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Old January 23, 2010, 09:56 AM   #1
Join Date: January 22, 2010
Posts: 25
1892 re-bored for .38spec

I have a 1892 oct barrel Winchester, prod date 1895. Unfortunately it was re-bored in the 50's for .38 spec from 25-20WCF. I know, I know, it was raped.

However, I got it from the dear friend who had it done, as he is up in years now.

I love shooting it, but something strange happens.

WIth my standard plinking load of 3.1gns Red Dot and a 158gn Copper clad head, the head does NOT make it out of the barrel!!!!!

Factory Ammo works Ok, but I wonder if the longer barrel DOES require a +P load for accuracy. Certainly the chamber can handle it, it is enormously thick.

With converted Cowboy guns, in pistol calibers, are there rifle-pistol loads to compensate.?
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Old January 23, 2010, 10:16 AM   #2
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it sounds nuts but i owned a 6inch smith model 15 that copper jacketed bullets would stick in the bore with anything but max loads. i suspect as your friend is older he intended was too shoot readily available ammo at the time of the conversion. more than likely that would be 158 grain round nose lead. it wasnt that long ago that 218, 25 20, 32 20, 38 40, 44 40 brass was simply not around. cowboy action shooting and smaller companies reintroducing brass cases changed all that.
....anyway try lead bullet loads. jmho, bobn.
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Old January 24, 2010, 08:05 AM   #3
Join Date: January 22, 2010
Posts: 25
I thought about using leadies.....But man, that is a LOOOOONG barrel to clean up the fouling. I know I could minimize it with the right load....but getting there is a pain.

It just blows my mind..

The 158 JRN (Copper Clad Berry Bullet) was stuck right about a 1/2 inch from the barrel end. It did NOT sound like a squib. I pulled 200 rounds just to check them out...all had 3.1 gn of Red Dot.

LAZER CUT makes some hard leadiies...or maybe use gas checkies....

I sure wish I could find an Original 25-20 barrel for her. The gun was also re-blued and (gulp) polished up, and the rear stock replaced with a new 50's era made stock. The serial numbers were polished way down, and (gulp) the 25-20WCF stamp was hammered over with .38 Special.

I know it was the "thing" to do back in '52 because of the "Rifleman" show. But you would think the smith would have seen the low serial number and declined to do it.

It's still a 114 years old....but it sure don't look lke it.
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Old January 24, 2010, 08:49 AM   #4
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Try slugging your bore. I'm betting you're closer to 25 cal than 357.
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Old January 24, 2010, 09:02 AM   #5
Join Date: January 22, 2010
Posts: 25
The thought crossed my mind when I got the rifle.

Absolutely necessary now.

I bet it is going to be a shocker. Supposedly this was done by a smith that did a lot of these for a gun club in northern Il, a group purchase or something.

Out comes dowl ..........
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Old January 25, 2010, 05:05 AM   #6
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I know it was the "thing" to do back in '52 because of the "Rifleman" show. But you would think the smith would have seen the low serial number and declined to do it.
In 1952, a used Winchester was a $15 or $20 gun. "Collector mania" is a fairly recent phenomenon. The gunsmith who did the conversion was no more concerned with the low serial number than the guy who chopped and channeled a '32 Ford to make a hot rod out of it.

I would definitely slug your bore, however, to make sure it wasn't chambered for some obscure calibre made from a necked down .38 Special.

Original barrels are around, but be prepared to pay for it. The problem with replacing the barrel, however, would be the cartridge guides, which are calibre specific. You would have to replace those as well, and there is a possibility that the cartridge lifter might need to be replaced. In all likelihood, the breech face was slightly enlarged to accommodate the larger diameter rim of the .38 Special.
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Old January 25, 2010, 10:58 PM   #7
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 24,133
Three grains of Red Dot is a light target load for use in revolvers. It is entirely possible that a metal jacket bullet won't make it out of a rifle barrel.

While it is possible that the original .25 barrel was rechambered without reboring, it seems very unlikely. Reboring and rerifling those old .25-20 and .32-20 barrels was common, since most of them looked like sewer pipes after 50 years of corrosive primers.

By all means make sure everything is OK, then go right ahead and fire standard .38 Special loads. If the rifle had been kept in the original caliber, it would be nothing but a wall hanger due to (most likely) a bad barrel, plus the cost of the ammo today.

Jim K
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