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Old May 21, 2019, 11:21 PM   #1
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.30-30 150 or 170


I've been shooting 170gr in my Marlin 336 and found them to be decent. In your experiences, do you prefer the higher velocity of the 150gr bullet or the heavier weight of the 170gr on game? Is there a preference in which the microgroove rifling of Marlins prefer?
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Old May 22, 2019, 08:26 AM   #2
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I don't believe the microgrooves care.

If the gun shoots smaller groups with one weight than it does with the other, for general purposes I would use that bullet on the premise that shot placement generally matters more than exact bullet terminal ballistics do.
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Old May 22, 2019, 10:27 AM   #3
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I favor 170s. They tend to be more predictable, overall, and the velocity difference between 150s and 170s isn't enough to influence me.

I have had some extremely impressive loads with one specific 150 gr bullet. But, of course, that bullet is now discontinued (and, therefore, not worth mentioning specifically). Others have done well; but not well enough to draw me away from the 170s.

As Unclenick said, Micro Groove barrels don't care.

Run what works for you. There are plenty of good bullets out there, and not very many 'bad' bullets.

I do suggest staying away from Winchester Power Points, however. That line of bullets consists of, in my opinion, the lowest quality commonly available bullets on the market.
The only quality that's consistent over time and lot-to-lot is their predictably terrible inconsistency. Power Points are bad bullets.
(From .224" to .358", I've weighed and measured thousands, with production spanning 30+ years. I've even sectioned a dozen, or so. They're a waste of time, money, powder, case life, and primers.)
Don't even try it. It's even worse than the internet would lead you to believe.
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Old May 22, 2019, 11:43 AM   #4
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I have killed about 12 deer in my life with 30-30s.
100% of those I shot with 150 grain bullets (all factory loads) had the expanded bullet inside them when I dressed them. Most made it to the off side skin with one being stuck against the ribs on the off-side. That was a total of 5 deer. I have never gotten a 150- grain 30-30 through a deer and out the other side.
All the rest were shot with 170 grain bullets and 100% of them had exit wounds. I do not know if the extra 20 grains is the reason, or if it's because the bullets didn't expand as wide, or perhaps the 170 have a bit thicker jacket. I have never stopped a 170 grain 30-30 in any deer.

All I know for sure is that the 170 out penetrate the 150s, and I have seen NO exception to this so far. My 20" Marlin was more accurate with 150s, but my 24" Marlin is more accurate with 170s.

With 170s I have killed deer with Factory loads and hand loads both. My handload used the 170 grain Speer flat nose, and the factory loads were from Remington, Winchester and Federal. My hand load is the most accurate, but I can't see any difference in bullet performance on game among any of the four 170 grain bullets I have used. All went through, all made holes of about the same diameter.

I have used two 30-30s, one with a 20" barrel and one with a 24" barrel. I used both rifles with both weights, so the slightly faster impacts I got from the longer barrel did not seem to make any difference
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Old May 22, 2019, 01:21 PM   #5
T. O'Heir
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"...don't believe the microgrooves care..." Neither does the game.
Marlin uses the microgroove rifling for their M336 in .35 Remington with 12 grooves. Bullet weights start at around 200 grains in .35 Rem.
A 150 will have less felt recoil but not by much.
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Old May 22, 2019, 02:27 PM   #6
Paul B.
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I haven't used the 30-30 on game for a long time. When I did though it was with 170 gr. bullets, usually Winchester. I went with the 170 gr. bullet primarily due to the fact that the area I hunted deer also had a fairly large Black Bear population and my thought was the 170 gr. bullets would do a better job. The rain forest of Northwest California meant any meeting with Mr. Bear would probably be up close and personal.

I have to ask Mr. FrankenMauser just what he has against the Powerpoint bullet in the 30-30? I fell into 24 boxes of Winchester 30-30 ammo with the 170 gr. PP bullet so I guess I have a need to know.

What little 30-30 shooting I've done lately is with cast bullets. I have taken a few deer with then in the past but haven't hunted with the 30-30 for a long time.
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Old May 24, 2019, 10:20 AM   #7
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I have to ask Mr. FrankenMauser just what he has against the Powerpoint bullet in the 30-30?
In factory ammo, they're okay - not great, but okay.
As a component bullet, they're garbage (I believe them to be the 'head' and 'tail', or "seconds" from each production run). There's a summary in my previous post.
Don't even try it. It's even worse than the internet would lead you to believe.
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Old May 24, 2019, 02:27 PM   #8
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I like the higher velocity of the 150gr pills because I can start them at near 2400fps and they'll expand at 100yds. I can't get the 170's going fast enough. Just my opinion. BTW, I use the Speer Jacketed Flat Point and they used to be available in 130,150 & 170gr.
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Old May 24, 2019, 04:01 PM   #9
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+1 for the Speer jfp. I had good luck with the 150s but my idea was for a little flatter shooting. I was shooting loads I’ll say were “marlin only” and now will say “not worth the risk.” My 150s made exit holes.

If I was shooting 30-30 again, I’d probably go with the 170s as in my area, realistically, shots are either 25-75 yards or “waaaaaaay waaaay too far for a lever gun. Go sit in a better spot or use the 30-06 and big scope.”

As the ranges I hunted at were short, “flatter shooting” is irrelevant. I think I am over my hotrodding phase.
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Old May 24, 2019, 11:49 PM   #10
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I never liked the 150. Seen more than one lever rifle shooting store bought 150s push there primers nearly out of their pockets. So as told by a woodsy old timer many moons ago._ 170 gr. wallops deer harder with lesser felt recoil.

Again being a frugal rookie home reloader I also seat 170 Jacketed tips for my 300 savage and 30-06. "Amazing expansion achievement observed on thin skinned deer."
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Old June 5, 2019, 04:25 PM   #11
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170 all the way, but don’t forget the 160 hornadys too, for something different. They shoot great. The bc of all conventional .30-30 bullets is horrid so any velocity gain is mitigated fast and has no benefit (from 170 to 150, only 200 fps) regarding trajectory. The 170s, of equal construction, expand just as violently and do indeed penetrate deeper.

If you’re handloading the marlin has a 10 twist. It opens up some possibilities. I’ve concocted what I call a “.30-30 marlin +p” load. I use the 160 FTx but the one meant for the marlin express, not the .30-30. It’s way sleeker, bc .400. I trim cases way shorter than spec so that the bullet can be seated and crimped at the cannelure without exceeding max coal, they feed and function through the magazine like anything else. Winchester cases, roomier than the others. A heavy crimp to hold down a very compressed charge of leverevolution. Magnum primer (silly in this case size I know but it’s just a standard practise for me in any case in which I’m running ball powder compressed in cold weather). 2460 fps chronograph verified.

Don’t fear the powerpoints. They kill very emphatically. Not tack drivers, not long range at all, ugly, visibly non concentric at times, but the truck loads of big game animals cleanly taken didn’t seem to get the memo about what garbage they are. On deer sized game at normal ranges they kill faster than premium bullets and I’ve observed that they do what they’re supposed to, open up and retain enough weight to get where they need to go.
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Old June 6, 2019, 08:11 AM   #12
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Between two different 336's, they both preferred the 170grn bullets. If you are handloading, bullet brand does matter. I was always a big Speer bullet guy, and loaded 170grn Speer HotCors (now the Deep Curl, I believe...) for a long time. For some reason, I switched bullets and my accuracy improved markedly... all else being equal.

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Old June 7, 2019, 06:55 PM   #13
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I grew up reading Elmer Keith so heavier being better , I prefer the 170 grain but my Winchester model 94 preferred Hornady 170 grain FP over the Speer 170 gr. FP , and I have no clue as to why ...brand of bullets makes a difference too so try a few .
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