The .307 Winchester

By Chuck Hawks

The .307 Winchester was introduced by Winchester in 1982 along with a beefed-up version of the Model 94 lever action rifle known as the "Big Bore 94." The .307 was part of a family of new high-pressure cartridges (52,000 cup in the case of the .307) which also included the .356 and .375 Winchester.

The .307 is based on a rimmed version of the .308 Winchester case. Internally, the .307 has thicker case walls than the .308. It is a fine cartridge and brings .300 Savage performance to rifles with a tubular magazine like the Winchester 94 and Marlin 336. Ballistically, the .307 is very similar to the earlier .300 Savage.

Unfortunately, the .307 has not been very successful in the market place. Marlin supposedly built a few Model 336 prototypes in .307, but never got around to producing .307 rifles for sale. Winchester kept the .307 in the Model 94 line for the remainder of the 20th Century, but is not listed in the 2001 Shooter's Bible. Factory loaded ammunition is still available from Winchester, but unless some rifle manufacturer picks up the cartridge it will eventually become obsolete.

This is a shame, as the original Winchester factory loads offered a 150 grain bullet at 2760 fps for medium size big game, and a 180 grain bullet at 2510 fps for large game. These figures were developed in a 24" test barrel.

The 150 grain bullet has been discontinued by Winchester, leaving only the 180 grain load. This starts a Power-Point bullet at 2510 fps with 2519 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy. At 100 yards the velocity is 2179 fps and the energy is 1898 ft. lbs. At 200 yards the remaining velocity is 1874 fps and the energy is 1404 ft. lbs. At 300 yards the velocity has fallen to 1599 fps and the energy to 1022 ft. lbs.

The trajectory of the Winchester 180 grain Power Point factory load for a scoped rifle set up to hit 2.5" high at 100 yards is as follows. +2.5" at 100 yards, -1.6" at 200 yards, and -15.6" at 300 yards. The .307 factory load adds at least 25 yards to the effective range of a Model 94 (compared to the .30-30), and considerably increases its effectiveness on large game.

The handloader has a little more flexibility than the hunter who must rely on factory loads. Any bullet suitable for the .30-30 may also be used in the .307 Win. Generally these are bullets of 110, 120-130, 150, and 170 grains.

The best choice for the deer, antelope, sheep, and goat hunter is probably a 150 grain bullet like the Speer Hot-Cor Flat-Soft Point. This bullet has a ballistic coefficient (BC) of .268, one of the best in its class. The Speer Reloading Manual No. 13 is perhaps more conservative than the old Winchester factory load, but still shows loads launching this bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2313 fps using 37.0 grains of IMR 3031, or 2598 fps using 41.0 grains of IMR 3031. It is worth noting that these Speer loads used Winchester cases and CCI primers, and were chronographed in the 20" barrel of an actual Model 94 rifle.

Zeroed at 200 yards, the 150 grain Speer bullet at 2600 fps would strike +2.6" at 100 yards, 0 at 200 yards, and -11.6" at 300 yards. This would make the .307 a good 250 yard deer rifle.

The Speer 170 grain bullet has an even better BC of .304. According to the Speer Reloading Manual 38.0 grains of W748 powder can launch it at a MV of 2189 fps, and 42.0 grains of W748 achieve a MV of 2446 fps from the 20" barrel of a M-94 carbine. Sighted to hit 3" high at 100 yards, this latter load should hit about dead on at 200 yards.

The only drawback to the .307 compared to the .30-30 is increased recoil. My Rifle Recoil chart shows that the 150 grain .307 handload delivers approximately 14.4 ft. lbs. of recoil energy, and the 180 grain factory load about 18 ft. lbs. of recoil energy. These figures are considerably above those for the .30-30, and the shooter should definitely feel the difference. I suspect that is one of the factors that have limited the popularity of the .307 Winchester.

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Copyright 2002, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.