Experiments With The 30-30...from 1905!

  • Last Post 06 February 2023
Bryan Austin posted this 03 February 2023

Feb. 1905, Outdoor Life


Editor Outdoor Life,

After about a thousand shots had been fired in my .30-30 I found that a four-inch group of ten shots was the best I could do with it at sixty yards, rest. This rifle had done such splen-did work when new that I was very anxious to know why it had degenerated. I dis- mounted the rifle, took out the barrel, screwed it into a strong vise and pushed a .30 caliber lead bullet through the barrel, feeling carefully of the entire bore. I found the bore choked for about fifteen inches from the breech with cupro-nickel, so that it was smaller at the breech than at the muzzle. The barrel looked clean and bright, the muzzle being hardly worn. I had a rod of ¼ inch iron made with ball - bearing, revolving handle. I placed this rod in the barrel and heated both to a blue heat at the muzzle, then run in hot lead, making a lead six inches long on the end of the rod

After cooling, I drew the rod from the barrel and applied oil and very fine emery. With this I worked out the cupro- nickel down to the original form, or taper of the bore, being careful not to disturb the muzzle much.

When the lead bullet went through the barrel to suit me, I re- assembled the rifle and took it again to the 60- yard range. half-dollar piece nicely covered the ten shots, which I considered as good as I was seeing and holding.

Before leading out, the rifle made a 4- inch group. After leading, the group was very little over an inch across. I have the rifle with me now on this hunt and it shoots well and will until it gets choked up again, and then I have the same rod and lead to take it out with. I can hardly recommend this operation to one who does not know how to do it, as sometimes the muzzle has to be cut off, squared up and reamed again. The bullet has got to leave the muzzle right or no accuracy can be obtained.

I believe that if the jacketed bullets were of zinc instead of copper, that the mercury in the primer would help to remove the residue and that the life of a high power barrel would be much longer.

The gain twist ought to help it also, for we know a slow twist fouls less than a quick one. The fouling being worse at the breech where the gain twist is slowest seems to make this twist desirable. If the barrel is at all faulty, it makes little difference what kind of a charge we use, or what kind of a sight. If this .30-30 of mine had never shot well I would never have had the heart to carry on the experiments I have. After I had shot 100 rounds in it, it was worthless as a testing piece for ammunition of any kind. The trouble was in the barrel and not in the charge, though the bullet's jacket was to blame for the condition of the barrel.

After leading out the barrel as above stated, I tried the following load for short and mid- range, shooting U. M. C. shell and primer, ten grains bulk DuPont No. 2 powder and thirty- one grains (weight) of King's s. s. FG, 160 grains Winchester soft- nose jacketed bullet. This charge has been a good one and requires four points elevation more than the high power charge, or about the same as the regular miniature factory charge. Its accu- racy is good, while the barrel cleans quite easily with very little fouling.

I have been waiting some time to hear from some one through the medium of Out- door Life on the subject of the inconsistencies of twist in American rifles. It is one thing to figure out the twist a given charge requires and another thing to demonstrate it by actual test. Truth is what we want. If I am in error upon any subject I want to be set right, but it has got to be-to me-a convincing argument. A man once told me his rifle, a .44-40-200, shot "perfectly flat" [yeah right] at 200 yards-that "the bullet did not drop a fraction of an inch. " I doubted him then [me too]; I more than doubt him now. I doubt the correctness of the twist in about half of our factory, machine- made rifles. For instance, we can find a .38-70-255 rifle with a 16 - inch twist, then we have a .38-72-275 with a 22- inch twist. Then there is the .30-40-220 with a 10- inch twist, the .30-30-170 with a 10-inch turn also, and a .32 with about the same powder charge as the .30-30 with a 165- grain bullet and a 16 - inch twist rotates the 165- grain bullet nicely. This condition has led riflemen- perhaps without knowing exactly why-to try every conceivable shape and weight of bullet, all brands of powder (even primers and shells have been projected with) , but few ever seem to look into the barrel for the cause of their troubles. Sights, powder and bullets have had the un- divided attention of nearly all of our experimenters.

Too much time has been spent upon target rifles, I think. They are fearfully and wonderfully made to -day. The weapon for war and the chase has not had the time spent upon it that its practicability seems to de- serve. The two styles of arm are hardly in the same general class. A noted rifle maker wrote me not long since that he had made a .30-40-220 barrel that had made a 2½ - inch group of ten shots at 200 yards, machine rest, of course. I believe this to be true and also believe that after the barrel has been shot awhile, the size of the groups will in- crease, the same as I have found true of my .30-30. The cause, once located and under- stood, some ingenious rifle man or rifle maker will remedy. Let us not wrangle with one another, but let us all get down to the principles involved and work for improvement, knowing that every fault has its remedy. ~L. C. READ.

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beltfed posted this 06 February 2023

Yes,John, Not really random.

Except for the 23,  the rest of then form approximately an 8:00 to 2:00  spread/

 kind of double grouping,too  

May be due to the shooter more so than a cartridge/rifle  grouping.  


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Bryan Austin posted this 06 February 2023

Yeappers, if your 1.5" group at 300 yards is 6 inches low right, it might as well be a 12" group around the bullseye.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 06 February 2023

also on that target ... interesting that here deep in our interest .... we put 99 per cent of our discussion on * groups * ... ie, getting ready to get ready to actually shoot at something ...

we note that this shooter made up for a middling group ... he made up for by hitting what he aimed at ...  

a moment of silence for these bullseye shooters ...


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John Alexander posted this 05 February 2023

Looks like there could have been a consistent defect in the bullets.  Note that 7 of the 10 shots are almost exactly the same distance from the center. See "shooting donuts" in another thread about 7 years ago.  But probably more likely just the random nature of groups.


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Bryan Austin posted this 05 February 2023

An interesting 30-30 target from Jan 23rd, 1902

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Aaron posted this 04 February 2023

Sounds like Pope! Amazing to read of duplex charging as though it were the norm of the day. Perhaps it was. For sure however, not everyone hand loaded then. Great read.

With rifle in hand, I confidently go forth into the darkness.

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JeffinNZ posted this 04 February 2023


Cheers from New Zealand

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RicinYakima posted this 04 February 2023

I love reading this old stuff! No wonder we have so many old wives tales of what works and what doesn't . The problems was that there was no methodical science behind any of this, just keep changing until something seemed to help. 

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