.30-30 in a tube mag w/o blowing my hand off


March 10, 2005, 08:45 PM
I've heard tube mags + pointy bullets = bad news, as recoil can cause bullets to bump the primers of the cartridge ahead of them and set them off, setting the next one off, setting the next one off.....

Since most lever gun enthusiasts seem to still have two hands, I'm assuming there are bigger risks in life, but if I go that route w/ my next purchase, are there any specific brands of ammo I should avoid?

What do you guys use in your .30-30 Marlins and Wins?

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March 10, 2005, 08:48 PM
Flat nose bullets to spread the impact area out across the primer. I understand soft lead open tipped RN is OK.

March 10, 2005, 08:56 PM
Correct me if I am wrong, but all traditional rounds used in tube-feed lever-actions are loaded with flat-point or at worst round-nosed bullets. I've never seen a factory .30-30 loaded with anything BUT a flat-nosed bullet, so you're fine.

March 10, 2005, 09:02 PM
You are right. For liability reasons probably. The only way to get them is to reload.

March 10, 2005, 09:28 PM
There have been a couple of articles in TAR recently...one saying it was a total non-issue, the other saying it was a huge risk. Elmer Keith wrote a report or two in his column about people who lost fingers and more with magazine mishaps.

I think what you can get away with depends a lot on recoil. Pointy bullets in a .25-20 1892 are not the same risk as pointy bullets in a heavily-stoked .45-70. However, I have got no plans to find out...

March 10, 2005, 09:40 PM
I did some playing around with my M94 and some reloads. I normally use Hornady 150 grain RN's which feed fine from the mag.

I then made up some loads using Nosler Ballistic tips, which have an OAL which will NOT feed from the mag-too long. I was very pleasantly surprised at the accuracy of this load. I dunno if I will take them to the field however. If you goof up and stick one in the mag, it jams the carrier and you have to take off the mag tube cap and shake it out the front. I can already see Bambi laughing his head off and making good on his escape.....

I would not consider a pointed bullet which could feed from the mag-too many things can take your attention away, and it only takes one time for people to call you "lefty"

March 10, 2005, 09:41 PM
There have been a couple of articles in TAR recently...one saying it was a total non-issue, the other saying it was a huge risk.

Typical gun b-board/magazine reponse - maybe I'm OK, but maybe I'm doomed. :) :)

March 11, 2005, 08:17 AM
There are pointy factory-loaded .30-30 loads for varminting etc, (I've seen them myself). However, they're sold with the knowledge that you only load two at a time. One in the chamber, one in the tube. Nothing to bump the round ahead and cause a "spontaneous disassembly".

If you want to load the whole tube, regular 150 or 170g flat nose or roundnose rounds will do. Remington Core-Lokt, Winchester, etc.

March 11, 2005, 08:31 AM
I took a look at some .30/30 ammo I have, and all are round-nose jacketed softpoint. Not willing to test pointy-bullet mag detonation theory.

March 11, 2005, 09:33 AM
MrMurphy has it right - if you load your own, you can use pointy bullets, but you load one in the chamber, one in the magazine. Remington sell their Accelerator loads (55gr. .223 bullet in a plastic sabot) and advertise that these can be loaded in a tubular magazine because there isn't enough recoil to set off primers in front of the spitzer bullet, but I don't want to take their word on it... :uhoh:

March 11, 2005, 10:20 AM
If you look at the trajectory difference between a 150gr spitzer (BC of, say, .350) and a 150gr round nose (BC of, say, .200) when both are zeroed for PBR, it sure looks like a horse-race inside of 200 yards:

Ballistic Coeff: 0.350
Bullet Weight: 150
Velocity: 2700
Range Elevation Velocity Energy ETA Drop Max Y 10mph Wind Deflect
0 yds -1.50 in 2700 fps 2428 fpe 0.000 sec 0.00 in -1.50 in -0.00 in
25 yds 0.05 in 2638 fps 2318 fpe 0.028 sec 0.15 in -0.56 in 0.07 in
50 yds 1.30 in 2577 fps 2212 fpe 0.057 sec 0.62 in -0.44 in 0.24 in
75 yds 2.22 in 2517 fps 2109 fpe 0.086 sec 1.40 in -0.24 in 0.51 in
100 yds 2.79 in 2457 fps 2011 fpe 0.116 sec 2.53 in 0.06 in 0.92 in
125 yds 3.02 in 2398 fps 1916 fpe 0.147 sec 4.01 in 0.45 in 1.44 in
150 yds 2.86 in 2341 fps 1824 fpe 0.179 sec 5.88 in 0.95 in 2.12 in
175 yds 2.29 in 2284 fps 1737 fpe 0.211 sec 8.15 in 1.57 in 2.96 in
200 yds 1.30 in 2227 fps 1652 fpe 0.245 sec 10.85 in 2.31 in 3.96 in
225 yds -0.13 in 2172 fps 1571 fpe 0.279 sec 13.99 in 3.18 in 5.10 in
250 yds -2.01 in 2117 fps 1493 fpe 0.314 sec 17.58 in 4.19 in 6.37 in

Ballistic Coeff: 0.200
Bullet Weight: 150
Velocity: 2700
Range Elevation Velocity Energy ETA Drop Max Y 10mph Wind Deflect
0 yds -1.50 in 2700 fps 2428 fpe 0.000 sec 0.00 in -1.50 in -0.00 in
25 yds 0.11 in 2592 fps 2238 fpe 0.028 sec 0.15 in -0.56 in 0.11 in
50 yds 1.39 in 2487 fps 2060 fpe 0.058 sec 0.63 in -0.44 in 0.41 in
75 yds 2.33 in 2384 fps 1893 fpe 0.089 sec 1.45 in -0.22 in 0.91 in
100 yds 2.88 in 2284 fps 1737 fpe 0.121 sec 2.66 in 0.11 in 1.69 in
125 yds 3.01 in 2186 fps 1591 fpe 0.154 sec 4.30 in 0.56 in 2.74 in
150 yds 2.69 in 2090 fps 1455 fpe 0.190 sec 6.38 in 1.15 in 4.04 in
175 yds 1.86 in 1997 fps 1328 fpe 0.226 sec 8.97 in 1.89 in 5.63 in
200 yds 0.55 in 1905 fps 1209 fpe 0.264 sec 12.04 in 2.79 in 7.39 in
225 yds -1.41 in 1817 fps 1100 fpe 0.305 sec 15.76 in 3.91 in 9.61 in
250 yds -4.07 in 1733 fps 1000 fpe 0.347 sec 20.19 in 5.26 in 12.22 in

I'm not sure that running spitzers in a lever-action is really worth the effort. If you need more range or energy than the 30-30 gives you, rather than try to push its envelope you're probably better off getting a BLR or Savage 99 chambered in 308.

Jim K
March 11, 2005, 07:56 PM
Let's take a look at what happens, and folks can decide for themselves the "danger" involved.

First, it is not recoil as such that sets of a primer. If there are, say, two rounds in the tubular magazine, recoil does not "drive" the bullet point of the rear round into the primer of the front round.

What happens is that when the rifle recoils, both rounds, obeying Mr. Newton, try to stay where they are. So they move forward in relation to the gun, compressing the magazine spring. When the recoil force ends, the magazine spring reasserts itself and both rounds slam backwards to the cartridge stop. Since this also leaves the rear round in a free position, it tends to center itself, so its bullet point is not at the bottom of the tube, but in the center, right where the primer of the first round will strike it.

So that sort of thing can only happen if there is enough room for the cartridges to move far enough to create the needed momentum for firing the primer. Obviously, one round in the magazine is no problem, nor is a full magazine. The danger comes when there are two or more cartridges used out of a full magazine, leaving at least two rounds. (The Remington 14/141 pump rifles have grooves in the magazine tube specifically to slow a moving round down enough that its momentum is not enough to fire its primer if it hits a bullet point. Winchester never did that because its rimmed rounds lay at more of an angle and did not present as much of a problem as Remington's rimless cartridges. But magazine grooves or not, Remington warned against use of pointed bullets.)

There is another problem that has occurred with some shapes of flat nose bullet. In this case, the scenario is the same, except that the round is straight cased (e.g. .45 Colt) and the bullet has a flat, but sharp edged nose. Under the same circumstances, the sharp edge digs into the primer, which is usually a soft pistol primer, and the round lets go.

So quite a few things have to happen just the right (or wrong) way, at just the right time, for anything to happen. And what is the result if it does? The answer is, not much. The cartridge will burst, but the thin magazine tube does not allow enough pressure buildup to cause a lot of damage. In tests, the tube splitor bulged, and sometimes the forearm split. Shooters to whom it has happened reported a blow to the hand, but no serious injury.

Still, the rifle was damaged, and the shooter could have been injured. So it is still good advice to avoid use of pointed bullets in tubular magazine rifles.


March 12, 2005, 11:43 PM
I've seen pictures of a couple of lever guns that had either chamber blow out the bottom and the magazine and forend go with it, or magazines go off. They can injure the shooter very seriously if/when this happens

The rounds in the magazine goping off is not something to worry about with factory ammo, or reloads with proper bullets for the cartridge, as has been mentioned.

March 13, 2005, 03:41 PM
FWIW, I have seen only one instance where a 'spontaneous dissassembly' due to detonation in a tubular magazine occurred.

That was many years ago while I was working as an 'Inhalation Therapist' in a large regional hospital in SW Missouri. I was called to the ER to set-up and regulate a ventilator on a patient. He had been transported there by his companions after a hunting accident.

They were hunting deer in a rural area about twenty-five miles out of town. He had been using a Marlin 336 in .35 Remington loaded with factory 150 gr. JSPs.

These were spire-points and the label did carry a small print warning against their use in firearms with tube magazines. Out of curiousity, I picked up a box at a sporting goods store and read it a while later.

The magazine had four rounds (full legal capacity with one in the chamber) in it when he took a shot at a buck. One of those rounds detonated, splitting the tube and shattering the wooden handguard.

Some piece of metal or wood, I never heard exactly what the doctors finally decided did it, struck his left wrist above his glove and infilicted a terrible cut which opened a major vessel.

Even with prompt first-aid and transportation, he'd lost an awfully lot of blood by the time he got to us.

He underwent surgery to repair the laceration and incidental trauma to tendons, etc. He recovered, but I doubt that he ever regained the full dexterity or range-of-motion in that hand.

The main reason that the incident stayed with me all these years is that I also had and used a Marlin 336 in that caliber myself. I never used anything but 200 gr. RNs or gallery loads of Unique with a cast Lyman 358429 SWC in it ever again.

March 14, 2005, 02:47 AM
The only case I read about involved an original M71 Win rechambered to a 348 WCF based bigbore wildcat. The recoil was cracking the forend so the wildcatter glassed in the mag tube. That is the mag tube was surrounded by stock bedding material and tightly fitted into the forend.
I suspect that the bedding material acted to "tamp the charge" and make the secondary more dangerous. Perhaps some of you explosive experts would like to explain it properly.

March 14, 2005, 01:25 PM
Typical gun b-board/magazine reponse - maybe I'm OK, but maybe I'm doomed.

I wouldn't put TAR or PS into the same bucket that all the gun rags go in. Call the publisher and order copies of the two issues. FWIW, the articles were by different authors in two different issues.

I was amazed that anyone was willing to publish an article that suggested that you couldn't blow up a tubular magazine rifle. That article included the author building a rig that was supposed to duplicate the conditions in a gun when fired.

The second article reported some field incidents where Marlin magazines went kB, apparently due to the last round being incompletely loaded and therefore at an angle in the tube, which is thought to have set off the primer of the cartridge in front of it. That article included some very impressive pictures of one such incident.

[edit to correct "...set off the primer..."

March 14, 2005, 05:37 PM
I wouldn't put TAR or PS into the same bucket that all the gun rags go in.

I was kidding.

March 14, 2005, 08:25 PM
Sorry if that sounded wrong...honestly, I wasn't sure which way you meant it? :confused: As a gesture of goodwill :D , PM me and I'll send you a photocopy of the two articles. They're interesting reading. I'm waiting for the letter to the editor from someone who says he was encouraged to try an experiment with spitzers in a Marlin and blew off his left hand, three fingers on his right hand and lost one eye.

March 15, 2005, 08:27 AM
I don't need the articles themselves - thanks for offering. Maybe we should write in to MythBusters about this. :)

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