Monday, May 08, 2006

Recreated .30 WCF Small Game Load

The topic on Leverguns forums, "An interesting .30-30 cartridge used back in the 1930's - 1940's by trappers in the north country" posted by John Kort really interested me. To whit,
From John Witzel's collection

Legend has it that these special .30-30 cartridges were loaded by the PETERS Cartridge Company for the Hudson Bay Trading Co. located in the Yukon and possibly the T. Eaton Company in Alberta, Canada.

It was loaded with a full patch 85 gr. bullet used in the .30 Mauser pistol cartridge. One trapper, recounting his adventures of long ago, said that he had used the .30-30 cartridges with the little nickel jacketed bullet and found that they were great for dispatching Wolverines and Wolves in traps and for shooting wolves on the ice in the winter and beavers in the spring.

The question then was what velocity did PETERS load this cartridge to? John had one example of this cartridge in his collection and donated the powder charge from it to me for testing purposes.

Several years ago Hornady made a run of 86 Gr. full patched .30 Mauser bullets for The Old Western Scrounger. I purchased a box to run some tests. I loaded one of these bullets over the powder charge that John had sent to me and it clocked just over 2,000 f.p.s.

I then loaded 10 rounds using the Hornady 86 gr. bullet with 27.0 grs. of 3031, which appeared to be the same type powder. (The powder sample could well have been DuPont 17 1/2 the predicessor to 3031.) When tested, they produced pretty much the same velocity.

Accuracy at 50 yards was very good with groups of around 3/4" if I did my part. Further testing indicated that 170 gr bullets loaded over 30/3031 impacted within 1 1/2" of the 86 gr. bullet.

Hunters / trappers could use both cartridges without having to change their sights. PETERS knew what they were doing when they offered a .30-30 catridge with a bullet that was ½ the weight of the standard 170 gr. and loaded it to the same velocity.....60+ years ago.

from "The Venerable .30-30....100+ Years Of History" to be published by Sept. 2006.

Because of this post I determined to find some of the bullets in question and duplicate this load for my own tests in my own .30 WCF/.30-30 Win. rifles. It was a hard row to hoe as the bullet was temporarily out of stock everywhere. Apparently it is a seasonal production item and gets cleaned out soon after shipping to distributors. However, some 72 of these bullets were provided in the form of a generous gift from some fine folks, Gordon Taylor and his father of Buffalo, SD. Further, these are the soft point variation and likely more useful to most because softpoints are required by law in most places. Thanks again gentlemen.

The first thing I did was pick out 20, once-fired, Winchester .30 WCF/.30-30 Win. cases from my stash. These had already been through the vibratory polisher and were now lubed, sized/deprimed, trimmed, chamfered, de-lubed, and primed. 27 gr. of IMR-3031 was added to each case and topped off with the Sierra 85 gr. JSP. Please note that although the COL is the same for both the old Silvertip shown and the new cartridge, the Sierra 85 gr. JSP has precious little bullet inside the case. Take care as to how you handle your cartridges. Now to the range!

Oh but that was frustrating. As soon as the ammo was loaded the rains which had heretofor been sadly lacking came for sure. No Chrony operation in those conditions. More waiting...

And then...

Well, I finally got my test loads to the range today. Average velocity was 1877 fps using the Sierra 85 gr SP (the SP version of the FMJ made for Huntingtons) giving 665 fpe. AD and SD were pretty high, about 60 each. That is, I think, because bullet release consistency is so dependent on consistency of the case mouth in each case. About 1/8" or less of the bullet is actually in contact with the case neck. However, it shot to the sights (Marlin M336T, Lyman 66LA) at 25 yards. Recoil is extremely light, about 2 fpe, but you are lighting 27 gr. of IMR 3031 and this makes some noise. I can see how this would be a useful cartridge within certain limits.

6 shots off-hand 25 yards, 2 called flyers (lower right), Marlin 336T

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