The Winchester 30-30 has been around for over a century and it’s still the most popular deer cartridge in the U.S. Why is it after all these years the best seller, especially with all the modern, flat shooting cartridges available to hunters today?
Here are a few reasons for the popularity of the little “Thutty Thutty”.
For one thing, the rifles that are chambered for the 30-30 are inexpensive when compared to other rifles chambered for other rounds. It’s not uncommon to find a Model 94 Winchester or Marlin 336 in good shape at a Pawn Shop for under $200. These guns are capable of producing acceptable accuracy for deer hunting out to 100 yards or more with a little practice.
Ammo for the 30-30 is generally a few bucks (no pun intended) cheaper than other ammo as well.
The light recoil of rifles chambered for the 30-30 Winchester make them desirable for new Hunters, Women and those who only shoot a rifle a few times a year not to mention those Hunters that are sensitive to recoil.
Finally, the round itself is a solid round. I think it’s safe to say the 30-30 Winchester has probably taken everything that walks North America.
The 150 and 170 Grain bullets carry enough punch to do a Deer in at ranges out to around 200 yards. Personally, if I knew there would be a chance of a shot like that, I’d use the 170 grain bullet or the new Hornady LeveRevolution.
Speaking of the new Hornady LeveRevolution’s, I’ve never used these rounds. But from what I’m gathering from Hunters in the fields and on the message boards, these rounds are everything they have been touted to be. Flat shooting and hard hitting.
For those of you who have not heard about the LeveRevolution, they are a polymer spire pointed bullet designed to be used in tubular magazines. The tip is soft and collapses. Hornady and a few Gun Writers have been reporting exceptional accuracy out to 250 yards with these new rounds.
I would never classify the Thutty Thutty as an Elk or Grizzly Bear round, but they have fallen to the 30-30. I’ve read stories about some Black Bear guides in Canada who prefer the 30-30 over a shotgun because of the quick handling characteristics and short range stopping energy of the 170 grain bullet.
Hunters using the Winchester 30-30 have several choices when it comes to ammo.
Remington offers the 125 grain Accelerator and most ammo manufacturers offer both the 150 and 170 grain factory loads. I’ve always preferred the 170 grain offerings over the 150 grainers. Don’t ask me why, I just prefer the heavier bullet. The LeveRevolution comes in a 160 grain spire tip.
For several years, I used the Remington 170 grain hollow points. These were deadly Deer takers! I stopped using them when I shot a large 8 point at about 80 yards. I later found the fragmented bullet on the far front leg, a few inches above the elbow, where it had broken the bone. I wasn’t crazy about finding pieces of my bullet even if it had went through the buck and busted his leg on the far side. I went back to the 170 grain soft nosed bullets.
Many so called Professional Gun Writers over the years have put down the little Thutty Thutty, saying things like it wasn’t adequate out past 75 yards, that it wasn’t accurate enough for deer hunting, etc. It was obvious that they had never shot a 30-30 or had just borrowed one in order to write an article.
I have a theory of why blunt tipped bullets in rounds like the 30-30 Winchester 303 British ammo kill deer better than what many Gun Writers would like.
I believe that a blunt tipped bullet, be it a round nose or flat nose, delivers more of its kinetic energy upon impact than spire tipped bullets. Even the poly tipped bullets have to penetrate a certain depth before the start expanding and delivering their load of kinetic energy. Truth be known, many of spire pointed bullets use up the majority of their kinetic energy in the dirt on the other side of the animal.
Blunt tipped bullets are also known to penetrate deep. Couple this with the shock due to the sudden impact of a blunt tipped bullet and you have a recipe for a quick kill on a game animal.
Whether you contemplating buying a rifle for a first time hunter, or buying a rifle for yourself, don’t count out the Winchester 30-30 and the Rifles it is chambered for. They’re perfect for the first time hunter or the Old Fart who just wants a lighter hunting rifle. Put a quality scope on the top of the rifle and you’ll have a life long rifle that will bring home the Venison if the shooter does their job!