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Thread: 38-55 Case Length ?



  1. #1
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    38-55 Case Length ?

    .

    I am reading all types of equations for bullet to land distance in the 38-55. Does it make a difference? Not in my rifles.

    Of far greater importance to accuracy is Case length. Case length you say? Yep, because the 38-55 has a very shallow taper (6 degrees) from chamber to throat case length is important. The throat is the same diameter as the groove diameter so the oversized cast bullet will be swaged down in the throat long before lands (rifling) are encountered. Therefore, the case should not extend into the throat, otherwise the crimp will not be opened fully and a distorted bullet will result. Distorted bullets are never good for accuracy. Short cases cause other issues.

    So how do we determine case length? The way that I use is to first determine what diameter cast bullet is to be loaded. Then load a dummy round with that bullet seated to the crimp groove but no crimp applied and see if it chambers with no undue effort, snug is good, very tight is not. The crimp will allow the round to seat deeper into the chamber and thus give a false fit indication. I begin with Starline long brass, 2.125 length, if it is too tight with the bullet of interest, I shorten the brass .010 and repeat the test. If the round is still too tight then shorten the case again. continue until a correct fit is obtained and you have your case length for that rifle. It works for me.


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    Tinhorn
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    JBledsoe, your post, while perhaps well intentioned, contains information that is potentially harmful for a novice reloader. Bullet to land distance in the 38-55, which you dismiss as unimportant, happens to be controlled by case length. They go hand in hand so to speak. You can't have one without the other.

    Furthermore, if you attempt to minimize bullet jump by using a case that is long enough to extend into the throat and impede bullet release you will have a lot more to worry about than a distorted bullet. How about a distorted rifle?? That is what will happen when pressure spikes because a case can't release the bullet quickly enough. Under no circumstances should one ever use a case that intrudes into the throat of the chamber.

    Two of the multiple prerequisites for accuracy as well as safety require that you know the proper case length for your rifle and that you select a bullet profile that fits the throat/leade of your rifle. Hope this helps.
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    Sidewinder
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    I don't want to get in the middle of anything here, but JBledsoe's probably forgotten more about the 38-55 than the rest of us have time left to learn. Just sayin.
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    srf
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    Thanks JBledsoe.
    A practical and straight-forward way to make sure there's no interference. It catches either a case length interference, or a jamming the bullet against the lands interference.

    As my chamber is about .07 inch longer than normal, I don't encounter length interference, and the bullets are a ways back from the lands when crimped in the crimp groove.
    So far, limited experimentation confirms your thinking that there is not much effect on accuracy whether I have the bullets close to the lands or not.
    Last edited by srf; 04-14-2013 at 06:54 PM. Reason: correct important typo
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    Just buy the Starline 'long' length & call it good........

    yes Starline makes two lengths in 38-55
    My Marlin family.......


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnwinds View Post
    I would like to add a few comments without using RUDE smilies that say a lot to someone with out typing the words.
    "JBledsoe, your post, while perhaps well intentioned, contains information that is potentially harmful for a novice reloader." "Bullet to land distance in the 38-55, which you dismiss as unimportant, happens to be controlled by case length".


    This is not always true. I have two particular .38-55 rifles that I shoot the RD cast bullet out of. One chamber requires that the RD bullet be seated to the first groove near the nose to be just off of the lands and the second rifle, with the same cases, allow the RD bullet to be seated out to the second groove to be just off of the lands. So the bullet to land distance is controlled by bullet seating depth. This is not law, it is just my two rifles.

    "They go hand in hand so to speak. You can't have one without the other."

    "Furthermore, if you attempt to minimize bullet jump by using a case that is long enough to extend into the throat and impede bullet release you will have a lot more to worry about than a distorted bullet. How about a distorted rifle?? That is what will happen when pressure spikes because a case can't release the bullet quickly enough. Under no circumstances should one ever use a case that intrudes into the throat of the chamber."

    This statement of not letting the case extend into the throat is exactly what the OP stated. He even used bold type to make a point of this.

    "Two of the multiple prerequisites for accuracy as well as safety require that you know the proper case length for your rifle and that you select a bullet profile that fits the throat/leade of your rifle. Hope this helps."

    This sorta sound like exactly what the OP stated.
    All of this was done without belittling anyones reading skills. This discussion can be a good one if we just add our experiences for all to learn from without bias one toward another.
    Last edited by FredT; 04-14-2013 at 08:31 PM.
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  7. #7
    Gun Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marlin44shooter View Post
    Just buy the Starline 'long' length & call it good........

    yes Starline makes two lengths in 38-55
    That just doesn't always work. Ya gotta see what your chamber likes. It is nice to have a choice though. You can make the case shorter, but it is difficult to make them longer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnwinds View Post
    JBledsoe, your post, while perhaps well intentioned, contains information that is potentially harmful for a novice reloader. Bullet to land distance in the 38-55, which you dismiss as unimportant, happens to be controlled by case length. They go hand in hand so to speak. You can't have one without the other.

    Furthermore, if you attempt to minimize bullet jump by using a case that is long enough to extend into the throat and impede bullet release you will have a lot more to worry about than a distorted bullet. How about a distorted rifle?? That is what will happen when pressure spikes because a case can't release the bullet quickly enough. Under no circumstances should one ever use a case that intrudes into the throat of the chamber.

    Two of the multiple prerequisites for accuracy as well as safety require that you know the proper case length for your rifle and that you select a bullet profile that fits the throat/leade of your rifle. Hope this helps.
    I read JB's post as how to AVOID having the case length that would extend too far into the throat to impede bullet release. The cast bullet will not raise pressure enough to damage the rifle or shooter unless it is too fat for the throat AND jammed into the lands of the barrel. Not sure it would raise pressure enough then with a cast bullet, but it very well may. With cast bullets, filling the throat is much more important than seating the bullet .005 or .010 off the lands. With jacketed bullets, changing the distance from the lands does affect accuracy and pressure much, much more than with cast. DP
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    Well now boys and girls -- It seems we have some conflicting opinions on how a 38-55 cartridge case and bullet relate to a modern Marlin 336 Cowboy chamber. Let’s look at a few things. First a very fine chamber cast by JBledsoe. Note: there is no step in the chamber. Marlin chambered these rifles for the original 38-55 case length of 2.125”.

    Attachment 58970




    Modern chamber reamers also show no step. They taper just as the chamber cast shows.

    Attachment 58971



    Jamming a cartridge into the chamber with sufficient force to push the bullet past the driving band and into the rifling is not a good idea. Then prying it out, like a bent nail, with the bolt and extractor isn’t conducive to accurate measurements on the remains.

    Attachment 58972



    There are numerous factors in the cartridge to chamber/throat relationship. Commonly:

    Brass thickness

    Brass length

    Bullet diameter

    Bullet length

    Crimp groove to nose – length

    Barrel riding flat or drive band

    And metplat/ogive

    To name a few…

    Attachment 58973 Attachment 58974

    To be continued...

  10. #10
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    If the cartridge will initially chamber without engraving the bullet on the lands, you are good to go. In a tapered chamber, as in the 336 38-55 - .050” of bullet travel to the lands is of no consequence. It’s not half the width of the crimp groove. It will have no bearing on accuracy. Bullet diameter will be the key to that.

    Attachment 58975

    For you novice reloaders – Follow JBledsoe’s instructions. If your bullet lightly engraves the lands, measure that distance and shorten your brass accordingly.

    Attachment 58976

    This will leave the bullet diameter/shape and several other variations to consider. Welcome to the journey.

    Best regards. Wind


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