Back in Jan. I found a used 14" 30 Herret bull barrel for an old Contender pistol that I have had for quite a while at the local annual gun show. The intent was and is to shoot the break open postal match this summer. And thought that the 30 Herret would be a good candidate. Along with the fact that there are number of .30 cal. molds around here to start with. While I have no idea what the history of this barrel is, the bore and throat looked to be in good shape, bright and shinny with sharp lands at the leade. However, there appeared to be some wear. More than likely, I'd guess, that this barrel had spent it's previous life in the hot jacketed world. But no matter. You pays your money and take your chances with these kinds of things. A couple of things were surprising and not very encouraging at the outset. The twist was one in 14” and the throat measured .311". In addition, the throat also was .426” in length. This seemed to narrow the possible molds considerably. So, without going into a lot of boring details, all I had for a scope was a red dot sight with a two minute dot and began shooting at 25 yds, with several different cast bullets, just to see if this barrel had any life left in it. The results were not pretty and not very encouraging. The biggest challenge, I eventually realized was the shooter relearning how to shoot a pistol over bags off a bench after 50 years. This trek has not been easy by any means but after figuring out how to hold this pistol, manage the recoil, making a square pillar bedded forearm. turning a replacement action hinge pin and replacing the red dot sight with an old Redfield 2x7 rifle scope, things seem to be falling in place so far. The goal is to get at least repeatable 1” ten shot groups at fifty yds and two inches at 100. These targets were the last ones shot a few days ago. The single high hole on each is the first shot after cleaning witch seems to be typical with this pistol. The gun has shot better groups with this bullet and some others during this process since Jan. so I think there may be hope.
30 Herret Contender barrel
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This is interesting. I wonder if someone cut throat deeper to clean up off center cut chamber?
I have an older 14” TC barrel chambered in 300 Whisper with 1/10 twist. I need to inspect chamber.
I had thought about installing a shoulder stock, but the 14” barrel is too short and would make gun illegal.
The throat having been recut is a possibility. However according to Mike Bellm on the Bellm Contenders web site, he talks about TC using a drill press to chamber early barrels. And that they were often off center.
I don't know for sure but after carefully looking at the beginning of the leade, and the throat slug it appears to me that the chamber is possibly off center.
TC's twist chart @ E.A.Brown's site lists factory 30 cal bores at 1:10 and I found it disappointing also that all trhee of my 30 Herrett barrels were also 1:14. One of my barrels had it's muzzle threaded to receive accessories so I purchased a 7" 'fake can' to use as an extension, Threaded and pinned it was legitimately allowed for carbine use.
Velocity needed for stabilizing heavy bullets starts around 1550 FPS and 10" barrel hardly offers such.
I shoot, therefore I am
Do you have a link for that buttstock?
Very nice weapon!
Final load development with that super 14 Contender 30 Herret pistol barrel at 100 yds.
If you have any B'Dot, a proven, fixed load, for that cartridge, in a SS rifle, is 10.1 gr.
I've used a 14 twist, Douglas barrel, since 1987. It will stabilize spitzer and simi-spitzer bullets, 1.165 to 1.19 long, weighing 184 - 190 gr at ~1400 fps. My case is a little larger than the Herret, at 2.2cc's capacity. My load is 12 gr 4227 and 11.5 gr #9. You might try both of those, reduced by 1/2 gr or as is, with your lighter bullet. I shot, in competion, 5 shot groups, under 1" and 10 shot groups, under 2" at 200 yds.
When I had Douglas make my XP100 barrel, in 7mm TCU, they told me that the Contenders, used a very long throat, to load the bullet out. In my load development, I found that the Douglas throat, maxed out at 1.0 gr, below the given Contender max loads.
"I've used a 14 twist, Douglas barrel, since 1987. It will stabilize spitzer and simi-spitzer bullets, 1.165 to 1.19 long, weighing 184 - 190 gr at ~1400 fps. My case is a little larger than the Herret, at 2.2cc's capacity. My load is 12 gr 4227 and 11.5 gr #9. You might try both of those, reduced by 1/2 gr or as is, with your lighter bullet. I shot, in competion, 5 shot groups, under 1" and 10 shot groups, under 2" at 200 yds"
Were those groups shot with a factory Contender pistol and barrel? Mine were with a super 14 factory 30 Herret barrel and I stopped there after trying many different combinations to include IMR4227 because I'm ok with 1 3/4" ten shotters at 100 yds.
No, those groups are with a match Schuetzen rifle, with a heavy 26" barrel.
My info was just showing that the 14 twist, isn't limited to short bullets and that you could try some other proven powders for your basic case capacity.
Thanks, guys, I will note your recommendations and use 'em on next range outing.
I really appreciate your sharing of load workup.
Here's a little woodwork from early learning curve.
I shoot, therefore I am
airborne, " Do you have a link for that buttstock?"
I made that buttstock from burly maple and the fitted forearm from spalted sycamore.
Been workin' with wood as a hobby the past few years. Thanks
I shoot, therefore I am
I would LOVE to find another 30 cal T/C Contender barrel, either 30 herrett or
30-30 . Could be 10" bull or 14" Super 14.
I had a 30-30 , 10" Bull T/C for much of the duration in my old IHMSA days.
Shot a 311466 , 162 gr loverin bullet over a full load of 4895, 1900 fps across my Oehler 33.
This gun shot unreal....
Once at a shootoff- 39 vs 39, , I hit 7 of 10 beer cans at 200yds ...
Yes. 14 twist is OK. Note, tho, I had tried longer heavier bullets and they did not shoot as well.
I guess I did not say it right , I meant I would love to find a ( not shot out)30 cal Contender 10" or super 14 barrel in 14 twist again,
rather than the more recent 10 twist barrels. could be 30 herrett or 30-30, or even a 30-20 would be even better.
Glad to see this Contender Info. I ,also haven't fired my contender in over 25 years. I never did shoot any cast fodder through it but now that I have the cast bullet fever I am starting. I have some cast ammo loaded just for a starting point to see how it works and then I'll get serious about working up accurate loads. I have used contenders a lot, but only with jacketed bullets. I have a 10 inch bull barrel in .30 Herret with a 1-10 twist. This barrel is over 30 years old but hasn't been fired very much. I used it for deer hunting one season. It shot the Sierria 130 gr. single shot pistol bullet very well. it has a pretty long throat in it. I haven't slugged it, just eye balled it. I have a lot of 30 caliber molds to choose from. I would appreciate any and all who would give me some load suggestions: . I'm not new to reloading, but mostly with jacketed jacketed bullets. I've been reloading for 55 years and have all the bells and whistles. I have a little information that I would like to share. In the Thompson-Center load book it states that when forming cases that you should make them where you have firm snap shut .I spent a lot of time forming cases to get them perfect. My groups left a lot to be desired. The next cases that I made I didn't make them such a tight fit. I probably had 2-3 thousandths clearance between shoulder of the case and chamber shoulder. My groups shrank tremendously .But also since then I'm a lot smarter and discovered that rimless cases in any firearm responds the same.
Another question. Has anyone out there tried Johnson Paste Wax on Bullets designed for tumble lube?. Please send some load info.
You Sir, have one heck of a talent! True excellence!
glad to see this thread. Recently traded for a Contender, and a 10" 30 Herrett bbl. Assume it is the old 1-14" - but any easy way to tell? Got my dies and brass together, just need to get some bullets/load and get a scope and mount. Appreciate the info here that will hopefully save me some time and testing!
With a tightly wound scrap of rag on either a dowel rod or cleaning rod w/ jag or brush, squeeze the end into the muzzle while barrel is laying on a firm padded surface. As soon as purchase to the rifling is established mark the rod at 5" and 7" from the muzzle with a longitudinal cross- hatch. As you tap the rod into the bore it will begin to rotate, at the point that the 5" mark arrives at 180 degrees from it's origin or the 7" mark arrives at it's 180 degrees from origin will determine the twist of either 1:10" or 1:14".
The best load data I've found was compiled by Bob Milek in conjunction with DuPont in May of 1985.
As ALWAYS, Start with reduced load from recommendation and incrementally work up to suggested load.
NEVER EXCEED Recommended Volume of propellant.
I shoot, therefore I am
Setting proper head space is a critical step when trying to get accuracy with these Contender pistols. Don't know about the rifle version because I don't have any and likely won't. But in my experience, using M. Bellm's procedure has proven itself in my .218B, 7-30 Waters, 30 Herrett and 6mmx223 barrels. Now, for the purpose of the above, HS is the distance between the head of the case and the breach.
The least bit of interference with consistent and complete lockup in these pistols is illustrated on the target with flyers and larger groups, most notability vertical stringing. Setting the sizing die exactly is simple and easy with the use of a fired case and a feeler gage.
I just back off the sizer die, start sizing the case down, then chamber and attempt to close the action on a sized case, with a .002" feeler gage between the case head and breach. If the barrel will not lock up or / and if I can't pull the feeler gage out, I size the case more until it will just close on the case and the feeler gage. If I can then pull the gage out with slight resistance, the sizer die is set. . I like to set the head space for all my barrels at about .002 - 003"
I don't care where the case shoulder is, only the distance between the head of the case and the breach. The shoulder takes care of itself. Exact and no guess work.
Thanks for the headspace setting guide, I guess you are implying that with an empty chamber, the Contender will close on a .002 feeler gauge, there is that much (or more) space between the barrel and the breech face - right?
a human hair is about 0.003" thick
Sounds about right.
Thanks for outlining procedure. I will use it.
My 30 Herrett 'rifle' is a pistol barrel (10") with a 7" extension. It will still only ballistically perform as a pistol.
I shoot, therefore I am
Right. Of the Contender pistols that I have and have seen there is a fair gap between the top of the barrel face at the breach end and the face of the breach, Including mine when the barrel is closed and locked on an empty chamber.. Much more than .003" If I understand your question.
Simply what I am saying is that I have found a correlation between accuracy, the clearance between the case head and the face of the breach and the complete and consistent lock up of a loaded round.
Interesting to note that in Contenders anyway, neck sizing, which would provide essentially zero headspace, and is frequently more accurate in other action types, apparently is not the "hot setup", at least for bottleneck cases. What you need to do is push the shoulder back about .002 to .003. Thanks for posting about this, it would have taken me a long time to figure it out on my own.
Keep in mind that these break open action Contender pistols are a completely different cat than say a bolt where we can easily jam that cast bullet into the rifling with no ill effects on the lockup or resulting accuracy.. With these Contenders, unlike the bolt action,, a large part of the accuracy is dependent on seating the barrel and locking lugs consistently and completely in the exact same place each time. Any deviation from that will cause the bullet to land in a different place. At least for bottle neck calibers of which I am familiar.
These are some groups I shot while checking out a new 6mmx223 bull barrel with jacketed at fifty yds after taking headspace, OAL and concentricity into account with one of my G-2 Contender pistol frames. The same loads were then shot at 100 where five shotters went 1 1/4 -1 1/2" with that Speer 75 grain HP. One inch target pasters
A bigger problem is that anything that interferes with the action closing completely and fully locking is that you get this nice 'CLICK' when the hammer drops and doesn't contact the firing pin. It needs just a little bit of freedom.
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