Originally Posted by 3DChief
I don't think you will find much difference between the 30-06 and the .308, ballistically they are pretty much identical except the 30-06 will handle heavier bullets better. The recoil chart in this link reflects that as well: http://www.chuckhawks.com/recoil_table.htm
Noise and muzzle blast can have a huge impact on perceived recoil. The more you quiet it down, the more pleasant it will be to shoot. Some other options to help you out are a muzzle brake, which really bumps up the noise and pretty much requires double hearing protection. A properly designed and installed muzzle brake will greatly reduce recoil though. I have a Wild West Guns Summit Lite custom rifle in 300wsm with a brake that weighs right at 5 lbs. It recoils about the same as my .223 bolt gun without a brake. You might also try a different recoil pad. Rubber pads harden as they age, plus some of the newer technology recoil pads absorb a lot more recoil than the older designs. Another option is to pick up a "Lead Sled", which uses weight to help reduce recoil.
Yes, all three cartridges use the same bullet diameter, but you can't use most bullets designed for the .308 and 30-06 in the 30-30 because they are pointed bullets. Pointed bullets in a tubular magazine are a big no-no! The pointy end lines up directly with the next primer and will set the rounds in the magazine tube off with recoil.
If you are going to use muzzle brakes, plan on shooting alone most of the time because you'll make the shooters on both sides of you pissed off due to the noise and muzzle blast. A better solution is to make up a leather bag containing a couple pounds of lead shot and put it between the buttplate and shoulder when shooting off the bench. It increases the effective weight of the gun and reduces felt recoil.