View Full Version : What do you consider practical max range for 30-30 on deer?

April 28, 2001, 10:51 AM
Your choice of sights and field rest on a fairly calm day [ie no wind].

What would you say was max range for sporting shot?

Dave McC
April 28, 2001, 11:43 AM
A local range here holds frequent 30-30 shoots. Iron critters at 200 yards, shot offhand, 40 rounds, any 30-30 rifle with iron sights.

Quite a few entrants for the first time shoot less than 15 or so, I understand. I'd be loath to try a shot with my 94 (Peep Sight, good trigger, some gunsmithing) on live targets at over 100 yards, which is about 2 twice the length of my average shot.

And instead of concentrating on just how far off we can hit them, we'd be better concentrating on improving our skills so we can take them up close.

April 28, 2001, 01:54 PM
I have to kina of agree with Dave, 100-150 yards is about maximum. Anything more than 175 or so is really stretching the barrel. I know quite a few fellows here that use the Marlin 336 in 30-30, but 95% of the shots here are at about a 50 yard average distance and at that range a 30-30 is about as good as any other rifle.

Paul B.
April 28, 2001, 03:12 PM
WEhile I basically agree with Dave and Southla1, I also have to look at other aspects of the question. Please take into account, that this is based on my experience and my eyesight. (blind as a bat since 6 years old-very nearsighted) With a standard 303- carbine, Win. 94 or Marlin 336, using the standard "V" notch sights, I'd probably try to keep it at 100 yards or less. Same guns with a receiver (peep) sight, I'd stretch it to 125-150 yards given good conditions. With my 94 Canadian Centennial with 26 inch barrel and tang sight, I would not be too uncomfortable out to 200 yards, max. I just had the tang sight put on, and was hitting a 200 meter gong that was about 8 inches in diameter fairly regularly yesterday, despite some gusty winds. I guess I averaged about 7 out of 10 shots. With my 94 carbine with peep sight, it was down to about 5 out of 10 shots.
Now would I shoot at a deer at 200 yards, even with the tang sighted rifle? Yes and no. I would not shoot if I could get closer and the deer was unwounded. If he was wounded, I would try to bring him down if I could, at least out to 200 yards.
FWIW. I shoot only cast bullets in my 30-30 rifles. They shoot just as well as factory jacketed in my rifles and cost a heck of a lot less. Oh yes. They kill deer very nicely.
Paul B.

Art Eatman
April 28, 2001, 04:40 PM
One factor as to limitation for the .30-30 is the trajectory. The round nosed bullet, starting out rather slowly by today's standards, is further handicapped by its shape. It loses velocity more rapidly than does the Spitzer.

Now, add in that many people don't do well at estimating ranges out past even 150 yards or so, much less beyond 200.

It's just too easy to get a bad hit and cripple a deer when going beyond the "normal" 150-yard to 200-yard usage.



April 28, 2001, 07:47 PM
Ah-h-h, your question takes me back in time...

A cousin and I both started deer hunting in our early teens -- several decades ago, now. We both carried .30-30's of the Winchester model 94 persuasion with the standard factory installed iron sights. (I still have mine, don't know about my cousin.) We both accounted for a number of deer, mostly in the 30 to 90 yard range and the deer we shot at those distances rarely traveled far -- if they traveled at all!

What I learned from those early years were these things. I am much worse than I like to admit at estimating distance beyond 100 yds. and that lighting conditions (time of day, fog, cloudy or not, etc.) further affects my ability to estimate range. The .30-30's rainbow-like trajectory complicates my ability to calculate "hold" on a target that is beyond 150 yds. and to make matters worse the bead sight on my 94 covers a lot of deer at 150+ yds.

Having said all of that, I would answer your question by saying that for me, the .30-30 is fun to shoot, light to carry and is quite lethal for deer when the range is somewhere between 30 and 100 yards. (Having a deer too close causes problems for me, also, as I once nearly shot completely over a deer that was within 18 long steps of me! We surprised each other as I rounded a corner in the trail and it apparently was in the process of bolting just as I pulled the trigger. I had not allowed for the closeness of the animal and held too high. The bullet barely caught it in the spine, knocking it down but hitting it way higher than I thought I had aimed!)

For years now, I have used relatively flatter shooting calibers in longer barreled rifles with quality scopes and they have made up for a multitude of my shooting sins, but I still have fond memories of a lot of hunts with my ol' .30-30!

October 6, 2001, 03:46 PM
250yds with good glass, good ammo, and practice. That heavy bullet will kill farther than you think.

Art Eatman
October 6, 2001, 04:18 PM
Ehornad, you'll notice most folks were talking about the problems of hitting. Sure, the bullet will do a good-enough job--but ya gotta hit.

You'll find most of us here are primarily concerned with how far we can reliably ensure proper shot placement. We know that most cartridges can kill just way on out there.



October 6, 2001, 10:22 PM
Art is right, when I posted this thread I was wondering what people who used the 30-30 felt was sporting [ie ethical] max range for hitting kill zone in the field.

The unstated part of this thread was that I had noticed that heavy rifles 416's & 458's could equal or exceed the 30-30's trajectory with many bullets. With a 350 or 400 grain speer SP in the 458 Win for instance you should be able to take deer or hogs to 150+ yards if you could do so with a 30-30.

I like to use as few different rifles as I can for hunting. IMHO the fewer rifles I use the better I will be with each. Also if I ever do get the chance to hunt Dangerous game I would like to be very used to the rifle I use to hunt DG. So when I get a heavy I will use it to hunt hogs and perhaps deer and black bear...so I will know what I can do with that rifle in the field.

BTW I do think the 6.5x55 Swede and the 257 Roberts make better deer rifles than the 458 Win :D but I wouldn't want to face a chargeing brown bear of buffalo with the Swede or the Roberts.

October 6, 2001, 11:45 PM
I'm just tired of hearing that a centerfire rifle is only good for 150yrds. I can hit you with a 12ga slug at that distance. A scoped rifle should be able to outdistance a shotgun.

October 7, 2001, 08:57 AM
Ehornad: I'm curious, how close to your point of aim would expect to hit with 12 gauge slug at 150 yards? I haven't used my (smoothbore)12 gauge past 50 yards yet. Although I think it would probably meet my standards to at least 75 yards and perhaps to 100.

I normally use a 8" paper plate to test effective sporting range. I feel that if I can place two out of two shots on the plate from field positions on demand at a given range then I am shooting within my personal sporting range for big game.

With my 12 gauge & slugs I know that even from offhand I can do that under most circumstances at 50 yards. If I had just ran some distance and was breathing heavy 50 yards could be to far to try offhand IMHO. Though I wouldn't be worried if I could hit kneeling. If I was using my Scout rifle with any kind of rest I know 200 yards is easy. I suspect 300 yards would be within sporting range, for me, with my Scout rifle and a field rest under most conditions...but I don't know for sure because all the ranges I have access to stop at 200 yards.

I plan to get a bit more serious about varmint shooting as part of my training & practice for big game shooting. Figure that doing at least some shooting of varmints with my Scout rifle and regular big game loads will give me a good way to test my long range field shooting skills. And hopefully improve them.

How much room for error do you have with 12 gauge slug @ 150 yards when you judge the range? I would think misjudgeing the range by 10 or 15 yards would result in missing under or hitting to high above kill zone on white tail when the range was near 150 yards.

October 7, 2001, 02:15 PM
I get 1" groups with slugs at 50yrds from my 18" Vang Comp 12ga. Point of Aim/Point of impact is the same sight setting for 000, buck so it's very easy.

Now at 100yrds with this LOW power load, I'm down 7" and getting 2" groups. Even if I get a 4" group at 150 being 18" down (low power loads), that EASILY passes you minute of paper plate test. Pretend you're shooting 45-70 cowboy loads.

NOW, with a handgun scope mounted over the barrel scout style and 3" mag slugs, things only get better! You don't hear 45-70 guys saying they can't hit a plate at 150yrds.

Art Eatman
October 7, 2001, 03:02 PM
We who post here at TFL generally have more interest in shooting than the "average guy". We do, however, have "newbies" who are just starting, and IMO should be encouraged to be conservative during that learning process.

So, I in particular will usually give "for all practical purposes" limitations on the useful range of different cartridges. I know they may not be the maximum effective range--but not just anybody can reliably hit a neck or heart shot at maximum effective range.

:), Art

Long Path
October 7, 2001, 04:48 PM
Of course we know that a .30-30 will kill whitetail deer at 400 yards. To attempt to do so on an un-wounded deer would be ridiculous, but the bullet clearly has the energy to do so. This proves little. We are sportsmen.

I've a friend who killed a deer at over 200 yards (I want to say 213yds, but I could be mistaken-- I must ask) with a Marlin 336. But he had some special conditions. The rifle was scoped, and had a trigger job. He had worked up the load himself, and knew the drop to within a fraction of an inch out to 250. He had been hunting that deer lease for over a week, and had paced the shot to that spot at the fence from his blind, so that he knew the exact range. He had pushed some downed timber together to make a solid rest for his blind, which he took advantage of. It was a still day, with standing broadside shot, with the sun behind him, and the deer unaware of his presence.

Under those conditions, he was not stretching too greatly the abilities of the .30-30. Add to that the fact that we call him the "human Ransom rest", and you have a clean shot.

Using factory sights and factory triggers under average field conditions, I would say that 125 yards is the longest shot I would ever try for a deer with a .30-30. With good receiver peep sights and a trigger job, I feel that 175 yards is certainly within the reach of a good rifleman.


October 7, 2001, 07:15 PM
The answer is a series of questions:

1) What gun are you using?

2) How often do you shoot?

3) How good of a shot are you?

4) How accurate is your gun?

Assuming a M94 or 336 (Savage 170 for that matter) and open/reciever sights 100-150 depending on the shooter & gun/load combination.

Switch to same guns and a 1.5-4x scope and 150-200yds.

Step up to a either a T/C Contender or NEF Handi-Rifle and some warm handloads and a good scope with 140-150gr spire points and you are looking at a 200-250yd gun.

October 7, 2001, 08:22 PM
:cool: This thread is still alive.

grimel: I might add to your list "Do you reload/handload frequently?"
I have noticed that most people who reload once a month or more usually shoot a LOT more than typical hunters/shooters and usually are much better shots because they practice more. Also "Are you shooting from offhand, kneeling, sitting, prone, field rest, or bench rest/bipod?"

Ehornad & Art: I know both of you can probably shoot circles around me. But then Art has probably been shooting for at least years to every one of my months :D

And someone like Elmer Keith could out shoot many people that used rifles with his iron sighted handguns. But he used to herd sheep IIRC buy shooting in front of them with his blackpowder reloads.

October 7, 2001, 11:28 PM
This has been a splendid string with many excellent posts, I couldn't think of another usefull point to make!

Long Path
October 8, 2001, 01:03 AM
Ehornad & Art: I know both of you can probably shoot circles around me. But then Art has probably been shooting for at least years to every one of my months. :D

I don't know about Ehornad, but I happen to know personally that Art finds morning coffee to be best accompanied by a few shots at his 500 yd steel gong, right off his back porch.

I duzn't mess w/ Art. ;)


October 8, 2001, 10:25 AM
Oh how I miss living in the country:(

October 9, 2001, 04:43 PM
For me personally? I can hit a 2 liter bottle at 100yds with my stock sighted Winny 94. I wouldn't go much further than that with the stock sights.

Jody Hudson
October 9, 2001, 04:55 PM
The distance at which you can ALWAYS hit an egg multiplied by two. Eggs make great targets, are cheap and explode well.

Try it. And they are biodegradable and thus you don't need to clean up your mess if you shoot out in the woods or in a dirt pit etc.

October 9, 2001, 09:33 PM
Glamdring, you are right. Sometimes I forget everyonoe doesn't reload. My press paid for itself by the third box. 44mag heavy loads are expensive here ($20+). I figure I got it in August (several years ago) for my birthday by Christmas it had paid for itself and saved me another $100 (which bought dies for my 9mm and 45). One thing I have noticed, I'm not really saving money I just shoot more.

OT - everyone needs a 22lr that matches their main CF's just for the economy of shooting. Try as I might I cann'e find a load for and CF .223 or larger rifle that even comes close to 22lr price per round.

October 10, 2001, 06:29 AM
Marlin 336 w/150 or 180 gr bullets.. 200-250 yards.

I know it can be done at longer range, but to me 250 is the limit on deer sized game, on elk its 200. Even with a scope, the 30-30 has a rainbow like trajectory. At past 250, you really need to be able to judge distance and know your ballistics.