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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Long story short I have grampas Winchester 1892 32-20 octogan barrel born in 1902. I've loaded for bolt action rifles since the 70s but never a lever action, I've done a ton of research on load info but can't find anything on signs of high pressure in a lever action. I'm guessing hard extraction, maby flat primer?? Not looking for Max load but would like to get a 115 grain cast to 1250 FPS. My uncle's said grampa shot a pile of deer with it. I want to shoot just one with it..small deer at 30yds from a tree stand with snow on the ground or no shot taken. Any and all help appreciated. Thanksl
 

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Well, IMO most if not all of those old cartridges would have to be waaaay overloaded to start flattening primers as they were designed to run at much lower max pressure than more modern stuff. Sticky extraction might be an indicator, but that's not exact science either as modern brass is generally thicker and tougher than brass of yesteryear. On that point you may end up wanting to anneal your brass for better chamber seal with the old 32-20. This will prevent unburned powder from getting blown back into the action. Again, this is something many who shoot old hyphenated low pressure cartridges using modern brass choose to do for best performance


When loading for an old cartridge like that and using a nice old antique rifle like that, I would stick strictly to published load data and work it up from a lower starting charge as per usual procedure.

Using a chronograph can help give you one piece of the puzzle, but that isn't the end all be all. But if you have a round that's way too fast you know you're probably overcharged.

Pics of grandad's rifle? 馃榿
 

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I reload a 93gr PB & a 115gr gas check for my 32-20 Marlin 94 CL, circa, about 1980 something. I drive the 115gr about 1500fps using 2400 powder. The 93 gr about 1200 fps using Unique. A bullet like the 115gr would be my suggestion for deer. The heavier the better. I see this as a marginal cartridge for deer, requiring very accurate bullet placement.
 

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With the lever action you don't have the camming force of a bolt action to assist in chambering a 'tight fitting' round. So, if you are used to neck sizing (or partial F/L sizing) for your bolt guns, full length sizing should be the order of the day for Gramp's 92. Also, plan on at least a light crimp to keep the bullets in place in that tube magazine, even though the recoil is nil. If you are planning to use cast bullets exclusively, the Lyman manuals (including their cast bullet manual) are a good source for loading info, just follow their data and you should not concern yourself with excessive pressures. The 92 is a fine little rifle, treat it well and enjoy it, and when you are out using it, try to imagine yourself as gramps when he was using it!
Look forward to seeing photos when RIDE-RED posts them for you. It's actually easy to post them yourself when you follow the instructions.
BTW, I have a 'modern' Marlin 1894CL in 32-20, they are neat little guns and capable of taking deer in the fashion that you are planning, just don't stretch it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Under gunned for Shure. I bought the rifle off a family member before it ended up in a pawn shop. I paid an obscene amount for 50 starline brass on GB. RCBS dies, bullets from Midway. If my old pact chronograph don't work I will replace it. I'm going to make this happen. Jbelks pictures of blown up guns will make it a little more expensive than I planned. Hate to damage or wreck it. Gramps was a cool guy, long gone now, was a WW1 vet
 

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Good luck with your project.

"Pressure signs" in lever guns = pieces of the gun bouncing off of your forehead, or worse :eek: Nothing like bolt guns, and "signs" in bolt guns mean that you should have stopped a LONG time ago. Lever guns, doubt you'll get that luxury.

Stick to the published data, and you'll be fine. An 1892 is one of the stronger (strong-ish might be a better word) firearms you can find in .32-20; but don't push it, either way. I'd shoot a 90 pound whitetail that we have around here with one, no problem.
 

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Under gunned for Shure. I bought the rifle off a family member before it ended up in a pawn shop. I paid an obscene amount for 50 starline brass on GB. RCBS dies, bullets from Midway. If my old pact chronograph don't work I will replace it. I'm going to make this happen. Jbelks pictures of blown up guns will make it a little more expensive than I planned. Hate to damage or wreck it. Gramps was a cool guy, long gone now, was a WW1 vet
With the low pressure that cartridge runs at, those 50 pieces of brass should keep you in business for a good long time 馃檪


The ol girl looks to be in very good condition for being 120 years old too! Glad you were able to rescue it from going to a pawn shop and keep it in the family. 馃檪
 

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Beautiful rifle. Just remember that SAAMI specs for the 32-30 are Maxed at 16K psi. Dom's 1500 fps load with 2400 is busting that you can guarantee. I have an 1873 in that caliber that I have never fired. I'm pretty sure the barrel was cut down at some point before my Dad acquired it. It's pretty worn as the hammer won't cock when cycling. I also have a 73 in 44-40...I was never able to find a 38-40 at a price I could afford for a rifle just to have. I would look for loads in the 1000-1100 fps. range.

Good luck and all the best.

Air gun Gun barrel Trigger Shotgun Gun accessory
 

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4-5 grs. of Unique under that 115 gr. bullet should do all you need done with that rifle and cartridge. I've been shooting the 32-20 in revolvers and rifles since the early 80's and it's one of my favorite cartridges. I would try to use a bullet with at least some kind of meplat rather than the traditional round nose. My '92 fed the RCBS 98 gr, KTSWC ok. I doubt you'll need to anneal the brass. The case necks are so thin you can crush them with you fingers. Go easy loading it. Ham-handedness will only result in crushed necks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all the help, I had no clue about signs of pressure or any thing else for that matter for an old lever action. Any and all help, or criticism, is appreciated. I'm in uncharted waters and this gun is special to me. Going to learn how to post pics and update when I work a load up. Hopefully the end result the 3rd week in November in the North woods of Wisconsin...
 

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As most people know the 32-20 was loaded originally with black powder and intended for use in the 73 Winchester. Years later when they made the Savage bolt action model 23 and the Winchester model 92 available with the much stronger actions the ammunition companies started making a 'high velocity" version of that caliber. After many 73's were blown up or wrecked they took that ammo off the market and SAAMI lowered the pressure rating back down to the original black powder load. I have one of the Savage model 23's which is considered safe to shoot the high pressure loads. I don't give my ammo to anyone because I don't know what they would shoot it in. But I've never had any trouble with extraction or pressure signs. But a word of warning. Your brass will last much longer at the lower pressures. Brass is hard to come by now so I stopped loading the higher pressures anyway. For what it's intended for the lower velocity rounds work fine.
 

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Many years ago Handloader Magazine did an EXREMELY exstensive article on reloading for the 32-20 to include rifles and revolvers both including features on action strengths of the various firearms as commercially loaded ammo is loaded light as is universal for use in both rifles and handguns . The cartridge is capable of handling much higher loads capable of being loaded in 1 of the 2 bolt action rifles commercialy produced and I believe 3 lever guns built heavier than normal . load data was provided for groups of guns in catagories based on this with accuracy results posted as well . I had the Savage 23c bolt gun and was allowed to run loads over 10% hotter pushing jacketed Hornady hollowpoints to 1800 fps with no issues and still under posted max . I know you used to be able to get back issues of their magazines but this may be reaching a little bit to far but well worth researching .
 

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As most people know the 32-20 was loaded originally with black powder and intended for use in the 73 Winchester. Years later when they made the Savage bolt action model 23 and the Winchester model 92 available with the much stronger actions the ammunition companies started making a 'high velocity" version of that caliber. After many 73's were blown up or wrecked they took that ammo off the market and SAAMI lowered the pressure rating back down to the original black powder load. I have one of the Savage model 23's which is considered safe to shoot the high pressure loads. I don't give my ammo to anyone because I don't know what they would shoot it in. But I've never had any trouble with extraction or pressure signs. But a word of warning. Your brass will last much longer at the lower pressures. Brass is hard to come by now so I stopped loading the higher pressures anyway. For what it's intended for the lower velocity rounds work fine.
I was going to post a reply on this about this being a black powder rifle as 1892 was still in the black powder era even if made in 1901 its still a 1892 gun. I would seriously consider loading it with black powder and keep it in one piece.

Jim O
 

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Long story short I have grampas Winchester 1892 32-20 octogan barrel born in 1902. I've loaded for bolt action rifles since the 70s but never a lever action, I've done a ton of research on load info but can't find anything on signs of high pressure in a lever action. I'm guessing hard extraction, maby flat primer?? Not looking for Max load but would like to get a 115 grain cast to 1250 FPS. My uncle's said grampa shot a pile of deer with it. I want to shoot just one with it..small deer at 30yds from a tree stand with snow on the ground or no shot taken. Any and all help appreciated. Thanksl
I haven't read all of the replys, but your 92 is perfectly capable of firing the old HV-92 loads, which are published in many load manuals. I have an identical 1912 vintage 92 and this is all I've ever loaded for it. The weaker loads were meant to be fired in Colt and other revolvers and the HV-92 loads in Winchester and Marlin rifles. I con't have my load record book handy, but the only powder I've used in these loads is W-296. Mine's a tack driver with both jacketed hollow points (Hornady 100 gr XTP's and 115 gr LFN bullets, same powder charge for both.
 

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Long story short I have grampas Winchester 1892 32-20 octogan barrel born in 1902. I've loaded for bolt action rifles since the 70s but never a lever action, I've done a ton of research on load info but can't find anything on signs of high pressure in a lever action. I'm guessing hard extraction, maby flat primer?? Not looking for Max load but would like to get a 115 grain cast to 1250 FPS. My uncle's said grampa shot a pile of deer with it. I want to shoot just one with it..small deer at 30yds from a tree stand with snow on the ground or no shot taken. Any and all help appreciated. Thanksl
The Lyman 50th Edition Reloading Handbook has load data for the 32-20 for a 115 gr. cast bullet. I'd start with that. The velocity you want to achieve is achievable with something less than max load with several powders listed.
 
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