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My Favorite Guns: The Weatherby 30-780 “Betty Lou”

Betty Lou is one of my all time favorite rifles. A powerhouse from Weatherby, she received her official handle by my father who compared her to “Betty Lou – the combination AK-57 uzi-radar-triple-barrelled-double-scoped-heat-seaking-shotgun” from the Bananas at Large song “The 30 Point Buck”. The gun is my Weatherby Accumark in the famed 30-378 Weatherby Magnum topped with a Leupold 6.5-20×40 Variable-X III riflescope. She is also referred to as the “AT&T Gun” for her ability to “reach out and touch someone”.

Roy Weatherby first developed the 30-378 Magnum in the 1960’s when he was commissioned by the United States Armed Forces to find how fast a bullet could be pushed from shoulder fired rifle. Roy stuck with the workhorse case he had developed early in his company’s development, the 378 Magnum. To maximize speed and stability, he necked it down to a 30 caliber and using specially made 30 grain bullets and a substantial powder load, was able to get bullet velocity at over 5,000 feet per second. Wildcatters would eventually use new powders to push them over 6,000 fps. While impressive in velocity, the Military decided not to further develop the cartridge based on expenses.

While this cartridge demonstrated the considerable speed and horsepower desired by many large game hunters, it was largely forgotten by the industry. Being thought of as the .378 Lite and without a military contract, it was assumed the cartridge would impede on limited resources and not be able to hold substantial marketability. The 30-378 would not be seen commercially until 1996 when Weatherby decided to commemorate the cartridge by adding it to the Mark V line. The 30-378 hit right at the peak of a new “magnum” cartridge craze in the shooting industry. Besides magnum firepower the 30-378 also exhibited considerable accuracy blending all the benefits and stability of the 30 caliber bullet with excessive velocities. All of a sudden, the “wildcat” had become an icon of the Weatherby line. Sales exploded and the 30-378 once thought of to be a short lived run, became a favorite of the Mark V line.

I have found Betty Lou to live up to all the hype. I am able to get incredible accuracy and velocities without getting beat up on the receiving end. I also have found it to be very effective on larger game. I have often written about my hunt in Montana as the first time I had taken Betty Lou into the field. I had worked up some pretty darned good loads with 180 Grain Nosler Partitions and proved her accuracy with 400 yard shot on an elk that my little brother still talks about. Ye though I walked through the Alley of the Grizzly I should fear no harm for the Weatherby was with me!

The 30-378 is a marvel of a weapon. Even the cartridge alone brings out all kinds of questions from fellow hunters. Even if I never take her hunting again (unlikely) Betty Lou has become a legend in our family and will always be one of my most cherished firearms.

Kelsey Hilderbrand is an avid shooter, hunter, collector, outdoor writer, and founder of High Mountain Hunting Supply