Hey, don’t be surprised if it throws you. It sure threw us, and we thought we knew guns and ammo!
Need a hint? It’s .30 caliber, and a bit of a Frankenstein monster with a rebated rim and a sharp shoulder.
Need another? It was created as a deer-taking round, gerrymandered to fit a unique state law.
Give up? Explanation after the jump.
The cartridge is a wildcat called the .30 Wagsal, and it was created in response to Illinois laws that banned pistol hunting with rifle cartridges. It’s normally chambered in single-shot pistols including the Thompson-Center Contender, the unkillable Remington XP-100, or this Savage Striker, which is actually the mate to the round above:
Wildcat means, for anyone who doesn’t know the word, a cartridge created by an individual or small shop, not a national arsenal or gigantic gun or ammo business.
The Wag in Wagsal is for Neil Wagner, who made the cases from the Winchester Super Short Magnum or the .284 Winchester, shortened to 1.4″ to meet the Illinois requirement, formed to a sharp shoulder for max powder, and normally loaded with 43 grains of TAC powder producing around 2,500 feet per second from that pistol barrel.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources does not allow deer hunting with rifles, only with shotgun, pistol, or black powder. Because some hunting pistols have begun to approach the dimensions of rifles shorn of stocks, in the 1990s the DNR placed some limits on the allowable pistol round: straight-sided cartridges were OK, but bottlenecks had to be no longer than 1.4″ — the exact length of this little guy. Another cartridge with a similar genesis is the slightly lower-performing .30 Bellm. It is available in rimmed (formed from .444 Marlin brass) or rimless (from 7mm BR) varieties, and the designer says you can think of it as a “.30 BR Improved”.
Since the invention of these two rounds, the Illinois DNR has changed its limits again, but the .30 Wagsal and .30 Bellm were grandfathered in.
Bonus: Mike Bellm’s site, which we found in researching this post, is chock full of information about break-action guns, including some fascinating information about headspace in break-actions, and the limits of headspace gages.