.30-30 Winchester

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.30-30 Winchester
A .30 WCF cartridge.
Place of originUnited States
Production history
Parent case.38-55 Winchester
Case typeRimmed, bottleneck
Bullet diameter.308 in (7.8 mm)
Land diameter.300 in (7.6 mm)[1]
Neck diameter.330 in (8.4 mm)
Shoulder diameter.401 in (10.2 mm)
Base diameter.422 in (10.7 mm)
Rim diameter.506 in (12.9 mm)
Rim thickness.063 in (1.6 mm)
Case length2.039 in (51.8 mm)
Overall length2.550 in (64.8 mm)
Primer typeLarge rifle
Maximum pressure (CIP)46,000 psi (320 MPa)
Maximum pressure (SAAMI)42,000 psi (290 MPa)
Maximum CUP38,000[2] CUP
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
110 gr (7 g) FP 2,684 ft/s (818 m/s) 1,760 ft⋅lbf (2,390 J)
130 gr (8 g) FP 2,496 ft/s (761 m/s) 1,799 ft⋅lbf (2,439 J)
150 gr (10 g) FN 2,390 ft/s (730 m/s) 1,903 ft⋅lbf (2,580 J)
160 gr (10 g) cast LFN 2,330 ft/s (710 m/s) 1,929 ft⋅lbf (2,615 J)
170 gr (11 g) FP 2,227 ft/s (679 m/s) 1,873 ft⋅lbf (2,539 J)
Source(s): Hodgdon[3]

The .30-30 Winchester (officially named the .30 Winchester Center Fire or .30 WCF) cartridge was first marketed for the Winchester Model 1894 lever-action rifle in 1895.[4] The .30-30 (pronounced "thirty-thirty"), as it is most commonly known, along with the .25-35 Winchester, was offered that year as the United States' first small-bore sporting rifle cartridges designed for smokeless powder. Since its introduction, it has been utilized alongside the development of flatter shooting cartridges, most prominently those derived from designs subsidized by interest in military expenditures, (Examples: .303 British, 30-06, and 6.5x55 Swedish) yet the .30-30 has remained in widespread use almost entirely because of reliable effectiveness in civilian applications, proven by putting food on the table for millions of people within a practical range of hunting situations.[5][6][7][8] [9]

The .30-30 is by far the most common cartridge shot from lever action rifles.[10] The .30-30 is substantially more powerful than the Magnum handgun cartridges (e.g., .357, .41, .44, etc.) also often paired with lever actions, and produces that energy with about 14% less recoil than .44 Magnum.[11] While its old rival .35 Remington produces more muzzle energy and recoil, the .30-30 will often retain more terminal energy.[11] The .30-30 is not commonly used for extreme long-range shooting across wide-open spaces, but modern innovations in ballistic tipped bullets for leverguns have moved the long-range capabilities of the .30-30 somewhat closer to parity with higher-velocity cartridges.[12][13] In any case, a hunting-specific advantage of the .30-30 over those cartridges is that it leaves lower volumes of spoiled (destroyed or bloodshot) venison after a kill, leading to less waste.[14][15]


The .30 Winchester Smokeless first appeared in Winchester's catalog No. 55, dated August 1895. When chambered in the Winchester Model 1894 carbine and rifle, it was also known as .30 Winchester Center Fire or .30 WCF. When the cartridge was chambered in the Marlin Model 1893 rifle, rival gunmaker Marlin used the designation .30-30 or .30-30 Smokeless. The added -30 stands for the standard load of 30 grains (1.9 g) of early smokeless powder and is based on late-19th century American naming conventions for black powder-filled cartridges. Both Marlin and Union Metallic Cartridge Co. also dropped the Winchester appellation, as they did not want to put the name of rival Winchester on their products.[16]

The modern designation of .30-30 Winchester was arrived at by using Marlin's variation of the name with the Winchester name appended as originator of the cartridge, but .30 WCF is still seen occasionally.

Characteristics and use[edit]

A Winchester 1894 in .30 WCF

When the .30 WCF was introduced, it was seen as fast and flat-shooting: 160 or 165 grains at 1,900 to 2,000 fps and a 4 inch drop at 200 yards if sighted in for 150 yards.[17] The cartridge's common loads are a 150 grain bullet (MV 2,390 fps from a 24-inch barrel) and 170 grain (MV 2,200 fps from a 24-inch barrel).[18]

In Canada and the U.S., the cartridge has likely, at some point, been used on all big game species.[19] More recently, it has been used on whitetail, mule deer, pronghorn, caribou, elk, moose, and black bear.[20] It is commonly said that in the U.S. and Canada more deer have been killed with the .30-30 than with any other cartridge, and perhaps this was true for a time in the U.S. It is unlikely to be true in Canada where, for a period, military surplus rifles in .303 British were widely available and used; they were cheaper than lever-action rifles and the cartridge was more powerful than the .30-30.[21] The .30-30 is commonly seen as usable on deer up to 150 to 200 yards.[22]

In Canada, the .30-30 has a long history of use on moose—one writer calling it "a standby for moose" in Canada's northern forests.[23] In some circles, it continues to be used, yet modern opinions on its suitability for moose are mixed: Paul Robertson, a Canadian hunting firearms columnist, says, "Too many moose have been taken with the 30/30 to rule it out as good for this purpose as well."[24] However, while the .30-30 is legal for hunting moose in Newfoundland, Canada, provincial authorities do not recommend its use.[25] The cartridge, with flat- or round-nosed bullets and 20th century powder charges, does not meet minimum energy standards required for moose hunting in Finland, Norway, or Sweden. Modern propellants which produce more energy with less pressure may be used in ammunition to exceed legal requirements for those who wish to hunt across Scandinavia from rifle length barrels without fear of consequential arbitration.[26] [27] [28] Thor Strimbold, a Canadian who has made more than 20 one-shot kills on moose with a .30-30, advises most moose hunters to use more than minimal power if they can handle the recoil.[29] It is generally agreed that large game can be struck by the average marksman at distances that exceed the capacity to bring them down cleanly. Therefore, depending upon precise implementation it is appropriate for a practical limitation with room for error in such tasks should be kept in mind accordingly for game such as elk and moose. [30] Hunting technique and style, as well as law and culture, influence cartridge choices.[31]

Average recoil from a typical 150-grain load at 2,390 feet per second (730 m/s) in a 7.5 lb (3.4 kg) rifle has been calculated to be 10.6 foot-pounds (14.4 J) felt at the shooter's shoulder. For point of reference, that falls roughly between that of a .410 and a 20 gauge shotgun. Ordinarily recoil feels similar to slightly greater than a .243 Winchester, and about half that of the .30-06 Springfield.[32] [33] [34]

For a period of time, the Model 94 in .30-30 was relatively inexpensive, which helped its popularity. Today, the cost of a .30-30 is matched by some entry-level bolt-action sporting rifles. The .30-30 remains popular, though, among some hunters who value a short, handy rifle used at ranges that will likely not exceed 150 yards (140 m).[35] Mlllions of rifles have been produced in this caliber, with many passed on to a new generation of hunters.[36] The practicality of hunting with an inherited rifle and cartridge, especially if the combination has been seen as effective at modest range,[37] is an important factor in some circles. The widespread availability of .30-30 loads, which can cost less than some other calibers, is another factor. New rifles continue to be purchased and cartridge sales are strong.

Because the majority of rifles chambered in .30-30 are lever-action rifles with tubular magazines, most .30-30 cartridges are loaded with round-nose or flat-nose bullets for safety. This is to prevent a spitzer-point bullet from setting off the primer of the cartridge ahead of it in the magazine during recoil, resulting in potentially catastrophic damage to both firearm and shooter. The Savage Model 99 was introduced in 1899 with a rotary magazine, in part, to avoid that issue. When used in single-shot rifles or handguns, such as the Thompson Center Arms Contender or Encore series, it is common for shooters to hand load the cartridge with spire-point bullets for improved ballistics.

A notable exception to the "no pointed bullets" guideline for bullet selection in rifles with tubular magazines are the new flexible "memory elastomer"-tipped LEVERevolution cartridges as produced by Hornady.[38] The soft tips of these bullets easily deform under compression, preventing detonations while under recoil in the magazine, yet also return to their original pointed shape when that pressure is removed, thus allowing for a more efficient bullet shape than previously available to load safely in such rifles. The more aerodynamic shape results in a flatter bullet trajectory and greater retained velocity downrange, significantly increasing the effective range of rifles chambered for this cartridge.[13][12]

Depending upon the resources one has access to the ideal balance in terms of trajectory is typically found in 130-150 grain range for copper bullets, 135 - 165 grains for copper jacketed bullets, and 150-190 grains for cast or swagged lead bullets. Lighter bullets are excellent for medium game, though they tend to lose energy faster and be more susceptible to wind. Bullets on the heavier side may prove beneficial for specific rifles and circumstances. Flat pointed 170 grain copper jacketed bullets are the most popular trade off for heavier bullets, with minimal degradation to the handy "point and shoot" range, and cast bullets weighing around 180 grains may prove beneficial for retaining energy downrange with a similar trajectory. The heaviest bullets in commercially available ammunition weigh in at 190 grains, which cannot be achieved without reducing the powder charge, thus some power is necessarily traded for even greater consistency in penetration at short to medium range.

Customized unconventional loads with bullets in excess of 190 or 200 grains are not unheard of, with the added weight being considered desirable for intentionally reduced charges and lower velocities that are found a good fit for a particular rifle. Even with heavy bullets, rifles can still produce favorable trajectories in comparison with the original 19th century configuration which tended to run 1900 to 2000 feet per second with a standard sized bullet.[39] Similarly, extra light for caliber bullets may be utilized by the hand loader. 130 grain bullets may be among the lightest commercially available options if one has access, and a fairly popular choice for custom reduced recoil loads on medium game.

Rifles and handguns chambered in .30-30[edit]

The .30-30 is by far the most common chambering in lever-action rifles,[10] such as the Marlin Model 336 and Winchester Model 1894. Some earlier Savage Model 99 rifles were chambered for this cartridge. Current production lever-action rifles include those by Marlin, Mossberg, Henry, and Winchester. Savage also produced a pump-action Model 170, both rifle and carbine, that was available in .30-30. In Europe, the .30-30 was occasionally used in a drilling, a three-barrelled firearm (one rifle barrel on top of two shotgun barrels).[40]

The rimmed design is well suited for various single-shot actions, so it is commonly found there, as well. Rimmed cartridges are chambered in bolt action rifles, but .30-30 bolt actions are uncommon today. "At one time Winchester turned out the Model 54 bolt-action repeater in this caliber [.30 WCF], but it was a decided failure, chiefly because the man desiring a bolt action preferred to use one of the better and more powerful cartridges. However, in this particular caliber, the .30 WCF cartridge proved to be decidedly accurate."[41] In addition, rimmed cartridges typically do not feed well with the box magazines normally found on bolt-action rifles.[42][43] Other examples of bolt-action rifles offered in .30-30 Winchester are the Stevens Model 325, the Savage Model 340, the Springfield/Savage 840, and the Remington 788.[citation needed]

A Magnum Research BFR in .30-30

In the sport of handgun metallic silhouette shooting, the .30-30 has been used. The Thompson Center Arms Contender pistol, with its compact frame and break-action design, is available for the .30-30 cartridge. The .30-30 will produce velocities of nearly 2000 f/s (610 m/s) out of the 10 in (25 cm) Contender barrel, though recoil and muzzle blast are stronger due to the short barrel. The longer barrel results in significant reductions in felt recoil (due to increased weight) and muzzle blast, with higher velocities, especially if factory-loaded rifle ammunition is used. Magnum Research offers their five-shot BFR revolver in .30-30.[44] In the U.S., some handgun hunters use the 30-30.[45] Hunting with a pistol is not permitted in Canada.[citation needed]

As a parent case[edit]

In 2023, Remington introduced a new SAAMI-approved cartridge using the .30-30 Winchester as a parent case. The new cartridge, the .360 Buckhammer, or .360 BHMR for short, is based on a .30-30 Winchester case that has been blown out to get rid of the shoulder and necked up to accommodate .358-caliber bullets (the same bullets used in the .35 Remington). The .360 Buckhammer operates at higher pressure than the .30-30 Winchester, at 50,000 psi for the .360 Buckhammer versus 42,000 psi for the .30-30 Winchester.[46] The .30-30 Winchester is also the parent case for the 7-30 Waters, .25-35 Winchester, and the .219 Zipper.

Derivative cartridges[edit]

In addition to the most common factory derivations, the .25-35 Winchester (6.5×52mmR), .32 Winchester Special, and the less-known .219 Zipper, the .30-30 has also spawned many wildcat cartridges over the years. One example is the 7-30 Waters, made by necking the .30-30 case down to 7 mm (0.276 in). The 7-30 Waters eventually moved from a wildcat design to a factory chambering, with rifles being made by Winchester, and barrels made by Thompson/Center for their Contender pistol. Other .30-30-based wildcats are used almost exclusively in the Contender pistol. One of the more notable examples is the .30 Herrett, a .30-30 case necked back to reduce case capacity for more efficient loading with fast-burning powders. The .30 Herrett produces higher velocities with less powder than the larger .30-30 case in the short 10- and 14-in (25- and 35-cm) Contender barrels. Other examples are the .357 Herrett, developed to handle heavier bullets and larger game than the .30 Herrett, and the 7 mm International Rimmed, a popular metallic silhouette cartridge. Bullberry, a maker of custom Contender barrels, offers proprietary .30-30 wildcats in 6 mm, .25 caliber, and 6.5 mm diameters.[47][48] In addition, P.O. Ackley used the cartridge as the basis for the .30-30 Ackley Improved.[49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "C.I.P. TDCC datasheet 30-30 Win" (PDF). CIP. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-12-05.
  2. ^ Simpson, L. (2019, January 18). The .307 Winchester and .356 Winchester lever-action cartridges. Shooting Times. https://www.shootingtimes.com/editorial/the-307-winchester-and-356-winchester-lever-action-cartridges/328856
  3. ^ ".30-30 load data Archived 2007-11-11 at the Wayback Machine" from Hodgdon.
  4. ^ "Load Guide" data from Accurate Powder.
  5. ^ Rick Jamison, "The Winchester Model 94 .30-30", Shooting Times August 1989.
  6. ^ G. Sitton, "Lever Guns and Iron Sights," Hunting April 1997.
  7. ^ Layne Simpson, "The Sights and Sounds of the .30-30," Shooting Times September 1992.
  8. ^ Grits Gresham, "The .30/30" Sports Afield August 1980.
  9. ^ Spomer, Ron (2019-10-28). "Whitetail Deer Cartridge Shoot-Out: .30-30 Win. vs. .243 Win. vs. .30-06 Springfield". Outdoor Life. Retrieved 2023-12-29.
  10. ^ a b Chuck Hawks. "The Deer Rifle". ChuckHawks.com. Accessed January 26, 2022.
  11. ^ a b Chuck Hawks. "Handgun Cartridges in Rifles". Chuckhawks.com. Accessed January 25, 2022.
  12. ^ a b Mann, Richard. "The .30-30 Rides Again". Guns and Hunting. National Rifle Association of America. Archived from the original on February 6, 2007.
  13. ^ a b Hornady LEVERevolution Ammunition by Guns and Shooting Online Staff at Chuck Hawks.
  14. ^ Ron Spomer. "Choosing Your Best Deer Cartridge", Ron Spomer Outdoors on YouTube [3:30 mark], August 10, 2021. Accessed January 26, 2022.
  15. ^ Ron Spomer. "30-30 Winchester Is a Joke". Ron Spomer Outdoors, October 20, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022.
  16. ^ Leverguns.com article on History of the .30-30.
  17. ^ H. V. Stent, "The Winchester Model 94," Gun Digest 1980. However, a vintage ad reproduced by Winchester suggests the velocity was 1812. Layne Simpson, "The Sights and Sounds of the .30-30," Shooting Times September 1992, says 1795 fps. Sources such as Stent and Simpson differ on the amount of drop at 200 yards. In any case, both say it was significantly flatter than the .44-40 Winchester it replaced.
  18. ^ Layne Simpson, "The Sights and Sounds of the .30-30," says the 150 grain load was increased to 2,370 fps in the 1920s and the 170 grain load to 2,200 fps just before World War Two. Remington ballistics tables.
  19. ^ Clay Harvey, "30-30 Winchester," in Popular Sporting Rifle Cartridges DBI 1984. Bert Stent, "A Small Wonder—The .30-30 Carbine," BC Outdoors July 1988; Bob Milek, "The Old .30-30 is as good as ever!" Guns & Ammo July 1985; Grits Gresham, "The 30/30" Sports Afield August 1989.
  20. ^ H. V. Stent, "The Model 94 Winchester" Gun Digest 1980. David O'Farrell, "The Lever Guns of Our Grandfathers" The Outdoor Edge September/October 2014. W. P. Williamson, "Charmed Three Times!" The Outdoor Edge November/December 1997. Wayne van Zwoll, "Adrift in Alaska," Petersen's Hunting May/June 2006. Charles Farmer, "Black Timber Elk" 1987 Sports Afield Deer. Grits Gresham, "The 30/30" Sports Afield August 1989. Kevin Steele, "Deer Cartridges East vs West," Guns & Ammo December 1989.
  21. ^ Cary Rideout, "The Providers," Outdoor Canada Hunting 2011. Grits Gresham, "The 30/30," Sports Afield August 1989, says the .30-30 has killed "more deer than any other caliber in history." Jack O'Connor wrote decades ago that the .44-40 had likely killed more game than the .30-30. A vintage Baker & Kimball ad selling Model 92 Winchester rifles said they were "Chambered for the popular 44/40 which has killed more American big game than any other cartridge made." Reproduced in Duncan Dobie, "Dawn of American Deer Hunting" Krause Publications 2011. The .30-06, popular around the world today and only 11 years younger than the .30-30, has likely surpassed the .30-30 for top spot as a deer killer in the U.S. today.
  22. ^ Wayne van Zwoll, "Quick-Handling Carbines," North American Hunter November 2003. Russell Tinsley, Hunting the Whitetail Deer Outdoor Life 1977.
  23. ^ H. V. Stent, "The Winchester Model 94," Gun Digest 1980. However, the 303 British likely has killed more moose in Canada because of the wide availability, for a time, of inexpensive military surplus rifles (Cary Rideout, "The Providers," Outdoor Canada Hunting 2011).
  24. ^ "The Immortal 30-30," Western Sportsman Oct.-Nov. 1990.
  25. ^ Newfoundland hunting regulations.
  26. ^ Lee Loading Manual - By Lee Precision Inc. 150 Grain - Max Velocity: 2512 FPS 170 Grain - Max Velocity: 2332 FPS
  27. ^ Sweden and Finland expect a load for moose to retain 2,000 joules at 100 meters (1475 fpe at about 110 yards). Norway expects 2,200 joules (1622 fpe) at 100 meters. Hornady's LEVERevolution 160-gr flex-tipped spitzer ammunition might meet the standard in Sweden and Finland especially if the rifle's barrel length is beyond 20 inches (reviewguns.com).
  28. ^ "Commercial Ammunition: Hornady 30-30 FTX 160 Grain".
  29. ^ H. V. Stent, "The Winchester Model 94," Gun Digest 1980. Stent says Strimbold came to advise nothing less powerful than the .308 Win. "for inexperienced hunters" on moose. Stent put the 303 British and 300 Savage in the "same class." Stent said, "I myself would be a little happier with a heavier caliber" than a .30-30 for moose and elk, indicating, "My own choice might be a 7x57." H. V. Stent, "Of Power and Placement," Gun Digest 1989.
  30. ^ H. V. Stent, "The Winchester Model 94," Gun Digest 1980, limits it to "150 yards or so" on moose and elk, though he later said he would prefer a heavier caliber on such game. H. V. Stent, "Of Power and Placement" Gun Digest 1989. Some people will say 150 yards is too far on moose and elk for a cartridge that, in a standard round-nosed load from a 20-inch carbine, might retain only 1,000 fpe. Sweden and Finland expect a load for moose to retain 2000 joules at 100 meters (1475 fpe at about 110 yards). Norway expects 2200 joules (1,622 fpe) at 100 meters.
  31. ^ Bob Milek, "What determines 'maximum effective range'?" Guns & Ammo December 1989.
  32. ^ "Chuck Hawks" article IDEAL DEER CARTRIDGES.
  33. ^ "Shotgun Recoil Table".
  34. ^ Chuck Hawks. "Rifle Recoil Table".
  35. ^ Clay Harvey, "30-30 Winchester," in Popular Sporting Rifle Cartridges, DBI 1984. John Wootters, "Winchester's Model 94—The First Hundred Years," Hunting December 1994. John Wootters, "The New/Old .30-30," Petersen's Hunting May 1989. Rick Jamison, "The Winchester Model 94 .30-30," Shooting Times August 1989.
  36. ^ Rich LaRocco, "Picking a Deer Rifle That Works for You," Hunting Guns 1984.
  37. ^ Sam Fadala, "America Meets the .30-30," in Book of the Winchester Models 70 & 94 Shooting Times 2007.
  38. ^ "LEVERevolution Archived 2006-11-14 at the Wayback Machine" at Hornady web site.
  39. ^ "Barnes Load Data - 190 Grain .30-30 Win" (PDF).
  40. ^ Layne Simpson, "The Sights and Sounds of the .30-30," Shooting Times September 1992
  41. ^ Sharpe, Philip B. (1937). "Part Two Rifle Loading Data". Complete Guide to Handloading, A Treatise on Handloading for Pleasure, Economy and Utility. Funk & Wagnalls. p. 368.
  42. ^ "Rimmed cartridges have certain drawbacks, but these were of no concern at the time the design was introduced. The biggest of these is the difficulty in obtaining reliable feeding from a box-type magazine. The rims tend to interfere with each other during the feeding cycle. This occurs when the rim of the cartridge being chambered tries to strip the round beneath it, since the rims do not easily ride over one another." in The Cartridge case Archived 2019-10-19 at the Wayback Machine article by Sierra Bullets.
  43. ^ "When several cartridges are stacked in a magazine, the rims get in the way." in GUNS AND AMMO: Terminology – Firearms.
  44. ^ BFR article Archived 2006-10-14 at the Wayback Machine at Magnum Research web site.
  45. ^ Bob Milek, "The 30-30: A Big-Game Handgun Cartridge," Petersen's Hunting May 1988.
  46. ^ John B. Snow. "Remington’s .360 Buckhammer Tested and Reviewed". Outdoor Life, January 12, 2023. Accessed January 29, 2023.
  47. ^ "Cartridge Loads". Hodgdon. Archived from the original on 2007-11-11. Retrieved 2007-08-01., .30 Herrett, 130 gr at 2344 ft/s with 22 gr of H110; .30-30 pistol, 130 gr at 2238 ft/s with 36 gr of Varget
  48. ^ Bulleberry Barrel Works. "Bullberry Loading Data". Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
  49. ^ Judy Donnelly (2011). The Handloader's Manual of Cartridge Conversions. Simon and Schuster. p. 200. ISBN 978-1-5107-2027-5.

External links[edit]