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For all the cowboys
12 February 2018, 21:49,
For all the cowboys
Knowing that some of you fellows prefer the lever action rifles as a replacement for the not available evil black rifles in your area, I thought I would post some recent test results of my latest experiments with the cowboy rifles

Some of my friends were lamenting the cost of 30-30 ammo to feed their rifles and I made the mistake of telling them I reload 30-30 with cast bullets and shoot for pennies per round. It actually totals about $0.15 per shot US money, which is abut 1/10 of a pound last time I checked.

The cry of "load me some!" went up and I was trapped.

My only concern was that both the friends I was doing this loading for both shoot Marlin rifles that have the "micro-groove" rifling. Micro groove barrels are not known for liking cast bullets when they are pushed anywhere near factory velocities. They are great for 22 rifles and big bores with jacketed bullets, but they strip the lead bullets as they go down the bore at high speed.

So I did some calculations. I wish they had been more specific about telling me how much math I would need to know for proper reloading when I was in school. I would have paid much more attention!

While my Winchester '94 will shoot about anything I feed it when loaded right up to factory specs I decided that if I was not going to be able to push a slug past 1600fps in a Marlin I had best use the heaviest slug available. It just happened that I have a 200 grain flat nosed 30 caliber bullet mold that works through the magazine and action of a Marlin rifle like a charm. And at 1600fps it gives nearly the same energy figures as the 170 grain bullet at 2000fps. Close enough that I d not feel guilty anyway.

I convinced one friend to loan me his Marlin rifle for the tests and when he arrived with the rifle I saw that it was a pristine, like new gun that probably had fewer than a dozen shots fired through it. He had a cheap Simions scope on top but it was good enough to get a group at 50 yards.

I had a variety of loads worked up ranging from the 170 grain bullet at 1500fps right up to the 200 grain bullet at 1900fps. I will not specify the exact powder and charge since that is not listed data in most books and I had to search for 200 grain loads in some exotic places.

What I discovered was that the Marlin rifle did a fine job of dealing with the cast bullets in 200 grain form but did not like the 170 grain bullet at all. At 1700fps it started throwing the 170gn slugs through the paper sideways.

From a cold barrel it was shooting the 200 grain bullets at 1700 fps into about 3/4" groups at 50 yards. The 1900fps loads it was scattering to about one inch at 50 yards, which is still not bad for a 30-30 lever action rifle.

I think the difference is that the 200 gn bullet had almost 1/4" more bearing surface than the 170, so it hangs in there for a few additional fps push without stripping from the bullet core.

My Winchester shoots the same load with about the same results so I will be using that recipe as my standard fodder in the 30-30 from now on. The 200 grain bullet at 1900fps will drop a deer in its tracks, most other things too.

It was the first side by side test I had done with the two brands of rifles and I was impressed. Winchester no longer makes the '94 at a reasonable price. It is now farmed out to the Japanese and priced as a hand crafted custom rifle at a price the average hunter can no longer afford.

The Marlin rifles are still made here, though the parent company just filed for bankruptcy, so I do not know how much longer they will be with us. I understand that we can thank some of the Euro-zone investors for that little move.

Right now they are expensive, but not out of reach price wise at $500 US being the low end model price.
12 February 2018, 22:24,
RE: For all the cowboys
A fellow living in a place which restricts civilian ownership of semi-automatic rifles can do lots worse than choosing a lever-action .30-30. The .30-30 is ubiquitous. Guns and ammo are sold just about everywhere. A rural lawman, farmer or forester could find .30-30s at any crossroads grocery.

I bought several .30-30s just to exploit the THOUSANDS of rounds of range pickup brass gleaned at public ranges over the years. Lever actions remain popular in rural areas of America because they are affordable, plentiful, and familiar and they work. In remote regions of Latin America a .30-30 is the only high-power rifle many people have heard of.

Accuracy of the average lever-action .30-30 is not spectacular, but is adequate for the utilitarian. 10cm groups at 100 metres are normal for iron sights. A peep sight provides useful improvement over traditional open sights, because it is faster in snap shooting and obstructs less of the target than open buckhorns. Use a threaded target aperture in bright light and simply unscrew the disk at twilight.

If you accept the fact that a .30-30 was a “short range” (meaning less than 200 yards in the Infantry sense) rifle, iron sights should be zeroed so that when using a “fine bead” (drawn down into the notch) factory loads strike about 10 cm high at 100 metres. This provides a 150-metre point-blank range, which defines the realistic limit for factory loads fired from a typical 1 mil dispersion utility carbine. With the factory open rear, step-elevator sights moving the sight one step on the elevator adjusts the point of impact about 1 mil 3. Setting factory open rear sights on the second step generally brings point of impact up to strike about 10 cm at 100 metres, which is a good field zero for most hunting. So zeroed, if you to take a 6:00 hold on the brisket of a deer, you will make a good hit as long as you have hair under the bead and no daylight above the bead sight.

If your deer is far enough away that the front sight bead bead covers the animal from shoulder to brisket, then hold right there and shoot. Covering the forequarters of the animal with the bead should give a solid hit if you do your part out to about 150 metres, about the maximum effective range of a .30-30. If the animal is far enough out that you cannot see enough of the animal around the bead to clearly identify the head and hindquarters, then it is probably over 200 metres and too far to shoot at and be sure of a humane kill. People who used irons sights as they were intended to be brought alot of venison home.

A “coarse bead” hold was a common long-range expedient a hundred years ago when the .30-30 was our first flat-trajectory, smokeless powder big game rifle. Here the bead is centered between the points of the semi-buckhorn, while the flat front sight base is raised to bridge the gap across the lower notch. This provides a useful zero out to 200 meters or so.

Lever guns have a less-threatening appearance than the "Evil Black Rifle" which is less likely to “scare the natives."

If you want to mount a scope on your lever gun the Marlin enables optics to be mounted low, over the bore, where they belong for snap-shooting. The Marlin breech-bolt, lever and ejector are easily removed to enable cleaning from the breech, avoiding wearing out the muzzle crown. A scope was indeed a help for anyone over age 40 to reduce sighting errors. But iron sights are simple and “best for conscript troops and farm boys,” Dad said. “Once zeroed you can forget the darned things until you get too old to see them.”

73 de KE4SKY
"Almost Heaven" West Virginia
13 February 2018, 22:35,
RE: For all the cowboys
That sighting system would not work for me CH, every rifle I own has a different sized "bead" and some of the fiber optic beads I use are quite large.

The fiber optic on my '94 is probably three times the size of the brass bead which was invisible in the shadows of the deep forest where I hunted. Many times I would lose sight of the bead or the rear sight, even at mid-day, while hunting in the woods.

I went to a scope on the '94 years ago, first the side mount. Although it worked and was accurate it made the rife unhandy to handle.

I changed to a forward mounted long eye relief scope and have been happy with that system. I can grasp the rifle at the balance point and carry it all day without fatigue.

I also use an illuminated cross-hair so the scope is usable as a holographic sight even in the darkness.

About 90% of the lever action rifles "reduced accuracy" is due to the iron sights. The second issue they have is the cheap scopes most people stick on top.

I have owned several Marlin 336 rifles in both 30-30 and .35 Remington and found them to be extremely accurate when used with a good scope.
14 February 2018, 15:13,
RE: For all the cowboys
I would say most people in the UK don’t know much about hunting and the ammunition needed for deer as you CH, i found it most interesting.We know about 303 and 7.62 but wanting to know more about 30-30 ammunition i looked on wikipedia and now know a little more about the history of the round and the guns made for it. I never realised that rounds in a tubular magazines must be flat or round nosed to prevent one round setting of another due to recoil, please keep up these posts.
14 February 2018, 21:16,
RE: For all the cowboys
am shooting my 1892 on irons and keeping all the rounds in a small dinner plate sized circle at 50m is about as good as it gets with my fading uncorrected vision.
Nothing is fool proof for a sufficiently talented fool!!!!
15 February 2018, 18:32,
RE: For all the cowboys
MNM, if your poor old eyes are that bad you need to switch to the shotgun and buy some buckshot!
16 February 2018, 15:03,
RE: For all the cowboys
Got a marbles ring sight on back order along with a fibre optic bead.....going to spoil the looks of the 1892 but should improve things somewhat
Nothing is fool proof for a sufficiently talented fool!!!!

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