7-30 Waters Improved (7-30 Bullberry)
In 1994 I did some bartering with Fred Smith of Bullberry fame at the Great Western gun show in Pomona, California. I already had a Contender (stainless) frame. What I wound up with was a 22" stainless bull barrel in 7x30 Waters Improved with Burris mounts and rings, Fred's walnut butt stock and fore-end (unfinished) for my Contender, and Redding dies for reloading this wildcat.
After sanding and finishing the butt stock and fore end, I assembled all the parts and topped it with a Burris (stainless) 3-9x variable scope. One of Bullberry's claims to fame is that their barrels carry an accuracy guarantee. They are supposed to shoot 5-shot groups at 100 yards measuring 1 inch or less, or you can get a new barrel or your money back. Well, Fred's guarantee didn't quite hold true for this particular barrel. It didn't shoot 1 inch groups. They were more on the order of 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch with the better loads and 3/4 inch to 7/8 inch for the not so good loads.
I will list some of these loads, but the reader must understand that he uses this info at his own risk. These loads were safe in my Contender carbine. Yours may be different in some respect, so work up your loads carefully and pay very close attention to any difference in opening or sticky extraction. If fired primers are flattened you have already passed the pressure limit.
To start with, I fire formed cases using Federal 7x30 Waters factory loads. Groups at 100 yards with factory ammo hovered around the 1 inch mark, some a little smaller and some a little larger. The thing to remember is that whether you fire form factory 7x30 loads or reform .30-30 brass in a standard 7x30 size die and fire form these, the fire formed brass will be too short.
Case length on the standard 7x30 should be 2.040 inches. A standard 7x30 case of this length will be approximately 2.025 inches in length after fire forming. This is at least .015 inches too short for the Bullberry chamber. Proper case length for my particular chamber is 2.068 inches. This is Impossible to achieve with standard or re-formed brass from the .30-30. My method is to re-form Winchester .38-55 brass in the standard 7x30 sizing die and trim until the action of the Contender will just barely close on the newly formed case. Then load the cases and fire form. Then measure all cases and trim to the length of the shortest case.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. Remember that this is a wildcat cartridge. When you order a gun in a non standard chambering, you have bitten off a lot more work to have something different stamped on your barrel. Learn to like it or don't mess around with wildcats.
Another thing to pay close attention to in either the standard 7x30 or its improved version is case neck and bullet run-out. These cartridges are derived from the .30-30 case. Both of these 7mm cases have their shoulders moved substantially forward as compared to the .30-30. The shoulder/neck junction is located in what was the neck area of the .30-30 case. It is thin and easily pushed or pulled off center by either sizing or neck expanding. Proper adjustment of the sizing die is of great importance. Not completely full length sized, but not just neck sized either. A happy medium must be found for you particular rifle. Trial and error will help you determine the correct setting. The use of a tungsten carbide neck expanding button is a great help. Also, leave the deprime/expanding spindle in the sizing die loose. All these procedures taken together will help to keep the run-out problem with this cartridge to a minimum.
Now that we have properly formed, trimmed, sized and expanded cases, it's time to reload. I have had the best results seating bullets to clear the lands ahead of the chamber throat by .025 inches. Five bullets that I have found most useful in the 7x30 Improved are the 120 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, 120 grain Hornady JHP, 130 grain Speer Spitzer flat base, 139 grain Hornady Spire Point boat tail and the 140 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip.
Fred Smith suggests using the 7x30 standard loading data to load the 7x30 Improved. The advantages of the improved case are more positive head spacing and less case stretching caused by repeated re-sizing and firing. The fire formed improved case does have a larger capacity, but not greatly so. The standard 7x30 is a somewhat "improved" case itself because the shoulder is moved forward as compared to the .30-30, its parent case.
This being said, heavier loads than standard can be used, but not more than a grain or in some instances 2 grains, depending on powder and bullet combinations. Remember, do this only at your own risk. The chamber in my barrel has had the throat lengthened somewhat by Fred Smith. In effect, this amounts to a little free- bore which has the effect or lowering pressure. Therefore, small increases in powder charge are possible.
After working all of these loads up, I received a communication from Fred Smith at Bullberry saying that he had a laboratory do some extensive testing on his wildcats based on .30-30 cases. The most suitable powders proved to be IMR-4064, IMR-4895 and RL-15. My favorite powder, WW-748, exhibited erratic pressures and low case fill even with max loads. I think this has to do with the position of the powder in the case.
Therefore, I changed load #1 with the 120 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip to 36.5 grains of IMR-4064 with similar results. Load #2 with the 130 grain Speer spitzer flat base was changed to 36 grains of IMR-4064 with similar results as far as velocity, energy and trajectory goes, but accuracy improved to 5/8" to 3/4" groups at 100 yards.
It has taken me several years to develop these loads, as I don't do this sort of work full time. The above loads are safe in my rifle. They may or may not be safe in yours. Use this information as a guideline only. Better yet, use data from the major bullet manufacturers beginning with the listed starting loads and work up in 1 grain increments until you safely reach the listed maximum load. If your rifle chamber has not been throated as mine has, stop there. If it has been throated and you want to proceed with increasing the charge, do so only in 1/2 grain increments, carefully checking for any signs of excessive pressure. You are on your own in these waters, no pun intended.
My favorite load in this rifle is the 130 grain Speer bullet backed by 36 grains of IMR-4064 and a CCI-Br2 primer. It is not the fastest, flattest or most powerful load, but this combination works great on Texas white tail deer. I used this rifle and load to take a very nice 8 point buck last Christmas near Brownwood, Texas. Ah, but that is another story.
Copyright 2003 by Dave Thornblom. All rights reserved.