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  #1  
Old 10-12-2009, 04:10 PM
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what do the numbers mean?


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even though I've been hunting a few years I don't always understand what some of the numbers mean when purchasing a gun. for example. what does 30-30 cal. mean? I understand when you buy a .22 cal firearm it shoots a .22 diameter bullet, but I'm a little confuse about some of the other stuff. thanks. hope I don't sound too stupid .
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  #2  
Old 10-12-2009, 04:40 PM
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Chino,

The numbers can be very confusing, although there are a few rules of thumb. Keep in mind that many of these "rules" are broken by one or more calibers, so these are just a guideline.

A 30-30 Winchester is called that because it was originally a 30 caliber bullet loaded with 30 grains of black powder. This was in the years prior to smokeless powder becoming very popular. Other examples of guns using this type of naming are the 45-70, 44/40, 38/55 and 25-20.

Some guns have a very similar name to those above, but do not mean the same thing. A 30-'06 is a 30 caliber cartridge that was standardized by the U.S. military in 1906. A 25-'06 is a 25 caliber that was formed from the 30-'06 case. The 6.5-284 Winchester is also an example of a cartridge named by the caliber and parent case it was formed from. However, the 250-3000 Savage is so named because it was a 25 caliber that drove an 87gr bullet at 3,000fps...few rounds are named this way.

Most of the modern center-fire rifle rounds we shoot today follow the pattern of listing the caliber, or exact groove diameter, followed by the name of the company, or person, who created/standardized that round. The 270 Winchester, 7MM Remington Magnum, 300 Weatherby and 375 Holland & Holland are all examples of cartridges named in this manner.

Many of the common European cartridges are named by first listing the caliber and then the case length, both in millimeters. The 7x57 Mauser, 6.5x55 Mauser, 7.62x54R (R being a rimmed case) and 7.62x39 are just a few of many rounds so named. Some rounds, like the 308 Winchester are also known by their NATO designation, 7.62x51.

So, as you can see, there isn't exactly a predictable pattern for how a given cartridge is named. I've always been fascinated by cartridge names, their history and how they compare to other cartridges, both old and new.

Last edited by broom_jm; 10-12-2009 at 04:42 PM.
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  #3  
Old 10-12-2009, 04:42 PM
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American descriptions of cartridges can be rather overwhelming for a lot of people. Sometimes they mean what they say and sometimes they make no sense at all, in my opinion. First off, a lot of the older cartridges were named by the bullet diameter and the charge of black powder used to fire the cartridge. 30-30; was .30 caliber with 30 grains of black powder. 45-70, 45-90, 45-110; was .45 caliber with either 70, 90, or 110 grains of black powder.

Magnum cartridges were named after the british "Magnum" bottles of champagne, which were larger than the regular cartridge of similar type. The term started with the big game African hunters who needed extra powered cartridges for the large African game.

Non-American cartridges, in general, make more sense. 7x57, 6.5x55, 7.62x39. They all start with the metric equivalent of the diameter of the bullet and the overall length of the case. This is the standard sizing of most of the European cartridges.

Where it gets screwed up is when the American cartridge companies try to name something that either ballistically matches another cartridge or does not sound "exciting enough" to the powers that be. Take for instance the .44 Mag. It actually uses a .429 bullet. Where does that come from?? A 45 long colt will work with either a .452, .453, or .454 bullet, depending on who made the barrel and how old the firearm is.

It has always amazed me the different names that cartidges have that use the same bullet. For example; 6.5, .264, and 260. They all use the same diameter bullet, but they have different nomenclature all dependant upon the developing company. This is by no means a total description of cartridges and their naming history. But I hope this lends some usefulness in your understanding.
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  #4  
Old 10-12-2009, 04:42 PM
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Every cartridge is named differently. In the case of the 30 -30 and 45/70, the first number is the caliber of the bullet like the 22 and the 2nd number is the number of grains of black powder they took when they were developed. Not all cartridges with 2 sets of numbers are that way though. An example is the 250 Savage, also callled 250-3000. In that case, the original load was a 25 cal bullet pushed 3000 feet per second. Cartridges developed with smokeless powder generally do not have the extra set of numbers. (Note the 250 Savage exception) It would take forever to describe all the different variations. If you are curious about any other cartridges just ask and I am sure someone here can respond. An interesting read on this would be Cartridges of the World.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:44 PM
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Many pistol cartridges are named not for the size of the bullet they shoot, but for the outside diameter of the case they are fired from...which is pretty weird, if you think about it.
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  #6  
Old 10-12-2009, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VA Bigbore View Post
Where it gets screwed up is when the American cartridge companies try to name something that either ballistically matches another cartridge or does not sound "exciting enough" to the powers that be. Take for instance the .44 Mag. It actually uses a .429 bullet. Where does that come from?? A 45 long colt will work with either a .452, .453, or .454 bullet, depending on who made the barrel and how old the firearm is.

And to add to the confusion, a 45 cal rifle takes .458-.460" diameter bullets!
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:23 PM
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To add to the confusion, the 30-30 was never a black powder cartridge. The second 30 was the black powder equivalent of the smokeless powder used.

All the more reason to retire that cartridge.
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  #8  
Old 10-12-2009, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by leverite View Post
To add to the confusion, the 30-30 was never a black powder cartridge. The second 30 was the black powder equivalent of the smokeless powder used.

All the more reason to retire that cartridge.
You are correct. The 30/30 was designed originally with smokeless. I mis-spoke in my original post. It was named based off of the old nomenclature but was designed as a smokeless round while working with the military who was using the old 30-40 Krag at the time.

However, even though it has been around for many years, I feel it still deserves a place in the safe. There is still times that I will pick up my old 336 and carry it along instead of one of my newer cartridge rifles. It still kills deer dead just like the newest of the new rounds.
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  #9  
Old 10-12-2009, 06:21 PM
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Leverite, you were just joshin', right? You wouldn't want to kill the best lever-action round ever made!

Seriously, with the Leverevolution ammo, the 30/30 is a legitimate 250 yard deer-slaying round, which is farther than most guys should be shooting, anyway.
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leverite View Post

All the more reason to retire that cartridge.

RETIRE the 30-30 WCF!?!?!?!? *gasp*..... thats BLASPHEMY!!! The only thing that could possibly be worse to utter would be retirment of the 30-06' , of which my heart is filled with so much love.
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  #11  
Old 10-12-2009, 07:27 PM
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me too on both .. an i don t even use the leverlution.. mines set to go 200 with winchester power point.. might be a little low at the full 200 but it ll get out there a long way..
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  #12  
Old 10-12-2009, 08:22 PM
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The .30-30 will never die, to many guns chambered in it to many animals taken, its tried tested and proven time and time again.
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  #13  
Old 10-13-2009, 05:42 AM
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thanks everyone for responding, I think I understand some of it a little better. but it's sure is alot of info.
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  #14  
Old 10-13-2009, 06:51 AM
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Just stirrin' the pot. Don't retire it, just call it by it's real name...the 30 Winchester Center Fire or 30 WCF.

Gotta throw in another one. The 38-40. Not a 38 caliber at all...it's a 40 cal.
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  #15  
Old 10-13-2009, 12:30 PM
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There is a book called Cartridges of the World that covers this very exhaustive topic...
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  #16  
Old 10-14-2009, 01:11 AM
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And very occasionally there will be a third number in the designation - that is the weight of the bullet in grains.
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  #17  
Old 10-15-2009, 06:04 AM
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Sometimes a new cartridge is named to punch up it's appeal. Other times the name has just the opposite effect. Remington introduced their 7mm Express and it went no where. Later they reintroduced the same cartridge and called it the 280Remington, and the rest is history.
For many years, cartridges with the "mm" monicker did not do well in the US.
So many cartridges are so close, in terms of the niche that they fill, that it becomes daunting for a newby to decide what to buy. The 280Rem always looks better in the data sheets, than does the 270Winchester. However, the 270Winchester was, I believe, introduced in 1935 and pretty much had staked out the territory, into which the 280Rem wanted to squeeze. Very few 270Win owners would give up their rifles, in trade for one chambering 280Rem. Today, very few commercial hunting rifles are offered in 280Rem, even though on paper, it is a better cartridge, than is the 270Win. Like with the stock market, there are too many issues driving the buying public, to ever make predictions of what round will last and be commonly popular and which ones will languish as only the darling of a few, very loyal, hand loaders.
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Old 11-10-2009, 06:43 AM
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Sooooooo - probably a really stupid question - would the book mentioned in a previous post - "Cartridges of the World" - tell me all the cross references associated with different bullets? Like I know I can use .38 Special in a .357 Mag and I get (maybe silly) the impression that others with different designations could be used in the same firearm (not just the 357) ???? I've been told to "ONLY USE THE DESIGNATED AMMO" in your firearm - but is that always the case? Will anything besides a 30-30 fit a Winchester 94 or something along those lines?
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:13 AM
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Miata, once ammunition is loaded it is designed for a particular caliber firearm. If your Winchester 94 says "Use only..........", then that's what you use. In some rifles, however, older models were not built with the latest powders and pressures in mind, so that takes minding of.

If you're reloading, then of course bullet diameter must be matched to the bore of the rifle you're reloading for. Cartridges of the World will list caliber/actual diameter measurements, but so will most reloading manuals. Who would've guessed that a .38 Special uses a .357" (.358") bullet? Some think it's the other way around, but a manual will clear that up.
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  #20  
Old 11-10-2009, 07:22 AM
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Heh... or the famous '.44 Magnum'... (.429")
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