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?
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.
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.
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.
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 Specs
|Bullet Diameter||8.22 mm (0.324 in)|
|Overall Length||82.00 mm (3.228 in)|
|Case Length||57.00 mm (2.244 in)|
|Neck Diameter||9.08 mm (0.357 in)|
|Rifling Twist||240 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 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 Specs
|Bullet Diameter||.308 in (7.8 mm)|
|Overall Length||3.34 in (85 mm)|
|Case Length||2.494 in (63.3 mm)|
|Neck Diameter||.340 in (8.6 mm)|
|Rifling Twist||1-10″ (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!