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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let me say first: This is not meant to be the equivalent of everybody on Facebook showing you what they had for lunch, or photos of their cat (yeah, thanks for all those, I forgot what a cat looks like). My reasoning is this–Lots of shooters are mulling over the idea of a .30-30 Ackley Improved, but data is hard to come by, and nobody will show you what they’re doing. I’ve already taken some flak for it, but I’m showing you the load development as it happens- and while I don’t expect anyone to duplicate what I am doing here, it’s food for thought.

So, the Marlin 336W .30-30 AI made its third trip to the range today. Obligatory range photo:

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This time I took a different approach. Rather than taking what .30-30 AI data I could find and seeing how it played in my rifle, I went back to my notes from many years of loading .30-30 Win, looked at max loads (or favorite loads) I’d had success with there, and worked up from there. Testing with Hodgdon LVR continued, and since I have a history of both loading and hunting with IMR 3031, that old soldier was in the mix. Today’s results here:

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Observations:


  1. 38.0 LVR with the Speer 150 FN produced almost exactly 100 fps less than the same load in .30-30 Win. It was to be expected this would give a lower velocity in AI, but I wanted to see how much. Given the Speer 150 FN averaged 2514 fps in .30-30 Win with 38.0 LVR (and was accurate) in this same barrel, these loads presented no advantage over .30-30 Win. More testing is needed.
  2. Some years back, (before I lost the rifle… and my ass, in a divorce) I hunted with an NEF Handi Rifle .30-30. 36.5 gr IMR 3031 was listed by IMR as their max load for .30-30 Win in a Contender for a 125 gr bullet, and was very accurate in that little rifle- with both 125 Ballistic Tips and 130 Hornady spires- it averaged 2673 with the 125s (22” barrel) and seemed a good place to start. 2699 fps is certainly respectable from a 20” barrel–and regardless of velocity, if that ends up being the most accurate load in this rifle, that’s the one that will go to the woods with me. BUT- it’s not a significant increase from what I already had with .30-30 Win, and there is no need to have an AI conversion to shoot at those velocities. More testing needed there also.


    At this point I think I have an idea of the limits of where I can go with these loads. The real meat of it is finding that middle ground where there is enough of a velocity increase over .30-30 Win (I'm thinking in the 150-250 fps range) without pushing the envelope too hard.

    One thing I did was mark the brass from the Obviously Too Hot loads from the last session, and used those for the starter loads this time. Sure enough, that brass was fatigued after only 3 loadings- the thin light lines that signal an impending case head separation were there, and they were promptly trashed. However case head expansion was still not excessive with those cases. So Frankenmauser's comment about using that as an indication of pressure with this round is spot-on.

    That's where it stands today. I bought a new pound of 3031 on the way home and will work on the 130 gr loads more with that. I'm still not sure about LVR in the AI round. It's a very interesting proposition, but it's hard to know what's going on with it when you can't read the usual pressure signs.
 

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Recently I had a case separation with a WW factory load straight out of the box. 30-30 brass may not lend itself to a lot of stretching although I suspect Federal might be a bit stronger than WW. Like others I am interested in your testing. Getting 2500 with a 150 grain bullet is an achievement with a 20" barrel carbine. Another possibility is that the AI may have shown a bigger advantage with the 170 grain??

DEP
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Recently I had a case separation with a WW factory load straight out of the box. 30-30 brass may not lend itself to a lot of stretching although I suspect Federal might be a bit stronger than WW. Like others I am interested in your testing. Getting 2500 with a 150 grain bullet is an achievement with a 20" barrel carbine. Another possibility is that the AI may have shown a bigger advantage with the 170 grain??

DEP
Well, I was getting better than 2500 fps with a 150 gr (Speer) using LVR, a half grain under Hodgdon's max book load for .30-30 Win. If that powder is accurate in a given rifle, there's no need to go with the AI to shoot those at that velocity-- but you're right, that's not bad.

I probably won't test 170 gr- for one thing I don't have any! But my real aim with the AI is increased effective range, and the lighter bullets are the better candidates for that. Although.... if Speer still made the 180 Mag Tip I'd sure try some.

And that is disturbing- head separation with factory ammo... I have never run into that. I've had some duds with recent R-P .30-30 factory loads but never any issues with any others. Wow. I'd let Winchester know- they may want to recall that lot of ammo- that ain't good! Glad you and the rifle aren't hurt from it.
 

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