|Place of origin||United States|
|Variants||.25-35 Winchester, .219 Zipper, .30-30 Ackley Improved, 7-30 Waters, .32 Winchester Special|
|Parent case||.38-55 Winchester|
|Case type||Rimmed, bottlenecked|
|Bullet diameter||.308 in (7.8 mm)|
|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 length||2.039 in (51.8 mm)|
|Overall length||2.550 in (64.8 mm)|
|Primer type||large rifle|
|Maximum pressure (SAAMI)||42,000 psi (290 MPa)|
The .30-30 Winchester/.30 Winchester Center Fire cartridge was first marketed in 1895 for the Winchester Model 1894 lever-action rifle. The .30-30 (thirty-thirty), as it is most commonly known, and the .25-35 were offered that year as the USA's first small-bore sporting rifle cartridges designed for smokeless powder. Sixty years after its introduction, in 1955, it was surpassed by the smaller bore .243 Winchester cartridge with more powerful and accurate ballistics yet similar recoil, but the .30-30 Winchester remains in widespread use even today.
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.
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. This designation also probably serves to avoid consumer confusion with the different, yet similarly shaped .30-40 Krag, which has been referred to as .30 US and .30 Army.
In Canada and the U.S., the cartridge has also been used on moose, caribou, and pronghorn. Modern opinions in Canada 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." In both Canada and the U.S. it has a long history of use on moose. It is generally agreed that the .30-30 is not a good choice for hunters who wish to shoot animals at longer ranges. The cartridge, with flat- or round-nosed bullets, does not meet minimum energy standards required for moose hunting in Finland, Norway, or Sweden. Hunting technique and style, as well as law and culture, dictate cartridge choices. 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. While the .30-30 is legal for hunting moose in Newfoundland, Canada, provincial game authorities do not recommend its use.
One of the primary reasons for the .30-30's popularity amongst deer hunters is its light recoil. 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 is 10.6 foot-pounds (14.4 J) of felt recoil at the shooter's shoulder, about half that of a comparable rifle chambered for the .30-06 Springfield. However, the .243 Winchester offers more muzzle energy and far greater downfield terminal energy than the .30-30 with similarly light recoil.
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 (the shape seen on the 7.62×51mm NATO above) 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. 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.
The .30-30 is by far the most common chambering in lever-action rifles such as the Winchester Model 1894 and the Marlin Model 336. Some earlier Savage Model 99 rifles were chambered for this cartridge, as well,
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 take one of the better and more powerful cartridges. However, in this particular caliber, the .30 WCF cartridge proved to be decidedly accurate." In addition, rimmed cartridges typically do not feed well with the box magazines normally found on bolt-action rifles. 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.
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.
In addition to the most common factory derivations, the .25-35 Winchester, 6.5×52mmR, .32 Winchester Special and the less-well-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 (.284 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 7mm 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. In addition, P.O. Ackley used the cartridge as the basis for the .30-30 Ackley Improved.
Perhaps the oldest derivative cartridge is the wildcat cartridge 35-30, also known as the 35-30-30, 35/30-30, and 35/30. This round was never factory produced. Rather, it was an invention to counteract the corrosion of the early 30-30 barrels from the use of black powder and shot out barrels. Barrels that were no longer serviceable were bored out to 35 caliber and the .30-30 case was re-necked and loaded with a .35 caliber bullet.
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