Skip to main content

7 High-Performance .30-30 Loads

Using Hodgdon LeverEvolution powder, here are seven loads to boosts .30-30 lever-gun performance for handloaders.

7 High Performance Loads for the .30-30

There was a time when groups measuring three to four inches at 100 yards from a lever-action rifle of tube-feed, exposed-hammer design were quite acceptable. Those days are long gone. Today's ammunition is much more accurate, mainly because today's bullets are more accurate.

Lever-action rifles are also more accurate, and this especially holds true for those made by Marlin. Nowadays it comes as no surprise to see a Model 336 in .30-30, .444 Marlin, .45-70, .308 Marlin Express or .338 Marlin Express consistently shoot three bullets inside two inches at 100 yards. Some rifles will crowd an inch rather closely. Marlin has proven that today's lever-action rifle can be as accurate as most bolt actions.

The brightest star among lever-action cartridges has always been the .30-30 Winchester, and while it celebrated its 115th birthday in 2010, it has not been ignored by the wheels of progress.

Originally loaded with a 160-grain bullet at 1,970 fps, claimed factory load velocities gradually increased through the decades to today's respective speeds of 2,390 and 2,200 fps for 150- and 170-grain bullets. But we all know that real-world bullet speeds in 20-inch barrels are usually 100 to 150 fps shy of that.


Not long back, Hornady upped the ante a bit more by introducing its LeverEvolution load with a 160-grain, tube magazine-friendly, pointed bullet at 2,400 fps, and while it falls shy of that in some rifles, at its worst it is still 75 to 100 fps faster than 150-grain factory loads and close to 200 fps faster than 170-grain loads.


Now comes the availability of LeverEvolution powder from Hodgdon, and .30-30 velocities unapproachable in the past are within easy reach of those of us who take great joy in stuffing primers, powders and bullets into second-hand cases.

A spherical-grained propellant, it is manufactured by the St. Marks Powder Company in St. Marks, Florida, and it is the powder loaded by Hornady in LeverEvolution factory ammunition.

Handloads using LeverEvolution powder are capable of boosting .30-30 velocities upward of 200 fps beyond factory loads available from Remington, Winchester and Federal and close to 100 fps faster than can be reached by the handloader with any other available powder.

As you can see in the accompanying chart, a homebrewed .30-30 load with the Sierra 150-grain bullet was 190 fps faster than the Remington 150-grain factory load, and my hand­load with the Sierra 170-grain bullet was 178 fps faster than Winchester's 170-grain load. Accuracy of factory loads and handloads with those two bullets were basically the same--and quite good, to say the least.




Maximum Loads

Hodgdon's recommended maximum load with LeverEvolution powder and the Hornady 160-grain FTX bullet was 111 fps faster than Hornady's LeverEvolution factory load, but in order to duplicate its accuracy in the Marlin, I had to decrease the maximum powder charge by 1.5 grains, which pretty much duplicates its velocity as well.

Since the heavier 35.5-grain charge of LeverEvolution averaged 1.5 inches in my Winchester Model 54, I am thinking a maximum charge exceeds the velocity range at which the Micro-Groove barrel of the Marlin rifle is capable of delivering its best accuracy with the pointed Hornady bullet and its relatively small bearing-surface area.

The velocity race does become a bit closer when handloads using LeverEvolution and the old traditional powders such as IMR-4895 and H335 are compared. Maximum (but safe) charges of LeverEvolution can easily push 150- and 170-grain bullets from a 20-inch barrel at respective velocities of 2,425 and 2,300 fps while around 2,300 and 2,100 fps are about the highest speeds I can usually squeeze from IMR-4895 with those bullet weights.


Another great thing about LeverEvolution is that accuracy is as good as with it as any powder I have tried in the .30-30. Take special note of the accuracy of the Sierra 170-grain bullet in my rifle.

When buying a supply of Hornady's 160-grain FTX bullets for loading in the .30-30, keep in mind that even though the same type of bullet loaded by Hornady in the .308 Marlin Express weighs the same, its cannelure is located farther back; if that bullet is seated with its cannelure at the mouth of the .30-30 case, overall cartridge length will be too great for lever-action rifles.

rs_7-loads-for-.30-30_b
WARNING: The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor InterMedia Outdoors assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data. Shooting reloads may void any warranty on your firearm. NOTES: (*This load averaged 1.5 inches in a Winchester Model 54 with conventional rifling. **Reducing the powder charge 1.5 grains below Hodgdon's maximum more closely duplicated the accuracy and velocity of Hornady's LeverEvolution factory load in the Marlin Micro-Groove barrel.) All powder charges are maximum as recommended by Hodgdon and should be reduced by 10 percent for starting loads. Hornady cases and Winchester WLR primers were used. Accuracy shown represents an average of five, three-shot groups fired at 100 yards from a Marlin 336 with 20-inch barrel. Velocities are averages of 15 rounds.

In addition, due to a longer ogive taper on the Express version of the bullet, the mouth of the .30-30 case would rest beyond its full-diameter shank when it is loaded to the recommended overall cartridge length of 2.535 inches. Hornady's catalog numbers are 30395 for the .30-30 bullet and 30396 for the .308 Express bullet.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New for 2021: Frankford Arsenal FX-10 Progressive Reloading Press

New for 2021: Frankford Arsenal FX-10 Progressive Reloading Press

Designed by reloaders for reloaders, the Frankford Arsenal FX-10 is a 10-station automatic-indexing reloading press purpose-built from the ground up to be the ultimate progressive reloading press.

New for 2021: Frankford Arsenal Single Stage Reloading Press, Aluminum Powder Funnel

New for 2021: Frankford Arsenal Single Stage Reloading Press, Aluminum Powder Funnel

Designed by reloaders for reloaders, the Frankford Arsenal F-1 Single Stage Reloading Press and Aluminum Powder Funnel are some great tools to add to your reloading bench.

New for 2021: Nosler Reloading Guide 9

New for 2021: Nosler Reloading Guide 9

Reloading Guide #9 consists of load data for 101 rifle and handgun cartridges with hundreds of new powder additions throughout the book creating a comprehensive data set for today's reloader.

New for 2021: Caldwell AR500 Steel Range Targets

New for 2021: Caldwell AR500 Steel Range Targets

The Caldwell AR500 steel targets are offered in seven sizes and various hanging solutions to fit your specific shooting range needs.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Announced in 1958, the .264 and .338 Winchester magnums hit the market in 1959 amid one of the biggest media blitzes the industry had seen. Both were introduced in “new” versions of Winchester's beloved Model 70..264 and .338 Magnum - Winchester Twins Ammo

.264 and .338 Magnum - Winchester Twins

Craig Boddington - May 24, 2019

Announced in 1958, the .264 and .338 Winchester magnums hit the market in 1959 amid one of the...

With the new Hunter rifle, Ruger takes its popular Ruger American rifle line to the next level.Ruger American Rifle Hunter Review Reviews

Ruger American Rifle Hunter Review

David M. Fortier - July 28, 2020

With the new Hunter rifle, Ruger takes its popular Ruger American rifle line to the next level.

A simple test of sorting ammo and a shooting session at the range will show how bullet runout can affect the accuracy of your rifles.Bullet Runout - How It Affects Accuracy Shooting Tips

Bullet Runout - How It Affects Accuracy

Joseph von Benedikt - May 13, 2019

A simple test of sorting ammo and a shooting session at the range will show how bullet runout...

You're only as good as your weakest link; heed these to tips to make sure your shooting skills don't hinder your rifle's accuracy potentialHow to Shoot Your Best from a Benchrest Shooting Tips

How to Shoot Your Best from a Benchrest

Keith Wood - August 05, 2014

You're only as good as your weakest link; heed these to tips to make sure your shooting skills...

See More Trending Articles

More Reloading

Handloaders looking for accuracy, here's some great 6.5 PRC load data and information to get you started.6.5 PRC Load Data Reloading

6.5 PRC Load Data

John Barsness - July 23, 2019

Handloaders looking for accuracy, here's some great 6.5 PRC load data and information to get...

When a cartridge is fired, a progressive burn of the propellant converts it to rapidly expanding gas that exerts an equal amount of pressure in all directions. Maximum recommended pressure for a rifle cartridge is usually dictated by the action strength of the rifle for which it is developed.What Affects Rifle Chamber Pressure and Critical Factors You Need to Know Reloading

What Affects Rifle Chamber Pressure and Critical Factors You Need to Know

Layne Simpson - June 07, 2018

When a cartridge is fired, a progressive burn of the propellant converts it to rapidly...

Some history and reloading recipes on five popular .17-caliber cartridges, including the .17 Ackley Hornet, .17 Hornady Hornet, .17 Mach IV, .17 Remington Fireball and .17 Remington..17-Caliber Reloading Data and History for 5 Cartridges Reloading

.17-Caliber Reloading Data and History for 5 Cartridges

Layne Simpson - June 05, 2019

Some history and reloading recipes on five popular .17-caliber cartridges, including the .17...

Using Hodgdon LeverEvolution powder, here are seven loads to boosts .30-30 lever-gun performance for handloaders.7 High Performance Loads for the .30-30 Reloading

7 High Performance Loads for the .30-30

Layne Simpson - March 08, 2011

Using Hodgdon LeverEvolution powder, here are seven loads to boosts .30-30 lever-gun...

See More Reloading

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the RifleShooter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All RifleShooter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now