Comparison of .30-30 vs .308 Marlin Express


November 1, 2007, 03:40 PM
I own a very nice customized Marlin 336C in .30-30 as well as a CZ550FS in .30-06. These rifles obviously cover different spectrums as far as performance, which is why I own both of them. A year or so ago I bought a 336XLR chambered in .30-30, as I figured it would make a fine hunting rifle. I like the XLR a lot, and it is very accurate with the Hornady .30-30 LeverEvolution ammo. But sometimes I find myself wondering if I should have waited for the Marlin rifles chambered in .308 Marlin Express. So my question is this: what is the real world difference in performance between the .30-30 LeverEvolution and the .308 Marlin Express assuming the following:

Both the .30-30 LE and .308 ME are loaded with 160 gr bullets.
Marlin XLR rifle with 24" barrel.
Shots are taken within 200 yards, most probably less than 100 yards.

I realize the .308 ME is much closer to the .308Win in performance, but what will the practical difference be at the above listed ranges? Better penetration? Better expansion? How much better? Or will the effect on potential game be pretty much the same within the effective range of the .30-30 LE cartridges?

If you enjoyed reading about "Comparison of .30-30 vs .308 Marlin Express" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
November 1, 2007, 03:51 PM
The XLR is a nice, solid, well-fitted, top-quality gun.

The problem is, when you put a 24" barrel on a lever gun, you lose a lot of the utility of the nice little 336C, IMO.

If you want a really powerful rifle, you can get a number of variants of the Weatherby Mark V in .300 Wby, which makes most other .30 caliber rounds look like popguns. The Ultralight isn't any heavier than a 336C, either.

But that's not the point.

I think the 336C remains a great gun on the merits, and the LE ammo just adds to that.

November 1, 2007, 03:57 PM
I wouldn't worry about the differences if you are hunting under 200 yards. I guess that the .308 marlin would be flatter shooting and would penetrate more, but any game won't know the difference. I think that the .308 marlin is just a good way for companies to get more money.

November 1, 2007, 04:06 PM
ArmedBear, I agree with your points and my 336C is the handiest rifle I own. But I'm really interested in the practical difference between .30-30LE and .308ME at typical .30-30 ranges.

Bartkowski, how much do you think the size/toughness of the game will matter in the comparison?

November 1, 2007, 04:26 PM
I don't know what animals you hunt, I am guessing deer, maybe black bear, but animals that are around the size of a deer will not know the difference between a 300 win mag and a 30-30 under 150 yards or so let alone 30-30 and a .308 so I don't think that you need to worry. Unless of course you just need to have a new gun.

November 1, 2007, 04:44 PM
Go to Hornady's web site and pick View Ballistics for each round.

.308MX at 200 yards: 2226 fps --1761 ft/lb

.30-30LE at 200 yards: 1916 fps -- 1304 ft/lb

.30-30 at 200 yards: 1581 fps -- 832 ft/lb (150 grain bullet)

1300 ft/lb. is more than plenty for deer and far more than the old .30-30 cartridge has left at that range.

The performance gain of the .308MX over the .30-30LE is going to be really noticeable only at ranges past where you will use the round, since 1300 fps is well above what is sufficient for deer hunting.

If you were looking for a 400 yard hunting round and didn't already have a .30-06, there would be a reason to get the .308MX. As it stands though, the .30-30LE seems perfect for your specs.

November 1, 2007, 04:57 PM
I appreciate the responses.

November 1, 2007, 11:06 PM
There is bound to be a difference in drop, given the lesser velocity of the 30-30 LR, although ou t to 200 yards, it mght not be much.

November 1, 2007, 11:09 PM
Not enough to matter, if you sight the gun in appropriately.

Just like energy, drop starts to matter farther out, but not at 200 with the LE rounds, or even with standard .30-30 if you are really good about MPBR sighting.

November 2, 2007, 02:05 AM
If you didn't already own a 30-06 I would say you might consider a XLR in .308ME but you seem to have everything already covered.

You have your bush gun, the 336C.
You have a longer range lever gun because of it's 24" barrel and improved ammo design in the XLR in 30-30.
You have a 300 yard heavy hitter in your 30-06.

If you want to buy another rifle then get the 308ME but IMO it will cause an overlap in capability. If you want to buy another rifle (which I totally understand) then I suggest you buy a caliber to fill a need you don't now have. I would say either go heavier or lighter depending upon what you hunt.

Maybe something in a 338 Mag or a 375 H&H if you intend upon hunting very large Brown Bear or maybe a really nice Varmint rifle in 22-250.

November 2, 2007, 09:52 AM
AACD, that post seems to sum things up nicely and is actually what I was hoping someone would tell me.

Thanks to everyone for the responses on this, it has been helpful. I'm feeling better about the choices I've made -- I think the .308ME is a good idea and they are nice rifles but seem to fit a niche I already have covered, as you fellas have pointed out.

November 2, 2007, 10:02 AM
Don't know how important it is to you, but ammo for the .30-30 is much more available than the .308ME. You won't have to worry about the .30-30 being discontinued due to poor sales. While you may not always be able to find .30-30LE ammo, it's a pretty much a given that you'll be able to find some boom-fodder for a .30-30 somewhere nearby.

November 2, 2007, 10:26 AM
Hutch, you make a good point and I've considered that. I think the .308ME will probably establish itself with lever gun enthusiasts but may never become a mainstream cartridge. I do know it has proven very accurate so far, as is the .30-30LE. Even if the LeverEvolution ammo becomes scarce, my XLR will shoot the regular ammo just fine albeit without the same performance.

If you enjoyed reading about "Comparison of .30-30 vs .308 Marlin Express" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!