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Discussion Starter #1
I entered the marlin 38-55 world a few months back. Why did I take so long? I have been trying to get a good 200 yard load for our monthly buffalo shoot. The best so far is 15.3 grains of 4759 and a 250 lee bullet. With tang sight and a 17 lyman front, I have managed to stay in the 3" range at 200. I am up against 12 pound sharps with sights that run about what I paid for the Marlin. Any of you guys have some tips to share? Any help is appreciated. ???
 

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Go up to the top of this page and look at the long rangs shots done by Wind and Wet Dog. Also check the one where I'm blaimed. I think these 2 gentlemen, (they paid me to say that ;D), use Unique to make these outstanding shots. Read thru all the threads on the 38-55 and you will find many more responses on loads. DP
 

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Those are some real good suggestions. Reading those exploits with 38-55s convinced me to get one. The match is 25 rounds, with 5 offhand. When I suggested more offhand shooting for the match, a couple of the guys suggested that the target should be me. Could say the interest in running and gunning with those unwheeled cannons was kinda low. I tried unique, my gun was not pleased.
 

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We shoot CLA rams at 200 yards hung from chains 40 shot's offhand at our club monthly match I use a 12 lb CPA single shot 38/55 with a 290 gr LBT plain base. Was using 4759 and Federal 215 Mag primers last year 15.5 grs, load was just sub sonic. I keep 6 mtm 60 round boxes loaded at one time so sight settings stay the same. It's been a competitive rifle and load against all others big Sharps, High Walls, Lever actions in 38/55 40/65 & 45/70

This season switched it to 4227 and Remington Pistol primers. 17.5 gives me the same muzzle velocity just under speed of sound, as the 4759 load and is a much easier powder to measure consistently. Also shoot a Marlin 1895 45/70 with 350 gr flat nose out of a Raphine mold using 23 of 4759 & the Federal Mag primer. I don't think there is a lot of difference in 4227 vs 4759 in the 38/55 . Old advice with single shot shooters was 4227 in 32/40 4759 in 45/70 and the 38/55 can use either. 4227 is the standard Schuetzen powder for 32/40's

Friend of mine gets good results from a Marlin 1895 38/55 and lighter store bought bullets. He does have to use Starline Brass, it's thiner than W-W and seats the bullets without buldges

Thing about Unique is it gives good results as long as the rifle is handled the same way every time. Muzzle down some shots up others will cause elevation changes. I switched my Marlin 1894 32/20 from Unique to 4227 due to that tendency. Groups are no better but chance of a miss due to misshandling is less. I ought to mount it same way every time but it's still a risk that will cost a target.

200 yards the 38/55 is a good one not too much recoil and the bullet is heavy enough to clang the gongs good, I see lighter cartridges miss hits due to inablity to spot them. Don't need a 45/70's recoil to shoot 200 yard gongs. Our club range has gongs out to 500 and the 38/55 will shoot with any of them all the way if the bullet is up around 300 grs. 260's not quite as good as 40's 0r 45's past 300 yards

It's a nice outfit you have get those guys to shoot more offhand.

Boats
 

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Have you slugged your bbl for size, you may have an undersized bullet? The heavier bullets do shoot a tad better. I shoot 250gn in mine and it shoots very well with the Unique. I've tried other powders and the slow pistol powders like suggested do work well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The bore mikes at .378", been using bullets that go at .380". The rifle shoots pretty well with all the loads tried. It will do about 3" at 200 yards using blown out 30-30 brass. I want to try some long starline; but it has been out of stock. Thanks for your responses.
 

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3 inches at 200 is pretty decent shooting and might be as good as it will get for your combination. I am assuming you single load so the 330 grain bullets would be something to try, they should fight the wind alittle better. I have never shot my 38-55 on paper over 105 yards but it does fairly well at that distance. My load is CCI LR primer, Starline brass, 255 grain seaco bullet cast at 25-1, IMR 4198 at 16 grains. This load shoots very much the same as a black powder load, it has virtually no recoil and travels along slowly, but does most often shoot to point of aim. A guy I shoot against arrived at an almost identical load when working up his most accurate load, we were abit surprised by that when discussing our loads after a shoot.
 

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38/55 bores will vary old ones and the Italian imports closer to .380 almost all the new ones are on .375 blanks. I use .377 bullets in mine it's a .375

ASSRA competiton the 25 ring is 1 1/2 inch at 200 yards thats 3/4 moa. Few times a year in organized competiton sombody shoots a 250, 10 shots in 1 1/2 with a 38/55. Heavy guns from steady rest high power scope. Thats about it's utimate potential. Mind started life as a BPCS Silhoutte rifle and 3 inches at 200 for 10 shots is as good as it will do.

Boats
 

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3" groups at 200 yards sounds very good to me.

The only reason a Sharps, or any other rifle, would shoot better than that is because it has a better trigger or better sights -- both of which can be accomplished on your Marlin if you have a desire to spend the money.

One thing that really changed my long range rifle for the better was putting a Hadley (adjustable) eyecup on it. With many different aperture sizes, I can vary the amount of light coming through the sight to accommodate light changes or tired eyes. I would encourage you to get one installed on your marlin. Additionally, and aperture front sight will make a big difference in the sight picture. I like the discs that have an actual hole (aperture) in the center for target shooting. Get a Lyman 17 front sight and play around with the different disks that come with it. You'll have a definite preference.

The size of groups that I shoot vary in direct proportion to the size of the aperture I chose to use. In other words, smaller apertures make for smaller groups. Conditions don't always permit using the smallest aperture, but the Sharps guys have to shoot in the same conditions as do you.

Also, a heavier bullet might return you some increased accuracy.
 

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Hey there piguy -- Fill us in a little more. Of the twenty five rounds fired in the match, five are off hand. How are the other twenty fired? Shooting three inch groups at 200 yards is commendable. Way to go. I'm a little surprised the 10 grain of Unique load isn't doing well for you. Many Marlins seem to favor it. The 250 grain Lee bullets seems to play well with the Marlins as well. A lot of folks are finding success with 4198 and 4759 too. Wet Dog and I find neither of our rifles care for 2400 - at all. Your loads may be fine and it's just a matter of outside forces affecting you bullets flight. This is where some experimentin' with a heavier bullet may help. I'm partial to a very fine blade front sight. It helps pin point your shots on a target, and not cover so much of the target up. If you do any shooting off shooting sticks, you might consider looking at a set of mine. They will help. Practice all you can and you'll start to whup up on those big single shot boys. It'll put a smile on your face when you do!! Hope this helps a little. Best regards. Wind
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wind, it is your fault that I had to have 38-55. It is my favorite gun now. The match is 5 shots offhand at a 12" plate at 100 yards. That is no
problem, except with those 14 pound sharps. There are 5 shots at a 6" square plate at100 yards from crosssticks on a bench. That one is pretty easy. Then 5 shots at 100 yards at a 5" circle from the crosssticks. That one is not too tough. At 200 yards all ten shots are from the bench crossticks, front support only. There are 5 shots at an 8" square and 5 at an 8" circle. This is where the match is won or lost. The rifle is up to the task, but I find my point of impact varies with light changes. I use the aperture front sight, but I think the adjustable rear aperture might bemy next move, good suggestion. I have managed to get within a point or two of the winning Sharps guys; just need thatimpact ting worked out. Not young any more, focus is the issue it seems. I like he idea of being able to dial in the focus. They are a good bunch of guys, but regard leverguns with a little disdain. Sure would be fun to administer a little beatdown from the lowly Marlin. 8)
 

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Our match last Sat was 1st place 45/70 Sharps 2nd a new Marlin 45/70 tie for 3rd my 38/55 and a 43 Spanish Rolling block. This offhand on a NRA ram 20 inches high by about 40 wide.

No doubt at all it the match was decided by the quality of the sight picture. Not any real differnce at all in the 4 rifles ablity and the 4 or us trade off placing all the time not much differnce in shooter ablity. If you can figure out what the best front sight is and can crank the rear apeture open and closed as light changes half the work is done. CLA and our match requires post front and it's a handicap for sure. I use a MVA Hadley on the rear and it's the most important part of the outfit.

My advice is to get a Merrit disk for the rear so you can compensate for the light changes and play around with the best front sight picture. Lyman 17A is the prefred solution. Some guys use bottom of the target hold like in Service Rifle bullseye. I like center of mass hold and it cost me hits with the post front more than once. If the target we used was smaller no doubt at all arpeture front sight would be the best. Hower it's so big can't get arpetures large enough to circle it and still leave light showing even if the match allowed arpeture front.

My personal opinion ? a big Sharps is a handicap unless you go long range. Recoil & slow lock time. Your Marlin can win that match.

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If you are shooting with prescription glasses ask your optometrist to put a focal point in the inside of your shooting eye on a pair of shooting glasses. Sometimes the focal point is centered on prescription glasses and you must shoot facing square to the sights, an edge not much but every little bit helps. Have you tried blinders, sometimes a little light from the side interupts your sight picture. I know it's a safety item but a pair darkened side shades on your shooting glasses help.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Boats, your comments are spot on. The best shooters at my match all have some type of adjusaible aperture. What are your thoughts on the lee shaver inserts for the lyman 17? Swany, I use only shooting glasses and side shades, lastik cured my nearsightness. I do need reading glasses, and struggle a bit to focus the front sight with certain light conditions. Thanks for your comments. 8)
 

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Hi PiGuy,

I'm surprised that Unique didn't work for you. My rifles love Unique and IMR 3031, 2400 is a no no. Be sure to keep your muzzle velocities down below the speed of sound. Bullets are often affected when dropping thru the sound barrier. Otherwise, you will need a velocity high enough to assure that the bullet is still well above the speed of sound at impact.
You didn't tell us about your trigger. Very important that you have a good trigger. I like a light pull on my triggers (from benchrest days) but not so light as to cause control issues. My 39A and 336 CB are both set at 2 pounds and work great shooting steel. Hunting rifles are not less than 3 pounds.
 

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I use 2 loads for everything, both with a 280gr cast bullet. 10 grains of Unique for a light 'plinkin' load that the wife and daughter really like also, and 32grs of 3031 which is my deer/elk load. Both about 1 1/2" at 100 yards.

44
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hello JBledsoe, 44LVR,

It is not so much my rifle does not like unique as it simply shoots better with 4759. The rifle shoots pretty well with everything I have tried. Having it only a couple of months and bad weather have limited my play time. I killed my chrony with a gas check and need to replace it. The sound and feel of the load leads me to think it is around 1100, no crack but a good boom. The match requires 1400 or less and lead bullets. That would require a good BC to maintain the speed of sound out to 200 yards. Power is not a big factor, just need to hit the steel hard enough the spotter can see movement. The only bullet I have tried is a lee 250, need to try some others. It has the best trigger of any of my Marlins, and a few of them are very good. I also need a good load to shoot CLA, if I can find a match near enough. My current load might not be enough for the rams. Shot a few groups at 200 today, the worst was 3.4"at 200, the best at 2.5". That sounds in line with what you guys are getting. I beleive the trigger nut needs some adjustment, more time on the task. I like the sound of the 3031 load for porkers. Is that a gas check design? 8)

piguy
 

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"Is that a gas check design?" Nope just a plain base bullet. Gas checks not needed at velocity under 1600 fps. and no need to go over that with cast bullets.

Advise the nut behind the trigger that the importance of consistent form cannot be overstated. Apply exactly the same pressure in holding the rifle for each shot, same hand pressure, same cheek pressure, and same shoulder pressure. Marlins are very sensitive to pressure. I can change impact point just by holding the rifle differently. Same with the cross sticks, they must set exactly the same each time.

We shouldn't tell you all of our secrets, we may have to shoot against you one day. ;D ;D

.
 

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In my Marlins I use regular Lyman 17A's and post because post are required by CLA rules. The 39a that's ramped on the front instead of a barrel dovetail has a Skinner front post cut down to regular Marlin Bead height. Even though our club gong match does not require post, I use them just to stay consistent. As a general rule CLA rifle targets being full size and at close range 50 100 150 200 not many apertures will circle the target leaving the required amount of light around it anyway. If the Aperture can circle the target it's clearly the way to go. My 38/55 single shot used to be a BPCS gun, on the same targets at full out to 500m distance Aperture front is all you see used in matches.

On the rear aperture couple of tricks there too if your eyes need some correction. Merrit makes a disk that can take a glass boost, Bob Jones makes one. I use of his + disk sometimes in Schuetzen were it's allowed. Goggle Bob Jones sights if your match allows correction.

On velocity's 32/40 I can launch fast enough plain base bullet to stay supersonic all the way to 200 yards in Schuetzen matches. 38/55 with the 290 or 300 gr bullets I use can't get enough muzzle velocity to stay super whole way so launch them just subsonic. My 45/70 Marlin CLA gun using a 350 gr cast plain base same thing launch just at 1100 fps 32/20 Marlin Pistol Caliber Silhouette out to 100m go supersonic all the way to the ram line. It's either one or the other best not to start super and slow down to sub if you can avoid it.

My preferred powder for the straight sided cases is 4759 unless I am loading a lot and go to 4227 just for the better metering, really there is little difference in the two



Boats
 
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