.30-30 Winchester for Grizzly Or Brown Bear Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, – Foundry Outdoors

.30-30 Winchester for Grizzly Or Brown Bear Hunting? Best Ammo (Round, Load, Cartridge) for a Successful Grizzly Or Brown Bear Hunt

Is the .30-30 Winchester a viable caliber/load/round/cartridge for grizzly or brown bear hunting? The accurate answer is “it depends”. However, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether the .30-30 Winchester is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest grizzly or brown bear.

As with anything, the devil is in the details. To answer the question completely, we would need to evaluate the downrange distance to the grizzly or brown bear, the bullet type, the grain weight of the bullet, the physical condition of the firearm, the size of the grizzly or brown bear in question, the shot placement, the local wind conditions, the expected accuracy of the shooter, the ethics of the ideal maximum number of shots – the list goes on.

What we can do is provide a framework to understand what average conditions might look like, and whether those are reasonably viable for a shot from the average shooter to harvest a grizzly or brown bear in the fewest number of shots possible, i.e., ethically.

Let’s dive right in. In the question of “Is the .30-30 Winchester within the ideal range of suitable calibers for grizzly or brown bear hunting?” our answer is:

No, the .30-30 Winchester is UNDERKILL for grizzly or brown bear hunting, under average conditions, from a mid-range distance, with a medium grain expanding bullet, and with correct shot placement.

Let’s look at those assumptions a bit closer in the following table.

Assumption Value
Caliber .30-30 Winchester
Animal Species Grizzly Or Brown Bear
Muzzle Energy 1890 foot-pounds
Animal Weight 595 lbs
Shot Distance 200 yards

What is the average muzzle energy for a .30-30 Winchester? In this case, we have assumed the average muzzle energy for a .30-30 Winchester round is approximately 1890 foot-pounds.

What is the average weight of an adult male grizzly or brown bear? Here we have leaned conservative by taking the average weight of a male individual of the species, since females generally weigh less and require less stopping power. In this case, the average weight of an adult male grizzly or brown bear is approximately 595 lbs.

What is the distance this species is typically hunted from? Distance, of course, plays an important role in the viability of a given caliber in grizzly or brown bear hunting. The kinetic energy of the projectile drops dramatically the further downrange it travels primarily due to energy lost in the form of heat generated by friction against the air itself. This phenonemon is known as drag or air resistance. Thus, a caliber that is effective from 50 yards may not have enough stopping power from 200 yards. With that said, we have assumed the average hunting distance for grizzly or brown bear to be approximately 200 yards.

What about the other assumptions? We have three other primary assumptions being made here. First, the average bullet weight is encapsulated in the average muzzle energy for the .30-30 Winchester. The second important assumption is ‘slightly-suboptimal’ to ‘optimal’ shot placement. That is to say, we assume the grizzly or brown bear being harvested is shot directly or nearly directly in the vitals (heart and/or lungs). The third assumption is that a projectile with appropriate terminal ballistics is being used, which for hunting usually means an expanding bullet.

Various calibers

A common thread you may encounter in online forums is anecdote after anecdote of large animals being brought down by small caliber bullets, or small animals surviving large caliber bullets. Of course those stories exist, and they are not disputed here. A 22LR cartridge can fell a bull elephant under the right conditions, and a newborn squirrel can survive a 50 BMG round under other specific conditions.

Again, the goal of this article is simply to address the question of whether .30-30 Winchester is within the ideal range of suitable calibers to harvest grizzly or brown bear - and to this question, the response again is no, the .30-30 Winchester is UNDERKILL for grizzly or brown bear hunting.

This article does not serve as the final say, but simply as a starting point for beginner hunters, as well as a venue for further discussion. Please feel free to agree, disagree, and share stories from your own experience in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: the information above is purely for illustrative purposes and should not be taken as permission to use a particular caliber, a statement of the legality or safety of using certain calibers, or legal advice in any way. You must read and understand your own local laws before hunting grizzly or brown bear to know whether your caliber of choice is a legal option.

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growboy420 - Jul 08, 2021

You are mistaken on many accounts. I have dropped lots of black bear at 350 to 600 pounds and several grizzlies at 125 yards .. I aim..pull trigger bear spins and falls down dead..no running no charging..just dead. Bears are a lot softer targets than moose and elk..which I also shoot with my 30-30 levergun..the slower bullet has more stopping/killing power at up to 200 yards..than a higher velocity bullet..but anywhere up to 125 yards..the difference is I can quickly chamber and shoot another round with that much light weight firearm. Stopping talking trash about the gun that not only won the west..but killed all the game to feed families for 150 years. I can’t fix stupid.

DAN BRISTER - Jun 02, 2022

growboy420 you smokeing da hopeim

Mick - Jun 23, 2022

The 30-30 is very effective on deer elk and black bears out to 100 yards. It’s more effective than folks realize especially those who were raised during the magnum craze we are in now. Would I pick a 30-30 to hunt grizzly? No. But if I had a reliable 30-30 and was charged by a grizzly I would use it. A 30-30 in the right spot is far better than a 375 H&H in the guts.

Nimrod - Aug 10, 2022

This is a lot of writing with absolutely no answers at all. The 30-30 has been killing black and brown bear well before this author (loosely) was shitting yellow in a baby diaper.

the question is what’s the best ammo? this is a subjective question but my humble experience buffalos-barnes is a great big game stopper.

150 grain bullet with a 2,350fps muzzle velocity packs a hell of a punch! add the penetration and expansion of the Barnes TSX, a well placed shot will put a 500+ bear down


Steve Chelewski - Aug 10, 2023

Although the .30/30 has taken a lot of grizzlies, there is no margin for error. The creator of the cartridge never had large bears in mind. The .30/06 is a much more ethical gun to be using. We OWE these magnificent bears a clean, ONE SHOT kill 100 percent of the time. Correct? If you can afford the cost of an extra gun, the .30/06 provides a significant energy transfer to the target. Perhaps it is even past due to allow these splendid animals to repopulate, BEFORE they are gone FOREVER!

Mike - Nov 14, 2023

If you know your history it was the first smokeless rifle cartridge that came out back in the year 1894-1895. With a primitive soft lead round it effectively harvested many large game animals up to and including elk, mule deer, moose , grizzly and brown bear. Of course, within its range. Now imagine what it can do with the better bullet technology of today.

Steven - Jan 01, 2024

Buffalo bore has a serious grizzly killer with their 30/30 heavy ammunition line but you have to be smarter than a chimpanzee and not attempting 300+ Yard shots 50 to 100yards will get the job done! The post pandemic newbies that went out and bought a gun all remind me of Alex Baldwin!

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