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  #1  
Old 09-26-2006, 08:48 PM
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Modern 38-55 loads


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I'd like some advise on loading a Winchester Commemerative in a 38/55. I ran across an unfired Legendary Frontiersman at a decent price and being the reloader that I am will not beable to leave it locked up in my gun safe if I make the purchase. What are the opinions from the "gallery" on this particular rifle; what can I safely load it to; and are they reasonably accurate? I've owned a couple of 38-55's in the past; one 1893 Marlin (should have kept) and a 1894 (1907 year model) Winchester. I had a small "stache" of Winchester jacketed bullets and casted some 264gr bullets , keeping the pressure below 24,000CUP (according to the manuals). The highest velocity I achieved was around 1700fps and my best accuracy was around 1500 or so. As I remember, one slugged at .378 and one at .379. I do remember that jacketed bullets were pretty expensive, at the time, and hard to "come by". From what I've read, the Commemorative's bore size is .379. I would expect that the newer guns like the Winchesters and Marlins can be loaded to higher pressures and velocities, but none of my reloading manuals specifies "modern" action loads.
Any "learned" thoughts will be appreciated. Riley
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  #2  
Old 09-27-2006, 03:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riley
I'd like some advise on loading a Winchester Commemerative in a 38/55. I ran across an unfired Legendary Frontiersman at a decent price and being the reloader that I am will not beable to leave it locked up in my gun safe if I make the purchase. What are the opinions from the "gallery" on this particular rifle; what can I safely load it to; and are they reasonably accurate? I've owned a couple of 38-55's in the past; one 1893 Marlin (should have kept) and a 1894 (1907 year model) Winchester. I had a small "stache" of Winchester jacketed bullets and casted some 264gr bullets , keeping the pressure below 24,000CUP (according to the manuals). The highest velocity I achieved was around 1700fps and my best accuracy was around 1500 or so. As I remember, one slugged at .378 and one at .379. I do remember that jacketed bullets were pretty expensive, at the time, and hard to "come by". From what I've read, the Commemorative's bore size is .379. I would expect that the newer guns like the Winchesters and Marlins can be loaded to higher pressures and velocities, but none of my reloading manuals specifies "modern" action loads.
Any "learned" thoughts will be appreciated. Riley

Don't think anything has changed...your past expereince is about the same as mine. Are few more jacketed bullets avaialable (through the custom shops), but the round still seems to do it's best with 1500-1800fps loadings.

Yep..still making them with .377"-.379" bores (most someplace closer to the top end than the bottom).

So far, no two-level loading data commonly out...although 'Pet Loads' did divide the rifles into pressure-groups.
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  #3  
Old 09-27-2006, 10:26 AM
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Winchesters action is stronger than a marlins and I have loaded my 336CB marlin in 38-55 with 29.5 gns of RX7 over a jacketed 250 gn from Stone Fence, and the same over the Barnes originals 255gn. It comes into it's own with a proper cast bullet and is a very good round for deer and small bear. In a modern action compare the .375 win next to it and remember the bore is actually bigger in the 38-55 thusly less pressure if everything else is equal. http://www.buffaloarms.com/ Here is a source for proper length brass not the .375win length brass stamped 38-55 this is stretched brass and at 1.25 a round expensive but 100 rds would last a long time. Getting the extra length and extra powder capacity, you could make use of it in good stout loads.
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  #4  
Old 09-27-2006, 01:22 PM
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I could email you my loads that I use in my 336CB if you'd like.

PM me, I'll send them to you, you could use them as a start.

I had emailed Hodgdon about all data that they had, This is what they sent me:

Hodgdon Powder Company
Cartridge Load Recipe Report - 9/19/200338-55 WinchesterLoad Type: Rifle Comments: This is everything I have on the 38-55. MikeCartridge InformationCase: WinchesterBarrel Length: 24"Twist: 1:18"Trim Length: 2.075"Primer: CCI 200 38-55 Winchester
Cartridge Load Data
Starting Loads
<HR width="100%">Maximum Loads
<HR width="100%">Bullet Weight (Gr.)PowderBullet Diam.C.O.L.Grs.Vel. (ft/s)PressureGrs.Vel. (ft/s)Pressure250 GR. LYMAN CAST H322 .376" 2.500" 24.0 1534 22,500 CUP 27.0 1692 27,600 CUP 250 GR. LYMAN CAST H4198 .376" 2.500" 20.0 1432 20,400 CUP 24.0 1740 26,200 CUP 255 GR. BAR JFP H322 .375" 2.620" 27.0 1603 25,500 CUP 33.0 1830 28,200 CUP 255 GR. BAR JFP H4198 .375" 2.620" 24.0 1554 21,400 CUP 28.0 1788 26,700 CUP
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  #5  
Old 09-27-2006, 05:30 PM
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Thanks for all the good input. I was hoping the caliber's use with the "cowboy" shooters would bring out some new, improved "material"; however, most of their loads are pretty low velicity numbers. I'll have to do some "experimenting" within the confines of the Winchester's action strength and new "starline" brass, realizing that it started out as a black powder cartridge. I'll report back later if I make any measurable progress with "modern" loads. Riley
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  #6  
Old 10-04-2006, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riley
Thanks for all the good input. I was hoping the caliber's use with the "cowboy" shooters would bring out some new, improved "material"; however, most of their loads are pretty low velicity numbers. I'll have to do some "experimenting" within the confines of the Winchester's action strength and new "starline" brass, realizing that it started out as a black powder cartridge. I'll report back later if I make any measurable progress with "modern" loads. Riley
the reloading guru at the "gunstop", told me its not a speedster. he sold me some some barnes originals in .377" (250 gr.)and some imr3031.
loads from BARNES MANUAL
IMR 3031-28.0 gr.= 1420 start
-32.0 gr.=1623 max.
they show a bullet drop graph-
100 yds.=3.32"+
200 yds.=-7.88"
250 yds.=-21.00"
W/ A 150 YD. ZERO
this is w/ a 1625 fps. start
this round was not originally a fast round and should never be made into a fast round. if you want more speed try a light weight cast bullet. 200 gr. or so, something other than the original bullet wt. of 250 gr. (USE A CHRONOGRAPH AND CHECK FOR EXCESSIVE PRESSURES OFTEN). these loads already took 2 deer at 150-170 yds. +/-, and went right through each deer.

Last edited by gw66; 10-04-2006 at 05:23 PM.
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  #7  
Old 10-04-2006, 07:03 PM
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I have a Marlin 336CB 38/55 and like Swany shoot the Stone Fence 250 gr .378 dia JFP and it is a real tack driver. I'm shooting 37.5 gr of H335 for a MV of 2012 FPS and outstanding accuracy. It does a number on deer. I have taken deer out to about 170 yards with it.
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  #8  
Old 10-05-2006, 08:44 AM
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Thanks for the load data and advice. I have a set of Lee dies, but no brass. I contacted four distributors, but all were back-ordered for 38-55 cases. I, then, contacted Olin and the rep told me they would be making their (annual) run in November and to expect the distributors to have the new brass thereafter. I purchased a Lee "Crimp" die, 500 "Hunter" 260gr cast bullets (.381 diameter), and proceeded to fire- form some on-hand new 30-30 Remington cases using Bullseye and "paper" wads (described on the "post"). I had, by-the-way, slugged the bore of the Winchester 94 at .379. The Hunter 260gr bullets weighed about 262gr without Gas Checks and about 268gr with. I salvaged about 35 cases from the original 38 fire-formed cases and loaded 8 different test loads (some of which you all suggested and confirmed by the load books). I installed "gas checks" on all bullets using data expected to be 1500fps or over. I have a Williams FP (peep sight) I'll mount on the gun to check how the loads shoot and "run the loads" through the "screens" to see if they meet their "claims". I'm not looking for a "super mag" 38-55, but an improved cartridge provided by modern powders, bullets, and rifle Much like the 45/70 has been improved by modern components and the Marlin 1895. I believe the 38/55 can be improved like-wise to duplicate, or come close, to the Winchester .375 with less pressure and "fuss". Riley

Last edited by riley; 10-05-2006 at 08:48 AM.
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  #9  
Old 10-05-2006, 08:57 AM
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The last 38/55 brass that I got was locally at Scheels sporting goods. they had a bunch of it at the Omaha store, I believe the Lincoln store also had it. If you have a scheels or Cabela's nearby you might check them.
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  #10  
Old 10-05-2006, 11:35 AM
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I have some brass, and could part with say about 20.

That would get U going.

pm me
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  #11  
Old 10-06-2006, 11:46 AM
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38/55 Modern Loads

I loaded and tested my 38/55 loads yesterday with the following results:
(Listed by powder weight/powder/bullet weight/avg. velocity)
All loads employed "fire formed" (new) Remington 30-30 brass and were primed with CCI 200 Large (standard) primers.
1.) 18.0/2400/262gr PB cast/1630fps
2.) 18.5/IMR4759/262gr PB cast/1600fps
3.) 35.0/H4895/268gr GC cast/1810fps
4.) 34.0/IMR4895/268gr GC cast/1750fps
5.) 28.0/RL7/268gr GC cast/1722fps
6.) 30.0/RL7/268gr GC cast/1835fps
7.) 28.0/H4198/268gr GC cast/1945fps
8.) 29.5/IMR4198/268gr GC cast/1950fps
These loads were safe in my rifle only-----normal cautions apply! Most loads went into two inches or less with iron sights at 60 yards; loads 7 & 8 were the most accurate "nudging" 1 1/4" (4 shot groups). Recoil was noticable when velocity was over 1800fps; however, my rifle has a "curved" steel butt plate, which makes the 30th plus round "felt" when shooting at a bench. I'll mount a "receiver" sight on it next and refind my loads before the next session. Riley
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  #12  
Old 10-11-2006, 08:15 PM
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My .381 diameter bullets are just a bit oversized (too snug in the chamber). Does anyone out there have a .379 (bullet) sizing die they would part with for a reasonable price? Riley
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  #13  
Old 10-11-2006, 08:33 PM
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Riley,

We here at Beartooth Bullets have projectiles for your .38-55 sized in diameters from .376"-.380" as per your needs and requests. Oh, and by-the-way, our gas checked bullets come ready to shoot, with the gas checks crimped on the bullets!

Here's the link:

Beartooth Bullets .38-55 Bullet Selection

Thanks for looking!

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  #14  
Old 10-12-2006, 05:06 PM
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Thanks Marshall, I'll have to try some of them. Riley
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  #15  
Old 11-04-2006, 01:47 PM
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I'd like to add a note, for you 38-55 fans.

When I lived in Juneau, Alaska in the early '60s, back before the oil boom, things were a lot more casual. Fishing, trapping and hunting were main-line operations.

Anyhow I met, played cards and drank beer with many of the descendents of the 1898 gold rush guys.

Interestingly, the 38-55 seems to have been a favorite in the gold rush days. It was said to have ALMOST the power of the 45-70. How close "almost" was is a bit of a mystery. One thing for sure though. The Winchester 38-55 was the most powerful and DEPENDABLE ultra LIGHT weapon commonly available. In those days, everything was back-packed. Dogs were used, when available, sled dogs in the winter, pack dogs in the summer. Horses seemed to have a rough time, especally in the winter, but also with muskeg swamps and near 90 degree mountians. With all that weight on your back, a Winchester carbine in 38-55 must have seemed a godsend.

I would hate to take on a record Alaskan Brownie with a 38-55, but I know it was done and done successfully.

Just a footnote..................
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  #16  
Old 11-04-2006, 06:26 PM
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Interesting story there Cannonball. My wife and I were in Alaska last May and got to see the "Klondike Trail"; they were some mighty "hearty" folks that made that "trek".
I casted some 264gr bullets with a #2 lead mixture, lubed them with liquid Alox, and installed gas checks. They miked .3775 (avg without sizing them) and weighed 271gr (avg). Interestly, they shot about as well as the "oversized" cast (which, BTW I stopped using). I got my .379 sizing die and have spent an evening resizing all the .381 diameter bullets. I'll be loading up and have a go at some more groups. My best loads have been: 1) 27.5gr of H4198 with a 271 home cast (.3775) at about 1810fps and 2) 29.5gr of IMR4198 with the same bullet at 1905fps. Both will group 3 shots in 1 1/4" center-to-center at 60yards using a newly installed receiver sight. Recoil is noticeable, but not unpleasant and there are no indications of anything but "moderate" pressure (ie, no sticky extractions, primer marks, etc., etc.). I think I have far exceeded (safely, I might add) the original "Hi Velocity" load that even looks good on paper if you consider the slugs to have a B.C. of .290 or better. I sure like the "cookie cutter" type holes the big bullets leave on the target. I will try some AA2015 powder, in addition to the new .379 bullets, to see if accuracy can be improved upon. Riley
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