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  #1  
Old 01-22-2002, 05:35 PM
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I would like to get as many opinions of the 38-55 Winchester as possible. In your opinion is it still effective as a "thicket" or brush cartridge for whitetail, bear, or elk? Does any company have "hot" loads for the old boy? Any information that you provide is appreciated.

Thanks,
TIMBERWOLF
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  #2  
Old 01-22-2002, 05:40 PM
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Timberwolf,

Buffalo Bore is making hotter loads for the 38-55, and Paco Kelly over on Sixgunner has some top end loads that can handle Elk, and all the lower 48 has to offer.  I shoot a 375 Winchester, basically a modernized 38-55, and I think it is the perfect woods gun for my area.    

Hey, I think the Marlin Cowboy in 38-55 is better looking than a supermodel anyday!

My 2, Jim

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  #3  
Old 01-22-2002, 06:06 PM
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Thanks for the post Jimmy. Do you know what trype of ballistics Buffalo Bore and Paco are getting with the 38-55? Anything challenging the .444 or 45-70?

Thanks,
TIMBERWOLF
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  #4  
Old 01-24-2002, 04:08 PM
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T'wolf,

I think BBA is clocking their Heavy 38-55's at around 1900 - 1950 fps if I am not mistaken.  Seems that Paco had some slightly more aggressive loads, maybe a 270 gr load at around 1900 - 2000 fps, and clobbered an Elk with it.   I'll look around and see if I can find the articles, I printed them off and layed them around here somewhere....
I think loads are probably only safe in modern Marlin actions, not so sure about the Win 94.

Jim B
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  #5  
Old 02-03-2002, 09:42 PM
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Being somewhat recoil sensitive, I'm interested in the 38-55. There are a couple of Marlin 38-55BCs in town.
Does anybody make any of the big single shots, preferabley a hiwall, or lowall old timey rifles, in 38-55?
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  #6  
Old 02-04-2002, 03:02 PM
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Hope this doesn't double enter. page dissappeared after i sent last post.
As to 38\55 single shots, Browning used to sell their "traditional hunter" version of the 1885 hiwall. It is no longer listed in catalog. You might try looking in shotgun news or similar for used ones.
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  #7  
Old 02-04-2002, 03:54 PM
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Wesson & Harrington made a nice 38-55 target rifle, it looked very nice and was reasonably priced to boot.  You might be able to find a used one on Auction Arms, Gunbroker, etc.

Jimmy
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  #8  
Old 02-05-2002, 07:28 PM
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I'm a 375 Win fan (fanatic) and recently picked up an unfired Win 94 in 38-55. *So far I am not impressed with performance but this cartridge is apparently hard to load for due to chamber/bore dimensional variations. *By performance I'm referring to accuracy, for which this cartridge is noted. *I just haven't dialed it in yet. *As for velocity I believe that you can crowd the 375 Win with safe loads, but you'll never be able to outperform it where the pedal hits the metal. *I've read mixed reviews regarding the newer Marlin in this chambering. *Some say that it's great and others say it sux. *Of course all the gun writers were sent the good ones and so the reviews were all glowing. *As for recoil, this cartridge is a relative powder puff compared to the 375 and others. *If you're recoil sensitive and want to shoot a "big bore" this could be the one for you. *Personally I don't care what the experts say this cartridge should be capable of decking anything in the lower 48 states, but wouldn't be in a hurry to shoot a big bear. *At one time or another it has been used on everything though. *It's too bad this round hasn't seen the revival that the 45-70 has. *Jacketed bullet selection is non-existant unless you happen to find one that slugs around .376 or smaller. *The others will shoot them but accuracy probably won't be there. *Considering that neither the 375 nor 38-55 are made anymore, you might be better off picking up the 375 and loading it down. *At least you can buy jacketed bullets that fit. *Hardcast lead bullets are about the only option for the 38-55, and that's ok with me, but maybe not for others.

Oh, I forgot to mention, if you don't mind spending some money on a NICE one try: http://www.shiloh-ballard.com/ .

Happy trails.

Bart

(Edited by bartmasterson at 8:31 pm on Feb. 5, 2002)
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  #9  
Old 04-01-2002, 12:49 PM
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My brother has a original Winchester 38/56 lever action. Loads either custom cast 255 gr. cast bullets or Barns X with IMR 3031.  He was hunting deer with it a few years back and shot a nice 3x3 Mule deer at about 200 yards.
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  #10  
Old 04-07-2002, 07:02 PM
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Hey Gent's,
BIG FAN of the 375's here,,,
I own a 1893 Marlin in 38-55, A 1886 Win in 38-56,
A '94 Big Bore in 375win,,,and for a twist...A 1917 Enfield in 375-338 *aka 375 Taylor...........Now my first love is the 45,but the 375 in a close second.
All are cast bullet shooters,I own 2 375 molds a lyman and a rcbs,on drops at .377,,the other at .379 when both are filled with WW. My preferred powders for the lil' 375's is *Accurate's mp5744 and 2400. *The taylor get's a steady diet of imr 4064. My only problem is fitting time in for all of my favorites...so many guns-*- so little time <img src="images/smilies/wink.gif" border="0" alt="" title="Wink" class="inlineimg" />
* 45nut
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  #11  
Old 09-03-2003, 11:00 AM
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38-55 hi wall or low wall

Humpty, Uberti makes both of them at a fair price. Take carea and have fun. Swany
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  #12  
Old 10-26-2003, 06:00 PM
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Just wanted to say hello, and add to the above post that Davidson's contracted with USRAC (Winchester) to manufacture a run of 1885's in .38-55. (Mine is on it's way as I write this).

The retail price listed on thier web site is a bit scary, but depending on how much your local dealer marks up his products, you can pick one up for under a grand.

Also, for an additional $10.00 your retailer can ask Davidson's to hand select one with nicer wood.

Here's a URL to the specific site (hope it works).

http://www.galleryofguns.com/gunloca...C+unk2%2C+unk3
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  #13  
Old 10-27-2003, 04:12 PM
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Barnes, makes the 255gn originals, in .377dia, you can get Boer 220gn in .377, and a fella by the handle of Stone Fence at marlintalk, makes and excellent jacketed. For as anemia, winchester loads that. I have personally loaded my 336 marlin 38-55CB with 29gns of RX7 and the 255 barnes and that shoots a full foot above the WW factory load at 50yds with the zero, at 50 for WW. Thing is these I use for deer hunting and practice with mild loads of 245gn cast and 8gns unique, this load seems to hit at the same pt of aim as the WW factory loads. Take care and have fun. Swany
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  #14  
Old 10-27-2003, 08:59 PM
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Buffalo Bore offers a 255 grain jacketed flat nose 38-55 @ 1,950 fps and a 270-grain lead flat nose @ 1,900 fps. Based on their literature, both loads deliver 2,044 foot-lbs. of energy. Although I don't hunt (I'm not against hunting, it just never interested me like fishing and other pursuits), I do enjoy target shooting immensely. Having said that, I will relay some information regarding the 38-55 which will hopefully prove useful and not too boring. Some of the 38-55 loads I have chronographed are presented later in this post. If I were a hunter, I don't think I'd hesitate to use the 38-55 for deer, just based on the penetration I have observed from hard lead bullets through 6X6 and 8X8 blocks of dense treated wood, even at very modest velocities. A 38-55 can be loaded to .44 Magnum power levels and beyond, and the sectional density of a 245- to 265-grain 38-55 bullet is higher than the 240-grain factory load in .44 Magnum (which is a great brush cartridge for whitetail). The 38-55 has most definitely been used to take black bear and elk in its long history, but if I were after something that dangerous or that big, I don't know if I would opt for a 38-55. The choice on that is up to the individual hunter, I guess.

I shoot a Wesson & Harrington single shot 38-55 and it has been a real experience trying to get decent accuracy with cast bullets. After a whole lot of experimentation, I have come to the conclusion that I may never get decent groups from plain base, soft lead bullets in this rifle. My best groups to date have been with hard cast, gas check Leadheads, Bonus, and Cast Performance bullets. (I guess I ought to learn to cast my own bullets, but that's one thing I haven't attempted yet). Based on my admittedly limited experience with the 38-55, it is a mystery to me how people get good groups with anything other than hard cast gas check bullets - how the Schuetzen guys and black powder shooters do it, I just don't know. Apparently, I still have a lot to learn about the 38-55.

Recently, I have been consistently shooting 0.75-inch to 1-inch groups at 100 yards with 265-grain Leadheads gas checks (which have a hardness of 20-22 BHN) driven by 27.0, 28.0, and 29.0 grains of Reloader 7. These are 5 shot groups, measured center-to-center. I also shot a 3.6-inch group at 300 yards (4 of the 5 shots went 2.8 inches, center-to-center) in September with the 28.0 grain RX7 load. That was the first and only time I have tried the 38-55 at that range. It took every click of elevation in the scope to get the bullets on target at that range, but one shot was precisely in the center of the target (needless to say, I was elated). I would like to believe that the single "flier" in the group was the result of wind drift in the long flight downrange, but there was actually very little wind that day.

The strange thing about the Leadheads bullets is that they are .377" in diameter, and the rule of thumb for lead bullets is that they should have a diameter .001" to .002" greater than groove diameter. However, the groove diameter of my Wesson and Harrington is over 2 thousandths greater than bullet diameter (groove diameter is .3795" and bore diameter is .375"). Go figure! I have tried lead bullet diameters from .376 to .381 inches. The .376's tumbled and .377 plain base bullets exhibited tipping at 100 yards, but obviously the .377 gas checks from Leadheads are very stable and accurate. Any bullet - with the exception of a very heavy, long bullet at low velocity - measuring .378 to .381 is generally stable (but not necessarily accurate) out of my 18-twist barrel. The only problem is that I have to neck turn Winchester brass in order to chamber a round loaded with anything larger than a .379" diameter bullet due to the very tight chamber in my rifle. Therefore, I tend to hand load only .377 to .379 caliber lead bullets, because it's a lot of trouble to reduce the case neck thickness by outside neck turning.

With regard to accuracy, when I sent my rifle back to Harrington & Richardson for a trigger job, the factory shot two 3-shot groups at 100 yards using factory-loaded Winchester 255-grain soft point ammo. The two groups measured 0.4" and 0.6", center-to-center. Those jacketed factory loads are very mild at 1,320 fps (a typical black powder velocity), but obviously very accurate and adequate for deer. I believe I am correct in stating that .377 and .378 Barnes and Boer jacketed bullets are available for reloading in the 38-55 (you might want to do a search on the Marlin Talk forum for additional information), but I have not tried either in my rifle. I want to see what kind of accuracy I can wring out of cast lead bullets first.

I haven't chronied the Leadheads 265-gr. gas check bullets that gave 0.75- to 1.0-in. groups with Reloader 7, but here are group sizes, velocities, and foot pounds of energy for some of the loads I have tried over the past year:

I got 1.0 inch center-to-center at 100 yards with 28.0 grains of Reloader 7 pushing a 260-grain Bonus gas check bullet and 1.1 inches (c-to-c at 100 yards) with the same bullet driven by 28.0 grains of H322. These were 5-shot groups. The velocity (measured at 10 feet from the muzzle) of the RX7 load was 1,843 fps and that of the H322 load was 1,702 fps, which equates to 1,959 and 1,671 foot pounds of energy, respectively. Velocity and energy at the muzzle, of course, would be slightly higher.

The average velocity of 260-gr. Bonus and Cast Performance gas checks driven by 18.0 grains of 4198 was 1,351 fps. For some reason, I failed to measure the velocity of any heavier loads of 4198 in combination with gas checked bullets. However, the velocity of one load (which yielded a 5-shot group size of 1.3 inches at 100 yds.) would probably have been in the vicinity of 1,600 fps: this load consisted of a 255-gr. plain base lead bullet over 23.5 grains of 4198.

Cowboy loads consisting of a 245-gr. lead bullet over 7.0 to 8.5 grains of Red Dot gave velocities of 1,068 to 1,168 fps and groups ranging from 6.5 to 2.0 inches at 100 yards. At the time, I felt I could do much better by seating the bullet further out. I have since tried 10 grains of Red Dot with a 235-gr. plain base bullet, which resulted in a 5-shot group size of 1.6 inches at 100 yards. However, I'm still experimenting with seating depth and powder charge, and even thinking about using a filler or a wad to see if that will improve accuracy. The Red Dot is extremely clean burning, incidentally.

15.0 grains and 17.0 grains of 4759 with a 265-gr. bullet gave 1,363 and 1,466 fps, resectively (@ 10 feet).
18.5 grains of 4227 gave 1,327 fps with a 250-gr. bullet @ 10 feet.
22.5 grains of 5744 gave 1,569 fps with a 260-gr. bullet @ 10 feet.
29.5 grains of 3031 gave 1,617 fps with a 250-gr. bullet @ 10 feet.

Incidentally, the barrel on a 38-55 Wesson and Harrington is 28 inches, which of course means that velocities will be higher than the same load in a shorter-barreled lever action.

Last edited by jon44; 10-28-2003 at 06:56 AM.
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  #15  
Old 10-28-2003, 06:54 AM
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Tried fire-forming brass from .30-30 cases? That might give you the neck clearance to use 0.380" bullets.

Yes in my experience also, gas-checks let one get away with bullet diameters that would ordinarily be too small for best accuracy with cast bullets.

Thanks for the detailed report! I'm sure a lot of .38-55 shooters will appreciate it.
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  #16  
Old 10-28-2003, 07:03 AM
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MikeG:

Thanks for the tip on fireforming 38-55's from 30-30 cases. I have read about that, but never tried it. I've got plenty of Red Dot to do it with. I just hope I didn't get too "carried away" in my comments above: that turned out to be a very long post.
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  #17  
Old 10-28-2003, 07:06 AM
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No, that's a great post, you might consider doing a short write-up and submitting it as a "Tech Note" as there is a lot of good information there.
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  #18  
Old 10-29-2003, 07:47 AM
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The current USRAC/Winchester 1885 has a bore dia lands of .373 and groves .379.

I see Oregon Trail/Laser-Cast has a 240 gr bullet of .380 Dia.(no gas check).

Has anyone had any experience with these?
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  #19  
Old 10-29-2003, 06:49 PM
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I haven't tried the Lazer-Cast myself but Mt Baldy (Cast Performance) makes a 300gr WLN that can be had sized to .380. I tried that in my 38-55 (before selling it) and managed the best groups of all. This was over something like (don't quote me) 28 gr of AA5744. If you want a 37 cal bullet with a big meplat this one takes the prize, at least as far as I've seen. This bullet sized to .377 in the 375 Win would be a pretty good short range thumper.

I can't wait to hear about the 375 Beartooth myself!
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  #20  
Old 10-30-2003, 03:49 AM
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You might find some interesting reading here from a couple of years ago. I've been stalking the 38-55 for a couple of years -- that new 1885 seems like the ticket...

Best, - Charlie

Fireforming Archives:

http://www.beartoothbullets.com/tips...ve_tips.htm/17
http://shootersforum.com/showthread....ighlight=38-55

38-55/375win Juice & Brass:

http://shootersforum.com/showthread....near#post12497
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