23 Nov 21
Winchester 1984 and the 30-30 Cartridge:
The rimmed 30 WCF (“Winchester Center Fire”), which a short time later became generally known as the “30-30″ (“30-caliber bullet in front of 30 grs of powder”), initially marketed by Winchester in 1895, was among the first sporting cartridges to use smokeless propellant, from its inception. There was never a black-powder version of the 30-30.
Over seventy percent of Winchester’s 1894 lever-action rifles produced were chambered for 30WCF. A Browning design, the 1894, with its improved lock-up and transfer-bar ignition, was the first smokeless-powder-cartridge-firing rifle of the Winchester lever-gun series, and by far the most popular. In fact, it is the most popular commercial rifle ever produced in the USA!
The 30-30 cartridge, and rifles chambered for it, are currently produced, and continue to enjoy popularity among American sportsmen to this day.
Sharps Rifle Company, famous for their iconic single-shot rifles, went out of business in 1881, unable to compete with Winchester!
Yet, neither the 30-30 cartridge, nor lever-action rifles in general, despite the latter’s wide-spread use among both frontiersmen and plains Indians during the 19th Century, ever garnered the slightest interest from American war planners, except as noted below.
Winchester lever-guns did see significant military use with Russians, Ottomans, and a few South American countries in the decades prior to WWI.
American Spruce lumber was in high demand during WWI for aircraft construction and was, like rubber, considered a critical war-time commodity.
This is because spruce does not splinter when hit by bullets!
In America, aircraft and aircraft construction were at the time under the control of the US Army Signal Corps, as most were used, at least initially, just for observation.
1894 Winchester lever-action rifles, chambered for 30WCF (30-30), purchased by the US Army Signal Corps during WWI, and subsequently issued to “Spruce Battalions” to protect the logging industry in the northwest, were affectionately called “Spruce Guns.”
Of the 1800 “Spruce Guns” produced by Winchester and delivered to the Signal Corps, most were surplussed after the War, and many, still perfectly functional, reside in private hands today!