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Reloading the .30-30

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Quoheleth, Aug 7, 2008.

  1. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Well-Known Member

    I'm thinking about taking my dad's Marlin .30-30 home with me in a couple days. I've been reloading pistol (.38/.357, .45 and 9mm) for over a year and enjoy it. Mostly, I do lead.

    Before I take Ol' Bessie along with me, I have a couple questions.

    *Can a .30-30 handle hard-cast lead boolits - especially mild-to-medium "plinking" loads - without gaschecks?

    *Having never done rifle ammo, how different is rifle from pistol? For equipment, I have the Lee Turret Press and a Lee Hand Press.

    *Obviously I won't be using something like 2400 for this, but are there any powders that can be double-duty for my pistol loads and light .30-30, or are they completely different ballgames?

    *Anything else I need to know before dropping the $ for a set of dies?

  2. depoloni

    depoloni Well-Known Member

    The 30-30 is one of the better-acquainted rifle calibers to lead/hardcast bullets. It started out 100+ years ago shooting them entirely, if I'm not mistaken (?), before jacketed bullets were in much common use.

    As to your marlin however - if it's got the micro-groove rifling, I've heard from several fellow 30-30 shooters (I have a 'chester) that it does not like cast bullets at ALL.

    I'll have to check through everything and reply back with 2400 loads for the 30-30 - I do believe there are some here somewhere. I know one gentleman who shoots his 170gr hardcast over mild loads of red dot regularly, so it can be done. Just not that common. You'll need, if they'll grip your rifling, to keep velocities mild or suffer heavy leading especially w/o gas checks.

    It's not that different reloading rifle from pistol. I started out a rifle guy about 10 years ago and for 2 years now have been loading for pistols. You'll reload fewer for rifle, and the accuracy you'll demand will (should) be much higher so more time-per-cartridge goes into trimming, you probably won't just drop 100 charges like with pistol and will trickle more, but it's still a lot of fun. And it will really save you some change per-round, much more so than the cheapest pistol calibers like 9mm.
  3. NCsmitty

    NCsmitty Well-Known Member

    Actually Ammoguide lists a 100 gr. jacketed bullet with a max load of 2400 of 26.7gr. Being a relatively fast powder for a rifle, extra care must be taken.
    Check out a Lyman manual as they have cast bullet loads in the data. My 46th edition lists several pistol powders with moderate loads and if you keep velocity under 1400-1500fps, plain hard cast bullets will generally work fine. IE 7.0 gr. of Unique will give a 170 gr. cast bullet about 1240fps and that's a suggested load. Max is 10.6gr. of Unique for 1555fps. Check ebay for used manuals, as you cannot have too many manuals for cross checking loads. The 30-30 responds very well to cast loads.

  4. dakotasin

    dakotasin Well-Known Member

    yes, a 30-30 does fine w/ cast. however, my marlin 336 w/ micro-groove was such a pain to get to shoot cast loads that i abandoned the project and just went w/ sierra jacketed.

    i think *most* rifle ammo is easier than all pistol ammo. the caveat: 30-30 in your tube mag will need a roll crimp. no a big deal, and for your first few loads, i would advise doing your crimping in a second step so you can get the feel of it. make sure the bullets you select have crimp grooves (ie, berrys plated do not).

    i'm not familiar w/ most lee equipment so i will refrain from comment there.

    when i was experimenting w/ cast loads in mine, i ran a lot of unique, 2400, and 110 (i think - can't recall now). however, to bring out the full potential of the 30-30, you will like something like 748, varget, rl-15, or h-380.

    nope, that about covers it. 30-30 is an easy one to handload, and you might surprise yourself about the accuracy capability of the 30-30 in the marlin.

    my handloads cut my factory load group sizes way, way down - enough that i can actually shoot 200 yard groups thru the peep sights and hit stuff on purpose. in fact, after i developed my load (36.4 748, 150 sierra, cci-250) i actually shot the loads over my chronograph, which was placed a foot or so in front of the 200 yard target - and not only did i not hit the chrony, but i picked up some interesting data. this ia stunt i never, ever would've attempted with the factory garbage.

    good luck, and enjoy your rifle!
  5. lgbloader

    lgbloader Well-Known Member

    I'm shooting 30-30 loaded with 160 gr lead flat points backed with about 8 grs of Trail Boss. Fun to plink.
  6. Hiaboo

    Hiaboo Well-Known Member

    I'm using 165/170gr rn/fn sierra's with 30gr varget, works well for me.. Winchester 94. I'm going with 173gr cast w/ gas checks w/ 8gr unique soon to try out.
  7. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Well-Known Member

    REally really clean the bore before shooting cast.I"ve found that lead and copper don't mix wll as far as shooting goes.My old old Marlin would barely hit the barn from the inside until I REALLY scrubbed out the barrel.
    2400 is what my buddy uses in his rifle under a 170 grain cast bullet.works fine.I used Unique because it is what I have plenty of,and it works fine too.Makes a great plinker and gives the Marlin a lot more range/plinking time.
  8. FreeinAZ

    FreeinAZ Well-Known Member

    Have fun with the 30-30. Lee RGB dies are available for 14 bucks if you shop them, so you are not out that much if it does not work out. Only thing to add is that my 30-30 tends to be picky about OAL, and I have heard from a few others with this as well. Let us know how it goes for you!
  9. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Well-Known Member

    Thanks, all, for the comments.

    Couple more specific bullet questions. I'm on my mom's computer and her dial-up is so slow, I'm falling asleep watching pics download on the Midway site...

    Marlin users - a hard lead bullet seems to work for some. Any suggested casters? I'm a Mo. Bullet fan for pistols, but he doesn't make .30 cal rifle yet.

    Is the plated bullet a good option - cheaper than jacketed, but provide a little more "anti-leading" protection?

    Or are jacketed the best bet for the Marlin's micro-groove? If so, who makes a cheap plinker bullet - Hornady, et.al., need not apply.

    And, last, the Lee RGB die is sufficient? Don't get me wrong; I like cheap and $15 is good for me. As long as I don't discover ten rounds into this thing, I should have spent $30 for a PaceSetter die set...

  10. Eb1

    Eb1 Well-Known Member

    I started loading 30-30 with the Lee Loader and a piece of wood. Now I use RCBS Dies and a Lee Hand Press.

    I find that the RCBS dies are giving me enough neck tension not to crimp. I have used the LEE FCD, but I think it stinks. It hasn't proved anything for me. You might have a different experience.

    I might try a roll crimp one day, but the for now I don't need it.. I am only using jacketed bullets though. I am not using cast bullets. You will need the roll crimp if you use cast bullets.
  11. mkl

    mkl Well-Known Member

    I've shot quite a few of these "plinker" bullets in my 30-30.


    They are half-jacket so they will not slip at high velocity even in a micro-groove barrel. Not as cheap as 100% lead, but will give some rather fantastic velocities in the old 30-30.

    Some of the CAS sites can probably give good advice on using lead bullets in micro-groove barrels, if you don't find what you need here.
  12. SteelyNirvana

    SteelyNirvana Well-Known Member

    I load for the 336 and always use the FCD, it works pretty good for me. My Marlin seems to like 150 and 170gr Hornady bullet loads with 3031 or 748.
  13. mainebear

    mainebear Well-Known Member

    I find that with RCBS dies if I don't use the FCD it's hard to get the right crimp without damaging the case. (no it's not an overlubing problem). For some reason the 30-30 case has always been a little easier to distort than say a 308 or 30-06. The FCD, for me anyway, does a fantastic job.
  14. fastbike

    fastbike Well-Known Member

    I load for 30-30 with a Lee turret and Lee dies. No problems. I like the FCD. It will work fine if set correctly.
  15. Hiaboo

    Hiaboo Well-Known Member

    What would I use for a 119gr cast bullet? I want to use unique... How many gr's?
  16. fastbike

    fastbike Well-Known Member

    Download the alliant manual.
  17. Hiaboo

    Hiaboo Well-Known Member

    I have, and there's no information in there for the 30-30 in that gr size for lead. There is for 110 jacketed but? note -- using unique.

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