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A fun 30-30 load

Customizing cartridges

A fun 30-30 load

Postby practice-more » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:42 pm

We all have dreams of being a cowboy right?

I have a lever action 30-30 and I was hoping to come up with a very light recoiling "play" load for it. Something to shoot steel, milk jugs, etc. this summer at ranges of about 50 yards. I know some manufacturers make "reduced recoil" loads but I wanted something even lighter. I did some research, including some old manuals, and came up with options to use pistol powers (with inert filler) but I just wasn't happy with the data I found.

Now, introduce Hodgdon (IMR) Trail Boss. It is a very light fluffy flake powder with a hole in the middle. They look like little donuts. According to the mfg, you can load a full (non-compressed) case load in just about any rifle cartage and be within the safe pressure ranges. The powder is used in some cowboy action shooting, mostly for pistols and lead bullets but the data said it can be used in rifles and with jacketed bullets. I'm just not sure I want to get into casting yet.

I picked up some once fired brass and got to work. Brass was sorted, sized, trimmed, and chamfered.

The first test bullets would be some leftover Speer 100gn half jacket plinkers my buddy had. I'll try others later but these seemed like a good starting point.

Per Hodgdon's data sheet, I filled a fired (not resized, so that the bullet would just slip in) case with powder until the bullet resting on top of the power was at the COL I wanted. I poured the powder out and weighed it at 12 grains, this would be my max load. Hodgdon says a minimum load in this case is calculated at 70% of the max, or 8.4 grains. This WILL vary with different length bullets. For reference, most others rifle powder charges for 30-30 are going to be in the 30 grain range. This stuff is extremely voluminous, so much so that only 9oz fits in a standard 1lb container.

I loaded up 5 rounds with a mid charge and headed out the door to see what they would do. I referred to them as "short buss" loads. PERFECT! This is a 100 grain bullet going around the same speed as a 22lr. Recoil is very minimal and the everything cycled well. I can't say anything about accuracy, but they crush water filled milk jugs at 30 yards just fine. That's really what I was looking for anyway.

I have a few more batches loaded up with different charges. I will test these for "reasonable" accuracy and probably shoot them over the chronograph to see what velocities I am getting.

I see myself shooting a LOT of these this summer. I will also be working up a hunting load with the likes of 150 grain InterLocks and BL-C(2).

One caution about using Trail Boss, don't cough, sneeze, breathe heavy, or otherwise when you have a dipper full of it in your hand. It is entirely possible to blow a scoop of that light fluffy stuff all over the bench. :lol:

Mitch
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Re: A fun 30-30 load

Postby practice-more » Sat Apr 15, 2017 2:17 pm

I did a little further testing today with different loads.

I had 4 each of 11.5 grain, 10.5 grain, and 9.5 grain loads under the 100 Speer Plinkers.

The 11.5 grain loads had a VERY wide velocity spread, ranging from 1271 fps to 1635 fps. I put very little crimp on these. More crimp may have generated more even pressures before the bullet dislodged from the casing. I'm not really sure. Either way, velocity was all over the board and the shots were in about a 7" group at 60 yards.

The 10.5 grain loads had less velocity spread, but still what I would consider extreme at 188 fps, ranging from 1430 fps to 1618 fps. The group was a little tighter at 6".

Finally, the 9.5 grain loads worked. Velocity spread was ONLY 7 fps, from 1508 fps to 1515 fps. The group still wasn't great but I (and my eyes) don't claim to be a great shot with the large peep sight on this gun. The 4 shot group was around 4"

For reference sake, I was shooting 2-3" groups at 50 yards with factory ammo before dear season last year.

I've heard very mixed reviews on the 100 grain Speer bullets. Since I was able to get the ES down, I think I can work with this powder, it may just require a different projectile.

I think the 100 grain plinkers would work well for doing just that, plinking. I could easily load them and shoot milk jugs out to 50 yards. After all, that was my initial intention. Plus, recoil is very light so they will be great for introducing a couple new shooters to larger bore rifles.

Just to see what difference the bullets make, I have a similar test batch (11.3, 10.3 and 9.3) loaded up with InterLock 150 grain round nose. I have these bullets on hand because that is what I intend to load for a hunting round. They are about $0.010 more per round than the plinkers, but if they shoot a lot better, that isn't a big cost factor.

And then of course it has to start raining.

Mitch
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Re: A fun 30-30 load

Postby practice-more » Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:49 am

The 150 grain bullets didn't group any better and, due to the lower velocity, were about a foot low.

It looks like I will be sticking with the cheap 100 grain plinkers under a light charge of Trail Boss. Technically, with a 12 grain case capacity, my minimum charge should be 8.4 grains. I had reasonable success at 9.5 grains, but I may try 9.0 and even 8.5 at some point.

Looks like I ended up right where I wanted to with this little project. I have an inexpensive, very light recoiling round that is fairly accurate and a ton of fun to shoot.

I will try to get a few photos the next time I get a batch loaded up to shoot.

I'm hoping to pick up a few steel gong targets to shoot at. Most manufacturers say that 30-30 needs to be shot at a minimum distance of 100 yards, but with 500 ft lb (100 grains at 1500 fps) of energy being somewhere between a 45 ACP and 357 Mag, I don't see any problem shooting steel at the distances rated for those rounds.

Mitch
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