30-30 Hunting Ammo: A Complete Buyer’s Guide

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Why the .30-30 is Still Great for Hunting

It is now more than a century since the invention of the .30-30 Winchester, and it’s quite surprising that the same ammo is still in use today. It was way back in 1895 when the first Winchester rifle was printed on the Winchester catalog. Well, the .30-30 was the first commercially available small bore cartridge designed in the US. 

Initially, its name was the .30-Winchester smokeless cartridge. But, the name changed to .30-30 after being chambered in the Marlin rifle. Well, it was a cartridge to use with the smokeless powder. It is true that by today’s ammo standards, the .30-30 ought to have ceased a long time ago. But this isn’t the case. This ammo is still a preferable choice for many hunters. In this article, we are going to see why this is so.

The 30-30 Ballistics

The 30-30 ammo is typically referred to as the.30-30 Winchester. It refers to a centre-fire cartridge invented in the US back in the 1890s. Just like the 30-06, it is one particular ammo that represents a bit of American pride. It is one of the top-quality ammo of its class. The cartridge is mostly for lever-action rifles

The height of this cartridge is about 2.04 inches, and the width is about 0.51 inches. The muzzle velocity is about 2373 feet per second, and recoil is about 10.6 foot-pounds of felt recoil. The weight capacity may vary from 150 to 170 grain.

How Far Will a .30-30 Kill a Deer?

The .30-30 isn’t long-range ammo but works well for short and mid-ranges. It can go as far as 150 yards. The best range for killing a deer is 125 yards or below. Thus, if you’re hunting in a wide-open plain, the 30-30 may not be the best idea. 

However, if you are hunting in the woods of Pennsylvania or beech forests of Adirondacks and Catskill mountains, the 30-30 ammo is an excellent choice as you can place your shots within 75 and 125 yards. 

What Game Will a 30-30 Round Kill?

As long as it is within the effective range of the bullet, your 30.30 rifles can take down any big game. You can place your shots below 125 yards just to be sure. At long ranges, the knock-down power of the 30-30 ammo is quite low for and may not bring down a big game animal.

The 30-30 Typical Rounds

In many factory offerings, the 30-30 cartridge comes with 150 grain or 170-grain flat nose or round nose bullets. These two ammo loads possess sufficient sectional densities for deep penetration at 30-30     The 150 grain boasts a velocity of 2400 fps while the 170 grain round offers a speed of 2200 fps. Hence, they are perfect for using a cup and core bullet without any risk of a premature breakup.

Is it the Best of its Kind?

If you would compare the .30-30 ammo to some popular cartridges like the .30-06, .300 Winchester magnum and 6.5 Creedmoor, perhaps you can realize that the 30-30 pales in this comparison. This theory is correct if you look at aspects such as trajectory, downrange power, and velocity. But, the 30-30 still ranks high if you look at the ammo sales statistics. This ammo lives on, and it is one of the best-selling centre-fire rifle cartridges.

30-06 Versus 30-30

These two are popular rifle cartridges for hunters or target shooters. You need to acknowledge that there are plenty of options to choose from The .307 Winchester, the 7mm-08 Remington, the 6.5 Creedmoor, among others. While most of these deliver the intended performance, the 3006 and 30-30 are two significant cartridges that I never miss to carry to my hunting expeditions.

Well, these are classics in the hunting and shooting arena, but which one is better between the 30-30 Winchester and 30-06 Springfield calibers. The 30-06 boasts a higher velocity than the 30-30; the 30-30 has a speed range from 2200 to 2700 feet per second, while its counterpart boasts a speed ranging from 2500 to 3000 feet per second. 

This scenario is quite evident because, at 200 yards, the 30-30 cartridge usually drops to 1685 fps while the 30-06 is cruising at 2397 fps. For muzzle energy, the same case applies. Well, at 200 yards, the 30-30 usually drops below 1000 foot-pounds.

Yet the 30-06 Springfield cartridge maintains 1914 foot-pounds. For the trajectory, the 30-06 is on the winning side. Well, the higher velocity of this ammo ensures that it maintains a straight trajectory downrange. When you zero to 100 yards, you’ll find that the 30-06 drops about 3.5 inches at 200 yards. I found that under the same parameters and conditions, the 30-30 drops 7.7 inches.

You may now ask why many hunters opt for the 30-30 cartridge. Well, this Winchester 30-30 cartridge wins when it comes to recoil. For sure, it is one of the best ammo for hunting beginners as it possesses light recoil. It is a popular cartridge for deer hunting, especially in the deeply forested areas. Quite impressive, right?

Why the Fame and Demand for the 30-30 Rifles and Ammo?

But why does it possess this fame and demand? To understand its popularity, we have to embrace the Winchester 94 long time fame and demand, especially in the hunting arena. 

It is because the 30-30 is lightweight and tends to be a handy rifle for deer hunting. This rifle’s popularity skyrocketed after the inception of the .30-30 ammo. When chambered in the Winchester 94 gun, their demand was unbelievable. This rifle boasts quick handling and fantastic knock-down power ideal for deer hunting. As long as the deer is within the 150-yard range, the 30-30 is incredible ammunition.

Light Recoil

This ammo produced only 10-foot pounds of significant recoil. Hence, it is great for hunting beginners. That said, the 30-30 Winchester 94 rifle is great for young aspiring hunters who may not go straight to using today’s sophisticated guns. 

The two best .30-30 rifles are the Winchester 94 and the marlin 336. There is room for argument regarding which among the two is the better. But if you consider that the Winchester 94 weighs around 6 pounds, it is ideal for hunting all day.  

Great Sniping Tool

If you want to get into the specialty world of handguns or 30.30 in the Thompson Center Contender, they are also splendid hunting choices. The latter with its super 14 barrels and the .30-30 cartridge would be a perfect target-sniping tool to hunt down coyotes, squirrels, antelopes, and deer. Let’s go on and see what kind of ammo are available today to feed -30-30 cartridges and perfect for hunters.

Variety of .30-30 Factory Loads

Luckily most of the ammo manufacturers offer different varieties of .30-30 factory loads. The major manufacturers in this area include; Hornady, Barnes, Fiocchi, Remington, Nosler, and Winchester.  

First, you need to keep in mind that the ammo to be fed from a tubular magazine has to be flat or round nose to prevent exploding in the magazine as a result of recoil. The one-time exception is the Hornady’s Lever Evolution Flex Tip ammo.

Most will feature .30-30 ammo being available in 150 and 170-grain round nose or flat nose loads. But, there are some exceptions for the single loaders and the lightweight plinking bullets. The invention of smokeless powder and advanced bullet technology has made .30-30 ammo an excellent big game hunting ammo. Here are the best .30-30 ammo for hunting

Best .30-30 Ammo for Hunting

Hornady Lever Revolution

Here is one of the best ammo if you want to benefit from the .30-30 Winchester optimally. This line of ammo from Hornady is perfect ammo to make your hunting successful. The Hornady Leverevolution line of ammo incredible features will help you gain a lot in your hunt without overworking yourself.

Well, it is available in either 140-grain Mono-Flex bullet or 160-grain FTX bullet. Both models feature flexed tips; hence, they work well in the tubular magazines of your hunting rifle. The pointer bullets or rather those Spitzer bullets boast enhanced ballistic coefficient compared to the traditional round nose bullets. However, these Hornady Leverevolution ammunition do not enhance the range of your rifle.

The load featured a flatter trajectory and improved downrange performance than any other .30-30 Winchester ammo. Additionally, the mono-flex ammo boasts 100 percent copper alloy construction; hence, they are ideal for use in states with lead-free regulations such as California. 

It is one of the best lead-free .30-30 ammo. But of course, you need to spend some time at the range to ensure the bullet shoots well and accurately in your rifle. If it does, then this should be your choice for the best .30-30 ammo for the Winchester 94 marlin 336 or other lever-action rifles.

 It would also be an ideal bullet for a bolt action rifle chambered in that cartridge and with a tubular magazine. The mono-flex model boasts a muzzle velocity of 2500 feet per second, while the flex-tip expanding model offers a muzzle velocity of 2400 feet per second.

Pros

  • Flatter trajectories
  • Excellent ballistic coefficient
  • 160-grain flex tip design
  • Boxer-primed brass

Winchester Supreme Ballistic Silvertip

This ammo also originates from the famous Winchester and is ideal for hunting as well as shooting tournaments. It boasts superior ballistic silvertip ammo. Interestingly, it weighs only 150 grains, and the ballistic coefficient is 0.23.

It is versatile ammo for different shooting functions and enhanced survivability in all weather conditions. Besides, it boasts the core and jacket stays intact upon contact. Thanks to the rapid expansion of this bullet as it also allows deep penetration.

Apart from the tip, the overall design allows for fantastic downrange velocities. The design entails alloyed lead core and silver tip. Additionally, the design features a contoured jacket and a black oxide finish; hence you should expect superior performance and durability. 

Well, this ammo is perfect for big game hunting. The bullet needs to penetrate both hide and vital organs of the animal for an instant humane kill. Equally, this 30-30 ammo features high muzzle energy and muzzle velocity. The energy and speed are 1902 ft-lb and 2053 fps in that order. 

You’ll also love the packaging of these rounds. They come as 20 rounds arranged perfectly in trays.

This ammo is lead-free, and therefore you can go hunting in the states which have tight regulations regarding lead bullets. The other high ranking feature is the boxer primed casing for easy reloading. This design also allows the weather-proof functionality of the ammo.

Pros

  • Superior ballistic silvertip design
  • Lubalox weather-proof coating
  • Rapid controlled expansion
  • Lead-free composition

Remington Core Lokt

This product is also an ideal choice if you’re looking for a dependable .30-30 ammo for your hunting.  Despite being reasonably priced, this bullet offers amazing ballistic performance. It boasts high knock-down power. Therefore, it is perfect for hunting down feral hogs, deer, black bear, and big game animals. It is available in either 170 grain or 150 grain.

The Remington Core Lokt 170 grain soft point ammo will work well for almost all your lever-action hunting rifles. Its superior muzzle velocity and accuracy makes it great ammo for deer hunting. The 150-grain load version features jacketed hollow-point design and also offers excellent ballistic performance and hunting rifles compatibility.

But, it will be untrue to say that this is the best Remington’s ammunition. However, it is one of the best choices for your .30-30 hunting rifle. It has been there for years and boasts reputable deer hunting history. The cased brass ammo is boxer primed and non-corrosive. It is a 150 grain round featuring Core-Lokt soft point design and controlled expansion.

Well, this round feature copper jacket, which is locked to a lead core which allows high weight retention and allows efficient controlled expansion. The benefit is that this cartridge becomes handy when hunting down big game animals. The core locked design possesses a broad frontal area, which allows quick expansion as well as high energy impact.

Therefore, it provides a deep penetration capable of bringing whitetail deer to a stone-cold stop. The jackets boast an innovative design whereby they expand to assume size double of the size of the original bullet.

 Besides, the jacket design is unique and provides a reliable expansion to about twice the original diameter. The copper jacket locks to a robust lead core, allowing controlled expansion plus high weight retention. Hence, it brings steadfast on-game results and is ideal for those who haven’t yet acquired excellent hunting skills.  Chambered in a lever-action rifle, it delivers significant results due to the rifle’s easy handling and reduced recoil.

Pros

  • Patented Core-Lokt bullet design
  • Unique controlled expansion
  • Soft point for high energy
  • Brass coating and boxer primed
  • 200 rounds packaging

Barnes VOR-TX

Barnes is one of the leading bullet makers in this modern era. If you love the bullets they carve, and you’re a hunting enthusiast, you have something to smile. The Barnes VOR-TX .30-30 ammo features a high tech design to help you bring down any game animal out there. It is 100 percent brass-copper and hence ideal for states that don’t permit the use of lead. The legendary hollow-point copper Triple-Shock X-Bullet offers an incredible feature to help you excel in your hunting profession.

It boasts rapid expansion, high weight retention, and, of course, deep penetration. Therefore, you can use it to bring big game animals down, the likes of deer, black bear, and feral hogs. It is also ideal if you want to take down a moose with your .30-30 rifle, featuring a triple shock X flat- nose bullet weighing 150 grains.

This ammo has an impressive muzzle velocity of 2335 feet per second. Therefore, it is popular because of rapid expansion, high weight retention, deep penetration, and extreme accuracy. The fantastic feature about the TSX bullet is that it expands into four very sharp-edged copper petals when it hits the game animal. Thus, it ends up destroying bones, tissues, and vital organs and is perfect for a quick, humane kill.

 The other impressive feature is the bullet shank, which has several precisely engineered grooves. These features lower the pressure to allow the bullet to travel at lethal velocities. Moreover, each round is boxer primed, corrosion-resistant, and reloadable.

Pros

  • Impressive muzzle energy and velocity
  • Unique expansion
  • High penetration
  • Enhanced accuracy
  • Versatile ammunition

Winchester Deer Season XP

With more than a hundred years of constant use, the Winchester 30-30 round still rocks. Most hunters still appreciate it as the best hunting cartridge. Despite facing stiff competition over the years, this fantastic .30-30 round still boasts accuracy, power, and reliability.

It is the best-rated rifle ammo for hunting down big bucks and other big game animals. It doesn’t allow much recoil and offers substantial accuracy. Well, this is the reason why many people support it as the best entry-level hunting round. Many people in the US use it for hunting deer, elk and boar. 

The Winchester Deer Season XP features 150-grain weight capacity, brass casing, boxer primed and a polymer tip. This option is ideal for use in states like California, where lead ammo is prohibited. Also, these rounds offer the massive expansion, outstanding power, and high accuracy that you need to bring a whitetail deer stone cold dead.

It fires at 2390 feet per second. 

You can use these rounds in 30-30 rifles such as the Winchester 94 rifle. This combination will allow easy handling, less recoil, excellent accuracy, and ensure you benefit a lot from your hunting excursions.

Pros

  • Controlled rapid expansion
  • Impressive accuracy
  • Unique polymer tip
  • Heavy bullet for massive energy

Winchester Super X

This product represents another outstanding .30-30 ammo. It is from the legendary ammunition maker, Winchester. Just like other competitive ammo models from the same company, the super X boasts a brass casing, is non-corrosive and boxer primed. Also, it is reloadable ammo perfect for .30-30 rifles.

 It is popular for staple hunting as well as target practice. Also, it is renowned for its rapid and controlled expansion, which delivers a maximum impact upon hitting the game. The other useful feature is the notches around jackets mouths. This unique feature ensures improved upset, uniform, and rapid expansion.

The affordability of this Winchesters ammo makes it very common for beginners.

It also holds a rich history as one of the best ammo for an American hunter. The bullet’s weight is 170 grain while the muzzle velocity is 2200 feet per second. This ammo is available as a 170 grain round nose 30-30 load and as a 150 grain jacketed hollow point, offering unmatched hunting potential for black bear, deer, feral hogs, and much more. 

With a box of this .30-30 ammo, you can sight your rifle at 100 or 150 yards and enjoy your hunting expedition.

Pros

  • Incredible expansion
  • Extreme muzzle velocity
  • High impact energy
  • Weather-proof boxer primed design
  • Affordable ammo

Key Factors to Consider When Purchasing Ammunition

Type and Weight of the Bullet

While there are many things to consider, weight is significant. Usually, the bullet weight is measured in unit grains. It is vital as it relates to how the bullet penetrates the target’s body. 

The 30-30 ammo weighs over 100 grains. Therefore, they are ideal for medium to large size game animal hunting. Different types of bullets possess different designs in terms of shape, tip material and design, jacket quality, and more. Hence, different bullets feature different ballistic coefficients, penetration power, velocities, and accuracy.

Primer Style

The typical primer style is the boxer-style primers. Most will feature brass construction, and this design prevents corrosion. Thus, the ammo remains safe and in perfect working condition even upon contact with moisture. Boxer-style priming is the most popular in the US. This priming method offers the merit of being reloadable; thus, you can remove the old primers and get new ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Effective Range of 30-30 Lever-Action Rifle?

The typical range of the 30-30 rifle is 150 yards to 200 yards, but the range is dependent on the type of ammo. For instance, the range can increase up to 300 yards if you use the polymer tipped bullet and fire it with a scoped rifle. Therefore, the effective range of the 30-30 marlin 336 is somewhere around 250 yards. There is room for errors because many other external factors may affect the range of the 30-30 bullet.

How Should You Zero Your 30-30?

Proper sighting ensures you hit the target accurately and precisely. Hence, you should sight in to put the 30-30 bullet two inches high at 200 yards. The bullet should be on the nose at 150 yards. At 200 yards, it should be about 5 inches low.

Is 30-30 Ammunition Great for Hunting?

The Winchester 30-30 cartridge has been and is still one of the best ammo for hunting. It is particularly ideal for hunting whitetail deer, black bear, and other big game animals. If you sight-in correctly as per the effective yardage of your lever-action rifle, this ammo delivers excellent knock-down power. Additionally, most rifles chambered in 30-30 are quite lightweight compared to other sophisticated modern deer hunting rifles. 

Their light recoil allows you to maneuver easily in those whitetail woods, and anyone can easily make accurate shots.

Why is 30-30 Ammo so Expensive?

The demand for the 30-30 rifles and ammo is higher than the supply. Well, there isn’t the low-price surplus ball ammunition in .30-30 as there is in calibers such as .308, 5.56, and 7.62X. Besides, the .30-30 rifles boast American pride and offer unique nostalgia. Everyone wants to acquire one of these hunting rifles ammo, and hence the demand has to shoot and the same with the cost.

Conclusion

 They may not have the best muzzle velocity or good looks either, but 30-30 rifle bullets are the best for hunting big game animals. 

They deliver instant killing results as long as you’re within the effective range, and you’ve sighted in properly. If you’re a beginner looking for the very best .30-30 ammo, you only need bullets chambered in the best lever-action gun such as the Winchester 1894 or the Marlin 336. The light recoil from these guns plus the exceptional ballistics of their ammo will help you master the hunting art quickly.

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