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Old November 26, 2017, 11:29 AM   #1
amwbox
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Strange Rifle, Need Help Learning About It...

I've inherited this rifle from my grandfather, and it's a bit confusing. It doesn't seem to be factory, at least nothing factory that I've been able to google up. It looks like a "high wall" action, but is chambered in .225... but also .218 IMP.?

On the barrel it says .225/.218 IMP.

What does IMP. mean? And how can a gun be chambered in two cartridges?

Not sure what to make of that, also not sure exactly what sort of gun it is, or what age. It has a heavy barrel, and is extremely accurate...at least as shooting at coyotes goes. Someone told me that .225 Winchester is basically a slightly heavier 22-250? I'm not at all familiar with .218 IMP.

Any information you guys (from clicking around, the knowledge here seems amazing) have would be fantastic. Would really like to learn more about this gun, it's age, etc. I wouldn't know how to value it were I to have to sell it.

Thanks kindly in advance.





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Old November 26, 2017, 11:33 AM   #2
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You have one nice classic styled rifle there sir!

I believe the .218 IMP is a P.O. Ackley "Improved" cartridge. He did a fair amount of wildcatting cartridges and I believe this was one of them.

Doing a quick search on ammoseek.com, I don't see either cartridge commercially available.
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Old November 26, 2017, 11:54 AM   #3
Jim Watson
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I think it was originally (re)barreled in .218 Winchester Bee Improved.
Then much later rechambered to .225 Win. for the larger and more "modern" cartridge.
They are NOT interchangeable, the .225 replaces .218.

You have already shot coyotes with .225? If so, fine.
If not, a chamber cast would be the safe way out.

When the .225 was new, its semirimmed case was touted in gunzines as The Answer to building varmint rifles on the stronger old actions without the complication of making a rimless extractor.
But it did not catch on and you will have to keep an eye open for ammo or brass.
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Old November 26, 2017, 12:02 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum.

A bit of a mystery. Did you get and ammo/empty cases/reloading dies with it? Any
of those would help. If you do not have any ammo/dies you will probably have to have
a chamber cast done to determine what it is. The .218 MAY refer to the .218 Ackley
Bee improved, which was a wildcat based on the 32-20 case. .225 --no idea. But the
.225 Winchester is a semi-rimmed cartridge that came out in 1964.
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Old November 26, 2017, 12:49 PM   #5
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As said, the two cartridges are not the same and cannot be interchanged, so if you shot 225 Winchester rounds in it, then it must be a 225. If chambered in 218 Bee Ackley Improved, without checking my reloading books, i don’t think you could chamber a 225 Winchester.

The 225 Win came about as a replacement for the 220 Swift. It seems unclear what the logic was for them to do that, though i’ll assume it was because the 220 had gotten a rep as a barrel burner. The 225 is a good, though obsolete, round these days. I have a buddy with one, and he takes a lot of pigs with it. As for me, i’ll stick with my 220 Swift, which is on its second barrel.
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Old November 26, 2017, 01:16 PM   #6
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The 'IMP' means 'Improved', but not necessarily Ackley Improved. Probably though.
You need to slug the barrel to find out exactly what diameter it is. Should be .224" for either the Bee or the .225 Win. And have a chamber cast done.
I'm very much guessing it might be a .218 Bee that was re-chambered to .225 Win. Like Jim says. The Win's case length is 1.930". The Bee is 1.315". However, the Win's rim is considerably larger at .473" vs .408" for the Bee. So there will have been extractor work too.
For what it's worth, all the stamps were done by hand. Most likely the smithy who built the thing for your grand da.
The .225 Win was Winchester's answer to Remington's .22-250 when they opted to drop the .220 Swift in 1964. Bit of a manufacture date narrowing. Highly likely it was a custom built varmint rifle though. Built on a Winchester or Browning M1885. The forend is a classic varminter forend.
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Old November 26, 2017, 01:34 PM   #7
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Seems to me that if the OP has fired 225 Win rounds in the rifle, and has kept the cases, he has effectively done a chamber cast. Measure the fire formed cases if there are concerns. And I wouldn’t waste time slugging the bore if the rifle is a tack driver.

Per my friend, the 225 Win cases are made seasonally and often are hard to find, so stocking up on cases might be a good idea.

Nice rifle.
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Old November 26, 2017, 02:49 PM   #8
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True, IF the OP has shot .225 Win in the rifle with normal looking empties, then the work is already done.
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Old November 26, 2017, 05:24 PM   #9
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I'd still do a casting, one long enough to tell what shape the leade is in. Good or no good, since the op got it for free, if it were me I would probably invest a little money in it and have the chamber recut to 22 250. The smith could set back and turn the barrel in enough to hide the old markings under the stock.
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Old November 26, 2017, 05:51 PM   #10
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A rimless extractor for a Highwall is a substantial project.
I'd leave it alone and scrounge .225s.
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Old November 26, 2017, 07:28 PM   #11
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What is the issue exactly? It's my understanding that some highwalls were made in 30 06; I also have read that a "Snapp extractor" can be used.
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Old November 26, 2017, 08:21 PM   #12
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First, beautiful rifle. If you didn't get dies, check with family because they do exist. The 50's & 60s were a heyday of wildcatting & experimental handloading. If the marking on that rifle follows common practice of the time, it is chambered for a 218 Bee Improved (usually case taper removed & shoulder sharpened), that has been opened up to take 25 caliber bullets. It was generally accepted that 22 bullets were too difficult to cast easily & 25 was considered the smallest easily castable caliber. This last came from an article by John Wooters on the "Wooters Tooter" one of several variations of 222 mag opened to 25 to take cast bullets.
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Old November 26, 2017, 09:35 PM   #13
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The 225 Winchester is 22 caliber, not 25 caliber.
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Old November 26, 2017, 09:40 PM   #14
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I don't see any direct reference to the OP shooting 225 Winchester in this gun. He does say that the gun is minute of coyote accurate, but that could be hearsay. It's not clear that he's ever shot the gun himself.

In any case a chamber cast should be made before any attempt to shoot it with anything. He should also try and find the dies that go with it if at all possible.
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Old November 27, 2017, 02:59 AM   #15
amwbox
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Wow, thanks everyone, this is all really great info. Really appreciate it. I'd never come across any improved cartridges before.

To be clear, yes, I've been shooting the rifle. It came with half a dozen boxes of .225 Win, and that's what I've been putting through it. No, no dies included, unfortunately. I guess I'll just have to be conservative with ammo and buy it whenever I see it. I found one box on the shelf at the local gun store, with dust on it, but haven't seen it anywhere else.

It shoots really well. .225 was previously a totally unknown cartridge to me.

What does the Patent Oct Xth 79 refer to? Is this related to the patent date from when Browing created the model 1885? The gun isn't that old. Any idea how old it is, or where I could go to find out? I realize it's a customized rifle, but the action should be traceable, maybe?

Again, thanks for the info, guys.
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Old November 27, 2017, 04:13 AM   #16
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The patent date is the date when the guy who thought up the design submitted that design to the US Patent Office. Yes, the rifle was made much later than that, but for that lineage of rifle, there were no patented changes incorporated to it. The same scenario plays out with the patent dates of lots of weapons like the Win 1892, Colt 1873, Trapdoors, ... lots of things that weren't grossly updated.

I can't see your photos or if the SN is included, but see if this helps... http://proofhouse.com/browning/58_dating_sys.htm
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Old November 27, 2017, 05:04 AM   #17
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I think you should compare a round you have fired out of the rifle against one of your factory rounds. If it is an "improved" round, chances are the shoulders will have a different configuration to them. The factory rounds will probably fire, but will be fireforming themselves to the chamber at the same time.
I cannot imagine a gunsmith leaving the caliber designation like it shows on your rifle without reason. I would recommend you take it to a gunsmith with some knowledge of wildcat calibers for a diagnosis. A young gunsmith of today would be hard to find that has that knowledge in his head.
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Old November 27, 2017, 08:08 AM   #18
Jim Watson
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SN 29352 comes back 1888. The charts are not real accurate and a letter might come back a bit different but that is in the ball park.

Trivia: Mr Browning and his brothers built Single Shots until a Winchester rep noticed one for sale second hand and dealt with them for the design. Winchester modified it a bit for easier mass production so you can easily tell a Browning from a Winchester.
The Brownings may have made as many as 600 but I think fewer.
There are also Winchesters marked Browning. The Brownings had a store and put their trademark on guns they sold.
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Old November 27, 2017, 09:07 PM   #19
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You own a Winchester 1885 "High Wall" rifle that was manufactured in 1888. It has been rebarreled and chambered for 225 Winchester with a tight (.218") bore. The 225 Winchester was a rehash of the 219 Zipper that Winchester used after 1964 (because they had canned the 220 Swift with the old Model 70). It has a "standard" rim diameter but sharing the same head size as the 30-30 and the case has been blown out straighter and the shoulder angle has been increased. If needed, cases can be made from 30-30 cases, or you can buy brass when available (there are 2 lots of 225 brass on gunbroker.com right now).

A chamber cast will tell you what dimensions the chamber is cut to. Custom dies may be made from your chamber cast.
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Old November 27, 2017, 10:27 PM   #20
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The barrel may have been a .222 " diameter vbarrel

then refreshes up to .225" diameter for using standard diameter bullets.

Remember, the .22 Horney was originally made using .223 diameter bullet, tht standardizeon the .224 bullet diamter.

May need to meqsure the barrel, with a air gage.
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Old November 29, 2017, 07:47 AM   #21
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Quote:
You own a Winchester 1885 "High Wall" rifle that was manufactured in 1888. It has been rebarreled and chambered for 225 Winchester with a tight (.218") bore. The 225 Winchester was a rehash of the 219 Zipper that Winchester used after 1964 (because they had canned the 220 Swift with the old Model 70). It has a "standard" rim diameter but sharing the same head size as the 30-30 and the case has been blown out straighter and the shoulder angle has been increased. If needed, cases can be made from 30-30 cases, or you can buy brass when available (there are 2 lots of 225 brass on gunbroker.com right now).

A chamber cast will tell you what dimensions the chamber is cut to. Custom dies may be made from your chamber cast.
This rings true to me. Although the 218 scenario seems unlikely?? Is this more crazy talk or knowledgeable. Because some of the replies are borderline.... let me not say.

I think we could see a little better what was going on if the OP would purchase that one box of new old stock ammo. The take a GOOD clear photo of the fired brass along side a new/old stock unfired round. Very careful photo so we can hopefully detect any change in taper and shoulder angle.

The OP does not need a chamber cast and he would not know what to do with it even if he had one. Once fired brass is clean and simple and DONE. And yes, he should go back looking for dies if at all possible. The factory ammo may not shoot as well as the properly loaded improved rounds. Then again, factory ammo maybe just fine.

Last edited by fourbore; November 29, 2017 at 09:13 AM.
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Old November 29, 2017, 07:56 AM   #22
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Remember for reloading all he needs to do is neck size once fired brass. I am sure he could improvise some off the shelf die set for that. As they say, not rocket science.
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Old November 29, 2017, 09:55 AM   #23
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Agree. A lot of guessing going on here.
What we can be sure of is that a pretty good gunsmith put new barrel and stock on an old Winchester Single Shot action to make it a varmint rifle.

Marked .218 IMP, I think we can assume it was a .218 Improved Winchester Bee. I know of no other cartridge with the ".218" designation. There were a lot of "improvers" in those days. The Ackley system was not necessary for rimmed cartridges, you could blow them out any way you liked.

At some later date, that or another gunsmith apparently ran in a .225 Winchester reamer to get the larger case and added that to the barrel stamp.

OP says "To be clear, yes, I've been shooting the rifle. It came with half a dozen boxes of .225 Win, and that's what I've been putting through it."
All he has to do is to put a fired case up next to a fresh round and look for any unusual expansion that would indicate the gunsmith had his own ideas about what a .225 should look like. There is not much scope for improving the .225, it pretty much IS an Improved Zipper, the difference only mattering to the reamer grinder.

As to barrel and bullet diameter, we have the .218 Bee, .219 Zipper, .220 Swift, .222 Remington, .223 Remington, .224 Weatherby, and .225 Winchester.
ALL are .224" guns, the numbers on the box arising from the advertising department.
Strangely the .22 Hornet, .22 Jet, and .22 Savage are NOT .224" guns.

A BORE of .218" would only be a thou undersize and not unusual, but I doubt it was in the mind of the gunsmith as he wielded his stamps.
I doubt anybody was freshing out .222" barrels to .225" barrels, either.
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Old November 29, 2017, 10:00 AM   #24
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I’d love to have that rifle.
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Old November 29, 2017, 10:28 AM   #25
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218 is 6 1000's under. That is quite a big squeeze for 224 jacketed bullets.

The OP could pull a bullet from the box that came with the gun and measure that. Probably 224.

The ammo the OP is shooting may be the improved relaods. I suggested he purchase that box of new old stock 225 for reference. (and later use) How could someone just walk away from that?

Quote:
I’d love to have that rifle.
Me too, but; I might look at making some changes.
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