Skip to main content

Does Your .30-30 Benefit From a Boattail?

Does Your .30-30 Benefit From a Boattail?

Check with any Highpower shooter worth a shot, and he or she will most likely tell you to use boattail bullets for the best accuracy. The 1,000 Benchrest crowd will probably tell you the same. But ask the "short-range" Benchrest shooters — -the ones who literally compare the size of one-hole groups to see who wins — -and you're more likely to be sent after a box of custom-made flat-base bullets. Why the difference? Both long- and short-range shooters are looking for the smallest groups, the best ballistics, the greatest accuracy, and the highest possible scores. What works for one should work for the other, right? Not necessarily.

There's less that can go wrong in manufacturing a flat-base bullet, with the main points being that the bullet is round and the base is square to the bearing surface, or bourrelet. Because they can be manufactured to higher tolerances and less manufacturing variables, flat-base bullets are inherently more accurate than boattail bullets.

Compared to flat-base bullets, it's more difficult to manufacture accurate boattail bullets. Bullets are formed in dies, and the boattail alignment will always be off by 1/2 the amount of clearance between the punch and the die. Tolerances have to be extremely tight. In a manufacturing environment, it's simply not possible to put boattails on perfectly square or perfectly straight.

Boattails increase the ballistic coefficient of bullets, which helps them overcome air resistance and wind deflection. The shape also helps the air flow transition over the heel of the bullet and reduces the base diameter resulting in less base drag. Understand that at supersonic velocity, nose drag is the primary drag component, so the base drag benefit of a boattail really doesn't come into play until the bullet is transitioning to or at subsonic velocity.


The difference in the amount of drop between flat-base and boattail bullets won't amount to much until well past the range at which most of us shoot, but the boattail's better ballistic coefficient makes errors in wind deflection correction and range estimation more forgiving--especially for lower velocity loads. Whatever loss of accuracy there is from the boattail's inherent manufacturing flaws are more than offset by their ability to overcome adverse or unknown shooting conditions.


So what should you shoot, flat-base or boattail bullets? Personally, I think that regardless of whether you're shooting game or punching paper, you should try several brands of boattail and flat-base bullets and then shoot whichever one is most accurate in your gun at the range and in the conditions you intend to shoot. Whichever you choose, most Benchrest shooters who shoot at relatively close range will stick with the flat-base bullets until someone starts winning with a particular type of boattail, and the Highpower shooters and 1,000 yard Benchrest shooters will probably stick with boattails for their long-range benefits.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

We're taking a look at what the Army's Elite Units are using for service rifles and what the future of SOCOM sniping looks like.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Big bore semiauto or a lever gun? We look at the futuristic .450 Bushmaster and how it compares to the tried and true .45-70. ISS Prop House gives us the rundown on the guns used in Enemy at the Gate. We ping steel with a .300 WinMag at over a mile.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Starting in the late 1950s, the .338-bore size gained considerable traction — thanks to the .338 Winchester Magnum. Why? Because hunters are often after game bigger and tougher than whitetails. Here's a list of the .338-caliber greats in chronological order in which they were introduced.11 Great .338 Caliber Rifle Cartridges Ammo

11 Great .338 Caliber Rifle Cartridges

Payton Miller

Starting in the late 1950s, the .338-bore size gained considerable traction — thanks to the...

The Bushnell Prime 3-12X 40mm riflescope is not the company's newest offering, but it is a relatively lightweight (17 ounces) and short (12 inches) scope.Bushnell Prime 3-12X 40mm Riflescope Optics

Bushnell Prime 3-12X 40mm Riflescope

Steve Gash - January 05, 2021

The Bushnell Prime 3-12X 40mm riflescope is not the company's newest offering, but it is a...

Firing 21 different loads in Kimber's Mountain Ascent rifle proved it is a good friend to have in high places.Kimber Mountain Ascent Rifle Review Rifles

Kimber Mountain Ascent Rifle Review

Steve Gash - January 22, 2021

Firing 21 different loads in Kimber's Mountain Ascent rifle proved it is a good friend to have...

With three versions, three barrel lengths, and three different finishes from which to choose, the Savage Renegauge is by definition a eumatic alternative for a variety of shooting situations.Savage Renegauge Shotgun Review Shotguns

Savage Renegauge Shotgun Review

Steve Gash - July 13, 2020

With three versions, three barrel lengths, and three different finishes from which to choose,...

See More Trending Articles

More Ammo

Berry's product line is extensive; in addition to making over 60 types of bullets, the firm also makes and sources many items for the reloader.Berry's Bullets: Reloading Equipment, Shooting Accessories & Bullet Accuracy Tests Ammo

Berry's Bullets: Reloading Equipment, Shooting Accessories & Bullet Accuracy Tests

Steve Gash - September 16, 2020

Berry's product line is extensive; in addition to making over 60 types of bullets, the firm...

Because of its excellent ballistics, outstanding terminal performance, modest recoil, and tremendous accuracy, the .280 Ackley Improved could be the best all-around cartridge for western hunting..280 Ackley Improved Cartridge Review Ammo

.280 Ackley Improved Cartridge Review

Joseph von Benedikt - November 04, 2020

Because of its excellent ballistics, outstanding terminal performance, modest recoil, and...

Developing fast 9mm handloads is not for beginners, but it can be done safely if attention is paid to several important aspects.Fast 9mm Loads Ammo

Fast 9mm Loads

Brad Miller PhD - February 15, 2021

Developing fast 9mm handloads is not for beginners, but it can be done safely if attention is...

Researching the ballistics of pre-1940 metric rifle cartridges used in Africa produced some interesting conclusions.Technical Merits of Pre-1940 Metric Cartridges Ammo

Technical Merits of Pre-1940 Metric Cartridges

Allan Jones - February 09, 2021

Researching the ballistics of pre-1940 metric rifle cartridges used in Africa produced some...

See More Ammo

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Shooting Times App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Shooting Times subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now