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Thread: Another 30-06 thread, only this time improved

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    Member bigswede358's Avatar
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    Default Another 30-06 thread, only this time improved

    I was wondering what all your thoughts and opinions areon the 30-06 Ackley Improved. Is there much of a velocity gain? Is it worth the rebore and buying a new set of dies? Also, is anybody shooting one, and if so how do you like it? Thanks for the info and happy shooting.
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    Member 2dawgs's Avatar
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    Thats a good question, I will be listening also...

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    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    This is from Reloaders nest:

    The 30-06 Ackley Improved is made by firing the standard 30-06 in the Improved chamber. Headspace is the same, but the Improved case has a more abrupt shoulder, less body taper and a larger shoulder diameter. The most popular version was developed by P.O. Ackley in 1944, but there are other versions as experiments og back to 1940 or even earlier. This has always been a controversial cartridge with its detractors claiming it was not as good as the standard '06, and it defenders claiming it was better than the 300 H&H Magnum. Actual chronograph tests have proven it to be definitely superior to the standard 30-06 cartridge with slow burning powders, but not with medium to fast burning powders. The 30-06 Ackley Improved is one of the most popular and widely used of the Improved breed. With the proper powder, it will add a little over 100 fps muzzle velocity to any bullet weight, as opposed to the standard factory loaded cartridge.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

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    The '06 AI never really caught my attention for more than just a quick glance, mostly because I like that great cartridge just the way it is and I wring as much horse-power out of it as I can through handloading.

    If I were to invest in enhancing that cartridge I'd spend the extra money for a new barrel and build a 338-06. (I actually did just that for my son's college graduation gift).

    Doc

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    A friend of mine shot one of these for a few years.

    His verdict was that it was a waste of time. His barrel eroded at the throat and he rebarrled to a standard '06.

    You do get gains over factory '06 ammo but not nearly the gain you can get with a standard .300 magnum cartridge. You also give up all the logistical advantages of having a standard '06 with cheap(er) ammo and common availability of excellent factory loads.

    I think the "light magnum" or "high energy" loadings all but make it superfluous.

    Not as hot as a .300 Win Mag and not as common as "regular" '06... neither fish nor fowl. It worked well for him but it seemed like a lot of trouble for what you got.

    I think the cartridge has a lot of panache, but that's about it.

  6. #6

    Default There are only several

    Ackley Improved cartridges that really stand out to me, the .280 AI and the .257 Rbts AI. Otherwise, only approximately 100-150 fps extra are usually obtainable.

  7. #7

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    I worked with one belonging to a friend, developing loads and doing a lot of chrono work just to try answering the questions about it. It was built by old PO himself, so call it "from the horse's mouth." Barrel length was 24".

    I shot it alongside my stock Remington 700 06 with its 22" barrel and another friend's Gibbs 06 Improved with its very short neck and the shoulder moved forward. The Gibbs was an original from Gibbs and had a 26" barrel.

    Sad to say my log book went to the friend with the AI, who subsequently died. The rifle and the log book disappeared in he confusion that followed, so I'm working off memory here.

    Basically, in order to get the kinds of velocities claimed by either Ackley or Gibbs for their creations, you had to use their loads and contend with nose bleed pressures. Holy cow! I like more than one or two shots out of a case before I trash it, so I had to back off on the loads.

    Using what I call sane pressure signs, the AI gave about 100 fps more that the standard, but only with the heavier bullets. I'd call it a 180-grain and heavier gun. How much of that was due to the extra 2" of barrel and how much was due to the roughly 5% increase in case capacity (based on water capacity measurement) is up to you to decide. Neither of us was willing to clip the barrel on an original Ackley to find out, and I was perfectly happy with 22" on my own 06. Interesting enough, you could shoot factory 06 rounds in the rifle as chambered, but when doing so velocity dropped a little below my standard 06.

    The Gibbs had about 10% extra powder capacity compared to the standard 06, and along with the 4" extra barrel, it gave close to 200 fps over the standard 06 at reasonable pressures. Again, with heavy bullets only. In fact, it really shined with 200 grain partitions. Some folks complained about the extra hassle of forming cases, but I had no complaints.

    I probably wouldn't spend the money to make up either one, but I would sure find the money to buy an existing model if I ran across one. Weird math I know, but that's me. I'm more interested in the heritage of an original rifle than the ballistics gained in making one of my own.

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    Thanks for sharing your actual experience with it BB. It seems to support the speculations from the rest of us.

    Doc

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    Member bigswede358's Avatar
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    Default Ah huh

    Thanks for the info, I'm glad to hear some first hand experience. I had kinda thought it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    I have had a 30-06 AI and a 257 Roberts AI. Yes they both gained 100 to 150 fps with certain hand loads. Both did not gain any accuracy and may have lost it...
    Was it worth the price of goofing around with it.??? NO.

    A moose shot with a 165 grain bullet at 2,650 fps is just as dead as a moose shot with a 165 grain bullet at 2,750.
    I could have bought a whole beef cow twice over for all the money I spent on those rifles. Particualy when I found out they were impossible to sell and I had to re-barrel both.
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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  11. #11

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    Even if the velocity gains in the AI aren't all that much, it's sure an interesting round. Like I said, I'd pay for an original, especially if it came with dies. But buying expensive dies, potentially a chamber reamer, and maybe even rebarreling..... man, you're going to tie up some serious buxx for 100fps or so. But who knows, maybe with today's newest powders a guy could jump the 100 fps some. Now, if someone was turning loose a gun already rechambered and with dies, that would be a different experiment altogether. You sure take a hit when selling "custom" rifles, so better to be in on the good side of one of those deals.

    As for the Gibbs, that get's real interesting. I wouldn't pay for the reamer and dies, much less a new barrel here, either. But it sure would be fun to play with this one again, too. The neck is really short, which has it's own liabilities, but it's a fascinating round nonetheless.

    I don't discount either round, though I kinda choke at the cost of admission for converting one of my own rifles.

    And on the subject, another one that gets my attention is the 6.5 Gibbs. Kind of a supercharged 6.5-06. A friend with one of those is real proud of it, and I know he's not one to get carried away with pressures. Same short neck as the 30 Gibbs, but he's putting out performance that tops the 270 Winchester by quite a bit. Getting close to the 264 WinMag, but not quite.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I agree with you there BB... if I could find a rifle already built at a good deal I sure wouldn't pass one up- some of those older custom rifles were pretty nice and a working part of history. I'd be knowing what I was up against with ammo though and hoping the deal on cool rifle would make it worth its while.

    My friend ended up with a Ackley rebarrelled to '06 made by Harold Carroll that drove tacks. Beautiful rifle- so in the end he could have done much worse.

    I also agree that if I were going to put something together new- the Ackley wouldn't even make the short list of possible chamberings.

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    Member bigswede358's Avatar
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    In case your wondering, the reason I was asking is I have an extra Rem model 700 in 30-06. I have my original, by original I mean the first gun I ever owned period. I bought it second hand with lawn mowing and snow shoveling money when I was 11. So anyways, I have been thinking about what to do with it. I was curious about the AI, since I wouldn't have to rebarrel just have the chamber reamed. I've had a 35 whelen before, never should have let that one go. I'm not really in need of a 35 caliber anyways, I have that covered fairly well. Anybody got any good ideas? Maybe a 338-06?
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    Member pinehavensredrocket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigswede358 View Post
    Thanks for the info, I'm glad to hear some first hand experience. I had kinda thought it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
    sorry but i haven't read much "first hand experience"...mostly my friend had one....but

    ed shilen built an "06 improved for me with a 25" match grade #4 barrel, on a remington 700 action. my rifle will crono 3056fps with 180gr ballistic silvertip bullet, with no sign of excess pressure. this caliber (as the original) is flexible and consistant, offering a large return for a modest amount of powder. the rifle is extremely accurate and pleasant to shoot from the bench or in the field.

    from my personal experience...this is a very worth while chambering, inexpensive, accurate, and ballistically competitive with the .300win up to 180gr bullets. at 200gr and above the .300win case allows a benefit due to case size.

    my .02top rifle 30-06 ackley imp
    bottom rifle .280 ackley imp
    happy trails.
    jh

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigswede358 View Post
    In case your wondering, the reason I was asking is I have an extra Rem model 700 in 30-06. I have my original, by original I mean the first gun I ever owned period. I bought it second hand with lawn mowing and snow shoveling money when I was 11. So anyways, I have been thinking about what to do with it. I was curious about the AI, since I wouldn't have to rebarrel just have the chamber reamed. I've had a 35 whelen before, never should have let that one go. I'm not really in need of a 35 caliber anyways, I have that covered fairly well. Anybody got any good ideas? Maybe a 338-06?
    I'll add to your quandary by suggesting a 35 Whelen AI. I had one for a couple of years, left by a friend as security against a loan with full shooting privileges as the "interest" payment. Velocity gains over the standard Whelen were marginal in my book, but what a tack driver. And case life was vastly superior to any standard Whelen I've owned, I'm sure due as much to a superb chambering job and custom sizing die as to the extra bit of shoulder. While I prefer the 338-06 to the 35 Whelen, I prefer the 35 Whelen AI to the 338-06. Pure prejudice based on the experience with one rifle, but I've vowed my next spare action is going to turn into a Whelen AI.

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    Member bigswede358's Avatar
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    First off very nice looking rifles there pineshaven. You have the most positive remarks regarding the 06 AI so far. I don't know that I could handle a rifle with that long of a barrel though. I have a hard time even packing one of my few rifles that sport 24" barrels. I like an 18-22.
    And Brownbear, yeah way to add another ingredient to the pot. That 35 whelen AI would be a neat rifle. Would I need a 24" barrel with that one to fully take advantage? I already have a 358 Norma, 350 RM, and a contender in a 35 rem. The only 338 caliber i've owned was a win mag. I don't have that anymore, it had a 19" barrel. Boy was it nice for carrying. So with that said, I am kind of leaning at this point toward a 338-06. And if i do go with this one is it easier to neck up 06 brasss or neck down 35 whelen brass?
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  17. #17

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    The one I was shooting had a 22" barrel. If I built one myself, I'd not be after extra whizz over a standard Whelen, rather just an easier case to work with. I wouldn't have any qualms cutting it shorter, because I just don't think the velocity loss means beans. In your spread of calibers, you probably don't "need" a Whelen, but then again you probably don't "need" a 338-06. But for me anyway, rifle choices are almost never about need! Heck, I bought six traditional muzzleloaders last year, and three of them were 58 caliber. On top of the two 58's I already owned!

    I'd be inclined to neck down 35 Whelen if I had a cheap source, rather than necking up 06. No real reason for it, assuming it would be single pass with either caliber, but that's assuming shoulder location would be static. When forming 35 Whelen and AI from 06 I always had the best luck necking up to 375, then back down to 358 in order to generate a little more shoulder for fire forming. So in that sense, necking down the Whelen has more potential, should it turn out that your 338-06's shoulder wasn't an exact match for the original 06 case. Hope that's clear.... I'm trying to steer you around the potential for having to seat your fireforming bullets out to engage the rifling, in order to reset the shoulder and assure good headspace.

    I'll add a BTW- The whole shoulder/head space business isn't always an issue, but when it happens it can really bite you. There's just a lot of variation between "standard" chambers while staying within spec. I've got a 257 Roberts that RCBS built for me almost 40 years ago that is a case in point. They turned out a custom sizing die at the same time they chambered the barrel (Shilen match). Cases sized with that die won't fit in either of the other two 257's I currently own, or any others I've owned in the last 40 years. The up side of having to keep all those cases labeled and separate has been case life. I get better life out of full-length-sized cases from that die than I've ever managed in any other rifle, even with neck-sizing only for them.

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    Member bigswede358's Avatar
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    Default Hey Brown Bear

    Walk me through this if you would. How is the whelen improved easier to load for? What did I miss?
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    Big Sweede
    Just buy a 300Win mag and be done with it.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigswede358 View Post
    Walk me through this if you would. How is the whelen improved easier to load for? What did I miss?
    It has a much sharper, more distinct shoulder compared to the standard 35 Whelen. I just found it a whole bunch easier to form cases (whether or not I opened up to .375 first), and I had much longer case life with less trimming. Between easier case forming, less trimming and longer case life, it was a real winner for me. I'm a 35 cal fan in the first place, so that place into the choice over 338, too, but we're down to pure prejudice on that kind of choice.

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