30-30 Win vs 45-70 Government
Ballistics Performance Comparison of 30-30 Win vs 45-70 Government Cartridges
Lever action rifles offer a light, fast-handling option for many hunters, and the .30-30 Winchester and .45-70 Government are two top options for lever action rifles. While both can be used on medium and large game to a certain extent, the .30-30 has a longer range for deer, while the .45-70 has more stopping power on larger game taken at close quarters. While these two calibers have similar limitations on their shorter effective ranges, they do have key differences that may make one a better fit for your unique hunting needs.
The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the 30-30 Win vs 45-70 Government based on bullet weight and performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.
30-30 140 gr vs 45-70 Government 325 gr Cartridge Comparison Table.
|30-30 Winchester||45-70 Government|
|Bullet Velocity (Muzzle)||2,465 ft/s||2,050 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds||2,165 ft/s||1,729 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds||1,887 ft/s||1,450 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds||1,635 ft/s||1,225 ft/s|
|Bullet Energy (Muzzle)||1,889 ft⋅lb||3,032 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 100 yds||1,457 ft⋅lb||2,158 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 200 yds||1,107 ft⋅lb||1,516 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 300 yds||831 ft⋅lb||1,083 ft⋅lb|
|Usage @ 0 yds||Large Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 100 yds||Medium Game||Toughest Game|
|Usage @ 200 yds||Medium Game||Large Game|
|Usage @ 300 yds||Small Game||Medium Game|
|Recoil Energy||9.4 (150gr)||23.9 (300gr)|
|*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil figures taken from Sportsman's Warehouse rifle ballistics and rifle recoil tables. Recoil score based on weighted average of recoil energy and recoil velocity normalized between 1 and 10.|
The heavier bullets of the .45-70 Government will slow it down quite a bit, which is part of why the advantage here goes to the .30-30 Winchester. The .30-30 also has a slightly longer effective range, though both calibers are best inside of 200 yards. At the muzzle, the .30-30 is in the lead flying 415 ft/s faster than the .45-70 Government. At 200 yards, this lead holds steady at 437 ft/s. At 300 yards, the .30-30 continues to have the advantage at 410 ft/s faster than the .45-70 Government.
While the heavier bullets might slow the .45-70 Government down, they also give it the advantage in energy and therefore stopping power. At the muzzle, the .45-70 has a huge advantage of 1,143 ft-lbs over the .30-30. While it maintains an advantage of 701 ft-lbs at 100 yards, by 200 yards the advantage has shrunk to 409 ft-lbs, and it’s just 252 ft-lbs ahead of the .30-30 by 300 yards, where we’ve really left the effective range of the .45-70 anyway. As we can see, the power of the .45-70 is far more useful in close quarters, such as bear defense.
If you’re going to be shooting toward the end of these calibers’ effective ranges, trajectory is an important part of being able to hit your target accurately. We can compare a 190 grain .30-30 against a 325 grain .45-70: remember, the added weight of the .45-70 will drag it down, and heavier bullets are likely to drop more. With both bullets zeroed at 100 yards, the .30-30 will drop 7.8” by 200 yards, while the .45-70 will drop 10.3”. By 300 yards, the .30-30 will drop 27.2”, and the .45-70 will drop 37.2”. The .30-30 certainly shoots flatter than the .45-70, while neither is a good fit for long range shooting.
Recoil impacts your ability to shoot your gun accurately and to shoot a second round quickly, which can be important in a defense scenario. The .45-70 Government has a significantly stronger recoil than the .30-30 – about twice as much. The heavy bullets of the .45-70 give it greater energy, but this goes both ways, and knocks into your shoulder just as it hurtles its big bullets through the air.
Neither of these cartridges is appropriate to shoot at long ranges. The .45-70 Government is most effective inside of 150 yards. If you want to hunt out to 200-250 yards, you’ll need to use the .30-30 Winchester. This makes the .30-30 Winchester generally more appropriate for deer, where you might need to maintain some distance. However, the significantly increased energy and serious bullets of the .45-70 make it a better option for large game, such as bear or moose, which can be taken at close ranges. The 45-70 also makes for a nice, light bear defense weapon.
Price & Availability
Both of these cartridges are reasonably popular and shouldn’t be too difficult to find. However, they are not quite as ubiquitous as more popular cartridges such as the .308 Winchester, and may be easier to find in some regions than others. The .30-30 Winchester is generally a bit more popular and readily available than the .45-70 Government, and its ammunition is quite a bit cheaper – after all, you’re paying for a good hunk of metal with the .45-70 Government. However, if you are primarily using the ammunition for hunting, you will go through so few rounds that it may not make a huge difference.
The .45-70 Government is known for its large, heavy bullets, and it is quite a bit larger than the .30-30 Winchester. This is part of what helps it stand up to very large game at close distances: the .45-70 is typically shot from 250-500 grains, while the .30-30 typically uses loads from 140-190 grains. Both of these calibers share an overall length of 2.55”, but the .45-70 has a rim diameter of .608”, compared to .506” for the .30-30. Additionally, the .45-70 uses a straight-wall case rather than the .30-30’s bottleneck, and these factors to combine to give it a significantly larger capacity. Inside the case, the .45-70 has a bullet diameter of .458”, compared to .308” for the .30-30.
The .30-30 Winchester and the .45-70 Government are both popular in lever action rifles. These smaller rifles are easy to maintain, fast to set up, and a nicer fit for trekking through the backcountry or maneuvering in a deer stand. The .45-70 dates back to the 1800s, so there are plenty of black powder options and vintage rifles available in this cartridge. Just make sure you don’t shoot modern ammunition in a vintage rifle – that’s a quick way to ruin your firearm (or worse).
Which Caliber is Best?
If you’re hunting inside of 150 yards and want the stopping power that only a big bore cartridge can offer, the .45-70 Government is the way to go. This caliber shines for big game hunting in close quarters, whether that’s moving through the thick woods or planning for bear defense. If you’re looking to shoot more in 200-250 and want to focus more on medium game such as deer, the .30-30 Winchester will offer less recoil and longer ranges.
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