Winchester 1894

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JoinedCOLON Sun Nov 20, 2005 9:29 pm

Winchester 1894

Post by dixda » Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:16 pm

Hi, I just got a first model octogon barrelled 1894 chambered in .38-55 . I plan on using it primarily with lead and black powder with the occasional jacket and smokeless. What would be the best black powder or substitute to use in this old shooter for the least amount of build-up and the most consistancy.TIA,KD

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JoinedCOLON Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:40 pm

38-55 and BP loads...

Post by Warlock » Tue Nov 22, 2005 11:03 pm

Well, it will be a bit of experimentation for you, but, here is what works for me.

I am assuming you are using modern manufactured W-W 38-55 brass, which is 2.080" tall.

Original brass was 2.1295" in length and this causes 2 issues.

1) if you crimp at the as cast crimp grove, your OAL will be shorter than what is suggested.
2) if you crimp below the grove, your bullets will have a tendancy to "slide down" into the grove, and thereby causing "shavings" or such

both of these issues will effect accuracy SIGNIFICANTLY beyond 100 yds.

Here is what I do.

Brass preperation
I fire form all my 38-55 brass. (9gr of Unique, card wad, grits, card, glue...let sit a few days then do a batch of them at the range)

If you are feeling like you have a hole in your pocket, Buffalo arms has "stretched" 38-55 brass.

I would wait to buy any qty of brass until starline has their 38-55 (in original 2.129' length) brass. Its due here after Xmas.

Bullet preperation
The lyman mould for a 250gr bullet is rather shallow on lube. (IMHO)
I have started using the Lee .379" 250gr bullet mould [yeah, its alum, but, it works for me] with 25:1 or 30:1.

You might also want to order a bullet sizer, but, it will be a custom job for Lee. Expect to waith 2 1/2 to 3 weeks for it. $25 + $5 S&H.

I have also gotten into the habbit of very lightly sanding the bottoms of the bullets to "true-up" the bases. I still keep my bullets in lots of +/-.2 gr

Depends on what you shoot for powder. Since you indicated BP and subs, you can get away with bees wax and crisco. I have never seen the need for SPG, but, its good stuff...just don't use it in warm/hot weather.

I like 1lb of bees wax, 6oz of crisco, 6oz of bol-wax, and 6oz of canola oil or murphys oil soap. (some times I use a bit of both)

I pan lube everything so, its not a problem for me.

That lube recipe works well for both BP and smokeless.

Well, I started with GOEX cartridge and found it was not what I had hoped for. I tried Pyrodex P, and its faster, but, not very consistent. Same with Pyrodex RS.

777 has a good punch to it and adds 100fps to my loads. But, it tends to cause the fouling to be harder/caked. (I think it burns hotter)

I now use only Pyrodex "Select" which is a really consistent grained FFg equivalent. Its not as powerful as 777 or Swiss, but, still sends bullets down range at over 1260fps. I get ALOT of crap from folks on the yahoo group about this, but, I have nothing to be ashamed of.

I use a 40" drop tube made from 1/4" copper tubing and a plastic funnel at the high end. I can get 48gr in it quite nicely with about 1/2" of compression, when I seat to an OAL of 2.56" with the Lee mould.

I put a milk carton cut-out over the powder to prevent the bullet bases from getting trashed or powder sticking to it.

[for indoor ranges, I substitute 10.2gr of Trailboss instead which is very similar to my Pyrodex Select load]

Winchester Large Rifle Magnum
Federal 215 Large Rifle Magnum

Lyman makes some really nice ones, but, I still go back to using my Ideal 310 tool now and again.

The Lee taper crimp die is your best friend... escpecially with short brass like the W-W stuff.

I load everything on a Lee turret.

Well, last time I was BP shooting, I found I was getting 3" groups if I did my part on the 100yd range. I have only had it on the 200yd range once, and I was getting everything on the black. (using a 100yd target on the 200yd range was a challenge)

At the last range session, I was able to walk up the targe a near perfect straight line with a 5 shot group. (I would let the barrel cool for 2 min in between shots)

I am shooting a converted Win 94. (it started life as a 30-30 and I went shopping on numrich for parts and turned it into a 26" 38-55) It specs out at .3795 and has not had any problems. It needs some trigger work at this point if I am going to do any better.

I did put a Pachmyr recoil pad ("Decellerator") on the stock to help my shoulder.

I took it deer hunting this fall. (not with BP, but, smokeless)
134lb doe...I am not ashamed.

Here is my 2" group last time at the 50yd range... (top right was when I "flinched")

PostsCOLON 5
JoinedCOLON Sun Nov 20, 2005 9:29 pm

Post by dixda » Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:22 pm

I like your setup and thank you for your invaluable information. After much reading,I have decided to shoot lead and black powder only in this barrel. It isn't one of the nickel steel barrels that Winchester used in 1895,so I don't know how it would stand up to any smokeless loads or copper jackets. Your method of fireforming your brass intrigues me. Does it stretch your cases significantly? If so,please explain how I could duplicate your results.KD

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JoinedCOLON Mon Nov 28, 2005 4:17 pm
LocationCOLON Dewey, Arizona

Post by McLintock » Mon Nov 28, 2005 4:39 pm

I've got two 94's in 38-55 that I shoot both black powder and smokeless in; an original made in 1896 and a put together "custom" with pre-64 action and Brownell's octogon barrel with commenerative wood. The original likes smokeless better, and the other likes BP better, go figure. My BP load for the newer gun is WW cases at 2.08", Fed LR Primer, 41-2 gr of Swiss 1 1/2F, Lyman 375449 260gr gas check bullet (saves using a wad), cast 20-1 and sized to .378. Gives about .100" compression. Shoots very accurately out to 200 yards and the only trouble is seeing the target after the first couple shots, and when you're competeing against mostly smokeless shooters, makes it hard but I get the style points.
The old one likes 26 gr of AA2015, with the same bullet cast hard and sized to .381 (biggest I can find so far as the barrel slugs at .3815"), and a Winchester or Fed LR primer.
I've shot both rifles with plain base bullets (Lyman 378448 for the new one and Mountain Moulds personal design for the old one), a .030" wad and about the same amount of powder and compression and they don't come near the above load.
Hope this helps.
What's time to a hog.

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JoinedCOLON Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:40 pm

softer bullet might work...

Post by Warlock » Tue Jan 03, 2006 10:42 pm

I have heard that a softer bullet in older 38-55 rifles will help "bump up" if you put enough blasting powder behind it. <hehe>

That might help with the barrel that specs out at .3815"


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