Sunday, June 30, 2013

Have a friend who has a 1950s production Winchester Model 94 30-30 as his meat/self-defense firearm.

He wants me to reload some for him but hasn't a clue as to what bullet/powder combination he wants. Presumably he wants something that will work equally well on deer and two-legged varmints. Now he's a po boy and buying loaded rounds (even just projectiles) for him is out of the question, but it strikes me that having a mold that can cast .30-30 lead projectiles is not such a bad thing and I can always put the surplus back for the kids as trade goods for if, as and when. I've picked up a couple hundred pieces of .30-30 brass over the past few months at the range, but what bullet/powder combination would you .30-30 owners suggest?


Anonymous said...

If you are going to cast boolits for the 30-30 try to get a Gas-check mold. This will seal the gasses to the rear of the boolit and prevent lead fouling of the barrel. As far as the load, consult the Lyman or Lee handbooks.

Anonymous said...

tried this-lyman 173 gr flatnose with gas check-and 2400 powder. it aint much but it beats a bow and arrows

Anonymous said...


The Lyman Reloading Handbook covers the Winchester .30-30 on page 428. It gives you the loads for a 173 gr. (#2 Alloy)2.510" OAL BC: .220, SD: .259 flat-nosed bullet, Lyman mold #311041. Don't use anything but flat-nosed bullets in a lever action Winchester. On recoil, any shape other than flat-nosed could punch the primer of the bullet in front of it in the mag tube causing catastrophic results. I would also keep the loads on the low side until you have tested a few rounds. Once you have a baseline, then you can work up some hunting loads. Remember, "Hot" loads erode the barrel faster than standard loads.

Have fun, be safe.

Anonymous said...

Whelp... a Model 94 means flatpoint bullets. Really for terminal effectiveness, it is hard to beat Hornady's LEVERevolution bullets with a stupendous .330 BC and SD of .240 for a 160gr projectile. However, not cost effective as you requested (I mention to keep in mind)

Probably going to want to go with either the 150 or 170. I'm not as familiar with the .30-30 but the differences are small trade offs in speed and BC. Medium burn powders seem to get the better reviews. H4227/IMR4277, IMR 3031, H4895/IMR4895 (also a good semi-auto rifle powder), Reloader 15, and many others.

From just a 170gr (which would be my preference, given .30-30 is a short-range cartridgem, I would try for the heavier weight bullet and cope with the drop) powder load list in a reloading book (Lee is probably the best, most comprehensive) offers a long enough list that something in there is going to work well. Also, note that depending on metal selection, higher velocity loads may require gas checks (cheap- Hornady gas checks sell for around $30/1000).

Dakota said...

Although the 30-30 winchester is an excellent meat firearm for deer and larger game, I would recommend a 22 LR or Mag. Cast bullets can only be driven so fast or they lead the barrel and cause other problems. A cast bullet must have a flat nose to avoid a catastrophic magazine failure and primers must be seated well. The performance will be poor, but if it is all you got .....

I am not up on my legal stuff Mike, but it I think it is illegal to reload for someone else without a license to do so. Not sure what the law is but thought I would mention it, so .......

Anonymous said...

The historic "all around 30.30 load is a 170 gr. bullet at 2300FPS. Next most common is the 150gr bullet. There are good molds to be had from Midway. Hard cast lead with gas checks works best.

Anonymous said...

For a lifetime investment:

This was the only "go to" guy back when the S&W 500 came out. As no one else had molds available. Only round I load for that pushes a 465gr lino bullet using BL(C)2. lol By designing your own mold, you can come up with a nice blunt-nose with many lube grooves, and will also alleviate any worries about primers getting poked in the tube magazine.

Liberty or Death said...

My recommendation would be a 170 grain lead bullet over 21.0 to 22.0 grains of Alliant Reloader 7. This should give 1750 to 1800 FPS and good accuracy. These are not gas checked so a little tin should be added to harden the bullets up (maybe 2% or so). Look online for lube recipes to help keep costs down and Craigslist should be a good source of inexpensive swagers and molds. Good luck to you both

FedUp said...


Anonymous said...

Have not reloaded a lot for the 30-30, but most Win 94s and Marlin 336s seem to shoot factory 170 grain bullets better than 150 grainers. My limited reloading has shown the same thing. I've not used lead boolits at all, though.

Anonymous said...

If you heat treat your cast bullets (a fairly simple & easy process) you can drive them almost as fast as a factory 170 gr. That works as well as linotype lead & is even cheaper. I would stick with a 170 gr, or even heavier - don't let anyone tell you that a 30-30 isn't effective for both rolls you have in mind

Anonymous said...

My standard load for a 30-30 Winchester is the 150 grain round or flat nose soft point. I have used Herter's, Speer and Hornady bullets with this powder load. I use 26 grains of IMR 3031. For cast which I use for varmits or small game. Lyman 150gr cast with gas check. 10 grs of Unique. I have also used IMR 4756 at 9.0 grains. The lead is #2 alloy.

J Hines said...

Love the 94, never hot loaded it before. something will be doing soon.

Anonymous said...

Never loaded cast bullets, but have loaded thousands of 30-30 with 150 gr SP (mine really likes Remmy Corelokts) using 34 gr of RE15.

Also, if you come across some oddball .32 Special brass and don't have a rifle chambered for these, they can be necked down and used in 30-30 as well. Simply run them through your full-length 30-30 sizing die, trim, prime, charge, seat, and go shoot.

Anonymous said...

I do reload for the 30-30 with both jacketed and lead bullets.

I've found the 170 grain lead flat point gas check bullet by Oregon Trail Laser-Cast to be excellent. A box of 500 will last your friend decades, at far less expense than a mold, furnace, lube, and time to cast the bullets himself. He will need to install the gas checks himself, since they are sold with a bare behind. Both Lee and Lyman have a cheap unit that will do that.

Lasercast also sells a 165 grain flat point plain base bullet (without gas checks), but this bullet never performed well for me in any of my 30 caliber rifles including the 30-30. Accuracy was uniformly bad. I do not use it.

If your friend wants to spring for factory jacketed bullets, I prefer the 170 grain weight. Brand scarcely matters in a '94.

For powder, I like IMR 4895 because it is consistent, extremely clean burning, and still can be found in inexpensive surplus lots.

Many of the comments of other readers here are useful and important--flat points only, keeping the velocities below 1800 fps, that sort of thing.

Hope this helps.

Jim22 said...

The Lyman 173 gr. bullet referred to above is their part number 2660041. It's listed as a gas check bullet so it should be good for 1500-1800 fps.

Lee makes a similar mould, double cavity, that they say makes a 170 gr. flat point. It's number is 90368. It also takes a gas check.

RCBS makes a 180 gr. mould, no. 82014, gas check as well.

If your friend is truly on a budget I suggest the LEE product. It's cheaper as are all the accessories from LEE. LEE moulds are machined from aluminum. The other brands are made of iron. I would also suggest you have him cast the bullets. It's a tedious job.

I have used different alloys in the past. Mostly wheel balancing weights from the tire shop. They usually use them only once and discard them. The alloy is hard and suitable for rifles if the velocities are kept below 2,000 fps. and a good lube is used - and the bullets are gas checked.

Most commercially available bullet lubes are good quality. I wouldn't use something designed for black powder.

My Sierra loading manual lists the following loads for .30-30 170 gr. jacketed bullets at 1800 fps:

IMR 3031 25.7 grs.
H322 24.0 grs.
W 748 26.1 grs.
IMR 4895 27.9 grs.
IMR 4064 28.4 grs.

Hope this helps.

Barry Roberts said...

I haven't done this for .30-30, but Hodgdon's web site has loads for H4895 and cast bullets. The beauty of H4895 is that according to Hodgon's instructions you can safely start at 60% of the given max load. That's handy for sub-sonic or low-recoil rounds.

Hodgdon's web site has such great info on low-recoil loads (which are great for kids) I'm becoming a Hodgdon fanboy. Trail Boss is a lot of fun, too.

Greygrandpa said...

I also have an early 1950's Model 94.
Save up your $$$ and buy the Hornady LEVERevolution. I have taken 2 deer in 2 years. They are very effective. Slightly better effective range too. Losing supper(or your life)is not worth going hand loading. Load for fun with this gun.

daniel_day said...

I don't know if your buddy will do much target practice, but for that purpose, I recommend the light load of 8 gr Unique with a cast 170. I saw a teenager shoot that into about 3/4 of an inch at 50 yards with a Marlin 336.

Third Coast said...

If you're serious about casting boolits, my trusty Lyman manual has loadings for both the #311291 and #311041 molds. They're 170 and 173 grain boolits with the #311041 being a flat nose design. What powders do you have lying around? I'm partial to 5744. Around 20-21 grains would be a conservative load with a velocity of around 1800 fps.

Jim22 said...

Oh, by the way, regarding the cast bullet info I provided above: The .357 Magnum from a rifle shoots a 158 grain bullet at about 1,800 fps. It's considered to be a decent short-range deer rifle.

The 180 gr. bullet at 1,800 fps produces a bit more than 1,200 lbs/ft of energy at the muzzle. That's more than the above mentioned .357. Should be a decent deer cartidge out to 75 yards or so. Men, too.

Anonymous said...

Missed my chance at a 50's era Marlin 336, but while I was "making up my mind" did all the usual research at, chuckhawk's etc. If he can somehow afford a box of Hornady's LeveRevolution, that'd be a good thing for SHTF, otherwise the usual is flat-nose, gas-checked & hardcast/heat-treated bullet (or linotype if you can find it). To prevent lead fouling as much as possible, buying some of Veral Smith's LBT lube is a good investment:

Work up a few loads from almost any manual.

Side note: Haven't had a chance to try it yet, but 8208 XBR is said to be very temperature insensitive if somebody lives in an area with large temperature fluctuations (like N. TX, OK, etc.) - and now it's no more expensive than anything else, if you can find it. Might want to experiment with that, and mfr's websites are now including it in their load data online.

As to legality: from

(H4) Is a person who reloads ammunition required to be licensed as a manufacturer? [Back]
Yes, if the person engages in the business of selling or distributing reloads for the purpose of livelihood and profit. No, if the person reloads only for personal use.
[18 U.S.C. 922(a) (i) and 923(a), 27 CFR 478.41]

Keywords are 'business', 'selling', 'livelihood', 'profit'.

I'm sure you aren't involved in any of those things, are you?

Next time, you might want to ask for information for 'yourself', just to deflect the guys who are reading this blog to trip you up on something.


Anonymous said...

My suggestion, gleaned from 'Bro who loads and casts his own rifle fodder, is the Lee 90366 mold for 150g FN. Put it in front of 33 grains of IMR 4350 to keep velocity below 2K fps.
A little google fu and you'll get to which will give you a bit more info on reloading the 'cowboy' era rounds.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently keeping about a dozen fellows in practice ammo. What I tell them is that we are all in an informal shooting club, and I'm the ammo guy. They provide me with brass and whatever other components they might happen across and I put it all together. Sometimes they throw a few bucks my way, but I've intentionally set things up so at best I just about break even.
Found out years ago that you can indeed turn a hobby into a business, but you usually also suck all the enjoyment out of it in the process.
While gas checked cast boolits are the cheapest option, assuming you already have all the necessary equipment less the mold, also consider copper plated lead slugs from Berry or Rainier. And as others have said, a box of JSP is still your better bet for deer and such. Shop around and a box of 100 shouldn't run much over 25-30 bucks. That's in normal times of course, not the current craziness we're in at the moment.

Anonymous said...

"Keywords are 'business', 'selling', 'livelihood', 'profit'.

I'm sure you aren't involved in any of those things, are you?"

Note that making a gift of your labor, or labor and materials, to a friend is NOT a business of any kind (well, not unless you're the gubermint, but since they make da rules, that's a whole other ballgame).

Anonymous said...

LUBE the bullets...Elmer Keith developed his pre.44mag loads with 11 Brinnel bullets-lead does"nt cause "leading"...lack of enough lube does(up to about 2200fps)