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Notable Cartridges; .45-70 Ammo, 30-06 Ballistics, .308 Winchester, Handgun Rounds & More

As time marches on some cartridges die an ignoble death while some literally span the centuries. Adopted in 1892 the 30-40 cartridge and rifles where common up through the late 20th century, also known as the .30 U.S. or .30 Army was a deer hunter’s basic means for putting meat on the table. Surplus rifles once sold for as little as $35 back in the 1930’s. The 1895 Winchester and various single shots where also chambered in this round. Now, Winchester will make periodic runs of ammo, but the plentiful supply is drying up. It is feared that the .30-40 Krag will slip into oblivion.

.45-70 Ammo

Another old war horse seems like it will never die. The .45-70 was adopted in 1873 as the standard Army caliber. This cartridge refuses to die, and the single shots and lever actions Marlins keep it alive and well. Hand or custom loaded for modern high strength guns, the cartridge is a favored guide cartridge in Alaska and some ammo makers even offer “bear” rounds for the big northern brown, Kodiaks and grizzlies. Moose, elk and bison have fallen to this round and it makes a superb brush gun.

30-06 Ballistics

The time was that the 30-06 was the standard for American cartridges. Born in the early 20th century the .30-06 dominated U.S. small arms until the introduction of the 7.62×51 NATO/308 Winchester in the 1950’s. The round is the bases for many “wildcat” cartridges developed and some like the 25-06, 270 Winchester and 35 Whelen became factory cartridges. It was the “standard” for comparison for all 30 caliber cartridges in the U.S. and was the dominate round for most of the early to mid-20th century and was a primary sporting cartridge as well until the .308 Winchester came on the scene.


Post WWII imports of German K98 led to the introduction of the 8mm-06. Shortage of German 7.9x57mm ammo, dictated that the mighty ’06 got blown out to 8mm and the chambers reamed for the new wildcat. It was a very popular postwar conversion.

.308 Winchester

The .308 Winchester can be fired in military rifles, but one should use extreme caution in firing 7.62 NATO in a sporting rifle. The military free-bores their rifles and firing the NATO round in tight civilian chambers can lead to high pressure disaster.

Handgun Rounds

Handgun rounds is another area. The hyper popular .44-40 of the late 19th century nearly died out. But the popularity of the cowboy action competition has revived it. The .45 Colt has always been popular in both single and double action revolvers and given birth to the 454 Casull Magnum. The 9mm Parabellum or Luger is the most prolific handgun cartridge in the world. The Colt 1911 in 45ACP has stood the test of time and is still the primary and preferred 45 Auto platform, with no signs of dying and possible reconsideration for the military in a modern pistol, as the 9mm has proven less than ideal with jacketed “ball” ammo, compared to the 45’s larger cross-sectional area. Expanding 9mm ammo is not a option in a military setting. Like the .45 Colt used to develop the 454 Casull Magnum, the .44 Special was the parent of the 44 Magnum and the 38 Special was the forerunner to the .357 Magnum, and these calibers will be around for a while. Not as popular for wildcatting, handgun ammo still has its related siblings. The 10mm Auto, 40 S&W and the 357 Sig all share pedigrees. The 10mm was shortened to the .40 S&W and the S&W was necked down to accommodate .355 bullets, kind of like a super 9mm. Other old mainstays that seem to succumb to father time are the .250 Savage, .257 Roberts, .300 Savage, and a string of others that you just don’t see around much anymore.

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