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44 Mag VS 30-30

16 Nov 2016
@ 03:09 am (GMT)

Luke Lahdenranta

Hi, I've been reading Nathan knowledge base (a lot) and lurking reading the forums for awhile now just recently signed up and thought I'd post a question. But first I have to put up a completely free and unsolicited plug for Nathan's books to all the other lurkers out there. BUY THE BOOKS! If you like what youve been reading on his site free of charge, you will love the books. They are packed full of great information and in a highly readable and not too technical language. I'm not even really sure yet if I want to get into true long range hunting (Im looking at improving my skills to ~400y) and I'm still getting a lot out of all the books. If your lurking around here, support his work and get a book or two! You won't regret it!

Now as for my question on 44 mag vs 30-30. I've been a 30-30 user and fan for quite a few years, I think it was the 30-30 write up that originally brought me to this site, and I've been pretty happy with my old 30-30 for regular deer (Mule/Wh/Black tail) hunting up in close. But I've also had for years a Marlin 1894 carbine in 44 mag that I haven't used very much and I've been wondering whether it's worth keeping both a 30-30 and 44 mag (and now a 32 Win Sp) carbines around, they more or less cover the same territory. But then, getting deeper into the cartridge info on this site, I'm wondering if the 44 mag being a big bore, although bottom end, could allow some exploration of the difference in bore diameter 44 vs .30 cal?

Can the 44 mag bring anything more to the bush hunting table over the 30-30? Speed of killing or even size of game? Or does it just stay in the 30-30 class of cartridges? Can hand loading do anything to lift the 44 mag vs factory 240gr Hp/Sp ?

My thanks again to Nathan and all the contributers here on this great site!

Luke from BC, Canada


16 Nov 2016
@ 09:00 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: 44 Mag VS 30-30
I used a good old 30/30 for a few years and shot a lot of animals with it.... even with open sights my (then)young eyes allowed game as small as rabbits to be in big trouble out to 100 yards...never shot at much past 150 but anything inside that was dead on arrival no bother....
the .44 mag should be better in the tight scrub or on bigger animal by virtue of more bullet weight but agree with you they are batting in similar league.... the .44 is very popular with pig hunters for very close range on tough boars..... I cant see a down side to getting it out and using them all for no other reason than "because you can"
the .44 mag is what is is too many people try to make it better and load it up to the hilt for little real gain. either would do this 'bush hobbit " just fine.
cant wait to hear Nathans take on this one.........
16 Nov 2016
@ 10:27 am (GMT)

mark whiteley

Re: 44 Mag VS 30-30
If I had to choose it would be the 30-30 for what you are doing,
I also carried one in win 94 bush bashing and think very highly of them for what they are,
16 Nov 2016
@ 03:22 pm (GMT)

Luke Lahdenranta

Re: 44 Mag VS 30-30
Thanks gents. Like I mentioned I've been pretty happy with the old 30-30, more so since getting a chance to study the info in the knowledge base. This season I was able to put into practice the front line of the foreleg shot on a nice ~220 lb Mule deer. It definitely works! I will definitely add this shot placement to the 'tool box' and utilize it.

As a side question pertaining to the 30-30, any of you guys try the Woodleigh 150 gr flat point bullet for the 30-30? Woodleigh have a good reputation but it can be hard to find info on them at least here in N America. I found the Canadian supplier and they have the Woodleigh bullets at what arent too terrible pricing about $40/50 compared to Nosler partitions which I haven't found cheaper than $60/50.
16 Nov 2016
@ 06:32 pm (GMT)

Bob Mavin

Re: 44 Mag VS 30-30
Hi Luke
Woodleigh projectiles are the best (in my opinion) I use 165gn pills in the 30-30
16 Nov 2016
@ 09:01 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 44 Mag VS 30-30
Now there’s a juicy question. Welcome aboard Luke and thanks for your very kind comments.

I have driven myself around in circles with this. Spent weeks and months hunting with the .30-30 alongside the .44, .444 and .45-70 to see if there was any clear winner.

Truth is, I kept on finding myself wishing I had the .35 Whelen in hand. A balance between the killing power of the wide bores but with great reach. The trouble with this however, is that it does not take rifle portability into consideration.

The .44 can be coaxed to shoot with some reach. The Rossi 92 rifle's have in the past been manufactured with sights set for a high trajectory (even at the low setting). This takes some practice to employ but is worth pursuing. Scoped Marlins can also be set to shoot with a bit of reach.

If a 240gr load at around 1600-1650fps is set to print very roughly 2" high at 50 yards (scoped rifle), the bullet will strike around 1.5" high at 100 yards and dead on at 120 yards. At 150 yards, the bullet is down roughly 4". This is therefore a somewhat long shot for the .44. At 150 yards, impact velocity is 1200fps, like a close range handgun shot. The bullet will expand just fine, mechanical wounding is very broad.

In an unscoped rifle, a 120 yard zero can be obtained by setting the rifle to print 2.5" high at 50 yards (around 1.7 to 2" high at 100 yards). There are some Rossi rifles print around 3" high at 50 yards at the low setting.

A scoped .30-30 can shoot a lot flatter but there is a clear difference between hand loads and factory loads to the tune of 200fps. Having said this, neither show an increase in wounding potential over the wide .44 bore with HP bullets.

A factory .30-30 150gr load at 2200fps set to print 1.5" high at 50 yards strikes around 2.3" high at 100 yards for a 150 yard zero. Bullet drop is then around 2.5" at 175 yards and 6" at 200. Impact velocity at 100 yards is 1800fps. Beyond this ranges, wounding tends to degrade quite quickly. Factory ammo must be made with very thin jackets to cope with these low speeds. At 2400fps, the bullet can very roughly be set to print 1" high at 50, 2" high at 100, zero 150. Impact velocity is then around 1800fps at 150 yards, wounding tapering off quite rapidly thereafter. Core bonded bullets like the Woodleigh suffer greatly at these very low impact velocities.

If shooting open sights, the rifle must be set to print very roughly 2" high at 50 yards for a 150 yard zero.

At 150 yards, the .30-30 is near the end of the line. The .44 begins shows a large amount of drop at this same range, yet the bullets are designed specifically for these impact velocities, producing very wide wounds - if you can make your connection.

So as you can see, there are pros and cons. The .444 tends to blend the two, the trajectory of the .30-30, the punch of the .44. But now we are into a bigger rifle and wondering why not simply adopt a 24" octagonal barrel and do this with style.

Many will argue that discussions of effective range have no merit when it comes to bush rifles. But there are many times when hunting river flats, gullies or clearings when some reach is needed. So I believe this does have to be taken into consideration. The same goes for saddle carbines. If you are riding, you stick out like a sore thumb. It can be hard to tether a horse and stalk away. Some may prefer a 12 foot lead rope, taking the shot from the end of the lead (my pref). So again, we have to think about trajectory.

Not too long ago, I went to a gun show and saw a wide range of levers including such beauties as the M95 (this one in .30-40 Krag), the .44 caliber rifles including the .444 marlin along with .45 caliber rifles. A hunter cannot help but fall for the lines of these levers. This makes it hard to choose a cartridge when each rifle has its own appeal.

The most recent levers can be quite tacky looking, poor triggers, horrible forends that will not float, even though we should now understand this and could evolve the lever design to suit. Painting a trigger with gold paint does not really spin my tires. Gun makers produce compact rifles with removal barrels - the bit you really don't want to mess with, when a removable butt would have been simple and without any major negative effect on accuracy. This would also strengthen some lever actions which are weak at, and tend to break at the tang. There is no great innovation, passion, art or true style. So its easy to default back to the utilitarians, the classics and repros.

Rifle portability always comes into the lever action decision making equation. The question is, how short and light do you need your rifle? Both the .30-30 and .44 are available in very compact rifles. Scoped rifles are obviously the most bulky, the open sighted Rossi .44 is one of the most compact rifles on the market, but on the orther hand, you cannot really utilize this with great accuracy, should an animal appear at the bush edge at dark at 150 yards. The open sights, poor light and steep trajectory simply don't allow for great accuracy.

In any case, I think that every hunter should at some stage at least try a wide bore if they can. These can teach us a great deal about terminal ballistics. With a good bullet design, a wide bore can hit hard, producing very emphatic performance. Ammo for the .44 Magnum is generally cheap enough, sold in good quantities and is readily available. As a side note, it may not be quite the same as the .44-40 but it does share some of this appeal.

Possibly not a clear or concise answer, but I hope it helps. You'll find that many folk over look the very basics of both the .30-30 and .44. The rifles are purchased for bush work and never checked at 100 or 200 yards which seems fair enough. But the rifles are then expected to shoot across clearings or down logging roads out to 120 or 150 yards where the trajectory is unknown. This can lead to a great deal of disappointment with either cartridge.

17 Nov 2016
@ 01:21 am (GMT)

Luke Lahdenranta

Re: 44 Mag VS 30-30
My sincere thanks for your response Nathan. I have to admit my plug for people to buy your books wasn't 100% altruistic... all this .35 Whelen talk,and especially your write up (do you moonlight as a medium bore salesman?) have me seriously worked up to get or build a medium bore, either a 35 Whelen/9.3x62 or possibly a .375... so I have a vested interest in seeing you complete your medium bore research! :)

As far as the 44 mag goes, would your velocity threshold for the 45-70 hold up in the .429 caliber as well? I believe you quoted 1700 fps as the very bottom of shock. It may be possible to with some careful handloading to keep a 220/240 gr .44 bullet above 1700 fps at least for a short distance. I'm thinking from your 357 article that the XTP bullet may be a good performer in the 44 mag as well?

My thanks again.
18 Nov 2016
@ 08:03 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 44 Mag VS 30-30
Hi Luke, sorry I have been under the hammer, trying to balance the needs needs of readers (tech questions) with the need to continue research. Research has to come first at the moment, otherwise I am no good to anyone.

OK, whether we are talking about the .308 or .45-70, hydrostatic shock is not something we can always rely on. It is great when a cartridge produces immediate coma (or near immediate) via this nervous trauma, but changes in velocity and game weight resistance do effect results. But still, we can draw some general conclusions. We can also select a cartridge based on its ability to "generally produce" x result.

Below 1700fps, I talk about mechanical wounding (.45-70). The pistol cartridges by comparison tend to excel because they are designed with wide hollow point bullets and with weakened jackets. In other words, at these impact velocities, bullet design is everything.

I have seen the 38-55 and more potent .375 Win big bore produce slow kills, simply due to stout bullet designs- even though the jackets really are not that stout. In this instance, we have a cartridge that should kill a whole bunch better than the .30-30. But in reality, if the .375 is used on White Tail deer at ranges of say 50 to 100 yards (200-220gr @ 1700-1800fps impact), wounding is very ho-hum and game tend to run some distance unless shots are placed well forwards. In contrast to this, a soft 150gr .30-30 pill can be more effective, arriving at its target with more velocity, meeting more resistance on impact which forces expansion and bullet weight loss. The .44 magnum is different again. Frontal area is very wide, hollow points are very wide, jackets may be notched. Here we see maximum mechanical and hydraulic wounding.
19 Nov 2016
@ 12:32 am (GMT)

Luke Lahdenranta

Re: 44 Mag VS 30-30
I sincerely thank you Nathan for your thoughtful responses. Since I do love my Marlin lever guns and I already have both a 30-30 and 44 mag, it costs me nothing to knock the dust off the old 44 and do some shooting/hunting with it and see the results for myself.

I also have you to thank for rekindling my love for "the mighty 30-06" (I love that quote!) after hamstring the 30-06 due to my initial lack of education as a hunter. I am definitely one of those guys your knowledgebase and work has wrenched from the '180's for everything' camp to seeing just what a properly set up 30-06 can do and on a wide variety of game. If I can offer a quick anecdote from my own experience showing how your work on terminal ballistics is really helping us.

When I was a shiny newish hunter, fresh with a head full of glossy hunting magazine 'education', I heard about the then new Barnes TSX bullets and how they were pure awesome sauce for everything from mice to moose and could shoot through the shoulders of 2-3 grizzlies etc. Well I just had to have them so i got a hold of some of the 180 gr ones for my 30-06, because naturally, 180s are always the best for everything... well not knowing any better I just loaded them up like my normal Hornady interlocks and went forth to slay all manner of giant beasts. I did manage to use them to shoot a couple of deer but I was scratching my head wondering why the results were so lackluster (I later chrono'd my load at all of 2575 fps)and soured me on the monometal bullets completely. That experience actually got me into really liking the 30-30, after all when deer are running 50-100 yards when well shot with my 30-06, heck why not just use the old 30-30? Now of course I can see exactly where I went wrong and why that happened. Bullet choice is very important if you are hoping to achieve the results you are looking for.
19 Nov 2016
@ 07:02 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 44 Mag VS 30-30
Thanks Luke. Your .30-06 is a good example in which results can and will be dramatically different with a different bullet.

The Hornady 240gr XTP is the go-to bullet for the .44. Having said this, you do not have to use this bullet weight on light / lean game and could opt for a 200gr XTP if you prefer. But again, the 240gr bullet is the middle ground for all around usage.


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