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  #1  
Old 04-09-2011, 11:51 AM
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.256 Winchester Magnum - wildcat history?


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The moderator apparently didn't feel my last post appropriate to this topic, so I'll try again leaving off the handloading question and fish for the answer I needed from here. Thanks for moving it to the appropriate location. Judging from the responses, that was the place to be. There are some real knowledgable folks on here.

The .256 Winchester Magnum became a factory offering around 1960. Like many cartridges, I'm guessing there were some previous pre-saami versions out there.

Were there? What were they called? Was the ".256 winchester magnum" name used before they gave it the official industry blessing?

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by Strider; 04-09-2011 at 06:10 PM.
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  #2  
Old 04-09-2011, 01:44 PM
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The cartridge you are looking for is the 255 Dean by Harry O. Dean.
Harry Dean wrote about the new 256 Win. Mag. In the January 1966 issue of Shooting Times.
Harry liked the new cartridge and figured the ballistics of the 256 WM were equivalent to the 25-20 from a rifle.
Harry Dean felt the manufacturers were answering the call of shooters for specific cartridges.
Harry dubbed the 25-20 as “the farm friend.” E.C. Crossman dubbed the 25-20 and the 32-20 as the “Twenty Twins.”
Harry’s first 25-20 was a Savage Model 23 (as was mine) and he later picked up a Stevens Model 44.
When Lyle Killbourn began to popularize the .22 K-Hornet Harry began thinking he should try the same thing. Harry drew up a picture of a new case with an “improved” shape and a shorter neck and took it to gunsmith Otto Neubrand.
Harry originally named his wildcat “Dean .255 High Velocity.”
Harry’s first rifle for the new cartridge was the Savage Model 23 followed by a Savage Model 219. Both of these rifles were tested by Al Barr and written up for the Dope Bag column in the American Rifleman magazine
The .255 Dean was capable of pushing the 60-grain JHP bullets between 2,700 and 2,800 fps. Remember the 25-20HV load was pushing the same bullet 2,210 fps. The 86-grain bullets gave a velocity of 2,400 fps. The 25-20 high velocity load gave 1,700 fps with the 86-grain bullet.

Harry Dean had no idea the 256 Win Mag was being developed and was quite exited when it appeared in magazines in 1961.
Harry was very pleased with the Marlin rifle and its little cartridge.
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Last edited by William Iorg; 04-09-2011 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 04-09-2011, 06:06 PM
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So, I'm guessing he was working on that in the 50's?

That's very interesting.

Was it also based on the .357 case? Or was it an improved .25-20 case like the K-Hornet is an improved Hornet case?

Thanks again William
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strider View Post
So, I'm guessing he was working on that in the 50's?

That's very interesting.

Was it also based on the .357 case? Or was it an improved .25-20 case like the K-Hornet is an improved Hornet case?

Thanks again William
The .256 Winchester Magnum is based on the .357 Magnum necked down to .25 Caliber. It was a much better cartridge than the .25-20 and unfortunately was discontinued back in the 1980's. The first firearm chambered for it was Ruger's single shot handgun called the "Hawkeye". Also Marlin made a lever action chambered for it, but it had problems. There also was once a converted M1 Carbine marketed by Universal called the "Ferret". I think if they manufactured a good bolt action rifle for the .256 WM it would still be around. The .22 Jet is also based on a necked down .357 Magnum to .22 Caliber.
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:31 AM
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Harry Dean got the announcement of his .255 Dean in the October 1941 Dope Bag column of the American Rifleman. Dean sent his rifles to F.C. Ness and Al Barr in November of 1941 and they tested his loads and reported on the cartridge in the October 1942 issue of the Rifleman.

In the January 1943 issue of the American Rifleman, Al Barr mentioned Harry Dean’s work with the “band-driven” bullet. This bullet had a pencil point with a groove diameter band and then a bore diameter cylinder ending in a boat tail base with a cone cavity.
The band drive was revived a few years ago by Walt Melander with the D-D band in NEI cast bullet molds. Harry’s band was wider than the NEI D-D band but Harry didn’t have the advantage of a lap-top computer to help with his design work.

Harry Dean wrote an article for the March 1944 issue of the American Rifleman titled “Modern Cartridge design” in which he describes the efficiency of his .255 Dean wildcat.

Harry wrote about the rifle he sent to Al Barr in the May 1945 issue of the Rifleman.



I agree the Marlin rifle has problems - the chamber cut too long and too large a diameter at the base.
I believe you are right the 256 might well have made to the cut if it had been chambered in the small Model 77Ruger or something similar.

[EDIT] I forgot to mention the .255 Dean is the 25-20 fireformed.
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Last edited by William Iorg; 04-10-2011 at 07:35 AM.
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  #6  
Old 04-10-2011, 10:12 AM
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Tangental comment for Strider

Hi Strider,
This isn't what you asked for, but it may help you get a little better grasp on your problem. Converting 92's into .357's was not too popular, with G.S.'s, back in the fifties. Reason was that the 32-20's have thicker rims. So the Winchester breech bolts had to be reworked to move forwards the space of the thinner 357 rims. Plus what the replies have said about the mag tubes, ect.. But I have an orphaned set of RCBS 256Win. dies, and one night I got creative. I ran a few Rem. 22 Jet fired cases through the 256 dies. Remington claimed to have used a computer to design their Jet, but guess what? At .25 caliber, this case has the same volume as the solid head Win. 25-20 WCF cases. But more interestingly, it also has the same neck length, too. So all those crusty old Ideal cast bullet designs will seat right to this neck's base, without protruding into the belly of the case, and risk contaminating the powder charge, on a hot summer's day. But now, all the CAS 357 carbines start out with the newer rims. So, while it's not legal for CAS, it could be an alternative for the 45KCUP 256 Win. Mag. round in a re-built Rossi or Marlin 357 Carbine.
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Old 04-10-2011, 01:24 PM
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The .258 85gr RNFP definately hangs into the case a bit. I hadn't thought about the lube contaminating the powder. Is that a real threat with commercial cast bullets like, laser cast, meister, etc. Or is that more of a home cast black powder SPG issue?

The action on this one is 1912. I'm sure the work to get it to .256 was extensive. The barrel (no rear dovetail) and gold bead ramp front sight would look more at home on a custom bolt rifle from the 1950s. The tube must have been custom. I think .32-20 would have been too small and .38-40 too big. The action is so smooth and tight with a solid lockup, I would imagine there was a lot of work in there as well. Certainly the carrier would have been reworked or custom made. I don't have a factory "real" 92 to compare it to. The Rossis I have are a bit different.

I would have been happier if it looked like a factory original, but it is attractive and the work is quality. The fit, finish, sight work, etc look like I have come to expect when dating a 1945-1965 custom bolt rifle. Assuming, no one was calling a wildcat .257/.357 a "256 mag." before 1960, then I would feel confident saying it is an early 60s work.

Thanks for the education on comparable cartridges.

The .22 Jet would be an interesting lever rifle...
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:29 PM
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back where you started from

Hi, Strider,
Doing a 22 Jet would get you right back to where you started from. It has a really short neck, just like the 256, and not near the side wind bucking abilities. Putting in flat point bullets, for tubular magazines, is almost wildcatting, with the 256 Win Mag. The jacketed ones should work fine. But, on a hot summer day, inside a pickup cab, it gets hot enough to cause lube troubles with long cast bullets. I just don't think it's by chance that the S&W 22 Jet magnum, gives this precise neck length in 25 caliber. Their computer, must have used the 25-20 WCF as a waypoint, and thereby got the same neck length, and volume. But, they wanted a 22, so they went farther down in caliber, at the expense of their neck lengths. Just look at it this way. Down in the bottom of your 25 cal. home cast lube grooves, it probably is only .224 or so, in diameter. So what diameter would that leave you, down in the bottom of a .225's, lube grooves? The Win. 218 Bee, starts out with a smaller diameter case, and keeps a minimum neck length, and has factory dies available.
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  #9  
Old 04-16-2012, 01:51 PM
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I have a 220 Dean....it's a blown out .220 swift...I clocked it with an Oehler Cronograph (years ago) at 4513 fps...

I have lots of H O Dean info and data if you guys are interested
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  #10  
Old 04-17-2012, 06:38 AM
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256 Winchester Question

since it has now been discontinued from Factory loadings, do you think there is now room for a wildcat in 256 caliber based upon the 7.62X39 but in a shorter format? Lets try for 1.35 or so length, 440 or so shoulder width 25-30 degree shoulder, .25 inch neck for a super-super hot 256.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:21 AM
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If the very simple and efficient 256WM didn't make it, like the 25-35 before it, I'm not sure how a slightly faster 25 caliber round would do any better. If guys want a rimless 25 caliber that shoots pretty fast, they've got a whole range of cartridges to choose from. Off the top of my head there is the 250 Savage, 257 Roberts, 25 Souper, 25-'06, 25WSSM and 257 Weatherby. (The last one being a belted case, of course.)
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Old 04-18-2012, 02:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swampdoc View Post
since it has now been discontinued from Factory loadings, do you think there is now room for a wildcat in 256 caliber based upon the 7.62X39 but in a shorter format? Lets try for 1.35 or so length, 440 or so shoulder width 25-30 degree shoulder, .25 inch neck for a super-super hot 256.
I've read where someone took the .30 M1 Carbine and necked it down to .25 cal. The 7.62 X 39 m/m could be necked downed to .257" and could be a good wildcat round.
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:57 AM
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In my neck of the woods (Frogland) if we were to use such a nice cartridge, we would bring a few small improvements. The .25 caliber never was successful in Europe and even the US industry made few match bullets for it. I don't mean to insult the very numerous happy owners of .250 Savage or .257 Roberts rifles, but the future of the .25 seems to be in the .26! Why not wildcat the .256 WM up to the nearest caliber?
Remaining in the 85-130 grain range, it's possible to get the most of the .357 Mag case
95 grain V-Max moly could be pushed up to 750m/s (2460fps) in a 24" with roughly18 grains of Vihta's N120 and remain supersonic up to 800 yds with no more than 36 MoA of correction for that distance..

At the opposite end of that weight range, any 130 grain VLD could reach 630m/s (2070 fps) with about 15 grains of that same powder and remain supersonic up to 1,000 yds and have a trajectory that would be very close up to 750 yds.

The reamer could be an altered.256 Win Mag or a 6,5 TCU (ou 6,5-223 Imp) reamer and the dies could be the universal short 6.5mm neck sizer and seater by Hornady/Pacific.

Last edited by phalanx; 04-23-2012 at 02:39 AM.
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