There are always some great controversies that arise at deer camp. Ford vs Chevy, Ginger or Marianne, Coke vs Pepsi and, of course, which is the better deer killer, the 30/30 Winchester or the 35 Remington?
For most of us, deer hunting is a relatively short range affair. I have read that most deer are taken around 100 yards or less and my personal experience is in line with that notion. Both the 30/30 and the 35 are easily capable of cleanly taking whitetails at 150 yards and possibly 200 with the proper load and bullet selection. Is one really better than the other?
Let’s start with the 30/30 Winchester. The average 170 grain loading will reach about 2200 feet per second at the muzzle and develop around 1800 ft lbs of energy. This drops to 1900 fps and 1350 fpe at 100 yards. The 35 Remington leaves the muzzle at almost 2100 fps and generates about 1900 fpe with a drop at 100 yards of 1700 fps and 1300 fpe with its 200 grain loading. Not much difference at all.
What about the trajectory? The 30/30-170 shows a 2.3 inch drop at 150 yards and 8.3 inches at 200 yards with a 100 yard zero while the 35 Rem-200 shows a drop of 3.5 at 150 and 10.7 at 200. Again, very close.
What about “killing power”? This is where the arguments really start. One could argue the 35 Remington with it’s larger frontal area and heavier bullet create a larger wound channel and hit harder. One could just as easily argue that the greater sectional density of the .308 170 gr bullet will penetrate deeper and maintain more weight upon expansion making it more effective at longer range. Killing power has always been a subjective topic and is influenced by many variables. Making a decision between the 30/30 and the 35 Rem is too close to call.
If these two rounds are pretty much equals in the game fields, what other factors should one consider when choosing between the two? I came up with I came up with three that I thought were pretty important: accuracy, availability and price.
I give the 30/30 the slight edge in accuracy only because of the variety of 30 caliber bullets available. Most of the rifles chambered for these two rounds are lever actions which produce on average 2 to 3 MOA with factory ammo. True, some individual rifles do much better. There were also a fair number of bolt action and single shot rifles made in 30-30 which will allow the handloader to safely utilize spire point bullets that extend the range and can contribute to accuracy. There are spire point 35 caliber bullets but they are heavier and designed to perform at greater velocities than the 35 Remington can provide. The exception is Hornady’s Leverevolution ammo for both the 30/30 and the 35 Remington which can enhance the performance of both rounds but at a steep price.
Almost anywhere that sells ammunition will have 30/30 Winchester available. Not so with the 35 Remington. Around here, only the major outdoors box stores were carrying it. Suffice to say, if you head out on a hunt and forget to pack ammo, you might not easily replace it if you are toting a 35.
Which brings us to price. Most 30/30 ammo I see this time of year is around $15/box. Most 35 Remington is at least twice that. That goes for firearms as well. There have been so many 30/30’s manufactured, the odds of the budget hunter finding a good deal on a used one is pretty fair. The 35’s command a premium price due to their scarcity.
What’s the best choice? Either one depending on your fancy. Just enjoy your hunt and steer clear of the “which is better” argument. There are more important things to argue about…..like Marianne….Hands Down!