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38-55 Hard Cast questions

4310 Views 6 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  JBledsoe
I’d like to ask a little advice and input – here goes:
My Father’s fine old Winchester M1894 is circa 1918, (I ran the serial number). It is in 38-55 and shoots the Winchester factory 255 grain loads, (the bullets of which I milked at .377), very well. Given that, it is logical to assume that .377 is the proper groove diameter, correct? (I haven’t yet tried slugging the bore & given the prior statements, I feel that in this case it may not be necessary, right?)
I just ordered some hard cast Hunter’s Supply 260 grain .376 diameter (Brinnel hardness 15) pre lubed bullets. I also ordered some Barnes Original .377 bullets in case the old rifle just flat doesn’t like the hard cast slugs.
My questions are: 1) Do you learned folks think these hard cast (advertised as rated to 1600 FPS without gas checks) will perform in the no-bore-leading category as long as I hold velocities at or below 1600 FPS? And 2) [grass roots logic here] since many white tails are taken with jacketed, expanding .223 and .25 caliber bullets that probably expand to around the unexpanded diameter of he 38-55 slugs, is it commonly deemed ethical to use hard cast slugs in the 38-55 to hunt deer, (given reasonable ranges and careful shot placement)? Your advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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Assuming those 255gr factory loads are jacketed bullets, you really can't make any judgements on what size cast bullets will shoot good in your gun. You can successfully shoot a much smaller jacketed bullet than you can a cast bullet, especially a hard cast bullet. For example my 38-55 has a groove diameter of around .3805 and it still shoots .375 jacketed bullets fine, but takes at least a .380 cast bullet to shoot well. You really need to slug your barrel to know what you need unless you just figure it out by trial and error. From what I have read, I would guess a M94 of that era would be close to .379 groove and the .376 Hunters may not work very well. I shoot .381 Hunters in my 38-55 and they shoot great. .381 is pretty large and may not chamber in all 38-55's but the .379's probably will. The Hunter bullet is a gas check design sold without a gas check. I put gas checks on them. I would keep them at 1600 and under without the gas check.

From my personal experience, a high velocity .24 or .25 expanding jacketed bullet will cause a lot more tissue damage than a hard cast .38-55, but the 38-55 will work and will really penetrate. One thing I really like about switching a gun to cast is once you get the size/velocity/alloy combination figured out you won't get any lead fouling and of course copper fouling is a thing of the past making gun cleaning very easy. Good Luck!
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