LEVERevolution faster, more efficient
|Photo by GORDON HUTCHINSON|
Hornady has revolutionized the lever-gun ammo market with a new design they call LEVERevolution.
Winchester started a revolution way back in 1895 by introducing the first American small-bore rifle cartridge to be loaded with smokeless powder.
Winchester chambered their .30-30 in their popular Model 1894 lever-action rifle, and it was an immediate success, offering a light, handy, multi-shot rifle in what was an immensely powerful cartridge for the time. It superceded just about everything else on the market for velocity and energy, and became, and remains, one of the most popular deer cartridges of all time.
If power and ballistic capabilities are the only parameters, there are many more powerful, ballistically superior cartridges on the market today. But the “thutty-thutty” has never gone out of production. It offers sufficient power and light recoil, and most frequently is found in that beloved American invention, the lever-action rifle, so that it remains a popular rifle/cartridge combination even today.
But all things considered, the .30-30 is, at best, a 150-yard rifle. And that is the distance most experts consider its limit. The problem is not that an animal can’t be hit with the arching trajectory of its flat-nosed bullets, but that it sheds velocity and energy so fast that reliable expansion of the bullet is lost past 150 yards or so.
I saw this with a buck I had to take at 200 yards — not the distance I normally hunt a .30-30. The entrance and exit holes looked as if they had been punched with a No. 2 lead pencil.
Because of the necessity of loading flat-nosed bullets safely in the tubular magazine of a lever-gun, the bullets have a ballistic coefficient that causes them to shed velocity rapidly, shortening their effective range and drastically reducing the energy they deliver downrange.
Pointed bullets are ballistically superior and offer a better coefficient, allowing them to travel farther and faster.
But pointed bullets can’t be stacked on top of one another in a tubular magazine. Drop the gun, or jar it violently, and the points of the bullets might act like a firing pin, shooting off one of the bullets in the magazine which would in turn set off the bullet in front of it, which would do likewise, etc. etc.
In effect, you would have a bomb in the magazine, and it could explode in your hands.
Hornady, always on the cutting edge of ammunition design, has again revolutionized the lever-gun ammo market with a new design they call LEVERevolution.
Using a red polymer tip that can shove up against the primer of a bullet in a tubular magazine without any fear of causing ignition, the tips instantly come from a compressed state back to a cone form. Thus they keep the ballistically superior ogive shape of the projectile.
In addition, Hornady has given the bullet a boattail configuration that improves muzzle velocity.
Called a polymer Flex-Tip, the bullets are designed to expand at a wide range of velocities. But the big news here is the ballistic improvement in the trajectory arc of the bullet and the increased energy the pointed bullet carries downrange.
Hornady claims 2,400 feet per second with their 160-grain Evolution bullet. They also claim sighting this round in 3 inches high at 100 yards will result in a dead-point-of-aim at 200 yards.
My Speer reloading manual states a 150-grain flat-nosed bullet sighted in dead-point of aim at 100 yards and traveling around 2,200 feet per second at the muzzle will transmit only 800 to 900 foot-pounds of energy at 200 yards, and will drop between 8 and 9 inches. This is considerably less performance than the Hornady round.
I wanted to test the bullet in my favored Marlin 336 lever gun with a 20-inch barrel, and see how my own results stacked up against what Hornady had printed on the box.
Of course, after months of drought-like weather, when I tried to set up my Oehler 35 chronograph, we were experiencing nothing but cloudy days, and I couldn’t get anything but error readings. A chronograph requires bright sunshine to register the bullet speed. And I was up against deadline. Again.
So I was relegated to testing the round for accuracy, and relying on tests run in the gun press.
My Marlin particularly likes Winchester 150-grain Power Point ammo, and will frequently, when I am doing my job, give me near 1-inch groups with the 2.5-8x40 Leupold scope that has been mounted on it for years. It did it again.
Then I switched to the new Hornady ammo, which printed about 4 inches higher on the paper.
But to my surprise, several groups with the new stuff showed the rifle had at least as much affinity for the new ammo as the Winchester. Each group printed from 1.25 to 1.5 inches in three shots. This is good, because according to the released ballistics, the LEVERevolution is a vast improvement over the old, flat-nosed stuffers that safely went up the tubes of a lever gun.
Hornady offers the new round in .30-30 Winchester, .35 Remington, .444 Marlin, .45-70 and .450 Marlin. In the .30-30 for example, they are claiming 2,400 feet per second at the muzzle, and 2,046 pounds of energy with the 160-grain bullet. More importantly, the bullet delivers over 1,900 feet per second, and over 1,300 pounds of energy at 200 yards — a marked improvement over the old flat-nosed bullets.
Hornady has developed a proprietary propellant mix that gives the new rounds up to 250 fps more velocity, resulting in flatter trajectories, and up to 40 percent more energy, which is where the old .30-30 round was particularly lacking.
Remember my little buck. My shot clipped both lungs, and he traveled only about 40 yards. But with the obvious lack of energy, had I not placed that shot as well, I might have had a heck of a trailing job in front of me, and perhaps lost game.
So I’m really glad my Marlin likes the new ammo because I’ve found a new permanent round for it, one that won’t tempt me to chance long shots.
But if one becomes necessary, I will know I have the round now that will match the requirements of the job.
Gordon Hutchinson’s best-selling novel, The Quest and the Quarry, a generational tale that parallels the lives of a line of trophy bucks with the youths of a farming family who hunt them, can be ordered at: thequestandthequarry.com, or by calling (800) 538-4355.
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