There’s been quite a bit of discussion in Comments and in my Inbox to various posts recently about rifles and chamberings. Here’s an example, from Longtime Buddy and Reader Termite:
What are your thoughts on the ubiquitous 1894 30-30? Either Winchester or Marlin; I like the Marlin because you can more easily mount a scope or red dot. Ammo is EVERYWHERE, it is easy to reload, and in the right hands, a 200 yd rifle. Plus, you can usually pick up a decent one for somewhere around $400 – $500, maybe less if you find someone in dire need of cash.
Added bonus: it isn’t an E.B.R.
I’ve often recommended the 1894 .30-30 as a “do it all” or even “essential” rifle — see here for an example — so all the above can be taken as read with no argument from me. If you have young eyes, then the iron sights are fine, and if not, the addition of a 1.5-5x scope will fill the bill admirably.
Which brings me on to the main topic of this post: chambering choices.
Anyone who has spent more than ten minutes on this website will know that if faced with a choice between “traditional” vs. “modern” — on just about everything — I will always go traditional. When it comes to cartridges, this is even more true. Many years ago, I wrote a piece which maintained that with only a couple of exceptions, no centerfire rifle cartridges brought to market since 1955 were any better than the offerings on the market prior to that date. In fact, apart from the 7mm Rem Mag and maybe the 6.5 Creedmoor (jury still out on that one, although I’m told by an insider that the Brit SpecFor guys are just lapping it up), it’s hard for me to think of a “modern” cartridge which, if replaced with an older equivalent, would be sorely missed.
As for the .30-30… sheesh, it’s probably killed more deer in the U.S. than any other cartridge, and in heavily-forested places like Pennsylvania and Maine, likely more than twice as many than any other three cartridges combined. And I think that if Bubba’s Gun ‘N Bait Shop doesn’t have any .30-30 on their shelves, they’re probably breaking a state law, in most states anyway, and it would be wise to steer clear of them.
As a last-ditch gun, I don’t think the 1894 / 336-style lever rifle (of any brand) would be a bad choice. Here’s a Winchester 1894, made in 1948:
…and this price point puts them squarely with the older Mausers I spoke of earlier — the only difference being that these old girls aren’t pig-ugly.
Damn, I love living in America — where the argument rages not over whether you can own a gun, but which choice you’re going to make for any specific purpose. Even, like now, for no specific purpose at all.