have a sporterized K98K. Iron sights as i could never drill this beauty for a scope. But at 100-120 yards it’s a hog stopper. Range is limited by my skills.

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  5. They are both great cartridges (and rifles). I presently own two ’06’s and one 8mm. I have carried the 8mm 65 years now, and one of the ’06’s almost that long. They are both deer-killing machines out to 500 yards, and that’s limited by me, not either cartridge’s capability.

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  6. If you shoot US made factory ammunition in the 8×57, it is very under powered. For plinking I shoot the PPU(wolf) ammunition in my Mausers (because of price and low recoil). But for Hunting there is nothing like the Sellier & Bellot ammunition from the Czech republic. It is loaded to full pressure and performance. With these loads you can easily outperform the 30-06. It is just as easy to get that ammo as the US made stuff. I have recently built a few hunting rifles in the 8×57 cartridge and I like them a lot more than the 30-06. The Mauser cartridge has been my favorite since about 2011. Even though I bought my first military Mauser around 1993. I have been reloading this cartridge since around 2005.

    O Kudrna GySgt USMC

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  7. I fid all these interesting but My Dad Had a 30-06 03a3. I had the German Mouser. WE got into a contest that went on for 2 years. We would go to the gun range and the longest targets we could shoot was 300 yards. We both hand loaded out rounds. We shoot 25 rounds. Looser had to buy lunch .Both of us got to where we shot got enough you could cover 5 shots with a quarter. Dad had a 4 power scope and mine was 2power Weaver.
    Johnny

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  8. Hard to take an article seriously when multiple times it mentions that the cartridge that the 1898 Mauser was introduced with came out in 1903……

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  9. I have used both 30-06 and 8mm on mauser actions for most of my life since i was 14.I’m 65 now,and it only depends on which one I want to take for a walk at any given time.All of my rifles are on mauser actions (k98’s).I only shoot and hunt 400 yards or longer.One thing this artical doesn’t say is if your using a military barrel,(8mm) they are 2 groove bbls.,then your load should be using a weight close to the military load as possible.meaning the weight of the head for the best results.I have one .06 that my dad put together using a mauser action and a douglas premium bbl. with a mannlicher stock.my 8mm, I kept the military bbl.but put a full fashion stock on it. all wood.I have taken more deer at longer ranges with my 8mm.(reloads)using a 200 gr. head.I love my mauser actions.I call them my slap’n load.I bought a rem.mod.70,(gave it to my buddys son) it was just to right angled for me.I’m left handed and can slap that mauser bolt ahead with my right hand and get my deer,elk,moose.I love both cals.but it seems that my 8mm says take me,take me,more.

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  10. It depends! If you are not wise and load the 30-06 with 150gr. bullets or buy 150gr. factory ammo than the 30-06 is a complete and total waste of almost everything! That is WW2 technology at it’s worst!

    If you load or purchase 196gr. European factory ammo or hand load the 8×57 Mauser is far supior in almost every single way!

    The only way the 30-06 is any better than .308 Win or 8×57 Mauser is if you load it or purchase ammo of at least 180gr. premium bullets! If not that or better you might as well be shooting a .308 Win.

    95% of people that shoot 30-06 are the opposite of smart and are wasting their money on 1950’s and earlier technology wasting the potiential and lethality of the 30-06. Likewise people shooting 170gr. Remington Cor-Lokt 8mm Mauser ammo and the like are wasting their money on anemic ammo.

    I own and shoot both 8mm Mauser and 30-06 but I am not a mindless lemming doing what is the lowest common denominator. The 8mm Mauser was 50 years ahead of it’s time in many ways. In the hands of a hand loader the 30-06 has the edge due tot he fantastic selection of bullets.

    Anyone shooting 150gr. and lighter bullets from a 30-06 is the opposite of the sharpest tool in the shed. Just because they make those weights of bullets does not make them a good choice in a cartridge the size of the 30-06 and promoting it as enhanced flexibility is a HUGE false hood in every way. It is intellectually dishonest and you will find that most of those bullets run out of gas or have insane drop and wind drift. If you want to shoot 30cal bullets under 150gr. build a 30BR and shoot 123gr. bullets and be amazed by the accuracy and almost infinite barrel life.

    There is a reason no one makes 170gr. 338 Bullets and do not sings the merits there of! LOL Have one of these internet experts show up with 110gr., 150gr., 180gr. 30-06 premium factory ammo and put their money where there mouth is starting at 300m and working out to 900m let alone anything lighter than 110gr. !!! Even hand loads from someone not biased and a non biased shooter!

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  11. Both are great hunting cartridges, it depends your own requirements as to which is best. I have both and won’t depart with either.

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  12. There is an 8mm06. Surplus K98’s became readily available. Often, these were rechambered for 06 cases necked up for the 8mm bbls. This was a good marriage and has been referred to as a poor man’s magnum.

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