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DavieKing,
I have no experience hot rodding the .38-55 cartridge. Your loads when placed on a graph showing fps per grain of powder give the appearance you have reached a practical maximum with this powder at 30.0 grains of powder. As you shoot groups with these loads I’ll be interested in reading of the difference in accuracy between the 29.0 and the 30.0 grain load. Just to see which load your barrel likes.
If you’re Library has a copy of the 1968 Edition of the Gun Digest (22cnd Edition) look up an article by Christian Helbig: “The .444 Marlin and its Big Bore Brothers.” Helbig was quite an experimenter with the .38-55 and regularly loaded the 255 grain bullets to 1850 fps in a 20” barrel using Hercules Hi Vel No. 2.

I also look forward to seeing your case measurements. Are you measuring the case head or the pressure ring? I have found pressure ring measurements (PRE) to be useful in establishing stop points.


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I'll be interested in hearing how it groups. The 38-55 Cowboy is one I find very appealing. More power than the 30-30 and just a lot more interesting IMO.

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selsnslim, Stetson


Thanks for the information once again.

I haven't slugged the bore on this rifle but I suspect it's no different than the other production models and would measure in the .379 area. The Barnes Originals that I have are the .377. I believe there is a fair bit of blow-by and can reconcile the powder charges and speed relationship with this leakage in mind (my theory for what it's worth).

The BC on this bullet is advertised as .290 and with 1850fps and a 100 yard zero predicted is ~4" low at 150yds, ~8" at 175yds and ~1' at 200yds. I'll test these predictions in the field on a dry day. The rifle has receiver sights and I don't shoot from a bench so in my best (most stable form) I'll test the 30gr load for precision. If it's unacceptable or perhaps just for kicks if it is acceptable I'll try the 29gr load. This load shows ~1,950ft/lbs at the muzzle and ~1,150ft/lbs at 200 yards so I'm pleased overall (600ASL, 77degrees). I'll range from 10,000ASL and ~70degrees F. to 600ASL and 20degrees F., these difference still leave me at over 1,000ft/lbs at 200 and very little difference in drop at 200yds (~1.5" range).

I have some other powders I could use but I'm going for simplicity and if this load works I'm about done.

Here's a graphic of where I place the micrometer on the case. The spindle and anvil seem to always touch the pressure ring but just barely. I can visually identify that the they stop on the larger portion of the case witnessed by light passing between the case and the lower portion of the spindle and anvil.

I resized all the cases I fired yesterday but will once again measure some post firing and vary the location/placement of the micrometer. I'll report my findings just to follow up.

[Linked Image]

I don't have much of a firearms related periodicals library (none in fact) so I don't have access to the 22nd edition of Gun Digest at home.

I find this rifle and chambering quite interesting. I've been looking for some lighter rifles to drag along on some of my hunts and have a few others in this lever rifle category. It seems this load will be sufficient for the critters I'm after just now and it's a fun gun to shoot (once I removed the tang sight).


Edit:

I found two stowaway cases while doing my pre-laundry pocket check, these are cases from factory loads. I played around with the micrometer and positioning on the case and it appears that measuring is definately position sensitive and the position is a search and find the largest area near the base but higher than one spindle width above the rim. These two cases measured (touching the rim and then slightly above the rim at largest diameter) #1) .4150 - .4156 and #2) .4158 - .4167. (I believe these may be two differing lots of ammo/brass.)


Last edited by DaveKing; 06/25/06.
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Fired some more rounds to do-over some of the measurements.

Method of measurement; Anvil touching rim: anvil above rim on ~ pressure ring

Factory:

.4169":.4161"
.4150":.4155"
.4151":.4155"
.4165":.4163"
.4165":.4163"
.4166":.4163"
.4170":.4166"
.4168":.4164"
.4150":.4159
.4152":.4155"


27GR RE-7, 255 Barnes .377, Fed 210
.4170":.4174"
.4173":.4176"
.4176":.4179"
.4168":.4176"
.4163":.4170"

30GR RE-7, 255 Barnes .377, Fed 210
.4180":.4180"
.4177":.4178"
.4175":.4177"
.4174":.4179"
.4184":.4184"


All fired case, factory and reloaded do not appear to measure consistently round, they're a bit egged and I searched for the largest measurement to report.

I shot against a target and the results do not show well for my marksmanship, perhaps it was the rotted stump I used as a rest. I fired a 5 shot group with the 27gr load and a similar group with the 30gr load. The 30gr group certaily has the better 3 of 5 shots but the 27gr group is better overall.


27gr. 2.4" with best three in 1.5"
30gr. 2.8" with best three in 0.4"

This is again with receiver sights and a brass bead front at 70 yards.

I believe I'll need to put a scope on the thing and take it to a range where there are benches to get real good results.

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Dave

[quote]All fired case, factory and reloaded do not appear to measure consistently round, they're a bit egged and I searched for the largest measurement to report.

Both Winchester and Marlin lever-action rifles are reamed "eggshape" at the rear of the chamber to facilitate chambering. Every rifle from both mnufacturers that I have looked at were similar.
I too always use the largest reading. It is quick to rotate the case in one eigth turns measuring as you go to get the high reading.

If you are using the factory round bead I find these difficult to shoot well with side light. In the afternoon with soft light at your back they will show up well.
You have hunting accuracy but it will build your confidence in your rifle to shoot from the bench and "proove" the accuracy of your loads.

I assume your cases in the new unfired condition are about .4145" ?
Your measurements do not "alarm" me. I regularly see .4199" with 200 grain jacketed bullets in the .375 cases and published maximum loads. I'll post a link to a thread on the Beartooth forum from when I was comparing .38-55 brass to .375 Winchester brass with the same loads. I was reading a lot of brass substitution threads at that time and wondering what all the fuss was about. I did not experience any loose primer pockets or other visual indications of high pressure when shooting .375 Winchester load data in old R-P .38-55 cases.

About the Gun Digest, I meant to say your local Library might have it. If it does not go to the help desk and ask about an Inter-Library loan. Our Inter-Library loan system works great and has given me access to many books I could not hope to see otherwise.

I know you are setting up to be a "one load" guy but if you get the chance do not overlook Hodgdon Benchmark in the .38-55. I use it in the .375 and my father uses it with excellent results in his .38-55's.
Benchmark has one small drawback in the straight wall cases. It will sometimes leave a few very hard unburned kernals of powder in the chamber and these will put small dents in the next fired case. I have had very uniform results with Benchmark and 255 grain bullets in the .375 Winchester. When graphing loads for fps per grain of powder Benchmark seems to act a little more like an extruded powder than a ball powder in that the graph does not "break over" as you reach a maximum load level.
While I dont shoot a .38-55 it is an interesting cartridge and I'll enjoy reading about your load trials.


Edit] Dave, here is a link to a thread at Beartooh. You may want to jump to the second page about halfway down. I compared a few .38-55 cases to the .375 case. There is another longer thread on the same subject but it has escaped me for the moment.
Remeber I have no experience with hot .38-55 loads, I was just taking a look for myself at what some others were reporting at the time.

http://shootersforum.com/showthread...p;amp;pp=15&highlight=.375+loads

Last edited by selsnslim; 06/25/06.

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Quote
Go ahead and shoot 375 factory ammo out of your 38-55 <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />...cause you're just another accident waiting to happen <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />! And when it does you'll be one of those who'll sue Marlin... <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" />

375 AMMO WAS NOT MENT OR DESIGNED FOR THE 38-55...
GET YOUR HEAD OUTTA YOUR BUTT <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> AND READ A RE-LOADING MANUAL...



luckeme –

The .30-30 has a 38,000CUP SAAMI rating, the .38-55 has a 30,000 CUP rating and the .375Win has a 52,000 CUP rating. Its pretty clear that firing .375Win ammo in a 19th century .38-55 might lead to undesirable results. In modern firearms, like Marlin, however, the situation is less clear.

It is common for manufacturers to us common components to manufacture different firearms. Do you think that Ruger uses the same receivers to build the .257 Roberts (45,000 CUP) and the .25-06 (54, 000 CUP) or do you suppose they build receivers especially for each cartridge?

Marlin’s part number for the receiver on my Marlin .375Win is the same as the part number for .30-30’s built in the same era. Furthermore, .38-55 brass drops easily into the chamber without resizing, and .38-55 brass that has been resized in my .375 dies and loaded chambers and fires fine. The difference is the .375 uses a .375 bore and the .38-55 typically uses a .379 bore. I suspect .375 ammo fired in a modern Marlin would pose no safety issue but accuracy would probably be unacceptable.


Coyote Hunter - NRA Patriot Life, NRA Whittington Center Life, GOA, DAD - and I VOTE!

No, I'm not a Ruger bigot - just an unabashed fan of their revolvers, M77's and #1's.

A good .30-06 is a 99% solution.
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selsnslim

Thanks

I just now measured some unfired W-W factory ammo cases.

Measured touching the rim.

(from a mixed lot - bag full of rounds)
4148"
4146"
4152"

From a new Winchester box.
4142"
4142"


I'll read that thread at Beartooth later today.




Coyote_Hunter

Thanks or the reply. Your post is pretty much in line with that I'm thinking in regard to the 375 Win and 38-55 Win in the new Marlins.

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Some more information about the 38-55.

(I'd say this thread has been officially hijacked and is no longer about 375 Win in a 38-55 Marlin.)

Mentioned previously is the bore diameter on the 38-55s and also blow-by using smaller projectiles.

I have recovered a bullet, a Barnes Original .377" 255gr 38-55 bullet for examination. Under a loupe I can see that there is no indication that the bullet had made contact with the bottom of the groove. The engraving from the lands is minimal and there appears to be a small amount of scuffing before the bullet settled onto a land. The trailing (?) edge of the land striation mark has some curled up and displaced jacket material.

All-in-all I believe the bullet worked well and I have achieved sufficient speed with the bullet from this rifle. Based on the bullet examination and bore diameter listing I do feel there is some level of blow-by and therefore some loss of efficiency.

I have been searching for a bullet in the .378 or .379 range that is a standard copper jacketed hunting bullet but as yet have had no luck. I may try some of the hard alloy cast gas check bullets and begin anew with the load workup although that is not what I'd prefer.


Impact velocity for this bullet at 140 yards was about 1550fps and 1350ft/lbs energy, retained weight is 224.2gr (~88%).

[Linked Image]

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Dave,

If you are going to try lead bullets I would suggest you first make an impact casting of your chamber throat. Fill a case with lead and then push a lead plug down the bore onto the lead filled case. Using a piece of drill rod that fits as close as reasonably possible upset the lead plug. When you withdraw the case you will have to push out the lead plug (into the chamber). This will give you a good idea of the throat length and diameter.
If you fill the throat gas will not escape past the bullet as it enters the bore.
A cerrosafe casting will also provide the same measurements

I suggest that you use a little softer alloy rather than a “hard cast” bullet. The vast majority of the bullets I cast and shoot are less than 20 bhn. I prefer bullets with a hardness of between 12 and 14 bhn for hunting critters of deer size and smaller.

You may want to check with Marshal Stanton at Beartooth bullets. Marshal offers bullets heat-treated to 22 bhn or on special order he will furnish bullets at 18 bhn. I believe if you try both bullets you will find it easier to develop accurate hunting loads with the softer bullets. If you fill the throat you will not have problems with leading.
Marshall can provide special sizing diameters and he is familiar with the Marlin rifles chambered for the .38-55 cartridge.
You will not find a better cast bullet than Veral Smith’s LBT style bullets but if you prefer to cast your own and want to get started for the least money you will do well to start with the Lee 255 grain bevel base bullet mold. The mold is low cost and the bullet seems to shoot very well in both my .375 Winchester and my Fathers .38-55 Encore. We shoot them as cast with tumble lube and hand lubed using Javalina 50/50 Alox.
You will have no trouble shooting cast bullets at full power in the .38-55.


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04 July 2006 Update

I put a 4X scope on the rifle to test the loads at the range.

I cleared a lot of brass of bullets and powder, factory Winchester and Factory UltraMax Pb stuff, to get the brass for reloading the Barnes. Most of the factory groups were unremarkable but decent. Mostly I just plunk rounds into the berm to empty the brass but I did fire several strings onto paper with the factory rounds.

The Winchester factory went to ~1.494" for a six shot group I shot on paper.
The UltraMax lead rounds on paper went into ~1.93".

I only had 5 of the 30 grains of RE7 loads and didn't want to shoot up all my ammo so 3 shots and they went into ~.449.

[Linked Image]

I fired the 32grs and 33grs of RE7 loads I had left from a few days back, again recapturing brass.

32gr RE7
Touching the rim: on pressure ring
0.4188" : 0.4188"
0.4186" : 0.4187"

33gr RE7
Touching the rim: on pressure ring
0.4191" : 0.4191"
0.4184" : 0.4184

(I have mixed lots of brass and I suspect the two dissimilar readings on the 33gr loads may be due to this Lot issue.)


I had a macro picture taken of the .377" 255Gr Barnes Original bullet I recovered. The posted picture is a small version and the link will lead to a full size image (~1meg). I believe I'm seeing some scuffing at the leade until the rifling lands get a good hold and also I see no indication of any contact with the grooves... You all can judge for yourself and let me know if I'm all wet.



377" Barnes Original post firing in a Marlin 336CB 38-55 24" barrel, 30grains of RE7 chronograph ~ 1850 fps muzzle.

[Linked Image]



Hi-Res .377" Barnes Original post firing in a Marlin 336CB 38-55

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Dave,
An interesting picture. Is the base of the bullet cupped? I am thinking not as the .377" diameter in the .378" barrel allows enough gas to slip by the bullet to prevent this.

With the .377" diameter bullet I would consider the 33.0 grain load maximum. If you switch to a jacketed bullet of larger diameter I would lower the powder charge.
When working with the .30-30AI we went to .422" on many ocassions with no indications of trouble - but - This was clearly a greater pressure indication than we felt comfortable with for hunting loads at all temperatures. There is no point in looking for a problem with your hunting loads just for a few fps increase.

Looking at my load notes for cast bulets I found some stuff on a John Taffin article on the Marlin .38-55 Cowboy rifle from the Feb. 2000 issue of Guns magazine. John used a load of 30.0 grains of Reloder 7 behind the 250 grain RCBS gas check bullet and got 1758 fps from the 24" barrel of his Marlin Cowboy rifle. He sized his bullets to .379". John tried bullets of .377 and .379" and said he could not see a difference in accuracy - I assume he was using only the factory sights.
While it has been awhile since I have been there, I believe John Taffin has a web page linked with Sixgunner.com and many of his articles are posted there.
My notes indicate John called Marlin and Marlin says their .38-55 rifles have a groove diameter of .378".


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selsnslim

The base of the bullet is not cupped.

I believe I'll stay with the 30gr load as it's fine for precision in my mind and I have no plans to shoot this rifle much past 150 yards for deer at present.

I'm still considering getting a larger diameter bullet but mostly just for educational purposes. There seems to be a place or two that have .378 bullets and there's always the Hawk soft copper jacket model to try. I would of course and as you state lower my powder charge (essentially start over and beginning load values) when switching bullets.

Here's a link I found to an article by John Taffin... Thanks

http://www.sixguns.com/range/336cwby.htm

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Dave,

That looks like the article I saw in Guns.

1850 fps for a 255 grain bullet is a pretty good load.

While you are gathering data look for a book by Freeman "How To Hunt Deer." Freeman used the .38-55 in Maine. He had one arm as I recal.


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selsnslim

I don't read much nowadays (hardcopy books) but if I have a chance I'll hunt it up but I can tell you right from the git-go that I'm not about to lop off an arm to continue using the 38-55! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

1850fps is adequate and reasonable, I'm pretty happy with the performance and again its a play thing that I'll use for a few deer, bear and maybe an elk.

I'm very pleased with the results of the 30gr load and I feel pretty confident that the little rifle will perform consistently. This has been a pretty good learning experience for me as I have little experience with lever guns and old chamberings.

Thanks for taking the time to help me along and for the very informative links and such, its made this part of this adventure faster, easier and more informative. I'd imagine there's a lot more to learn but this particular part is setting well right now and I'll rest here for a little bit before I venture onto the next level. I have a few hunts coming up soon and I also need to ready other gear, archery elk and mule deer if I'm lucky.

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selsnslim

Thanks for the additional information, it was very informative.

I just recently added to my levergun collection and now I have a Winchester Big Bore in 375, a 94AE in 356 and a pair of older Marlins (circa 1950) in 35 Rem (336A 24" barrel) and 30-30 (336 R.C.). I guess I'll be slugging bores in these too.

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I prefer the .307 to all of the modern "Big Bore" lever actions but I have been shooting the .356 for quite awhile and like the cartridge very much. I prefer the .307 and .356 to the .375 Win but I have no complaints with the .375.

For your .356 the 200 grain RCBS bullet will prove very useful. I have never heard of a Winchester M-94BB that would not shoot the RCBS bullet well.

There are lots of old threads on the .307, .356 and .444 on the Beartooth forum that will provide plenty of insite into bullet and powder selection. Every one has a different favorite combination!

Check out this link to a thread on leverguns. I am sending it as there are links to five interesting .35 Remington threads on the Marlin Owners Board. This is a continuation of a series of threads that started on the old Marlin Talk board. These deal with the loading of the Modern or +P .35 Remington for modern rifles. Makes for an interesting discussion.

http://leverguns.sixgunner.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=20072


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Just a bit more info to round this out.

I made a cast of the chamber on this 38-55


[Linked Image]


The bore measures .3806 at the chamber near as I can tell.

There's no (minimal) leade/throat as I can see either.

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"the 375 is 1/10" shorter than the 38-55"

The .44 Special is 1/10" shorter than the .44 Magnum.

The .38 Special is 1/10" shorter than the .357 Magnum.

Once fired cases, would be longer than new brass.


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DaveKing,

It would appear from your pix that you chamber is normal for the 38-55. There is little or no leade in these rifles so the OAL must be controlled. Any over lenght loads will not chamber. I have several rifles in both calibers and all are critical on loaded length.

Is it safe to shoot 375 Win. in a 38-55? Yes it is! But it will not be accurate so why do it? Doing so will offer no advantage or benefits.

Jim

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