Introduced in 1895 the 30-30 Winchester Center Fire was the first domestic high velocity center fire cartridge. Nearing it's 108th birthday it still has sales high up on the chart.
Today we do not think of the 30-30 as being high velocity with our Weatherby Magnums as common as trees on a street corner. But in those days of black powder any cartridge that was big enough to shoot eating size game animals was loafing along at 1500 to 1800 fps. The 30-30 at 2200 fps to 2400 fps was a whizz dinger.
The first number is the nominal caliber (.308) and the second number was a carry over from the black powder era naming the number of grains of powder. In this case smokeless powder. Even now with our more modern powders 30.0 grains of powder is still a normal charge for the 30-30. Because the rifles that are chambered for this cartridge are mostly all lever action rifles, efforts to hot rod the cartridge have lead nowhere.
Remington came out with a rimless version of the 30-30 Win. called the 30 Remington and although it was chambered in bolt action and semi-auto rifles the ballistics are identical.
When the round was introduced into the T/C Contender pistol it was an instant success and also drew attention of the wildcat crowd. Because the T/C Contender was a modern gun proofed for high pressure the cartridge now could be not only be boosted up but used with pointed spitzer bullets. Very soon a improved version of the 30-30 was introduced and it looks a little like a rimmed version on the 300 Savage. And shoots like a rimmed version of the 300 Savage. Picking up an additional 300 fps in the improved version makes this little cartridge working in the .308 ballistic area.
I have two of the original 30-30 rifles and a bolt action rifle and a T/C Contender Pistol. The two lever actions are still in their original 30-30 caliber but the stronger bolt action and the Contender have the improved chambering. There is a definate difference in the recoil and shooting comfort between the two versions.
While many think the cartridge is at best a 100 yard shooter, the ballistics tell another story. At 200 yards the 150 gr bullet still has over 2000 ft lbs of energy. It is generally felt that 1000 ft lbs of energy is needed to humanly kill a big game animal. The only imparment of the cartridge is the rifles that it is chambered in. Most people have a hard time hitting even a big game animal at further than 100 yards with the crude open sights the lever action rifles are fitted with. Put a scope on the rifle or use it in a bolt action rifle and the cartridge will hold it's own with any ethical hunters shots.