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Thread: 30-30, cast bullets, and bear

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    30-30, cast bullets, and bear

    I haven't hunted in decades, but I have a buddy who is a government trapper. As part of his job, he occasionally has to shoot bears, a number of them every season. He uses a lever action 30-30 Winchester. He says the 170gr factory ammo works very well on them.

    I've been tinkering with a load for my 30-30, Lee C309-170F, powder coated. I cast them from mostly range scrap, with a couple pounds of linotype mixed in a 20lb pot, and a little tin. I don't get terribly scientific. The load that works well in my rifle is using LVR powder at a level that approximates 170gr factory ballistics, and shoots to the same POA.

    I was going to give him a couple boxes to try out, but wanted to see what you all thought first, especially those who hunt with cast bullets. How effective do you think this load would be on black bear, compared to factory 170gr jacketed ammo?

    This guy is a very good friend. We've been friends since we were very young, a long time ago. I don't want him to get tore up or one of his dogs mauled because he shot a bear with the wrong ammo that didn't do the job. He's already told me a harrowing story of a close call, where his rifle ran dry and he had to pull out the old .44 revolver and finish one off at close range.

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy Tazlaw's Avatar
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    See if you can do a utube search on making ballistic gel and shoot both and compare???

    Of course he could alternate cast boolit and factory.
    Just knowing enough to do it, is not enough to do it right! -Taz

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy

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    Interesting thread. I've only shot one very small black bear with a 30-06 and a 180 grain jacketed premium handloaded bullet. One shot and over quick. I've only run in to a dozen or more black and two grizzly in the last five years at home. One of the grizzly walked in to the river with me while I was dry fly fishing up river from the house. Pretty cool. Ran in to two black bear 30 minutes after that. Good berry crop in the valley brought them in two years ago. Or was it last year? God, time flies. Best part, it was the 4th of July. They all walked or ran off at seeing me. In the last two years I've switched my hunting/self protection to 357 magnum cast boolits. Pistol and rifle. I'd be interested to hear what experienced bear hunters have to say about your choice. Thank you for posting.
    I Like Guns - Steve Lee

  4. #4
    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
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    Don't see why they wouldn't work if you keep the speed up around jacketed levels . Folks been shootin our big Pa black bears for over 100 years with the 30/30 .
    If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master northmn's Avatar
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    I used to shoot a 188 grain cast bullet at deer that I liked very much. With cast I prefer the heavier bullets as they retain velocity better over distance. I do not know the size of bear we are talking about here, but basically I do not believe that a cast bullet of the same weight will equal that of a good J bullet. I know that is heresy on this site, but after using both on game I do not see where cast is superior. A hard bullet can be made to penetrate more but will not expand as much. There is the Hawk 190 grain and the Barnes 190 grain J bullets that are excellent. They make bonded bullets that also hold their weight.

    Cast are fun, they work on deer very well out of a 30-30 or the big ones like a 45-70, but I would just let the guy use what he has found that works. The 30-30 has been around for so long that they have the J bullets pretty well down pat. If there was an improvement it would be with a heavier mold. I used the Lee 303 Brit mold at 185 grains and many really like the RCBS 180 grain flat nose.

    DEP

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    well, I use a 32 win special with a 170g cast boolit on my bears... took my 5 black bears with it last year.... guess what I am loading and carrying for black bears this year? same darn thing!!! i have not had to make more then one shot on any one bear....

    that being said, when you load for somebody else, it is a lot of responsibility. "what if" comes into play. what if one of the loads is a squib and needed to be cleared at the wrong moment? i struggle with loading for my friends cuz that makes you part of the responsible party if something goes wrong. i am not saying I dont do it.. i am saying the old saying, "if you cant stand the heat...." just a word of caution..

    marko
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  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master


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    I've killed a BB (about 150 lbs) with the Lyman 311041 HP cast of COWW + 50% lead over 28 gr H4895 out of a M94 Carbine 30-30. One shot, died in tree, fell out and dead when he hit the ground. Through and through heart lung area and out through one front shoulder. Excellent wound channel.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  8. #8
    Moderator Emeritus


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    While I would feel very comfortable with my own cast loads, you're talking supplying a gov't employee with something he isn't issued for use in his job. If he is happy with what he is using I would let him continue doing it.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    He may feel obligated to use your ammunition. What if something bad happens?

    If he wants blasting ammunition, and he is a very good friend, load some up for him and tell him NEVER use it when it counts.

    I will not load for acquaintances. I have loaded ammunition for a handful of good friends. One guy is a Vet who lives in one room cabin and hunts for food. I always use jacketed bullets for hunting loads anyway, but I do not want him to think that a cast bullet cost him a deer if he loses and animal.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    This guy is a life-long friend. He's shot a lot of my reloads over the last three decades. He's taken a lot of game with my reloads over that time. There was a time when he'd buy the bullets and powder, I'd load them up for him, and that was the only ammo he would use, for years. That was a long time ago though, and we live several hours apart now.

    He's not directly employed by a government agency; his employer is. He'll use what he wants to and feels is best. I know him well enough to know that.

    We talk about gun, ammo, and hunting stuff all the time. He asked about my "home-made bullets" and trying them on bear; that's why I asked here. We're well aware of the legalities and liabilities of selling, giving, or loaning reloaded ammo. That's not an issue here. I don't sell my ammo, but I will occasionally share it with family and close friends.

    I just figured that if the experienced boolit hunters here say that this load is decent bear medicine, I'd give him a few next time I see him and he can use them at his own discretion, or for practice, his choice.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    I’d cast them soft and push them fast. I’ve seen A lot of black bear Shot with Good shot placement, huge energy dumps with j words , along with large exit holes, and still run with zero to no blood trails. At least if you cast them soft you should get a large decent sized exit hole for a blood trail.

    Here’s one I’d use for the job. Casted if 50/50 COWW & pure with a little pewter added. It has a BH of 10.4. Loaded up in my 35 Rem. It’s a group buy 200 grain HP. Loaded up with 40 grains of Varget it shoots MOA.

    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 05-19-2020 at 05:59 PM. Reason: Spelling

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
    Markopolo's Avatar
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    Fatelk, i didn't say it was wrong.. i am just saying it carries responsibilities...

    that being said a black bear is a heavy muscled, big boned animal... but it has a large target area.. a good expanding alloy with good shot placement is always key, and they die... I run my stuff around between 1750-1800 fps using 2400 and a gas check. and I carry a dog with me for tracking but have not needed her services on bear thank God...
    Any technology not understood, can seem like Magic!!!

    I will love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    Craig Boddington's book "Perfect Shot North America" shows the heart is well-protected by the front leg. No surprise, but black bear have much shorter lungs than deer, so the lungs are quite well protected too. The perfect rifle shot is the same one that's perfect for bow hunters, quartering away.
    Boddington lives in central California, partly because he's an avid black bear hunter. One of his articles I remember said he preferred 35 caliber rifles to 30's. Heavier bullets, bigger holes. When I'm drawn, I hunt from a ground blind. I feel safer with my Marlin 45-70 and Ruger SBH with 300 gr flat-nosed bullet as a backup in the blind.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Interesting thread. How about this, load cast for 1st shot and back it up with jacketed rounds. That way he's got insurance. Killed quite a few critters with cast but nothing that can change you position on the food chain.
    Siamese4570

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Markopolo View Post
    Fatelk, i didn't say it was wrong.. i am just saying it carries responsibilities...
    No worries, thanks for the input. I was just explaining that he's not just a casual acquaintance.

    I'll give him a box or two, tell him to use some for practice and hunt with them only if he feels they'll do the job, maybe put a couple in the rifle under ideal conditions, not when he's going in a dark cave after a wounded bear.

    He's a very experienced hunter, so I trust his judgement. He's been a hard-core hunter his whole life, grew up in the woods with a gun or bow in his hands. Back when he first decided to hunt with a muzzle loader, he bought a flintlock and brought it out to my place. We shot it a few times and couldn't hit much. The next time he brought it out, it was clear that he'd been practicing, a lot. He was hitting soup can targets at 50 yards, consistently. He knows his stuff. Decent guy, too, one of those few people in life that I've known forever and really have a lot of respect for.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    I load my Marlin so the first shot is a Remington jacketed 400 gr bullet at 1300 fps. It's a soft bullet, but heavy enough to break a front leg. The next two are cast 400 gr bullets at 1300 fps which will penetrate most black bear end-to-end. The last two are for when everything has gone wrong and things are getting out of hand. They are Buffalo Bore 400 gr tough jacketed at 2000 fps. An outfitter showed us what Buffalo Bore 45-70 did to a big black bear when the hunter shot it broadside in the shoulder. Both shoulders destroyed, chest split from the bullet fragments and expanding bullet passing through. All that was suitable for mounting was the neck and head. The same outfitter asked me if I would load my rifle with only BB and follow him and the guide when they searched for a bow-shot bear. They liked the advantage my tritium glowing front sight offered in the dark.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check