Strong points: .30-30 vs .44mag Leverguns


August 21, 2004, 07:47 AM
A friend of mine is bent on buying a lever gun, he just doesn't know what caliber yet. He got the bug after playing around with my .44mag Marlin M94.

He stumped me with a simple question that I couldn't find a definitive answer for: What are the strong points of the .30-30 Winchester and .44 Remington magnum out of a lever gun?
The only thing I could think of was "advantage of range versus advantage of magazine capacity".
I told him both likely had the same muzzle energy out of a carbine-length barrel, but that the .44 would likely lose much of that after 100 yards when compared to the .30-30win.

He's now under the impression the .44mag delivers more punch within 100 yards, but the .30-30, with its flatter trajectory, gives a rifleman perhaps around 50 or so yards more range to work with. Is this accurate enough to be left alone, or should some other facts be pointed out?

He's looking for a lever gun "just to have",possibly to be used on deer in the near future, using iron sights only. However, the rifle will be more of a bane to tin cans and paper targets than any animal. He’s also not interested in the .444, .45-70, .35rem or anything else that can be found in a lever gun… just the .30-30 or .44mag.

I also (hopefully not erroneously) told him a .44mag might be cheaper to feed as far as plinking is concerned. Did I fib on that one?

So, here’s the summarized question if you believe you can help shed some light:

What (in a ballistic sense) sets the .30-30win and .44rem magnum apart from each other in terms of abilities/uses (if any) when fired out of a carbine-length lever gun? This would include ranges and types of game one could hunt.

Thanks in advance.

If you enjoyed reading about "Strong points: .30-30 vs .44mag Leverguns" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
Plain Old Bill
August 21, 2004, 08:48 AM
Penetration, which I guess ballistically translates to retained energy at distance...also, effective range (44 mags are nice, I own a few, but the 30-30 shoots flatter and retains more energy.)
Not an expert, but have had not a small amount of experience with .357 and .44 leverguns. Truthfully, I'd even go on to a .35, 7-30 Waters, or .348 or .307 if I could find one. I got better results with deer. With the pistol cartridges, I ended up chasing wounded deer all over the place despite good bullet placement.
Others may have had different experiences. Incidentally, I hunt with milsurps now...but still carry my Dan Wesson .44 mag for really close shots.

August 21, 2004, 09:59 AM
If you live in Illinois the advantage may be that the state allows pistol caliber carbines to be used in selected counties to harvest deer next season.
I killed my first deer with a .30/30 and will always have a soft spot for that caliber.
You can cleanly kill ANYTHING that walks or crawls on this continant and kill it cleanly and legally out to 200 meters with a .30/30. You can't do that with a .44 magnum.

August 21, 2004, 09:59 AM
For all practical purposes, they are identical in performance. I have taken deer and hog with both, and I see absolutly no difference in how they work. Neither is a long range proposition. Both are great in brush, and at short ranges (under 150 yards). Neither are tack drivers, but the accuracy of both are adequate for hunting at shorter ranges.

I would recommend looking for the best deal, not the best of two well matched calibers.

August 21, 2004, 11:01 AM
Check out the following chart, it's a wealth of info.

Up to 150 yards or so, I would rather have the 44 Rem Mag. It provides a ton of knock down power with the larger bullet. 105gr more bullet weight in a .44 caliber sized bullet, produces a bigger hole and hits awful hard. Past that range the effectiveness of accuracy becomes challenging.

The .30-30 is a better performer at distances of roughly 175 yards on out to 250 yards assuming a 100 yard zero. The drop of 19" is still manageable on whitetail sized game with the use of iron sights.

If you were to boost these 44 Mag's up to Buffalo Bore specs, there would not even be a question of which to use in the under 150-200 yard range. When your tossing 275gr and 305gr bullets around with that much power and doing so out of carbine length barrels and longer, the game you hit drops like a swatted fly, I guarantee it.

Rem ballistics comparison of these two cartridges (

August 21, 2004, 11:04 AM
you got it right i have both (30-30&44) out to 150 yrds. target won't know the differance, 30-30 has some advantage out to 200-250 but open sites may negate most of that. the 44 will offer more types of factory loaded bullets and may be slightly more economicalto reload if that will be an option in the future, unless this is going to be a dedicated scoped hunting rifle i would be leaning toward the 44 (you can use 44 special for target shooting) it is the one that comes with me to the woods with me more than the 30-30.

Doug S
August 21, 2004, 01:09 PM
There is a good thread on this topic over in the Non-Glock Firearms section of Glock-Talk. Consensus there seems to be that the 30-30 is superior.

August 21, 2004, 02:06 PM

Remington Express .30-30 170gr. Soft Point Core Lokt muzzle velocity 2200, 100 yards 1895, 200 yards 1619

Remington Express .44 Mag 240gr. Soft Point muzzle velocity 1760, 100 yards 1380, 200 yards 1114


Remington Express 170gr. Soft Point Core Lokt Muzzle 1827, 100 yards1355, 200 yards 989
Remington Express 240gr. Soft Point Muzzle 1650, 100 yards 1015, 200 yards 661

At The Muzzle they are close in power, but at 100 yards the 30-30 has 30% MORE power. The .44 is dandy, but it's NOT a 'rifle' cartidge, it has limitations.

You can buy a box of .30-30 at any Walmart for less than $10/20 rds
A box of .44 can run you $20/50

Comparisons were made with a 24 inch .30-30 vs. a 20 inch .44 barrel... I doubt the extra 4 inches would even them up more.

And zero them both at 100 yards, the .30-30 drops 8 inches at 200, the .44 drops 17 inches! Talk about a rainbow-like trajectory.

August 21, 2004, 02:36 PM

Which is why the .44 Rem Mag mag is a better choice for 150 yards and less, beyond that the 30-30 is the better choice. I've seen many deer hit with 30.30's and run like the wind. Hit em with a big ole 44 caliber bullet that weighs another 105 to 135grs and they drop like a rag doll, up to a distance.

.30-30 on top, .44 on bottom.

VELOCITY (ft/sec)
Cartridge Type Bullet Muzzle 100 200 300 400 500

Remington Express 170 HP CL 2200 1895 1619 1381 1191 1061
Remington Express 275 JHP CL 1580 1293 1093 976 896 832

ENERGY (ft-lbs)
Cartridge Type Bullet Muzzle 100 200 300 400 500

Remington Express 170 HP CL 1827 1355 989 720 535 425
Remington Express 275 JHP CL 1524 1020 730 582 490 422

Cartridge Type Bullet............50 100 150 200 250 300

Remington Express 170 HP CL 0.3 zero -2.7 -8.3 -17.1 -29.9
Remington Express 275 JHP CL 1.4 zero -6.6 -19.4 -39.2 -67.5

I don't know about others, but where I hunt whitetails 99% of your shots are under 150 yards and most of them within 50 yards. Even at 150 yards there is only a difference of 4 inches in drop, no biggy.

August 22, 2004, 02:36 AM
200,300, 400, and 500 how is the .44 better? I like my .44 levergun, but I think the .30/30 is a better killer. I have seen the opposite happen, with the .44 sailing right through and the .30/30 expanding and dropping the deer. I really do not think that the difference is that great except of the fact that .30/30 is much easier to buy. It seems that the .44 needs some type of specialty load to get clean/quick kills whereas the .30/30 seem to work well with the generic wallyworld type loads.

simpler/easier works better for me.


August 22, 2004, 11:58 AM
Both will kill a deer... but based on the math, the .30-30 has significantly more power.

The .44 is fun to shoot, and throws a nice big bullet, but there are other factors in what makes a good hunting round.

For those who say, "yeah well with Garret cast-core blah blah" I wonder if Garret, Cor-Bon etc make a .30-30 load too. If you can hot rod a .44, why can't they hot rod a .30-30?

Anyway the point of my post is that even from a rifle, the .44 still doesn't have the power of a .30-30, even with the heaviest loads.

Both are fun to shoot, though the .44 holds more bullets. A scope on a .44 seems a waste while a scope on a .30-30 seems "optional."

I prefer Marlin over Winchester in either caliber.

PAC 762
August 22, 2004, 04:07 PM
In my parts, .44 reloads can be had for $12/50 rounds. They are also easy to reload quickly on a cheap lee progressive reloader for half that price or less*. If I were going to buy a levergun primarily for plinking, I would be more inclined to go this route. Either one will kill a deer with correct bullet placement.

*I don't have much experience reloading rifle rounds, but my understanding is that there are no inexpensive progressive reloading presses that can do a .30-30 sized cartridge.

August 22, 2004, 04:22 PM
My own preference is the 44. I like having a rifle and handgun that use the same ammo. I don't shoot factory loads and if your friend doesn't reload, that might tip the decision in favor of the 30-30.

Bill St. Clair
August 22, 2004, 08:14 PM
I have never fired a .30-30. I recently purchased a Marlin 1894P in .44 magnum. I also have a 444P. I have loaded and fired both magnum and Cowboy action loads from the .44. If he's using it primarly for plinking, and he loads his own or is willing to learn, I'd go with Cowboy action loads from the .44. What a blast! I leave the range smiling and shouting. And it costs only ten cents a round (4 cents for a 200 grain lead bullet, 2 cents for a large pistol primer, 2 cents for 7.5 grains of Universal powder, and 2 cents for 1/8 of a 16 cent case, though I haven't fired them enough to know if I'll get 8 loads from a case).

August 22, 2004, 09:33 PM

You sure about your statement for pistol cal carbine in IL?
that the state allows pistol caliber carbines

I just looked at the IL DNR and they don't make any mention of that...only that you can't use a pistol that can be shot from the shoulder. Is that something new for next year I haven't heard about?

Also, cleanly kill ANYTHING that walks or crawls on this continant and kill it cleanly and legally out to 200 meters with a .30/30

Uh, you first. I'm not a magnum freak but no way would I go after a brown bear or moose with a .30/30. Yes, elephants have been killed with .22 LR but I don't really think the .30-30 is a great dangerous game cartridge. Most elk outfitters wouldn't let you in their camp.

August 22, 2004, 10:17 PM
For those who say, "yeah well with Garret cast-core blah blah" I wonder if Garret, Cor-Bon etc make a .30-30 load too. If you can hot rod a .44, why can't they hot rod a .30-30?

I am sure you can hot-rod anything if desired. But these "hot-rod" cartridges are readily available, no needs to be considered "special", I can buy them as easy as I can buy any other.

Buffalo Bore Heavy .44 Mag Ammo

Ballistics From Handgun, length not mention. Prob 7-8 inches?

305 gr. L.B.T.- L.F.N. (1325 fps / M.E. 1189 ft. lbs.)
(Big game up to 1000 lbs.)

300 gr. Speer J.F.N. (1300 fps / M.E. 1126 ft. lbs.)
(Big game up to 1000 lbs.)

270 gr. Speer Gold Dot. (1450 fps / M.E. 1260 ft. lbs.)
(Big game up to 800 lbs.)

Cor-Bon .44 Mag

Ballistics From Handgun

44MAG -- 320gr HC -- 1270fps/1146ftlbs

44MAG -- 305gr FPPN -- 1300fps/1145ftlbs

44MAG -- 260gr BCHP -- 1450fps/1214ftlbs

Make them all rifle length ballistics and they become super bad a$$! I am not sure but, I don't think many .30-30's are recommended for 1000 pound game? As mentioned, add the fun factor of a handgun cartridge, total capacity of rounds, using lighter loads for cheap and fun plinking, sharing with a .44 Mag handgun that rides on your hip and you have a whale of a combo! Up to 150 or so yards, bring on the beasts!

Uh Oh, they make .44 special Home Defense Loads too that can be used in the same lever gun and .44 special loads with a 255gr Keith Cast SWC bullet for game up to 500 pounds. Holy frickin moley, now that would be one vesatile Lever Gun!

Dr.Rob, agreed, no need to mount a scope unless it's a Dot Scope.

If you enjoyed reading about "Strong points: .30-30 vs .44mag Leverguns" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!