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Old April 15, 2018, 11:59 PM   #1
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The Gong Show: 30-30 vs 44 vs M1A

I was out shooting with my friend recently and he brought a round steel gong made of bullet resistant alloy. It was probably about 16" in diameter and perhaps half an inch thick or better. They all moved the gong pretty well but the interesting thing is that the Marlin 44 Magnum seemed to be at least as powerful as the 7.62 out of the M1A. Both were definitely more powerful than the 30-30. I was quite impressed with the Marlin. Anyone have similar results? I've gotten to where I don't have much confidence that the energy figures in foot-pounds from a ballistic chart gives an accurate comparison of dis-similar calibers.
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Old April 16, 2018, 01:07 AM   #2
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I'm glad you put your thread out there, I've had kinda the same thing rolling around the back of my noggin for several years now. I remember reading a similar line about two different cartridges that basically said "xx caliber dispatches (kills) critters much better than the math papers say they should." They were talking about the 6.5x55 and the 6.8SPC. I may be off, but I suspect there's a pretty good correlation to be drawn between SD pistol ammo and hunting ammo. There's no magic bullet that's a be-all, do-all and shot placement is key- there's no debating that. There's even a thread in the handgun section where usefulness of information gleaned from gel tests is pondered. God bless all the mathematically inclined folks and may their pocket protectors never leak, but yeah, in a nutshell I think some cartridges do actually sometimes outsmart the mathematicians even when used in their ideal range limitations.
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Old April 16, 2018, 05:46 AM   #3
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.44 mag

Fans of the .44 mag often use the "kills better" phrase. Elmer Keith was a huge fan of the .44 mag (in a revolver) and its hitting power. So too was Ross Seyfried, who wrote for the same magazine, a few years later. Bill Ruger took his original tube feed .44 carbine to Africa, where he was impressed with its killing power, and so too were his white hunters.

Certainly numbers aren't everything, and shooting gongs and gel are not like shooting flesh and blood.....your comments on shot placement are apt. But the .44 has taken a lot of game now, and the observations of those that have done so are pretty positive. I hunt an old tube feed Ruger, (actually, 2 of them) a fair amount, and inside its useful range have no complaints. The .44's mortar like trajectory past 100 yds holds it back as a true GP round, it does not have the reach/shoot flat enough to allow consistent one round hits past 100 yds or so, but inside that kills well.

The fact that the .44 carbines, are light, portable and easy too shoot are all positive marks too. You can do more, farther out with a .308 carbine of similar weight, but you can not shoot the .308 all afternoon without noticing the recoil after a while.
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Old April 16, 2018, 05:56 AM   #4
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Beyond the physical dynamics of the bullet hitting a steel plate, I think the consideration is momentum vs energy. A slower, heavier bullet that "washers" on impact will produce more movement in the steel plate than a faster, lighter bullet that disintegrates. Truthfully, this is a false positive for the slower bullet. The .308 bullet carries more energy to longer distance than the .44 slug--proven fact. Since there's no correlation between the action of a bullet impacting a steel plate and the energy transfer potential when hitting soft tissue, it's fun but nothing more(unless game animals start wearing body armor).
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Old April 16, 2018, 07:24 AM   #5
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What kills critters is shot placement, penetration, breaking internal body parts, and loss of blood. Assuming all other factors such as similar bullet diameter and construction are similar, energy numbers are a fairly accurate way to predict how effective the bullet will be.

But different bullets do that damage differently. Using energy numbers to compare a 44 mag round to a bottle necked smaller caliber bullet will lead to misunderstandings. Both can work effectively.

Seeing how a steel plate reacts to being hit isn't very helpful at all. That is measuring momentum and momentum doesn't really predict anything when related to killing critters. If I need to knock over steel plates then my choice in firearms may be different than when hunting big game.
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Old April 16, 2018, 03:00 PM   #6
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Seeing how a steel plate reacts to being hit isn't very helpful at all.
Well, the 44 moved the gong violently as if hit hard by a hefty sledge-hammer, while the 30-30 got a good reaction but more like being struck with a farriers cross-peen hammer. May not be very precise, but it's not entirely un-scientific as an observed event that can readily be duplicated.
That is measuring momentum and momentum doesn't really predict anything when related to killing critters.
Neither does foot-pounds of energy, which seems to be a biased equation that regards velocity as being more important than mass of the projectile. The reality is that both have a significant factor. I'm not much of a math guy, so I will leave that to others.
The observation indicates that within closer ranges, the 44 magnum is somewhat more powerful than a 30-30. I have no doubt that the 30-30 will have a ballistic advantage as the range increases, and that there are other variables, such as the actual bullets used, etc. But the main thing that stood out, is that a 44 magnum carbine makes a heck of a woods rifle.
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Old April 16, 2018, 06:05 PM   #7
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I shoot a lot of steel with a lot of different calibers and by far the most thump "smile factor" is my 1874 Sharps 45-70 shooting a 545 gr lead bullet.
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Old April 17, 2018, 01:47 AM   #8
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IME, the .44 is the only round which punches thru paper with such mechanical precision.
Other rounds just rip the paper and push thru, the .44 Mag usually cuts a perfect circle.
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Old April 17, 2018, 02:58 AM   #9
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The 44 Mag is a great round, one of my favorites. But don't ascribe any qualities to it that it doesn't have. If you try shooting that 44 at game animals beyond 150-ish yds, you will find that trying to determine trajectory gets to be a little tricky. So sure, bang the gong. Kill stuff with it (large bullets make big holes). But the 30-30 is a known killer out to 200+ yds easily, farther with optics or good sights.

And almost all large caliber truncated cone or semi-wadcutter bullets make nice round holes in paper. What matters is the hole they make in meat.
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Old April 17, 2018, 06:55 AM   #10
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"Other rounds just rip the paper and push thru, the .44 Mag usually cuts a perfect circle."

flat nose bullets do that. That's the reason for "wadcutter" design bullets.
Flat nose or flat "meplat" bullets don't hold velocity as well as streamlined bullets but they do have merit. This design in FMJ is less likely to veer off course when penetrating deeply in very large game like elephant or buffalo.
Comparing striking a steel plate to performance on game is only viable under very narrow use parameters.
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Old April 17, 2018, 09:07 AM   #11
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I have both an M1a and a Marlin 1894 in .41 Magnum. I can use my full-house .41 loads and get 1600FPS out of the Marlin, with a bullet 66% heavier than the M1a (250grn vs 150grn) where the muzzle velocity is opposite... the M1a's nominal 2800fps (out of it's 16" barrel) vs the 1600fps. I'm not going to do the math, but under 100yds they are probably very similar; the big difference is past that. I suspect the difference in impact is the greater weight and larger frontal area of the bigger handgun bullet (think 2# sledgehammer) vs the lighter bullet and narrow frontal (think tack hammer.)

Last year I was in WY shooting the .41 at steel gongs at 600yds... sure they made it out there and smacked the steel... but at that range I wouldn't really want to be trying to kill anything, certainly the bullet was just about out of gas.

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Old April 18, 2018, 05:57 AM   #12
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I'll bet those who have a 44 wished their favorite lever cartridge entered the market place as a Rifle cartridge not of a pistol cartridge re-purposed. There lies some difference.

There has been some gibberish talk over the years the 44 will drive the 30-30 cartridge into obsolescence. More likely both will be around for the purchaser's pleasure long after most of us have Passed. This comparison {Which is a better?} Is quite similar to a on going Hatfield & McCoy discussion.

As far as my penny's worth of opinion.
I have rifles chambered in both cartridges. Ruger 44 semi and a 30-30 Marlin model 36 to which my senses have lead me to believe the 30-30 betters the 44 at all practical ranges. But there will always be those members who believe the 44 is the better bush or brush rifle or whatever and that's fine and dandy.
Considering well over 100 years the venerable 30-30 WCF has _Quote: Walked the walk as a all {purpose} hunting cartridge.
I don't think the 44 mag cartridge will garner that same distinction.~~~Well maybe with those who own such 44 mag lever rifles it will.
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Old April 21, 2018, 03:51 AM   #13
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I own a Marlin 30-30 carbine and a Ruger 44 MAG carbine. Both have toppled a lot of deer for me while hunting in Georgia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. I can not perceive that one kills better than the other. My 44 MAG produces larger entrance holes but 30-30 with 150 grain core-lokt bullet makes wider wound channels through the chest organs.

My 44 is used most of all for wild hogs in Florida and it gets the job done quite well indeed.

Fire up the grill! Deer hunting IS NOT catch and release.
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Old April 21, 2018, 10:02 AM   #14
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I have a 3/4 inch and a 1/2 inch gong at 50 yards and a 3/4 going at 100 yards, also a 3/8 at 25 yards (for 22 and pistol), all AR500 steel. My rifle gong stands are staked to the ground with reinforcing rod. Things I have noted:

1). A 45-70 430 grain BB or HSM Bear Load may knock the gong off the chains or even shear the bolts and has knocked the gong stand over despite being staked.

2). The 45 Colt in a Blackhawk will knock the Hades out of the 50 yard 3/4 gong with heavy load 320 grain rounds, with Cowboy Action Winchester I can shoot the 35 yard gong at 15 yards and it just goes splat with hardly any movement.

3). My 9422M 22 Magnum will actually place small divots in the armor steel at 50 yards, 22Mag hits hard.

4). As stated by all of the target manufacturers, most "high-power" or high-velocity rounds should be shot at 100 yards plus to prevent damage to the gongs.

5). HMR17 hardly makes it move.

6). 30-30 will also damage the gongs at 50 yards and also knocks the Hades out of the gong about the same as my .308 does.

7). Big, hard 18Br+, hard-cast bullets get more dance out the gong than lighter, faster bullets despite similar impact energy.

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Old April 21, 2018, 02:59 PM   #15
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I've shot a black bear with a 44 Mag handgun and one with a 30-30 Model 94. Both died, neither traveled far after being hit. Both were about 30 yard shots. I think marksmanship is at least 50% of the equation, if not more.
2017 was the first year Iowa allowed straight wall rifle cases for deer. My brother immediately bought an old Ruger 44 Mag carbine and hasn't looked back. They should make that gun again.
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