Questions & Answers on Flat Nose Bullets in Tube Magazines

2014 Ed Harris

Q. - I have two lever action Marlins and am looking for some guidance about bullet noses appropriate for the tubular magazines. I understand that in general you use a flat nosed bullet so the point will not strike the primer of the cartridge ahead of it in the magazine but "how flat" does the bullet actually need to be?

A. - Factory .30-30 soft point loads use a round nosed bullet with soft lead core, which deforms slightly under recoil when left in the magazine tube, as rounds are fired. Other soft lead round nosed bullets, in mild recoiling cartridges, such as .32-20, .38 Special. or .44-40 do not present a problem.

I would caution those who use pistol primers for cast bullet rifle loads for use in tubular magazine rifles. Recoil of such loads should not exceed that of the .25-35 or .32-40 Winchester. If standard rifle primers are used, recoil should not exceed that of the .30-30. Lyman 311291 is a round nose mold which many people have used in the 30-30 Winchester 1894 with no problems.

I would not use round nose bullets for full-power .357 Magnum rifle loads, but stick to flat nosed cowboy bullets or SWCs, if your rifle feeds them. Round nosed .38 Special (non+P) in tube magazines are OK.

In heavy kickers such as the .444 Marlin or .45-70 the bullet must have a meplat at least as large in diameter as the primer.


Return to the Back Creek Diary