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Old April 4, 2011, 09:28 PM   #1
Daekar
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44mag vs. 30-30: Performance inside 200 yards

I have been waffling worse than Obama on the campaign trail for the last week trying to figure out what my next rifle purchase is going to be. While I don't hunt now, I want to get a rifle that I can learn to be proficient with so I can hunt the local whitetails if the need arises. I'm juggling the 44 and 30-30 right now, and have different things pulling me toward each one: 30-30 is known good deer cartridge within 150 yards at least, relatively inexpensive to buy factory ammo. 44 mag: I can also buy a revolver in 44 which I would really like without having to deal with a second caliber.

I'm tossing around the idea of reloading if I get the 44... so, assuming the gun in question in question is an 18.5" or 20" Marlin 1894, what kind of velocity ceiling am I looking at for the 44 if I stay on the lighter end of available bullet weights? I would like to use iron sights or a low-power scope... is a 44 going to be a consistent performer out to 150 yards if I do my part? I know a 44 is more like lobbing a big rock than zapping with a laser, but is it practical to try to flatten the trajectory a smidgen so bullet drop isn't so bad?
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Old April 4, 2011, 09:47 PM   #2
rodwhaincamo
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The 30-30 will have more energy and longer range vs the 44.
But I'm with you on having a handgun and rifle share ammo. I'm looking at a Marlin 1894 in 44.
You will want to reload.
Check out Federal's website for rifle ballistics [federalpremium.com]
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Old April 4, 2011, 10:20 PM   #3
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Where are you hunting? Realistically, what is your longest shot? With today's ammunition, you can reach 200 yards with the 30-30. Don't know about you, but that's about my limit with open sights. Count on the .44 to 100--my brother put a big hole through a doe last year with a NEF carbine. Very handy and low recoil in a rifle. The "same caliber for pistol and rifle" worked for the old cowboys (44-40).

PS: We chronographed some commercial .44 mag 240 grain ammo from that NEF at nearly 2,200 fps at 10' from the muzzle. It looses steam quickly with a low BC pistol bullet, however.

Last edited by ligonierbill; April 4, 2011 at 10:27 PM.
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Old April 4, 2011, 10:53 PM   #4
Daekar
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I've had it sarcastically suggested to me that I "read a ballastics chart by myself" - I know just enough about this stuff to realize that ballistics charts don't tell the whole story with large-diameter heavy rounds like a 44 mag, and I value the opinion of people who are aware of my particular concerns, namely excessive bullet drop that I won't be able to compensate for easily. Stories like that about the NEF rifle pushing 2200 with a 240gr factory load is reassuring, it makes me feel that this round is something practical that I can use rather than a quirky fun round that shoots like a rainbow and hits like a pot of gold. If factory loads can produce that kind of performance (which I haven't seen claimed elsewhere on the net) then surely handloads can reproduce if not exceed that with 180gr. shots.

Edit: I'm hunting in the woods of Southwestern Virginia. The fields provide opportunities for long shots, but most land is wooded if it's not developed. No plains here. :-)
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Old April 5, 2011, 12:13 AM   #5
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Frankly, both cartridges suck, so I suggest you look beyond the cartridge. If I were you, I would be looking at the overall handling characteristics of the carbines that chamber the cartridges. Let that be your guide.
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Old April 5, 2011, 12:46 AM   #6
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Properly sited in, a .44 rifle makes a great deer rifle out to 150-200 yards. It is still capable of dropping a deer at 250 yds with a well placed shot. A lot depends on where your zero is. You may be lobbing lead at those distances, but could it be any worse than a muzzleloader? You don't have the mass you get with a frontstuffer, but you have the advantage of higher velocity and a rifled barrel (faster twist rate). There have been many deer/elk/bear/???? taken with a slow .50 or .54 cal round ball. How does the BC of the round ball compare to a 200 gr .44 bullet?

If your shots are limited to 200 yards and your game is limited to whitetail or smaller, the .44 would do anything you want it to do except skin and butcher the animal for you.
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Old April 5, 2011, 01:21 AM   #7
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If you go with the .44 Mag, you'll have to very carefully select your projectiles. Most .44 Mag bullets are designed to expand rapidly at handgun velocities. When being shot at rifle velocities, expansion is instantaneous. I have read many reports over the years**, of .44 Mag pistol bullets (even reputable handgun hunting designs) going no further than the rib cage, or shoulder blade. Expansion is just too quick, and causes velocity to drop abruptly. Many reports state that the chest cavity wasn't even penetrated by the bullet.

Out of a rifle, you'll be better off shooting Barnes XPBs (200, 225, 300 gr), Nosler Partitions (300 gr only), Swift A-Frames (240, 280, 300 gr), Hornady Interlocks (265 gr only), or a good gas-checked, flat point, hard cast lead bullet of BHN 22 or higher.


That said....
The .30-30 is a better choice for hunting.

Trying to stick with a handgun/rifle "pair" in .44 Mag is a waste of time. After a short time, you'll be wanting more performance from the rifle, which requires hotter loads (and different powders and bullets) than the pistol can handle. You'll be shooting different ammo in the two firearms, and the original idea of "sharing" will be thrown out the window.

Get the .30-30, to prevent regrets and wasted time.


**I do own a 7.5" .44 Mag Ruger Super BlackHawk, and have plenty of experience with performance. I have not, however, ever personally taken big game with it. My experience tells me that "standard" bullets (Sierra SportsMasters, Hornady XTPs, etc) would be too soft - just as the reports have suggested.
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Old April 5, 2011, 01:52 AM   #8
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if you want to shoot the same round in a rifle and pistol with the 44 you can use the leverevolutions they shoot great out of my marlin and my blackhawk
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Old April 5, 2011, 06:06 AM   #9
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My cousin back in the 60's knocked down a cow elk with a 250yd jaw shot using a Win94 30-30. Blew 6" of her lower jaw completely off and dropped her right there. Yes, we all knew it was a once in a life time shot

I'm a huge fan of the 44mag but I wouldn't consider a 44mag revolver in the same class as a rifle. I've taken a huge amount of deer with a Win94 32spl. A little more umph than a 30-30.

I've also had a hunting partner that used a 410 for pheasant hunting and took 33 birds with only 1 miss that season. That says that shot placement is more important than caliber. I sure couldn't do that and was using a 12ga with 3" mags and only got 8 birds for the same time frame.


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Old April 5, 2011, 12:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
is it practical to try to flatten the trajectory a smidgen so bullet drop isn't so bad?
I had a Marling 1894 in 44 and now have a 336 in 30-30. Shooting a hand loaded, hard cast, gas checked SWC in the 44, with a 100 zero I was about an 1-1.5" high at 50 and 6" low at 150. Pushing out to 200 or further the drop was 20"+ and too much for my comfort.

I sold the 44 and got a 30-30 which is zeroed at 100 with open sights. Shooting a 150 grainer I'm within 3" out 150 and 6" low at 200. It's not a huge difference, but the 30-30 does get me out to 200 more comfortably which works fine round here for whitetail. If I plan on moving much beyond 200-250 I move up to 308 and a scope. YMMV
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Old April 5, 2011, 01:18 PM   #11
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I own the 1894 & RH in 44mag with the novelty idea of ammo sharing. Stress NOVELTY. I do have some RH Only loads made w/nickel cases. If i were a hunter i would get advice from TFL gurus.
So go on and get the two 44m pieces and THEN, get another (primary) rifle for hunting. But then again, you probably don't really need another gun. Do You?!! (insert wonderful-wife's voice here).
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Old April 5, 2011, 01:24 PM   #12
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I like the 44Mag and 357Mag because they share handgun ammo (and also can hold more rounds). I'm looking at an 1894c for myself as well.

For power and range though, that 30-30 in a lever action is hard to beat. I have a Marlin 336, pretty darn cool gun.
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Old April 5, 2011, 04:18 PM   #13
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I have both. I recommend the .44 to go with your revolver in the same caliber. Both will kill Deer dead.
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Old April 11, 2011, 10:27 AM   #14
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Lots of guys talking about 150-200 yds. for deer.

But they don't seem to have read the bit about the OP's deer hunting being done in woods.

Now I don't know what kind of woods you guys have, but around here (and probably in the OP's area) any woods shot at a deer at more than 50 yards is going to be exceedingly rare. Those would be some VERY open woods, at least by my standards.

100 yd. range is very reasonable for a woods deer gun.

Another factor is that .44 Magnum is going to be easier and cheaper to reload than 30-30. The cases are straight-walled, and therefore can be sized with a carbide die and no lube. 30-30 will need lube for sizing, and will take twice as long to reload. Also, I bet it uses twice as much powder as .44 Magnum. (which in itself uses 3X as much powder as a lighter .44 Special handgun load)

I just bought (haven't even picked it up yet) a Marlin 1894 in .44 Magnum to go with my 7.5" Redhawk revolver. Incidentally, the Redhawk is my favorite handgun to shoot at the range. With the scope, it is hard to miss, but also hard to hold up. Without the scope, it still has the long sight radius. The gun is a blast with .44 Special level loads in .44 Magnum cases. Pretty light recoil and very accurate. I don't know if I can get away with these loads out of a rifle, but I will certainly try! If you don't have the Redhawk yet, get the 5.5" barrel. I can never find them used, but the 7.5" ones come up all the time. 5.5" is a bit short for hunting, but great for range work.

I went deer hunting with my scoped Redhawk a couple years back. I got skunked. It was my first time hunting. I saw one deer between a bunch of branches in the woods probably 40 yards out. I didn't really have a shot at that distance. The woods were too thick. I might have been able to make the shot with a rifle, but I doubt it. I decided I was going to get ready to go for it, but the doe was SHARP. I slowly and quietly drew the Redhawk. Good so far. But the second I started to cock the hammer and it was making all those clicking sounds, she was off like a shot. I wish I could have found a dumbass deer like some of these we see on youtube. Just grazing away 15 yards from the base of a tree, looking right at the hunter, unworried.

Anyway, my point of that whole story was that you shouldn't worry about 150-200 yard shots on deer in woods. It isn't going to happen. You won't even SEE or HEAR a deer in the woods 100 yards away, much less 150-200.

Follow your gut and go with the 44 Magnum.
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Old April 11, 2011, 12:05 PM   #15
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FWIW;
I have a lever .44 Magnum and 4 .44 Magnum handguns. I also reload. I have wound up using 3 reloads; one for my Puma, one for my Contender and my Ruger and Dan Wesson share the other load. The Puma doesn't like the Ruger/Wesson loads and neither like the Contender loads. So for accurate and leading free shooting a "two gun one load" won't work for me.

To answer your question, I'd go with a 30-30. Proven med. game round and ammo readily available in at least two different factory loadings.
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Old April 11, 2011, 03:41 PM   #16
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Another factor is that .44 Magnum is going to be easier and cheaper to reload than 30-30. The cases are straight-walled, and therefore can be sized with a carbide die and no lube. 30-30 will need lube for sizing, and will take twice as long to reload. Also, I bet it uses twice as much powder as .44 Magnum. (which in itself uses 3X as much powder as a lighter .44 Special handgun load)
The OP is planning to load other bottleneck rifle cartridges, as well (as stated in other threads). So, the need to lube shouldn't be a big deal for the .30-30. I won't argue in favor of either cartridge, though.

As for powder charges -
(Staying with lighter bullets for the .44 Mag, as the OP suggested)

On average, a 180 gr bullet will be sitting on a powder charge of 10-15 grains of a fast powder, and 25-28 grains of a magnum pistol powder.
With a 200 grain bullet, fast powders are hard to find data for. Magnum powders will have 25-30 grain charge weights.

In contrast, a 170 gr bullet in the .30-30 will have a powder charge of 30-35 grains; and a 150 gr bullet will run 30-40 grains of powder.

A difference of 7 grains of powder will take 1000 rounds to make a difference of one pound of powder (and whatever that cost may be in your area - here, powder is running $23-26 / lb for magnum pistol powders).
A difference of 10 grains will take 700 rounds to make a difference of one pound of powder.

To me, that cost is negligible.

The cost of comparable bullets is within $1-2 per 100.
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Old April 11, 2011, 09:59 PM   #17
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Better correct big error on my part : Those were 180 grain .44's we chronographed from my brother's NEF (memory fails - check the logbook). Not sure what load he shot that doe with, but it sure did the job. Lot's of discussion on how far you might shoot in the woods. We hunt the traditional "big woods" of northcentral PA, and the trees have grown tall in the 100 years since it was logged. A young man from our camp killed a buck at a measured 165 yards a few years back. Assuming the OP is looking at a new carbine, I guess it's personal preference. New bullets give new life to the old 30-30, and the .44 Mag is impressive from a carbine barrel. However, if you have the patience to look, may I suggest a couple of rifles from the old days: Remington slide action "corn sheller" in .35 Remington or a nice Savage 99 in
.300 Savage. Showing my age here.
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Old April 12, 2011, 08:43 AM   #18
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Quote:
100 yd. range is very reasonable for a woods deer gun.
Very true for the South. We have so much scrub brush, kudzu, dense trees, deer will walk up on you. My first two were within 25 yards. Well within slug gun distances.

Shot one holding my shotgun like a pistol, the deer was so close just had time to raise the shotgun and line up the sights.

As for calibers, I think the 30-30 will give slightly more range. My 30-30 does not kick as hard as my M1894 Marlin in 44 Mag. I have placed my 12” gong target out to 150 yards and regularly wacked it with the 1894 Marlin, and these were hard wacks, I just have to get my elevation right. At 100 yards the 44 magnum round will bust welds on my gong. Even though the “ballistics” of the round are unimpressive , a 240 grain bullet 429 bullet hits a lot harder than the paper numbers would make you think.
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Old April 12, 2011, 08:53 AM   #19
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Rifle cartridges are usually better at range than pistol cartridges. .44 is expensive so reloading is not a bad idea.
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Old April 16, 2011, 04:03 AM   #20
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http://www.magnumresearch.com/bfr_specs.asp

.30-30

Problem solved, my answer given.

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Old April 16, 2011, 06:35 AM   #21
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Bullets for the 30-30 have a higher sectional density.
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Old April 16, 2011, 06:54 AM   #22
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Quote:
The gun is a blast with .44 Special level loads in .44 Magnum cases. Pretty light recoil and very accurate. I don't know if I can get away with these loads out of a rifle, but I will certainly try!
I used to shoot .44 Spl's in my Winchester 94 all the time. Lots of low recoil fun.

As others have posted, the .44 Mag from a rifle will kill deer easily at 100 yards and in. I never had an opportunity to shoot a deer at anything farther than that. As Slamfire posted, around here your just as likely to have a deer walk right up on you as you are to get a 75/100 yard shot.

My son has that rifle now.
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Old April 16, 2011, 09:45 AM   #23
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"...realize that ballistics charts don't tell the whole story with large-diameter heavy rounds like a 44 mag, ..."

Ballistics charts do tell the "whole story" of the trajectory and, for what you're speaking of, that's all that matters. Either round will kill whitetail much further than you are likely to be able to hit but hitting beyond about 100 yards with a .44 quickly gets iffy but, as Mr. Smaug correctly points out, longer shots in wooded areas are rare. Even so, practical killing accuracy with a handgun is MUCH less likely with a handgun than a rifle; handguns were and remain basically a last ditch effort personal defense weapon for close quarters combat.

Rifles are superiour to handguns from any ballistic perspective. Bottom line, the .30-30 is a rifle cartridge, the .44 is a handgun cartridge; that's the end of that part. Rifle barrels offer little, if any, velocity benefit for any handgun cartridge because the cases simply won't hold enough slower burning rifle power for the added length to matter very much.

The fact that you are asking these questions suggest you have little or no personal experience with the .44 mag.? If so, no matter the effectiveness of the round, I can assure you that it takes a LOT of practice to achieve dependable hunting accuracy with a .44 mag handgun and a good bit of continuing practice to maintain that proficency. And you will still be range limited due to the trajectory.

No matter how many deer you may see in your area now, IF you are thinking of a "bug-out" survival arsenal, forget the big guns and go for a compact and light .22 rimfire rifle and several bricks of ammo. In that sad event the competition for game will be so intense the woods will be quickly cleared of "big" things like deer. Small game and birds will likely comprise most of the successful survivalist's food.

Last edited by wncchester; April 16, 2011 at 09:53 AM.
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Old April 16, 2011, 07:12 PM   #24
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44mag vs. 30-30: Performance inside 200 yards

I am not any type of expert but it seems to me that the same cartridges would not be the best fit for both a rifle and a revolver,even when they are in theory the same caliber.
With this in mind I am quite happy with my combination which is a Mod.1894 Winchester 30-30 "Trapper" 16" and a 7.5 " Redhawk .44

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Old April 16, 2011, 08:58 PM   #25
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I'm getting 1750 with Green Box Rem 240SP. In my 1894 with Skinner Sights, I can keep all shots on an 8" plate at 125 yards - offhand. If you're going to use a 44, use 240s.
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