It was 1986, and I’d received a brand-new Winchester Model 94AE XTR in .30-30 Winchester as a birthday gift from my father. While I was completely enamored, my Dad just shook his head—still does, whenever he sees the gun—as he wanted a long, rifle-length barrel, but that year the .30-30 was only offered in a 20-inch barrel. Being just a teenager, and starved for ballistic knowledge, I clearly remember him saying, “I could get the longer barrel, but it only came in some cartridge called 7-30 Waters. Where the heck would you ever find ammunition?”
The 7-30 Waters cartridge is the brainchild of Ken Waters, who took the .30-30 Winchester case, necked it down to hold 7mm bullets, steepened the shoulder and moved it a bit forward for increased case capacity. In the Winchester rifle, the 7-30 Waters launched a round nosed 139-grain at 2600 fps, and certainly did offer an advantage over the much-older .30-30 Winchester.
Thompson/Center offered barrels of varying lengths for their Encore break-action single shot pistol around 1986, and that Winchester rifle was chambered for the cartridge from 1984 until 1997; those who spent time with the cartridge usually ended up enjoying the experience and performance. Federal has (until recently, I believe) continued to offer a round-nose factory load, but new for 2020, Hornady gives the 7-30 Waters a new lease on life by including it in their popular LeveRevolution line.
If you’re a lever-action fan, I’m sure you’ve come across the LeveRevolution line; if not, here’s the deal: using the Hornady FTX (FlexTip) bullet, which features a pliable polymer tip so as to be safe in all tubular magazines, the LeveRevolution line gives the owner of a lever-action rifle the ability to use spitzer boattail bullets.
This results in flatter trajectory and better retained energy at longer ranges, as the ballistic coefficient (BC) of the FTX is vastly superior to that of traditional flat-nosed or round-nosed bullets. Hornady’s 7-30 Waters load uses the 120-grain FTX (G1 BC of 0.320), at a muzzle velocity of 2700 fps for an impressive trajectory from a rimmed lever-gun cartridge: when zeroed at 200 yards, the FTX bullet rises 2.2 inches at 100 yards, and drops 9.7 inches at 300 yards, still delivering 988 ft.-lbs. of energy at that distance.
Those Winchester 94AE (Angled Eject) rifles were designed for use with a top-mounted scope, and Hornady’s LeveRevolution just turned them into a 300-yard deer rifle.