The humble Winchester .30-30 hunting rifle has definitely stood the test of time as evidenced by the amount of ammunition sold for the gun.
After 125 years on the market, the .30-30 ranked fourth in centerfire rifle ammunition sales in the United States in 2015, according to gun writer Chuck Hawks.
“Centerfire rifle, in a year when there’s not a lot of .223 selling, it’s definitely in the top 10,” said Todd Sarotte, manager of Van’s Sporting Goods in Brandon, Miss. “I’d say we sell at least 500 boxes a year, that’s 20 rounds to the box.”
The .30-30 was among the first cartridges that used smokeless gunpowder. Introduced by Winchester in 1895, the .30-30 was the product of famed gun designer John Browning. Shooting a 160-grain jacketed bullet at almost 2,000 feet per second, it was the best of its time.
The .30-30 has kept chugging along despite being eclipsed by more popular calibers such as the .30-06 Springfield and the .308 Winchester. However, more than 7 million of the light, fast-handling .30-30 rifle has been sold, making it one of the most successful cartridges ever.
Michael Turnage, of Purvis, Miss., said his first rifle was a .30-30 and he’s still shooting it today.
“I bought my first Marlin 336 at 12 years old,” Turnage said. “I used it for several years with perfect performance until I thought I needed something more powerful.
“I graduated to a .30-06 and used it for several years. Added ammo cost, barrel length, recoil, and muzzle blast were the only real difference. I’ve killed deer with many different guns and cartridges over the last 35 some odd years, including some of the ‘newer, better’ cartridge and the deer just didn’t end up any more dead.”
Bobby Graham of West Point, Miss., is also a fan of the old cartridge and says he wouldn’t be without a .30-30.
“I’ve been in the .30-30 business a long time,” Graham said. “In fact, I’m not sure how many I’ve got.”
However, Graham said it’s not just about performance. It’s about the history of the cartridge and if others feel the same, the .30-30 will see decades of use in the future.
“That’s a big part of it,” Graham said. “This one, as far as nostalgia goes, it still works just as good as it did in 1895.”