Rifle Cartridges In Handguns

Why They Perform So Well May Surprise You

A friend has a favorite question he occasionally springs on unsuspecting shooters: “What cartridge do modern hunters considered short-ranged and inadequate in a rifle, but flat-shooting and powerful in a handgun?” The answer, of course, is the .30-30 Winchester.

In the early days of the metallic cartridge many cartridges were used in both rifles and handguns, because most early cartridges were rimfires. Rimfires must use thin brass in order for the priming compound to go off; the reason they’re relatively low-powered and short. Soon, however, centerfire priming allowed the use of stouter cases, allowing higher pressures, and rifle and handgun cartridges soon evolved along very different paths.

Due to the endlessly fickle and wondering nature of humanity, however, many shooters still like to shoot rifle cartridges in handguns. Some strange contraptions have been developed for the purpose, including huge revolvers chambered for the .45-70; but these days most handguns chambered for rifle rounds are long-barreled single-shots, either bolt-action or break-action.

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One thought on “Rifle Cartridges In Handguns

  1. Liberty Childs

    I have an Uberti 1873 (.45LC) and a Winchester 94 (.44 Rem mag). Question: does it make sense to load pistol caliber cartridges for use in longer barrels with a slower burning powder? And, if so, what are your recommendations? No one seems to be addressing this issue.

    Many thanks,

    Liberty Childs
    New Braunfels, Texas


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