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Trying to Decide Between a Lever Action 308, 30-30 & 45-70

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G8rHunter
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.30-30 is the closest ballistically - except the .30-30 is better with heavier projectiles.

An non-Chinese SKS with an AK mag conversion is probably just as good as the mini-30 - maybe.
It sounds like the .30-30 is a bigger cartridge with better velocity? I was impressed with the velocity of the mini-30, but the .30-30 is even more impressive?
 
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It sounds like the .30-30 is a bigger cartridge with better velocity? I was impressed with the velocity of the mini-30, but the .30-30 is even more impressive?
It is physically larger with more powder capacity yes.

Generally that means that it does better with heavier projectiles.

Exploring the Untapped Potential of 7.62x39 as an "All Around" Hunting Caliber -

Most comparisons compare the RN .30-30 bullets to the spire points used in the 7.62x39, but you can get spire point .30-30 ammo too with the ballistic tips, especially Hornady's 'flex tip' ammo.

Don’t Give Up On the .30-30!

30-30 Win 160 gr FTX® LEVERevolution® - Hornady Manufacturing, Inc

Also, I recall a test someone did with pointed bullets in a tubular mag, just to test the theory that the pointed bullets can set off the cartridge in front of them, and they never succeeded, nor have I read of this actually happening. That said, I wouldn't want to try it either.

Then there is the .30-30 Ackley Improved

Power for the 30-30: Ackley Improved and Hornady LEVERevolution | A Tale of Two Thirties

There are all kinds of pros and cons. BTW, you can get get the 7.62x39 in a very nice bolt action rifle - the CZ 527
 
OP
G8rHunter
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It is physically larger with more powder capacity yes.

Generally that means that it does better with heavier projectiles.

Exploring the Untapped Potential of 7.62x39 as an "All Around" Hunting Caliber -

Most comparisons compare the RN .30-30 bullets to the spire points used in the 7.62x39, but you can get spire point .30-30 ammo too with the ballistic tips, especially Hornady's 'flex tip' ammo.

Don’t Give Up On the .30-30!

30-30 Win 160 gr FTX® LEVERevolution® - Hornady Manufacturing, Inc

Also, I recall a test someone did with pointed bullets in a tubular mag, just to test the theory that the pointed bullets can set off the cartridge in front of them, and they never succeeded, nor have I read of this actually happening. That said, I wouldn't want to try it either.

Then there is the .30-30 Ackley Improved

Power for the 30-30: Ackley Improved and Hornady LEVERevolution | A Tale of Two Thirties

There are all kinds of pros and cons. BTW, you can get get the 7.62x39 in a very nice bolt action rifle - the CZ 527
Great articles, which make the case for not needing anything more powerful than the 30-30. Probably, if we're honest (and most of us are about like Gus in Lonesome Dove, "I'm about half honest."), we want the biggest and the best! We want the baddest rifle out there. Truth be told, we want to have bragging rights to owning a real man's gun. No doubt, John Wayne influenced our thinking, "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do!" I know there are women on this forum, so I will end the sexist language and invite them to comment. I Googled the rifle most women prefer and it is the .243. But, do any of the ladies here have an inclination for one of the bigger calibers?
 
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I am surprised more people do not use this as an all-around go to load! The recoil is hardly noticeable! And ammo is about $.20 per round in 1,000 round case.
Interesting article, my take away was the opposite though haha. Namely that:
  1. If you isolate a comparison of 7.62x39 vs 30-30 and ignore all other cartridges you can make a really good case for x39 ballistics over 30-30, but that's looking at the cartridge in that vacuum.
  2. The bullets that are necessary to make the x39 perform basically don't exist, are extraordinarily expensive or you have to be wiling to reload (and can find the ones he advocates).
I like the 7.62x39 round, the first semi-auto rifle I shot as a kid after my 10/22 was an old Russian SKS. However, I think in a strict comparison, there are a lot of superior rounds in similar case capacities/platforms to the x39.

For hunting purposes or target shooting I'd take a 6.5 Grendel over a x39 most of the time, but my cousins have shot plenty of deer with an old SKS so it'll get the job done just fine.
 
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I am new to this forum and currently own a semi-automatic shotgun. I am retired and finding out I love guns! In the next few months, I would like to buy either a .308 or a 30-30. I am considering my next gun may have something to do with my son, since he will inherit it. He prefers the 30-30, because of the low-recoil, but admits he is not acquainted with the .308. If I choose the .308, he can't complain because he will eventually be getting it for free. I will use one of them as a deer gun, and I'm not sure that I would ever go after Elk. I have always had a love for a lever action rifle, so I want a lever action in the worst way. I am leaning towards the 30-30, but I wanted to put this out there for someone to help me decide. I haven't decided on a brand yet. I would like to get a Henry, because of gun quality, but the Henry rifle doesn't have a side-loader. The Winchester is over-priced in my opinion, thus it comes down to the Mossberg 464 or Marlin 336. I'm leaning towards the Mossberg because it's totally made in the US. I am thinking the 45-70 is way more gun than I will need but feel free to talk about the 45-70, if that is your favorite rifle.
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I found the options you chose interesting. More so after you said you are retired.
Most lever action rifles and carbines have relatively crude iron sights and if you are old enough to retire it is almost a foregone conclusion that you wear some kind of eyeglasses or contacts. Not the best option for iron sights. Still if that is what you have decided on, more power to you. I own a lever action 30-30 and a lever action 45-70 and I am over 70, so you can make it work, just not for long range shooting. 100 yards is usually max for most of us older shooters with iron sights.
While the Henry is a well made firearm, like you I prefer a side loader. Sometimes a finger pincher, but it won't hurt to anoint you rifle with a few drops of your own blood from time to time. Just wipe it off before it dries.
My 308 is a bolt action rifle, and if you are a bit recoil sensitive like I am probably not your best choice. It is a good choice for all around hunting, probably one of the most universal cartridges ever developed but it will have more recoil than the 30-30. However it is a pussy cat compared to the 45-70. One of the earliest comments suggested that you get a lever gun in 357 magnum. I concur. If this is to be strictly a fun gun Henry and some of the imports make good ones and pistol ammo is usually cheaper than rifle ammo. You can get 50 rounds of pistol ammo for about the same price as you 20 rounds of rifle ammo. If you want a pretty good thumper lever gun that shoots pistol ammo there is at least one company that makes them in 45 Colt.
I don't know where you live, but there are some shooting ranges that rent out firearms for use on their range. I have no idea what kind of firearms are available, but you could call around and find out.
I hope you find something you like.
 
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I really like the 45/70 as you really can make it anything you want. You can bust a grizzly with a heavy load or make light plinking loads that barely kick. It's a very easy cartridge to load for as well. One thing to know about the Henry's is there's no loading gate on the reciever. You drop the rounds onto the front of the tube. A deal breaker for some. I'd go 45/70 and try your hand at reloading. You might find there's two hobbies you like.

As for the recoil it's very subjective and depends on the gun your using as well as brakes etc. Buy the rifle and performance you like and you can port it or brake it or load it to what works for you. I shoot a 338 LM with a heavy rifle and great brake (muzzlebreaks and more beast) and it's a kitten. I shot a friends 270 in a light rifle and was ready to be done after the first few shots.
 
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Oh and if you buy used you can find old, quality Marlin's for a reasonable price. Same with Winchester's and the others.
 
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.45-70 all the way. You can reload it with light Cowboy loads that are fun for 50 yards, and hunting rounds stout enough for any lower-48 game. I've had 30-30s, 308s, 35 Remington, and even .44mag in lever action, and replaced them all with a Marlin SBL in 45-70. With a scout scope for these aging eyes, it's a hoot to shoot.
 
OP
G8rHunter
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******************************************************************
I found the options you chose interesting. More so after you said you are retired.
Most lever action rifles and carbines have relatively crude iron sights and if you are old enough to retire it is almost a foregone conclusion that you wear some kind of eyeglasses or contacts. Not the best option for iron sights. Still if that is what you have decided on, more power to you. I own a lever action 30-30 and a lever action 45-70 and I am over 70, so you can make it work, just not for long range shooting. 100 yards is usually max for most of us older shooters with iron sights.
While the Henry is a well made firearm, like you I prefer a side loader. Sometimes a finger pincher, but it won't hurt to anoint you rifle with a few drops of your own blood from time to time. Just wipe it off before it dries.
My 308 is a bolt action rifle, and if you are a bit recoil sensitive like I am probably not your best choice. It is a good choice for all around hunting, probably one of the most universal cartridges ever developed but it will have more recoil than the 30-30. However it is a pussy cat compared to the 45-70. One of the earliest comments suggested that you get a lever gun in 357 magnum. I concur. If this is to be strictly a fun gun Henry and some of the imports make good ones and pistol ammo is usually cheaper than rifle ammo. You can get 50 rounds of pistol ammo for about the same price as you 20 rounds of rifle ammo. If you want a pretty good thumper lever gun that shoots pistol ammo there is at least one company that makes them in 45 Colt.
I don't know where you live, but there are some shooting ranges that rent out firearms for use on their range. I have no idea what kind of firearms are available, but you could call around and find out.
I hope you find something you like.
I have 20/20 vision long distance and, if I am like my father, I will continue to have the blessing of 20/20 until the day I die! I am not afraid of recoil, as I own a 12 gauge shotgun. However, it sounds like a 45-70 is way more rifle than I will ever need! I realize there are many options in lever action, but I doubt I want to go bigger than a .308. I suspect I will end up choosing a 30-30. The lever-action is a nostalgia thing. From what I have read, they are accurate and often can be scoped. I live near Portland, Oregon, in Happy Valley. Your suggestion of renting is a good one.
 
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Used to be a "Want to Try" forum in this site. A fellow could post a request to try out different guns (actually shoot them) before making a decsion based on reading stuff and gathering opionions. I have a 357 Marlin and Win 44-40. PM me if you want to smell gunpowder and feel recoil.
 
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I have 20/20 vision long distance and, if I am like my father, I will continue to have the blessing of 20/20 until the day I die! I am not afraid of recoil, as I own a 12 gauge shotgun. However, it sounds like a 45-70 is way more rifle than I will ever need! I realize there are many options in lever action, but I doubt I want to go bigger than a .308. I suspect I will end up choosing a 30-30. The lever-action is a nostalgia thing. From what I have read, they are accurate and often can be scoped. I live near Portland, Oregon, in Happy Valley. Your suggestion of renting is a good one.
As you'll find in the firearms world, there doesn't seem to be the perfect hammer. Which is a great excuse to get more guns!:):)

If I were in in your shoes I'd get something else to hunt with personally, but I am not familiar with the geography of where you hunt or the type of hunting you're doing, are you spot and stalk or sitting in a stand? I know out west most folks go spot and stalk especially on public land but may throw up a stand if they have a plot etc.

If I were stand hunting and/or hunting in fairly wooded territory where a shot was going to be 100 yards or less I'd say a 30-30 lever would be just fine, otherwise I personally would choose a bolt gun in 308 for a lot of reasons mentioned previously.

Nothing wrong with a 30-30 in lever, especially for nostalgia's sake, but I think if you're just looking to scratch the lever action itch one in 38/357, 45 Colt or 44 Mag can do it a lot cheaper.

I'm a larger dude and I reload, and I can tell you if I was just going to go shoot for fun, targets and steel etc. I'd grab the one in the pistol caliber every time over the one in 30-30.

I have an old winchester 30-30 I inherited from my grandfather, I think I took it out once and put maybe 5 rounds through it, cleaned it and put it back in it's case. On the other hand, the 22LR Henry that I shoot suppressed I take out almost every time I head to the woods. It scratches that lever action itch pretty well and the wife loves it.
 
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Sounds like 30-30 will suit your needs. Personally, .308 in lever action doesn’t really do anything to tickle my fancy. If you’re entertaining the idea of a 45-70, I would check out the Marlin 1895 series. I have been lusting over this one for a while now, just never put together the funds to make the purchase.

Model 1895SBL
I was too. I could never make the plunge. Until Field & Stream had a sale. (I know, we hate Dick's) It was $595, but included a free Mdl 60 .22, and an additional store credit for $50. I love the recoil of the 45-70, it hurts my shoulder almost as much as my 300 H&H.

Out of the 3 calibers, the .308 is the most versatile, and the recoil is very acceptable. Though the lever action platform is not the best venue for the .308. As stated, your choice of bullets with a lever gun will always be limited. You may not always be able to get flat point, or poly tip rounds for .308. But conventional ammo is always available, including 7.62.

You may want to just consider a plain jane bolt gun. I love my AR-10, and have a Chinese M1A. But the future legalities of semi autos are kind of daunting. Get the lever gun when you have funds for a 'toy'. Then, definitely get the 45-70. Just Sayin'. :s0160:
 
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I have no idea, but it doesn't sound like much! I know 38spl in a .357mag revolver is pretty easy on the wrist comparatively. 30-30 will definitely have more kick, but that will give you range over the .357mag.
I've also never shot a lever gun in .357, but it's on my short wish list!

if they had smokeless powder and magnums it would have been .357mag and .44mag... just sayin' ;)
I have run loads in my .357 that made the .44 mag guys look up!!!!!! :s0090:
 

41mag

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it sounds like a 45-70 is way more rifle than I will ever need! I
in all the years I've enjoyed the ample excesses potential of 45-70, even with moderate reloads, I've never had all that much hunting live fire with them. I've packed them for miles (& miles) for no actual reason. Somehow that sheer ballistic package seems to accumulate more gravity as the hunting day goes on. The 30-30 seems almost lithe by comparison.

Whatever choice becomes your take-home firearm, just reflect on the many reasons why it's hard to answer 'what other caliber have I ever heard referred to as 'Thumper'...
 
OP
G8rHunter
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I have ample time to decide and will most definitely try before I buy. There may be variable's that change my mind about caliber and style of gun. I like to hike. I thought I might trek on BLM land and just see what I happen upon. Anyone tried just going out to be in the out of doors and shooting small game? (I am not intending to carry a loaded rifle near trails. I would like to blaze my own trails and preferably not alone. I hear of too many people getting in trouble by themselves.) I have a soft gun case that has backpack straps, and I will carry both my shotgun and .22. I know there's a hunting season for wildlife. I thought I would start out shooting rabbits and squirrels and develop my shooting skills; then, turkey, other upland game, and deer (all in season of course). I have an idea that turkey may be one of the most challenging until I have collected all the necessary equipment. Just so you know, I will be purchasing a combo license soon, as I love to fish as well. I am definitely fortunate to live near the Mt Hood National Forest and plenty of BLM land around. I plan to know where I can venture legally and not encroach on private property.
 
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I am surprised more people do not use this as an all-around go to load! The recoil is hardly noticeable! And ammo is about $.20 per round in 1,000 round case.
That 20 cent ammo is not anything you would want to hunt with. Yes you can get pretty cheap "soft point" ammo, but you might be surprised by the fact that at least some of it is steel core or steel jacketed. I have plenty of 7.62x39 FMJ ammo for practice, but when it comes to self-defense or hunting, I don't buy any imported ammo (including S&B or Herters) - too often it is all made by the same plants in some ex-Soviet satellite and it doesn't expand worth a damn.
 

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