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The .35/30-30 Mildcat

Introduction by Andries, and rifle and cartridge facts by Pete Murphy


While hunting bushbuck for camp meat in Mozambique with the .416 Rigby it again became evident that one could have a rifle and cartridge dedicated to this white tail deer sized antelope. (By the way, reading in other forums how successful the .338 Win Mag is in killing a white tail deer one has to state that the .416 Rigby is a sure slayer of the little bushbuck...).  ;-)

Its preferred habitat is densely vegetated river banks where a tree canopy only allows dappled sunlight onto the undergrowth.  The rams are mostly found singly, browsing  with little movement.  When they hear or sense danger they freeze in the hope that they will remain unseen.  Leopard regularly catch an ewe (I in fact witnessed one such kill) but I have never seen a male carcass in a tree.

Every bushbuck ram I have spotted while still-hunting had already seen me, standing totally immobile, not even flicking an ear as kudu do.  SLOWLY shouldering your rifle is called for and even that careful movement will have him bolting in 5-10 seconds - so you have to shoot within three seconds after having shouldered it.  He will rarely be in the open as the one shown in this photo.


Rifle weight distribution is of utmost importance in order to have a slightly heavy, very steady muzzle as with any DG rifle. Every shot will always be off-hand between 50-100 yards.  A heart shot is imperative as they disappear into the densest thicket when lung shot, back into a dark bush the same colouring as his coat and wait for you the same way a Cape buffalo does.  Those sharp horns have reportedly killed maybe the same number of hunters as did wounded buffalo.

This in my experience is the best venison (the term we use for all wild game) in Africa, so zero meat damage is imperative. The Peregrine VRG-2 400 gr copper solid from the .416 is perfect as it zips through the heart at 2,400 ft/sec with no velocity loss and therefor no capillary blood vessel rupture in the meat.  Even the 180gr from a .308W is too light and causes some meat damage. Much heavier and slower is called for - in fact it was the .416 Rigby's performance that set my mind at work to design the perfect bushbuck cartridge fired from the perfect frame for the conditions when hunting this animal. I posted these conditions and the requirements in another forum and that is how Steve Puyear, Roger Allen and I made contact.

I set about deciding what is needed where circumstances do not demand that the .416 be carried in case of possibility of a close encounter with buffalo or hippo.  It turned out to be the following:

  • ​A muzzle-steady lever action rifle (24" barrel was indicated). I need a hammer to pull back from half-cock as I shoulder the rifle.

  • No bullet expansion and full penetration through the shoulders and heart.

  • This indicated a bullet of at least 250gr, but preferably 270-280gr with a semi-wadcutter front end impacting at about 1,700 ft/sec.


The obvious rifle was my Marlin JM in 30-30. The barrel I found turned out to be a 22" octagonal Zane Grey Commemorative to be rebored from .308" to .356" and chambered for the old wildcat .35/30-30 cartridge, and to be fitted to the action. Should I need more weight in front I can add some lead ballast into the magazine tube front end.  The bullets are still undecided.  I do not believe this conversion will demerit the value of the Marlin - in fact it will look very good.

Finding present information about this cartridge even in the US seemed  virtually impossible.  Then Pete Murphy in New Zealand found a gun home here at Bullet Behaviour.  It turned out Pete owns a .35/30-30!  


So  here is Pete:

The .35/30-30 Mildcat        By Pete Murphy

35/30-30 based on a Winchester 94 AE, re-barreled with a MAB Australian produced barrel with  1:16" twist.  Barrel is 16" long as I wanted a carbine style carry rifle.

I put a scope on it, a Burris 2-7x38 cause its compact and lite. Have yet to shoot it on game but I can tell you it has all the hallmarks of a superb hunter class gun. To date the go to powder is 748 in any bullet weight and with most of my cast bullets (150 -292 Gr) ADI powders do work well but I need more time to get the speeds I want to hunt with.  The intention down the track is to put a Williams receiver mounted peep sight as I already have a front fire sight fitted.

(under construction)

Targets on the range show me huge accuracy potential, both the 150 Grain half jackets (NZ made) and the Lyman 292 grainer. Speeds show the 150 grain going at 2,195 ft/sec, the 292 to date at 1,700 ft/sec with 748 to go higher with a SD .325 and Taylor KO of 27 and energy of 2,101   Recoil is brisk at 21 energy but you'd never feel it when hunting game. Note here the Book BC is a boggling .558, pretty good for a round nosed projectile

All these figures are taken on the net calculators. Results are as follows in Winchester 30-30 cases: 

292 gr Lyman cast:          748, CCI 200 primers, OAL 2.540"                 1,700 ft/sec.


150 gr Halfjacket:             ADI 2219, CCI 200 primers, OAL 2.360"       2,195 ft/sec.


200 grain Hornady RN:   ADI 2219, CCI 200, primers  OAL 2.360"       1,800 ft/sec.

The above are my loads and safe in my gun. This will be a real go to rifle and as I've said its a cracker to use. A very manageable rig made to hunt game.

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