Very basic question


December 29, 2006, 08:35 AM
Forgive this dumb question, but I know theres folks out here that can splain this to me in very simple language that I can then pass along to my son.

He asked "Dad, what's the difference between 30-30 and 30-06?"

I'm not rifle saavy enough to explain more that the first number is the calibre, or how big round the projectile is that leaves the end of the gun barrel.

Is there an easy way to explain the different cartridges, and can someone list a few as examples.

Thanks, Dads like me need all the help they can get these days.


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1911 guy
December 29, 2006, 08:55 AM
Not everyone can know everything.

The 30-30 is primarily a lever action cartridge, .30 caliber. Most common bullet weight is 150gr and round nosed due to tubular magazines in lever guns. Originally a black powder cartridge (.30 cal, 30gr powder), it is one of the oldest loads still commercially available. While still popular, it got eclipsed by the next one on your list. If not for the 30-06, the 30-30 would still be America's "Go To" gun.

The 30-06 is also .30 caliber, but was designed from the ground up as a smokeless load. The 1903 Springfield Rifle was chambered for it's "grandaddy", the 30-03 (30 caliber, developed in 1903). The rifles and the cartridge were reworked in 1906 (30 caliber + 1906 = 30-06.) Bullet weight was originally 147 grains and spitzer (pointed) type. The box magazine allowed "pointy" bullets because the nose would not be in contact with the primer ahead of it. This allowed more aerodynamic shape, the new smokeless powder and rediesigned rifle allowed greater velocity and range. The cartridge works well with bullet weights from 150 to 220 grains and there is a suitable '06 load for anything that walks around on this continent.

Father Knows Best
December 29, 2006, 09:32 AM
1911guy got it 98% right. This part is wrong, however:
Originally a black powder cartridge (.30 cal, 30gr powder), it is one of the oldest loads still commercially available.
The 30-30 was never a black powder cartridge. It was introduced in 1894 by Winchester and was the first successful SMOKELESS powder cartridge. The load was indeed a .30 caliber bullet and 30 grains of powder, but it was smokeless powder, not black powder. It was originally called the ".30 Winchester Central Fire" or .30 WCF, and was introduced for the new model 1894 rifle. The entire point was to take advantage of the new smokeless propellants with an entirely new cartridge concept -- a small caliber bullet moving at high velocity. Prior to the .30 WCF, standard "rifle" cartridges were indeed loaded with black powder, but they used much larger bullets and lower velocities to achieve the same energy delivery.

Also, while .30-30 is indeed an "old" cartridge, there are quite a few cartridges that predate it by 20 or more years and are still commonly available. These include the .45 Colt, .44-40 and .45-70, all of which came about in the early 1870s and were indeed black powder cartridges in their original loadings.

1911 guy
December 29, 2006, 10:03 AM
Not everybody can know everything. I'm living proof! :D

I should have caught that, being a 150 gr conical. Kinda odd for BP, but there I go, thinking again.

December 29, 2006, 10:20 AM
I love the history lessons, so keep that part coming.. What I have learned so far is that the second number is an indicator of the year the cartridge hit the market..

So where does the 30-06 stand in relation to say a 7.62 military round...(I think that's correct) maybe a short list of modern day cartridges is in order to help the understanding process..

Thanks again...

Oh, one last thing.. I am primarily a revolver guy that likes to understand Civil war progression of hand guns and rifles so I have a Remington and open top Colt that I am learning to load and shoot... but my collection also has a 1911 A-1 and Christmas present .44 Ruger Blackhawk.


Father Knows Best
December 29, 2006, 11:26 AM
What I have learned so far is that the second number is an indicator of the year the cartridge hit the market..
That's true only of the .30-06 and .30-03. I know of know other cartridge whose name includes the year or approval or introduction.

For the most part, the "dash" cartridges refer to bullet weight and powder charge in grains. With the exception of the .30-30, which is a .30 caliber bullet and 30 grains of smokeless powder, the "dash" cartridges are all from the black powder era. Thus, the ".44-40" was originally a .44 caliber bullet over 40 grains of black powder, and the ".45-70" was originally a .45 caliber bullet over 70 grains of black powder. You may sometimes see them written with a third number, e.g., ".45-70-405", where the third number is the weight of the projectile in grains.

The .44-40 and .45-70 and other cartridges that were originally black powder only are now available loaded with smokeless powder, and they considerably less powder in them (because smokeless is far more powerful than an equal weight of black powder), but the names have stuck from the old black powder loadings. Other somewhat commonly seen "dash" cartridges are the 38-55, 32-20, 38-40, 40-65, 45-60, 45-90, etc. In every case, the two figures represent bullet caliber and weight of the original black powder charge.

1911 guy
December 29, 2006, 11:28 AM
Just when you think you've learned something, I'm going to tell you it's not true! The second number in those old loads isn't always the year of introduction. The 30-06, yes. 30-30, no. 45-70, no, 44-40. no. All but the '06 are designating powder sharge in grains. Some of the older cartridges didn't even get the diameter right! There was an old BP handgun cartridge, I can't remember the specific one, that went by .36-something. It was .40 caliber.

It's totally random.

As far as the 30-06 versus the 7.62, which 7.62?
7.62X51 (.308 Win) is similar in performance. Premium comercial ammo and handloads give the edge to the '06.
7.62X39 (SKS and AK-47) is way outclassed by both the '06 and .308.
7.62X54 is an old Russian round. Has a wide rim and is made for the Mosin Nagant bolt action rifle. Someone prpbably knows more than me about this one, but I think it's similar to the '06 in bullet weight and performance.

Father Knows Best
December 29, 2006, 11:36 AM
So where does the 30-06 stand in relation to say a 7.62 military round...(I think that's correct) maybe a short list of modern day cartridges is in order to help the understanding process..

Be careful, because there are LOTS of "7.62 military" cartridges. 7.62 refers to the diameter of the bullet, and is metric equivalent of .30 caliber. The most common "7.62" cartridges are the 7.62x51, aka the "7.62 NATO" and the 7.62x39, aka the "7.62 Russian." The 7.62x51 is the military version of the .308 Winchester, much as the 5.56x45 is the military version of the .223 Remington. The 7.62x51 (.308) was chambered in the M14, FAL, G3/CETME and many other military rifles, and is still being used by the U.S. military today. The 5.56x45 (.223) is the round used in the M-16. The 7.62x39 is the round used by the AK-47 and the SKS.

The 7.62x51 (.308) is ballistically almost identical to the .30-06. Essentially, it is a .30-06 in a more compact case, which was made possible by advances in propellant (powder) design. Because it has a shorter case, rifles that fire it can have shorter and lighter receivers. So while the M1 Garand used the .30-06, the M14 that followed took advantage of advances in powder technology to allow a somewhat more compact receiver that fired an equivalent cartridge (the 7.62x51).

There are still more 7.62 rounds out there. Another common one is the 7.62x54R, which is a rimmed round used in many Russian and combloc rifles, particularly pre-WWII bolt action rifles like the Mosin-Nagants, but continuing in use today in limited roles like sniper rifles. The 7.62x54R is is essentially the Russian counterpart to the American .30-06 and 7.62x51.

Father Knows Best
December 29, 2006, 11:43 AM
There was an old BP handgun cartridge, I can't remember the specific one, that went by .36-something. It was .40 caliber.
Not sure about that one specifically, but there are lots of examples of cartridges where the name doesn't match the actually bullet diameter. You may be thinking of the .38 WCF, aka the ".38-40." It actually used a .401 caliber bullet over 40 grains of black powder. Why Winchester chose to call it a ".38" instead of a ".40" is anyone's guess.

Actually, most (if not all) so-called ".44" handgun cartridges aren't, in fact, .44 caliber. The .44-40 uses a .427 bullet. The .44 Special and Magnum use a .430 bullet. So why aren't they called ".43" caliber? I know, but I'll spare you the long explanation unless you really want to hear it. ;)

Of course, I assume most people know that ".38" handguns also aren't really .38 caliber. They're .36 caliber. Thus, the .357 Magnum and .38 Special use the same bore and bullet diameter, but only the .357 is accurately named.

Finally, most people know that most (all?) so-called ".30 caliber" rifle cartridges are really .31 caliber. The .30-06, .30-30, etc. all use .308 caliber bullets. Following conventional rounding rules, we should call them ".31 caliber", but we don't.

The bottom line is that there aren't any rules of general applicability when it comes to naming cartridges. Whoever invented it named it, and generally named it whatever they wanted to. We're now stuck with that name. You just need to have good loading manuals to tell you the details of what you need to know.

December 29, 2006, 11:59 AM
Lots of folks relate the .30/30 black powder round myth.
As stated the .30/30 was always designed as a smokeless powder round.

There is a cartridge called the .32 Winchester Special. More on this in a second.
The original cartridges introduced with the Model 1894 were the .32/40 Winchester and the .38/55 Winchester and were the first offerings in the new 1894 lever action.
Both could be loaded with black powder or with new smokeless powder loads offered by Winchester and intended only for the 1894.

The next cartridge offered was the .30/30 Winchester and I have always believed Winchester made this offering because too many shooters were buying the Smokeless powder loaded .38/55 and .32/40 cartridges and shooting them in rifles other than the Model 1894 which sometimes led to some "issues".

If you are into collectable cartridges you will note many factory blackpowder loaded .38/55 and .32/40 shells from the period but very few smokeless powder loaded shells in these calibers are still available.
I have never seen a factory loaded blackpowder .30/30
I believe Winchester carefully eliminated smokeless loaded .38/55s and .32/40s and concentrated on the .30/30 which could not be loaded into any other rifle not specifically designed for smokeless powder loaded ammunition.

Now back to that .32 Winchester Special cartridge.
This load was offered by Winchester for the Model 94 and it is a ballistic twin of the .30/30.
So why did they bring this load out?
The cartridge case design of the .32 Winchester case made it possible to easily load this cartridge with either blackpowder or Smokeless powder and acheive acceptable ballistics, something that could not be done with the .30/30
Backwoods shooters loved the ,32 Win. Special cartridge because most reloaded but smokeless was not always available year round in the deep woods, blackpowder and lead for molding bullets was available year round.
This ability made the .32 truely "special" and also caused the myth of the blackpowder .30/30 years down the road when the .32 Winchester became all but obsolete and forgotten.

I'm not going to add any to the talk of the .30/30 verses the .30/06 everybody has that down already, just thought you guys might enjoy reading where the myth of the blackpowder .30/30 came from.

December 29, 2006, 03:12 PM
7.62x54r holds the distinction of being thee oldest military round still in use world wide today.

This round came about before the communist revolution in Russia, late 1800's, for use in the Mosin Nagant rifle(s). Still being used today in SVD Dragunov sniper rifles, PKM machine guns, etc.

I have a Finn M39 that fires this round. It is quite similar to the 30-06. Case is not as long as the 06, but looks to be a bit wider.

December 29, 2006, 03:31 PM
Originally a black powder cartridge (.30 cal, 30gr powder)

The 30-30 was never a black powder cartrdige. It came about at a time though when smokelss powder was still somewhat new and it just recieved that designation anyways. It does mean .30 cal, 30gr., it just never was a black powder round. I believe the .30-40 Krag is like that too. They are the only two rounds I know of that received blackpowder style naming for a smokelss cartrdige.

Father Knows Best
December 29, 2006, 03:45 PM
I think I said something like that above .... :neener:

And yes, the .30-40 Krag is the same story -- the "40" refers to the original charge of 40 grains of smokeless powder.

December 29, 2006, 03:49 PM
The .44 Special and Magnum use a .430 bullet. So why aren't they called ".43" caliber? I know, but I'll spare you the long explanation unless you really want to hear it.

The designer thought "44" sounded meaner. :evil: What was so long about that? :p
December 29, 2006, 07:34 PM
The .44 Special and subsequent .44 Magnum came along AFTER the switch from the .44 American to .44 Russian. The Russian government liked everything about the S&W design except that the .44 American used a heeled bullet (like the .22LR) wherein the bullets base was a smaller diameter (.429") than the rest of the projectile (.44"). The net effect was that the bullet was flush with the case mouth. The Russians didn't like the fact that the exposed bullet lube could trap grit and debris causing jams and failures. So rather than create new brass to accomodate the Russian demand, S&W decided to make the bullet .429" and seat the thing as we are now accustomed to. When the .44 Special was invented, little more was done than to stretch the case length for more powder capacity. Interestingly, the .44 Magnum was created through almost the exact same process. To this day a handloader can start with .44 Magnum brass and simply trim it shorter to make it a .44 Special or shorter still to make it a .44 Russian.

To tag on a little funny afterthought to the blackpowder naming conventions, sometimes they listed the caliber, BP charge weight, and loaded cartridge length as in the case of .50 caliber buffalo cartridges.

Personally I think it's kind of funny that some cartridges are related in similar ways yet their names wouldn't tell you that. For example a 460 S&W magnum revolver will safely chamber and fire a 454 Casull, .45 Long Colt, and some other weird Colt .45 caliber that's not popular. The 475 Linebaugh revolvers can safely chamber and fire the .480 Ruger. Aside from naming the cartridge after themselves I can't see why Ruger didn't just call it the "475 Ruger Special".

December 29, 2006, 08:24 PM
Just another note, for the metric cartridges (9x19 or 9mm, 5.56x45) the second number is the case length in millimeters.

December 29, 2006, 09:14 PM
In regards to the .30 WCF, wasn't it Marlin who first started listing these rounds as .30-30 on their line of ammo and rifles? If I remember correctly, the change occured in the 30's or 40's and the .30-30 designation won out.

December 29, 2006, 09:33 PM
Since this discussion drifted to the .44 calibers,,,, the .44 S&W American was really nothing more than a centerfire version of the .44 Henry rimfire round with a true conical bullet.
The .44 Henry centerfire was basically the same cartridge as the .44 S&W American but used a flatnose bullet for use in tubular magazines.

There are slight dimensional differences, there always are in cartridges and firearms of the period but the two cartridges are basically identical.
The S&W used a slightly larger case diameter to prevent people from loading it into a centerfire converted Henry or Model 1866 because the conical bullet could cause a magazine tube detonation.

December 29, 2006, 09:51 PM
and some other weird Colt .45 caliber that's not popular.
.45 Schofield.

December 30, 2006, 01:12 AM
As you can see, cartridge designation can get pretty convoluted. Caliber numbers don't necessarily indicate actual bullet calibers, and the second number can be anything the developer wants it to be, from powder load, bullet weight, issue/introduction date, parent cartridge, bullet (muzzle) velocity, etc. Best thing to do is research and ask as you are doing before spouting inaccuracies and some folks tend to do. Memorizing all of the details will be the main hurdle.

December 30, 2006, 01:33 AM
There is very little consistency in cartridge names. The creator can name it whatever he wants. Usually the first number indicates the bore diameter but even that is not always true. The .38 is really .36 caliber (.357). The .44 is really .43 caliber. The .250/3000 was the first commercial cartridge whose muzzle velocity was/exceeded 3000 fps. The .244 Remington and 6mm Remington were/are the same cartridge.

Good shooting and be safe.

December 30, 2006, 04:41 AM
There is no rhyme or reason to cartridge designations. Some use caliber (bullet diameter) as the first number and grains of powder (usually black powder but not always) as the second number. Sometimes the second number is year designed or accepted. In the metric system the first number is usually bullet diameter and the second number is length of case and if a "R" is added it means rimmed cartridge.
There are exceptions to these also so the only way to know for sure is read up on the cartridges.
Welcome to the club of not knowing it all.

wayne in boca
December 30, 2006, 06:54 AM
While we're at it,the shotgun "gauge" is as follows;
The number of lead spherical balls the same diameter as the (unchoked) barrel that it takes to make one pound of lead.For example,twelve balls the size of a 12 gauge barrel cylinder make one pound of lead.This actually makes sense,unlike rifle and pistol designations.

December 30, 2006, 10:26 AM
AND just to ad to the confusion!

7.62 by <whatever> may use a a couple different diameter bullets:

7.62 x51 Nato (.308) uses a SURPRISE, .308 bullet.) but the 7,62x54R uses a nominal .311 diameter bullet, as do a few others (7.62 x39)

AND there are some more correctly name likes 7.65 Argentine or .303 British that also use s .311 diameter bullet.

Are you thouroughly confused by now?

December 30, 2006, 01:23 PM
If you would like to convert gauge to bore size,

divide 1.6705 by the cube root of the gauge size. (Pb density of 11.34 g/cc.)

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