32-20 Model 1894CL Marlin That Won't Shoot Cast Lead

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  • Last Post 24 July 2019
mashburn posted this 05 July 2019

I posted some discussions about this particular rifle some while back and the trouble I was having trying to get it to shoot cast lead. I was thoroughly disgusted and set the gun back in the safe and started playing with other 32-20's. I haven't done any loading for it since but, discovered something about it that surprised me. I saw an article on loading for this particular 1894CL Marlin and they mentioned that it shot 308. jacketed bullets quite well. Guess what, I slugged the barrel and to my surprise no wonder it shot. 308 jacketed bullets well, the bore on this thing is .308. I would have thought that a so called expert who got a 3 or 4 page article published in the Handloader Magazine would have figured that out. I thought any of you readers who have a like rifle might like to know this in case yours is the same way. I hate to confess my ignorance that I didn't slug the barrel before I started. Also , if you don't know the CL Marlins in 32-20 have Ballard type rifling, not micro grove like some people who responded to my post thought .My question now is; are all of the 32-20CL marlins made with a .308 barrel.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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lotech posted this 05 July 2019

I bought one of these not long after they came out. It's always shot accurately with the Lyman 115 grain gas check flat nose bullet design. I don't recall exactly at the moment, but I size at either .312" or .313"; no leading and good accuracy with or without gas check. I shoot mild Unique loads that are around 1300+ fps. Never had a need to slug the bore. 

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mashburn posted this 05 July 2019

Hello Lotech,

Thanks for your reply.  I would sure like to know for sure how many hit the market with the .308 barrel. I've had this thing for years and it's been setting in the gunsafe in the new unfired condition. I had fired it five times with factory ammo when I first got it and the trigger was so bad that I was going to do a trigger job before I shot it anymore and had never gotten around to doing that. If there is anyone out there that owns one of these rifles and has slugged the bore I would really appreciate your contact to let me know.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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lotech posted this 05 July 2019

Mashburn - I got my rifle directly from Marlin through their PR guy more than thirty years ago. It has Ballard rifling. As far as I know,  they all had Ballard rifling. I'm pretty sure the groove and bore dimensions (whatever those might be) are the same on all these guns. At least, I've never heard of variations. I don't slug barrels. Instead, I shoot a cartridge with the largest diameter bullet that will allow for easy chambering. This method has always worked well for me. I always assumed my rifle had a bore greater than .308, but I may be wrong on that. It may have a .308 barrel. You might start with a .311" cast bullet and go up from there. I doubt you'll need to go past .313".   

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M3 Mitch posted this 05 July 2019

Mashburn, what diameter of CB were you trying to shoot, and got bad accuracy with?  *Usually* bad accuracy and leading is linked to undersized bullets, in my experience oversize bullets shoot fine.

For example my 1948 Model 70 30-06 shoots the 3118 quite well with light loads appropriate for a PB bullet. I think I am sizing that 3118 to just about .311. 

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mashburn posted this 05 July 2019

 

Hello lotech,

I know that the ones marked CL had ballard rifling but I don't know if there were any that weren't marked CL. Like I stated, I haven't done any more loading or shooting with this rifle but I have done lots of research. I can't remember what source that I pulled this info from but it stated that some were .311 and some were .308. I have looked at so much material that I know I have it somewhere. That is what made me slug my barrel. I was fussing about the Hand Loader article and I have another old hand loader magazine dealing with loads for this rifle and they were saying .311 also, Get this; I bought a new set of RCBS loading dies a few years ago and the expander button is for .308 like a Thompson Center Contender 32-20. And the die box isn't marked as Thompson Center Contender 32-20. My old set of dies has a expander button for .311.

Thanks for reply and the info supplied. When I get in the mood I will whip this thing but I have too many 32-20's that shoot to get very excited with it at the moment. I have a feeling that this one may never shoot anything including jacketed.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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RicinYakima posted this 05 July 2019

Never give up! Leave it in your will to someone you don't like very much.

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mashburn posted this 06 July 2019

Hello RicinYakima,

Very good idea but I will try it again later. It's set in the gun safe waiting for something to do a long time so it can wait a little longer. I don't know if it's an advantage or a disadvantage to have so many guns. I know I was a much better shot when I hunted with the same gun all the time, of course I was much younger also.

Thanks,

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 06 July 2019

Hello Mitch

, I can't say for sure without looking at my load book. I think I was shooting .312 bullets because that's the biggest sizer that I had at the time. Now that I know the bore is .308 I sure shouldn't have been under size with my bullets. This particular bullet shoots very well in any 32-20 rifle or revolvers that I have loaded for. Like I stated earlier, I had only fired this gun about 5 times since it was new and with jacketed bullets and I wasn't too happy at the way they shot.

Thanks a lot for your input.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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ALYMAN#1 posted this 06 July 2019

For info, a 2008 era 1894 CL I have slugs at about 0.312 groove diameter with a bore at 0.306.  Found a tight spot close to chamber that probably got the 0.312.  Have not had a good chance to check accuracy at all with this rifle as our range is OOC at this time.  Will try to update when possible.

Al

Also checked  a 1990 1894 CL that I got access to - very close 0.311 groove with a distinct tight spot just in front of chamber.  Rest of barrel runs close to 0.312 with 0.305 bore.  Hope this helps - will try to improve tight spot in first one with JB or Rem clean.

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mashburn posted this 06 July 2019

Hell ALYMAN#1,

Thanks a lot for the information and your effort to do so.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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M3 Mitch posted this 08 July 2019

I would think a tight spot right near the chamber might very well give you a gun or at least barrel that would shoot poorly with cast at least, maybe jacketed too. 

I have seldom heard of any gun shooting *better* with cast than with jacketed.  Only time this happens is if the only jacketed bullets available are undersized, and you then try a properly sized cast bullet.

Maybe one of the real gunsmiths on here will post up on how to remove that tight spot without causing other issues.

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mashburn posted this 08 July 2019

Hello,

Excuse me Mitch, but I am a REAL GUNSMITH.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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45 2.1 posted this 08 July 2019

 Also , if you don't know the CL Marlins in 32-20 have Ballard type rifling, not micro grove like some people who responded to my post thought .My question now is; are all of the 32-20CL marlins made with a .308 barrel.

Mashburn

As far as I know these came out in two issues, several years apart. The first issue I have and it's a Ballard rifled CL that takes 0.313" Lyman 3118 bullets quite well with SR4759 pushing them. The second issue was micro groove which a good friend has. He hasn't fired it yet either. I've handled it many times and it is definitely micro groove..................groove diameter unknown.

 

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M3 Mitch posted this 09 July 2019

Sorry, I can't keep up with all the guys who are real gunsmiths compared to guys like me who can change a few parts but couldn't do anything with a tight spot in the barrel.  I do think if you can feel a tight spot with a patch on a cleaning rod, that is very likely at least part of your problem.

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mashburn posted this 09 July 2019

Hello 452.1,

I don't keep up with what Marlin has turned out the last several years. When I still had my shop open to the public I saw a lot of marlin junk: for instance new rifles that wouldn't cycle a factory round and couldn't hardly be opened and closed by the lever when empty. Stocks that looked like they had been fit with a chainsaw and a butcher knife. I'll stop my descriptions there. My rifle is very early, (it was new when I bought it,  it's just been setting in the gun safe waiting on something to do)  and it  definitely has ballard rifling and  a .308 tube which I guess makes it very unusual. Like I said before I've read that they did produce some CL's with .308 bores.  I've got that info somewhere and I'm going to try and find it again.

Thanks for your reply and information.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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mashburn posted this 09 July 2019

Hello Mitch,

Sorry about my somewhat snide remark. I ask a lot of dumb questions about cast lead shooting in rifles. It is an area that is new to me and I'm not embarrassed to ask questions about areas in which I'm not acquainted. I have basically mastered cast lead revolver loads because it is something I have done over a lot of years but am just getting acquainted with cast lead in rifles. As far as my gunsmith abilities: I have built rifles of every type you can think of, including building several of my own actions from scratch .I can assure you that it does not have a tight spot in the barrel but evidently it is rare with the .308 barrel.

Thanks for your reply,

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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M3 Mitch posted this 09 July 2019

This is interesting.  You have ruled out most all of the known reasons that some Marlin rifles don't shoot well, your gat does not have any of these problems but it shoots poorly. A relatively tight bore in my experience usually shoots better with cast.  I think the Marlins with Ballard rifling were intended to shoot cast bullets, if you have an early gun you probably have good craftsmanship. A buddy has an old Marlin 38-40 with that deep Ballard rifling, fortunately no corrosion in that bore - it shoots very accurately for a 38-40.

While I have not done it in a Marlin, I have shot the old 3118 bullet at about .310 to .312 through all sorts of 30-06 rifles, I have not measured the bore or the throat on these but they all shot jacketed .308 bullets anywhere from OK to outstandingly.  I load the 3118 mostly as an offhand practice load, and using a Lyman 48 peep, it will shoot minute of beer can out to 75 yards, which I think most people would be satisfied with from a 32-20.

Final thought is maybe your Marlin has a considerably oversized throat, our late friend Onondaga pointed out that bullet fit to the throat is the key to accuracy. 

Have you thought about making a chamber cast? 

Is this a rifle style or carbine style gun?  It's possible for carbine style guns to have the front barrel/magazine band tight on both tubes, and this sometimes causes trouble, although mostly in 30-30 and bigger rounds as they heat the barrel over a few shot string.  This usually causes vertical stringing that gets worse as more rounds are fired, particularly if fired in rapid succession.  Having worked as a gunsmith professionally, you almost certainly already know all this. 

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BigMan54 posted this 11 July 2019

I had one of the 1st run of 1894CL in .32-20. 

I slugged it and found the bore to be .311,  sized the #311316GC at .312dia. It shot great. Put a Redfield FP -  Peep Sight on it. Shot even better. 

Like an IDIOT, I sold it to finance Cowboy Shooting. 

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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rjmeyer314p posted this 24 July 2019

I have an 1894CL with a receiver sight on it. My shooting journal shows I get about 2" groups at 100 yards using 115 gr LaserCast bullets from Oregon Trail and 9.0 gr SR 4759.

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