The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Art of the Rifle: Bolt, Lever, and Pump Action

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 14, 2024, 07:42 PM   #1
1972RedNeck
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 8, 2015
Posts: 214
Strongest 30-30 Lever Action

Tossing around the idea of a 30-30 AI for my next rifle. Not going to be pushing the limits of blowing it up, but I do like to load a little on the warm side. I have no brand loyalty.

What make and model of 30-30 lever gun has the strongest action/receiver?
1972RedNeck is offline  
Old April 14, 2024, 09:01 PM   #2
hammie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 18, 2009
Location: Temple, TX
Posts: 963
If I remember correctly, the '94 Winchester had to thicken its receiver to accommodate the .375 Winchester's higher pressures. The Marlin 336 was able to accept higher intensity cartridges without modifications. Based on that I would guess that the Marlin 336 or it's clones would be stronger. I assume the clones include the Henry or the Rossi R95. (Clones in the sense of the bolt locking design.)

Your project is intriguing, and it started me thinking. If I were doing this, I would get a steel framed Henry single shot rifle. The Henry single shot is amply strong, costs less, and allows for spitzer bullets. The single shot would be easier to ream out for the .30-30 Ackley Improved, and easier to ship to a gunsmith. Just send the barrel off by regular mail or UPS.

I would not be surprised to find that such a .30-30 AI, single shot, configuration would be as powerful and as typically accurate as a .308 Win.

Last edited by hammie; April 14, 2024 at 09:09 PM.
hammie is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 12:13 AM   #3
georgehwbush
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 14, 2023
Location: down town USA
Posts: 244
yeah i was thinking bolt also; but if you want the look and feel of the lever probably the 336, they are solid shooters; but i'm not sure i would take one of them to AI and still load hot. how much more powder will the 30-30AI hold ?
__________________
"if you have a good shooting stance, you are not using cover correctly" father frog
georgehwbush is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 01:54 AM   #4
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 28,951
Quote:
What make and model of 30-30 lever gun has the strongest action/receiver?
Probably the Browning BLR and it already chambers cartridges that stomp the .30-30 into the mud.

Then there's the Savage 99 and the Winchester 88 and if you get really lucky finding them the Sako Finnwolf and Finnbear.

And again, already in factory calibers better than the .30-30AI.

and the strongest "lever" actions are the Ruger falling blocks, No.1 and No.3

My guess for the strongest lever action factory chambered in .30-30 Win would be the Savage 99. But Savage dropped that chambering with WWII. So finding one of those collector pieces and turning it into a .30-30 AI would be a most dangerous thing to do.

bad for your health...Savage collectors would tear you into tiny little pieces, and then stomp on them, and then...they would get nasty....

Seriously, if you're just looking for a project I'd look for a 336 or Win 94 as cheap as you can find one, still sound, and have it rechambered and start loading, keeping a close eye on it for stretching. I don't think the AI version is enough to do it, but I have no idea what you're going to put into your loads, so...good Luck!
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 05:26 AM   #5
Pumpkin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 18, 2020
Location: Seguin Texas
Posts: 484
336 being forged and just open on the bottom would be better than a 94 that’s open top and bottom and depending on the vintage cast or forged.

Winchester had to beef up the sides of the receiver on their Big Bore models to handle higher pressure cartridges, 307, 356, 375 and 444.
If you find one of these, you may as well get a 307 and call it done.

Mossberg sold a lever action back around the 60’s and 70’s that closely copied the 336. Major outward difference was that the trigger moved with the lever. The receiver was also a little bulkier.

Last edited by Pumpkin; April 15, 2024 at 05:40 AM.
Pumpkin is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 09:03 AM   #6
taylorce1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2005
Location: On the Santa Fe Trail
Posts: 8,275
If I were to do a .30-30 AI, I'd want to use spitzer bullets to really take advantage of the increased case capacity. In a lever that leaves you the least amount of bullet options for spitzers with the Hornady FTX bullets.

For bolt actions they're few and far between. Rem 788 and Win 54 rifles are the best bolt actions in .30-30 but I wouldn't AI either, as they're expensive to purchase and highly collectable. The Rem 788 has a notoriously weak extractor, and parts are tough to find when you break them. The Savage/Stevens/Springfield models will be your easiest to find, but they have issues with only having a single action screw.

Then you might have feeding issues with either a lever or bolt action rifle that might need worked out. With the body taper removed and sharper shoulder it might hang up trying to chamber a round. There are a few things that I'd try to hash out before even starting a project like this.

I've often thought of building either a .30-30 or .30-40 AI. However, it's simply buying an expensive barrel for my Encore frame. A single shot rifle is the easiest route to a well functioning rimmed AI cartridge. I have a friend that had a .30-30 AI Contender pistol, and he used it to shoot a pronghorn on my family's property and kill some praire dogs. He was getting around 25-2600 fps from a 14" barrel, if I remember correctly.
__________________
NRA Life Member

Last edited by taylorce1; April 15, 2024 at 09:16 AM. Reason: add in link to parts rifle
taylorce1 is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 09:21 AM   #7
The Verminator
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 19, 2013
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 407
Marlin, definitely.
The Verminator is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 01:26 PM   #8
jmr40
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 15, 2008
Location: Georgia
Posts: 10,826
Which is stronger is still debatable, but from everything I've read I tend to think the Winchester is.

Another discussion from here in 2008 with some pretty compelling evidence the Winchester is the stronger action. Considering who posted this I tend to believe him.

https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=308117

Quote:
The Winchester 94 is stonger than the Marlin 336. It has a one-piece locking lug the completely locks the bolt. The Win 94 was also chambered in 7-30 Waters and 307 Win, which was essentially a rimmed 308.

The Win 94 Big Bore was made stronger ("fatter") through the receiver, but that had more to do with trying to prevent the action "springing" when fired and causing case-stretching issues when firing the 375 Win and 444 Marlin rounds it was chambered for. I have never seen a Win 94 Big Bore chambered for 45-70, the receiver is not wide enough.

The 336 has a one-piece locking lug, but it just fits into a notch in the bolt. It is strong enough to handle a lot more than people give it credit for. The Win 92 has 2 locking lugs, but they fit into shallow recesses in the side of the bolt.
__________________
"If you're still doing things the same way you were doing them 10 years ago, you're doing it wrong"

Winston Churchill
jmr40 is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 02:54 PM   #9
Pumpkin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 18, 2020
Location: Seguin Texas
Posts: 484
The OP was asking about a lever action originally chambered in 30-30.
This excludes the Big Bore version.
Is an action that stretches outwards considered stronger than one that doesn’t.
This surely will affect the engagement of the sliding, angled locking bolt.
Rechamber a 30-30 94 (not a Big Bore) to the more powerful 308 Marlin Express, I bet the results would be less than satisfactory.
Pumpkin is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 04:34 PM   #10
taylorce1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2005
Location: On the Santa Fe Trail
Posts: 8,275
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pumpkin
The OP was asking about a lever action originally chambered in 30-30.
This excludes the Big Bore version.
If you read the quote jmr40 posted, the first paragraph in the quote is strictly talking about the M94 action. The quote also states the M94 was chambered in 7-30 Waters with an average pressure of 45K psi and .307 Win with an average operating pressure of 52K cup. the .30-30 average operating pressure is 42K psi or 38K cup.

In the second paragraph he discusses the need to beef up the action for the .375 Win and .444 Marlin. For refrence the .308 Marlin Express operates at 57.5K psi average pressure. .308 MX pushes a 140 grain projectiles at 2800 fps, the .307 Win pushes 150 grains at 2700. SAAMI doesn't list cup pressure for the Marlin and doesn't list PSI for the Winchester cartridge. I can only hypothesize the .307 Win would push the 140 to nearly the same speed as the .308 MX does.
__________________
NRA Life Member

Last edited by taylorce1; April 16, 2024 at 09:21 AM.
taylorce1 is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 06:30 PM   #11
2damnold4this
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 12, 2009
Location: Athens, Georgia
Posts: 2,529
Maybe I am a Fudd but what is the point of hotrodding the 30-30? What is the goal?
2damnold4this is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 06:34 PM   #12
The Verminator
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 19, 2013
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 407
If you're saying there ain't much of a point.........I agree.
The Verminator is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 07:18 PM   #13
Pumpkin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 18, 2020
Location: Seguin Texas
Posts: 484
Not very practical anymore considering what the value is of a decent 94 or 336.
Pumpkin is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 08:29 PM   #14
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,337
saddle carbine

One of those Savage 99's in saddle carbine configuration in 30-30 has been on my bucket list for years! I would join in the torture of anyone dorking with one
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 09:14 PM   #15
1972RedNeck
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 8, 2015
Posts: 214
Quote:
Probably the Browning BLR and it already chambers cartridges that stomp the .30-30 into the mud.


Seriously, if you're just looking for a project I'd look for a 336 or Win 94 as cheap as you can find one, still sound, and have it rechambered and start loading, keeping a close eye on it for stretching. I don't think the AI version is enough to do it, but I have no idea what you're going to put into your loads, so...good Luck!
Already have a BLR in 7mm Rem Mag. Want a 30-30 for the stable but I can't leave well enough alone, so the 30-30 AI fits the bill.

Pretty much have it narrowed down to the 336 and 94. Really like 94s, but I'm afraid the 336 is a better fit...
1972RedNeck is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 09:15 PM   #16
1972RedNeck
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 8, 2015
Posts: 214
Quote:
Maybe I am a Fudd but what is the point of hotrodding the 30-30? What is the goal?
No point. Just can't leave well enough alone and I like Ackleys...
1972RedNeck is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 10:07 PM   #17
taylorce1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2005
Location: On the Santa Fe Trail
Posts: 8,275
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2damnold4this
Maybe I am a Fudd but what is the point of hotrodding the 30-30? What is the goal?
The .30-30 AI makes a lot of sense in specialty firearms like the Contender. It gives you nearly .300 Savage performance at pressures the small receiver frame can handle without stretching the frame. It opens the cartridge up to bullets you usually can't use as well.

My friend used a lot of cartridges like the .30-30 AI in pistols because he lived in upstate NY and he had to use either a pistol or shotgun to deer hunt. Also because of gun legislation it was easier to buy a new barrel for an Encore or Contender than another complete firearm. He really enjoyed it when he was no longer limited to pistols and shotguns. Watching him take a pronhorn at 350 yards with the .30-30 AI pistol was pretty impressive.
__________________
NRA Life Member
taylorce1 is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 10:42 PM   #18
Paul B.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 28, 1999
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 3,808
Well one can take the 30-30 and give it the AI treatment but why? two books I can recommend, one is, "Winchester's 30-30, Model 94 by Sam Fadala. The other is, "Pet Loads" by Ken Waters.

Winchester's 30-30 is based on Mr. Fadala's work with the cartridge and the custom M94 he built. He did chamber it to the AI but only loads it to standard 30-30 pressures. He did it that way for longer case life. He has some interesting handload data as well including using 190 gr. bullets from Winchester .404 Savage brass and selling the unfired brass to recoup some of the cost. All in all a very interesting read.

Pet Loads on the other hand is a compilation of handloading work by Mr. Waters covering just about every cartridge popular in the US but many from over the world. He has a section on the 30-30 where he did side experiments using the very strong Bolt action M54 Winchester. His fnds were that the 3030 brass wasn't strong enough for really hot rodded loads. I have an M54 and I agree with Mr. Waters. IIRC, he opined that there might not be all that much gain going to the AI version but did say other disagree.

I was going to leave out P.O. Ackley but in all fairness he did some experiments with the 30-30 AI which he found favor with. That set of books is is, "handbook for Shooters and Reloaders Vol1 & Vl 2".

Personally, I like the 30-30 as is and shoot the several I have as "fun guns" at the range or desert. I run mostly home cast cast 175 gr. bullets usually at 1950 FPS which is supposed to be the original speed with a 165 gr. bullet. FWIW, I liked the idea of Mr. Fadala's load using the 190 gr. .303 Sav. bullet so tinkering with my alloy got a 180 gr; cast bullet to fome out at 190 gr. I run it at the original .303 speed of 1950 FPS.

Before I forget, both of those cast bullet loads take deer very nicely.
Paul B.
__________________
COMPROMISE IS NOT AN OPTION!
Paul B. is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 10:45 PM   #19
skywag
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 24, 2011
Posts: 254
Without a doubt, the Savage 99. It is strong enough to fire high-intensity cartridges like the .308 WIN.


https://www.gunsinternational.com/gu...n_id=101685293
skywag is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 11:42 PM   #20
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 28,951
Quote:
My friend used a lot of cartridges like the .30-30 AI in pistols because he lived in upstate NY and he had to use either a pistol or shotgun to deer hunt.
About when did your friend live and hunt in NY??

Also I'm a bit curious where he was. I grew up in NY and left there in 75. "Upstate" was a term commonly used by people in the lower Hudson valley and NYC metro areas, and covered everything in the state north of where they lived. I grew up in the lower Adirondack region and no one there, ever, used the term "upstate". It was a bit of a matter of local pride.

New York state is shaped like a "T" tipped on its right side. For hunting the part sticking up is the Northern Zone, and the rest of the state is the Southern Zone.

No idea what it is today but back in the 60s-70s Southern Zone had some "peculular" rules. First off, it was shotgun only, no rifles for deer or bear. And, in the later 60s, they ruled out buckshot for deer, SO, in 3/4 of the state deer hunting was shotgun only (20ga or larger) and slugs, only. Oddly enough, you could use buckshot (#4 buck or larger) for black bear, but NOT for deer. State wide the only reg for pistol hunting deer/bear was .24 cal or larger.

I don't recall being allowed to pistol hunt in the Southern Zone, might be something they changed after I moved west, might have been something allowed back where I lived there, just not widely known. Handgun hunting big game wasn't something widely done back then.

From what I've been able to find out, the .30-30 AI was an easy conversion for the Win 94 and Marlin 336 rifles only needing a rechambering, and allowing as much as a couple hundred fps velocity increase without stressing the action.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old April 16, 2024, 09:20 AM   #21
taylorce1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2005
Location: On the Santa Fe Trail
Posts: 8,275
My buddy lived about 60 miles soutwest of the Rochester airport that I flew into for deer season in 2008. I changed flights in NYC, and it was a flight attendant that said where I was flying into was upstate, I just figured that was a generic term for any part of the state outside of NYC. I'm guessing that's your sothern zone then since Rochester is northwest of NYC?

Rifle was already allowed by the time I went hunting in 08. He is a little older than me born in 69, born and raised there until he had to move for work in 2010. He said when he grew up it was shotgun only, but when they added pistol to the regs that's when his family got into Contender pistols. He said he had hunted deer and bear throughout the whole state growing up,

I never asked a whole lot of questions about the zones or when the firearm rules changed. I did read up on most of the regulations at that time about legal methods of take and the other basics. My friend pretty much took care of getting my license for me after he picked me up at the airport.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul B.
His fnds were that the 3030 brass wasn't strong enough for really hot rodded loads. I have an M54 and I agree with Mr. Waters.
My friend said the same thing, so he made his .30-30 AI brass from .375 Win cases.
__________________
NRA Life Member
taylorce1 is offline  
Old April 16, 2024, 09:31 AM   #22
Pumpkin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 18, 2020
Location: Seguin Texas
Posts: 484
I read an article in Shooting Times about loading the 30-30 to max velocities.
The author was using 375 Win brass because of its added a strength in the web area. I actually bought a few boxes, probably much harder to find these days.
Pumpkin is offline  
Old April 16, 2024, 10:10 AM   #23
taylorce1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2005
Location: On the Santa Fe Trail
Posts: 8,275
Rifle issue #103 Jan 1986 has the fastest data for the 150 grain bullet at 2585 fps using Hornady bullet and H335 powder in the .30-30 AI. This was fired from a 24" Winchester 94. I'm assuming this was a FN bullet, however in my 8th edition Hornady manual the only bullet they offer in 150 grains is a RN.

Handloader issue #107 Jan 1984 from a Winchester 94 carbine. The fastest data for the 170 grain I found used a Sierra PH FN at 2437 fps with I4064 powder.

P.O. Ackley's 150 grain data was extremly fast from his book:
Handbook for Shooters & Reloaders/Vol. 1 - P.O. Ackley, 1962

It was recommended to use extreme caution when using this old data.
__________________
NRA Life Member
taylorce1 is offline  
Old April 16, 2024, 10:53 AM   #24
The Verminator
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 19, 2013
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 407
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1972RedNeck View Post
No point. Just can't leave well enough alone and I like Ackleys...
If I were going to mess around with a Model 94 I'd be inclined to go all the way and make a 7-30 Waters.

Better ballistics and a lot less recoil than the 30AI.
The Verminator is offline  
Old April 16, 2024, 01:16 PM   #25
ThomasT
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 22, 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,768
I don't know if its helpful or not but a couple of decades ago I found some data for extra hot 30-30 loads and so had to try them. I didn't have a chrono and don't remember what the supposed extra speeds were supposed to be but the rounds were HOT. The gun kicked and bucked when fired and cases only made it through two loadings before they were splitting.

So i stopped what I was doing pretty quick and decided no more of those Non Manual loads. What was the point? I had a 308 and 30-06 that would shoot circles powerwise around those loads and do it safely. I just decided to accept my 30-30s for what they were instead of trying to turn them into lever action magnums.

John Barness always said that a 4% increase in powder capacity would get you a 1% increase in velocity. So how much more powder space does an AI 30-30 provide?

I don't have a 308 bolt action anymore but if I could find a 308 carbine I think I would load the case with 170gr 30-30 bullets pushed to around 2400fps for sort of a Super 30-30. And that would be how I ramped up the power in the 30-30 rifle. I already do loads like that in 30-06 cases and they are very pleasant to shoot.

I can't tell you what the strongest lever action is. In your case the weak link is the 30-30 brass which was never designed with higher pressures in mind.

Last edited by ThomasT; April 16, 2024 at 01:50 PM.
ThomasT is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:08 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2021 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Page generated in 0.07116 seconds with 11 queries