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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
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.
Mike, I got home kind of late last night but I found time to load up my 28 pieces of brass again in the hopes that I can get to the range today. I tried dropping a bullet in 3 of my fired cases and it will not go in at all. I can turn it around and poke the nose in, but it stops at the bands. I would imagine this indicates the chamber is fairly tight?

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
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.
Hi Swany,

I appreciate any advice I can get. I believe the appearance of too much crimp is an optical illusion, as those cases have not been crimped yet ;) I did notice the bullet bulge though, and I was not sure if that was normal or not. I think one of the factors affecting that is I am using .380 sized boolits, so they are probably going to bulge the case no matter what I do. I did heed your advice and backed the sizing die out approximately one turn and sized my empty brass last night. I noticed as I was getting ready to load the cases that I could still see the bulge after they were sized and prior to seating bullets. I doubt it is a problem, just noted it as I thought it was interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
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
HI DJ,

Funny you should mention this, as this is something I normally do in all of my loading, but this new case tray that I bought is kind of odd in that the cases don't sit very well upside down, so I set them all neck up this time and it just didn't feel right to me ;)

I do like to follow a regular procedure, and I prefer to do develop a series of steps and follow those steps the same way every time. I am currently charging all my cases with powder at one bench, and then when they are all charged, I use a flashlight to verify the powder and ensure the charges are all the same level in the case. After I check them twice, I move the tray over to the loading bench where my press is located and seat the bullets. It's worked pretty well for me so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Ok, here's my latest update. I've been playing around with unique between 8 & 10 grains, as well as the IMR3031 I finally located.
I've actually been to the range 3 times since I started this thread last week, and every trip has been a successful one.

Here is a video of my son shooting the 38-55 at 100 yds and nailing my steel target 5 out of 5 times! Unfortunately the guy next to us was shooting too, so it's hard to pick out which shot is what.

Marlin 1893 38-55 @ 100 yards:
 
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