30-30 Subsonic Loads with Berry’s 150gr Plated Bullets!

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.

From Berrysmfg.com:

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.

From Hodgdon.com:

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.

Test

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.

Conclusion

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.

Get the Gear!

Henry X-Model 30-30 Tactical Lever Action Rifle (henryusa.com).

308 150 Grain | Bullets for Reloading | Bulk Bullets (berrysmfg.com)

30-30 Winchester Unprimed Rifle Brass 50 Count by Hornady (midsouthshooterssupply.com)

Large Rifle Primer #210 (1000 Count) by Federal (midsouthshooterssupply.com)

Lyman Brass Smith Ideal Press | Lyman Reloading Press (midsouthshooterssupply.com)

Lyman All-American 8-Turret Press | Midsouth Shooters (midsouthshooterssupply.com)

30-30 Winchester Full Length Series I 2 Die Set With Zip Spindle by Hornady (midsouthshooterssupply.com)

IMR Trail Boss Smokeless Powder 2 Pounds by IMR (midsouthshooterssupply.com)

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Thanks,
Guy Miner

2 thoughts on “30-30 Subsonic Loads with Berry’s 150gr Plated Bullets!”

  1. Awesome video guys!!! What fun it is to pull out the old 30-30 lever action and hit the range!!! I always enjoy it when Guy and you (Gavin) get together, I know it’s going to be an awesome video!!! You guys had way to much fun shooting steel with the subsonic loads, I was very impressed with your result!!! I’ve never run reduced loads in my 30-30 Marlin 336. But I’m hooked now for sure!!! Unfortunately I live in Commiefornia so no suppressors are allowed!!! Sure wish we could have it would definitely save my hearing!!! As soon as I can some Trail Boss I’ll be loading 30-30 reduced loads for sure. I’ve already have a 100 30-30 cases ready to load!!! I’m looking forward to trying Berry’s 30-30 150 gr plated bullets!!!! Thanks Guy and Gavin for all the fun…. lol Hard work that you both did to bring us an outstanding video!!!

  2. I don’t know about this specific bullet if it’s different from other Berry’s bullets but I ordered a bunch of 123gr (.311) bullets for AK reloading and it does say the same thing that bullet is limited to 2000fps, well I sized the bullet with .308 die and it sizes easily because it’s essentially just lead bullet and loaded for my 300 HAM’R with Heavy Pistol powder and I shot 1 MOA group 5 shots, 2311fps ES 17.

    I also had another copper plated bullet not sure who it’s made by but that one was 120gr .308 and I got another MOA group but that one I pushed even faster to 2506fps ES 23! I couldn’t believe it went so fast but I am beginning to think the slow twist rate might play a role. These were 2 different guns the slower one was with 16″ barrel 1:15 twist rate in bolt action. The faster one was 20″ barrel, 1:14 twist in AR15.

    I have a feeling that this bullet should be the same and can be pushed to jacketed velocities in 2200 range since my Winchester 94 30-30 has a relatively slow 1:12 twist rate.

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