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Bellm-Virgin Valley Custom Guns 30 Bellm Encore Barrel

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Bellm-Virgin Valley Custom Guns 30 Bellm Encore Barrel for the Illinois Handgun Hunters, Plus a Review of CNC Cartridge's 30Bellm Loaded Ammo.


.30 Bellm Cartridge and Barrel Test


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Mike Bellm’s advertising of the .30 Bellm cartridge states that it has “200 Yard Capability, Incredible Accuracy, a Rimmed Cartridge for Easier Loading/Unloading on Cold January Mornings.” Following the testing of this cartridge and barrel, which consisted of ammo provided by Danny Campbell of CNC Cartridge, Macedonia, IL, and a Virgin Valley Custom Guns 13” tapered Encore barrel chambered by Mike Bellm that I purchased off of Ebay, I can whole heartedly affirm Mike Bellm’s claims regarding this innovative and unique little cartridge.

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First, a bit of history regarding this chambering and the inception of the .30 Bellm: Up until last year, Illinois handgun deer hunting regulations restrict one to a cartridge case not over 1.4" long, 30 cal. or larger, and producing at least 500 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle according to manufacturer's specifications, meaning any cartridge used for handgun hunting in Illinois must be available as a commercially loaded round. Since last year, one may use any straight walled cartridge of any length.


This leaves one with choices that severely limit the effective range at which one might be assured a successful shot, since most cartridges meeting these criteria are straight walled revolver cartridges not effective much over 100 yards from conventional handguns.


The .30 Bellm advertises a delivery of Solid 200 yard Ballistics in a package that meets the Illinois handgun hunting regulations, with accuracy and performance that one can rely on at distances double and triple what the straight walled revolver cartridges are capable of.


The .30 Bellm is made from strong .444 Marlin brass.  Instead of using the .444 Marlin case full length, the .30 Bellm is simply a .444 Marlin case necked down to .30 cal with a 40 degree shoulder at a maximum length of 1.400."


The .30 Bellm is on the approved list with the Illinois Fish & Game, and has been grandfathered in as one of only two allowable bottleneck rounds for Illinois handgun hunting, the other being the less potent 300-221 or 300 Whisper.


One can use the 375 Win or the 444 Marlin which are fast running out of steam at the 200 yard mark, yet the .30 Bellm easily goes this distance with a much flatter trajectory and a great deal less recoil.


In terms of performance, I have found the .30 Bellm to meet and exceed the stated performance claims! The .30 Bellm basically a short and squat .30 Herrett.  Velocities are quite similar, with an edge in performance going to the .30 Bellm.


30 Bellm 7
Here, left to right, are the 44mag, 30 Herrett, and .30 Bellm next to one another. Note how fat the .30 Bellm is. That short fat powder column is what I attribute to it's accuracy, along with the fact that all .30 bellm barrels are chambered by Mike Bellm Smiler

The 30 Herrett and .30 Bellm top view.


Two proven loads are now commercially available, both of which were extensively tested in my Virgin Valley Custom Guns blued 13” Bellm chambered tapered Encore barrel. I used this barrel on a Blue Encore frame, one which I did a trigger job on and also installed Bellm springs on, and in the process of this test I also used a walnut factory pistol grip and forend, the laminate pistol grip and forend in the pics, and a custom Virgin Valley free floated forend. Also, two different scopes were used, a Burris 3-12 pistol scope and a Tasco Custom Shop Pro-Class 6x 30mm tube 40mm AO target turret pistol scope. 


The CNC Factory loads are as follows: 


1 .30 Bellm 130 gr. Soft Point
@ 2250fps & 1459Ft/lb from a 14" barrel.


2 .30 Bellm 125 gr. Ballistic Tip
@ 2307fps & 1475Ft/lb from a 14" barrel.


These two loads and bullets perform admirably on deer sized game and provide excellent trajectory and plenty of energy for 200 yard shots. 


After testing in a variety of vamints and ferral canines, I believe that a performance advantage can be had using the 125Gr. Ballistic Tip load, an advantage in terms of consistant "bang-flop" rifle like terminal performance. Though the 130 Gr. Jacketed SP certainly performed well, it did not have the explosive expansion and "bang-flop" of the Ballistic Tip. I believe that the 130 Gr. Jacketed SP loading would be a better choice when going for game with heavier bone or when quartering shots are anticipated.


Ballistics of the .30 Bellm are the same or better than those delivered by the standard .30/30 Winchester, yet in a small package that meets the Illinois Handgun Hunting requirements.


Velocities of the factory CNC ammo in my 13” Shilen Virgin Valley Encore barrel were also quite consistent with factory published velocities listed above, with a best velocity obtained being 2356 fps with the 125 Gr. load on a 97 degree day this summer.


My own hand loads performed similarly, and I found that I could not best the performance or accuracy of the CNC ammo by any significant margin. Accuracy was consistently under an inch at 100 yards, with three quarter inch groups being common and consistant half inch three shot groups when rested, bagged, and using a Burris 3-12 Pistol scope. Scope in the pics is a Tasco Custom Shop Pro-Class 6x 30mm tube 40mm AO target turret model and achieved the three fourths in groups yet was easier to use in field conditions than the Burris 3-12x.


The cartridge has proven to be very consistant in velocity and accuracy both with factory loads as well as my own handloads, and I have come to look upon it as a short, squat, handgun benchrest type cartridge. Alliant Reloader 7 appears to be THE powder for this cartridge. My most accurate loads consisted of 27.5 Gr. of Reloader 7, Brass from Mike Bellm, and a CCI Large Rifle primer. This load data is FROM MY BARREL & FRAME and for informational purposes only! Do not use my data: ALWAYS work up loads from 10% below max. Contact Danny Campbell at CNC Machine for published load data for the .30 Bellm.


Danny Campbell, CNC Cartridge, Macedonia, IL.  Phone:  (618) 435-2855



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Commercial Ammunition, dies, barrels, handloading data and brass are all available from:


CNC Cartridge, Macedonia, IL.  Phone:  (618) 435-2855


Reloading dies by CH4D.

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.30 Bellm cartridge and CH4D dies.


During manufacture, Mike dials the bores in to less than .001" runout when factory chambers commonly have .015 to .020" runout, and lathe boring the barrel true before going in with reamers. Rim counterbores are bored separately and squarely to the bore. Throats are cut separately, to minimum diameter, not overly long, and aligned with the bore.  One may think all throats from all manufacturors are aligned with the bore such as Mike strives to do, but such an assumption is badly mistaken! 


Brass is neck reamed in a precision neck ream die Mike made. Necks and bodies are square, necks are almost as good as neck turned, and are reamed inline with the case body.


With the advent of the .30 Bellm, one does not even have to be a handloader to have the best handgun cartridge going in Contenders for the Illinois handgun deer season. 


This barrel was made by Mike Bellm, custom gunsmith & chambering specialist. Mike is a consummate craftsman and knowledgeable in all areas of firearms customization! Contact him through the link below: 

Mike Bellm

Contact us through our e-mail address at:
A specific and more thorough review of CNC Cartridge's 30Bellm Loaded Ammo.

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