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Reload 30-30? How to increase your case life.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Hummer70, Jul 23, 2013.

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  1. Hummer70

    Hummer70 Member

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    It has been a long time since I have loaded 30-30 and since I just got a 336 Texan at a sale I pulled out my dies and started loading up some ammo to give her a run around the coral.

    First load I tried was 35 gr. 4895 with Sierra 150 bullets.

    Since I last loaded 30-30 I have become enlightened and done got me some book learnin! ! ! ! I found out about case gages about fifteen years back which allows one to take a fired case and adjust your FL die until the shoulder just sets back .001 to .002".

    I am not sure if RCBS makes a Precision Mic for 30-30 so I made my own as I have a 30-30 chamber reamer. UPDATE: Apparently they do not, least ways Midway doesn't list one for it so it looks like you will need to make your own.

    I took a section of 30 cal barrel and chucked it up and turned the outside of the barrel the same size for about 1/8" longer than a 30-30 case. I then ran the reamer in until a FL sized 30-30 case went all the way in to the rim.

    I pulled barrel section out and cut it off about 1/8" in front of the neck and faced it off.

    I then went back and took stock off the back of the barrel until a FL sized case would go in, contact ONLY the shoulder and still be sticking out the back of the barrel section an estimated .075". In short the case will be sticking out of the barrel section about .075" which is what you want.

    After I filed off the sharp shoulder, I came in and set up my bench inspection gage and slid in a FL sized case. I calibrated my bench inspection gage to zero on the case gage surface,put in a FL sized case an slid it under dial indicator and the case was sticking up .082". The die was set up to size about .020" off the shell holder! ! ! !

    Hold on to your lolly pops sports fans ! ! !! The 14 fired cases I had shot yesterday measured from .088 to .102" high which means the case shoulders moved forwards from .008 thru .020" ! !! !! With that much forward movement cases will stretch near the head giving insipient separation quickly.

    I took the longest cases .102 and readjusted the FL die till the shoulders of the fired cases moved back .002". Thusly a .102" high case sized and put back in gage will only show it is .100 to .101" high. This means I will get a much longer case life on my brass as the case shoulder barely moves.

    To adjust a FL die without a gage remove your expander decap assembly and back your FL die off and run lubed case in and look at neck to see if your die is at the bottom of the neck and turn your die in about 1/16th turn and keep running case in.

    Keep easing it down till it "feels" different at the top of the stroke and you should see evidence of die contact with case shoulder. Stop right there.

    To make sure you are good to go take this empty case (wipe off lube) and place it in chamber and close lever to make sure there is no bind and the lever comes all the way in. Set your die to size right there. As long as the shoulders just clear there should be no hindrance to closing lever/bolt.

    Now one more tip, I decap all my cases with a Lee universal decap die. I do not use the neck expander in the normal sense in that you are stretching the neck lengthwise when the ball comes back up through the neck.

    My cases are cleaned with stainless steel pins in a tumbler so are quite clean and I then put expander assembly back in die and ease it in top of FL sized cases. This expands the neck in the same way but does not stretch it. This will also increase brass life.

    I looked at my 30-30 die in relation to shell holder and there is lots of gap. I estimate if I ran my FL die till it touched the shell holder the shoulder would be set back .040"+! ! !! ! Such a large shoulder movement would ruin the cases quickly.

    Bottom line is you should never get insipient separation lines on your cases if the dies are adjusted properly. If you care for your cases you should be able to reload them till the primer pockets get loose. Hint: If you get a box of Wolf (Russian) Primers, they are slightly larger diameter than ours and the primers will fit much nicer for a few more rounds.

    Since RCBS apparently does not make the Precision Mic in 30-30 and you shoot lots of 30-30 it will pay you get a gunsmith with a 30-30 reamer to make you one as described above. You can also accomplish the measurement with a dial caliper from front of gage to back of case head inserted in gage.
    I estimate this will tripple the life of your 30-30 brass if you adjust FL die correctly.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2013
  2. easy

    easy Member

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    What? No pics of the tool build? I'm a visual guy, without your cool machine tools.
     
  3. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    I doubt if many of us will hack up a barrel to make the gauging tool. But I appreciate the thought process and plan on using your methodology to make up something similar that I can use to gauge my own .30-30 casings.

    THANKS ! ! ! ! ! That was a post with a LOT of great hints and information.

    Perhaps some enterprising home shop guy will invest in a .30-30 chamber die and make up a little batch of these shoulder gauges. I'd buy one for sure. If I don't see them appear soon I may even be the guy with the shop, once the renos are done, that makes the gauges for the rest of us.
     
  4. Dentite

    Dentite Member

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    That is a hot load. My two manuals that I have handy show 30 and 31 grains as max loads with H4895 and 150gr bullets.

    Not saying it's not safe, but it's hot and in the long run it might not be safe.

    Just a heads up.
     
  5. Muddydogs

    Muddydogs Member

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    Why not use the Hornady head space gauge to set your dies so you are only bumping the shoulder back a little? Unless I am misunderstanding the OP I didn't think setting the dies was all that involved.
     
  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    When short case life is talked about the 30-30 does not come to mind. For me 30-30 brass seems to last forever since it's a very low pressure round.
     
  7. blarby

    blarby Member

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    Not with 35grs of H4895 it aint.

    FWIW, many of the precision mics can be used for other caliber shoulder checks...
     
  8. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    That's a very good point. How about under normal loading? LOL :banghead:
     
  9. blarby

    blarby Member

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    I got on average of 9 loadings with non FC headstamps.

    It was the first rifle cartridge I reloaded for.

    FC's just blew the necks out more than 50% of the time after the 2nd or 3rd loading. I traded those away. ( the cases I got after that in .30-30 that were federal- not the ones that were blown. That looks bad after reading it a dozen times...)


    I was able to get longer life by adjusting my FL die, with expert guidance from RC, to just under my chamber dimensions.

    Then I traded away the dang gun :cuss:

    But, its bore was more than shot out, and I got more than fair value for it with that in mind.

    Now that Marlin as we knew it is gone, I wish I had kept it and rebbld it- it'll probably be worth a gogillion dollars in 30 years.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2013
  10. Manny

    Manny Member

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    In another way to go about it, one of the biggest benefits to rechambering to .30-30 Acklie Improved has always been the almost complete elimination of case stretching. To my mind any gain in performance is secondary to that. Plus fhe rifle still has the ability to fire standard ammo, which ejects fire-formed to .30-30AI. I see nothing but upside on that conversion. Not that I own one, my interst came from when I owned a Browning M71 repro in .348 Winchester and was looking for a way to extend the life of those pricy and uncommon cases. Going to an AI chamber accomplished the same thing, though I never did it as I sold off the rifle.
     
  11. evan price

    evan price Member

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    It's a real nice setup you have and it's cool that you could knock that together.
    However a guy like me has no access to a lot of the tools and things that you used to do it and the expense is not viable.
    I'll just load up my 30-30s a few times and live with it.
     
  12. Hummer70

    Hummer70 Member

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    Mo Defina (if I am not mistaken) is the one that came up with the case gage 20 years??? ago.

    Highpower shooters went ape over them quickly. Just drop a fired case in gage, look at the micrometer head piece which by the way ZEROS on a GO Gage and you know exactly how far your shoulders move.

    You then put case in FL die and size it and put it MO Gage and you will see exactly where your shoulder locates and you set your FL die exactly where you want it.

    On my barreling jobs I headspace to snug on a GO GAGE thusly when I fire a case I pop it in MO GAGE and they generally read .001 to .002" forward movement. On about one fourth of my dies adjusting the die down till it contacts the shell holder will not take the shoulder back to zero so I had to chuck dies in lathe and take off about .010" as I don't need the shell holder to contact the die and I can make infinite adjustments.

    I had dies that when cases were removed even touching shell holders that indicated the die did not size to base of neck which obviously means the shoulder was not touched in the process. The guy that trained me at the Army Small Cal Lab clued me in that he had been trimming die bottoms off since the 1950s when he would take his in to Springfield Armory and go in shop after work and use a lathe to "fix" them.

    I had one that was so deeply chambered I had to cut it three times for a total of .025" stock removal before it would size correctly. This is not restricted to one die manufacturer I can assure you guys. Right now I have dies for like 53 calibers and probably have 65-70 dies as I have dupes.

    Another thing I have found is die bodies size cases at different diameters. For instance I have 30.06 dies that size .466, .467, 469 and .470. The 470 one was polished out to that dim, the others are the way they came from manufacturer. I use the .470 die on the factory chambered rifles which come .471-.473 diameter. I believe if you mic factory ammo you will find the base dimension is .465. My custom reamers chamber at .467 and .469 thusly on the .467 chamber I size those with .466 die. The .469 chamber is sized with .467 or .469.

    The theory being if it doesn't move it can't wear out.



    I try to do all my barrel jobs on the 222 principle. That means no part of the brass moves over .002" when fired. On factory chambers this is not possible as most have big necks. But on my custom reamers the lower dimension measured .200" up from rim does not expand over .002", the shoulder does not move over .002 and the neck does not open over .002"

    I have one LC 66 30.06 Match case I have loaded 157 times and it is still nice. They have hard case heads and they don't open up like commercial brass. It is nothing to get 100 reloads on 7.62 LC M118 cases in my snug chambers.

    I have 500 30.06 Match cases dedicated for my No 1 match rifle. Been shooting them since 1983 and they are on their third barrel with no signs of getting tired.

    Now on the 35 grain load of 4895 my Lyman book calls for up to 36 grains. As indicated in the orginal post my shoulders are not even blowing out to the .102 dimension with 35 grains. I have no hard openings, no cratered primers or other signs of high pressures.

    When I get time I will step load a series and shoot them at either 200 or 300 yards to determine the best load starting at 33 grains and work up.

    Blarby has the concept down perfect. I literally cannot remember the last time I loaded 30-30 ammo which may have been the 80s???? I think it has been that long since I owned a 30-30 and I kept accumulating brass hand me downs and now I have a full 30 cal can and 100 extra in boxes so I am set for life on that.

    Blarby, how many rounds did you have on your Marlin when you dumped it?

    When I take off a barrel I save it for other uses. I have made bedding pillars, tool handles etc with them. I knew another guy that used them as rebar on concrete projects he was into. My theory is the only thing I throw away is the chips from the lathe and mill. I have even gone so far as to make sleeves from the chamber sections, bore them out and thread them 7/8X ??? some fine thread from a tap I found at a flea market and thread the outside of a barrel to match and screw them together and it works just fine. I have a P14 action so set up as a slave receiver with different barrels chambered just to fire form cases and not burn up new match barrels doing so.

    I also make case neck gages. As OP lays out chuck old barrel up, turn outside cylinder and sqare back. Run chamber reamer in till about 1/8" of shoulder goes in. Take barrel out and saw it off and then face off front end removing stock down to a slight shoulder. This way you can slide your fired cases or sized cases in and see exactly where your case neck is in relation to the end of the chamber.

    On tight neck guns I try every loaded round in the gage to make absolutely sure there will be no interference in chambering the round in the rifle chambered with same reamer. I can turn my case necks to .001" smaller than chamber and try them all to make sure there is no interference to chambering.

    With necks this snug you can just tumble clean your cases and reload them as they will have spring back enough on firing to hold follow on bullets and they have no need to see a die. Obviously they won't take feeding from magazine but work just fine for single feeding for accuracy.

    Theoretically the short gage could be used the same as the one I just made. I will try and make some pictures up of the process for you guys.

    One more thing, throw the gage in die box and you know right where it is.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013
  13. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Wow, that is a whole lot of information, talent and knowledge. For us "mortals" I think I will just buy another bag of brass.;)
     
  14. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    Get a proper case gage.

    The RCBS Precision Mic gage will allow you to size the shoulder of the case to a consistent dimension, and a dimension that is best-compatible with your rifle.

    Squashing the shoulder back many thou on each resizing is to be avoided.

    ETA, evidently RCBS does not make the Precision Mic in 30-30.
    So get the Hornady tool instead.
    http://www.hornady.com/store/Headspace-Gauge-Bushings/
    Use the 0.375 bushing (Bushing "C")
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    In my opinion, the "drop-in" gages are vastly inferior to the micrometer and caliper gages.
    .
    .
    ..
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2013
  15. Hummer70

    Hummer70 Member

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    Had not seen them so had to look around a bit and get read up on them and it appears they will do the same thing insofar as shoulder location is concerned.

    I guess I will stick with mine as I also get to look in front of gage to see exactly where the case mouth is locating to know if it is in need of trimming case mouth.
     
  16. 3006mv

    3006mv Member

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    Have you tried Neck size only?
     
  17. Hummer70

    Hummer70 Member

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    I will probably do some necksize on the second go around. First off I am more or less dedicating 50 cases to this rifle. Just yesterday I got a ammo box (50 rd) for 30-30 and I am going to make the first run through trying to work up loads.

    Then I will tumble clean them in stainless media and start going through them again and most likely will neck size then just to get the shoulders blown out to fit the chamber.

    I will also do some testing with single shot loading pointed match bullets just to test the capability of the barrel with a known good bullet design.

    Once I get them fireformed to that chamber I will do a step load series to determine what it likes and work from there.
     
  18. 3006mv

    3006mv Member

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    Are you just plinking? Consider lead and plated bool it's unde 1500 fps, your brass will not grow.
     
  19. Hummer70

    Hummer70 Member

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    Eventually it will be a truck gun for whatever comes up. May have the first round out be a AP round pulled from 30.06 should the need arise to modify an engine block.

    I also have a 230 gr bullet mold for the 300 Blackout round which could be an interesting first out bullet as well loaded at 1100 fps.
     
  20. blarby

    blarby Member

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    Unfortunately, not possible. You NEED to FL size for leverguns. You can move them LESS... you cannot leave the case at the fired form. It just doesn't work.


    For a truck gun, I dun really see the point- but hey, they are your bullets.

    You should do the energy math of a 170gr at say 2200 FPS vs a 230g at 1100 FPS.

    Again, I'd just go back to bullet speed and mass. A black tip AP round isn't going to do what you think it will out of a .30-30


    But all of this is moot, if you don't at least partially FL size, very soon you will hit that cartridge that won't chamber, and jams half in and half out around your feed ramp. At that point, you might as well make sure and carry some duct tape to put around the handle- cuz clubbin' is all its gonna be good for until you get tools and a bench on it.

    Believe me, I know- because i've done it.

    I basically set my die to just bump back a bit- not to factory spec. After 8 or 9 firings, the dreaded ring still showed up. This was way better than the 4 or 5 I was geting before RC worked me through it.

    That .30/30... It had plenty of rounds on it before I got it, but I put close to 8k through it before I got rid of it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2013
  21. Hummer70

    Hummer70 Member

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    Quote:
    Once I get them fireformed to that chamber I will do a step load series to determine what it likes and work from there.

    Unfortunately, not possible. You NEED to FL size for leverguns. You can move them LESS... you cannot leave the case at the fired form. It just doesn't work.

    I am not sure I am following you. Step loading has nothing to do with case sizing?


    Quote:
    I will also do some testing with single shot loading pointed match bullets just to test the capability of the barrel with a known good bullet design.


    For a truck gun, I dun really see the point- but hey, they are your bullets.

    The rationale for testing known good bullets tells several things. For instance if your rifle shoots a new bullet at say 3" at 100 yards and you change bullets to one you know will print 1/2" from a match rifle and it prints 3" in your lever gun then you know you have a barrel problem and not a bullet problem. Basically it is the same way we tested ammo for acceptance. Groups were shot with the candidate ammo and if they did not shoot acceptance requirements we then ran "Reference Ammo" to determine if the test rifle was bad or the ammo was bad. If the reference ammo shot to spec a retest was conducted of the candidate lot and if it failed on the second test the candidate lot was rejected.Quote:
    I also have a 230 gr bullet mold for the 300 Blackout round which could be an interesting first out bullet as well loaded at 1100 fps.

    You should do the energy math of a 170gr at say 2200 FPS vs a 230g at 1100 FPS.

    Yes I completely undestand the point of energy differences in the two loads but my application would be approached from a noise signature standpoint. At 1100 fps you don't get the "crack" and everyone for miles around does not hear the shot yet the bullet will give sufficient penetration to produce the projected results. In wound lethality testing conducted by the Army Wound Balllistic Lab it is known that a 220 grain bullet delivered at 800 FPS will deliver and through and through wound tract on the largest personnel you might ever run up on.

    The Sierra Infinity 5 program utilizing a 220 grain bullet loaded to 1100 FPS reports a remaining velocity of 823 FPS 1000 yards. While the drop at that range is significant is a moot point in that the energy available to produce a through and through terminal effect at 100 yards is available without the associated noise. The rationale is one hole leaks, two holes leak twice as fast and enough leakage will suspend all actions depending on wound tract location. A full up 30-30 will produce a noise signature at about 155 descibles while a subsonic round will produce one about 112 descibles not requiring hearing protection.
    Quote:
    May have the first round out be a AP round pulled from 30.06 should the need arise to modify an engine block.

    Again, I'd just go back to bullet speed and mass. A black tip AP round isn't going to do what you think it will out of a .30-30


    But all of this is moot, if you don't at least partially FL size, very soon you will hit that cartridge that won't chamber, and jams half in and half out around your feed ramp. At that point, you might as well make sure and carry some duct tape to put around the handle- cuz clubbin' is all its gonna be good for until you get tools and a bench on it.

    Believe me, I know- because i've done it.

    I basically set my die to just bump back a bit- not to factory spec. After 8 or 9 firings, the dreaded ring still showed up. This was way better than the 4 or 5 I was geting before RC worked me through it.

    I can sure believe the "dreaded ring" will show up however this can be controlled by matching the die to the chamber. For instance a new 30.06 round be it commercial or US military production measures .465" at a point .200" up from rim.

    Commercial Chambers for 30.06 will give birth to fired cases that measure .471- .473 range and still be in spec.I have seen commercial chambers produce fired cases as large as .475" ! ! !!

    Most 30.06 loading dies will "FL Size" cases from .466"-.469" base dimension. Thusly a case is "worked" way to much when a .466 die is used. I have four sets of 30.06 dies that size cases at .466, .467, .469 and .4705. The .4705 die was a large die that was polished out. When I start loading for a particular rifle I will mic the case at the base. Lets say it is .471" thusly the .4705" die is used to load for that rifle and noted in my history book kept with each rifle.

    Now on the rifles I build I have three 30.06 reamers. One cuts a .467 chamber, the next a .469" chamber and then I have the JUMBO SAAMI reamer I basically only use for rifles that will most likely never see a reloaded round. Obviously the .467 chambered rifles get sized with the .466" die and the .469" chambered rifles get sized with the .467" die. Note: These are bolt rifles. An entire different approach is used for rounds that will be fed into a M1 Garand. They are all sized with the .466 die as if the larger dies are used it becomes a real problem to get the 8th round into the clip.

    This begs the question on how many loads will this give? I don't really know. I have one LC66 Match 30.06 case I have loaded 157 times and it is still waiting for me to get back on the test. I have 308 brass I have not properly cared for and got 80 to 100 loads on. I cared for the 157 loaded case stress relieving neck every third loading.

    I try to use LC match brass for all my applications because the heads are fabricated to the milspec gradient hardness call out. It is widely known military cases are heavier (being thicker) but what is not widely known is the rationale for the hardness gradient requirement which was not so well known.

    Commercial cases are not subjected to the stresses military ammunition is designed for and generally do not produce significant case life save for a few exceptions. DWM is one commercial brass case I would love to have 100,000 of for my use but alas not affordable. In the interim I will stay with MILSPEC US made cases as they are much for durable than the commercial cases I have run across.

    On my No 1 match rifle (Mod 70 heavy barrel) I dedicated 500 cases to it in 1983 on my first tight chambered set up. It is now on its third barrel and still using the same 500 cases. Why 500? At Camp Perry you fire 264 rounds during the National Championships. Then if you shoot a team match you will need another 50 rounds. The Wimbledon and Leech will take about thirty rounds each. Then if you shoot in team matches at 1000 you will need 22 more. That leaves less than 100 rounds for alibi strings etc. 400 of these cases are FL sized. 100 are neck sized and every third loading are FL sized.

    On the Marlin I have it was apparently chambered with a reamer at the end of its serviceable life as fired cases come out only .001" larger than they went in thusly when I FL size the case body is only reduced .001". In the industry reamers are purchased at max dimension so that when it becomes dull it can be resharpened. Starting at the max dimension or just under if you can resharpen a reamer three times you will be close to the min dimension and they will deadline a reamer that will not allow all commercial rounds to fit into. I have been the benefactor of such tight chambers on very few occasions and on this Texan I am a winner as it is dead min which for me is absolutely perfect.

    That .30/30... It had plenty of rounds on it before I got it, but I put close to 8k through it before I got rid of it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
  22. popper

    popper Member

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    Just get a case gauge & feeler gauge or dial indicator. Use it to measure the real case length on a fired (full power load) case. Set you die to setback a couple thou. Never have gotten the ring, I do check. Trash split necks and lose PP, but I haven't gotten any loose PP yet. quit counting # of reloads, just too many. Annealing helps.
     
  23. blarby

    blarby Member

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    I guess since its not for comp, you might try this test :

    Take ten of your fired cases, and walk them in pairs down say .001 or .002 at a time until you get ones that wont chamber correctly- then you'll at least have a no-go point for resizing.

    This is the part RC walked me through- and I found out that a few of my cases weren't springing back right in the process, and it messed the whole thing up !

    Sorta subsonic eh ? Fair play. With a lead bullet on soft critters this is much more appropriate than the AP, IMHO.
     
  24. Innovative

    Innovative Member

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    Hummer70 ........

    Any reasonable chamber pressure will always form your cases to represent your chamber size perfectly, unless your 30-30 (a rimmed case) has a headspace problem (referring to the way your barrel was installed).

    The problem you describer happens when your case is not consistently and uniformly being located (front to back) in your chamber when it's fired. This is a fairly common problem with 30-30 rifles. The cocking lever on a 94 Winchester needs to be fully as high as it will go to have minimal headspace. A good gunsmith will always check to see that your cases aren't headspaced against the extractor hook.

    I've seen (and owned) several 30-30s that had almost .020" headspace clearance by the way the barrel was installed in relation to the bolt in its fully closed position. That's the first thing to check. Then you can will get uniform fired cases, and then you can make sure your handloads fit your chamber accurately -.001" at the shoulder.
     
  25. Hummer70

    Hummer70 Member

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    Unless I have made a math mistake the maximum chamber dimension (head to shoulder and the min cartridge dimension give a total possible difference of
    .0373".

    As well there is a .010" rim thickness variation on the ammo and .007" headspace variation from bolt face to barrel face. Thus a thin rim and max headspace will give interesting differences.

    that is just about big enough to park a 18 wheeler in.

    PO Ackley when he was at Trinidad gave a demo to students and he fired a 30-30 without a locking bolt to prove the case grip on the wall of the 30-30 was awesome and the bolt face did not see high loads.

    I just found the Ackley story on http://www.shootersforum.com/gunsmithing/printfriendly13806.htm

    When I get through with them all 50 will locate no more that .001-.002" off the shoulder when fired.

    ADDITIONAL: It would appear this was discovered by others four years ago on THR: http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-461888.html

    I have decided what I am going to fireform like I do with wild cats and load up some pulled 150 grain FMJ bullets I have with charges on the low end and seat the bullets long so the ogive will be in the lands when in battery. This will be single shot loaded of course and theoretically the case head should be snug against the bolt face on first firing. This should give a maximum shoulder forward relocation on first shot.

    Those that load the magnums for long range and purchase L.E. Wilson case gages know these gages come with a adjustable shoulder so follow on rounds can be sized with the shoulders of the case and chamber min dimension apart so as to not over "work" the cases on resizing. In other words the magnum cases are treated like a standard bottle neck and the shoulders are set back min distance to incease case life which is what needs to be done with 30-30 loading.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
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