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Old July 18, 2010, 05:52 PM   #1
ssgt blaine
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reloading 38-55 wcf

heloo everyone. im new to this site and fairly new to reloading. my grandfather recently gave me his fathers rifle, a winchester model 94 38-55 manufactured in 1928, and its in great condition. i decided to reload for this rifle for 3 main reasons. 1 the availiblity of ammo around me is very scarce. 2 the price is about $2 a round. and 3 from the research ive done on the rifle, ive found its not good to shoot jacketed rounds through it being that its pre world war2 era rifle. i own a lee challenger breech lock press and i purchased some rcbs cowboy dies in 38-55. my problem seems to be with the expanding die (.379). it always seems to bulge out to one side. i know that too much lube can cause this, but it does it even without the cases being lubed. ive tried it on once fired winchester brass from factory round, and virgin winchester brass with the same results. im not sure whether its operator error or the die itself. i have a mountain of other questions about reloading this caliber because i cant find alot of information on the web about it. if someone with some experience with this caliber can pass along some of their wisdom, it would be greatly appreciated.
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Old July 18, 2010, 06:48 PM   #2
Loader9
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I've got a few 38-55's. The first thing you really need to do is have the bore slugged to find the exact diameter. There is a fairly wide variation in the factory barrel diameter. You may need bullets of .376 .377, .378, or.379 diameter for it to shoot as good as possible. Most of mine shoot the .377 and I guess if you just wanted to start somewhere, that's as good a place as any. I shoot mostly Beartooth Bullets with a gas check in 255 gr. Groups at under an inch at 100 yds is fairly common. You'll need to stick with the faster burning powders like 4198, RE7 4895, etc. From a 1930's Western Ammunition book straight from Ad Topperweins store in San Antonio, the factory specs had a 255 gr bullet at 1320'ps. While you can load faster, why do it? You're gonna love the 38-55.
FWIW, you can also buy Barnes jacketed bullets made specifically for the 38-55. They come in .375 and .377 diameters if ya just wanna hunt with it using a jacketed bullet.
http://www.beartoothbullets.com/bulletselect/index.htm
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Old July 19, 2010, 09:08 AM   #3
Mike Irwin
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A couple people I know are shooting Trail Boss in their .38-55s, loaded with lead, and reporting excellent results.

I've always wanted a Savage 99 in .38-55, but man they are spendy when I can find one.

A 1928 version of the .38-55 should be able to take some jacketed bullets without too much trouble; Winchester started using the new nickel steel and better heat treating for all of their guns by that time, I believe.

Where you can really get into trouble is with the 1873s and 1886s and jacketed bullets.
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Old July 19, 2010, 11:58 AM   #4
COSteve
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Give a look over at Leverguns.com. They have tons of people who have old Winchesters like your 38-55 and they'll be more than happy to help you out with both black powder and smokeless powder loads for it be they lead or jacketed, heavy or light. But be prepared to post a few pictures of your great grandfather's rifle cause they love the old leverguns over there.
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Old July 19, 2010, 02:38 PM   #5
Scorch
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Trail Boss powder should be a very good option for the 38-55, IMR 4198 or IMR3031 would be a more common choice for loading it to its full potential. The Lyman reloading manual has loading info for this cartridge. I recommend you use gas-checked lead bullets or cast your own linotype bullets.
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Old July 21, 2010, 06:00 PM   #6
ssgt blaine
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thanks everyone for the great information. i plan on making my way over to leverguns.com to inquire more about my rifle. i dont get that much time to myself because of work and the family. im gonna post a couple of pictures of my model 94. please excuse some of the background, it is my only personal space that my fiance doesnt venture into.
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Old July 21, 2010, 06:09 PM   #7
ssgt blaine
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IMG_1843.jpg this is a picture of the case bulge. not sure why its happening. i know its not a great picture. but the bulge is clearly visible to the naked eye, not a .001 or 2.
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Old July 21, 2010, 11:44 PM   #8
Mike Irwin
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Blain,

We're a family forum. Please crop your photo of the gun so that there aren't topless women visible in the background.

Thanks.


As for the case bulge, a bulge is an indication of a damaged chamber.
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Old July 22, 2010, 12:23 AM   #9
bullspotter
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I would think that something may be out of alighnment on your press maybe, Could also need a good cleaning, maybe the die itself is out of center. Maybe take the expander out of the die and roll it on a piece of glass and make sure its streight. Make sure the shell holder and notches it fits into on the press are not gunked up. Dose it always bulge on the same side of the case? like always one side, or to the back or front of the press? Or is it random?
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