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Thread: Has anyone done a 30 cal expansion test at different velocities

  1. #1

    Has anyone done a 30 cal expansion test at different velocities

    Has anyone done a general 30 cal expansion test at different velocities (slow/fast) to see what the bullet expansions look like or at different distances?
    I know their are many variables that can be played with like hard cast/soft cast/coatings and so on I was just curious is all...
    I have just come across various very random posts with only a few pics showing bullet capabilities/expansion...

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    I think you identified the biggest problem being that there are too many variables.

    Alloy, quench hardening, obviously bullet shape and design.

    Therefore just about anything you see will be anecdotal in nature.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master


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    I am going to predict the vast majority of cast bullets used on game are at 150 yards or less. They do not need to perform like jacketed bullets that need to work at longer ranges....as well as closer in.

    There is some data on jacketed bullets and how they expand at 100-400 yards. There is a difference as velocity peels off, but they still expand.

    For cast bullets, if you are getting good expansion at 100 yards, you are going to be fine for most shots you will encounter. Not saying someone hasn't taken game with cast at 400 yards, but not many have.

    And in general, the average cast rifle bullet loses accuracy quite rapidly at longer ranges. They do do not exhibit the more linear relationship of jacketed bullets on terms of MOA performance. Another reason they are poor choices if long ranges are expected. The work being done by Bama, search this site, is very interesting. Very good accuracy is being achieved, but not with bullets simply cast and sized.
    Don Verna

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  4. #4
    Boolit Master quail4jake's Avatar
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    I had alot of fun firing ca..58 expanding balls into wet newspaper 30+ years ago and learned alot about alloy hardness, obturation, deformity and terminal ballistics. It was fun and I still have some of those fired balls around. I don't have scientific data but I bet the folks that developed Ranch Dog boolits do!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Back in the late 1970s until the mid 1980s, there were several "From the Loading Bench" articles in American Rifleman by C.E. Harris about using cast bullets on game. These included comparison expansion tests of .30-30 and .30-'06 cast loads firing into wet phonebooks, using wheelweights +2% tin alloy vs. linotype, being compared with Remington softpoint CoreLokt bullets in both calibers.

    I don't recall the specific issue, but using Lyman #31141 bullets in the .30-30 and RCBS 30-180FN in the '06 they got comparable expansion, penetration and weight retention with the cast loads in the range of 1700-2100 fps. Wheelweights + tin stayed together. Linotype performed like FMJ at low velocity and above about 1800 fps shattered. Harris did a follow-up field test using the cast loads on a deer hunt in Alabama, which I think appeared in American Hunter, where multiple animals were killed with a .30-30 Contender pistol, .30-'06 and .300 Weatherby rifle all using cast, at ranges from 50-200 yards. Wheelweights +2% tin was used and velocities of the loads varied from 1700 fps in the Contender pistol to 2300 fps in the .30-'06 and .300 Weatherby.

    Later George Martin took the cast bullets to Africa, using them heat treated #375449 cast of wheelweights in a .375 H&H with full charge loads about 2200-2300 fps and killed a variety of plains game, warthog, Kudu, waterbuck, etc. with them. Worth looking up George's article "Cast Bullets In Africa." VERY informative!
    Last edited by Outpost75; 11-11-2017 at 11:35 AM.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I did several expansion tests some years back with 30 cal CB's using water soaked, compressed phone books at a distance of 40 yards and will be doing more shortly. Until now it was just 160 gr. RNGC's and 113 gr RFGC but will be doing 158 gr RFGC and 181 gr RNGC in the near future. At a muzzle velocity of 1550, penetration was about 16" with expansion to about .5" with the 160's. With the 113's at an MV of about 1400, the penetration was about 12-13" with expansion to .5 as well. The round nose boolits wandered some and only about half stayed in the media but tumbling was significant enlarging (sometimes hugely) the wound channel. My alloy is not that hard being 60% near pure from isotope or sometimes good roofing lead and 40% hard birdshot as a hardener.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    I did considerable expansion testing of several .30 caliber cast bullets back in the '70s. They were shot mostly out of M94 and M70 30-30 and .308Ws. I used sopping wet newsprint as a test medium thick enough to contain the bullets when placed at 25 yards I had an Oehler chronograph so velocity tested from 2200 fps down to 1200 fps was actual not questimated. I also shot 1 round of Winchester factory 170 gr 30-30 PP into each test media bundle as a "control" of expansion, penetration and wound channel destruction. Velocity ran 1950 - 2000 fps out of my M94 Carbine.

    I found, using a COWW + 2% tin mixed 50/50 with lead alloy AC'd, with a Lyman 311041 (both 30-30 and .308W) or a 311299 (in the .308W) that were HP'd 3/16" deep with a 1/8" HP at 1950 - 2200 fps gave equal penetration (sometimes better), excellent expansion and almost as good wound channel destruction as the factory 30-30 load.

    I found down to 1400 - 1500 fps the same alloyed, HP'd cast bullets still gave some expansion, sufficient penetration (usually greater than at higher velocity) a remarkably destructive wound channels.

    Since that testing in the '70s I have consistently used that alloy with 7mm up through .375 cast bullets, have HP'd them 3/16" deep with a 1/8" HP and have pushed them at 1950 to 2200 fps for hunting use. They have not failed to five excellent terminal performance out to 200 yards. I calculate the range at which the bullet/load used will drop to 1400 - 1500 fps and then set that as my maximum range for hunting.
    Larry Gibson

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  8. #8
    Thanks for the info everyone!
    I will see what info I can find on George Martin and his african trip.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Survival Bill View Post
    Thanks for the info everyone!
    I will see what info I can find on George Martin and his african trip.
    C.E. Harris has a good article in the NRA's "Cast Bullets, Supplement #1". There is also an article "In The Field" by Gearge Martin. Both articles give some pretty good technical and practical information.

    C. E. Harris and Dennis Marshall have an article in Lyman's #3 CBH which also gives excellent technical expansion test information.

    They are worth reading/studying also.
    Larry Gibson

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  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    Larry, I notice that in post #7 you specifically mentioned that the .30 caliber hunting bullets you used in your tests, were air cooled. I have much respect for your opinion and I have learned quite a bit by reading your posts over the years re: cast bullet hunting loads.

    I use the same alloy as you used in post #7 except that I've been led to believe that water quenching allows the bullet to withstand slightly higher velocities than air cooled projectiles, all other variables being the same. I would appreciate your thoughts on water quenching vs. air cooling, specifically as it applies to .30 caliber hunting bullets that are expected to expand in game animals. Thanks, Treetop
    "Treetop"
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    The American Rifleman article by George Martin "Cast Bullets In Africa" compares the performance of heat treated wheelweight #375449 bullets in full-charge loads with a dilute-antimony alloy 1 pound of wheelweights to 7 pounds of plumber's lead, heat treated for a long time to put all of the antimony in solution. The HTWW bullet did not expand, but only riveted slightly on striking bone. The dilute-antimony alloy heat treated to about 20 BHN expanded and held together nicely. Look up the article.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Treetop View Post
    Larry, I notice that in post #7 you specifically mentioned that the .30 caliber hunting bullets you used in your tests, were air cooled. I have much respect for your opinion and I have learned quite a bit by reading your posts over the years re: cast bullet hunting loads.

    I use the same alloy as you used in post #7 except that I've been led to believe that water quenching allows the bullet to withstand slightly higher velocities than air cooled projectiles, all other variables being the same. I would appreciate your thoughts on water quenching vs. air cooling, specifically as it applies to .30 caliber hunting bullets that are expected to expand in game animals. Thanks, Treetop
    Yes, WQing the bullets does allow them to withstand acceleration better. However, since the loads I use allow excellent hunting accuracy for the first 5 - 8 shots out of a clean barrel are mostly used for deer and elk I prefer the better (mostly quicker) expansion of the softer AC'd bullet, especially at the 100 - 200 yard impact range. Were I to expect the shots would all be closer range (under 100 yards) I would consider WQing some cast bullets of larger caliber that are pushing 2100 - 2200+ fps. However, with 30 caliber cast bullets HP'd 3/16" deep with a 1/8# HP I've never had a problem requiring a harder bullet.
    Larry Gibson

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  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Thanks to both of you for taking the time to respond to my question, Larry and Outpost! Treetop.
    "Treetop"
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    "Accuracy has a suppressive power all by itself."
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    “The Second Amendment was not written to protect your right to shoot deer.
    It was written to protect your right to shoot tyrants…”
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