It was my first gun…
And probably yours!
We all have our “firsts.” A first rifle, first shotgun, first hunt, first big game animal. If you were lucky, as I certainly was, you grew up in a hunting family, and got to head afield as soon as you were of age. More often than not, it was with a borrowed rifle (if that’s a legal implement in your area) that didn’t recoil too harshly, so a new hunter/shooter could effectively make the kill with a properly placed bullet.
My dad—Ol’ Grumpy Pants—killed his first buck with a Marlin Model 1893 in .30-30, borrowed from his best friend’s father, and used that rifle for four or five seasons before acquiring the well-used .308 Winchester that he has shot so well for forty years. When I came of age, GP presented me with a brand new Winchester Model 1894AE XTR, chambered in .30-30, as my first rifle. I still have it, and killed my first seven or eight deer with it. It was—and still is—a lightweight, handy carbine that will kill anything in the Northeast woods, provided I put that bullet where it belongs.
In this modern era of hunting rifles and cartridges, common sense would indicate that a cartridge with the performance level of the .30-30 would long ago have faded into obscurity. I mean, it’s certainly not a speed-demon, it doesn’t carry a huge payload, and its effective range is usually 200 yards, tops, especially considering the average barrel length and iron sights of most of the rifles it is chambered in. So then, why does the .30-30 still show up in the top ten of most ammunition companies’ sales lists? Why won’t it go away?
Because it works, plain and simple. It was a cartridge developed during the crossover period between black powder and smokeless powder, released in 1895 in the new fangled Model 1894 Winchester, and works well to this day with either. It performs just fine with cast lead bullets, and the recoil generated is low enough for a youngster to use to hunt with and develop good marksmanship skills.
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