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I'd like to take my 1881 out for a little shooting. I don't reload. What ammo do I need to look for. This is a black powder gun with an excellent bore. I think I need a lead or cast bullet, no copper jacket. I would like to stay away from black powder. Can I get reloads for cowboy action shooting or will the velocity be a problem? Anybody have an online source? Buffalo Arms and Western Scrounger seems to be out. I can' seem to find any except John Wayne collectible. Thanks guys.
 

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the factory ammo for 32-40 is low pressure, just look for lead. I don't use BP in any of my old firearms, their really isn't any need too. The cleaner burning the better
 

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The problem with no factory ammo right now is that there isn't any brass being made for them right now. IIRC Winchester is the only one making 32-40 brass any more and they aren't making any brass for anyone other than themselves right now due to ammo demands across the country. I've called every company I can think of to find more 32-40 brass and all have said the same thing---Winchester will not even take backorders for brass right now--they are that far behind. Good luck---you can try TenEx or Reeds ammo---beyond that I really can't help you much.

Steve
 

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32-40 ammo wasn't exactly easy to find before the shortages. It has been a seasonal run item and only available ocassionaly for quite a few years now. Since you are just looking for a small amount of ammo for your 1881 you might consider the Lee hand kit. I have never used one, but lots of low volume shooters are happy with the results.
 
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You might find some ammo on Gunbroker or other auction sights, but it will be $$$$. Buffalo Arms is out of stock, they fo make it from .38-55 brass, which is also hard to find!!
 

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Ten X makes a BPC-black powder substitute cartridge that I would try were I to get some factory loads. I've used the other load with dismal results. It strung vertically very wildly, up to 8" at 25 yards. It may be overpowered for older rifles as well.

This is a wild guess on my part, so has no real validity, but due to the fact that it was loaded with doughnut shaped powder and was a little smoky, I guess it is 777 powder. Based on the loading information from the manufacturer, if it is 777, it seems underloaded to me, which may account for the wild vertical stringing. But again, I do not know what their powder or charge is with any certainty, nor am I even positive about the loading of 777, but it seemed to me it is supposed to touch the base of the bullet, which did not appear to be the case in the round I disassembled. It seemed to have a loading density of 50-75%.
 

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I'm probably misremembering what it looked like. It was not trail boss. From how it looked and acted it seemed like triple 7. I think I still have it on the shelf.
 
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