Winchester, in 1895, introduced their .30 Winchester Smokeless cartridge, with the head stamp ".30 W.C.F." (Winchester Center Fire). Soon after Winchester introduced the cartridge, the Marlin Firearms Company, collaborating with the Union Metallic Cartridge Company (Remington), released the cartridge in their own version. They followed the common contemporary method of ammunition identification by listing the caliber first and the powder charge weight second. The result was the designation ".30-30" meaning a .30 caliber bullet and a powder charge of 30 grains.
At first, bullets weighing 160 grains were offered as the .30-30 was intended for use as a short range hunting cartridge for deer and other medium sized game animals in North America. Today bullets commonly weigh between 110 and 170 grains. Soft point bullets as well as hollow point bullets are the most common configuration. The effective range of the .30-30 has historically been 200 yards, but new technology, specifically the Hornady LEVERevolution cartridge, sends a bullet that retains more than 1,000 foot pounds of energy as far out as 300 yards. This changed the .30-30 from a deer gun for 200 yards to a rifle that could harvest deer at 300 yards. This was a remarkable development for a cartridge known to be a 200 yard deer cartridge for more than one hundred years.
The .30-30 has been chambered in several different types of guns. Without question, the lever action is the most popular. The Winchester Model 94 as well as the Marlin Model 336 are two famous examples of high quality, long lasting .30-30 lever action rifles. Savage Arms offered the .30-30 with a pump action, their Model 170C, and with a bolt action, their Model 340. Thompson Center chambers .30-30 in a single shot pistol, and Magnum Research sells a semi-custom revolver based on their BFR revolver. Independent of the chosen firearm, the .30-30 was and remains a great cartridge for hunting any game of medium size. Many hunters are appreciative of the mild recoil from this potent cartridge, as well as the compact rifles which have been chambered for this caliber since they are lightweight and simple to maneuver in country with heavy brush. For many reasons, the .30-30 cartridge will likely be used for 100 more years.