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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My first attempt at loading 38-55 (Updated with Range Report)

Hello again!!

Today was an exciting day for me, I finally got my dream rifle and I am as happy as can be!! I posted it up in the Marlin Collectors area.

Knowing that this rifle would be arriving soon, I finally got off my rear and ordered the RCBS Cowboy dies and bought some lead bullets, both items from Midway. I had purchased 2 boxes of Winchester 38-55 in the grey/silver box and fired around 25 of those in my last 1893 that I sold earlier this year. So today is the day I start on the path to perfection with the 38-55.

I slugged my bore today and it came out to .3785" (my calipers aren't that precise, but it seemed just under .379"). The bullets I purchased are made by Meister and they are 245gr RNFP and already lubed. The bullets are pre-sized to .380 so I was happy to see things all looking like they were going to fit each other.

The next thing to research was the powder choice. I looked through the manuals I have and there are a lot of powders mentioned that I have not used and have no way of purchasing (IMR 4227, A5744, RE-7. H4198, 3031, etc etc) but I did see in the Lee book there is mention of H335 and H4895, both of which I have here. Then I saw in the Lyman 49th book that there is a listing for TrailBoss!! I have a pound of TB and I have never used it, so I figured what the heck, might as well start with something so simple it can't go wrong (I know) so that was what I am starting with.

Here is a pic of my powder weighing station:




Here is a pic of the bullet seating process:



Here is a bullet being seated:



OK, so I will try them out tomorrow. The starting load is 7 grains, max is 9 grains. I made [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] I seated them to 2.515 which is also right where the crimp groove ends on the bullet (book called for 2.510 OAL).

I will report back tomorrow!!

FB
 

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Happy shootin Brian. Keep us posted.


Mark.
 

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Brian - Be careful when using Trailboss for two reasons. It is easy to double charge a case, and the pressure curve spikes near the upper load limits. My best experience was when I used 21.0 grains of IMR 4198, 245-250 grain lead bullets. Shenandoah
 
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Good morning Brian
Caliber 38 rifles are right at the top of my favorites... only caliber .41 and .40's (slim .41's) beat them out.
The measurement more important than groove is the throat diameter. Groove is always less. Fill the throat and you have the groove filled.
Your lead bullets.. are they Hard cast ? Can you easily scratch it with your fingernail ? If you can good. If theses are hard then find a lead sinker, some split shot or some soft lead of bore diameter to tap down the barrel. Lightly oil first.
Take a dowel (wood or brass) place it in an empty case and cut it so it is case length. Chamber the doweled case. Close the chamber. That bullet if it is soft or the soft lead tap it down the barrel all the way. You will know when it reaches the "filled case". Set rifle butt on your foot. You need a sturdy rod on top of the bullet or lead now. Wack the rod with a plastic or wood mallet. No metal hammers. Did you feel a solid impact on your foot.. you should. Do this at least 3 wacks. You are filling the throat with lead to discover throat diameter. Eject case. Tap rod and "throat slug" should come out. Is it round and filled out. If the lead did not "expand" and form a good round solid shape do it again. This is the ideal bullet diameter for that rifle. This is the diameter I shoot in my rifles(if possible). Some tight chambers force us to use maybe .001 + less diameter but this is the best diameter to use. Fill the throat and the lead bullets start down the barrel straight and seal the hot pressure behind the bullet.
It is work... but do the home work first (20 minutes) and your range time is far more productive.
You already have your bullets and .380 is not real bad. If the throat is only .381 you are probably OK. But if your throat measures .383 (common) and more ( I have a .384 Marlin BP barrel) there are issues to address but solutions are available.
Your rifle can be a shooter. I have one that has pitted bore and interrupted rifling that I shot groundhogs with for years. But it took some fine tuning to get there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Brian - Be careful when using Trailboss for two reasons. It is easy to double charge a case, and the pressure cruve spikes near the upper load limits. My best experience was when I used 21.0 grains of IMR 4198, 245-250 grain lead bullets. Shenandoah
I would be surprised to learn I could double charge a case with trail boss, as it seemed like the case was over half full even at the starting load level. I appreciate the heads up though and will definitely be careful.
 

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I use 6 grains of Trail Boss as a good plinker load. It's has a mild recoil, (steel butt plate doesn't hurt) low noise and is accurate at 50 yards. It's about 900FPS. I also use the 21 grains of 4198 load, perfect speed and pressure for an older action.
I also use Trail Boss for the .45-70. 12 grains with a 405 grain slug fires to point of aim in my 1884 Springfield carbine, so I don't have to alter the front sight. Good load in my 1884 rifle, also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
OK, I know you guys are waiting for the big update... HERE IT IS!!!

I just got back from the test session at the range and I think it was a huge success!! I am smiling right now for sure.

My new favorite rifle is really a great shooter and everything worked perfect. I started on the 50 yard line, shoulder to shoulder with the AR-15 snipers :p
I shot the first round with a 6 o'clock hold and it hit the black maybe 2" low, so I fired 10 rounds in total:


Then I decided to move it out to 100 Yards and try it again. The first shot hit about 12" low, so it would appear this is a pretty slow moving projectile!!!
I raised the tang sight 2 full turns and tried again. I ran maybe 10 rounds through it and then lowered it 1/4 turn and shot this 5 shot group @ 100yds:


I finished off by shooting 3 rds of factory Winchester 38-55 JHP so I would end up with an even number of empty cases. Those 3 shots are at the top of the target.

Here is my final photo, one of this beauty sitting on the bench, resting between shooting sessions!!
 

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I'd be smiling too Brian, good stuff.


Mark.
 
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Nice shootin'!! Looks like the Trail Boss load worked out good for you, it's accurate for sure!! As soon as I get some brass emptied out, got 200 loaded up with the 6 grain load, I might try bumping it up a couple grains and see what happens.
Your '93 looks a lot like mine, same lack of metal finish, but it's original and that's the way I like them.
 

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Nice looking rifle Brian and nice shooting too!

So they still allow lead at ranges then in CA?

Bought a 32-40 die and some brass off a fellah in California last year and he swore a ranger confiscated his rifle after looking at the ammo he was shooting... not at a range obviously. Swore the guy took his rifle - no paperwork - no citation, didn't sound like anything that would have happened to me - at least not without a scuffle but that was his story. And he was very cool... actually tried to send the die and brass 'free' since he didn't have the rifle anymore. I waited for the package and return address and sent him a check anyway.

But that story about confiscation had me thinking 'lead bullets' just didn't happen anywhere in California nowadays. Probably if it's controlled and recoverable it's ok maybe??

Anyway, bet you are pleased as punch! I would be. Congrats!
 

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Hey GL... That really pricked my "justice" gene. Couldn't believe what I was hearing and kept pressing him but he kept the same story.

Said he probably would have asked for some documentation but they had him flustered.

Btw: wish me luck today. Gonna try beagling for the first time.

Watch your email, sending you a picture of a mold I have concerns with.

Would like your opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Nice looking rifle Brian and nice shooting too!

So they still allow lead at ranges then in CA?

Bought a 32-40 die and some brass off a fellah in California last year and he swore a ranger confiscated his rifle after looking at the ammo he was shooting... not at a range obviously. Swore the guy took his rifle - no paperwork - no citation, didn't sound like anything that would have happened to me - at least not without a scuffle but that was his story. And he was very cool... actually tried to send the die and brass 'free' since he didn't have the rifle anymore. I waited for the package and return address and sent him a check anyway.

But that story about confiscation had me thinking 'lead bullets' just didn't happen anywhere in California nowadays. Probably if it's controlled and recoverable it's ok maybe??

Anyway, bet you are pleased as punch! I would be. Congrats!
They haven't outlawed the loading or shooting of lead YET. However, they have outlawed hunting with any lead projectile. It has been in place for a few years in an area in the center of the state they specified as the "condor area", saying that the lead was effecting the condors that live in the central part of the state. Then last year they decided to make the whole state a lead free area! So if the guy was hunting, he may have had his rifle confiscated if he was in the Condor area, but I don't know if that is what could have happened.
 

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He mentioned Condor's so I bet you are right Brian.

Funny - no citation. I'll give you a fine that will cripple you or we can both walk away. You with your freedom and me with this nice 32-40.
 

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Greetings Brian
That is a good photo of a fine rifle. Looks like with a little tweeking that Trail boss load will be a keeper.
I would think that rifle's throat is not to much more than .382 by the way it is shooting. Hard to tell without a throat slug. But it is nice when a new to you barrel will print on paper.

Now a task... Using one of your fired cases but not resized yet.. how loose in the fired case neck is one of your cast bullets your are shooting ?
Would you call it a snug fit ? Does the bullet easily drop into the fired case ?
This will give you an idea how fat the chamber neck and throat is. Once again the closer we can match those diameters especially using smokeless the better the accuracy will be.
I have a 44WCF that demands a .434 diameter bullet with smokeless. With 3F BP and a soft cast bullet .432 works OK.
 

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Brian

Way to go! Looks like you found a winner with Trail Boss. Since you have some H4895 you might want to give it a try also. I use it with 250s and 265s.
 
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Looks like you are in the zone far as shooting is concerned and have a very fine looking Marlin.

Two things I will say on your loading.

1. First case looks like the crimp is heavy compared to the others. That might be because that case is longer. Make sure they are all the same length, you will appreciate that later.

2. This is your first loading and my old geezer eyes thinks I see a slight bullet bulge in the cases with seated bullets. Nothing wrong with it, but if you are full length re sizing and bottoming out the die you may be sizing it too much. If I am seeing that bulge from the bullet, back off your sizing die a little. No need to have the case a lot smaller than the bullet that low in the case.

The 38-55 is a tapered case.

Cowboy dies are a better set of dies than I acquired with my 38-55 I had Lee dies which are made for .375Winchester/38-55 my first loads looked like some one inserted a .40 cal bullet in the case.

Have a good day and enjoy that fine looking old timer.
 

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Flyin Brian,

I'm sure you are going to get all kinds of good advise on your loading. Set your loading routine and stick too it.

Just remember: SAFETY FIRST AND FORMOST.

My little piece of advise is based on 40 years of loading.

After you clean, size and prime the brass. Turn the brass upside down (Primer end up) in your brass holder. After you throw the powder then of course put the brass back in the holder primer down. Seat your bullet and crimp.


If you will make this a part of your loading routine you will never experience a double charge of powder.

I have seen guns after firing a double load of powder and believe me it's nasty.

Good luck and enjoy your new found hobby. Your going to love it.
djh
 
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