“Don’t use pointed bullets in tubular magazines!” We’ve all heard that warning. The reason is because the cartridges are in-line, and the point of one bullet rests against the primer of the next. The jostle and rearward force of recoil can cause the point to act as a firing pin and set off the cartridge in front of it. Even if you had such a detonation, you wouldn’t have bullets zipping around as if they were fired because the cartridges are not contained tightly as they would be in a chamber, but it would be lively at least.
Because pointed bullets have superior exterior ballistics, though, there have been efforts to make it safe to shoot pointed bullets in tubular magazines. The French Lebel is one example. Its cartridges are almost wedge-shaped and cases have an annular ring around the primer. Combined, those features cause the bullet points to ride in the rings instead of resting against the succeeding cartridge’s primer.
Remington Model 14 and 141 rifles have spirals impressed into their tubular magazines to align the cartridges more in a corkscrew fashion instead of in-line, keeping the points off of the primers.
The most recent effort to safely use pointed bullets in tubular magazines comes from Hornady in the form of its LEVERevolution line of ammunition. Bullets in this line have a pointed tip so you get the enhanced exterior ballistics, but the points are made of a soft synthetic that compresses under pressure. Because it compresses, it squashes instead of denting a primer.
Using pointed bullets won’t make your .30-30 into a .308 by any stretch, but using pointed bullets will extend your lethal range, and you can do it safely.
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