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Old September 4, 2013, 11:47 PM   #1
hoobens
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.38-55 v .357 carbine balistics

Just curious: Ballistically, how does .357 ammo compare to .38-55 fired out of a carbine/trapper length barrel at say 100 yards?
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Old September 5, 2013, 12:03 AM   #2
DPris
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Apples & oranges.
Rifle round vs a handgun round.
The .38-55 will produce more accuracy & better terminal ballistics at longer ranges.

I've never seen a 16-inch .38-55, kinda silly to do that.
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Old September 5, 2013, 01:56 AM   #3
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Hot handloads will drive a 125gr @2200, a 158gr @1800, and a 180gr @1600fps from a Marlin .357 Carbine. Those are max limits, and may not be possible in all guns. Factory ammo runs about a couple hundred fps less.

The .38-55 data I could find shows one max load driving a 255gr @1800fps, One other max load doing 1500fps, and three max loads doing 1350ish, from a 26" barrel. And the factory duplication load was 1221fps.

Its not even apples and oranges, more like apples and pickles.

A trapper length .38-55 would probably give you all the power of .45 Colt from a 7.5" barrel. Maybe.
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Old September 5, 2013, 05:41 AM   #4
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i shoot a marlin cowboy 38-55 with the 220fp hornady bullet right on 2000fps and it is a deadly bullet that does just about one hole at 75yds with peep sights. i do have a winchester 16 inch high wall in 38-55 that davidson bros sold several years ago,but i have not fired it as i have the three rifle set(45-70,38-55 and 30-40 krag) with the same serial number. eastbank.
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Old September 5, 2013, 06:16 AM   #5
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Around 1900-2000 fps with 220 gr bullets should be possible from a 38-55 and a 20" barrel. I show loads in my manuals close to 2100 fps from longer barrels. Eastbanks numbers seem right on the money.

Can't say for sure how they would do from a 16" barrel, but my 16" 30-30 is less than 50 fps slower than my 20" guns. Most of the older lever action rounds just don't need as much barrel as more modern chamberings.
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Old September 5, 2013, 02:43 PM   #6
Malamute
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Quote:
...I've never seen a 16-inch .38-55, kinda silly to do that.
Denis

Yeah but,...I want one! I've been considering chopping a 38-55carbine to 16"-18" or so for a carry gun. At the very least, it would be very handy, and cute.

The older Lyman manuals showed the 250 gr loads running at about 1800 fps or so in their data. Seems like an improvement over the 30-30 for places where larger critters hang out. The reports I've seen from those that shot larger game with them (moose etc) with good loads seemed to generally give complete shoot throughs.
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Old September 5, 2013, 10:21 PM   #7
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I'm all in favor of short carbines, where it doesn't cost too much in ballistics.

Have a 16-inch .357, .44 Mag, and .45 Colt, but the barrel lengths IMPROVE velocities there.

The .38-55 is a great deer caliber on up to black bear & with good placement I suppose could handle a moose (I think it'd be stretching things), but that's in a typical rifle barrel length.
Take it down to 16 inches, you'd be losing steam. Shortest I'd go would be 20 inches, and my preference would be the 24-inch Marlin I used to have, if I were still interested in the caliber.

I have a 16-inch .30-30, OK for handling, close enough to 20-inch velocities for routine use, certainly on deer.
If I were using the .30-30 in black bear territory, I'd prefer a good 170 through a 20-inch carbine.

Throttling back on the .38-55 through a trapper-length barrel would drop it down to the point where there wouldn't be much point in the caliber, for me.
Denis

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Old September 6, 2013, 10:11 AM   #8
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You make a good point about the velocity loss, though i'd be interested to see actual chrono results. The straight case of the 38-55 may not be as bad at vel loss as the 30-30, but is still using rifle powder compared to the powder in a 44. I have a Browning 92 that I was also thinking of chopping for a more handy carry gun where the reach advantage of the 71 wasn't as much of an issue, it may be more practical than the 38-55.


Part of my interest is for a carry gun thats not so dang heavy, and that isn't going to bother my shoulder as much to shoot with the partial tears in the rotator cuff from a fall a while back. I truly love my 86 carbine and 71, but they are pretty heavy to carry much, and the recoil with full power loads isnt going to be pleasant on my shoulder. I'm not in black bear country, I'm in grizzly country.
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Old September 6, 2013, 11:51 AM   #9
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I have a Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70 for BIG bear country.
Relatively short barrel, but not down to 16 inches.

As a general rule, anytime you LENGTHEN a handgun caliber, you gain velocity, which can increase energy & terminal ballistics. Anytime you SHORTEN a rifle caliber, you do the opposite, to at least some degree.

Bullet construction also becomes a factor.

A rifle bullet designed to expand at a certain velocity range may not when reduced too far.
A handgun bullet designed to expand at a certain velocity range may violently fragment when driven beyond that range.
Lead solids tend to perform more consistently through a wider range of velocities & be less affected by increases or decreases.
Penetration may be reduced in dropping down, but the bullet typically won't be demolished on impact like a jacketed type driven too fast can be (which reduces penetration when that happens).

It's a balance.
I have a mid-weight Shiloh Sharps with a 26-inch barrel & a Lyman Model 1878 with a 30-inch barrel, both in .45-70.
I could feel as comfortable with either using the right bullet in grizzly country as I could with any single-shot, but neither is anything I'd want to carry far or long in hand.

I'd want a repeater, and the Guide Gun does it for me there. Not 3exactly light, but lighter. No 1000-yard gun, but it doesn't need to do much over 50 yards, it's a dedicated defensive package. Recoil with the Garrett heavyweights is not much fun, but neither is getting mauled by claws.

Elsewhere, the 16-inch .357 & .44 are both trim & relatively powerful, enough to make a great compromise out to 100 yards between totability & power for anything black-bear-sized or smaller, and that covers most areas I spend dirt time in.
Lead solids, or a jacketed softpoint.
Either of those can be paired with a good handgun in the same caliber.

Shorties are neat & peachy keen to carry & look at, but I think a 16-inch .38-55 would just lose too much in one.
Depends on what you'd want it to do.
A 16-inch .38-55 would not be MY choice as a bear gun.

The .357 wouldn't be first choice, either; the .44 Mag with the right bullet could handle blackies.
Denis
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Old September 6, 2013, 12:46 PM   #10
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The pistol caliber lever guns have never really held my attention, for several reasons. One, with the Browning 92, and I believe is common with the general type, is they dont feed the same loads that I use in the my handguns. They can be worked on to get them to feed the longer Keith bullet rounds (I mean the Lyman Keith, not the commercial swc bullets), the heavier commercial 44 bullets I've tried also dont feed for a couple reasons, one being too fat in the nose, length being another. Again, the gun can be tinkered with, but it just never seemed like the payoff was worth the effort when I had such better guns for about any purpose. I've only had renewed interest when the heavier guns started to wear on me with the bum shoulder.

I have, and have had a number of Marlins, I just really dont care for them after getting to know the first 86 I ever had. Weight is the only advantage with the Marlin, and the advantages of the 86 far outweight the weight issue to me. Fine guns I reckon, I just dont care for them. Just my opinion. I chopped my Browning 86 carbine to 20" and think its nearly perfect for a carry gun other than weight and range. The 71 is my current favorite all around carry gun, I like the range capability it provides, but want to chop a couple inches off of it. The 24" barrel is a nuisance to carry around.

I'm with ya on most of the rest of what you said.
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Old September 6, 2013, 01:14 PM   #11
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Just need to realistically combine wants, needs, and performance, and that's always an individual thing.

My Rossi 16-inch .45 Colt 92 ringlever's the most totable centerfire longgun I have.
Light, short, can handle some decent loads, receiver's perfectly rounded, and it's possible to run that oversized lever reasonably quick if I need too, once you adapt your technique.

The old Winchester 92 carbine design was about the best-carryin' carbine ever made.

I wouldn't take on a bear, certainly not a moose, with it, though.
Might with the 24-inch Marlin .45 Colt, with a heavier load.

I understand the Keith bullet feeding issue. My .44 Marlin feeds 270-grain Speer Gold Dot jacketed softpoints every bit as well as my handguns, and I'll be tinkering with some Cast Performance lead flatpoints in the .357 Marlin in a few weeks to see how well they feed there.
Sometimes it's as much finding the right bullet as it is tweaking the gun.
Denis
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Old September 6, 2013, 02:12 PM   #12
DPris
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Hoobens,
What were you looking for in your post?
Denis
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Old September 6, 2013, 03:59 PM   #13
WIN1886
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In any modern made carbine chambered in 38-55 a handloader can get excellent performance out of this cartridge ! Most factory loads are designed to be safe in the older rifles as well...Buffalo Bore offers 38-55 ammunition that is more in line with the new Miroku made model 94 , 1885 , etc . Personally , I would prefer at a short rifle or carbine with a 20 " barrel ! This really is a handloader's cartridge !
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Old September 6, 2013, 04:47 PM   #14
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It is, and I did.
Only let that gun go because I had too many different calibers.
Denis
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Old September 9, 2013, 08:26 AM   #15
hoobens
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Denis,
I started this post because I'm contemplating buying a new production Winchester 1885 trapper model (16.5") in .38-55. At a short distance ( 50-100 yds.), I was wondering if I should just stick with a .357 Rossi 92 or my Rossi Circuit Judge .44 magnum?
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Old September 9, 2013, 09:01 AM   #16
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Why not a .375 Winchester, the modern .38-55?
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Old September 9, 2013, 09:44 AM   #17
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When did it become a rule that you had to be rational or have a reason?
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Old September 9, 2013, 11:41 AM   #18
DPris
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Hoobens,
What do you want the gun to do?
Hunt? Defense? Kill paper?
Denis
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Old September 10, 2013, 10:46 AM   #19
hoobens
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My intended purpose: hog hunting @ 50 yards and target shooting.
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Old September 10, 2013, 01:05 PM   #20
DPris
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With a good load, the 38-55 should be viable on most pigs at 50 in a 16-inch barrel.

The short length makes it handy in brush.
Just remember that you will be losing velocity & terminal effectiveness in going that short.
And- you'll need to make that shot count, since you'll only have one. By the time you reload, the animal will be either dead or gone.

Up to you if it's worth it for your purposes.
Denis
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Old September 10, 2013, 01:27 PM   #21
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Maybe I am not rational, but I always considered it a bit silly to bother carrying a rifle then having it chambered for a pistol cartridge. For some reason, folks who like to do that seem to exaggerate the power of the pistol/revolver cartridge; I have been told that a .44 Magnum out of a rifle has more power than a .30-'06 from the same length barrel!!

Jim
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Old September 10, 2013, 02:03 PM   #22
DPris
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In my own case, I have the .357 & .44 Marlins, not because they're superior necessarily ballistically, but because they're relatively light & handy with 16-inch barrels & they mate with handguns in the outback where I need a certain level of power.

I use heavy-for-caliber loads in both calibers in the carbines & the handguns.

They're far from do-it-alls, but they fit a niche, for me.
If I think I need more distance, or more horsepower, I take along something else.

Denis
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Old September 10, 2013, 05:59 PM   #23
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The 1885 trapper comes in 45-70 as well ( they are still around NIB).....much more readily available ammo and the factory loads offer more variety and are generally more powerful ! I have a modern 92 chambered in .357 magnum and it is a blast to plink with but I'd use one of my 45-70's for bigger pigs or black bear ! I'd like to see a big comeback of both the 38-55 and 25-35 but apparently most folks don't share the same appreciation for older cartridges as I do !
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Old September 10, 2013, 07:28 PM   #24
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If I were piggin' with a single-shot, I'd go for a .45-70, but that's just me & I've been trying to avoid running off track with alternate suggestions.

Been actually considering cutting my Rolling Block back to 20 inches, but even there I wouldn't go down to 16.
Again- just me.
Denis
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Old September 10, 2013, 08:04 PM   #25
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I have to agree with JamesK about pistol cartridges in long guns, I too think often times the capabilities of them is overstated. The 38-55 will make a good hog gun and you usually don't get more than one shot at it anyway. I have shot hogs with this caliber and consider it more than adequate for hogs or deer up to 100 yds.
To me, the 38-55 is sort of like a little brother to the 45-70. These are both very versatile cartridges capable of good ballistics or slower plinking loads....or anything in between. The 38-55 started life as a deer sized hunting cartridge and still does a tolerable job of it.
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