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Old 01-16-2003, 02:01 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2
Hand loads for 38-55.

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Hi Everyone. This is JBTTandC. I am new to this forum stuff. I just bought a Marlin 336 CB 38-55. I am looking for any information on light and/or heavy loads for this rifle. My 46th Edition Lyman book suggests 6 gr of red dot with a 250 gr cast bullet for a light load. Do you need any filler for this light of a load? Any heavy load information is appreciated. I have some but don't know where to start. Thanks, JBTTandC
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Old 01-16-2003, 04:36 PM
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Jefferson Parish (via N.O.)
Posts: 9,035
I've used Red Dot (but usually in 7.5gr. doses...started with 6gr. and worked up) without a filler in the 38-55 with no problems. Red Dot is a good choice as it is "fluffy" (has a greater volume for a given weight) and bulks up well.

Some general 38-55 advice (and if you've heard it, pass this by): The bore is usually .377"-.379" (and on old rifles can be as large as .381")...results are usually better with a bullet that matches the bore size.

How hot you load that modern rifle depends on what you want to shoot...but it can stand more than antique rifles and standard factory pressure. I've used loads that push a 255gr. bullet (cast) to 1800fps with no undue wear and tear on the brass or the rifle, but find that paper targets don't seem to care how fast the bullet is going, just where it is aimed.

Pressed for a top load, I go with 3031, jacketed bullets (find them in a diameter that matches the bore), and work from 28gr. Normally, I'd say "work up" but let the rifle tell you what to do...if a little less than 28 gr. gives good accuracy, then go with it...but if you get to 33gr. and still haven't found a load you like, stop adding powder.
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Old 01-16-2003, 05:30 PM
Beartooth Regular
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: NorCal
Posts: 512
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Both my 1886 38-56(1890)and 1894 38-55(1924)have bore diameters of .379. I use the same 250 grn LRNs in both, with IMR3031 a favorite. 30 grs for the 38-55 and 36 in the 38-56 does the trick. Has anyone tried 4895,4198 or Varget for the 38-55? I loaded a few 38-56s with 32/4198 but haven't had a chance to try 'em out, yet.
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Old 01-16-2003, 05:58 PM
Beartooth Regular
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Posts: 471
I got a good deal on a Win 94 Chief Crazy Horse Commemorative last year and tried my hand at working up an accurate load. I learned in the process that most of these rifles are a beast unto themselves. Some of them shoot good and others don't. The newer Marlins should be more consistent I would think. With the CCH my first several handloads wouldn't group better than about 12" at 50 yards. My barrel slugged at about .380 so I bought bullets sized as close to that as possible, although .380 was about as big as I could find. If you cast your own you may be in better shape. I finally hit on a load with the Baldy Mtn 300 gr WLN over about 15-16gr of AA 5744. These would group around 3-4" at 50 yd. Besides this the chamber was too tight for the bore diameter and with bullets sized that big loads in 38-55 cases wouldn't chamber. I resorted to using fireformed 30-30 cases which worked just fine...just another annoyance. In all I tried 4 different bullets and 3 different powders, in various combinations.

Sold the CCH a few months ago...good riddance. Hope your Marlin gives you more enjoyment, but I'm sure there are plenty of others on this board who can offer more encouragement than I. It IS a nostalgic cartridge and I hope to own another someday but will wait until my memory of the last one has faded somewhat.
Happy trails.
Bart M
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Old 01-21-2003, 09:03 AM
Beartooth Regular
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 39
I have a few loads that may just help a bit.I have had my 38-55 cb for about a year and a half now and found a few loads that are great out of my rifle and have accounted for 4 deer so far.
H4198 28.0 grains,REM 9 1/2 primer,Barnes .377 original
1760 fps
H322 33.0 grains,CCI200,Barnes.377 original,1788fps

AA2015BR 32.0,REM 91/2,Hornady 220gr Interlok,1880fps

Allthese loads will group less than 2 inches at 100 yards and under an inch at 50 yards and all are 1 shot kills on deer sized animals,I have only found 1 bullet so far and it was in the ham after a straight on chest shot.it was a barnes 255gr and after cleaning it off it weighted 228 grains and expanded to .680.I couldn't ask for better performance.
And as the smoke cleared,there he layed ,horns in the sun and he couldn't get no deader.
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