Too many variables to proclaim one 30-30 cartridge is best. Best for what purpose? Best as in what characteristics?I know, I know. Everyone has their favorite. But why?
I'd love to get the combined wisdom of this forum on the subject of "best" 30-30 ammo. I'm wondering about (i) brand less than (ii) bullet weight. Let's dismiss premium ammo (190-grain Buffalo Bore, expensive copper solids, etc). The question has to do with 125 grain, 150 grain, 160 grain Hornady LR, and 170 grain. This assumes that there is little difference among the 150 and 170 grain loadings of the major manufacturers.
My dear old deceased dad (who is most definitely getting smarter all the time) advocated heavier bullets (in this case, 170 grain) in moderate-velocity cartridges. He argued that in flesh and bone, 170 grains at 2200 fps is more potent than 150 grains at 2350, especially at typical 30-30 distances.
His opinion seems to be born out by the manufacture and sale of obsolete calibers. I've heard it said that as calibers lose their demand, the demand that remains is for heavier bullets.
As an aside, why would Winchester 170 grainers be $1 per 20 cheaper than 170 grain Remingtons?
The "best" cartridge in my 30-30, in my current situation, is a hand-loaded Lee C309-150-F, over-top IMR 4064.
The factory cartridges I've tried so far, weren't precise enough. If I were to have found a factory round that was precise enough, (and I am sure there are some that would have been,) that would have been my "favorite."
That choice didn't come from "wisdom.".. and it has little to offer others, since maybe 80% of the other 30-30s may not shoot that ammo precisely.
As long as the rifle/ammo combination is precise enough, the bullet hard enough to hold together while penetrating into the vitals, (probably a non issue,) shot placement does the rest.
...but seeing that I live in Ohio, whereas the 30-30 can only hunt varmints and the like; light, precise, bullets will do.
Now if I lived one state to the east, I would consider using the Lee C309-170-F to hunt black bear.