View Full Version : Good Mold for 30-30 Marlin micro grove???

04-05-2010, 12:44 PM
Could anyone suggest a good mold for this gun. The Lee 170 g fn all seem to be rubibing the sides of the chamber and the the lever action really has to be pushed in hard at the end to chamber the bullet. I have seated the bullet down to 2.45 and don't really think I should go much further. Im sure there are other molds that makes a boolit that does not have that problem. Thanks All!

04-05-2010, 03:22 PM
Lyman's 311041 is a hunting bullet specifically designed for the .30-30, but so were Lee's 150FN and 170FN.

I have never had a feeding/function problem with Lee's 170, and looking at your post I don't think the problem is the bullet. The OAL in my notes when using the bullet's crimping groove is 2.340". Reducing your OAL to the correct length ought to clear up the problem. If it doesn't, post again and we'll figure it out.

04-05-2010, 08:29 PM
I called lee and they told me that SAMI speces is 2.45 at a minimum and I was seating them at 2.52. I still have a problem of rubbing at 2.45. I will check if the 2.37 you suggested works better. Is it still safe to shoot from that setting? I ordered that Lyman die and should have it at the end of the week. It appears that the bullet is more curved at the sides where the lee 170 fn is more rounded. Do you think that is correct?

04-05-2010, 09:14 PM
They are quite safe to shoot at that OAL or I would never have considered posting it. I have shot several thousand of them in a variety of .30-30 rifles and handguns using RL7, 3031, 4895, WC860, and several pistol powders with no problems at all. Cast bullets produce lower pressures than the same weight jacketed bullets, and the reduced loads usually used with them lower pressure levels even more.

With any new cast bullet I seat very long in an unprimed/uncharged case and keep trying and shortening it until it feeds and chambers correctly. Then I crimp it in place and use the resulting dummy to quickly set up my seating die the next time I am using that bullet. Every chamber is different and you have to be accordingly flexible. I chose that OAL because it worked in all the chambers I tried it in - some of them no doubt would have allowed a longer OAL, but as they all functioned and shot acceptably at that length I went with it. The location of crimping grooves on different bullets sometimes makes up your mind for you in that you sometimes have to go a little deeper to get a firm and solid crimp on the flat or in the groove.

The figures Lee provided probably worked great in whatever was used as a test firearm by whoever generated the data. They don't do their own testing - their manual, though quite handy, is a compilation of several different bullet and powder company sources.

If you don't have one already, I highly recommend you get a copy of Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook, one of the best data sources available.

04-05-2010, 11:34 PM
First of all I want to thank you for your response. I was not implying that you would give me bad info! I seated 5 to the 2.35 and test shot a bullet . I am at home not at the range so i can't say about accuracy but all 5 chambered and I shot one. I do have that lyman cast bullet book and on page 39 bullet #31141 oaL is 2.51 and the rest of the bullets associated with a 3030 load are 2.447-2.62. Being that I am a novice reloader for cast bullets I just want to make SURE that I am doing the right thing.
I have ordered the Lyman bullet mold so maybe that will reload at the OAL in the Lyman and Cast bullet book. I guess I am still confused as to why these bullets do not load by what the book says or the mounting crimp on the bullet ends and I have to press them that far into the case above the crimp groove. Maybe you have some insight because you seem to know what you are talking about. I would love to hear your input

04-06-2010, 06:34 PM
if you find a depth that works for you and is accurate enough.
you can easily trim a few necks back down to where the crimp groove is. and try a couple with a light roll crimp.
it sounds like the nose of your boolit is hitting the rifling and the hard closing is your nose engraving the rifling.
you could fix the nose size through an alloy change.
in my wifes 7x57 i had a very accurate load with a bore riding boolit. it was a bit tight when camming the bolt closed. i just started rubbing a very slight amount of lanolin on the bore riding part of the boolit.
it eased the bolt closing so much that it felt like a jaxketed round with no engraving.
as a side benefit it increased accuracy also.
yes i could have changed my alloy. but i use this rifle for varmints and such, and need the boolit to perform as much as be accurate.

04-06-2010, 11:13 PM
I know you weren't implying that, I just wanted to reassure you.

One assumption most loaders make until they have had to deal with many different actions and chambers is that every chamber for a given cartridge is pretty much the same. They aren't. Even SAAMI specs are a tolerance range, and the older the rifle the greater the possible dimensional variations. Every different manufacturer of chambering reamers produces a slightly different tool, and then you have to consider in addition how many times they are sharpened (and by whom) during their working lives and the dimensional changes that result. Every throat is cut differently, too, which can have an even greater effect on seating depth. I went into more detail about it in the other thread talking about chambering problems. Always ask when you are unsure, that's why we're here. I have been playing with cast bullets in the .30-30 for over 30 years and have tested dozens of different moulds in bolts, levers, and single shots, rifles and pistols. It is one of my favorite cast bullet cartridges. It is the individual throat/chamber that determines how long you can make a cartridge and not much to do with the rifle's manufacturer (none of them as far as I know make their own chambering reamers - they buy what they need from any of several specialty manufacturers when they need them depending on who has what in stock). If it really bothers you, you can have the throat modified by a gunsmith - it is not particularly difficult or expensive, and that will let you use longer OAL's.

FWIW, you really don't need more than a 150gr bullet for deer hunting, but often a rifle will prefer a heavier bullet to a lighter one.

07-28-2012, 06:31 PM
Ask Verbal Smith at LBT?

07-29-2012, 02:24 PM
Nowadays you can get hunting bullets specifically designed for Marlin leverguns from Ranch Dog. I have them in .30 & .35cal and accuracy and performance are everything advertised and more!


07-29-2012, 02:31 PM
Nowadays you can get hunting bullets specifically designed for Marlin leverguns from Ranch Dog. I have them in .30 & .35cal and accuracy and performance are everything advertised and more!


I think there's a little more to it than just going out and buying them? Verbal may want to send you some soft lead slugs to use to determine how long the nose should be, there are feed issues to deal with and etc, before manufacturing a mold for you.
He is very knowledgable on these things. Give him a call.

Paul B
07-29-2012, 04:31 PM
Probably my favorite bullet for the 30-30 is Lyman's #311291 designed way back in 1905. That bullet with a BHN hardness of 12 loaded to full power is not only accurate in a Marlin 336, but in two Winchester M94s, two Winchester M64s and a Winchester M54. With that bullet, I have killed 15 deer with no complaints from the deer. Another bullet that I tried was the RCBS #30-180-FN which casts a 190 gr. bullet in my alloy. Loaded to full power it duplicated the .303 Savage and thw two deer shot with that bullet also gave no complaints. In fact, I think it just might be a better killer based on the two deer I used it on.
I have two Lyman #31141 molds (Current number is 311041 it Think) and a clone of that bullet by NEI. To date, I have not been able to get any of those bullet to group worth spit in any of my rifles. That does not mean it's a bad bullet, it's just I can't get it to shoot in my guns. Too many people have stated how good it shoots in their guns so the only way to find out is cast 'em and shoot 'em.
I also have that Lee 170 gr. bullet and it shoots almost as good as the #311291. The best way to see if a bore riding bullet will shoot well BTW is to insert one nose first into the muzzle of the rifle. If there is any play or wiggle room at all, odds are it won't shoot well at all. You want a tight fit and I prefer that the bullet be slightly engraved by the rifling, especially in the Micro-groove barrels. I don't shoot the Winchesters much any more as my 7.5 decade old eyeballs are not up to the task of seeing the iron sights. The Marlin on the other hand will do a nice 1.5" group on average with my cast loads as long as I do my part.
One thing I do know and that is the 30-30 and cast bullets were meant for each other.
Paul B.

Paul B
07-29-2012, 04:33 PM
I forgot to add, I size my bullets to .310" for all 30 caliber cast bullet loads.
Paul B.

07-29-2012, 05:16 PM
Paul B, am I reading your post right? Lyman makes a mold for the 30/30 that weghs 291 grains? 311 is the diameter and 291 is the weight?

07-30-2012, 12:02 AM
With Lyman/Ideal moulds, the first three numbers do tell you the approximate size, but the next three do not tell you the weight. 311291's weigh between 170 and 180gr depending upon the alloy (and to a certain degree the individual mould). It's one of my favorite all-around .30cal target bullets, very similar in profile to the Lee 180RN, and it's hard to find a rifle that doesn't shoot it well. Many have used it to hunt with, and a lot of deer have fallen to it over the years, but I personally much prefer designs with a good wide meplat for large game. IME they transfer more energy to the animal and seem to me to kill quicker. YMMV

311041 was specifically designed for the .30-30, but kinda like with Nosler Partitions, not every rifle likes it. Performance on game is fantastic though.

With the Ranch Dog moulds you get both optimum performance and excellent accuracy. Out of the dozen various .30cal rifles I have tried them in, accuracy has been fantastic. I'm sure there are rifles that don't like it, but I haven't found one yet.

You are correct, there is a lot more to it than just going out and buying them. You have to have enough casting experience to drop good bullets, and that means figuring out by trial and error optimum pot temperature and the speed you have to maintain with an individual mould without overheating or overcooling it. Then there is the matter of alloy. And how to slug a barrel to determine optimum size.

Veral makes really good moulds, but these days there are plenty of good ones out there that will work well at a fraction of the cost of a custom mould.

07-30-2012, 01:13 AM
Thanx for straightening me out on the mold numbers.

07-30-2012, 01:34 AM
the last three ( sometimes two ) numbers are called the cherry numbers ( cherry is the cutter of the mold ie; pattern on a cutter much like a router bit )

07-30-2012, 03:50 AM
OP, in the end, if you ask the guys over on Marlinowners.com Micro grooving will work with anything the other Ballard rifling will.

07-30-2012, 06:35 AM
As long as the diameter is big enough microgroove barrels do perform just fine with cast and accuracy with them is all one could wish, as good as with any jacketed bullet. That generally means sizing at least .310 or even .311. Sometimes you can get away with .309, but don't count on it. If they are .308 or less they will strip and print shotgun patterns instead of groups. Size is always very important to cast accuracy, but is absolutely critical with microgrooves.

08-01-2012, 04:37 AM
311041. For MicroGroove Marlins, the Ranch Dog moulds cast large enough to be effective in the oversized Marlin grooves, and also have a tangential ogive that keeps the "bore riding" portion of other designs from rattling around in the typically oversized bores. Marlin .30-30 bores range from .301-.303" and typical .30-caliber bore-riders are .299-.300".


08-01-2012, 01:33 PM
gearnasher, you sure see this different than any one over at Marlinowners.com??? Most there don't see a difference in Marlin riflings. Now I don't know who's right? What I do know is I don't see a big a difference, from shooting both,. over the years.

08-01-2012, 03:44 PM
ALWAYS SLUG YOUR BARRELS. If you have any doubts before you do it, you won't after you mic the slugs. Calipers are handy tools, but they are not accurate enough for this job.

I have worked in a factory making match barrels. Even in the best of them there are tolerances of a few thousandths of an inch, and this difference is critical for cast bullet performance and accuracy. Anyone who cannot "see" this difference can't read a micrometer. Geargnasher has it right. (An obviously he can read a mic, too.) [smilie=s:

If you want to really learn about shooting cast in a Marlin or any other rifle or pistol, go next door to Cast Boolits. There are some folks on the Marlin site that have a good grasp of the variables, and it's a great place to learn about care, repair, and maintainence of Marlin rifles. However, the EXPERTS on cast bullets hang out next door - the folks from all over the world who design and test new and old bullet designs, and the folks who use them for target shooting out to 1000yds and for the hunting of everything from mice to brown bears. Go where the real knowledge is. ;)

Paul B
08-01-2012, 04:01 PM
Let's try to keep this simple. First thing one should do is slug the bore of the rifle you intend shooting cast bullets in. That's pretty much a given.
I have Winchester's chambered to the 30-30 in models, 94,64 and 54 which was Winchester's first serious bolt action. In measuring the slugs from the barrels in those rifles, the average was .3081". In a Marlin I used to have and one I still have, the bores slugged out at 3085". Both Marlins have Micro-groove barrels. My favorite bullet was and still is the Lyman #311291. In the Marlin, the nose was a very snug fit and in the Winchesters the nose was engraved slightly by the rifling. In any of the rifles, that bullet was accurate. The Marlins were noticably more accurate, probably because they has scopes and my 7.5 decade old eyeballs just don't see iron or receiver sights so good anymore.
If bullets are too small in diameter in any barrel, but more so in Micro-grooves, they'll strip badly and leave lots of lead stuck in the rifling. Something that can give hours of pleasure these days when "Getting the lead out." When I started casting back in 1954 at the ripe old age of 16, you could still buy mercury. If a barrel was badly leaded, you could plug the bore at one end, fill the barrel with mercury, let stand for 5 or 10 munutes, pour out the mercury and one tight patch would remove every bit of lead from the barrel, that is if any was left. The lead would amalgamate with the mercury which could later be strained out once the mercury became too contaminated with lead. Thanks to our illustrious EPA that option is no longer available.
Paul B.

11-20-2012, 05:58 AM
Slug your barrel and any Lovern type bullet in 0.311" should shoot just fine