The official Mike Bellm's

Bellm TCs

TC Contender, G2, Encore/ProHunter Performance Center


First, a headsup on my machined in muzzle brakes. For 2017, the first and maybe only batch of brake work this year will be February through March, but still taking in brake work while I am set up for it. Email

If you already have a .300 Mag. Encore, farther down you will find a few points on how to set one up for best results.

If you are thinking about getting a .300 Win. Mag barrel, before jumping into a .30 cal. magnum, consider the following.
Not just the recoil but the stinging speed of the recoil combined with the shock wave from significant muzzle blast all work against your doing your best shooting.

The main justification for .30 caliber magnums is long range big game hunting requiring dumping a heavier bullet into game. But if recoil, muzzle blast, and lack of skill prevent you from placing the shot..... wellllll, it just is not right.

Time and experience is proving the smaller bore sizes can cluster shots tighter at long range for most shooters.

Once upon a time the .30 caliber magnums dominated long range competitive shooting, but over the years the smaller bore sizes have coaxed shots into tighter and tighter groups in long range competition where all the energy required is enough to punch paper.

A significant part of accurate shooting is not just quality equipment and ammo, but also controlling the total movement of the gun once the trigger is pulled. This is something few shooters give any thought to.

Once that hammer or firing pin starts moving, the whole gun and shooter become a system of dynamics set in motion. Accurate shooting depends heavily on the gun and the shooter in recoil moving the same for each shot if the muzzle is going to be pointed to exactly the same spot each time as the bullet leaves it.

No matter how good you are, you are more likely to be able to control that movement and to PLACE the shot correctly at long range shooting something with less recoil and muzzle blast...... even if you have perfect technique, nerves of steel, and the eye focus of an eagle.

But making a long range kill in the first place demands you have put in enough trigger time shooting long range in the first place, and you KNOW the distance and the trajectory the bullet will travel.

I dare say there is quite a percentage of shooters thinking they are buying their own long range capability when they buy a .30 caliber magnum but are only fooling themselves if they are not putting in the "trigger time" necessary to be a proficient long range shooter.

Increasing populations crowd out places to shoot long range, and our busy lives make it difficult for many who love the outdoors and hunting to develop the shooting skills they need for long range game shots.

And then, from the human body limits standpoint, the stinging recoil of the .30 caliber magnums limit how much trigger time a shooter can endure in any given session trying to improve his long range skills.

Long range shooting is both a science and a physical skill that takes practice and mastering fundamentals of marksmanship.

You don't read about flying or "fly" a computer flight simulator, then go out and solo. It takes proper training and practice.

Reality check time!
Get out and DO at least 400 yard shooting, then move on out from there!

You can't read a magazine, go buy the latest greatest gun & a box of ammo and suddenly be capable of dropping game 500 yards or more away.

And this very well may be YOU I am describing!
Yeah, you.

And just because your state lists .300 Win. Mag. as a legal deer cartridge does not mean you should be shooting one!

After conversations day in and day out over the last 38 years with everyone from raw beginners to championship shooters and snipers, one picks up pretty quickly on whose walk matches their talk, who is on top of his game and who needs to put lot of sweat equity in yet.

A good test for whether you can shoot a magnum well is the old military "ball & dummy" exercise.
Never heard of it?
Just have a friend turn his back to you when he loads and closes the gun and hands it to you to shoot it. Do this a few times, then without your knowing it he snaps the gun closed on an empty chamber before handing it to you to see how much you flinch, jerk the trigger, and buck into the gun when the hammer drops on an empty chamber.

If you are not sitting there "man mountain", unflinching, then you probably should not be shooting a magnum in the first place and need some good coaching with milder recoiling rounds.

"Ball" in military terms refers to a loaded round, "dummy" an inert round. But flinching & jerking will sure make YOU the dummy.

I suggest you consider the smaller bore sizes if you are not already a seasoned long range shooter!

Start small, even with .223 Rem. & 6mm BR type rounds with heavy, high b.c. bullets, and work your way up to the bigger game rounds.

When it comes to deer sized game, the vast majority of shooters are much better served with .280 Ackley Improved, the equal of 7mm Remington Magnum, or even the Plain Jane, vanilla .270 Winchester, than they are just jumping into a .30 cal. magnum.

Except where the size of game really warrants a .30 cal. magnum, I definitely see little or no reason for using a .30 cal. magnum if virtually all of your hunting is inside of about 300 yards..... especially for deer.

.270 Winchester is a good solid 400 yard deer and antelope cartridge in its own right while .280 Improved extends that range a bit. Less than ideal shots on elk size game about 400 yards or more away suggest moving on up to a .30 caliber magnum.

If only deer and antelope size game are hunted, 6mm through 6.5mm may be all you need. The high velocity of these smaller bores combined with a high ballistic coefficient bullet tilt the scales of accurate shooting in your favor while having enough impact energy to make good kills.

All that said, IF a .30 caliber magnum is actually what you need, and/or you can shoot one well and just want to cover all range situations, let's proceed..... but first a few points about the .30 cal. magnums on the Encore platform.

1) You must recognize that the Encore is not as rigid and strong as most all bolt action guns so chambered.

2) Factory .300 Win. Mag. ammo is loaded a bit on the moderate side compared to how hot it can be loaded in stronger guns. The Encore handles factory ammo fine, but do not reload hotter than factory.

3) Loading the H&H head size magnums, like .300 Win. Mag., to higher velocities (and pressures of course) than typical factory ammo produces is inviting either a stretched frame or bending the lower lip of the barrel lug down and potentially ruining both the frame and the barrel.

4) .300 Weatherby factory ammo is loaded hotter than factory .300 Win. Mag ammo. It is just enough "over the top" to rule it OUT on the Encore, so don't bother to ask about it.

5) ALL of the high pressure short mags, ultra mags, etc. whose case bodies are larger in diameter than that of the .300 Win. Mag. are OUT also. Again, don't even ask! The answer is a flat NO!

Cut recoil and shoot flatter trajectories with lighter bullet weights!

.30 cal. magnum ammo appears to focus largely on 180 gr. bullets, which can shoot flatter and deliver more energy at ranges somewhere past 500 yards.

BUT, for most hunters, 500 yards is really pushing the limits of their abilities to make a clean kill.

With most bullet choices, point form being equal, 150 gr. bullets drop less than the slower starting 180 gr. bullets until you get out somewhere past about 500 yards.

With the greater speed comes the greater potential for common lead core bullets to blow up on game, so bullet choice can become critical at higher velocities

Without a brake especially, I'd recommend no heavier than 150 gr. bullets on deer, but choose solid core or partition type bullets that hold together for penetration.

If shooting a barrel with a muzzle brake, the more powder burned and the lighter the bullet weight, the lighter will be the recoil.

Don't beat yourself up and handicap your shooting with 180 gr. bullets if you don't really need the weight like you more likely need for elk or moose for example.

Two other well established .30 caliber magnums to consider:
.308 Norma Magnum
.30x.338 Win. Magnum

A little brief history first.
Starting over 100 years ago there was a lot of activity among gunsmiths conjuring up all sorts of .30 caliber magnums. I think you will find it interesting!

(Note that I am leaving out the full length H&H types like Weatherby, Mashburn, & similar. I am also skipping over quite a few rounds between 1913 and 1958.)

Here are the highlights:

.30 cal. magnums may have preceded Charles Newton, but his is where I will start.
Clear back around 1913 Fred Adolph came up with an excellent rimless, 2 1/2" .30 cal. magnum that fit into "standard length" magazines such as in the common .30/06 Springfield rifles. Adolph originally called it .30 Adolph Express, but Newton commercialized it and named it .30 Newton, which was commercially loaded by Western (later Winchester-Western) Cartridge Co., Remington, and others up through about 1939. Special runs of brass for .30 Newton I understand were made up into the '80s.

Winchester brought out their .264 Win. Mag. and .338 Win. Mag. in 1958.

When first introduced, nearly every cartridge gets necked up or down. Someone along the way necked the .338 Win. Mag. down to .30 caliber and named it .30x.338. It was so close to the original .30 Newton that it was commonly called the .30 Belted Newton, which had already been around for 45 years.

But, then again, it could have been as accurately named .30x.264 Win. Mag. since the only difference among the 3 is the neck diameter.

Norma muddied the water with the introduction of their .308 Norma Mag. in the US as brass only while guns were being produced for it.

However you want to look at it, Remington either stuck a 7mm bullet into the .264 Win. Mag case or necked down the .338 Win. Mag. in 1962 looking to fill that middle ground Winchester left open, using Winchester's exact same case to do it even. (.264 Win Mag., 7mm Rem. Mag., and .338 Win. Mag. are all EXACTLY the same cartridge except for neck diameter.)

.300 H&H Mag must have been selling pretty well I suppose, which may have been a factor for Winchester not bringing out the their own .300 Win. Mag. until 1963. Why there were few U.S. factory chambered .308 Norma Mags or .30 Newtons made, I do not know. Nonetheless, the field was open for a mainstream .30 cal. magnum that fit into a .30/06 length action.

.30x.338 Win. Mag. was originally to be what Winchester was going to bring out as their .300 Winchester Magnum, BUT .30x.338 Mag. is so, so close to the same as .308 Norma Magnum, which officially came out first, that safety issues changed Winchester's plans. Instead of getting the jump on Norma with a proven round, well designed by an early firearms innovator ahead of his time, Newton, the Winchester brainiacs produced a bastard design, fundamentally flawed with the short throat it was given.

.308 Norma is only a tiny bit longer in the body and neck.
There can be the risk of cramming a .308 Norma round into a .30x.338 Mag chamber. This would pinch the case neck and run pressures up very dangerously. Thus, Winchester went back to the drawing board and trumped both rounds with a longer round with more case capacity, but with the bullet stuffed deep in the case so it still fit into a "standard length" magazine.

You can readily and safely shoot .30x.338 Mag. ammo in a .308 Norma Mag. chamber, but not the reverse. Likewise, you can use .30x.338 Mag. dies for both chambers.

Overall, .30x.338 Mag and .308 Norma Mag are designs in my opinion superior to the .300 Win. Mag., but IF the throat is lengthened in a .300 Win. Mag. chamber, then accuracy-wise, the .300 can reach its potential.

Frankly, I prefer .30x.338 Mag. and .308 Norma Mag., but factory .300 Win. Mag. is far better supported with ammo, dies, brass, and extensive loading data. These factors put the other two mags out of the running for most shooters.

If you are too young to remember as far back as the 1950's, do a little research on .30x.338 Mag., and you will find:
1) that for a time in the late 1950s and roughly at least through the '70's it dominated a lot of the 1000 yard matches, and
2) it was a staple item in the Remington 40-X target rifles of the day..... even though factory ammo was not produced for it.

.30x.338 Mag. was the step up from .300 H&H Mag in the 1,000 yard matches.

.300 H&H Magnum:

Let's not forget this oldie. It may not be very modern looking, but it is still a good step up from .30/06 performance levels. Rechambering to .300 H&H is also an outstanding way to salvage a .308 Win. or .30/06 factory barrel with a badly misaligned throat that won't shoot well.

It's kinda like a smoke break: "If you got 'em, smoke 'em."
If ya got .300 H&H ammo, brass, dies etc., shoot it!
Or, if you like the nostalgic side of life, shoot a .300 H&H anyway!

And of course there are some suitable wildcat .30 cal. magnum rounds we can entertain also..... long as the chamber diameter does not exceed about .515" and no Weatherby category factory ammo fires in it.

..... and we'll give honorable mention to the controversial .30/06 Improved and .30 Gibbs.
These rounds can approach the magnums, but only with pressures possibly enough to stretch a frame. At least their smaller diameter gives more room for error with less risk of stretching the frame compared to going over pressure with a larger diameter magnum round.

Functionally, these two sharp shouldered rimless cases side step issues associated with belted cases, even if they don't give full "magnum" performance. They are at least a slight step up from .30/06, but reserved for reloaders since no factory ammo is produced for them.

The main benefit I see from these two sharper shouldered rounds is the stronger shoulder that does not collapse like the long shoulder angles do when driven forward in the chamber by the firing pin impact. Meaning, you get a more consistent ignition with the solid support of the sharp shoulder..... something seldom recognized in other circles.

These two can be rechambered from .308 Win. barrels

Rechambering a barrel to a .30 cal. magnum:
Any of the .30 cal. Encore barrels chambered for a smaller round can be rechambered to one of the suitable .30 cal. magnums..... most common of which of course are .308 Winchester and .30/06 factory barrels.

A barrel that has had a lot of rounds run through it is smoothed up and to some degree has a taper worn into the bore for something of a choked effect end to end.

Rechambering to a longer chamber and cutting a new, fresh throat in the bore results in a barrel that shoots better than the day it was made.

Find a barrel that has had a thousand rounds or more put through it, and when rechambered right, it will be a tack driver.

.30x.338 Mag and .308 Norma Mag clean up .308 Win. chambers with misaligned throats.

.300 Win. Mag. and .300 H&H Mag. clean 'em all up, .308 Win. and .30/06 included.

Custom barrels with smaller chambers of course can be rechambered to the mags also.

A new custom barrel:

A good custom maker nearly always machines a better throat alignment and a better crown than the average factory barrel has, but for most of my 38 years in this trade, I find nearly all factory barrels can be reworked to standards superior to factory if there is a suitable round a barrel can be rechambered to.

Among the TC factory type barrels, I lean toward the factory "heavy" or pro hunter contour, .8" muzzle. But the factory tapered barrels at .72" muzzle diameter are still heavier than the barrels on most bolt action guns.

More weight for a bench gun....
For awhile, Bergara made what they called a "full contour" 26" barrel, about .875" at the muzzle. These barrels were essentially the same profile as the TC muzzle loader barrels and used the same forend as the muzzle loaders with an adaptor screw that replaced the ramrod studs.

These barrels were only made in .222, .223, .22-250,.300 Win. Mag, and .45/70.

Bore size skews the final weight, but the "full contour" adds about 1 1/4 pound to the barrel compared to a 24" standard contour barrel, enough to help tame recoil some without adding a brake if you prefer. Braked, of course, recoil is even better managed.

We have the adaptor screws in the event you have a custom barrel made to the muzzle loader profile.

The muzzle loader contour barrels work out great for the magnums and the larger bore sizes if you are not packing the gun for miles hunting. But add 1 1/4 pound to your current Encore with a standard contour barrel, then compare it to the bolt action guns you own. See how they compare, then decide if more weight in the gun works for you.

A word of caution:
You will find a round divet on the lower lip of most all TC barrel lugs where the factory has hardness tested the barrel lug to assure it is hard enough, strong enough, but not so hard as to be brittle and prone to breaking off.

There is a lot of strain and leverage against the lower lip of the barrel lug, that part under the locking bolts.
Too soft, it will easily bend.
Too hard, it is prone to snapping off.

Not all barrel makers have been as diligent about lug hardness in this area, so anything other than a TC barrel, I almost always check the hardness before you invest any more of your $$ in it, and I assume any responsibility for work done to the barrel.

OK.... here are some guidelines for setting up a .30 cal. magnum on an Encore:

#1 with any barrel, tighten the hinge with our Oversize Hinge Pin system:
Start with the 1X size Bellm Oversize Hinge Pin, Click Here!

Extend the chamber throat:
The .300 Win. Mag. factory chambers have a very short throat, usually oversize in diameter, rough, and like too many factory chamber throats, not very well aligned with the bore.

Excuse me, but trying to make a case neck steer the bullet through a short throat and into the riflings is rather stupid. Factories are either dumber than a box of rocks or simply bound to the SAAMI short throat design for insurance reasons.... at your expense.

Plus, the various solid bullets, longer for their weight, benefit from a longer throat.

I dial in the bore at the point where the throat will be cut, then with a minimum diameter throat reamer I extend the throat at least .150".

This does two things.
First it does drop the pressure some, making the .300 Win. Mag. easier on the frame and barrel lug, but....

most importantly, the properly aligned, minimum diameter section of throat improves accuracy.

Face off the breech end of the barrel:

Belted mags are the most problematic when it comes to headspace. The chamber depth, ammo, and frame tolerances can each be "in spec", but if tolerances "stack" in the wrong direction, you can end up with .015" or more headspace and associated case separations, misfires, and poor accuracy due to inconsistent primer ignition.

Wedge the barrel tighter into the frame with our full force possible
Bellm Heavy Duty Locking Bolt Spring, Click Here!

Maintain at least .001" headspace, but no more than about .003" headspace:
Headspace. How to Get It Right..... Click here!
If you have the concepts of headspace mastered, great. If not, this page is especially critical to shooting the belted mags.

Use one of our stronger hammer springs:
I recommend our 51 pound hammer spring.

Encore and G2 stronger hammer springs. Click here.

Brake the barrel:
If anything needs a brake, .30 magnums sure do.
Either my machined in muzzle brake, or
have me thread the barrel so you can add a brake (or "can") of your choice yourself.

I thread barrels, but do not add brakes onto barrels.

See the Muzzle Brakes page.... Click here.

In regard to barrel length:

The .30 cal. magnums generally need at least 24" of effective barrel length for velocity, but as barrel length increases, there is also the tendency for accuracy to go down in the factory weight barrels.

It does no good to gain maybe 50 to 100 fps if you don't have the accuracy to place the shot out there at long range, and the 28" barrels often lack that kind of accuracy.

I recommend 24 to 25" of effective barrel length. Allowing for 1" of barrel for my machined in brake gives a better handling 25 to 26" barrel.

"Your mileage may vary" applies.
If you need the barrel shorter, I'll drop the saw blade wherever you say...... all the way down to 15". .300 Win. Mag. makes an awesome handgun, about 200 fps faster than .308 Win., and with my muzzle brake has less recoil and muzzle flip than a .308 Win.

If you are a serious long range shooter, go with a longer, heavy custom barrel. 1" straight is good, but there may be some merit in putting a slight taper on the barrel to add some rigidity to it..... as opposed to a straight cylinder geometric figure.

You can certainly go heavier with a custom barrel stepped UP in front of the lug.... up, meaning as much as nearly 1 3/8", depending on the diameter of the raw barrel blank being used. I've seen 1 1/4" unturned blanks stepped down to 1" inside the frame.

Use more than 4 scope base screws....
...regardless of scope mount style. Keep that scope securely mounted! High recoil and effects of the brake give scope base screws a hard workout.

1) Too often there is not enough thread engagement due to either the holes not being tapped far enough or screws too short for the scope base screw countersinks.

2) Avoid "diving board" scope base rails that hang unsupported over the tapered part of the barrel like the Weaver types do unless the front tip is anchored. The front tip of these types of rails must be anchored so they do not spring up and down with each shot and string shots vertically.

Make extraction positive!
Belted mags are most prone to the extractor not catching the case rim to extract it from the chamber, so choose my TBOSS cut across the breech to expose the case rim.

Chambering a belted mag case, the top rear edge of the extractor must be angled a little so the belt of the case can cam the extractor down. Otherwise, the sharp front edge of the belt simply catches on the top edge of the extractor if it is not beveled some.

The beveled edge of the extractor leaves little of its engagement surface to catch a case rim, and as pointed out on my TBOSS page, a hasty/forceful chambering of a round can also leave the case rim skipping over the extractor entirely and falling down below the end of the barrel where you cannot readily remove it.
Exposing the case rim means you can always use another cartridge case rim to pry a case out of the chamber.
Click Here for the TBOSS page.

If your extractor is too short to consistently catch a case rim and extract it, you can also file the bottom side of the barrel inside the extractor slot.

Remove the extractor.
File the apex of the barrel where it projects into the length of the extractor groove in the barrel lug.

This allows the extractor to move up farther and engage deeper into the extraction groove in the case.

We are the ones fully supporting trigger work for the last 18 years. Not many shooters do their best shooting with a 5 pound trigger. Need I say more???

Lastly, bed the forend:

Reports over the years suggest the synthetic forends usually let a barrel shoot well, but sometimes bedding is still needed to bring a barrel in.

Wood forends should be pillar bedded, or, if you prefer, use a bedding bar. Full contact epoxy bedding a forend dedicated to a given barrel is said to be the best.

Of the 3 methods, I lean toward pillar bedding.

To test if bedding is an issue, put a thin washer or "O" ring around one or both forend screws. Improved accuracy points to bedding, though some folks just rely on the washers.

Forend Pillar Bedding ... Click here!

Quick checklist recommendations for general use .30 cal. magnum hunting barrel specs, modified TC factory barrel or custom:
1) Heavy/"pro hunter" contour .8" diameter muzzle or heavier if custom.
2) Muzzle brake.
3) 25-26" maximum overall length.
4) Extend the throat past SAAMI specs, .150" longer recommended.
5) Face off the end of the barrel at least .015" off the breech face.
6) Stronger, Heavy Duty locking bolt spring.
7) Scope base or mount that does not spring up and down over the tapered part of the barrel.

24" standard contour barrels are definitely a step up as a .30 cal. magnum but will of course give up some velocity, and the lighter weight will mean a tad more recoil.

.300 H&H and .300 Winchester Mag., nonetheless are great fixes for factory chambered .308 Win. and .30/06 barrels that shoot less accurately than expected.

My TBOSS cut assures always being able to extract a case.

Summary of prices for reference, but go to my Barrel Work page for details about sending work in. Don't just throw a barrel in a box and send it. Know what you are doing.
Rchambering $100
Extend throat and face .015" off breech end of barrel $50
Machine in muzzle brake $185, add $10 if shortening the barrel.
Single cut TBOSS to expose case rim $50
EGW picatinny rail installed 6-screw $79
Admin & Shipping $55 per shipment, any number of barrels.

In summary.....
Assuming your hunting style actually warrants going to a .30 cal. magnum, and you can actually shoot it well, set it up right so you have the accuracy to actually place the shot at the ranges you buy a Magnum for in the first place.

Do your homework. Get out and shoot at the actual distances you intend to make kills. You will either find out you need to improve, or you will reinforce your confidence in your ability to place shots well at long range.

If any gun needs a muzzle brake, .300 Win. Mag. is certainly one that does if you are to do your best shooting. A good brake on the .30 cal. magnums let's you realize the full potential of the gun's accuracy.

The word "Magnum" in itself does not confer magical powers that guarantee kills many football fields away. Do a little re-evaluating of your own shooting skills and hunting conditions.
If a .30 cal. magnum is what you need, let's do it right.

To do less is irresponsible.

A final word of caution:
(This is the reason .300 Weatherby is not doable..... it is loaded hotter than .300 Winchester Mag.)

Mike Bellm

Click here for details about sending work in.


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