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WINCHESTER .30 W.C.F. “Short Range” Ammunition Circa 1896 - 1924

In December of 1896, Winchester began offering special .30 W.C.F. "Short Range" ammunition for to be used for "small game where the more powerful cartridge is not necessary" as it was described in their catalog. The cartridge illustration was shown as the .30-6-100 since cartridges contained a 100 gr. lead bullet and 6 grains of powder.

Winchester recognized the benefit and increased versatility that a factory loading for small game would offer, since the average family would have to sacrifice at least a month’s pay to buy just one rifle, and that one rifle was just about all that most families could afford. With his or her magazine full of these .30 W.C.F. “Short Range” rounds, hunters could use their big game rifles to harvest turkeys, squirrels and other small game animals with no meat loss. Then, if bigger game was expected to be encountered, a change to the standard .30 W.C.F. cartridge would handle that situation.

A few months later, Marlin followed suit with their .30-30 MARLIN SMOKELESS “Short Range” cartridge made by U.M.C.

In 1904, Winchester increased the lead bullet weight from 100 to 117 grs. and the following year, they also offered a 117 gr. soft point and a 117 gr. full metal patch version.

These “Short Range” cartridges were easily identified as having a cannelure part way down the case neck. Originally, it was used to keep the soft lead bullet from being pushed into the case under spring pressure while in the magazine. It was not needed with the metal patched bullets, but was retained to distinguish them from the full power .30 W.C.F. cartridges which looked similar.

Winchester .30 W.C.F. “Short Range” ammunition was cataloged until the mid 1920's when it was taken out of production due to the decreasing demands for it as many families acquired additional firearms specifically for small game.

Velocities were never listed in any of the catalogs, but I was able to obtain some original lead bulleted cartridges, extract the powder and bullets and reload the components into modern brass. Velocities ranged between 1120 to 1200 f.p.s. depending on bullet weight.

In an effort to duplicate this historical ammunition, I tested numerous current powders and found that 4.7 grains of Winchesters 231 or Hodgdon’s HP38 worked well with a 100 gr. lead alloy bullet as did 5.5 grs. of the same powder(s) with a 115 gr. bullet, giving velocities in the same range. 6 grains of 4756 also worked well and matched the weight of the original powder charge.

Bullets used were the 100 gr. RCBS and Lyman's 115 gr. 3118 made from wheel weights and sized to .311 dia. No fillers of any kind were used and accuracy was excellent, giving groups of 3/4" to 1 1/4" at 50 yards and 1 1/2" - 2 1/2" groups at 100 yards.

These loads work the same way in the game fields today, as they did 100 years ago. So, if you want to step back in time, go woods wandering with your favorite .30-30 lever gun in small game season with it's magazine filled with replications of this historic ammunition.

In that bygone era when mother nature provided the meat supply, the soft spoken report of the .30 W.C.F. "Short Range" cartridge meant additional sustenance for many families.
 

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Historic .30 W.C.F. "Short Range"

Thanks, that's an intresting review! I didn't know that. I guess I'd never considered something like that figuring that the small amount of powder would be so erattic in position that it would never shoot worth a hoot. I like being wrong when it means something works well!
 

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Historic .30 W.C.F. "Short Range"

Looking through a older NRA loading guide it showed 2 loads using Unique and 108 grain cast bullets. 4 grains= 970 vel and 6 grains = 1295 vel Test barrel was 26" so I suppose a 20 carbine barrel would be 100 feet or so slower. Jim
 

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Historic .30 W.C.F. "Short Range"

ButlerFord45,

Thank you for the kind words. The .32-20 was the premier small game cartridge of that day (and today!) and Winchester engineers effectively duplicated the .32-20's ballistics in their .30 W.C.F. Short Range Cartridge.

It's like shooting a .22 only the bullet is 3x heavier and shoots well at 200 meters on the NRA Steel chickens. What fun! Of course you have to crank on the elevation.

Short range cartridges were also offered for the .25-35, .25-36, .303 Savage, .30 U.S.Army (.30-40). .32-40, .38-55 and the .45-70.


In my testing, I positioned the powder to the back of the case which gave somewhat more uniform results. I chambered a cartridge, moving the lever to within 1/4" of closing, then momentarily lifting the muzzle up to about 60 degrees, then closed the lever completely when the rifle was in the firing position.

Fun, fun, fun!

w30wcf
 

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Historic .30 W.C.F. "Short Range"

Some powders are erratic and some work much better than others in reduced loads. Some powders -- especially ball powders -- shouldn't be used at all, because they can blow you up real good -- or so I hear.

Blue Dot, Red Dot, and 2400 usually give good results. I use Magnus 100 grain cast bullets and about 10 grains of 2400. It is accurate, effective on small game and a very pleasant shooting experience. Your mileage may vary.
 

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Historic .30 W.C.F. "Short Range"

Another thing worth considering is what C. E. Harris called the Load it was 13 grains of Red Dot in military surplus rifles. Harris said it works in any case larger than 35 Remington? bore 30 cal or larger. But he said you may find smaller bores or cases using red dot in some reloading manuals if you do use them. I do not know how much smaller a 30/30 case is to a 35 Rem case but I am sure with expirementing a load could be worked up for the 30/30. or maybe there is existing loads out there. I do not have many loading manuals but in a old lyman manual it listed small charges of red dot 7 grains and unique and green dot 7.5 grains with a 120 grain cast bullet with velocities red dot = 1400 unique = 1480 and green dot = 1430 loads were also given with cast 150 grain bullets up to 183 grain cast bullets all using red dot, unique, and green dot with velocities running in the 1100 to 1300 range so it looks like you could make up some cheap plinkers using cast bullets and small amounts of shotgun powder. The lyman manual I used was the 45th edition. A lot of loaders do not like using old manuals because of hotter loads in them but there are good cast loads in them you might not find in the newer ones. Jim :lol:
 

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Historic .30 W.C.F. "Short Range"

I've seen the Red Dot article. I bought a pound of Blue Dot to use for reduced loads in my .223 -- but I didn't like it. So now I'll have to shoot it up in my .30-30. I loaded up some with 13 grains under 150 grain cast. I haven't done any shooting with that load yet. It is supposed to give a velocity in the 1500 fps range.
 

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Historic .30 W.C.F. "Short Range"

Mushroom, Let us know how it shoots. If I buy any powder of reduced loads It probably will be unique and it can be used in so many applications and usually works well in all of them. I might try the red dot for my military calibers though. Jim :lol:
 

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Historic .30 W.C.F. "Short Range"

I have been using some 30/30s with a 165 gr. cast bullet over 5.5 gr. of Unique and some daycron pillow ticking to hold the powder down to the primer. So far I have been very pleased with this load. It is quiet and very low recoil but not without power. I have shot through two layers of a appx 3/16" thick steam pipe fitting that a 40 S&W would only dent the first layer. A fun load!

Reb
 

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Historic .30 W.C.F. "Short Range"

Guys, thank you for your imput. As I recall the 13 gr. load of Red Dot that Ed Harris recommended was for .30-06 sized cartridges and up, ONLY! The maximum load in the .30-30 with Red Dot as shown in the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook is 10 grs. with a 120 gr. gas checked bullet at 1,747 f.p.s. / 38,600 p.s.i. The maximum load with a 170 gr. gas checked bullet is shown as 8.5 grs. giving 1,348 f.p.s. / 34,500 p.s.i.

I did work with a number of other powders to achieve velocitites as close to 1150-1200 fps as I could before settleing on 5.5 grs. of 231 with a 120 gr. Lyman 3118 bullet. I like 231 because it meters though the powder measure extremely well and seems to be less position sensitive. It is a little faster burning than Unique.

Bullet - 3118 .310" diameter 120 grs. Wheelweights + 2% tin
20" barrel

HS6 - 6 grs. = 1,137 f.p.s.
4756 - 6 grs. = 1,136 f.p.s.
Universal - 6 grs. = 1,174 f.p.s.
800X - 6 grs. = 1,180 f.p.s.
Unique- 6 grs. = 1,238 f.p.s.

Blue Dot - 7 grs. = 1,163 f.p.s.
HS7 - 7 grs. = 1,140 f.ps.
AL8 - 7 grs. = 1,234 f.p.s.

2400 - 9 grs. = 1,188 f.p.s.

H4227 -10.5 grs. = 1,190 f.p.s.

5744 -11.2 grs = 1,163 f.p.s.

All of these loads gave good accuracy. If you use any of the commercial 120 gr. bullets that are made from a hard alloy, the slower powders - 2400, 4227 and 5744 will work better with them than the faster powders which will have a tendency to gas cut and lead the throat area with hard bullets.

For best results position the powder to the rear of the case.

When loading, BE SURE NOT TO DOUBLE CHARGE THE CASE.

Have fun!

w30wcf
 

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Historic .30 W.C.F. "Short Range"

Yesterday, my gun club had it's first informal Cowboy Silhouette match this year. It was a bit too cold with some wind - chill factor about 10F. Brrrr! But the sun was out and that helped.

Anyway, I had some "Short Range" .30 W.C.F. rounds loaded, so I used them in my .30 W.C.F. carbine that my dad had purchased back in the late 1930's. I did manage to start out well with a run of 5x5 on the steel chickens, but things went downhill from there! I haven't shot anything from the offhand position for several months so I must be a little rusty.

Yep! That must have been the reason, since this rifle with those "Short Range" replication loads will shoot! If I managed to fire the rifle when the front sight was on the target, the target disappeared. What fun!
When it wasn't, well ...................

A cup of hot chocolate back in the clubhouse after the match rounded out the morning's shooting event and went a long way to help lessen the affect of cabin fever.

Hurry up, Spring!

w30wcf
 
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