30-30 vs. .357 lever gun


May 20, 2006, 09:05 AM
I really want a lever gun, and am trying to decide between these 2 calibers. What would I give up/gain with each?

Any and all comments appreciated. Thanks.


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Old Time Hunter
May 20, 2006, 09:29 AM
30-30 best all around caliber, cheap to shoot, rifles a dime a dozen. The .357 is a plinking round in a rifle, you can hunt with it, but it is at the very low end of necessary threshold to be viable.

May 20, 2006, 09:31 AM
Well .30-30 is the most successful deer cartridge in history, and has probably taken more deer than all other centerfire calibers combined. It hits hard, and puts a big hole downrange. Its expensive however, and has somewhat of rainbow shaped arc once it gets downrange.

.357 Is cheaper, you can also fire the .38spcl. .357 is better to reload for, and thus potentially target shooting fodder. If you hunt deer, .30-30. If you dont hunt deer, .357.

May 20, 2006, 09:33 AM
As with so many questions in life...the answer is it all depends on what you want to do with the rifle.

A 30-30 levergun is a fine short to intermediate range (read 200 yds and closer) hunting gun for light skinned game and general knock around use.

The .357 makes a great plinker, home defense or light duty utility rifle for the farm, cabin or truck. Some states allow deer hunting with a .357 but in my opinion it's the equivalent of a .410 bore shotgun for upland game - strictly an "experts" gun in this application.

May 20, 2006, 09:53 AM
I totally agree with the previous opinions. While the big bad .357 may be a great handgun cartridge, it's really a pip-squeek when it comes to rifles.


May 20, 2006, 10:14 AM
Get the best of both worlds: a .35 Remington


May 20, 2006, 11:58 AM
Hey- I spend time over at AR15.com so I say "GET BOTH"

The marlin 30-30 is a great gun (I think it better than the win 94) Toss the clumsy scope and put a Williams or Lyman peep sight on it. The mount holes are allready there it just bolts on (screws actually)
Haveing said I like the marlin better I will tell you my Win 94 (got it free) is a fine cast bullet gun, not sure if the marlin "micro-grove" would work so well.
The chain store ammo for 30-30 is cheeper than any centerfire rifle save the 5.56(223) but still $0.40 + each.....stock up in the fall before hunting season when they run sales. If you reload you can roll your own for about 20 cents.
Not super flat shooting but a proven game getter.
The .357 lever guns are a hoot. Real cheep to shoot with cheep 38sp loads or reloads and decent power with full house .357 loads. Wouldn't choose this gun for deer hunting but it would be good for pests and could take deer sized game in a pinch. I would think a flat point cast lead 160 or 180 gr bullet would work better in real life than on paper.
I am not a fan of the Rossi handguns (I think they are second rate S&W knockoffs) but the Rossi/Puma pistol caliber lever guns are very nice and a great value. Being a lever gun I think the best deal is the peep sight again,check for mounting holes (I think they all come drilled and tapped,but not positive)
If you handload or plan to soon I would recomend a lever gun in 44 mag. Factory ammo is about what 30-30 cost but lead bullet reloads will be 1/3 of that if you use lead bullets. The 44mag out of a rifle is somewhat less powerfull than the 30-30 and not as flat shooting but stiill a fine hunting cartridge. The big flat nosed lead slugs have proven themselves to be great game killers that get results if you can put them on the target.
I own a Marlin Cowboy model in 44mag and it is a great gun . The cowboy model was pricey but I liked the looks and at the time the only marlin 44 with cut rifleing suitable for lead bullets. I believe all the marlin .44 rifles have this barrel. (something to watch for on used marlin .44 guns,whats the point of a 44 if you can't shoot lead?)
Lots of 45 colt (long colt) guns out there (thanks cowboy action shooters),factory 45colt ammo is on the mild side but for modern guns (marlin,win,rossi) think of it as the equivilent of 44mag if you reload. (don't take my word for it,read the loading manuals and gun owner manuals and follow standard good reloading practise) .
Lots of good calibers out there in lever guns,many are getting to be a pain to find ammo for but if you reload it opens up a whole lot of choices (35 rem,444marlin,32win sp, 25/20 ect)
I know there is a full sized marlin 45/70 in my future (no guide guns for me,but many find them to be a hoot)
As the other gentleman said, the key here it to identify as close as possible the type of shooting you plan to do with this gun, then choose your caliber

May 20, 2006, 12:03 PM
Actually, the long barrel in a Marlin 1894C allows 158 Gr .357 ammo to exit the barrel at ~1800 FPS, that and a good bullet (158 gr Gold Dot is my choice) makes it much more than a plinking rifle. Still, the 30-30 with 170 gr soft points is better for hunting.

May 20, 2006, 01:07 PM
you can get 30 30 roudn for 6 to 8 dollars a box at Academy, or at gunshows, from jsc or barnaul, or if you have handloaders there. So the price is compareable to 357. however, if you use the new leverrevolution tipped rounds from hornady, you can get an extra 100yds of range to the round. So you could make a hard hitting kill shot out to 300 yds with a scope, as long as you are good with it, and have shot at that range before, and know your scope well. it is a 150 to 180- grn bullet, usually soft pointed, and still hits with 1000 or so lbs of energy , at 300.
357 i would not shoot at anything outside of 100 yds, it s just not carrying enouhg energy. the olny advantage is , you can put a lot of rounds downrange.

May 20, 2006, 01:14 PM
how much are those new rounds from hornady. Haven't found any and was wondering what the price was gonna be on them.

Bwana John
May 20, 2006, 01:36 PM
Hunting 30-30
Plinking .357/.38 Spl

May 20, 2006, 02:26 PM
The new leverevolution ammo from Horady makes the 30-30 a good 250 yard rifle. On the Marlin Forum Wyostillhunter clocked it at over 2300 FPS out of a 20 inch barrel.


The new Leverevolution rounds are $14.99 at midwayusa but they are on backorder status right now.

The .357 will push over 1800 FPS out of an 18 inch barrel with Federal 158 Grain JSP. Good for close in hunting but the 30-30 wins hands down in the hunting arena.

Matt King
May 20, 2006, 02:48 PM
The 30-30 is a better all around round. You can hunt deer as well as varmits. I think it Is the second all around best rifle round after the 30-06.

May 20, 2006, 06:10 PM
I have both, and my preference is...to have both.

Seriously, if I had to pick just one, it might be the .357...but on the other hand, it might be a 30-30.

Tough question.

.357/.38 ammunition may be cheaper, but at least around here it's a lot easier to pick up a cheap used 30-30 rifle than a cheap used .357 levergun, so unless you're shooting a lot, the overall cost-of-ownership difference may not be that great.

May 20, 2006, 09:27 PM
put a Williams or Lyman peep sight on it. The mount holes are allready there it just bolts on (screws actually) The predrilled holes for aperture sights were discontinued not too long ago. Unless you find a sight that mounts in the scope mounting screw holes, you'll have to have the receiver tapped for the sight holes.

The other option is to look around for a used one in good condition.

I agree that a lever rifle with a scope seems to be a bit of a contradiction--aperture sights are the way to go!

May 20, 2006, 09:48 PM
I've got them both too - the .357 is fun for plinking and I will be keeping it as the farm SD/varmint/knocking around gun, and maybe use it to swat come squirrel. The .30-30 has proven itself for me in the deer arena and with 170 grn slugs will be taking out bear if I ever see one during season. New, you will pay almost the same price for either. I'm gonna have to get ahold of a chrony to see how well the 158 grn slugs work out before I decide to hunt whitetail - up close - with this rifle.


May 20, 2006, 10:16 PM
Thanks everybody for all the great replies! This is exactly the kind of info I was wanting. This would be mostly for farm SD, fairly close-up varmits (inside the fence or out around the barn), fun plinking; I don't hunt, and if I ever have to, I'll figure that out then, I guess.

And as more than one person suggested, there's always the "get both" road. Maybe it's more a matter of "which one to get first". :D

May 20, 2006, 10:23 PM
I got both :)

Spec ops Grunt
May 20, 2006, 10:32 PM
There is the .44 magnum and the .35 remington.

May 20, 2006, 11:12 PM
I picked up a Rossi 92 in .44mag for the wife a while back for less than $200 (used).

It is one heck of a sweet shooter.

May 20, 2006, 11:27 PM
Calamity Jane,

With your name there is another thing to think about. Are you into SASS (Single Action Shooting Society, Cowboy Action Shooting) If you are then the .357 is the one to get first. You can load .38 loads into .357 shells with lead bullets and have a great time.

I have both. However the .357 Winchester Legend gets the Cowboy nod. The 30/30 is for hunting and side matches at the Cowboy shoots... The 30/30 can only be used at side matches with lead bullets.

May 20, 2006, 11:59 PM
no comparison between the two in power. The 30-30 is the superior round, by far.

May 21, 2006, 01:50 AM
You can get some pretty hot .357 ammo that approaches 30-30, although it is assuredly only a 100 yard round. Check out Buffalo Bore's website for the ammo.

May 21, 2006, 11:10 AM
This would be mostly for farm SD, fairly close-up varmits (inside the fence or out around the barn), fun plinking; I don't hunt, and if I ever have to, I'll figure that out then, I guess.

In this case my preference would be for the 357 mag. A friend let me borrow his 357 mag Marlin and it was an extremely FUN rifle. The accuracy using the aperture sight was great. The report mild. Recoil very light.

Someone above mention 1800 FPS out of the 18" barrel with a 158 JSP, might be lame compared to the 30-30. But at 100 yards the bullet will still have more power than a lot of 357 handguns at the muzzle -
Hornady Data:

158 XTP

1800 fps 1136 fp energy muzzle
1469 fps 757 fp energy 100 yards

For the uses you mention above the 357 seems like the perfect choice to me. I also reload 357s and enjoy 357 handguns so the lever in 357 would just be the icing on the cake for me! Unfortunately , just don't see many 357s lever actions in the gun shops or even the shows. One of these days!

May 21, 2006, 04:50 PM
I have to agree, the .357 is a fun gun to shoot.

But I would have to own both eventually.

JohnHSa is absolutely correct about receiver sights on lever guns. They increase accuracy a great deal, but still allow the rifle to be fast handling and compact. Just what a lever gun should be.

May 21, 2006, 04:58 PM
There is the .44 magnum and the .35 remington.

Or .454 in a Model 92. Shoot all the .45 Colts you want but still be able to shoot some really powerful loads if you have to.


I really need to buy one of those for myself!


May 21, 2006, 05:03 PM
I've been through this exact debate recently, trying to decide what direction to take with leverguns. .

As far as power, though, the .357 properly loaded out of a carbine is NOT a "plinker." Anyone who thinks this is badly misinformed. Esp. if you load with heavy bullets and use the "rifle or carbine" loads from the manuals you will see an enormous increase in FPS's out of the long barrel over the short guns. But for a hunting rifle, the .30-30 is superior. It has a slight (though not extreme) power advantage, but the real advantage is its basic bullets and factory loads have been tried and tested for 110 years now. That really counts for something. With the .357 hot loads, you have to be careful about selecting bullets that aren't going to fragment at the increased velocities. The cast bullet loads probably your safest bet, but they have their own limitations.

On the other hand, the .357 levergun is slightly superior to the .30-30 for home defense since it comes in a lighter package and won't give you as much blast and flash as a similar length .30-30 such as a Spikehorn. Plus it has more capacity for length. That said, either would be an *EXCELLENT* choice for home defense, far better than the high tech boys will ever be willing to admit :D

I ended up going with the .30-30, mostly because they're so darned cheap locally. The little .357 Marlins, OTOH, go for a mint and tend to vanish the second they hit the shelf.

May 21, 2006, 05:21 PM
I also prefer 30-30. It has more energy and there are lots of nice factory loads available. Plus the market is loaded with used 30-30's in great shape. I picked up a used "pre-safety" Marlin 336 and did some work on it. I have about $300.00 invested and it is one of my all-time favorite guns.

May 21, 2006, 05:39 PM
I have to say that I probably agree with everyone else on this one, as I have a 30-30, and I would really like a .357. The .357 seems like it would be a hoot to shoot in a lever gun.

May 21, 2006, 06:08 PM
If it is for self-defense against BG types and maybe feral dogs and such then the .357mag would do the job, thinking that this type of action takes place under 100yds. I did see some .30-30win ammo 125grain hollowpoints on midway's web site and thought that would probably be a good self-defense load also.

May 22, 2006, 11:21 AM
I have both a Marlin 336C in .30-30 and an 1894C in .357 and agree with most of the other posters. For hunting deer, the .30-30 is the better choice IMO. The ammo is not expensive relative to other commercial hunting rounds. The .357 Mag levergun is great to have around home for varmint control, defense, or plain fun. Of course, I have fun shooting the .30-30 too. I'd be hard pressed to choose one over the other now that I have them both. I guess it will depend on which use is the higher priority for you. My advice is to get the .357 Mag as soon as you can, then buy a .30-30 when you have a little cash saved up -- you can often find used ones in good shape.

May 22, 2006, 06:08 PM
It seems finding a good used .357 Mag lever gun is a tough proposition just about anywhere. I've been looking for one for a couple years and finally just broke down and bought a new Marlin 'cuz I was able to get a break on the price.

People who have them seem to keep them - that speaks volumes to me :)

May 23, 2006, 09:28 AM
Why do people always say it's a sin to mount a scope on a lever gun?? I installed one on my Marlin, not for long range, but for LOW LIGHT. At dusk when the deer come out, I cannot even see my front sight, but can still hunt legally. With a scope, I have no problem seeing.
Now for day hunts, I bought a Winchester .30-30 without a scope :D

I will admit, the classic lines of a lever gun are better without a scope, but mine is a practical tool for a specific job.

May 23, 2006, 11:59 AM

For low light situations I installed a Lyman receiver sight, on the front I use a Williams "fire sight". This set up works well and keeps the rifle fast handling.

May 26, 2006, 09:22 AM
It all started about 6 months ago with a Marlin 1894 and Ruger Vaquero in 44 Mag. A great deal of fun to shoot both of them. Then with a hankering for a shorty 30-30, I placed an ad looking for such in the paper and a kind older gent offered me a Winchester Trapper 30-30 AE, pre safety, in truly excellent condition with a Burris Mini 2.5x for the sum of $250.00. He threw in 3 boxes of ammo and a strap. I nearly yanked it from his hands I was so sold on the gun.

That solved and the ad in the paper still, I soon received a call from a guy with an older well used Marlin 336 30-30, pre safety, that had a small crack in the stock, and after a bit of wheedeling it came home for the princly sum of $130.00. Bought a ramline stock for $40 on salefrom Midway. Beater rifle now with the 2.g scope on it.

In early march I pulled the trigger on a Co-Pilot from Jim at Wild West Guns. It will be built on a Marlin 1895 xlr all stainless 45/70 hogged out for their .457 and cut down to 16 1/4", with the take down system, big loop lever and carbon fiber stock. Gun for the chopper (I'm a helicopter pilot by trade) solved (soon).

Looking for a soft case at a local gun&pawn shop I spied a Marlin limited edition in 44 mag in stainless with a 16 1/4 barrel and laminated stock. $&#@, what a gem so home it comes with me. They also had the same gun in 357 mag. It sucked me back in to the shop with the original Marlin I got back in late '05, in tow. The fellow made me a fair decent trade on the 357 and it too came home too.

So look out, folks, those little lever guns can get addicting. The 357 is an absolute hoot to shoot and the sights (firesights) work well. A gal could go poor feeding a dumptruck worth of ammo through it in a few years... Now if I could just get that Puma '92 in 454 out of my mind....


"Everybody needs a pet with it's own pet..."

May 26, 2006, 09:40 AM
That is a big cat, what kind is it? Maine Coon or one of the Bobcat hybrids?

BTW, nice collection of lever guns. I've got a 336 and an 1894C. The .357 Mag is a hoot.

May 26, 2006, 09:50 AM
That is Puddin the bobcat. She came from Montana and is my pal. Had her since she was about a month old and she is pretty affectionate. More of a companion animal, she does stuff on her terms. When she wants petting and scratching, both of which she loves, she will climb all over you, other times she just likes to be left alone. Puddin weighs about 35# or so...


May 26, 2006, 12:54 PM
30-30 wins in the balistics department, it's got the edge on power, range and trajectory. 125gr Sierra HP works great on smaller critters, and a 170gr round nose will work on Elk and Black bear.

The .357s pretty darn handy too. A hot loaded with 125gr hollowpoint makes a great pest and varmint round. Penetrates about 6 inches, lots of damage, minimal pelt damage from entry, none from exit. A 158gr JSP or 160-170gr hardcast will work fine on deer out to 100yds. And presumably on 2 legged critters.

Can't go wrong with either. Now is a great time of the year to buy a good used 30-30. Recommendations:
-WWG happy trigger (If you get a Marlin).
-Improved Iron sights (Ashleys are great if you plan on shooting inside of 150yds, Lyman 66 for anything farther).
-Dehorn inside edge of loading port, you thumb will thank you after a day at the range.

bigger jon
May 26, 2006, 02:14 PM
i have shot big pigs with the 30/30 and a few deer have also fallen to it as well,each time i have had to look for and run after the game all with terminal shot placement too, so i would recomend that you get something biger. i understand that a lever action is a fun way to hunt and it has been the only way i hunted for over 15 years but ive been using a 45/70 1886 lever gun since 1989 and nothing has even taken one step after being shot with it,i also have a blr in 357 is one of the funest to take out i wouldnt hesatate to use it on smal game and small deer, but other then that its just for fun..
this was my first trophie hog shot it form 75 yards first round hit him right behind the shoulder and thru both lungs and stoped just under the skin on the other side, 45 minuites later when we were comming back from looking for him he poped up at maybe 5 yards from us and stared tords us.all i had on me was a s&w mod 15 2in 38spc, because i ran the 30/30 dry when he took off on us.i shot him 6x in the eye befor he fell at our feet:eek:
this is a pic of the browning 1886 in 45/70 the BOSS in lever actions

May 26, 2006, 02:36 PM
Your "puddin" would be a good entry here:


A bobcat on a cat pretty much takes the cake.

have shot big pigs with the 30/30 and a few deer have also fallen to it as well,each time i have had to look for and run after the game all with terminal shot placement too, so i would recomend that you get something biger.

The real question is--WHAT .30/30 specifically? What were the loads?

bigger jon
May 26, 2006, 06:33 PM
i used a winchester 30/30 1866 comerative,with a 28 in berral,i only shoot hand loads that would be a 170sp as hot as i could get em,

May 26, 2006, 07:37 PM
Pick up the .357 first then buy a .30-30 used. There seems to be a good supply of used .30-30's, more so than the .357's. I know one guy that picked up winchester 30-30 (Ranger model I think) for $200 in near mint condition. It came with a case, sling, cleaning kit and some ammo. Apparently the original owner bought it for his wife to hunt with. She did not like the rifle and it stayed in the case for X number of years, until he sold it.

May 26, 2006, 09:53 PM
That's interesting, I would have figured that load was enough for hog. But I guess there are hogs and then there are hogs. Just like with bear.

That 1886 is very nice. And not exactly cheap these days, sadly.

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