Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret. writes [via ammoland.com]
I am going to admit that for no good reason I have in the past been a bit of a gun snob when it comes to the 30-30 Winchester rifle cartridge. I was new to the firearms business, right out of college, working at a gun shop in the Chicago area. First off, you could not even hunt with a rifle in Illinois so I am not sure what all the concern was about rifle calibers. Perhaps in the back of every customer’s mind they were someday going to be headed out west to take an elk at 1000 yards off-hand. These upscale Chicago hunters could not envision taking a moose in Montana with a lever-action cowboy gun known as a “30-30 deer rifle.” Some how I sort of fell into that thought process and dismissed the venerable 30-30 Winchester cartridge for over 35 years . . .
I picked up a used Marlin 336 in 30-30 and decided to keep it for my daughter. I bought some standard 150 and 170 grain bullet ammo and locked the rifle in the gun safe.
30-30 Winchester is one of the oldest smokeless powder rifle cartridges out there. Most of the 1950s-through-1970s TV and Hollywood westerns had both the good guys and the bad guys carrying a Winchester rifle in 30-30.
In Canada, where handgun ownership and usage is very restricted, a light weight lever action rifle is used in many cases as a substitute where a smaller firearm is needed. With 30-30 currently being chambered in more lever action rifles than any other caliber then naturally the cartridge has been very popular with our cousins to the north.
The 30-30 is considered an entry class round. Dad buys his son that first deer rifle and because everyone on TV carries one, the lever action 30-30 is the gun of choice. In the US and Canada more white tail deer have probably been taken with the 30-30 cartridge than any other center-fire round.
30-30 Ammo Now
There have been many improvements in the manufacturing of 30-30 ammo in the past 5-10 years. Buffalo Bore Ammunition (www.buffalobore.com) and its 30-30 ammo/ 28A with a 190 grain bullet is an excellent high impact, and greatly improved, rifle cartridge. [ED: priced at $64.54 for 20 rounds.]
A long conversation with Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore about his 30-30 ammo has convinced me I have got to get over my misguided opinion of the old, but very much alive rifle cartridge.
Tim had his own proprietary 190 grain bullet developed. It is designed to hold together better with some mushrooming, but allowing for deep penetration. If you are hunting white tail in Altus, Oklahoma perhaps the 190 grain bullet may be a bit much, but if you want to make sure the deer is really dead–go for it. Be mindful that there are not two other deer standing behind the one you are harvesting.
According to Tim the 28A-190 grain 30-30 round has the potential to take out the first deer and then continue through the two other deer that pushed their unlucky friend to the front of the line as the report of the rifle was heard.
If you are looking for black bear killing ammo for your grandfather’s gently used 30-30 lever action rifle, the 28A / 30-30 will get that job done and is safe to use in almost all of the older lever actions. For you technical folks go to the Buffalo Bore website. Tim has done a lot of research on how all of his ammo performs and he has provided you with charted data on each type of ammo and each different bullet used in that caliber. I do not want to face down a brown bear with only a 30-30 rifle in my hands, but with Tim’s 190 grain bullet ammo, I would suggest there is nothing in the lower 48 states that the 28A / 30-30 round could not stop if you keep the shooting under 150 yards.
John Wayne never had ammo this good back in his day.
Interestingly, Tim advised me that he sells more of his 28A / 30-30 ammo in Alaska than any other state. A lot of 30-30 lever action rifles are in use in that state. Many are carried for personal safety and the 190 grain bullet greatly improves your survivability odds in bear country. Export issues are being worked out, but I would suggest that once Buffalo Bore Ammo moves across the southern Canadian border it will find its place in a good percentage of the 30-30 rifles up there. For your hunting adventures to the Great White North, Gordon McGowan at Milarm Gun Shop in Edmonton, Alberta (www.milarm.com) is my suggested point of contact. Gordon is extremely knowledgeable about firearms and Canadian hunting.
Truthfully with more of the 28A / 30-30 ammo already in Alaska, perhaps the ammo will be flowing south into western Canada.
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” firstname.lastname@example.org