Product Tests & Reviews
.30 Bellm Contender Bench & Field Pistol

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.30 Bellm Contender Bench & Field Pistol

Bench Bellm 1

As a follow up in the wake of the recent 13” Virgin Valley Custom Guns/Mike Bellm .30 Bellm Encore barrel test, Mike Bellm suggested that I do a comparison test using a longer barrel of his own make, this time for the Thompson Center Contender and set up as a stationary long range deer and varmint pistol.


Not long ago, Mike sent me a 19.75” .30 Bellm barrel of his own make. The barrel has a matte blued finish and a gradual taper rather than full bull profile, starting out at .810 at the rear and tapering down to .685 at the muzzle. There are 4 lands and grooves, and the twist rate is 1-10”. It came drilled and tapped with a 6-hole scope base screw pattern, and I mounted a 6 screw Virgin Valley Custom Guns [now known as Stratton Custom] scope base.

 Bench Bellm 4

The barrel was mounted on an old style non easy opening blued Contender frame, as I find that these frames have the best triggers out of the box and can be safely taken down lower in trigger pull weight than any other generation Contender frame. Also used were a Western Gunstock thumbhole anatomical target grip along with a custom wide target two-hole aluminum hanger bar forend, Harris 6r bipod, three Burris Signature Zee rings, and a Burris 3-12x32mm EER AO target scope.


Bench Bellm 3

    As load development had been accomplished during the testing of the 13” VVCG barrel, I simply backed off a little and worked back up, finding that this barrel also enjoyed the same load that gave best accuracy in the other barrel. Weather conditions on the day of chrono data were mostly sunny, 82 degrees, and a 5-10mph cross wind. Chronograph data for the 19.75" barrel is as follows:


    .30 Bellm 125Gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip 2465 FPS


    .30 Bellm 130Gr. Hornady SP 2410 FPS


    My three shot 100 yard groups averaged ¾” with several intermingled ½” groups. The difference between these groups and those recorded from the other barrel? The other pistol was bench rested on sand bags and adjustable rests: these were all obtained from rested field positions using the Harris bipod in front and my off hand as an elevation wedge in the rear.


    All in all, I found this configuration to be much more user friendly from several rested field positions. Prone while laying along a three board fence line, sitting with the pistol rested on a stump, laying sideways with my body concealed behind a bush, all with the bipod extended and my off hand as an elevation wedge.


     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


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


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



    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:
    - COMING SOON! -
    A specific and more thorough review of CNC Cartridge's 30Bellm Loaded Ammo.

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