.30-30 and Westerns


January 24, 2008, 04:10 PM

The .30-30 cartridge came out in 1895, so says Wiki.

Why then do movies set in the 1880s and even 1870s feature what appears to be Model 94s? I see this in many John Wayne movies. Recently, I bought 'Open Range'. I'm pretty sure the movie was set in the 1880s, yet both Costner and Duvall wield .30-30s. Now, 'Unforgiven' has a Spencer and was set in 1881, I think. Much more believable.

What gives?

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January 24, 2008, 04:12 PM
they might be winchester model 73 but im dont know the calibers tehy came in

January 24, 2008, 04:18 PM
There was centerfire and rimfire ammo back then, and some rimfire stuff was in bigger calibers. If you rember the TV series of The Rifleman with Chuck Conners you'd see he had a lever action rifle and if you see a scene where he's reloading it the bullets don't look like 30-30 if I remember right. Also some of the other Westerns show the actors loading bullets and I don't recall one of them having a 30-30 looking cartridge, most of them look like handgun ammo.

Here's a page on replicas with a little history:

January 24, 2008, 04:19 PM
The 1892 resembles an 1894

This is a 92:

The 92 was made until WW II or so, and so was readily available to Hollywood. They could just go down to the local store and buy a bunch. So they used a lot of them, regardless of when the movies were set.

More recently, there's been a trend towards historically-accurate firearms, tools, clothing, etc. in movies and high-end TV shows like Deadwood. But in the early days of Hollywood, nobody gave a crap, or so it seems.

If you go to the Tombstone museum, you'll see a Henry, a Marlin, and a couple Winchesters. People weren't all walking around with Winchesters back then. I just saw an amazing private collection in Montana, with a wide selection of rifles that included Winchesters, but lots of others too, and handguns that included cap-n-ball Remingtons and Colts, conversions, top-breaks, pocket guns, Sharps 4-barrels, and even a few Single Action Armies.

The SAA was not the dominant revolver in the collection, and the Winchester lever gun, while well-represented, was nowhere near the 50% mark, to say nothing of the ubiquity it has in some movies.

January 24, 2008, 04:20 PM
they might be winchester model 73 but im dont know the calibers tehy came in

That would make sense.


January 24, 2008, 04:24 PM
Here another link to another pretty interesting page:

Wonder if this one would require SBR tax/permitting or require one to be a C&R license holder:

Winchester 1873 Baby SRC .44 WCF s/n 109172A mfg 1882 - 15” round barrel; full mag;....

January 24, 2008, 04:31 PM
cyclist i think ther is something about it being an antique that you dont need a taxstamp for

January 24, 2008, 04:38 PM
As was mentioned, many movies simply didnt care about proper period of the gun modles used, tho the vast majority of lever guns in older westerns were the 1892 Winchesters, generally in 44-40 cal, known back then as the 44 WCF (Winchester Center Fire).

There were a number of early Wincheter models, the 1866 was a brass framed gun in 44 rim fire, the 1873 was the first in 44 WCF, then there was the 1876 model in larger calibers, 40-60, 45-60, 45-75, and the 50-95. The model 1886 was next, and came in many calibers, from 38-56, several 40 cal's to 45-70, 45-90, up to 50-110. The 1892, was mostly made in 44 WCF cal, but there were also 38 WCF (called the 38-40 today) 32 WCF (32-20) and the 25-20. The 1894, in 38-55, 32-40, 25-35, 30 WCF (30-30), and 32 Winchester spl, was too late to play much part in what we consider the true western frontier period, tho it was used some by Tom Horn in 30 WCF cal, and was used in the Canadian and Alaskan frontiers during their gold rushes that came after that point.

January 24, 2008, 04:39 PM
Never assume or expect movies/TV to be truthful or correct when it comes to firearms or at much of anything else for that matter.

Jim Watson
January 24, 2008, 04:56 PM
Most movie lever actions are model 92s or the Spanish El Tigre copy; because they were available at the time the studios were expanding as per #4; also because they will handle the 5-in-1 blank; .38-40 rifle and revolver, .44-40 rifle and revolver, and .45 Colt.

Some with the foreend taken off and the receiver brass plated to look kind'a, sort'a like a Henry. At least a nod toward authentic appearance.

As for the Baby (or Trapper) carbine in #6, it would be a C&R ONLY if INDIVIDUALLY listed, not just because it is over 50 years old or pre 1898.
I did not see it in the listings but it was a fast look.
Note that this carbine was sold in Australia. It might still be there.

January 25, 2008, 03:16 AM
Movies use what ever guns they have.......and bullets make people fly. :rolleyes:

ODD FACTOID You see tumble weeds in most westerns too. I hear those weren’t around at that time either. That plant is an invasive species and didn't show up in the western US until well after the cowboy days. :scrutiny:

So there you go.

January 26, 2008, 01:59 PM
Costner and Duval in Open Range wielded "73" Winchester carbines in 44WCF caliber...........................Bob

January 26, 2008, 04:33 PM
Leatherbark is right, the guns used in Open Range were accurate for the period. In a lot of the early westerns they used what they had and hoped people would not notice. On early episodes of Bonanza they use what appear to be 94"s with the foreends removed and the receivers painted gold to look like Henery"s

Also alot of the westerns were actually set in the early 1900"s when modern firearms were coming into use. Big Jake with John Wayne was set in 1907 I believe. Up until the 1940"s a lot of people lived much the same as during the 1890"s particurally in rural areas.

January 26, 2008, 05:10 PM
What odd timing. I just watched "Winchester '73" last night for the first time ever. Super classy old western.

January 26, 2008, 06:59 PM
Not a movie but I think interesting and sort of on topic...

When Linda Ev ans was working on the "Time Scout" series of books with Robert Asprin they had a group going back to the very early 1880's. WHen the time tourist showed up they had '94s and a caracter explains that they would be a notacable anacronism and draw attention to the tourist. Linda felt the need to better understand the situation and so went to a local gunshop where she was abile to examine a repro '73 and '94. Still feeling she need to understand more about lever actions she purchased the '94 so as to spend some time on the range with it and handle dummy rounds and work them through the action to get a better feel for what lever guns are all about.

As I understand it IRS actually let her write off the rifle as a business/ research expense.

She chose the '94 over the '73 because the '73 she was being shown had feeding issues, I suspect from ammo being loaded beyound exceptable over all length.

Neat to see a fiction writer that cares about such.

-Bob Hollingsworth

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