The .30 Remington

By Chuck Hawks

The .30 Remington is obsolete today, but at one time it was the principle challenger of the famous .30-30 Winchester. The Winchester line of cartridges, including the .25-35, .30-30, .32 Special, and .38-55 all used the same basic rimmed case, necked-up and down as required. These cartridges were intended for Winchester's immensely popular Model 94 lever action rifle, although most of them were adopted for use in other rifles, including the Savage Model 99 and the various Marlin models culminating in today's Model 336.

But Remington, which in the early years of the 20th Century built the Model 8 autoloading rifle, the Model 14 pump, and the Model 30 bolt action rather than lever actions, had a problem. The Remington actions required a rimless case for best reliability.

This resulted in the 1906 introduction of the Remington Rimless line of cartridges. These included the subject of this article, the .30 Remington, as well as the .25 Remington, .32 Remington, and .35 Remington. All of these are now obsolete except for the .35 Remington. The .25, .30, and .32 were all based on the same case, but the .35 is based on a different case with a larger head. In addition to the original and subsequent Remington firearms, the Stevens lever action Model 425 and Standard pump/auto rifles were chambered for the .30 Remington.

The .30 Remington is basically a rimless version of the .30-30. Its case capacity is virtually identical, and powder charge/bullet combinations suitable for use in the .30-30 are also suitable for use in the .30 Rem. This means that the .30 Remington is every bit as good a hunting cartridge as the .30-30, and any game that may humanely be taken with a .30-30 could also be taken with the .30 Remington.

An interesting historical tidbit is that the .30 Remington was initially called the ".30-30 Remington" and the first Model 8 rifles manufactured for the new cartridge were so marked. The resultant confusion resulted in the cartridge's name soon being changed to .30 Remington.

Not surprisingly, the .30 became the most popular of the Remington Rimless line of cartridges. However, shortly after the end of WW II the last of the rifles chambered for the .30 Remington were discontinued. Factory loaded ammunition remained available in the 1980's from both Remington and Winchester, and possibly into the 1990's.

By the turn of the 21st Century, however, the .30 Remington was completely obsolete and almost forgotten. Strangely, the U.S. Army chose the .30 case as the basis for what became their new 6.8x43mm SPC cartridge, introduced in 2004. I have sometimes wondered where they found the brass for their initial experiments.

The .30 Remington case is a rimless, bottleneck type 2.03" long with a base diameter of .42", a shoulder diameter of .402", and a neck diameter of .328". The rim diameter is .421" and the rim thickness .045". Shoulder angle is 23 degrees. The overall cartridge length is 2.525". Bullet diameter is officially .307", but standard .308" bullets are used. Primer size is Large Rifle, and the standard twist for rifle barrels was 1 turn in 12". The SAAMI maximum average pressure is 38,000 cup.

Remington factory loaded ammunition in the 1980's offered a 170 grain Core-Lokt RN bullet at a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2120 fps and muzzle energy (ME) of 1696 fps. At 100 yards the velocity was quoted as 1822 fps and the energy as 1253 ft. lbs. At 200 yards the velocity was 1555 fps and the energy 913 ft. lbs. At 300 yards the velocity was 1328 fps and the energy 666 ft. lbs.

The factory trajectory figures for the factory load were given as follows: +/- 0" at 100 yards, -9.7" at 200 yards, and -33.8" at 300 yards. Clearly, zeroing a .30 Remington rifle at only 100 yards is wasteful. Zeroed to put a 170 grain bullet 3" high at 100 yards the maximum point blank range is extended to approximately 210 yards, where the bullet hits about 3" low.

The .30 Remington is no longer included in most reloading manuals, but for those with a supply of brass, .30-30 Winchester loads may be substituted. This is specifically stated in the Speer Reloading Manual Number 13.

The 45th Edition of the Lyman Reloading Manual included data showing that the 150 grain Core-Lokt RN bullet (SD .226) could be driven to a MV of 2123 fps by 30.0 grains of IMR 3031 powder and a MV of 2364 fps by 33.0 grains of IMR 3031. The Core-Lokt HP 170 grain RN (SD .256) could be driven to a MV of 1893 fps by 27.0 grains of IMR 3031 powder, or to a MV of 2114 fps by 30.0 grains of IMR 3031. These Lyman loads used Remington brass, Remington 9 1/2 primers, and were test fired in the 22" barrel of a Remington Model 81 rifle.

It is perhaps worth noting that .30 Remington rifles with box magazines can safely use spitzer (pointed) bullets, although at .30 Rem. velocities there is not much advantage in so doing. For woods and brush hunting, for which the .30 Remington was designed, a flat point or round nose bullet is generally preferred.

One of the advantages of the .30 Remington (and its .30-30 Winchester counterpart) is that it provides a full diameter bullet and good killing power for hunting deer and other CXP2 class game without excessive recoil. A cartridge that doesn't kick too much allows careful bullet placement, and bullet placement is the key ingredient in stopping power. A .30 Rem. rifle weighing 7.5 pounds only generates about 11 ft. lbs. of recoil energy shooting a factory load with a 170 grain bullet. This is far easier to handle than the approximately 20 ft. lbs. of recoil generated by a .30-06 rifle.

The .30 Remington was a perfectly good cartridge, but it was never able to overcome the popularity of the .30-30 Winchester, which offered identical performance and was on the ground first. As a result, the .30 Remington eventually faded away.

This hard lesson was apparently not understood by Remington, who later introduced the .280 to compete with the very popular .270 Winchester and recently introduced the .300 Rem. SAUM to compete with the previously introduced .300 WSM. These are fine Remington cartridges but, like the earlier .30 Rem., they are forced to compete at a disadvantage against very similar and entrenched Winchester cartridges that offer equal (and sometimes better) performance.

The newest Remington cartridge offering (as I write this) is the 6.8mm SPC, the civilian version of the military's new 6.8x43mm SPC. This .270 caliber cartridge is based on a shortened, necked-down, and blown out .30 Remington case. It was developed jointly by Remington and the U.S. Army to function in M16 length actions and provide superior stopping power to the 5.56mm NATO cartridge. It is an original design, not a copy of any previous factory loaded cartridge.

As a hunting cartridge the new 6.8mm SPC is a medium range, low recoil, deer cartridge. Thus it basically fills the gap left in the Remington line by the demise of the .30 Remington. What goes around comes around!

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Copyright 2004, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.