Introduced in early 2016, the goal of the 30 Nosler was to be the best performing 30-caliber cartridge fitting in a “standard” length long action. When the 3.4” magazine limitation is considered, there are very few cartridges that can compete with the 30 Nosler in the performance category. Considering available factory ammunition options for the most popular 30 caliber cartridges, the 30 Nosler is at the top of the list ballistically. Unfortunately, the 30 Nosler has the same design limitations as the 300 Win Mag, 300 RUM, and the 300 Weatherby. The throats and cartridge overall lengths of their SAAMI design chambers are too short.
DISCLAIMER: This is a guide. Everything listed within is for information purposes only. All loads should be worked up carefully. We have seen loads require as much as two grains of charge weight adjustment from one powder lot to another. We have seen as much as five grains of powder adjustment required between different brands of brass. Failure to start low could result in damaged equipment or injury. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.
30 Nosler Cartridge Design
Generally speaking, when it comes to long-range shooting, bigger, sleeker bullets are better performers. To take full advantage of the bigger bullets you need a throat with the space to accommodate the longer bullets so the bullet is not occupying precious cartridge space. This is the sole reason the 300 PRC was designed, to have a chamber suited for longer bullets seating out of the main body of the case. This allows it to take full advantage of the case. Even with its design limitations, the 30 Nosler’s factory ammunition options will still outperform most if not all commercially available options for 30 caliber hunting cartridges, including the 300 PRC.
30 Nolser Handloads
This guide intends to help reloaders, so let’s take a look at the 30 Nosler from a reloading standpoint. In SAAMI form the chamber is acceptable for one of my favorite bullets, the 215 Berger. The short bearing surface of the 215 Berger allows the boat tail junction to sit right at the neck-shoulder junction of the case when the bullet is touching the lands. As stated above, this keeps the bullet of the powder space. With many of the popular longer bullets, the throat will be too short. I have found somewhere around .200”-.220” of freebore is ideal for bullet weights of 205 up to 230 grains. This includes the 215 Berger. If you know you are going to be shooting mostly 230s or bigger bullets like the 245 Berger or 250 A-tip I would suggest .250-.280” of freebore. With the longer throat, the true potential of this cartridge can be realized.
30 Nosler Brass
There are currently five brass options. Hornady, Nosler, Bertram, Peterson, and ADG. I only have experience with the last four. The case capacities in grains of H20 are as follows, Peterson ~97.5, Nosler ~ 99 grains, Bertram ~100, and ADG~102. These are all fired brass measurements to the top of the neck. We feel this is the best way to measure, as “usable” capacity is arbitrary. Of these options, ADG is my favorite. It is very consistent, strong, and has the largest capacity. It, combined with somewhere around .200” of freebore, will be most likely to allow you to run a 215 Berger at the 3100FPS node with H1000 and a 26” barrel.
Favorite 30 Nosler Loads
Now let’s talk about loads that have worked well for us. First and foremost is H1000 with a 215 Berger. This load shoots very well in almost every rifle, from factory rifles to customs. Pick your favorite magnum primer, start at 78 grains of H1000 with the 215 Berger seated at the lands and work up to pressure. You will usually find pressure between 82 and 85 grains. Case capacity, powder lots, and throat dimensions can and do have a huge effect on this. Take the most accurate charge and do seating depth testing. In our experience, they usually prefer from at the lands to .040” off. Some have had great luck farther from the lands.
As far as actual load development methods we have a couple of great videos on our YouTube channel.
210 and 215 Berger
The 215 Berger has proven to be a very effective hunting bullet and performs very well near and far. This is a favorite combination of mine as well as many forum members. Next, we will mention the 210 Berger HVLD. For load development with the 210 HVLD, you can just do the same as the 215 Berger. This is another great combination, but it most likely will not have the same ballistic performance. The lower ballistic coefficient and longer bearing surface most likely will not let it outperform the 215 Berger. As you can see from the table, the 215 Berger is very popular.
225 and 230 Grain Bullets
The 225 Hornady ELD-M and the Berger 230 hybrid target and Hybrid OTM are great bullet options for those wanting a little larger bullet. These bullets have performed very well on game and are great for shooting steel. We have a couple of loads listed in the loads chart. As with any data, start low and work up. These will keep up with the 215 Berger in drift but will not be as flat shooting in most rifles.
245 and 250 Grain Bullets
The 30 Nosler is getting into the case capacity range I feel is needed to truly start to take advantage of the 245 Berger and the 250 A-tip. These bullets will barely fit into a Wyatt’s box without pushing the bullet into the powder space when seated appropriately in a 30 Nosler case. Any case longer such as the 300 RUM and you will need to move up to the more cumbersome 4.0” box or waste case capacity. The 300 Norma improved has its drawbacks with the larger .590 Lapua bolt face requirement. Due to these issues, I feel the 30 Nosler will be a near-perfect case to push these two bullets.
Other Popular Bullets
Though we have discussed a few bullets we have the most experience with, there are several other great options. Cutting Edge Bullets makes three bullets in the weight range we are discussing with the 220, 230, and 240 grain Lazers. These bullets are bore rider, solid copper designs, and will typically yield more velocity over a typical lead core bullet as well as other monolithics. They are designed so that the nose of the bullet will fracture and three petals will radiate from the core causing a wound channel somewhat similar to a typical fragmenting lead core bullet. At the same time, the core of the bullet continues to penetrate deeply into the animal, often with an exit many desire.
Other Berger bullets worth discussing are the 200.20x and 205 Elite Hunter. The Elite hunter will perform much like other Berger “hunting” bullets. The 200.20x will perform much like the 215 Hybrid. In use, it will be very difficult to tell the terminal performance apart. They will penetrate a few inches and rapidly expand causing violent and rapid shock to the animal’s vitals.
Other Hornady bullets worth discussing are the 208 ELD-M, 200 ELD-X, 212 ELD-X, and 220 ELD-X. These bullets will have a very similar terminal performance to the Bergers.
Nosler makes many great bullets but the one we will include in this guide is the 210 grain Long Range Accubond. This bullet is the typical bonded bullet Nosler is known for. This bullet is one of Nosler’s best ballistically performing bullets and still gives the “mushroom” many hunters have come to love.
Last but not least we will talk about the two Barnes bullets that best fit this guide. The 200 and 212-grain LRX long-range hunting bullets give a beautiful flower petal expansion that many Barnes fans have come to love. The one issue we have seen with them is the lack of expansion at lower velocities. Lower velocity limits for expansion are always a consideration, but with the inferior ballistic performance of the Barnes, you will need to pay closer attention. There are too many bullets out there to discuss them all, but we feel this covers the more popular options.
Bullet Drift Comparison
Ideal Powders For The 30 Nosler
Let’s talk powders. There are many great powders for this case capacity and bullet weight range. Hodgdon’s powders have been great performers for many years. H1000 and Retumbo will be great powders for the bullet weights in the 200-230 grains range. H4831SC can be great as well for the lighter bullets in that 200-grain range but is getting to be on the fast side.
Alliant powders have always been a favorite of many magnum cartridge reloaders. Reloder 22 and 25 have been great, but their temperature instability makes them unusable for taking ethical long-range shots, at game, in changing conditions. RL23 is very temp stable and has a similar burn rate to H4831SC. Reloder 26 is not listed as temperature stable but in my experience has been in many cartridges including those in the case capacity range of the 30 Nosler.
Vihtavuori has a few great options. N565 will be very similar to H1000 in burn rate and N570 will be very similar to Retumbo. Both N565 and N570 do very well with bullets from 200 grains to 230 grains. They typically yield slightly faster speeds than their Hodgdon counterparts. When it comes to the 245 Berger and the 250 A-tip, N570 would be my first choice of powders.
Any magnum primer will work well with the 30 Nosler with the most commonly used being the Federal 215 Match and the CCI 250. In use, I can’t say one is a better performer. I usually pick one and do load development with it. If I cannot get the velocity extreme spreads or the accuracy I desire I will swap to the other. I have stopped swapping “just to see” because it rarely gets better in my experience. I feel to see the best results from a primer you need to do a full load workup.
30 Nosler Loading Dies
Any good set of reloading dies will work, but we have come to prefer full-length “S” bushing dies with a micrometer seater. Redding dies have become our preference. We will have a video on our YouTube channel discussing the different dies and why you might choose one over another.
Let’s Talk Rifles
For those looking at factory rifles chambered in 30 Nosler, unfortunately, there are none we can recommend at this time. The chambering is losing popularity due to the SAAMI issues discussed above. Those that may still be available will most likely have too short of a magazine.
If a custom 30 Nosler is what you are after, there are almost an infinite amount of options. Take a look at our sponsor page. There are a few great rifle builder and gunsmith options. We also have some sponsors that make great components. Whether you are looking for a turnkey custom or you want to collect the parts and have one built, our sponsors have you covered.
30 Nosler Conclusion
As far as hunting cartridges are concerned, I feel the 30 Nosler could be the best case design I will see in my lifetime. Unfortunately, it was shortchanged in SAAMI form with its antiquated cartridge overall length and short freebore specs. I am afraid this has a good possibility of causing this amazing case to go the way of the dodo bird. When set up correctly in a custom rifle and custom chamber it checks every box a long-range shooter or hunter could want. If you consider the Wyatt’s box magazine to be a great modern-day maximum cartridge limitation, the 30 Nosler is in a league of its own. It has the highest case capacity of every cartridge fitting the 3.850” Wyatt’s box with a bullet seated out of the powder space and the standard magnum bolt face.
I feel the 30 Nosler is the best ballistically performing cartridge without the compromises required to run a 300 RUM or a 300 Norma Improved. If you are looking for your next high horsepower 30 caliber long-range cartridge for a custom build, I feel the 30 Nosler should be at the top of your list.
You can comment on this cartridge guide or ask Ryan questions here.