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Testing The .30-30 Win For Benchrest Shooting

March 2024 -- Banacek

Could The .30-30 Winchester Be Competitive?

First some background. Various fairly small cased cartridges have become almost a cult following among aspiring and expert benchrest shooters. Is there some magic behind these popular cartidges? Or are they in fashion at least partly because they are commonly being used by the very competent shooting winners in current benchrest competitions?

So why not the .30-30 Winchester? This cartridge has been around for way more than 100 years and has harvested a great many big game animals, mostly using lever action rifles that clearly cannot compete for accuracy with quality bolt action rifles. But couldn't it be chambered in a benchrest quality bolt gun that can be tweaked for improved accuracy. The .30-30 has already been featured in the fairly basic utility bolt gun called the Savage Model 340 manufactured between 1950 and 1985, and I have read various reports that it can be much more accurate than the lever guns.

I have posed this question to some of my benchrest friends who uniformly rejected the possibility that this cartridge in a high end benchrest rifle could be competitive; they say that the current popular benchrest cartidges are just too good.

Okay, the obvious way to settle an argument would be to commission a benchrest gunsmith to chamber one in .30-30. If I had the mad money for such an experiment, it might be difficult to find a well known gunsmith who would risk his reputation if that rifle then failed to be competitive. Rock and hard place.

Enter Artificial Intelligence or AI. With all the current hoopla about how AI is changing the world, and now is available to common folk through modern Internet browsers, I just had to ask Microsoft Edge's Copilot application this question: "How can I demonstrate that a precision benchrest rifle can be competitive even using the .30-30 Winchester cartridge?"

Copilot: "Demonstrating the competitiveness of a precision benchrest rifle using the .30-30 Winchester cartridge can be approached methodically. Here's a comprehensive plan:

Understanding the .30-30 Winchester Cartridge: Begin by researching and understanding the ballistics and capabilities of the .30-30 Winchester cartridge. Know its velocity, trajectory, energy retention, and inherent accuracy potential. Understanding its strengths and limitations is crucial for effectively demonstrating its competitiveness.

Selecting the Rifle: Choose a precision bench rest rifle that is known for its exceptional accuracy and reliability. The rifle should have a solid reputation for consistency and precision. Ideally, it should also have a reputation for being compatible with a variety of cartridges, including the .30-30 Winchester.

Load Development: Spend time developing handloads specifically tailored for precision shooting with the .30-30 Winchester cartridge. Experiment with different bullet weights, powder charges, primers, and seating depths to find the most accurate combination for your rifle. Document this process meticulously to showcase the effort put into optimizing the cartridge for precision shooting.

Accuracy Testing: Conduct rigorous accuracy testing with the precision bench rest rifle using the optimized .30-30 Winchester handloads. Utilize a high-quality optic and a stable shooting platform, such as a heavy bench and sandbags, to eliminate as many variables as possible. Record group sizes at various distances to demonstrate the rifle's precision capabilities.

Comparative Analysis: Compare the accuracy results obtained with the .30-30 Winchester cartridge to those achieved with other cartridges commonly used in precision bench rest shooting, such as the .308 Winchester or 6mm Creedmoor. Highlight instances where the .30-30 Winchester performs comparably or even exceeds expectations.

Competition Participation: Consider entering precision bench rest competitions or matches where the .30-30 Winchester cartridge is allowed. Compete against shooters using more traditional precision cartridges and document your performance. Even if you don't win, demonstrating competitive scores with the .30-30 Winchester can showcase its viability in precision shooting.

Documentation and Promotion: Document your findings, including load data, accuracy test results, and any competition scores or achievements, through articles, blog posts, social media, or videos. Share your experiences and insights with the shooting community to promote awareness of the .30-30 Winchester's potential in precision shooting circles.

Engage with the Community: Engage with fellow shooters, both online and in-person, to discuss your experiences with using the .30-30 Winchester cartridge in precision bench rest shooting. Be open to sharing knowledge and learning from others, fostering a positive exchange of information within the shooting community.

By following these steps and showcasing the precision capabilities of a well-tuned precision bench rest rifle chambered in .30-30 Winchester, you can effectively demonstrate its competitiveness in the realm of precision shooting."

Me again. Well I don't have the mad money to take this idea any further, but some or all of the AI Copilot's game plan is certainly good advice if you ever want to build a very special rifle -- in any caliber for benchrest shooting or hunting or general target shooting fun. Good luck.

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