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Checked in to this Forum hoping to find experienced '86 40-65 hand loaders. Have dies and brass. Need advice on correct lead bullet diameter and smokeless powder loads. Info gleaned from other sites and sources shows a a wide variety of bullet diameters, which is scary for an old jacketed bullet reloader. Rifle was a gift that included a couple boxes of Remington factory ammo with 260 gr jacketed bullets that mike .405. Also, several black powder rounds with 260 gr. lead bullets that mike .401. Very little effort required to push the lead bullet through barrel with cleaning rod. Bore appears to be in good condition with
quite shallow rifling. Would like to develope a whitetail load. Help.

Rusty Geezer
 

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Winchester .40-65s can have a bore diameter as large as .408. You should slug the bore to determine the exact diameter before proceeding further. If the rifling appears to be thin you could have a leaded bore. I no longer own a .40-65, but my gun has lead issues and once it was thoroughly cleaned the rifling was deeper than it first appeared.
 

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I have two original '86s in .40-65, and these (as well as 3 others I've owned) all slugged @.406" and would handle lead bullets sized .408" quite well. The heaviest bullets they will stabilize is 300grs. 260gr .406" Barnes Originals shoot well if you need jacketed bullets. Bullets .410" will not chamber & shouldn't be used, anyway. I've had luck resizing 240gr .41Mag bullets down to .408" in a Lee sizer, too....

I like Accurate's reloading data for factory-equivalent loads. The best source (and an excellent read) for the most you can wring out of your rifle is "The Winchester Lever Legacy" by Clyde "Snookie" Williamson.
 

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I would recommend the 245 gr .406 FP from Hawk. they can be safely driven a high velocity and offer excellent expansion at all velocities over 1600. I have not loaded any ammo to velocities less than that, so have no experience in that respect.

31 grs H 4227 gives great velocity and is not dangerous to use in the older 1886s. Some of Snooky's loads are dangerously "steamy", but that's the way he liked 'em. I have tried his 50/3031/250 load, but backed off to 48 grs . MV remained over 2000 FPS, but the cases were easier to eject.
 
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