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Old November 9, 2013, 11:00 AM   #1
Ritz
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Join Date: January 18, 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 257
Reloading for 38-55 Winchester

All of my reloading gear has finally arrived. I've been doing a LOT of reading, but one thing I'm not clear on. There seems to be a variety of overall length numbers published for my caliber, 38-55.

The Lyman manual says 2.510" when it shows all the various case dimensions. Then below it shows loading data with overall lengths that vary by bullet:

255gr jacketed barnes 2.480" OAL
249gr cast 2.550" OAL
335gr cast 2.900" OAL

Data from Hodgdon shows:

250gr cast 2.500" OAL
255gr jacketed barnes 2.620" OAL

That's a fairly wide variation using only published reloading data so I'm unsure which OAL to use. My supplies:

H4198 powder
Winchester large rifle primers
Starline 2.082" brass
Cast Performance .380 260gr flat nose bullets with gas check
Barnes .377 255gr jacketed

The barrel on my Legendary Frontiersman Winchester slugs out at .379. I was thinking of testing out the following 2 loads:

260gr cast bullet
H4198 20gr
OAL 2.500"

260gr cast bullet
H4198 23gr
OAL 2.500"

Does that sound reasonable for a recent vintage model 94? That's in the middle of the starting and max loads that Hodgdon provides for the 250gr Lyman cast bullet. The Barnes seems a lot more straightforward since it appears to be what's used in the stock Winchester ammo.

Any suggestions or comments would be very much appreciated.

Best,
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Old November 9, 2013, 11:40 AM   #2
steveno
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Join Date: June 18, 2004
Location: Minden , Nebraska
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oal length will be controlled by the cannelure but the oal will vary due to the amount of bullet above the cannelure.

Last edited by steveno; November 9, 2013 at 01:26 PM.
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Old November 9, 2013, 01:18 PM   #3
P.A. Dutchman
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Join Date: August 17, 2011
Posts: 45
I have a Winchester Legendary Frontiersman in the 38-55 that I load for, and shoot in the big bore shoot at my local club. It loves 262 gr cast bullets with gas checks, .379 diameter, 2.50" OAL, and 30 gr. of IMR4895 powder. I won quite a few shoots with that load.
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Old November 9, 2013, 01:56 PM   #4
Ritz
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Join Date: January 18, 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 257
Thanks for the notes. I did an initial batch of 10 rounds. They all came out within .001 of 2.500". I went with 23gr of H4198 and they chamber/extract smoothly in my rifle. The factory crimp die really makes them look like store bought ammo.

I can see a slight bulge at the base of the bullet. I'm assuming that's ok and that it will fire form to the size of my rifle's chamber. When I shake the rounds I can hear the powder shaking around inside so I'm not compressing the charge.

Looking forward to taking these to the range when I get a little free time.

Also, I actually weighed a few of the cast bullets. They're all between 263-265gr even though they're supposed to be 260's.

Best,

Last edited by Ritz; November 9, 2013 at 02:02 PM.
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Old November 24, 2013, 07:58 AM   #5
Ritz
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Join Date: January 18, 2013
Location: Virginia
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Just an update. When I fired the above rounds, they did indeed fire form to the chamber and the bulge is gone. However, the recoil was significantly stiffer than I anticipated. The slightly heavier bullet than was in my reloading data might be the culprit there. I didn't see any signs of over pressure though so I'm assuming it was a safe level of pressure. That said, I'm going to back off to 22gr in the future with that cast bullet and H4198.

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