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Hello, I mentioned in another post that I've been considering a 44 caliber levergun. Another rifle that I kind of keep an eye out for is the Marlin Cowboy 336. I understand the 38-55 has a groove diameter of .379 or so, but the only jacketed bullets I've seen have a diameter of .375. Do these shoot OK in this rifle? This seems like a very interesting caliber, but I would like to be able to shoot cast OR jacketed bullets. Does anyone have experience with this rifle? I'd like to hear some first-hand reports before I plunk down my money. I could always go with the 30-30, which I really enjoy, but the 38-55 would be a NEW toy!! Thanks! :biggrin:
 

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I have a 336CB and I love the gun,but only shoot cast bullets out of it.I tried the jacketed bullets and was not very impressed with the groups I was getting.
I was only getting a 4 to 6in group at 100 yards with Hornady 220gr flatnose bullets.
You dont need jacketed bullets in this rifle to hunt with just ask the guys here at Beartooth,my rifle with hardcast gaschecks will group at 1 1/2in at 100 yards,leaving the muzzle at over 1800fps with a 250-260gr bullet.
I think you will love it if you give it a chance,just my opinion though.
shoalbass
 

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ID,

Even though I personally don't have any experience with the cartridge, I'll second shoalbass' suggestion that good cast bullets and the .38-55 will go hand-in-hand. Everything I've learned about loading for it, much of it here and at the old Beartooth board, points to jacketed giving poor to so-so accuracy, whereas a larger diameter cast  slug gives superb groups as witnessed by shoalbass. If you want terminal performance on deer more like a jacketed softnose, you can anneal the forward portion of hard cast bullets. A 255-grain annealed at 1800 fps will do quite nicely on such game.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the info, gentlemen! I read Marshall's how-to on annealing the bullet noses and I have one concern. Does the bullet lube get hot enough to melt out of the lube grooves? I realize that the lube grooves of the bullet are in a big heat sink (water) but it seems they could could still get fairly hot. I don't cast my own bullets or have a lubrisizer so this concerns me. If I lose the lube I don't have a way at present to "put it back on"! I may try it on the 30 cal. bullets I have, but I am not sure if they have too much antimony in them to work well. Thanks again!!   :biggrin:
PS- Is the 38-55 enough gun for elk? One unit I hunt has a concurrent deer and elk season. Thanks!
 

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ID,

The question you pose is one I've never had to consider.
I believe Marshall will anneal bullets on a special order basis, so it may not be a problem for you either.

As to the question of using the .38-55 for elk, I think it is a bit on the light side for a big bull. I wouldn't use annealed bullets. You'll want all the penetration you can get for a big animal like wapiti, so the standard 21 BHN Beartooth will best serve you. Even then your terminal ballistics are somewhat less than a .44 Magnum carbine.
I'd limit my shots to 100 yards or less.
 

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Hi Bill,
       Sorry to take so long getting back. My mother-in-law just passed away and we were gone for the week (no computer at their Montana ranch.) It seems that the bullet hardness that would perform best on deer wouldn't be ideal for elk and vice-versa. Actually that's true for my .308 with jacketed bullets, too.
       I'm not a trophy hunter, and truthfully I only shoot when everything's about perfect anyway. I no longer feel compelled to shoot something everytime I go hunting, although that hasn't always been true. I think I'm just getting old (oops, I meant mature!). What I mean is, your point is well taken and if I were to use this cartridge on a wapiti I would be careful. In the areas I hunt the brush is so thick a shot is more likely to be at >50yds than over 100. The key to making a good shot up here is visibility. You have to make sure you are looking at the part of the animal you THINK you are.  Thanks for your input.   ID
 

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ID,

Under such conditions and with the commendable restraint you impose upon yourself, then a Marlin Cowboy .38-55 loaded with hard FN bullets should be just fine. I've had several instances hunting whitetails as you described. I wasn't certain at what part of the deer I was looking. In fact I couldn't even tell whether buck or doe! Oftentimes restraint is required. Best of luck to you and do keep us posted on how your .38-55 works out.
 

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Two years ago a friend went elk hunting with his oldest daugther. He carried a 7mm MAG and she a 6.5/55 Swede he had cut down for her. She killed her bull with one shot (NORMA factory), took dad seven shots. And we still tease him. Dad traded the 7mm MAGNIN for a Marlin 38/55. so far he hasn't had any luck but we expect good results with hard cast bullets. Hard to beat a 3/8 diameter hole through and through. Leaks twice as much.
 

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IDShooter,

Back to the .44mag comparison to the .38/55, ballistics seem to be roughly the same, but you get a wider hole and you get to use the smaller and arguably "prettier" 1894 Marlin.  Plus, you can use your loads in a pistol.

There is something neat about the.38/55 round,  though it might not be the most "logical" choice for all.

- Charlie
 

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Charlie Z,
    The .44 is certainly a good round to consider, too, but doesn't have the same romance as the 38-55 to me! It would be a more practical choice for sure. As for use in a handgun, I don't think I could hit the inside of a barn with one anyway! :biggrin:
     When it comes to rifles, I strongly prefer the slender fore end of the cowboy rifle. The thin grip area and baseball-bat sized fore end of the 1894 just feel weird to me. I guess we're all built different! So long,   ID

PS- the most comfortable rifle that I ever handled was a Marlin 336A that was made in the 70's. It has a fairly slender fore end and a pistol grip and perfect balance. I saw it on a Monday, got my money together and went in on Wednesday and it had already sold! I haven't seen one since!
 

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I'm in agreement with you on the stocks and .38/55 Ballard.  

You might want to check Precision Gunstocks (precisiongunstocks.com).  I couldn't get on their site today, but they specialize in slim, old style marlin stocks.  Just what you need to make them "right."

- Charlie
 

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Just my .02 worth I have an old Model 1894 Win in 38-55 that is in excellent condition even for one built in 1898.  I tried the Hornady .375 bullets and they keyholed bad.  I ordered the .378 FNGC from Beartooth and oh boy was I suprised.  Marshall gave me some loads to try with the .378 bullets and that's all she wrote.  I added a tang sight and to say the least i can not wait till hunting season.  I get 1.5 to 2 in groups at 100 yds when the operator is at his best with that heavy trigger.
 

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Strick, sounds like you have a great rifle there! I have a Model 94 in thirty-thirty, and it shoots very similar to yours. I don't know why people think these rifles won't shoot. I believe one key thing is the position of the rifle on the rest, it makes a big difference with mine. The front bag needs to be right back under the receiver.
     One day at the range, I had been sighting this rifle in at 50 yds. I moved out to 100 yards and fired six shots into 3/4". I quietly put the rifle away and said "that's about good enough!". Needless to say the other guys at the range were impressed!
      And, needless to say, I've never shot it that well since!  :biggrin:      ID        
 

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The Marlin 336 that I have has a groove diameter of .375. Shooting .379 bullets was a waste of time, money and solvent. I had it slugged twice, and came out with the same results. Good luck.
It shoots o.k. now that I have the bullet diameter figured out. Of course, hard, gas-checked bullets are the only thing that will shoot in this particular rifle. Jacketed from Speer were so-so.  Research is half the fun of figuring out these guns.

(Edited by warden at 2:47 pm on June 16, 2001)
 

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IDShooter,  The .38-55 is a great rifle. I own one in the 336CB model w/24" bbl. I have been using Hornady 220 gr. & 255 gr. jacketed bullets with pretty good results.  I have the greatest results with my own hard cast bullets, these are made of 4% tin, 12% antimony and 84% lead for a BHN of approx. 22.  I wouldn't be afraid to use the .38-55 on elk size animals out to 150-175 yds, if I had a definite broadside at 200 I would take it.  The June 2001 American Rifleman has a pretty good article on the.38-55 written by M.L. McPherson, in it he feels the .38-55 with right bullet/ load combination is adequate for most north american species.  Also the groove diameter on most Browning .38-55s is 0.375 and 0.380 on the Marlin.  Get the .38-55, cast or purchase some good bullets and have fun!
 
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