Trailboss in .30-30


February 19, 2012, 06:27 AM
I have had a win 94 30-30 for a bit, and finally decided to start reloading for it. Got some Lee equipment, which except the scale I am very happy with.

So I checked the recommended load for .30-30 using Trailboss 6.5 to 9 grains! Using a 165 grain cast projectile.

I loaded up 20 rounds with 7.2 grains I was anticipating ~1000 fps, got only ~850! I don't care about the speed, I wanted light plinking loads for fun, but this was terrible, i must have set a record for the most inaccurate load at the range! The group, if you could call it that was about 2 foot, and all the bullets where tumbling, a couple even hit the target side on!

I assume, this must be due to the bullet achieving insufficient velocity/pressure to stabilize? Any other suggestions?

The barrel was clean! The bullet jump was about .020" and the OAL was 2.524".

I think I am going to try 8.7 grains and if its no better use 4198 (granted for 1500fps) instead!

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February 19, 2012, 08:12 AM
I don't know what bullet you were using, but I had almost identical results loading Trail Boss under some cast bullets in my wife's .38 Special. An online mentor on another forum told me that the bullets I was using were too hard for the pressures Trail Boss generates so the bullet would not obturate and ended up tumbling. I was using bullets that run BHN 24. I switched to BHN 12 bullets. Now we are working up new lightly recoiling loads that are decently accurate.


February 19, 2012, 08:31 AM
I agree that the hard cast bullets need more pressure to seal the chamber with lead bullets. Trail Boss works best with soft low pressure lead bullets.I use it with most pistol/revolver round loadings and like it there. With .310 Laser Cast bullets in the 30-30 I use propellants that produce more pressure such as 4198, 4895, or 3031. I prefer 3031 with my Marlin 336 rifles with the microgroove barrel but with the Win 94 they will be happy with any of the above mentioned. Also if you cast your own a slightly larger diameter bullet say .310-.311 will seal better with the Trail Boss and work for you if the rounds will chamber with the larger neck size. I had trouble in my Marlin with the larger bullets so beware of that.:)

February 19, 2012, 11:22 AM
I've had very good luck with Trail Boss in 30-30, but I use lighter bullets and more powder. 150 grain flat points over 7.0 TB give me 1128 fps and good accuracy, so I suspect you are close to stability. Shovel on the coal and try again.

Another issue might be your rifle if you are shooting a Marlin with micro groove rifling.

February 19, 2012, 02:46 PM
Hey, Win - if you don't like TrailBoss, Unique works well for me in my Marlin. I am going from memory so please confirm, but I am thinking I use about 10gr Unique under my 165gr cast lead bullet sized .311 for my Marlin 336. I found this load to be accurate with no leading. Its definitely a plinker load, and I wouldn't use it for hunting other than the smallest of game. Velocity was, per the manual, @ 1100fps.


February 19, 2012, 09:48 PM
With .309 Laser Cast bullets in the 30-30 I use propellants that produce more pressure such as 4198, 4895, or 3031. I prefer 3031 with my Marlin 336 rifles with the microgroove barrel but with the Win 94 they will be happy with any of the above mentioned..

Frogo, what is your 3031 load? I have some Missouri Bullet 165 and 135 grain boolits that I want to load. I've considered Unique but feel like the case is too large and want to use a bulkier powder. I have plenty od 3031 on hand and would like to give it a try.

Ron in Texas

35 Whelen
February 19, 2012, 11:22 PM
Like someone else said, get some Unique, or better yet, Red Dot. Start out with about 7.0 grs of Red Dot, max will probably be about 11 grs. I've never tried Trail Boss because IMHO it's a solution to a problem that doesn't, or at least shouldn't, exist; people double-charging cases. i.e.- careless handloading.
Hard bullets are OK, but they really need to be .001" or so over groove diameter. I cast everything from air-cooled wheelweights that come out about 12-13 BHN and run them anywhere from 750 fps in a 38 Spec on up to close to 2000 fps in a couple of hunting rifles.
If I'm in a hurry to shoot a particular bullet, I'll drop them from the mould directly into a 5 gal bucket of water. These typically come out around 22 BHN.


El Guero
February 19, 2012, 11:46 PM
I've done a little loading for .30-30 with Trail Boss and had decent results. I've been using the .310 Laser Cast 170gn bullets in my Microgroove Marlin 336. I've been going a hair over Hodgdon's max load for a 160gn bullet; they say 9.0gn max Trail Boss, I've been going 9.5. I haven't worried about it as they say for any rifle round, you can load Trail Boss all the way up under the bullet and not have problems.

I have been having good luck with this load. I haven't shot it much past 30 yards, but at that range it groups well enough for a plinker and I haven't seen any leading. I would try loading it closer to the max instead of the low end and see if you have better luck.

February 20, 2012, 05:12 AM
I have found you get better results when using Trail boss when you load it up near the top of the charge range. Like suggested above try upping the charge weight a bit.

February 21, 2012, 04:50 AM
A couple of questions as a newbie to reloading.

1) The MAX OAL for aq 30-30 is stated as being 2.550", I have been advised to seat the bullet so it touches the rifling, which would be an OAL of 2.627" is this okay so long a it feeds from the magazine and will only be used in that rifle?

2) Hodgdon list a max load of 9 grains for a 160 grain cast bullet, I am using a 165 grain bullet. I have made up some 8 and some 9 grain loads to try out. I have again been advised that a 10.5 grain load work well for accurate shooting! Is a 10.5 grain load safe. This is what Hodgdon state on there website

"Find where the base of the bullet to be loaded is located in the case and make a mark on the outside of the case at
this location. Then fill the case to that mark with Trail Boss, pour into the scale pan and weigh. This is your
maximum load. Pressures will be below the maximum allowed for this cartridge and perfectly safe to use!"

But that is 11 grains not 9! I am confused is it safe or not. Extrapolation of pressure leads me to believe a 10.5 grain load would be around 35,000 CUP and the 30-30 is good for ~38,000. However I know that pressure curves are not straight lines and pressure might increase exponentially at a certain point. I am confused!

Would I be better just to use unique if the 9 grains of Trailboss does not work? If so might have to try and sell the 5 lbs I have got!

A Pause for the Coz
February 21, 2012, 07:12 AM
Here is my 2 bits.
I shoot TB in both my 30-30's Marlin 336 and Savage 340 bolt action.
I get excellent results with 9 grains of Trail Boss in both guns. You should be able to clover leaf at 50 yards... EASY

I have never tried lower volumes of this powder because I tried 9 and it was good.
I am not a expert on powder. But there is something strange with Trail Boss. It has high pressure but low power. I think the pressure is the key to how it works. I think it fools your gun into thinking it firing a higher power load.

One powder you may want to try is Universal. You get the same results as Unique but it meters allot better. I ran a ladder in my 340 to find a good load.
starting at 7 grains on up to 11.5 gr in 1/2 gr increments.
Performance of pistol powders in rifles are real sensitive to barrel harmonics.
Your barrel vibrates up and down when you fire. Your trying to find the sweet spot where you bullet is exiting the barrel at the same point during the wave.

Also remember to fire a few (two or three) rounds to foul the barrel. Other wise you will almost always get at least one flyer.

I watched my group start at about 2.5 inches at 50 yards and with each 1/2 grain higher it shrunk to 1/2 inch at 8.5 grains. Then it opened back up. at 11.5 grains it was 6 inches at 50 yards.
Well that sold me. You cant just willy nilly pick a load for cast pistol powder loads in rifles. You need to search for it.

I tried the 8.5 gr load in the 336. Shot great. Thats my go to load.
I am sure i can run another ladder from 8 to 9 grains in 10th grain increments. But no need I am happy with it as is.

Thats the same load with 150 gr and 170 gr hard cast or softer. Both shoot fine.
Its the 8.5 grains of Universal thats main ingredient. 8 grains of Unique. It seems to take .5 gr more of universal to = Unique.

So my unscientific results show me. Trail Boss likes full(er) loads. And other pistol powders like lighter loads.

February 21, 2012, 07:17 AM
With Trail Boss in rifles with a plated or jacketed bullet I am of the opinion nothing is worth fooling with other than 100% load density. Lead may be different.

February 22, 2012, 01:09 AM
What ever you do, DO NOT compress Trail Boss. Breaking up the powder "donuts" can and will cause pressure spikes. If you tested the load and you can fit 11.0gr into the case without compressing the powder then it's safe to shoot according to Hodgdon. (as long as you don't compress the powder) According to Hodgdon you can not fit enough Trail Boss in any cartridge to cause an overpressure problem. (again, without compression)

You are correct, Hodgdon is giving us conflicting data by having a Max charge listed on their site that does not conform with their case loading advice BUT, I think that load advice was for cartridges where no load data was supplied.

February 22, 2012, 07:19 AM
The load I use was from the old Lyman # 40 handbook from 1955. It shows a 169 grain cast gas check bullet with 33.0 grains of 3031 MAX and the suggested (starting) load was 30.0 grains. I am using the .310 170 grain Laser Cast bullets and my accuracy load is 31.6 grains of 3031 in my Marlin 336. I would work up to this especially because this is data from an OLD book and the recommendations now may be different. Also I am not using a gas check and the rifleing in a standard 30-30 might chew the bullet up and just spit it out with poor accuracy. I have not looked at the newer data to confirm this load is still OK but you should if you have access to it.

February 24, 2012, 11:57 PM
I have never used Trail Boss in .30-30 Win. However, my go-to plinking load is 20.0 grains of H-4895 with a 165 grain lrnfp hard cast bullet seated to the cannelure and held with a firm crimp. Nice load, about 1450 fps, with minimal recoil and very slight leading. No problem to clean up after.

February 25, 2012, 04:19 AM
Well I had another go with TB today! I loaded up some 8.2gns and some 9.2gns loads! There was no sign of tumbling at 50 yards at 8.2gns, and I got a couple of 1 1/2" groups at 50 using 9.2gns. So not excellent by any means I wanted to get 5/8 - 3/4" groups at 50 off a bench! But at least know I see hope for TB. One of the guys there was using 10.5gns with the same projectile and getting tight groups at 50 yards, it was blowing out to 4" at a 100 yards though. I don't like groups bigger than 2" at that range!

So I am going to try some more 9.2gn loads and 10gn loads next weekend. I will also try some 4198 loads I think 16gns!

Thanks for the input guys!

February 25, 2012, 05:59 AM
Wait a minute, you got a 1.5" group with a 30-30 levergun and you don't think that's good? Really? Leverguns were never meant to be target guns and will not match a bolt cation rifle most times. I would think a 1.5" group is a good showing for most leverguns.

February 25, 2012, 07:38 AM
Wait a minute, you got a 1.5" group with a 30-30 levergun and you don't think that's good? Really? Leverguns were never meant to be target guns and will not match a bolt cation rifle most times. I would think a 1.5" group is a good showing for most leverguns.

Don't get me wrong its a fair group, and I am happy because I have not really tweaked the load at all. But my 22 bl 24" can drive a dozen in to and inch at 50 yards with a scope and I get around double that with peeps! I am by no means the best lever action shooter at the club, we have an 82 year old guy who can shoot a .218 Bee Marlin lever, sitting unsupported for a 5 shot 2" group at a 100 yards! so the competition is stiff!

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