Friday, October 27, 2017

Ranch Rifles & The .30-30 Round

According to a Gregg County Game Warden, East Texas resident Joe Clowers killed this huge wild hog right in his backyard. He killed the massive feral hog with an AR-15.

While the report that I read did not indicate whether he was using a standard .223 round or a bigger .308 round that's offered in many AR-15s today. Joe Clowers' home in Union Grove, Texas, and is now minus one very large hog. The massive hog was supposedly wreaking all sorts of havoc on his property and that of his neighbors for what at least the past five years. The hog had been preying on the fawns in the area. 

Mr. Clowers told the Houston Chronicle, "My property lays between some populated areas and I try to maintain an environment like a sanctuary or nursery for the deer to raise fawns." He also said, "He was the big daddy. I called him the bush beast." 

As for that beast, Mr. Clowers has stated that the big hog will be mounted and hung as a trophy on a wall in his home. 

Texas has the largest feral hog population in the United States. At what is an estimated population of 4 million wild hogs, the state of Texas has a wild hog problem that seems to be getting worse every year. 

Of course what's now making the problem of feral hogs even worse, whether it's their destructive capabilities or their predatory behavior, is that these days wild hogs are a menace to many in Texas cities and suburbs. It's true, it's not just ranchers and farmers that have to be concerned about the dangers of wild hogs. According to a number of sources, wild hogs are more and more finding their way into suburbs. That's a fact that is even more true as development extends into areas that were their domain.  

One report mentioned how folks in Texas worry about living with things like mosquitoes and fire ants, snakes and scorpions. I've been to Texas, and frankly those folks down there adapt to their environment as well as anyone can be expected to do so. The other thing about folks in Texas is that they don't really "worry" about much when it comes to living in Texas.  That includes dealing with wild hogs.

A couple of my readers from Texas have written to tell me that the solution to rid Texas of the feral hog problem is actually pretty simple. They and others believe that it all comes down to vigilance and taking action. That means staying armed. If you spot one, you shot it.  

Frankly, that's what it sound like happened to Mr. Clower. Because he knew that the beast was doing what he did where he was living, that means he himself could be at risk of being attacked. So knowing that, he said that he always stayed armed when visiting his deer feeders in case the beast charged him. 

I've never hunted feral hogs in Texas, but I have in California. A friend from Texas and I were talking about shooting feral hogs. I told him that when I hunted wild hogs here in California, I found that the first shot, that first crack of a rifle, had them running. He said he uses a semi-auto rifle with a larger magazine when hunting feral hogs for that reason. He said it gives him a better chance to take more than one shot in a hurried situation. Of course, as most know, a rifle like an AR-15 automatically cycles and re-chambers that next round for that shot. It is certainly faster than using a bolt action rifle. as well as faster than a lever-action rifle. Frankly, I'm sure any AR-15 is faster since any semi-auto rifle takes the human factor out of the re-chambering process.

Now, while the simply fact of the matter is that a semi-auto rifle re-chamber rounds faster than a bolt-action or lever-action rifle can, I prefer a lever-action rifle as my ranch rifle. While for me here in Glencoe, California, don't have a problem with feral hogs, I do worry about mountain lions.

My idea of a good ranch rifle is any rifle of sufficient power that it can be used to bring down both game and predators. While I understand and respect the whole reasoning behind using a rifle like an AR-15, or a Ruger Mini-14, or even an SKS, with large magazines when hunting wild hogs, I like my Marlin lever-action rifles.

Fact is lever-action rifles are probably the most common truck guns or ranch guns out there. While most AR-15s and Ruger Mini-14s use the .223 cartridge, and the SKS uses the Russian 7.62×39mm, I like the old standby .30-30 Winchester cartridge.

Because I see a "Ranch Rifle" as more of a "Livestock and Game Rifle," as also a "Saddle Gun," which can also be used as a self-defense weapon, I prefer a lever-action rifle in .30-30 round. My preference is the Marlin 336 because I just like it's lever action.

Please understand that I am not being critical of anyone who uses an AR-15 platform, or a Ruger Mini-14, or whatever else they prefer. I see one's choice of a "ranch rifle" as just a matter of preference and proficiency.

I knew an old World War II veteran back when I was volunteering at the base stables in Camp Pendleton in the mid-'70 who swore, absolutely swore, that there was no better ranch rifle than his 1903 Springfield in .30-06. While I respected the '03 Springfield as a great rifle, I felt there were others, what I thought may be a better, choices out there at the time. And though to me there were others more compact ranch rifle out there to be had, the '03 Springfield was his preference and there was no talking the old timer out of it.

As for myself today, I guess I'm sort of the same way. While I was trained with the M-14 and the M-16 in the Marine Corps, and I assure you that I'm extremely proficient with both, the M-14 is my preference over the two. But for me, since I prefer a more compact ranch rifle than my beloved M-14, I prefer a lever-action for use as a ranch rifle. It's all just a matter of preference.
Marlin Model 336C in .30-30
Part of the reason for my lever-action preference is that the .30-30 is a living legend. It is probably one of the most effective game cartridges ever designed. Out to 200 to 300 yards, a .30-30 round is all that is needed to bag most of what America has to offer in small game. And as for predators, a .30-30 will definitely do the job of stopping one in it's tracks.

Today, the two most popular lever-action hunting rifles in the world, the Winchester Model 94 and the Marlin Model 336. They are fast handling lever actions which are considered nearly perfect for woods and brush country hunting. Both are chambered with the very effective .30-30 Winchester cartridge.

I love the Marlin Model 336C simply because it is a rugged never fail rifle. It has a reputation for incredible dependability. Some people say it's "Monte Carlo grip" is a sort of "pistol-grip," but frankly it shoulder's like a rifle with a regular rifle stock in contract to the AR-15 which really does have a "pistol grip."

The .30-30 Winchester cartridge, "thirty-thirty" as it is most commonly known, was America's first small-bore sporting rifle cartridge that was specially designed for the use of smokeless powder back in the day. The .30-30 Winchester (Win), or .30 Winchester Center Fire (WCF) cartridge was first marketed in early 1895 to be used in the Winchester Model 1894 lever-action rifle. Because it was chambered for the Winchester Model 1894 carbine and rifle, it was also known as .30 Winchester Centerfire or .30 WCF.

When the cartridge was chambered in the Marlin Model 1893 rifle, rival gunmaker John Marlin used the designation .30-30, or .30-30 Smokeless. The added -30 stands for the standard load of 30 grains of early smokeless powder, according to late-19th century American naming conventions for black powder-filled cartridges. Marlin Firearms Company and the Union Metallic Cartridge Company later dropped the Winchester appellation "WCF" on their rounds as they did not want to put the name of rival Winchester on their products.

The modern designation of .30-30 Winchester was arrived at by using Marlin's variation of the name with the Winchester name appended as originator of the cartridge, though .30 WCF is still seen occasionally. This designation also served a purpose in avoiding a lot of confusion with the different yet similarly-shaped .30-40 Krag, which has been referred to as ".30 US" and ".30 Army".

The .30-30 is considered to be the "entry-class" for modern big-game hunting cartridges, and it is common to define the characteristics of cartridges with similar ballistics as being in ".30-30 class" when describing their trajectory. While it is very effective on deer-sized and black bear-sized game, most commercial loads are limited in effective range of approximately 200 to 300 yards.

In Canada and the U.S., the .30-30 cartridge has also been used to bring down moose, caribou, and pronghorn. One source says that modern opinions in Canada on its suitability for moose are mixed. Yet it appears many moose have been taken with the .30-30, so no one should rule it out as good for that purpose. Of course, it is pretty much agreed that the .30-30 is not a good choice for hunters who wish to shoot larger game at longer distances say over 100 yards. The reason is that the cartridge, with its flat or round nosed bullets, does not meet minimum energy standards required for moose hunting in many places. In fact, while the .30-30 is legal for hunting moose in Newfoundland, Canada, game authorities do not recommend its use.

One of the primary reasons for the .30-30's popularity among deer hunters is its light recoil. Of course, a light recoil can be a real plus with chambering that next round. Average recoil from a typical 150-grain bullet in a 7.5-pound lever-action rifle is about half that of a comparable rifle chambered for the .30-06 Springfield.

Because the majority of rifles chambered in .30-30 are lever-action rifles with tubular magazines, most .30-30 cartridges are loaded with round-nose or flat-nose bullets for safety. If you're asking what this have to do with safety, well a round-nose or flat-nose bullets prevent a spitzer-point bullet from setting off the primer of the cartridge ahead of it in the tube magazine during recoil and possibly resulting in potentially catastrophic damage to both firearm and shooter.

This was a concern as far back as the late 1890's when the Savage Arms Model 99 was introduced in 1899. The Savage Arms Model 99 came out with a rotary magazine just to avoid that issue.

A notable exception to the "no pointed bullets" guideline for bullet selection in rifles with tubular magazines are the new flexible "memory elastomer"-tipped LEVER Evolution cartridges as produced by Hornady today.

The soft rubber tips of these bullets easily deform under compression, preventing detonations while under recoil in the magazine, yet also return to their original pointed shape when that pressure is removed, thus allowing for a more efficient bullet shape than previously available to load safely in such rifles.

The more aerodynamic shape results in a flatter bullet trajectory and greater retained velocity downrange, significantly increasing the effective range of rifles chambered for this cartridge. Yes, the new type of round increases the hunter's range.

As I said before, the .30-30 is by far the most common lever action rifles. From my experience, among lever-action rifles out there, Marlin Firearms Company lever-action rifles in the .30-30 round as a ranch rifle simply can't be beat. From deer to mountain lions, from wild hogs to bears, the .30-30 round have been proven successful for generations.

That's just my preference.

Tom Correa


  1. Just found your piece and wanted to clarify. I was shooting the 5.56/.223 variant AR-15 loaded with Hornady's American Whitetail 55gr softpoint ammunition. One well placed round to the vitals amounted to a 50-60 yard retrieval on the neighbor's property. Big pig down. JC

    1. Merry Christmas Mr. Clowers! Thank you for clarifying this report. I love AR-15s, and I truly appreciate you writing your comment. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you writing in to clarify that an AR-15 with a 5.56/.223 round was used to do the job! There are a lot of naysayers out there who bad mouth the AR-15. They like to say that the AR-15 is not used as a hunting rifle. You proved them wrong! My God Bless you and yours, and thank you again!

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