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7-30 Waters


Developed by wildcatter Ken Waters for lever action rifles, the 7-30 Waters is based on the 30-30 Winchester necked down to 7mm, designed as an attempt to produce superior external ballistics to the parent cartridge. The wildcat was picked up by Winchester in 1984 and released in their Model 94 Lever action rifle but with a longer than usual 24” barrel. Winchester retained the name of the original wildcat.
The 7-30 Waters never gained any popularity and was soon dropped from production. This cartridge survived for some time through the Thompson Center Contender hand gun, available in the U.S, the T.C.C rifle version being exported world wide. Thompson currently chamber the 7mm08 which has become vastly more popular than the former chambering.


Unfortunately, regardless of whether the trajectory is superior or inferior to the parent .30-30, the 7-30 Waters is a low powdered cartridge. In the Winchester M94, the 7-30 Waters must be loaded with flat point bullets yet in the T.C.C single shot rifle, even if using pointed bullets, the 7-30 is not a great deal better with regard to extended range killing performance.
The 7-30 has been used to take all manner of game around the world by inquiring minds, nevertheless, this cartridge does its best work on lighter medium game at close woods type ranges.  

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Factory Ammunition

Federal Ammunition produce the only surviving factory 7-30 load featuring the 120 grain Sierra Pro-Hunter flat point bullet at an advertised 2700fps from a 24" test barrel however true velocities are a little lower at around 2650fps. In the 20” barreled Contender rifle, velocity loss is in the order of 140fps. The Pro-Hunter is a mild performer, best suited to lighter medium game out to 125 yards. Beyond this range bullet expansion is poor, resulting in delayed kills. Please note, this is not a reflection of the bullet design but rather the velocity and energy limitations inherent of the cartridge design.

Hand Loading

Cases for the 7-30 Waters can be formed from 30-30 brass while best powders are those in the Varget range or slightly faster. From the 24” barreled M94, maximum safe working velocities are 2700fps with 120 grain bullets, 2600fps with 130 grain bullets and 2500fps with the 140 grain bullets. In the Contender rifle, realistic velocities include 2500fps, 2400fps and 2300fps respectively.

While Hornady, Sierra and Speer all produced projectiles for the 7-30 Waters at one time, today the Speer 130 grain FNSP is the only readily available projectile suitable for the tubular magazine of the M94 rifle. As can be expected, the Speer bullet is fast expanding while penetration is fair but limited by both the projectile weight and low SD.

The Thompson Centre Contender rifle and pistol are able to utilize pointed bullets, obtaining adequate performance with the Hornady and Sierra 120 grain soft point projectiles. The 130 grain Sierra single shot pistol is an optimum choice for the T.C.C due to its especially thin jacket which ensures expansion at low velocities. Another good performer is the 120 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip. Both of these projectiles are best suited to light medium game. 

The T.C.C can be loaded with reasonably high BC 139-140 grain boat tail projectiles, producing a reasonably flat trajectory, adequate wounding and fair penetration. Best performance with such bullet designs as the 140 grain GameKing, 140 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip,139 grain Interlock BTSP and SST occurs at ranges inside 175 yards (above 2200fps) with optimum results produced at point blank ranges where velocity remains above 2400fps.

 Closing Comments

Rifles chambered in 7-30 Waters are somewhat rare today. Regardless of its limitations, the 7-30 shows strengths as a light recoiling cartridge suitable for youths learning to hunt and take lighter medium game at close ranges.
Suggested loads: 7x30 Waters Barrel length: 24”
No ID   Sectional Density Ballistic Coefficient Observed  MV Fps ME
1 FL Fed 120gr Prohunter .213 .215 2650 1871
2 HL Speer 130gr FNSP .230 .257 2600 1951
Suggested sight settings and bullet paths           
1 Yards 50 100 150 200 250      
  Bt. path +.5 +1.1 0 -3.1 -8.7      
2 Yards 50 100 150 200 250      
  Bt. path +.5 +1.1 0 -3 -8.4      
No At yards 10mphXwind Velocity Ft-lb’s
1 200 7.4 1888 950
2 200 6.2 1960 1109
 7 30 waters final.jpg

  Imperial Metric 
A .506 12.85
B .422 10.72
C 17deg 12’  
D .399 10.14
E .306 7.78
F 1.58 40.30
G .307 7.80
H 2.040 54.82
Max Case 2.040 54.82
Trim length 2.030 51.5

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