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Old February 8, 2013, 05:48 PM   #1
WIN1886
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Anybody here own & shoot a 1894 in 38-55 ?

I've seen a few of these for sale lately ( Miroku made Winchester 1894 ) and I have a weakness for leverguns especially if they are chambered for the old classic rounds ! The ballistics of the factory loaded 38--55 seem pretty lame but I imagine you can safely handload this cartridge to get much better performance ! So are there any folks here that use this cartridge and have some input on it ( handloads , accuracy , or anything of interest ) to share ? Thanks !
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Old February 8, 2013, 08:38 PM   #2
Shotgun693
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You ought to be able to get 1600+ fps with a 240 gr bullet. I have a Marlin Cowboy in .38/55. With factory ammo and iron sights I've shot groups smaller than 2". With handloads I'm not yet happy with what I'm getting. I think the lead bullets I'm using are sized just a hair to big.
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Old February 8, 2013, 10:58 PM   #3
30-30remchester
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I have hunted with an original 1894 built in 1898 in 38-55. I killed a bull elk with 255 grn cast bullets and a mule deer buck with handloaded 255 grn jacketed. Both handloads and both regulated to factory velocities.
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Old February 9, 2013, 12:34 AM   #4
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I dont have first hand experience, but the guys on the leverguns forum that have shot game, up to moose, with them seem to like them. Seems like with decent powered handloads they were getting complete pass-throughs on large animals.

The old Lyman manuals showed loads with 250 gr bullets at 1800 fps vel as intended for Wincheter 94's.

I'm building a 94 in 38-55. Hoping to try it on various critters eventually. A neighbor that's used 38-55s said they were noticably better than 30-30 loads on game.
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Old February 9, 2013, 05:27 AM   #5
eastbank
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i shoot 30grs of rl7 and hornady 220gr fn in my old win 94 for hunting and a hotter load in my marlin 336 cb. i also use 375 win cases and use 375 win dies to load with. eastbank.
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Old February 10, 2013, 06:07 PM   #6
WIN1886
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Thanks for the input , it sounds like a fun round to reload for especially when the rare factory ammunition doesn't look too cheap ! I'll have to see if I can swing a deal on a 1894 chambered in 38-55 !
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Old February 10, 2013, 06:17 PM   #7
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I remember my Dad had one of those 1894 Winchester Crazy Horse Commeratives, which were chambered in .38-55. He had to buy dies and load for it, to get decent ballistics.
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Old February 11, 2013, 04:48 PM   #8
Jack O'Conner
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30 years ago, I hunted with a buddy who had the then new Winchester in 375. Ballistically similar to 38-55. He nailed a dandy 6 pointer at approx 50 yards and the animal toppled after a couple jumps. Same as 30-30 performance from my viewpoint.

Jack
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Old February 11, 2013, 05:20 PM   #9
Revolver1
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No. But have a 1905 mfg Win 94 in 32-40. With the original buckhorn sights you can shoot hole in hole. Took two deer with it.
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Old February 11, 2013, 06:09 PM   #10
WIN1886
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38-55

Nice , this has more to do with the joy of playing around with ( reloading for) the old straight cased cartridges that started out in the black powder era ! A couple of new rifles have my interest that I've seen available : an 1885 high wall with 28 inch barrel and a model 1894 with 24 inch barrel !
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Old February 13, 2013, 04:57 PM   #11
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Be advised that 38-55 rifles can vary quite a bit in groove diameter, sometimes making it tough to find loads that shoot well. The factory loads run .377" for bullets, barrels can run up to .381 diameter. I had one later comemortive 38-55 barrel that ran about .380-.381 diamter, and when a bullet of that diameter was loaded in a case, it wouldnt chamber, the chamber neck was too tight. Other report groove diameters ranging as small as .375". In the old black powder loads, the bullets were soft, and black powder is better at "bumping up" bullets than most smokeless loads, so they'd "fatten up" upon firing, allowing decent accuracy for what was an undersize bullet for the bore.

Some guns aren't hard to find decent loads that they like, some are. Many dont like tinkering enough to find those loads, others may simply stumble into them and be lucky, a few guys just get frustrated and give up.

When I had the barrel made for my project, I used a 375 H&H barrel, giving me a .375" groove diameter, they are easier to find bullets that fit than the wider bores.
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Old February 14, 2013, 04:53 PM   #12
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Groove diameter differences

I've read about this problem and for the life of me can't understand why it would be so hard to standardize it...especially , in the limited production modern rifles ( which maybe they've done ) ! Anyway , I'm still debating whether to get a rifle in this caliber even though I have three 45-70 caliber rifles that fill the straight cased cartridge that flings heavy bullets in a rainbow trajectory , already ! I really don't see an ample supply of even reloading components being produced for the 38-55 and forget about limited factory ammo at magnum prices !
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Old February 14, 2013, 08:34 PM   #13
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Unfortunately, no, nobody has really standardized the bore and groove dimensions. It seems even with one manufacturer they can vary a fair bit. I've heard of recent Marlins running .378" to .381". The late-ish Winchester 94s over the past 20-some years have run from .375" to .381".

Oddly, even with oversize bores, many guns seem to shoot fairly well, just not all of them. Cast seems to be more of an issue than jacketed in that regard.

I haven't priced factory ammo, I havent shot any in ages, and only then when it was cheaply priced, like surplus or aquired in a trade. Brass and dies, and one is in business.
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Old February 16, 2013, 04:00 PM   #14
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The 38-55 is a hoot to shoot. I'm the happy owner of a 1893 Marlin (DOB early '94) that I had relined w/a .375 bore. It shoots a variety of loads very accurately (clay pigeons at 100yds w/tang peep sight). Trailboss has been a good BP substitute in a number of guns. I would recommend the longer Starline brass if you're going to load 38-55. Good stuff. I run the Meister boolits in my gun, but many good moulds are available for those who want to cast their own.
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Old February 16, 2013, 06:24 PM   #15
Malamute
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Quote:
...I really don't see an ample supply of even reloading components being produced for the 38-55...
I missed that point when I last posted. It doesn't seem hard to find basic components. Perhaps not at the local gun shop, but you can order in what you need. There's a couple jacketed bullet makers, Barnes, and another one or two. Brass isn't hard too hard to get (and you can use 30-30 brass if need be) and cast bullets, in a variety of diameters and hardnesses, are available from many casting outfits.

Whit Spurzon has some youtubes up with him and others hitting steel gongs at 400 yrds and more, iron sights, with their 38-55's and other calibers. There's one also with a guy shooting a large rock and hitting center at 1100 yards with an iron sighted Oliver Winchester Commemorative using the ladder sight. Good fun. The guns are capable of better shooting than most give credit for when a decent load is found.
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Old February 16, 2013, 07:08 PM   #16
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Arrgh , I did the unthinkable....I spent my gun savings on a 1885 low wall in .22 hornet ( I couldn't resist ) instead ! It is another cartridge/rifle I've wanted for awhile now and it has a bit of history to it as well ! Now getting back to the 38-55 , I'm thinking of replacing one of my 45-70's with one but not the 1886 of course ! I checked out a local shop that specializes in reloading supplies and he said he would have no problem setting me up for reloading the 38-55 caliber ! Yes , I've heard you can fire form 30-30 brass if need be but for me probably not necessary ! I use mostly cast bullets for reloading the 45-70 and would do the same for the 38-55 ! I'm hoping I can get a good deal on one in the near future , thanks !
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