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.

Recommended for You

Handguns

Review: Smith & Wesson Model 19 Classic Revolver

Joel J. Hutchcroft - March 08, 2019

The Smith & Wesson Model 19 is back in production after being on ice for almost two decades.

Rifles

Yugoslavian M24/47 Mauser-Pattern Rifle

Joseph von Benedikt - May 13, 2019

These cheap postwar variants offer perhaps the best value on the vintage-Mauser market.

Industry

FNH USA Announces 5th Annual FNH USA Midwest 3-Gun Championships

Shooting Times Staff - September 23, 2010

The FNH USA Midwest 3-Gun Championships kicks off at 8 am on Friday, May 21.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

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.

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.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Handguns

Revolver vs. Semiautomatic Pistol: A Ballistic Oddity

Allan Jones - May 15, 2019

How can a shorter-barreled revolver have higher velocities than a longer-barreled...

Optics

Burris Veracity RFP Riflescopes

Jake Edmondson - June 04, 2019

Burris has expanded its top-of-the-line Veracity hunting riflescope line with new 2-10X 42mm...

Optics

Review: Crimson Trace CTL-3420 4-20X 50mm

Joel J. Hutchcroft - April 29, 2019

Crimson Trace enters the riflescope business with the Crimson Trace CTL-3420 4-20X 50mm.

See More Stories

More Ammo

Ammo

The Grand Old .30-30 Winchester

Allan Jones - June 24, 2019

Often predicted to become obsolete as a hunting cartridge, the .30-30 Winchester is not dead...

Ammo

Umarex SpeedBelt ARX Muzzleloader Bullets

Jake Edmondson - March 11, 2019

Umarex is partnering with Inceptor Ammunition to offer the new 180-grain SpeedBelt ARX...

Ammo

The .338 Winchester Magnum

Allan Jones - February 20, 2019

Created in 1958, the .338 Winchester Magnum vastly outperformed any previous commercial...

See More Ammo

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

×