Defrosting More .30-30 Ammo: The Serbian Connection

No trouble keeping stuff thawed at ATOTT headquarters today, America’s birthday. We are in the middle of a monumental heat wave:  97 deg. in the shade on

Fireworks make people happy

the porch – lots of places above 100 – no end in sight. Luckily I was able to do the shooting for this post before the heat set in. It would be very uncomfortable at the firing range today, and I am gonna need a break in the steam before more progress can be made.  

My first brush with Prvi Partizan factory ammunition came when I bought some of their 7.65 x 53 cartridges to try in an Argentine (1891) Mauser. At the time PP was the only convnient source of ammo for this caliber for me, and the product seemed to work quite well. Velocity was what it should have been and accuracy was very good.

Prvi Partizan has been in business since 1928 and manufactures a broad line of sporting and military ammunition. The box exhibits the logo “PPU” which stands for Prvi Partizan Uzice. The city of Uzice, located southwest of the capital city

Box of PPU .30-30 ammo. (Click for full-size pic)

of Belgrade, is the location of the PP factory. The company has a pretty good web site, www.prvipartizan.com/, that tells their whole story and is graced with a rather charming version of poor English. PP offers low-priced, conventional 150-grain and 170-grain loads for the .30-30 that are offered by most distributors in the USA. Based on my good luck with the Argentine, I decided to try both of these loads.

Wolf “Gold” Performance Ammunition is also made in Serbia. In fact, it is made by PPU and the Wolf 150-grain load appears identical to the PPU 150-grain load. The Wolf brass carries the PPU headstamp. Wolf gained notice by offering very inexpensive, Russian-made, steel-cased ammo in military calibers. The “Gold” designation, however, indicates brass-cased, reloadable, sporting ammunition and all of this is made by PPU. Wolf ammo is imported by Sporting Supplies International (SSI), an American company. The Wolf web site, www.wolfammo.com/, lists only a 150-grain load for the .30-30, which is what I tried.

Also fired in this test group was the 150-grain load offered by Sellier and Bellot, a company in a different part of Europe. S & B ammo is manufactured in the Czech Republic. The company, begun in 1825 to manufacture percussion caps for the military market, has an impressive history. S & B considers itself to be an engineering company and manufactures industrial tools and machines in addition to rifle, pistol, and shotgun ammunition and reloading components. The company is now a part of CBC, the Brazilian company that also owns the Magtech ammo concern.

Left to Right: Wolf 150, Prvi 150, Prvi 170, Sellier & Bellot 150

At the Range

Velocity – All of the ammo in this category appears to be loaded to normal .30-30 pressures and would be expected to give velocities in the normal range, i. e., the upper 2300s for 150-grain loads and upper 2100s for 170-grain loads, depending upon barrel length. I used the Remington Model 788 with 22” barrel and either the Winchester Model 94 (24” bbl) or Marlin 336 (20” bbl) for a lever gun trial. In general these loads met expectations in a very consistent fashion. Using data from strings of at least 6 shots, extreme spreads were in the range of 28 – 82 fps and standard deviations varied from 10 to 36 fps.  The best numbers were given by the PPU 150-gr. load in the Winchester 94. The specific velocities measured are as follows.

Wolf Gold 150-gn.                 Remington 788: 2255 fps           

                                                       Marlin 336:  2352 fps

Prvi Partizan 150-grain.     Remington 788:  2245 fps

                                                 Winchester 94:  2345 fps

Sellier & Bellot 150-grain.  Remington 788:  2388 fps

                                                       Marlin 336:  2388 fps (Yup, same)

Prvi Partizan 170-grain.     Remington 788:  2117 fps

                                                Winchester 94:  2139 fps

Accuracy – Accuracy performance is best indicated by the groups obtained using the bolt-action Remington Model 788. At least 4, 3-shot groups were fired for each load with this rifle, with the following center-to-center measurements.

Remington Model 788.         Wolf Gold 150 gr. (4 groups):    .88”  (1.76 MOA)

                                             Prvi Partizan 150 gr. (4 groups)    .67”  (1.34 MOA)

                                            Sellier & Bellot 150 gr. (4 groups)  .80”  (1.60 MOA)

                                              Prvi Partizan 170 gr. (8 groups)   .46”  (  .92 MOA)

Very respectable accuracy was shown by all loads, all of which gave groups measuring less than 2 minutes-of-angle in this rifle. The Wolf Gold average was inflated by serious flyers in two of its

50-yard group fired with Wolf 150-gr bullet inthe Remington 788

  groups. I note that this load gave one of the smallest groups of all, .21”, shown in the picture. The other 150-gr. loads, larger, were comparable in size.

 

Amazing Grace

The picture below shows the first four groups fired with the Prvi Partizan 170-gr. Load, which gave an average measurement of .32,” equivalent to an average group size of .64” at 100 yards. This is the most outstanding performance I have ever seen for a factory .30-30 load, and perhaps the best for any factory load regardless of caliber, in my experience. Four clover leaves in a row indicate no accident or coincidence.  This stuff is good.

Four consecutive groups fired with PPU 170-gr. load.

I try to shoot as well as I can when testing ammo and it is a challenge to be perfectly consistent. Here are twelve consecutive shots with no trigger jerk, no flinch, and a consistent hold at the bench for all of the shots. I am pleased to be able to present results that you can trust.

I tried this ammo again on another trip to the range. The first two groups averaged .64,” a bit off from the earlier results. Realizing that I had not cleaned the bore of the 788 for a while, I gave it a good brushing with Shooter’s Choice solvent and the next group measured .33”. The average for 8 groups came to .46,” still less than 1 minute-of-angle! Have I mentioned that this PPU ammo is about the least expensive .30-30 you can buy?

Prvi 170-gr. load dismantled. (Click for full pic)

Curious about this level of performance, I pulled a bullet from one of the rounds. I found 31.7 grains of a silver-gray, flattened ball powder inside. It resembles the Hodgdon LEVERvolution powder used in Hornady’s ammo of the same name. The bullet, weighing 171 grains, is a flat-based item with a straight ogive and an ample exposed lead tip. What can we say, other than that these components work very well together.

Lever Action Accuracy

I have to admit that working with the Remington 788 spoils me for work with other rifles with other actions, but the levers performed adequately with the test ammo. The Winchester model 94 liked the PP 170-gr. better than the 150, giving 2.25 MOA and 3.25 MOA, respectively.  This 94 has always liked the heavier bullets better. The Marlin 336 was quite good with the Wolf 150, plunking them in at 2.54 MOA. The Sellier & Bellot went into 3.1 MOA out of the Marlin tube.

The Brass

The weight of one brass case for each of the loads above:  Wolf 150, 135 gr.; Prvi 150, 136 gr.; Prvi 170, 135 gr.; Sellier & Bellot 150 gr., 143 gr.

Compare to previous loads in the series:  Winchester Power Max 150 gr, 135 gr; Federal Fusion 150 gr; 138 gr.

The cases of the European ammo are as heavy as those of the Winchester and Federal loads tested earlier. Note that the Sellier & Bellot case is the most robust of all measured so far.

Tune in Later for the last test report in this series. We will be looking at Hornady’s LEVERevolution with the 140-gr. GMX no-lead bullet. Should be interesting.

 

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