.30-30 questions


September 18, 2009, 10:41 PM
Couple questions about reloading the .30-30 Winchester cartridge for a Marlin 336.

1. What LEE dies do I need - Full-length sizing dies, Collet dies, or Deluxe dies? Please don't tell me Hornady, RCBS, etc. b/c I am not buying those.

2. I know Marlins + lead don't always work, but I'm going to be experimenting with lead bullets. Call it an experiment for the sake of curiosity. What's a good powder for lead out of a .30-30? I would like to generate enough velocity that these could be used for hog hunting (small-to-medium sized piggies), not just plinking loads.

3. I load pistol, so I have press, scale, powder measure, calipers and brass. Besides bullets, powder, primers and the dies, do I need anything else?


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September 18, 2009, 11:00 PM
I bought my .30/30 dies about 35yrs ago, so they're RCBS. (two die set)

If I was buying a new set of dies I'd get the Lee Deluxe set. For the .30/30, it will have the standard full-length sizing die, and the "factory crimp" die, along with the seating/standard crimp die, and a shell holder.

I load my .30/30's for my Marlin/Glenfield by always full lenght sizing. However, if the brass has been previously fired in your rifle, you don't want to run them all the way into the die like you would your pistol cases. You want the shoulder of the case to just "kiss" the inside of the die to where you get slight burnishing of the shoulder, but not to push it back to where total full lenght sizing would. The "partial" full length sizing will significantly lengthen the life expectancy of your brass, but still give you the positive chambering of a "full length sized" case. And maximize accuracy as well.

Secondly, get the Lee case trimmer set. (case holder and length gauge (pilot) along with the spinner. This can be used in conjunction with a hand drill (I prefer a cordless recharable...) and a case neck chamfer tool (I recommend either the RCBS or Forster. They're much-much better than the Lee, but the Lee is "serviceable"....

Seat the bullets in one step, then crimp with the Lee FCD in the final step. This die is less lenght dependant as it uses the die contact with the shell holder to "activate" it. Just a "tad" of crimp is all thats neccessary. All of the bullets suitable for the .30/30 Marlin will have cannulures in the right place so I suggest you use them......bullets and cannulure and a modest crimp. Exact amount isn't critical as long as it isn't too much. Just about like what you'd use on a .38spl or .357mag pistol case/bullet.

If you've been using carbide pistol dies, you'll also have to lubricate the cases. I suggest the RCBS case lube pad, and a bottle of STP oil treatment from the dept. store auto parts section. You'll only need to rub in about 1/2 teaspoon onto the pad and that'll last about a year before you need more. The RCBS lube is about the same thing, but cost about $5 for 1/4 the amount thats in the STP bottle....... It takes only a very, very slight amount of lube on the cases, and can easily be wiped off with a shop rag. You may later want to try some Imperial die wax. Extreamly good but best applied by wiping on with you fingers. Slower than rubbing 20-40 cases at a time on the pad......

The Remington 150 and 170gr Cor-Lokts are the Gold-standard for the .30/30wcf. They are accurate, and are designed for the velocity levels of the .30/30. I've found the Hornady's, Speers and Sierra's to be a bit "hard" and not expand well. A single exception is the Sierra 125gr HP. It's an awsome accurate and controled expansion bullet for game under 300lbs and under 150yds for the .30/30....

With a Remington M788 boltaction in .30/30, I've gotten 1-hole groups with bullets such as the 130gr Speer HP, and the Sierra and Nosler B.T's in 125gr, but they aren't suitable for the tubular fed Marlin.

I prefer the 170gr Remington CorLokt over 34.0gr of RL15. It gets 2,300fps and is MOA from my Marlin/Glenfield M30. It expands much better than any other 170's I've used. The 150 CorLokt is a second favorite at 35.5gr of RL15 for 2,370fps and MOA. I use 36.0g of RL15 under the 125 Sierra HP, and 37.0g with the Speer 130fp. I don't like this latter bullet as it's too hard for deer from the .30/30. I've lost several deer hit in the rib-cage with this bullet. It even didn't expand all that much on an 8pt I hit through the spine with it, but shot placement saved the day.......!

Welcome to the second century of the .30wcf (aka .30/30)...

September 18, 2009, 11:01 PM

September 19, 2009, 06:12 AM
2. I know Marlins + lead don't always work, but I'm going to be experimenting with lead bullets. Call it an experiment for the sake of curiosity. What's a good powder for lead out of a .30-30? I would like to generate enough velocity that these could be used for hog hunting (small-to-medium sized piggies), not just plinking loads.

I use IMR 30-31 for my hunting loads in my Winchester 94, but the Marlin will work just as well if you slug the barrel and size the bullet correctly. The bullet is a gas checked Lyman #311041 cast with 50/50 ww/ pb and it is going about 1800 fps. I've recovered some from find sand at 50 yards and they expanded to .570 without losing any weight. As to how much powder? You'll have to experiment with that. My rifle liked 24.5 grs but that doesn't mean much when it comes to your rifle. Just start at the bottom and work up till you hit the most accurate amount.

September 19, 2009, 08:52 AM
holy crumballs, cyclops! Were those reloads or factory? I understand Hornady is now making the Leverevolution bullets as components.

The other thing I've been told about lead in the Marlin is that lead and copper don't mix. A thorough scrubbing of the bore is very necessary.


Gadzooks Mike
September 19, 2009, 10:55 AM
It's not "Marlin doesn't always work well with lead", it's "Microgroove barrels don't work with all sizes of lead bullets". If you have a microgroove 30-30, get some .311" lead bullets. Not all Marlin 30-30's have microgroove barrels. If it's not a microgroove, try some 309" lead.

As for which dies, Goose got it - get the deluxe dies. You'll want that factory crimp die. Works great!!

September 19, 2009, 10:56 AM
I didn't adddress the question of cast bullets.

With the Marlins in .30/30, the issue of good accuracy has more to do with nominal bore diameters than rifling type, though the two are interrelated.

I started shooting cast bullets not long after I began reloading about 35yrs ago. I started with the Lee .309-150gr FNGC, and the simple Lee sizer and Lee 50/50 Alox-Beeswax lube when they gave you a little aluminum pan and a hollow tapered "cutter" to remove the bullets from the lube when it hardened.

I still have that original mould (sorta, I gave it to my older brother, and bought another one) and it's my favorite mould for the .30/30 (out of more than 10 moulds just in .30...)

But, I don't size to .309" anymore. I size ALL of my .30cal bullets to .311". It took a long journey through casting (read YEARS), but I've found that even the tightest .30 bore will shoot just as well with a .311" bullet as a smaller one. However, a "large" bore will always shoot a larger bullet better than an undersized one.....

The nature of the Microgroove creates a "large bore" scenario. It takes a tight fit to get proper "bite" from the small lands and grooves of the MG bore. However, with a good bullet fit, the accuracy can be superlative....

Re; powders for cast bullets....... Plinking loads- Unique is unexcelled. Others might work equally well (ie: RedDot, BlueDot, Universal...) but none are better or more flexible. Full powered loads: My best results have been with Reloader15, followed closely by IMR3031.... Too many powders, too many calibers, too many types of bullets...... I haven't even thought of trying the "new" GMX, solid copper "X" type bullets. Life probably won't be long enough to get around to them all.......

Do clean your bore well before expecting best cast bullet accuracy.
To prep the rifle for shooting cast bullets, I remove the lever, bolt, and ejector. I then clean as usual with Shooters Choice "copper" solvent. I then put a brush on the rod, wrap the brush with a patch and coat the patch with either JB bore paste, or Remington "Bore Cleaner". I then procede to run the "combo" through the bore 15-20 times. I then clean again to get the "crud" from the bore.
Total conditioning if achieved by running 20-30rds of "plinking" loads of 7.5-10gr of Unique. I then follow again with a normal cleaning with a "lead" bullet solvent such as Hoppes', ect. I find that after a "fouling" shot, I can then get optimum accuracy with a load such as 28.5gr of IMR3031 or 30.0gr of RL15. Some of the cast bullet "guru's" call this a "black-bore" condition.

Sounds like a bit of work, and it is, but then I can get 1.5-2.0moa from "home-made" bullets that cost me less than shooting .22lr.... and nearly as accurate as match grade jacketed bullets. And perform on game as well as most jacketed bullets..

September 19, 2009, 11:12 AM
factory loads but if you can get leverevolution bullets i recommend it

September 19, 2009, 12:16 PM
Couple folks have said the Deluxe set for the Factory Crimp Die. I checked the Lee and Midway website. Both say that the FCD comes in the Pacesetter set, not the Deluxe set.

Pacesetter: http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=251154
Deluxe: http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=342319

Am I missing something?


September 19, 2009, 02:03 PM
The Pacesetter is the one with the FCD.

The Deluxe includes the Collet Neck Sizing die, which isn't so useful for lever action rifles. Lever actions work much much better when you full length size every time. I have one Marlin that tolerates neck sizing, but the others don't.

As for loads, get the Lyman book. It has a bunch of loads for both jacketed and lead bullets of various sizes. Published loads are best.

Gadzooks Mike
September 19, 2009, 05:27 PM
Oops. You're right, Q. Thanks for correcting that!

September 20, 2009, 03:21 PM
If you have a microgroove 30-30, get some .311" lead bullets.

+1. Lead bullets sized to 0.311" is the "secret sauce" for 336. Don't get hung up on hardness. Size is what's key.

September 20, 2009, 08:11 PM
I have Redding FL die set for 30-30. They send me a different seater plug for the Hornady FTX bullets. Works great.

Used IMR 4064 with 160gr bullets for about 2100fps.

Varget, R15 and AA 2230 work great too.

September 21, 2009, 08:07 AM
A friend is sending me some of his .311 boolits to try for the Marlin, so, yep - i got that covered.

I'm toying with the idea of trying a pistol powder for this experiment - either Unique or 2400 seem to do OK, accd to the castboolits website. AA2300 works for the .30-30? That would be nice, as I could get one powder and cover both .30-30 and .223/5.56. I find it ironic that this powder can serve two cartridges that are almost opposites - slow & heavy vs. fast & light.

I'll have to find a copy of the Lyman book before I go much further, though, just to make sure I'm buying what I really want. While a 1# bottle won't break the bank, no reason to spend $25 on something I really don't want.


September 21, 2009, 01:40 PM
AA2300 works for the .30-30?

A2300 will work, both in the .30-30 & .223, but it's on the fast side. Good, if you like to shoot normal-to-light bullets.

IMO the slightly slower A2460 would be a better choice for normal-to-heavy bullets in both cartridges. It better overlaps the powder "sweet spot" for both the .223 and .30-30.

The .223, especially, likes even slower powders when loaded with the heavy-for-caliber bullets that are popular today.

The .223 and the .30-30 like many of the same powders because they have a similar Expansion Ratio. That's the bore volume divided by the case capacity.

Basically, the .223 has a small bore and a big case. The .30-30 has a big bore and a small case. Mathematically, they look the same.

September 22, 2009, 12:46 AM
Yea, sorry, I should have mentioned using the Sierra 125gr HP with AA2230.

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