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Shooting the 38-40 WCF #15791623 02/15/21
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Rossimp Offline OP
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Anyone shoot the 38-40 WCF smokeless in rifle or revolver? Cartridge appears to be high performance, accurate and somewhat ahead of its time being a bottleneck.

Realizing it’s a handloaders cartridge and Starline makes brass, is it worth the trouble and investment for a revolver and lever gun. For some reason, maybe because it’s more rare, it appeals to me. Thanks.

BP-B2

Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15791752 02/15/21
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I own a Winchester 92 in 38-40. It's a fun little rifle to shoot. Keep in mind that it's not a 38 caliber bullet, it's 40 caliber. I cast bullets for it and load them over 700 X or Trail Boss, both powders work fine in it. I use it to kill cans but it would work fine as a close range pest/Varmint control gun. I hear it's somewhat popular in cowboy shooting competitions. Whether it's worth it to you or not depends on you, it is a caliber you don't run into every day.

Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15792134 02/15/21
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Rossimp Offline OP
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Understand, in modern revolver replica or any 92 lever the 180 grain load at better than 1,150 in handgun and 1,600 in lever gun seemed pretty potent for an old .40 cal. Probably somewhat hard to justify given a 38 Spl/357 Mag, 44-40 WCF and .45 Colt are so prevalent in Cowboy Action. Thanks.

Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15792263 02/15/21
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MickinColo Offline
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Originally Posted by Rossimp
Understand, in modern revolver replica or any 92 lever the 180 grain load at better than 1,150 in handgun and 1,600 in lever gun seemed pretty potent for an old .40 cal. Probably somewhat hard to justify given a 38 Spl/357 Mag, 44-40 WCF and .45 Colt are so prevalent in Cowboy Action. Thanks.

You're right, the problem the 38-40 has is those darn old revolvers, in the new guns it can shine. But how easy is it to fined modern guns chambered for it? All the calibers you list are easy to fined.

Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15792633 02/15/21
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Mesa Offline
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I'm not a cowboy shooter, but I've owned a bunch of .38-40s since about 1955 and still own several. The first was a Win 1885 Hi-wall that I found in a collapsed line shack in the Ruby Mountains of NV in 1955 and still own. I have fired several thousand rounds thru it and it still is very accurate. Also have an 1885 Lo-wall I bought in Vermont in the late 1980s and had an OR gunsmith reline to new bore cond. Killed two whitetails with that, using what were essentially "cowboy loads." At one time .38-40 was considered a perfectly good deer rifle in the East, and you just have to shoot the critter in some essential part....once. I had a nice '92 full-magazine rifle in .38-40 for a while in the early '80s, but it got turned into a house payment before I got to kill anything but coffee cans with it.

Revolvers in .38-40 that have excellent bores are extremely accurate. They were most popular after the turn of the 19th Century and before the advent of high velocity .38 Spl. and .357 handguns in the late 1920s and mid-'30s. For some reason Colt kept the chamber and bore dimensions of the .38-40 very consistent over the decades--they don't jump all over the micrometer like the .45 Colt and .44-40. Perhaps it's because they didn't make enough of them to wear out the tooling like they did the more popular calibers.

I have mostly had Colt "New Service" DAs in this caliber and they have all been very accurate with factory ammo. I still have a 5 1/2" NS made in 1923 and a 5 1/2" Uberti "Bisley" and they are both tack drivers with the same bore and chamber dimensions--Uberti knew a good thing when they saw it.

Once Trail Boss was introduced, I've used nothing else for this caliber. My bullets are an LBT 180 gr. design with a huge meplat. Starline cases and Black Hills "Cowboy Loads" are an excellent start. Uberti still makes .38-40s. Dixie Gun Works still has some, both SAAs and Bisleys.

My only complaint about the .38-40 is that in short-barrelled revolvers it is LOUD. Wear your plugs or muffs!


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Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15796387 02/16/21
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Late last fall I bought a Ruger blackhawk 10mm and 38-40 cyc., Last week I picked up a Colt Bisley 38-40, iv got about everything to start reloading! Hope to get a rifle in that cal.one day! Been to cold to get out and shoot tho. I have a few cast bullets and a few factory jacketed bullets, have 500 cast coming! Powder is a problem, I do have a little trail boss. But alot of unique!


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Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: saddlering] #15796527 02/16/21
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Rossimp Offline OP
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Sounds great, was looking to take the investment plunge in 38-40. Plenty of jacketed bullets to be had as well. Difficult to reload anything at this time. Can’t get brass, primers, powder for even 308 Win. Need 444 Marlin brass as well. Primers are a real problem. Heard all reloading products are going to frontline ammunition manufacturers at this point in time.

Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15796680 02/16/21
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From my reading, not experience, those old WCF bottlenecks require some care while loading to prevent the cases from being crunched, as they’re pretty thin. Likewise, loading them hot, even in strong guns will take a toll on the brass. Performance isn’t lacking, even at original speeds. Mike Venturino is the guy to read on these.


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Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Pappy348] #15797354 02/16/21
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Rossimp Offline OP
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Understand the original brass and brass produced years after was paper thin. Crunching case mouth and deformation of shoulder was all too common. Heard modern Starline brass was thickened and is much easier to work with for reloading.

Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15797564 02/16/21
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True that--the Starline is completely unlike earlier cases in both .38-40 and .44-40. Still don't mean you can King Kong the mouths, but you have to be pretty careless to crunch 'em like the old ones, especially the Remingtons.

I SUSPECT, but do NOT know, that the Starline cases may have a little less capacity than the older ones and a little higher pressures with the same weight and bulk of powder. Haven't weighed any yet, tho. Anybody know for sure?

Now if they'd just start to make Hornet cases and ctgs.....


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Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15802071 02/17/21
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I use starline for my SAA in 38-40 and universal powder. I would buy a double action in 38-40 if they made it, or a new lever action from rossi, winchester, browning etc. Think of 38-40 as a rimmed 40 S&W...that's basically the ballistics of it, but it's bottleneck a smidge, so it can fit in 45 colt belt loops.

Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15816921 02/20/21
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Bill Poole Offline
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Originally Posted by Rossimp
... in 38-40. Plenty of jacketed bullets to be had...


Jacketed bullets in .401" are for .40S&W and 10mm, like other semiautos, 9/.45 etc, they use the type of crimp that does not have a crimping groove or cannelure

.38-40, like other revolvers including .38/.357/.44/.41 etc uses the other type of crimp that requires a crimping groove or cannelure.

I can't remember which is taper crimp and which is roll crimp

I remember seeing a tool to add a cannelure to jacketed bullets, and I remember seeing Buffalo Arms offering jacketed bullets with the cannelure added.

one can load without crimping but then there is a risk of other bullets moving under recoil

you also have to be careful with lever actions to make sure the tip of the bullet or edge of its hollow point won't risk putting pressure on the primer of the round in front of it when laying at the angle it will in the tube due to cartridge shape.

shoot good!

Poole



Last edited by Bill Poole; 02/20/21.
Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15817960 02/21/21
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I tried various jacketed bullets in my 38-40's that had no cannelure. Even with a Lee FCD they did not do well. A roll crimp was very easy to load with.With Starline,Winchester and Remington cases, I had no prolem with the thin necks.I loaded for a 1900 era Colt and similar era Marlin 94.Best loading I came up with for the Marlin was using 180 gr lead cast and 2400 powder. The Colt, I used W231 or Universal.

Thru research, I found Colt assembled quite a few of them with a .401 barrel. and I evidently had one as I found out when I slugged the barrel. I found a compnay that cast some .403 bullets for me and the Colt did fairly good.

I had bought Lee dies and then made a bigger expander plug to suit those bullets.I sold both guns ,but have two more coming one of these days. A 1936 Marlin 94 that was my father's and Ruger handgun in 38-40 with a 40cal extra cylinder. Ruger made a prodcution run of those for Buckeye Sports. I think it was in the 80's


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Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15824740 02/22/21
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Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15827618 02/23/21
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Thats a Fine looking Rifle!


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Re: Shooting the 38-40 WCF [Re: Rossimp] #15835723 02/25/21
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I have a Ruger Buckeye Special from '91 or '92, I forget which. Also have access to a Winchester '92. I bought the Corbin canneluring tool for my dad a few decades back so he could cannelure 10mm JHPs. Problem I see is he runs the faster than they were designed for and makes a shallow, broad wound.

In my Ruger I shoot JHPs in the 10mm cylinder and cast in the .38-40 cylinder. Years ago I had a Colt SAA built from parts which I shot nothing but 180 grain cast with 10 grains of Unique in ... do NOT do that. Though it was a "book" load from an old Lyman manual, it's far over pressure today. I don't even like it in the Ruger. Instead I'm shooting 18.5 grains of IMR4227 with the 200 grain BearTooth LBT (GC) bullet or 14 grains of 2400 with a LaserCast 180. According to the groups, though the 200 is at max, I need to go up a little for better accuracy. The 180 grain load is good, 'bit barky, but works. I have not had success with my gun with lighter loads, it wants to be a magnum, not a "medium", for accuracy.

I'm going to kill a deer or two with it, then probably retire or sell it.


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Here be dragons ...

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