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Old March 9, 2012, 11:14 AM   #1
lawnboy
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30/30 or large caliber handgun for bear defense?

Lets say I have a model 94, 336 or Moss 464 in 30-30. Lets also say I have a 10mm, a .44mag or other large caliber handgun. Lets say those are my choices and no other firearms are available. Lets also say that I'm not bothered by carrying either weapon. I'm happy with the handgun in a holster or the rifle slung.

Oh, and lets take bear spray off the table to make the disucssion more focused.

And lets say that I have to pick either rifle or handgun and not both.

I've read all of the longer "Defense against bears" threads that a search of TFL revealed. It has been interesting (and long), but I've never seen this particular question.

If I'm going hiking or fishing in Alaska which do I select as a defense weapon? Why?
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Last edited by lawnboy; March 9, 2012 at 11:16 AM. Reason: clarity
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Old March 9, 2012, 11:46 AM   #2
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Either is good but neither is perfect.
Why?
Because there is no such thing as the "perfect gun" for every situation.

ANY long arm is easier to make hits with once you have your shoulders and feet in the proper position, and ANY handgun is easier to fire from awkward positions, therefore can be faster to get into action.
So...which is "better"?
The issue I'd be looking at is your ammo. The average 30-30 with factory ammos is limited to 170 grain soft points. if you had load, you can use Barnes X bullets and get even better penetration.
A 44 mag can be used with factory Federal Premium ammo with hard cast 300 grain bullets and the very best are the LBT 320 grain gas-check bullets. When I was running cast Performance Company (I am a former CEO of that company) we shot our rounds in comparison to many factory rounds, both in handguns and rifles. I can promise you faithfully that a 44 mag with one of our bullets will out penetrate ANY 30-30 load you can use regardless of price and regardless of what bullet you load in that 30-30.

So I would go out on a limb here and make a statement that a 44 magnum with the correct load is ballisticly superior to the 30-30, but that doesn’t matter is you can’t take advantage of it. A 30-30 with a good hit is way better then a 44 mag with a poor hit.

So….how good are you with the handgun?
If you can hit running rabbits at lest 50% of the time or get 7 out of 25 hits on flying clay birds with your handgun (loaded with the heavy “bear killers”) I would advise you to go with the 44
If however you miss almost every shot with your handgun on running rabbits and shooting clay birds you should have a rifle.
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Old March 9, 2012, 01:54 PM   #3
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Wyosmith, what you said makes no sense at all. Ballistics can be measured and are NOT opinion. The 44 Magnum is NOT ballistically superior to the 30-30. It just isn't. While I agree that there are some loadings in 44 Magnum that can be superior in penetration to the 30-30 that is merely because they are a Hard Cast load that don't expand.

Some people have this idea that bullet weight is everything. For the most part its about sectional density. A 30-30 fired from a rifle will do more damage than a 44 Magnum fired out of a revolver. Sure a 300 gr HC load from a 44 Magnum will probably penetrate better than a soft point 170 gr 30-30 load but the 30-30 will provide a better wound channel. With good shot placement we're splitting hairs here. Both will do the job if they hit their intended target. I don't know that the classic 30-30 170 gr hunting rounds have ever found to be lacking in penetration.

For the most part though, in the scenario that the OP is talkinga bout I would have to go with the 44 Magnum revolver. Why? Because you are more likely to have a handgun on you at the time than a rifle. And if I'm using a rifle for defense I would probably have something else anyway. Like you said, its much easier to fire a handgun from awkward positions than a rifle. I don't think that the 44 Magnum is more lethal than a 30-30 though.
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Old March 9, 2012, 02:23 PM   #4
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If the 10mm were a glock 20 or 29 it would be the choice on my side at all times. If any other 10mm, probably a 4" barreled 44.

With comparable bullets the 30-30 will out penetrate the 44. The 44 will be lighter, faster for repeat shots and hold more rounds.

Personally I'd have to sell both and invest the money toward a better choice.
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Old March 9, 2012, 03:53 PM   #5
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too me what you want is a hand gun. You are much more likely to have it on you.
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all 23 of my guns are 45/70 govt 357 mag, 22 or 12 ga... I believe in keeping it simple
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Old March 9, 2012, 03:54 PM   #6
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Given your criteria I would go with the rifle. It is so much more accurate than a handgun that you’d have a better chance of stopping the fight at a safer distance. Think of it like this, if you get to choose your weapon before battle, would you rather have a handgun or a rifle? Personally I would much rather have the convenience of handgun while fishing but like I said, I’m trying to use your criteria.
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Old March 9, 2012, 07:06 PM   #7
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Good stuff so far. Keep it coming.

I set the question the way I did because I hear (and read) people advocate carrying lever action rifles in the heavier handgun calibers like .44, .357 and such for this purpose. But I never hear anyone advise the old standby 30-30, which would seem to me to be better than a similar rifle in a handgun caliber. Or the same round from a handgun.

I do understand that a prevalent and well thought of guide gun is a lever 45-70, but I don't have one of those and I'm not likely to purchase one for this specific purpose alone.
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Old March 9, 2012, 07:55 PM   #8
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locals in alaska regularly hunt kodiaks with 30/30 so any of the lever actions would do the trick no problem. however a rifle takes time to get situated in order to make accurate shots, time that is in short supply with an angry momma bear defending her cubs. so I normally opt for handguns when I speak of bear defense because they are much faster and easier to bring to bear(no pun intended). so your choices are then between 10mm and 44 mag. I'll tell you I'm a bit torn, when I see a big chunk of fur flying at me I like the idea of dumping a 13 round mag into it and not stopping until the slide locks back. however with an 800 pound kodiak your semi auto 10mm is probably going to be marginally suited at best, requiring you to go with the 44 mag which I'm guessing is a revolver. 44 is the best suited platform and caliber for the job though I prefer the added comfort of fast followup shots.
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Old March 9, 2012, 07:55 PM   #9
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I would be tempted to bring my .44 Super Redhawk and be a little bit shy to bring a 30-30 up in Idaho, although I do plan on getting a .44 magnum Winchester 94 in the next month or so which is about equal to the 30-30. I know my .44 with Buffalo Bore 340 +P+ has better penetration than the 30-30.

The issue of accuracy is a real issue with rifles in my hands where I can put bullets into an 1.5 inch group at 100 yards with my Marlin .444 and Skinner Sights. No doubt, they are more accurate, but the issue of penetration between a top loaded .44 and the 30-30 would make me hesitate with the 30-30.
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Old March 9, 2012, 08:27 PM   #10
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A 44..357..10mm..have nothing on a 30-30....Yes..they are good handgun rounds..note: handgun rounds....But a 30-30 carbine is superior..and yes I would use 170 grain bullets....
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Old March 9, 2012, 10:37 PM   #11
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30-30 if you are looking for quick easy shooting of a powerful round. Preferable to any hand gun round. Not as handy as a handgun when you are doing two handed chores around camp but with a sling there is no reason to not have it on or near you at all times.
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Old March 9, 2012, 10:42 PM   #12
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At first I was not going to bother to answer the nay-sayers here. I don’t care if they believe me or not, and I don’t care if they know what’s true or not. I am retired from that field, and I don’t have a dog in the fight at this point.

But for the benefit of those that may truly want to know the truth and the facts, I’ll answer this issue.

I have a great deal of experience in making, shooting and hunting with handguns as well as rifles When I was the head ballistician and later the CEO of Cast Performance Bullet Company, I was the man that fired and oversaw the firing of more rounds of ammo then most shooters will fire in a lifetime.

I measure shots fired in how many times I have had to rebarrel guns because of having shot the throats out of them.

That’s a LOT of rounds in a revolver gentleman. I have had to rebarrel three 44 mag handguns and two 357 mag handguns because of eroded throats and ALL of those rounds were fire by me personally. I have also rebarreled about 10 other guns that were shot out by friends and old employees of mine.

In addition to firing hundreds of thousands of round over 20 years in lab work, I also have been a handgun hunter now for 40 years.

We bought out alloy 40 tons at a time, and had to have shipments coming in regularly.

We went through thousands of TONS of lead based alloy in out production.
Probably 98% of that was made into handgun bullets. Our bullets were used all over the world and we got pictures and reports from hunters every week with them telling us how the bullets worked for them. I had 3 large metal drawers full of letters from our customers from all over the world. Thousands of animals shot with out bullets, and we got complaints very very very seldom.

So even though I have killed many large animals with LBT bullets, I pale in comparison to some of our customers, and we had thousands and thousands of customers.

Now…..Nay-Sayers……… please tell us your vast experience in the field.
Not those things you read, and not some theory.
Not what you wish the truth was, but what you have ACTUALLY done, and what you actually know!

Here is a video of Lynn Thompson shooting in Australia. He’s using a 44 magnum Ruger Redhawk. Lynn used to buy our bullets and so I am assuming he’s using them here. The pigs don’t prove very much, but buffalo do. Many buffalo killed with our 44 cal 320 WFN Gas Check Bullets do not retain the bullets. It’s common to get full penetration and exit wounds. It’s also common to have would channels (called cavitations) that are as large (and sometimes larger) in diameter then you get with jacketed soft points.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKTeEmNUkjw

How many of you folks think you can get a 30-30 with a 170 grain soft point to exit buffalo on broad side or quartering shots?
Show me if you can, and IF YOU HAVE!

I leave the discussion now. I am trying to help a man with an honest question. As I said, I don’t have a dog in the fight anymore, and I don’t care if I am believed or not.
I know what I know. You may believe what you want to believe.
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Old March 9, 2012, 11:16 PM   #13
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I would pick the 10mm glock 20 if i could only choose 1 gun. I think your more likely to have it when you need it. And lets be real there are more dangers than just bears. Where ever there are bears there are normaly mountain lions wolves and worst of all crazy mountain men. If you combine the last 3 dangers they kill way more people than bears. I think the glock 20 10mm is the best all around. The 30/30 is the most accurate and effective that you listed but you might have it leaning against a tree 30 yards away instead of on your hip when you need it. And between the .44 and 10 you have to ask your self which one would you rather have if a pack of wolves were after you or you got in a fire fight with a crazy mountain man? Most people would take the faster follow up shots and 16 rounds of the 10mm.
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Old March 9, 2012, 11:24 PM   #14
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Wyosmith you might be right about the 170 grain sp 30-30 but buffalo bore makes a 190 grain jacketed flat nose that will penetrate plenty.
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Old March 9, 2012, 11:33 PM   #15
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Dear Wyosmith,

Thanks for that detailed post which just confirms my impression that I would grab my .44 magnum first with my BB 340 +P+ that is essentially in the same category as a .454 Casull.

.30-30 Win. (170 FP) 2200 fps 1827 ft-pds

Heavy .44 Magnum +P+ Ammo - 340 gr. L.F.N. - G.C. (1,478 fps/M.E. 1,649 ft. lbs.)

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=9

With a Super Redhawk and my BB +P+, I think I like the penetration factors better than a 30-30. Since the ballistics of BB in a rifle outdo the close range 30-30 stats, I believe my choice of a .44 mag rifle is also the right choice able to throw 305 gr bullets at about 1800 fps.

Marlin 1894 18.5 inch----------------------1779 fps

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php...ct_detail&p=49
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Old March 9, 2012, 11:38 PM   #16
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Quote:
Lets also say that I'm not bothered by carrying either weapon. I'm happy with the handgun in a holster or the rifle slung.
dlb0412..He also said for bear defense....

Quote:
Wyosmith you might be right about the 170 grain sp 30-30 but buffalo bore makes a 190 grain jacketed flat nose that will penetrate plenty.
I was about to post too....

As far as Lynn Thompson shooting Aussie buffalo in the neck close range....A 30-30 can do that..more acurately..and farther away....He is a good handgun shot..I have to admit....

Every ballistics chart I have ever seen for factory ammo..shows 30-30 superior.... If U wanna run bigger hotter rounds..do it with both and compare....

If U just wanna compare handguns...the 44 is superior to the 357 or 10mm...
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Last edited by Keg; March 10, 2012 at 12:19 AM.
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Old March 10, 2012, 02:50 AM   #17
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If you're that worried about bears then holster the 44 AND sling the 30-30. Why do you have to choose just one? There's a difference between being bear prepared and bear scared. People who are bear scared walk around with one hand always on their gun and usually fire upon a bear that makes a bluff charge which turns it into a real charge. Seriously your first line of defense needs to be bear spray. It is the most effective weapon against bear and ends up saving either you or the bears life. It's not that expensive. There are just way to many trigger happy people wandering into the woods these days eager to defend themselves against evil bears
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Old March 10, 2012, 03:01 AM   #18
Alaska444
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Today, 11:50 PM #17
Irish B
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If you're that worried about bears then holster the 44 AND sling the 30-30. Why do you have to choose just one? There's a difference between being bear prepared and bear scared. People who are bear scared walk around with one hand always on their gun and usually fire upon a bear that makes a bluff charge which turns it into a real charge. Seriously your first line of defense needs to be bear spray. It is the most effective weapon against bear and ends up saving either you or the bears life. It's not that expensive. There are just way to many trigger happy people wandering into the woods these days eager to defend themselves against evil bears
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Good point, but sticking to the topic as given gives different answers than real life. My bear gun is not a 30-30, it is a .444 Marlin with Buffalo Bore 335 gr at 2025 fps with over 3000 ft-pds of muzzle energy. My BUG is my .44 mag SRH in cross carry bandolier so I can carry both at the same time. Since my EDC is my pocket carry SP101 .357, I keep that in its usual place with 180 gr BB. That is my deep woods, grizzly defense routine when out in the boonies in northern Idaho. Yes, sling the rifle over the shoulder for sure, I agree and consider some pepper spray. Not to be off topic, but there are no definite trials of guns vs pepper spray to truly state which is better. Both have definite effectiveness, but don't buy into the mantra that pepper spray is always better than a gun. The answer is, it depends.
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Old March 10, 2012, 11:35 AM   #19
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Well Mr. Wyosmith that was a good read and I appreciated it but it didn't answer the OP's question of "if only one gun which gun?" Can't say I have pulled the trigger as many times as you have or wore out as many guns although I did go through (3) 45's while I was competing. I used a .357 magnum revolver as my deer gun for 26 years before my age caught up with me and my eyes suggested a longer barrel and a different type of sight was in order. My 44 mag has replaced my .357 as my long range handgun and while I'm not as sharp as I used to be I am still minute of deer at 100 yards.

I based on my suggestion on a few different things, first one is that the vast majority of people are not handgun hunters and don't put in the trigger time to be really good at it. It is easier to get a shot on target with a rifle assuming the target doesn't have your face in his mouth.

The other thing is I could care less if my bullet goes through the neck of a buffalo if my danger animal is a bear. By the way I like your JSP's but I am kind of a dinosaur and still prefer the Kieth style LSWC for hunting and defense and while they may not penetrate through and through very often penetration has always been good and dead is dead.

My point is no matter what bullet I push out of a 30-30 It still has more energy at 200 yards then the 44 mag does at 100 yards. The 300 gr 44 mag round has almost as much energy, (about 82%), at 100 as the 150 gr 30 cal bullet at 200 yards. Based on that and proficiency factor of most shooters I still say if one gun than the 30-30 should be that gun.
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Old March 10, 2012, 12:04 PM   #20
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If you're that worried about bears then holster the 44 AND sling the 30-30. Why do you have to choose just one?
Excellent point, but it answers the question too easily and then where would we be?? So I decided to frame the question as if that weren't an option. Clearly in real life it would be.

I'm a non-reloading, factory ammo kind of guy.

If I were HUNTING I'd either use my 30-06 or buy another gun. It'd be a small price compared to the price of the trip.

I can cast a fly or run spinning gear with a slung carbine. As long as I don't wade too deep. I've made a trial of it on a river near home (WA). I got some funny looks though. On my two previous trips to fish AK I've left the bear protection to the guide. Although I did carry spray.

I have a business trip scheduled later this year for a couple weeks split between ANC and FAI. Some resident co-workers and I are trying to work it so we can get some fishing done. This'll be my first un-guided trip if we're able to work it in.
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Old March 10, 2012, 12:11 PM   #21
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I was going to bring up the point, but lawnboy beat me to it in his last post: The rifle poses some challenges, since his stated intent is a weapon for hiking and fishing.

He's found a way to sling it that works for him; a back-slung scabbard could be another way to go.

Seems to me, though, if it's an either/or case, the magnum revolver in a Chesty Puller type rig is the easiest to adapt to waders and backpacks. It's also the less likely to be left behind momentarily when one has to answer calls of nature, or cook, cut firewood, etc.

It's nice to have both, but there are more conceivable instances where the rifle would pose logistic challenges.
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Old March 10, 2012, 12:15 PM   #22
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It is easier to get a shot on target with a rifle assuming the target doesn't have your face in his mouth.
Grump.....I like the way you put things.....
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Old March 10, 2012, 12:22 PM   #23
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if i was fishing in alaska i don't think i would be alone, i'm sure i would have family or friends with me. i would be packing a 44 or larger on my hip as i suppose my friends would. i would imagine one or more of us might be sporting a 12 ga shotgun or a high power rifle (something bigger than a 30/30) just like i see paid guides amd park rangers do on tv. an ounce of prevention is better than becoming a big pile of bear poop.
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Old March 10, 2012, 12:34 PM   #24
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First off we're really talking an apples to oranges comparison especially if we do as Whosmith did and compare bullets of different construction. With bullets of equal construction penetration comes down to sectional density and velocity. Hardcast lead in a .30-30 rifle will out penetrate hardcast lead in a .44M handgun.

When seconds count the handgun will be faster to get into action for most of us but then again a .30-30 carbine is gonna be easier to score with. Personally, I think the OP has put way too much thought into the choice. Just pick one or split the difference and get a .44 lever action.

LK
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Old March 10, 2012, 12:58 PM   #25
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ummmmmmmmm............
I thought I did answer his question. In the 1st post.
here, I'll copey and paste it here.
-----------------------------------------
Either is good but neither is perfect.
Why?
Because there is no such thing as the "perfect gun" for every situation.

ANY long arm is easier to make hits with once you have your shoulders and feet in the proper position, and ANY handgun is easier to fire from awkward positions, therefore can be faster to get into action.
So...which is "better"?
The issue I'd be looking at is your ammo. The average 30-30 with factory ammos is limited to 170 grain soft points. if you had load, you can use Barnes X bullets and get even better penetration.
A 44 mag can be used with factory Federal Premium ammo with hard cast 300 grain bullets and the very best are the LBT 320 grain gas-check bullets. When I was running cast Performance Company (I am a former CEO of that company) we shot our rounds in comparison to many factory rounds, both in handguns and rifles. I can promise you faithfully that a 44 mag with one of our bullets will out penetrate ANY 30-30 load you can use regardless of price and regardless of what bullet you load in that 30-30.

So I would go out on a limb here and make a statement that a 44 magnum with the correct load is ballisticly superior to the 30-30, but that doesn’t matter is you can’t take advantage of it. A 30-30 with a good hit is way better then a 44 mag with a poor hit.
So….how good are you with the handgun?
If you can hit running rabbits at lest 50% of the time or get 7 out of 25 hits on flying clay birds with your handgun (loaded with the heavy “bear killers”) I would advise you to go with the 44
If however you miss almost every shot with your handgun on running rabbits and shooting clay birds you should have a rifle.
------------------------------------------------

I am not as good at creative writing as I'd like to be, and I apologize if I didn't answer perfectly, but I did the best I know how.
I stand on the principal that good accuracy with less ballistic effectiveness is better then good ballistic effectiveness with less accuracy. That's why I'd recommend a 30-30 over a 44 handgun in most cases. Meaning in the hands of most shooters.

The 44 with proper ammo, kills better then the 30-30 and thousands of game kills have proven that to me, but it doesn't matter is the shooter can't place a handgun bullet well, and he can place a rifle bullet well. 50% to 75% of ideal penetration and cavitations in the right place is WAY better then 100% penetration and cavitations in the wrong place.

A very good handgunner is a rare man. Those that are good enough to hit running rabbits regularly can impress other shooters and they are the ones that can and do show how well a good handgun can kill.

From the standpoint of a professional ballistician, and being able to do the math and understand the importance of the loss of blood pressure and volume, I can promise you that the heavy handguns bullets of the correct shape are extremely effective. But we need to always compare apples to apples. Ballistic formulas are not hard to come up with, but identical animals at identical angles, in identical condition, in identical “mindset”, in identical terrain is not possible to come up with.

Killing an animal is also not hard to do. Killing them FAST can be hard to do.
Archers kill everything on earth with sharp sticks with small blades on them.
Death is not a measure of effectiveness of a round or a bullet. Heck, cancer kills too, but not very fast.
I could kill an elephant with a 22 lr. It’s been done several times in the past.
That doesn’t transform a Stevens Crackshot into an elephant rifle.

Effectiveness is a function of 2 criteria.
#1 how fast does the animal go down in most cases.
#2 Will you get the same results from difficult angles as you will from ideal angles

After all the gum-flapping and all the prognosticating, it really comes down to those 2 questions.

Fast kills from any reasonable angle is what we want. If you have those 2 things, you are good to go, theories be damned.

Oh,,,,,,one thing more for the sake of edujacating the last poster.
We made 30 cal 308" 3085" and 309" bullets in 180, 190 and 218 grain. I have shot all of them in 30-30s into various balistic media. I no longer have the data for the 30 cals, but I do remember the best penitration I got from the 30-30 in a 20" barrel in saturated news paper and ligh bones was about 20"
The 44 magnum from a 6" barrel with the 320 grain bullet went over 3 feet.
So sorry guy, you could not be more wrong.
the hard cast 30-30 will NOT even come close to a 44 magnum using hard cast bullets.

Again, this is truth, not theroy.

Last edited by Wyosmith; March 10, 2012 at 01:05 PM.
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