I hope I'm entering the final stretch of my load development for a couple of antique 38-55 rifles--a mod 94 Winchester and a Stevens 44-1/2, both with nice bores, no pits, strong rifling, but with bores big enough in dia so bullets big enough to fill the bore are too big to fit the chamber. With the help of folks on this forum I have decided that this is a common problem with rifles built 100 years ago and the remedy was to use soft pure lead or soft alloy bullets relying on the rapid ignition of black powder to cause the bullet to obdurate and fill the bore. I have a couple of molds which cast bullets .376" dia, and the rifles have .377 bores. #2 alloy bullets are inaccurate at 50 yards, and some of them keyhole. I have cast bullets of 1-30 and 1-40 alloy. In Starline or WW cases these are a slip fit in the chamber of each rifle. I will try black powder, but I would l would like a smokeless load at about 1300 fps and a 285 or 265 gr bullet--about 32-40 velocity--which I think is about max velocity to push a 1-30 or 1-40 bullet. Most modern published load data list starting loads of 1600 fps or more, and I don't like to load rifle rounds with Bulleye. What powders would y'all recommend?
load for rifles with oversize bores
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Starline 38-55 brass has .007" neck wall thickness vs .010" on Winchester brass. My M94 38-55 barrel slugged .380" but wouldn't chamber a .381" bullet in Winchester brass. Years ago I used to neck turn Winchester brass down to .007" so I could load a .381" bullet. After buying some of Starline's thin necked brass back in the early 2000's I no longer use Winchester brass in the rifle.
The best solution is to have Tom at Accurate cut you a heeled bullet with shank which fits your chamber neck, having an oversized RWS style stop ring which is throat-sized, and having a forepart which fits the origin of rifling in your barrel. This bullet for the 9.5x47 sort of illustrates the idea, but he can easily tweak diameters for you and give you different weight.
In my1894 Winchester .35/.30-30 I use 9 grains of Bullseye with a 245-grain bullet for 1080 fps. In the Winchester 1894 in .38-55 you should be OK with 10 grains with 255-grain bullet, or 13 grains of Unique, PB or Herco.
73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia
The best solution is to have Tom at Accurate cut you a heeled bullet with shank which fits your chamber neck, having an oversized RWS style stop ring which is throat-sized, and having a forepart which fits the origin of rifling in your barrel.
This is easily done with an appropriate diameter sizing die. Just size down to where you want the change in diameter. Some of the Winchester commemoratives have the same problem. I solved that with paper patching. None of this is a problem if you think it out and get a little creative with what you do.
Thanks very much for the offer. I'd very much appreciate a few of your bullets. I'll pay postage or reimburse you. 47 echo lake dr, Fairview NC 28730.
Yesterday was a beautiful day at the range and I was able to try some loads with my 1-30 and 1-40 bullets, .376" dia, in .377" bore.
About 40 years ago Ken Waters published a series of articles in the "Handloader" on loading for the 45-70, which was gaining a lot of interest years before the black powder rifle craze which started with the Shiloh Sharps. Waters tested about a dozen different rifles with jacketed bullets and also bullets he cast from a 7/lyno--5/pb alloy. He tested some old molds which cast undersize bullet, and reported they did not perform well in any of the rifles he tested. He tested powders from 4759 to 4831, but no pistol powders such as 4227 and 2400. He made the flat statement that he wanted no part of undersized cast bullets.
I read this article when I first started casting for a Ruger #3 carbine (not much fun to shoot a 6-1/2 lb. 45-70 with any load I ever found), and I never had any experience with undersize bullets until I started loading for some 100-yr.-old rifles with oversize bores. Yesterday I did some preliminary testing with a Mod 94 made in 1909 and a 44-1/2 Stevens, both bores slugged .377" grove dia. the largest dia bullet which will give a press fit either with WW or Starline cases is .376 dia. I tried both brands. WW LR primers. I used NOE 285 gr, Lee 265 gr., and Hoch 365 in the Stevens. 16grs 5744 and 16grs 4227
These are very preliminary observations. I got no bragging rights groups--I'm scheduled for catarac surgery next week. I got a number of 2-3" four shot groups with a flyer at 50 yds, which is the best these 73 years can do. So very tentatively:
It is not too much fun to shoot a lot of 38-55 rounds off a bench with rifles with crescent buttplates I have a Browning B-78 with a 38-55 bbl. which is getting a Pacmyre recoil pad. My next projects are 32-40 WCF and 30-30 WCF with the same loads.
I think that with 1-40 alloy bullets at 32-40 velocities loads can be developed which will shoot accurately either in rifles with oversize bores or in modern rifles. I think Waters may have had much better results had he tried a softer bullet, lower velocities, and faster powders.
I'd appreciate any comments.
Fitzpatrick, Thank you very much. I'll report results.
Some tangentially applicable experience: I have an old 38-40 Bisley with this same thing going on, although opening up chamber throats in a revolver is easier than a rifle. Anyway as I worked up from a minimum load of Unique, I noticed at a certain level, considerably below maximum, using wheel weight bullets, that accuracy got a lot better, as I was developing enough pressure to obtruate the bullets into the oversize barrel.
That said, this Bisley has never been exactly a nail-driver for me.
Probably faster powders that are recommended for the 38-55 will get you into obtruation space at a lower velocity, with less recoil, if that's where you want to go. I think any recommended powder will make enough pressure to get the bullets slugging up at some level less than maximum.
Me, I would think hard about opening up the neck of your chamber, at least, to accommodate a bullet big enough for the barrel. Or I would at least try to make some measurements
SR 4759 is an excellent choice... if you have any. Other choices are Unique, 2400, 4227, 4198, RL 7, 5744.
I have slugged the bbls on both these old rifles and grove dia measures .377". I first tried .356 bullets of #2 alloy with 1600 fps loads of 5744 and 4198 and got no accuracy and keyholing. The max fps I find recommended with 1-40 alloy is 1300, which is black powder velocity. I can find very few recommended loads with smokeless which are less than 1500-1900. This project is to load steel target loads to shoot on my range, out to 236yds max. I will not compete or use these to hunt.
If I decide to sell either rifle I don't want to advertise that they have been modified in any way because I'm told this will detract from collector value. I'm a stubborn old cuss and I want to make these perform accurately the way a 1895 hunter would have done if he decided to use smokeless cartridges in a new mod 94 38-55.
By the way, I have examined one of the last well made marlin 336 rifles in 38-55, Ballard bbl which have owned for years but never shot enough to work up an accurate load; and it also appears to have the same oversize bore demensions--not the first time I have seen a modern marlin with pre SAAMI chamber.
I'm down to less than 1/2 can of 4759. I'll try the others you recommended. I'm sure all of them can safely be loaded 10% less than the suggested starting loads in the manuals.
Thanks very much. If I don't get good results with the molds I have, I'll think about a custom heeled mold.
loophole: It's more work this way but instead of ordering a custom cut healed bullet mould , using soft lead I've been able to swage a heal on the Noe 432-215-WC Z2 the hollow base wad cutter. Using the Noe body bushings and a positive stop. When finished the powder coated bullet has a .429 heal and a .4325 nose. This is for use in my Ruger 44-40 Vaquero (the one with the oversize bore)/. I had the throats opened but now need to have the necks opened, thus the need of the healed bullet. Not unlike what you have in your rifles. Just another work around. Gp
saeco makes a mould with a tapper the base is .382 and goes down to .376 mine throughs a 300 gr. bullet and i use star line 2.125 brass win. large rifle primmer and 27.5 gr. of reloader 7 getting great accuracy if you would like i could send you some to try before buying a mould
gp: ... hey, some good tricks there .... swaging a heel on a hollow-base ... wow ...
when using hollow-base i suppose there is a compromise between a hollow big enough to expand quickly and yet not too big to distort from the muzzle blast .
although when i shot hornady hollow bases in my 8 inch 357 dan wesson, i ran into leading before the loads got hot enough to blow out at the muzzle ...
i used to just run a drill bit into the bases of my own wadcutter castings ... worried about going too deep and blowing out the front ... never did, and also never got a good ( different ) result ... alloy, pressure, ? always thought i would try that idea again, but never got back to that.
anybody else see a relation between cast bullets and herding cats ?? ... ken
"I have a couple of molds which cast bullets .376" dia, and the rifles have .377 bores. #2 alloy bullets are inaccurate at 50 yards, and some of them keyhole."
A .001 undersize bullet of #2 alloy should not normally keyhole unless there was another issue such as stabilization. The twist in the older rifles is pretty slow and just may not be stabilizing your bullets at the lower velocity. What bullet, lube and sizing were you using?
A simpler solution to using larger diameter bullets may be as simple as turning/reaming the necks thinner.
Concealment is not cover.........
Neck turning, is the answer and may improve accuracy, all by itself.
I would also recommend a .378-9 diameter bullet mold.
Your key holing could be a result of gas cutting.
For the 44 1/2, with careful neck turning, you can load the cases w/o sizing, making the brass last, much longer, as a added benefit.
Turn the necks to give a ID of the same size of the as cast bullet and chamfer the mouth so that you can just start the bullet base and seat the bullet.
For the LA, after neck turning, as above, use a bushing type sizing die, with no more than .002 neck tension and crimp to keep the bullet in place.
If a rifle wont shoot as is, what is the problem with "modifying" it?
Lots of rifles and handguns have been sent out "within specs" but not useable as they are.... or at least not accurate enough as they are. My Ruger handguns as an example, were so so shooters till I got to doing throats, forcing cones, etc. Then they became FANTASTIC shooters. If someone wants to buy a firearm, they want to shoot it and want it to shoot well. As a firearm owner, I want a firearm to shoot and shoot well. To me, doesn't matter if you keep it or not, you want it to shoot well. If someone is so ignorant and says "well, it has been modified" then they don't want it. Don't back down on your price at all. Tell them "Thank you, but no sale" if they don't want to pay what you want. At least you still have a firearm that shoots well and is enjoyable even if you only shoot it but once a blue moon.
I once bought a 44 magnum barrel for a TC Encore that had been rechambered to 444 Marlin to correct a throat issue. With 240 grain SWC handloads at a whopping 1100 fps., the thing is deadly accurate to 200 yards off a bench and I get to show my buddies this huge cartridge sliding into this pistol and they all grin and wont touch it for hell or high water. If it is YOUR weapon, make it work for YOU. Tell everyone else to go away. You can sell it when you are danged good and ready.
Just my 2 cents. Well, maybe closer to 4 cents, but I am not collecting sales tax. LOL.
thinking can be dangerous. over thinking can be very dangerous. reaching conclusions can be disastrous.
so i will jump right in and surmise that collectors don't want modified guns because they are of that group that has as a banner :: " stop the world i want to get off " .
now we can think about whether they are right or not .....
i belong to the tribe that likes to modify/blow up things, ... but i did have one sacred gun ... a single shot savage target pistol from a favorite uncle that took me quail hunting when i was 4 years old ... it was small, and got lost during my gypsy days ... i think about it upon occasion and always smell that empty shotshell fragrance ...
I bought these old rifles as an investment, and one day someone will have to sell them to raise cash. I believe modifications will lower collector value and make them more difficult to sell. I have a more modern rifles in 38-55, so I do not have to make these shoot well to accomplish my primary purpose in buying them.
Also, I am very interested in how cowboys and hunters used these rifles 100 years ago and how these rifles performed when they were new. If I were younger and wanted the most accurate rifle possible I would not hesitate to modify. Frankly, folks who buy beautiful old guns just to lock them away and never shoot them give me a pain in the ass.
bullets are packaged up will go in the mail tomorrow they are pan lubed with my home brew i thew in a few of the star-line 2.125 brass ,my rifle won't take the shorter winchester brass but works great with the longer star line brass
Well, offhand I like Ed's idea of a heel-based bullet, and/or Admiral's idea of going to Starline brass. Or you could do both.
I understand not wanting to modify an old gun, but, I really wonder how many buyers who are collectors and not shooters would pay attention to or notice a few thousandths taken off the walls of the neck area of the chamber. "Who's gonna know?"
As to crescent butt plates off the bench - if you can, make yourself a standing rest. As a card-carrying heretic, I don't believe that load development *must* be done off the bench. "Inaccuracy factors" for lack of a better term, add up as RMS mathematically. So take a gun/ammo system that you know will shoot say a 2" group at 100, (I'm assuming you can shoot this combo to it's capability off the bench and the group size is all about the rifle, you are "perfect") and shoot some groups from any position you want to use, even offhand. Let's assume those offhand groups are just under 3" (let's say square root of 8, to be exact) . Your own contribution to the inaccuracy, RMS is also 2", because 2 squared plus 2 squared is 8. If I have made a conceptual error here, somebody set me straight.
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