Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cost Effective .30 Caliber Cartridges

Cost Effective Rifle Cartridges Part 7: .30 Caliber Cartridges

 Of all the cartridge categories, the .30 caliber cartridges are probably the stars. As expected, the 308 Winchester and the 30-06 Springfield lead the pack in availability, and are considered by all as prime candidates for the all around US rifle, being able to take pretty much any US game in reasonable conditions and with the right bullets. Their affordability is also good at $19 per box for both.

The first big surprise of the category is to see the 7.62x39 Soviet lead the pack by a huge margin in affordability, with $7 per box. We were expecting to see the 30-30 well placed for that spot, but at $15 per box to $7 per box for the 7.62x39, it trails badly. In fact, the 7.62x39 leads all centerfire cartridges for affordability. Despite this fact, we hesitate before recommending it for any purpose. It is a true military cartridge, being made to main and injure human targets, with poor accuracy and range. As such, its suitability to hunting, plinking or target practice is limited. The reason for its affordability, of course, is the large amount of cheap Eastern block ammo available for it. The number of SKUs is surprising low low for such a cheap round (47, compared 248 to for the 223, the second most affordable centerfire cartridge at $10 per box). Despite its low price, its poor range and the often low quality of ammunition for this cartridge don't make it a good hunting or multi-purpose cartridge.

The second surprise of the category is to see the excellent, but hard recoiling 300 Win Mag "Wonder 300" cartridge follow the 308 and the 30-06 in availability. Here again, we were expecting to see the 30-30, supposedly the cartridge that has killed the most deer in America. In fact, the 30-30 scores well in availability with 31 SKUs, and very well in affordability at $15 per box (vs. $25 for the 300 Win Mag), but cannot compare with the 81 SKUs of the 300 Win Mag. The 30 carbine does not register well on availability, and its usefulness as a hunting cartridge is limited.

Of the 300s, the 300 Win Mag is by far the winner on both availability and affordability. Following it far behind are the 300 WSM with 38 SKUs at $34 average per box, and the 300 H&H Mag at 13 SKUs and $32 average per box. The 300 Weatherby Mag and the 300 Rem Ultra Mag both show spotty availability.

  • Best .30 caliber cartridges: 308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield, 300 Win Mag
  • Also recommended: 30-30 Winchester
  • Inexpensive, but not recommended on other grounds: 7.62x39 Soviet

Next we review medium bore cartridges... So come back soon!

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