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Old October 12, 2012, 12:55 AM   #1
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.257 Wildcat... Any Info???

Hi everyone. My fiancee was given a rifle last year... very cool old rifle. It's a custom piece built on a GEW 98 action. Dis-assembly exposed "HOLLYWOOD GUN SHOP, 6-28-1946, FRED D HAYS" stamped into the stock. The barrel is stamped "257 AI." It came with an old Weaver 330 with no reticle that was sold to fund a Leupold. It was clearly someone's baby. Very long 26" barrel with a heavy 1-1/4" chamber area, well-fitted checkered walnut stock with ebony for-end and raised cheek, smooth original 2-stage trigger.

A visit with a trusted gunsmith told us that the rifle is in good working order, though he thinks the bore is showing some wear.

Here's the kicker- It is NOT a .257 Ackley Improved chamber. Rather than the 40 degree shoulder, this one has an ogee shoulder like that of the Weatherby magnums. I can only assume this was a wildcat experiment by the maker. Luckily, roberts brass fireforms well straight from factory loads, like ackley does, and an (expensive, but not as bad as a custom-made) 257 Ackley die from Lee will neck-size the cases for reloading. Thus far we've found loads that will group consistently 1" @100, though they are lighter Roberts loads rather than the hotter Ackley.

Anyway, I'd love to hear any information anyone might have about this gunmaker, this wildcat chambering, any thoughts on reloading it, etc. I'm very new to metallic reloading. Pic with brass is, left to right, .257 Roberts, .257 Ackley, and our .257 that my fiancee affectionately calls .257 Brasstard.

Last edited by Wrongsyde; October 12, 2012 at 03:44 PM. Reason: Different photo posting
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Old October 12, 2012, 12:43 PM   #2
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First of all, welcome!

Next, sorry, but your attachments do not work.

It sounds like the 257 AI chamber was not cut correctly. This is fairly common, giving a sharp angle at the shoulder and a radius at the neck. It can be recut, of course, but would then be the same as everyone else's 257 AI.
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Old October 12, 2012, 03:51 PM   #3
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Thanks for the welcome.

I just posted the photos via photobucket... I should have taken care of that a long time ago!

I'm interested in the mis-cut idea, but I'm not sure it applies here. The entire shoulder looks very midway between Robts and AI; not something that I would expect to be a "mistake." However, your suggestion explains the 257 AI stamp on the barrel. Hmmmm....
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Old October 12, 2012, 04:32 PM   #4
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The Hollywood Gun Shop was one of the fine old outfits.
I have not heard of Fred Hays, though.
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Old October 12, 2012, 05:27 PM   #5
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I have to agree. The guy probably did not re-dress his wheel often enough when making the reamer.
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Old October 12, 2012, 06:05 PM   #6
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You're probably going to have to handload for that and that's going to add to the problem. If you only neck size you can fire form new brass from the regular .257 Roberts cartridge and just leave the chamber alone.
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Old October 12, 2012, 08:54 PM   #7
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Fireform and neck size only. Start reloading at standard 257 levels and work your way up carefully. My money says you will probably get very close to 257AI results.
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Old October 12, 2012, 09:35 PM   #8
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Thanks for the feedback guys. I have run through several different loads, though I have a lot more experimentation ahead. Roberts factory loads run through the gun beautifully and remarkably accurate.

My next issue to work through with this is primer backout... as I said I have lots to work through, and am a very newbie handloader. Here's the thing. Factory loads back the primer out about .010 and don't reseat them, which is as I understand to be expected and not a serious problem.

But my handloads, using 40-43g of IMR 4350 under a 117 SST with a Fed 215 Mag primer, with fireformed brass necksized only, back out primers about .010 too! I have a basic idea about firing pin/primer detonation setback, brass "sticking" to chamber, case stretching to reseat primer, etc, but I don't quite get this one. Should not a fireformed case fill the chamber pretty tightly, eliminating most of the headspace that allows primer backout, especially as much as .010?

I know Ackley loads are supposed to fireform just fine with factory Robts, and would assume this case to be the same, but should I try fireforming with a lighter load than factory standard?

As I said I have plenty of work to do yet, but any suggestions would be much appreciated as I work through this.
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