Occasionally, I reflect on the humble firearms I began hunting with as a responsible young man of 12. I do not really wish to return to the single-shot .22, but the Mossberg 12 gauge pump I obtained a few years after the .22 would still serve well.
You can grow up and move away from humble beginnings, but you always remember the look of the fields and roads. I think you will forever carry that look with you. The fine house, and stiff collar we wear, cannot replace the worn hunting shirt, and the smell of new ground. That is why I often carry and hunt with the .30-30 lever-action rifle. I have newer, more accurate and more powerful guns, but none handier or more trustworthy. I suppose it is the fast-handling lever-action rifle that sells the package more so than the cartridge. Therefore, I have not been without a Winchester Model 94 .30-30 rifle since I was 16.
The Winchester reminds us of the life we once led. Arranging bits of information brings to life the people to whom duty was a privilege. Feeding the family, harvesting game, tending to the crops and raising children left little time to get into trouble. For the deer hunter, the .30-30 was the rifle. A few carried military surplus rifles that were cut down into ‘sporters,’ but most of those were pretty poor guns.
When reading period reports, written around the time of the introduction of the .30-30 Winchester Centerfire, you can see that it was a sensation in its time. Despite the introduction of improved cartridges and rifles, the .30-30 lever-action rifle continues to sell well. The .30-30 is the longest-lived centerfire rifle cartridge in continuous production that remains so widely used.
Another look at period literature shows the respect to which the cartridge was held. No more drop tables for the .44-40 WCF or .45-70 Springfield, and no more scrubbing the bores clean of black powder residue after firing. Both accuracy and power were phenomenal for the day. Hunters quickly adopted the rifle, and every species of North American game fell to the .30-30 Winchester Centerfire.
Lawmen such as the Texas Rangers were quick to adopt this hard-hitting cartridge as well. It should be noted that several highway patrol agencies and the LAPD kept the Winchester in inventory as late as the early 1980s. I respectfully submit that a lot of problems can be solved neatly with such a rifle with a single shot. Having seen police taking cover from rifle fire and attempting to return fire with handguns, the Winchester .30-30 would have looked mighty good at the time.
While improved ballistics is possible with handloading, the tubular magazine of the lever-action rifle presented a problem. The nose of the bullet behind the leading cartridge butts into the primer of the cartridge ahead. A pointy bullet would punch the primer and ignite the cartridge during recoil. For this reason, relatively stubby, round-nose bullets were loaded in the .30-30. (A French military rifle used a spiral magazine to cure this problem.)
Enthusiastic handloaders could not use pointed spitzer bullets to improve the .30-30’s ballistics. Well, actually, some of us did. We loaded the 125-grain JSP and loaded only the round in the magazine and one in the chamber when hunting. However, Hornady has a better solution.
The LeveRevolution loading features a spitzer-type bullet with a flattened tip. The polymer tip flattens during recoil and cushions the primer in front of the bullet. This eliminates the possibility of a chain fire. I have read period reports of chain fires with the big lever-action rifles and they were ugly. The Flex Tip neatly solves the problem. Be especially careful when handloading the .30-30, .35 Remington or any other cartridge for lever-action rifles. A high primer would be a disaster.
The advantage of the FTX is a higher ballistic coefficient—less drag and more retained velocity, more energy, and more killing power. At short range, they perform well, but at longer range is where the advantage over conventional bullets will show. As a further advantage, the new bullets exhibit excellent accuracy potential.
The Hornady load breaks about 2,400 fps from the average carbine, somewhat faster than the average 150-grain JSP load in the caliber. I have tested the FTX and find it not only effective, per testing in ballistic media, but quite accurate as well. While I find the 150-grain bullet a great choice for hogs and deer at moderate range, the FTX has longer legs. I have also tested the 150-grain Interlock and find it a great loading with much to recommend. Hornady even manufactures a Reduced Recoil loading in the 150-grain .30-30. This wide range of choices would not be offered unless the .30-30 were still popular and in demand. The old Thutty-Thutty is not only in demand in my world, the rifle is indispensable.
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