Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Cast Bullets in the .30-30

The family was sitting around the back porch on Sunday, waiting for the pork chops to finish roasting, when second son asks me,  "Pop, do you know anything about shooting cast bullets in rifles?"

I gave him that mysterious smile that old men give to young'uns, and he continued.  "I've been thinking about the .30-30.  That long neck should give plenty of support."

I chuckled, left the porch and went into the shop.  When I came back, I had two white boxes of .30-30 ammo. I dropped them in his lap.  "Yeah, I've thought about it."

Back in 2001, Junior Doughty and I started a website called The Frugal Outdoorsman.  Junior died a couple of years ago, and his daughter is keeping the site alive, and there is a wealth of information on that site that she wants to keep as a legacy to her dad.  I applaud her for keeping the site alive.  It's still a well-sourced website for shooting, hunting, and some of the more archaic facets of our game. Like shooting cast bullets in rifles.

Junior loved the .30-30, he loved cast bullets, and he tried to wring all the accuracy possible out of his Buffalo Bill commemorative with his favorite cast bullet, the Lee C309-170F.  He thought it was the cat's meow for the cartridge and did good work with it.  Junior was able to get groups of under two inches with his commemorative, using iron sights.  Junior's magnum opus was a piece called "Optimum Accuracy with Cast Bullets in a 30-30 Winchester Model 94.  It's still online and well worth the read.

For the record, I have just exactly two cast bullet loads that I like in my .30-30,  The first features the inestimable Lyman 311041.  It is a gas checked, bore riding bullet that weighs about 170 grains when cast from good alloy.  I double-dip it in liquid alox and load it over 27.0 grains of IMR 4895.  It's good for about 1750 fps,out of my Model 94 and I can get an honest 3" group with that ammo at 100 yards when I do my part.  That's the bees knees for deer and hogs in the thick woods.

One day I watched Junior Doughty shoot a 3/4 inch group with that ammo in a scoped Handi rifle.  It's good ammo, and I see no reason to change a thing.

The other load I like in the .30-30 is something I stumbled on when looking at very light loads for plinking, training youngsters and general fun.  I happened to show it to a buddy who used it quite successfully to quell a possum problem he was having.  Hence, we call it the possum load.  It features a hard-cast 115 grain bullet and Blue Dot powder.  It runs out the bore at about 600 fps, very low recoil and low noise.  More of a !pop! than a bang.  No, I'm not going to tell you how many grains of Blue Dot.  You'll have to do your own research.

But, yeah, to answer my son's question, I've thought about cast bullets in rifles.


Joe Mama said...

A couple of good places to do research on cast bullets are at these two, related webpages


The first link has data.

The second link tells you why it works.

Owen Family at Far Better Farmstead said...

I love that web site to this day - it is how I found your blog and started following you. I still love a 30-30 cast in my model 94 and in my Handi. However for the light "popcorn" loads I shoot 38's in a M92 Rossi with a lighter load of Unique. Works like a charm! You ought to see the looks I get at the range with those cast 30-30s though. People think you are from outer space if you don't shoot the highest velocity thing you can get your hands on.

Rivrdog said...

At the annual long-range, high-precision rifle event known as Boomershoot, there is a regulat attendee shooting (I think) a Sharps 50-130. Blackpowder cartridge gun. Trajectory of a trebuchet. He hits <2MOA targets at 700+yds with it. A perfectly cast boolit, once it goes below the mach, is extremely accurate.