A lever gun isn’t always something you’d think of as subsonic. Just for fun, we loaded the 30-30 Winchester to subsonic velocity for plinking. This cartridge is already fun to load and shoot anyway — these loads make it even more fun.
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About Berry’s Bullets
Berry’s Bullets are lead bullets with a copper plating that have had a unique place in the market for the past 60 years. They offer a less expensive alternative to conventional jacketed bullets and many people prefer them to plain cast lead bullets.
Berry’s Superior Plated Bullets are the finest bonded copper-jacketed bullets available today. Starting with a swaged lead core, they are electroplated with copper to their final weight, leaving no lead exposure. They are then re-struck to precise specifications, ensuring a solid bond and providing consistency with every round. Indoor range safe and unbelievably accurate, Berry’s Superior Plated Bullets® are the choice of shooters everywhere.
Manufacturer’s Load Tips:
Bullet O.A.L.: .834″
Cartridge Name: 30-30 Winchester
Cartridge O.A.L.: 2.550″
Max Velocity: 2000 fps
- Load data for our Superior Plated Bullets can be found in any manual or on any powder manufacturer’s website.
- Cast or jacketed data with the same grain weight and profile will work with our bullets.
- You can use a taper or a roll crimp.
- Don’t over crimp the brass after seating. This causes bullet core separation, leading to increased copper fouling and accuracy issues.
- Don’t exceed the recommended maximum velocities listed. This creates bullet core separation and accuracy issues.
For my loads, I used 30 caliber, 150 grain “round shoulder” bullets specifically intended for the 30-30 Winchester cartridge. One item of note: there’s a warning on the box that the bullets are not to be loaded above 2,000 fps. The 30-30 can push a 150-grain bullet at 2400 – 2500 fps, so these bullets are not intended for maximum velocity. One might wonder what these bullets do offer besides affordability — maximum fun in reduced velocity and reduced recoil loads!
About Trail Boss
In a quest to shoot the 150-grain bullet at subsonic speeds, I loaded the bullet over charges of 7, 8, 9 and 10 grains of Trail Boss.
Previously an IMR powder now offered in the Hodgdon label, Trail Boss was designed specifically for low velocity lead bullets suitable for Cowboy Action shooting. It is primarily a pistol powder but has some application in rifles.
Trail Boss is an interesting powder. It is very bulky, so small charges take up a surprising amount of space in a cartridge case. Trail Boss flowed easily through the powder measure, delivering consistent charges.
As aforementioned, I tested several loads combining Berry’s 30 caliber 150 grain round shoulder bullets with varying weights of Trail Boss. All loads used a Federal 210 large rifle primer.
Testing was conducted in temperatures between 24- and 35-degrees Fahrenheit using a Glenfield by Marlin rifle with a 20” barrel. As shown in the chart, an 8-grain charge of Trail Boss gave the best results. At 10 grains, the cartridge wasn’t behaving well and showed wide velocity swings.
When Gavin and I took our 30-30’s out to shoot steel at the UR ranch, it was a special kind of fun, old meets new. I had my old 30-30 Glenfield with iron sights, and he had the new Henry X Model fitted with a bipod, Crimson Trace scope and a SilencerCo Hybrid 56 suppressor. We were both delighted with the subsonic 30-30 ammunition I’d loaded. The recoil is light, the report from my rifle was quite mild, and Gavin’s suppressed 30-30 was so quiet that the hammer falling created more noise than the shot being fired!
For more information about the Henry X Model see this article: In-Depth: Henry X Model 30-30 Tactical Lever Action – Ultimate Reloader
Dies and Press
For this 30-30 loading project I started with a LEE Universal Decapper, then used a new set of Hornady Custom dies for sizing cases and seating bullets. I used a LEE Factory Crimp die to apply a light crimp.
I made a few discoveries during the process. The Universal Decapper is great as even dirty cases can be de primed, then tossed into a case tumbler for cleaning. Hornady dies have impressed me as being both very easy to use and producing fine ammunition.
The Lee Factory Crimp Die is a recent addition to my collection of dies. It uses a collet to apply a nice, even crimp and can be adjusted to make that crimp light enough to work well with Berry’s Bullets.
Lyman’s Brass Smith All American 8 turret press was a pleasure to use. I was able to have all four dies I was using mounted at once, with another four dies stored for a different cartridge too. This made the loading process more efficient.
I also loaded some of this subsonic 30-30 ammunition with the compact Lyman Brass Smith All American Ideal press. This little Lyman Ideal is a favorite of mine as it frees up more room on my home loading bench.
Before I’d left for the day, Gavin was already setting up a progressive press to churn out hundreds of these subsonic 30-30 loads. Guess he approved! Stay tuned for a video.
Berry’s Bullets’ 150 grain round shoulder 30-30 bullet is a terrific choice for fun or plinking loads and did well even at the reduced velocity of these loads. Note that there may be a considerable difference in point of impact between low velocity loads and standard power hunting ammunition. Gavin discovered his scoped rifle needed a considerable change in elevation as the subsonic load was hitting at least 6” low at modest range compared to standard loads. From my testing, the Trail Boss 8-grain charge stands out as a favorite with an average velocity of just under 900 fps and the best SD and ES figures.
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