The goldenrod is blooming in the roadside as I write this. It has taken that long to thaw out all of the .30-30 ammo I put on ice last January. Not that we have that much goldenrod because we have not had a drop of rain in many weeks and the temps have hovered near 100 deg. for days now. The roadside botanical gardens, normally ablaze with sunflowers, asters, and goldenrod, have suffered, but I have managed to get a few targets to bloom, and I hope you will be interested in the results.
The bullets of the title cartridges have no lead content. They are made entirely of “gilding metal,” except for the plastic tip which makes them safe to use in tubular magazines. Alloys of the metallic elements copper and zinc have been made and used since ancient times. Mixing zinc with copper produces “brass,” an alloy with increased strength and corrosion resistance. A range of properties for different brasses results from varying the zinc content. Cartridge brass is about 30% zinc. Gilding metal is a brass with only 5-10% zinc. The gilding metal used to make the Monoflex bullet is the same stuff Hornady uses for the jackets of its jacketed lead bullets. For reloading Hornady sells these nonlead bullets in a range of calibers and weights and these are referred to as GMX (Gilding Metal Expanding) bullets. These are hunting bullets and the hunting advantage is said to be controlled expansion over a range of velocities, and no trouble with core separation ‘cause the bullet is homogenous and there ain’t no core.
The picture shows an intact cartridge and a disassembled cartridge that held 34.3 grains of a ball powder that could reasonably be assumed to be Hodgdon LE powder. The gilding metal bullet is a boat tail design with two cannelures, a feature that Hornady says helps to reduce fouling. The next pic shows the 140 gr. Monoflex bullet with a 160 gr. FX lead core jacketed bullet that is used in the other LEVERevolution .30-30 load. Note that the Monoflex is
longer than the FX, even though it is 20 grains lighter. This results, of course, from the fact that the gilding metal is about 24% less dense than pure lead. The FX therefore wins the ballistic coefficient prize. Its BC is .330, compared to .277 for the Monoflex.
At the Range
Hornady’s web site states that the 140 gr. Monoflex bullet will leave the muzzle of a 24” test barrel at 2465 fps. Results using the usual suspects for test rifles were consistent with this claim. The following velocity data were recorded on a very hot day in July. A ProChrono chronograph was used for the measurements.
Remington Model 788 (22” Bbl). Average Velocity 2419 fps
Spread, 63 fps; Std Dev, 12 fps
Winchester Model 94 (24” Bbl). Average Velocity 2499 fps
Spread, 37 fps; Std Dev, 13 fps
Browning Model 1885 (28” Bbl) Average Velocity 2519 fps
Spread, 63 fps; Std Dev, 20 fps
The uniformity of velocities in all rifles is noteworthy. Considering the progressive LE powder used in these rounds, I think I might have expected this ammo to be loaded to a higher velocity, say about 2600 fps, but maintaining safe pressures evidently prevents this level of boost. At least, with a long-enough barrel on a hot-enough day you can get a bit over 2500 fps. One observation is that the recoil level is quite mild. This is a very pleasant round to shoot, and youngsters and other, recoil-sensitive folks will find this a good load for practice and use in the deer woods.
A good level of accuracy is the norm for most factory ammo these days, as has been reported in the earlier posts in this series. My standard bearer for accuracy evaluation, the Remington 788, confirmed the Monoflex’s accuracy potential. Three-shot groups fired with this arm are shown in the first picture. The average of the six,
consecutive, 3-shot groups was .58,” or, about 1.2 minutes-of-angle. This is really good for factory performance in sporting rifles, and the uniformity of group sizes was exceptional. The smallest group measured .51,” the largest, .64.” This type of small spread is rarely seen with factory ammo or handloads.
After this level of performance, I was flummoxed by the larger group average returned by the Browning 1885 Traditional Hunter. Four groups with this arm are shown in the next pic. Six consecutive, 3-shot groups averaged 1.45,” or, 2.9 MOA, more than twice the size of the Remington 788’s groups. Note that two of the groups
have obvious flyers. Shall we just leave those out? The average, then, falls to .90,” or, 1.8 MOA, still indicating that the Browning doesn’t much care for this ammo. Perplexing, but that is what I got so that is what I report.
The Winchester 94, which has never cared for the lighter class of .30-30 bullets, averaged 2.15” for four, 50-yard groups. Two of these groups also had flyers, and, if I eliminate the flyers from measurement, the average of the four groups is 1.41,” or, 2.8 MOA. OK, so it is not fair to arbitrarily eliminate shots from group measurements, but it is fun, and I have been honest in telling you about it. The smallest three-shot group offered by the 94 measured 1.45 MOA.
This ammo delivers the performance values that it promises. It has great potential for accuracy, but, in spite of the expense, you will want to give it a good check in your rifle before heading woodsward. Killing power should hold up to at least 200 yards, if expansion performance in game is what it is cracked up to be, but someone else will have to verify that for you. Velocity and accuracy are my domain.
Now that this is out of the way, I will happily return to bullets that contain lead. Non-lead ammo is way too expensive for test shooting of rifles or scopes. Lead is a lot cheaper than copper, and, with its high density, a great, time-honored metal for bullet cores for both target and game shooting.