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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
Here you go, published data. The 115 grain bullet load would get it done on small whitetails, I personally won’t hesitate to shoot an antelope or white tail with my 32-20 if conditions were right. Lane Pierce of handloader also did a couple good articles on the 32-20 load data, I use some of his loads.
 

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Elk Creek, are those rifle loads? They're lighter than all my old books and the loads I've been shooting in 32-20's for 40 years. That looks like a Lyman book?
 
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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Thanks Elk Creek. I bought that book last weekend. I've got that 115 gr bullet, rx7 and 2400, new brass and my chronograph working. From my research 1250 FPS with the 115 cast lead will get the job done . Will update as time permits, work, walleyes, and a snow goose hunt keeping me way too busy.
 

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Elk Creek, are those rifle loads? They're lighter than all my old books and the loads I've been shooting in 32-20's for 40 years. That looks like a Lyman book?
Sharps, currently published load data compared to the stuff published 40-50 years ago is generally lower. I think better test equipment and pressure measuring ability has resulted in most test labs determining proper, max loads to be lower than what was published in the olden days. Case in point: I have shot 9.5 gr. of 2400 driving a 40 gr. bullet in my 22 Hornet for decades based on when I started handloading some 55 years ago. My Lyman 44th Edition manual listed 11.7 gr. of 2400 as max, but the Lyman 50th Edition only lists 8.0 gr. as max. This probably explains why the primer pockets in my 22 Hornet brass enlarged after just a few reloads. So, what Elk Creek reported from the newer data source is probably more realistic and safer data to use.
 

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Have your 92 checked by a competent gunsmith then use newer published data for your loads. Your rifle if in good condition will easily handle loads in the range of the old Hi Velocity load that was designed for it. It was discontinued to keep it from being used in the weaker '73 and handguns that it was not safe in.
 

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Piney Woods Moderator
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I own two Win. 1892's. One was my grandfather's and the other my great grand fathers. I stick to published load data. Lyman has data for both the handguns and rifles. My first deer was taken with my grandfathers but I would like to take another one with my great grandfathers.
 

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what a treasure you have there wont be a problem getting the 1250 fps you desire check this page out and then stick with level 1 loads. i have a ubirti low wall in 32-20 and just love it low recoil and it will shoot 1 inch groups
32-20 WCF (leverguns.com)
 

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The Winchester 92 is a brute strong action. If you find some very old (over 30 years) loading books, you'll find sections for old WCF cartridges intended for Winchester 92's. You can push pressures of those cartridges well into the magnum pressures, and back in the day it was done all the time. Those rifles were routinely re-barreled to .357 magnum, and .30 Carbine; which puts it in the 40,000psi range. At a minimum you can get .30 Carbine performance out of your .32-20, and people used to do it all the time back in the day. They don't do it these days because there aren't all that many .32-20 shooters out there anymore, and we have so many modern cartridges that can meet or exceed such performance quite easily. So loading manuals don't even cover the subject anymore.

Early in the smokeless era even factory ammunition in .32-20 was available in high pressure "rifle only" (and by that they meant Win 92) loads, and people used to deer hunt with these loads quite frequently. These loads produced over 1,800fps out of a 24" barrel 92. So 1,200-1,300 fps is a walk in the park for a .32-20

So what you're looking for is very doable. Find some old load data and work your loads up carefully. Back in the day the preferred powder was 2400, but I'm betting you'll get as good or better performance out of 296/H110. Forget the "pressure signs" and use a chronograph. If you're pushing a 115 gr bullet over 1,700fps, you know you're comfortably into magnum pressures (assuming you're using sensible powders).
 
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