Sighting In the 30/30


October 18, 2008, 09:35 AM
It seems like when people think of the 30/30 or talk about its' "loopy" trajectory they always point out that if it is sighted in with a 100yd. "zero" it is 8" low at 200yds.
Probably in an old Jack O'Conner column somewhere I read that a good "sight-in" distance for the 30/30 is 175yds. so mine have usually been sighted like that and that sure shows the 30/30 in a different light.

For the sake of discussion - here is the old, plain-Jane, Ho-hum 150gr. Round Nose at a muzzle velocity of a nominal 2350fps.

50yds... 1.6" high
100yds... 2.8" high
175yds... "zero"
200yds... 2.4" low

Now I often hear people say that an effective distance is whatever distance one can keep shots on a standard 9" paper plate.

Looking at the numbers on the above ammo it's clear that one could use the same point-of-aim out to 200yds and the ol' thutty-thutty will stay on a 6" plate (assuming the shooter does their part).

Adult deer vary in size, of course, but it's reasonable to generalize that, from the top of the back to the bottom of the chest, a deer is about 16" - some a bit more and some a bit less.

So the 6" "imprint circle" of the 30/30 at 200yds. gives the hunter roughly five inches of aiming error margin both high and low at 200yds.

That is a very easily workable situation.;)

But there is another way to approach the matter too - that being the use of the "6 o'clock hold" (with either irons or a scope). An advantage of doing so is that the bottom line of a deer's chest makes a conveniently fast and clear aiming point to acquire as opposed to an imaginary "middle point" on the deer's chest.

With this approach sighting the 30/30 in for 275yds. will present this trajectory....

50yds.... 4.5" high
100yds.... 8.5" high
200yds.... 8.9" high
225yds.... 5.3" high (roughly)
FWIW - it will be only 5.5" low at 300yds.... but remember - that's with the "6 o'clock hold".

All of those are likely to be lethal placements with that same easy-to-acquire point-of-aim, even if the deer was facing the shooter.

And all of that is with the plebian round nose 150-grainer. The Leverlution ammo improves the 30/30's "imprint circle" by about an inch either way and at somewhat longer distance.

So while the 30/30 doesn't keep up with the newer cartridges in the paper races, the real bottom line is that the mild-mannered, easy-to-shoot 30/30 is one heck of a fine deer cartridge. Like anything else - ya just gotta know what you're doing.



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October 18, 2008, 12:49 PM

I see recurring threads where folks are sighting in high-power rifles dead on at 50 yard or 100 yards.

Almost any centerfire caliber will benefit from sighting in about 2.0 - 2.5" high at 100 yards depending on caliber.

Using your paper plate example, the more flat shooting varmint and magnum calibers can have their point blank range stretched out to several hundred yards using this method.

If you zero at 50 or 100 yards, you are making a mistake!


The Bushmaster
October 18, 2008, 01:21 PM
rcmodel...Why do you say that? 100 yards is a mistake that I've been making for the last 48 years with my 94? I have never figured that a .30-30 should be used on deer at 200 yards in the first place. Of course I've used it only for heavy brush and wooded areas of the Great Northwest and not open spaces. My 60 year old "Jack Handle" shoots 1 5/8' three shot spread at 100 yard zero. That would give my a maximum range of 150 yards with little drop if I could even get that much yardage where I hunt. All of the deer I have shot with my .30 WCF Jack handle have been from 3 yards to no more then 75 yards. None of which have been from a stand as I am a Still hunter and tracker. If I anticipate a longer shot I take my Browning .30-06 with 3 X 9 X 40 scope...Even here in the Ozarks. Ranges are not more then in the Cascades...The only thing I have to worry about here is the deer ambushers are in the tree stands. They don't hunt. On the ground that is...

Harley Quinn
October 18, 2008, 01:33 PM
Looks like it is a sitution where some folks think the 30-30 is a good shooter out to 250 or so yds...

Many feel it is a short distance shooter similar to the 35 Remington... In the woods you are not going to get a clean shot at that kind of distance I have noticed, let alone see them ;) If you site it in one way or the other, the mistake is in the shooting distance with that caliber IMHO.

Open sights, what I shoot and they are generally the peep variety. If I am going to go with a longshot like mentioned I would be using a different Caliber myself.


Mr. 16 gauge
October 18, 2008, 01:52 PM
Seeing threads like this kinda bothers me.....I know that there are people out there who can make long range shots with mediocre cartridges, but the majority can't.....they don't have the talent to shoot and/or the ability to accurately judge range.
I agree with Shawnee that the physics are correct and that it probably can be done, but don't necessarily agree that it should be done. After seeing thousands of ducks wounded and lost over the years due to poor shooting and bad range judgement, I am reminded of that line from a Clint Eastwood movie:

"Man's gotta know his limitations".

Also, while the bullet may hit the target at that distance, does it have enough energy to penetrate & mushroom properly, and leave a good blood trail? Will a lever gun that shoots 3" with open sights at 100 yards open up it's group to 6" (or more) with extending the range to 200? Will opening up that group cause a person to miss in the excitement of shooting at a deer offhand at that range and possibly deliver a poor shot, condemning the animal to a slow and lingering death?
...just some food for thought.

October 18, 2008, 02:48 PM
No one is saying a person must shoot at 200yds. or more with a 30/30.

O'Conner's point (and mine, post plagerism) is that if a person sighted their 30/30 in to hit an inch & a half high at 50yds. - they would be able to score lethal hits using the same point-of-aim out to at least 200yds. That is a convenient situation to be in and it also puts the 30/30 in a correct perspective - as opposed to all the silly, snobby criticism it gets from the 3000fps.-crowd.


October 18, 2008, 02:55 PM
I personally can't see well enough at 200+ yards to be shooting at a deer with an open-sighted 30-30 that far.

If I had a scoped 30-30, I would feel completely confident in it and my ability to both hit and cleanly kill a deer at 200 yards with a 175 yard zero.

The point I was trying to make is that folks who sight in a scoped .223, .243, 7mm Mag, 30-06, or other flat shooting rifle to be dead on at 50 or 100 yards is making a mistake.


October 18, 2008, 03:04 PM
"The point I was trying to make is that folks who sight in a scoped .223, .243, 7mm Mag, 30-06, or other flat shooting rifle to be dead on at 50 or 100 yards is making a mistake."



October 18, 2008, 03:21 PM
Yes, the reliable .30-.30 can be effective @ 200 yards, but if one hunts an area where that is the majority of the shots encountered, there are better options. I do see the reasoning behind Shawnee's theory tho.......

Regardless of the gun, I believe the answer is to sight in your firearm to fit your terrain and hunting style. The mistake is sighting your gun at ranges you'll seldom, if ever use it for. Sighting in your ought-6 @ 200 yards will be a mistake if the majority of your shots are on the trail below your treestand. I have a good friend that did just this and in his excitement when a big buck walked under neath him, forgot to hold low and missed the buck of a lifetime @ 15 yards.

I too hunt primarily thick cover and after opening weekend tend to hunt by stalk and walk. Over the 40 odd years that I've been deer hunting, I can count the number of shots taken at deer over 100 yards without takin' off my socks......and cannot begin to remember all the bucks taken at less than 25. Thus my iron sighted handguns are sighted in @ 50 yards and the scoped M1917 @ 100yards. This is what works for me.....for others it may be a mistake, but that's for them to determine.That's part of being a hunter, determining what works for you.....not just doing what someone else tells you.

October 18, 2008, 03:28 PM
forgot to hold low and missed the buck of a lifetime @ 15 yards.Then your friend would have missed the buck anyway, regardless of where he sighted in.

At 15 yards, the bullet path is still an inch or more below the bore, and it would be if he sighted in at 50 yards, or 250 yards.

It would make absolutely no differance at 15 yards where he sighted in, or where he held.

If the cross-hairs were on the deer, he would have hit it.


Chuck Dye
October 18, 2008, 03:31 PM
What you describe is Maximum Point Blank Range sighting. MPBR is a built in feature of some ballistics software. From the Oehler Ballistic Explorer and its ammo library, the typical .30-30 170gr has a B.C. of 0.255 and muzzle velocity of 2200fps. For a 6" vital zone/paper plate and sight height of 1.5"(typical scope), it is dead on at 19.3 yards and between 175 and 180 yards (3" high at 100 yards) and 3 inches low at 206.4 yards. The LEVERevloution yields a B.C. of 0.330, M.V. of 2400fps, dead on at 27.1 and between 245 and 250 yards, 3" low at 287.9 yards, and 2.58" high at 100 yards.

These are, of course, calculated values from factory claimed parameters and are, in fact a bit suspicious as the .30-30 LEVERevloution keeps (calculated) pace with the 180gr .30-06 Federal High Energy and Hornady 180gr Light Magnum, with heavier bullets, higher B.C.s and substantially higher muzzle velocities, past 200 yards. The answer is to thoroughly wring out your rifle's performance with your chosen ammo at the range before hunting.

October 18, 2008, 06:17 PM
A 30-30 was my first centerfire rifle and this was my only deer rifle for about 15 years. My safe hasnít been with out at least 2 or more since. At the time I didnít handload. I used Winchester factory 170 grainers later I went to the 150 because the 170ís got hard to find. It did not take long to figure out that factory ballistics was to say the least optimistic.
I sighted these 170ís in 1Ĺ high at 50 yards and at 100 they were abut 2Ĺ high and about dead on at 150 yards. I recovered 2 of these bullets from deer. Both recovered bullets were shot at deer over 150 but less than 200 yards. Both were shot broadside behind the shoulder one recovered under the skin on the offside and the other was in the offside lung. I also had similar experiences with the 150ís.
IME factory ammo doesnít have enough energy at 200 yards to cleanly kill deer.
Shawnee, ever with your numbers for the 150ís you donít quite have a 1000 ft/lbs of energy at 200 yards and less than 700 ft/ lbs of energy at 300 yards.
Also remember at most hunters use factory ammo and that factory ballistics tends to be least optimistic.

The Olí Man said, ďSon, donít brag to me about the long shot you made! Brag to me about how close you got! Thatís huntiní.Ē

October 18, 2008, 06:48 PM
Hi Colek...

At 300yds, the 30/30 150gr. (mv 2350fps per Hornady) has almost the same ft./lbs. of energy as a 240gr. .44 magnum has at the muzzle.

300yd. shots at game are not advisable because shot placement is getting pretty dicey at that range but I really don't see a power issue. A deer leaning on the muzzle of a .44 magnum is likely a very dead deer.

Actually... not long ago I dropped a deer at about 75yds. with a 180gr. Federal PowerShok JHP from my Ruger SBH. According to Federal that slug had about 550 ft/lbs. of energy at the point of impact. The deer staggered about 50 feet and dropped dead. I have made one-shot kills on deer with 180-gr. Hornady JHPs at over 100yds. where the energy is less than 500ft./lbs.

My personal opinion is that the level of energy most hunters think it takes to kill a deer is about three times higher than it actually is.


October 18, 2008, 09:40 PM
So, if you do zero for 100 yards, what will the trajectory be at 50 and 150?

October 18, 2008, 10:00 PM
Shawnee if you want to shot at deer with a .30-30 and a 150gr bullets at 275 + yards by all means have at it. But in the long run I my opinion you will be disappointed in the overall results.

The Olí Man said, ďSon, donít brag to me about the long shot you made! Brag to me about how close you got! Thatís huntiní.Ē

October 19, 2008, 09:21 AM
i agree with rcmodel 100%! zeroing a 300 magnum @ 100 yards is a waste! makes no sense at all. it would be like driving a nascar nextel cup car to work. a 300 mag should be zeroed @ 200 yards, maybe a little more. my wifes 30-30 is zeroed @ 150 yards, same with my 45/70. 50 yards zero's are for 22 rimfires. 100 yards is a great practicing range, but not necessarily the perfect zero range.

October 19, 2008, 10:06 AM
Hi Colek...

The purpose of "zeroing" a 30/30 at 275 yds. is not to shoot deer at that range. It is to enable the shooter to use a "six o'clock" hold (the bottom line of the deers' chest) at any range out to about 225yds.:)


Harley Quinn
October 19, 2008, 10:48 AM
"The point I was trying to make is that folks who sight in a scoped .223, .243, 7mm Mag, 30-06, or other flat shooting rifle to be dead on at 50 or 100 yards is making a mistake."

Yes, I agree with the above statement also.


Art Eatman
October 19, 2008, 12:36 PM
Looks to me like the thutty-thutty is plenty good to more than 200 yards, whether you're talking about trajectory or killing power. The problem is the typical sights on such as the Winchester 94. Coarse. Hard to make a really precise POA. And the triggers aren't the world's greatest.

So, if I wuz gonna chouse Bambi with a 94, I'd clean up the trigger and add a tang-mounted peep sight.

And go practice a bunch until I got "all married up" with it...

Ever reassemble a 94 from a total take-apart and de-rusting? Talk about a jigsaw puzzle! The first time out, I was lickin' my lips and twistin' my tongue, trying to figure out the sequence of what went where, when. That happens when you take something apart and it's a year or two later before you finish the job...

:), Art

October 19, 2008, 12:46 PM
My personal opinion is that the level of energy most hunters think it takes to kill a deer is about three times higher than it actually is.But see, modern deer are about 3 times tougher then they were 100 years ago.

Back then, they were easily killed by great-grandpas 38-40 carbine & 500 F/P of muzzle energy.


October 19, 2008, 01:32 PM
"So, if you do zero for 100 yards, what will the trajectory be at 50 and 150?"

Using the factory Hornady 15o-gr. Round Nose ammo...

You can sight-in to be a quarter-inch high at 50yds. and you will be "zero'd at 100yds., about 3.5" low at 150yds. and 8" low at 200yds.

"But see, modern deer are about 3 times tougher then they were 100 years ago."

LOL ! Oh Yeah.... Darn it! I keep forgetting about that! :D

"The problem is the typical sights on such as the Winchester 94. Coarse."

That's a Fact, Senator. Some day when you don't have much to do and Mama has kicked you out of the house - take your 4x12 scope, mount it on your Marlin 336, and try it on a target at 300yds. I'll bet Armed Bear's next paycheck you surprise yourself. ;)


October 19, 2008, 01:46 PM
I sight all my rifles in at the maximum point blank range.

October 19, 2008, 09:00 PM
It is a basic rule of thumb for big game hunting rifles to be sighted in for 3" high at 100yds and that way no holdover is necessary out to the point that it drops 3" below the POA. This is the so called point blank range. With the 30-30 that's about 200 yds. With the 308 that's about 260yds and with the 300 Win Mag about 300yds. Small variables for different weights and types of bullet.
Flat shooting varmint rifles are sighted a little different.


October 19, 2008, 11:29 PM
Round Nose at a muzzle velocity of a nominal 2350fp
That 30-30 is cooking! If you look at actual chono data you will probably see that most lever guns only get about 1900-2100 fps.

While I think that the 30-30 is the ideal rifle cartrige for eastern hunters in woods, I don't think it is a good idea to shoot at a deer with an open sighted 30-30 at 250 yards. Never trust the published data, go out an shoot to see how your rifle shoots but more importantly how you shoot.


Art Eatman
October 20, 2008, 11:47 AM
Hey, I'm fully aware of the advantages of a scope compared to coarse irons. But I imagine a lot of the bum rap about accuracy and range is caused by those irons.

I haven't paid close attention, but years back I know that Savage chambered their bolt-action in .30-30. Handloaders went on up to 50,000 psi instead of the factory 40,000. That made it a whole new animal.

October 24, 2008, 12:23 AM
I sight in all my cf's to hit about 2.5-3" high at 100yds. However, all my hand guns which have irons have 6oclock sight ins. I've taken deer to 100yds with a .357mag. using the 6oclock hold you mentioned. I'd never thought of doing it with a rifle, but I just may try it this year with my .35Rem.

FWIW, it took a nice 8pt last year with my .35rem at a measured 225yds. I held in line with the spine and bang-flop. But then I'd shot the gun on a 188yd range behind my house and got 1.85" 3-shot groups in the target dot. (Handload with 200gr Remington Corlokt at 2,300fps). This is the longest shot I've taken with the 35Rem. I've killed several deer at over 200yds with the .30/30, however.

My brother (who took the largest whitetail either of us has ever taken with his Win. M94 last year, a 10pt w/19"spread and over 225lbs) and I now consider the .30/06 and it's siblings and progeny -MAGNUMS-, and seldom hunt with ours. If I'm not hunting with either the .30/30 or .35, I've perhaps got my RemM-7 in 7mm08 or either a .223, .22-250, or even my .22Hornet if just hunting meat does.

It's not the "noise" that kills them, it's the shot placement!

And when you're over the hill and over 50, the lighter weight and lower recoil rifles are just that much more appealing.

But, then, we're just "preaching to the choir"; And way-way over the heads of the rest.

October 24, 2008, 09:22 AM
Hey GG...

What scopes do you have on your 30/30 and your Model Seven ?



October 24, 2008, 09:59 AM
i know that savage chambered their bolt-action in .30-30. i cut my hunting teeth with one of those rifles. My dad borrowed it from one of my uncles when i was 12. I wish i had that gun.but see, modern deer are about 3 times tougher then they were 100 years ago.
i know, it is terrible when out of the woods steps a nice buck with a big "s" under its neck! I then have to fumble through my hunting gear to get out that silver titanium pointed bullet!

October 24, 2008, 10:27 AM
Here Ya go, Mooose...


Quickdraw Limpsalot
October 26, 2008, 09:19 AM
"The point I was trying to make is that folks who sight in a scoped .223, .243, 7mm Mag, 30-06, or other flat shooting rifle to be dead on at 50 or 100 yards is making a mistake."

Maybe... unless you don't anticipate having a shot available over 100 yards, which is most often the case in my "neck of the woods."

October 26, 2008, 03:36 PM
Regardless, there is still nothing to be gained by not taking advantage of the maximum PB range of a flat shooting rifle when you sight it in.

If you don't, it's like buying a Corvette and then sawing a wood block to fit under the gas pedal so it will only run 30 MPH.


October 26, 2008, 05:17 PM
Hi Quickdraw...

For what it's worth... The stats below are for the 200gr. RN Core-Lokt from a .35 Remington at Remington's stated muzzle velocity of 2000fps.

Remington's “short range” chart figures

50yds. +0.5
100yds. ZERO
150yds. -3.5”
200yds. -10.7”

Remington's “long range” chart figures

100yds. +2.3”
150yds. ZERO
200yds. -6.1”

Using Hornady’s ballistics calculator and the BC for their 200-grain RN

50yds. +2.6”
100yds. +4.1”
175yds. ZERO
200yds. -3.5”

In this case the shooter would ask themself if they want to sight in for a 100 yard "zero" and deal with the -10.7" of drop at 200yds. or do they want to set the "zero" at 175 yds. and deal with the 4.1" high at 100yds.
Or split the difference with a 150yd. "zero".

Looking at one of the "flat-shooters" - the .270 with 130-gr. Spitzer bullets the stats look like this...

50yds -0.3”
100yds ZERO
200yds -2.4”
300yds -9.3”
400yds -21.3”
500yds -39.5”

50yds +1.0”
100yds +2.6”
200yds +2.8”
275yds ZERO
300yds -1.5”
400yds -11.0”
500yds -26.6”

With a 100yd. "zero" the drop is -9.3" at 300yds. and that's getting dicey on deer. Even the drop at 250yds will be 5' or 6".

With the 275yd. "zero" the drop at 300yds. is an inch and a half. And the in-between distances have deviations from the point-of-aim of only about 3.5" high at the most. So the user of a "flat-shooting" caliber doesn't gain anything by sighting in at 100yds. but they do give up the primary advantage of using such a caliber.


Quickdraw Limpsalot
October 26, 2008, 09:52 PM
My point is simply that if I sight my .35 Remington in at 100 yards and virtually NEVER get a shot longer than that where I hunt, why worry about the other numbers? I see your point... it just doesn't apply to me. :)

October 26, 2008, 10:06 PM
You're right, Quickdraw - nothing wrong with your Logic at all. You know what your territory is like. :)

I just put the numbers up there as an illustration of RC's comments.


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