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Discussion Starter #1
Rebore being less costly than reline, anyone had a 38-55 recut to shoot 40cal or possibly 41 cal?

Bullets for 40-65 could be used, or 41mag pistol bullets.

Anybody with experience please comment, and are dies available? Not in collector condition, so anything is possible. Bore is not that bad but keyholes even with .380 cast. Is the next possibility very soft cast?

Solving these adventures would put a solid, mechanically sound rifle back in the woods.
 

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If the current bore isn't too bad perhaps the first thing to do is slug it, that will tell you what size bullet you need to be shooting. Even though the cost of relining is somewhat higher when it's done you still have a 38-55 and that's what the rifle was built to shoot.
 

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Hey there Timber -- dag has offered some good advice. I think the difference between a rebore and a reline isn't much different than the price of a new set of dies you'd have to buy for the caliber change. 38-55 can already be enough of a challenge to get all the components (ducks) in a row as it is. A reline will leave the correct caliber stamp on the barrel. Best regards. Wind
 

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If it were mine,I would reline it.It would be difficult to go larger as the 38-55 is pretty much it for the casehead size on a 93 rifle and is close to straightwalled now.It would be a different story if it was a 336 round bolt rifle as the reciever could be opened up and a 45-70 casehead sized bolt installed and you could make a 38-56,40-65 or 416 Barnes or whatever.The square bolt 93 is at max on the 30-30 class headsize.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
All above response are good info. This rifle should be able to shoot well, with the right componants. Bore is not all that bad. I did try some .380 hard cast (beartooth) in it, but have not tried soft cast .380, which is more typical of what it was intended to shoot. Did I mention that it was an antique (pre 1899)? It is marked smokeless steel, and I have not even thought about soft cast with paper patch , or 2F black powder. If I can resolve the tumbleing, then I might find what kind of accuracy this old rifle has.
 

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Timber: I'd like to 2nd the motion to what Levergunz stated about your thought of reboreing to 40-65. It isn't just the barrel groove alone that you'd have to deal with. The 40-65 case itself is much larger than a 38-55. Levergunz seems to know much more than I do saying you might be able to adapt a 336 round bolt for the larger cartridge head/rim, but you'd have so much expense, relining the '93 would be much more cost effective. Consider also the barrel diameter might not be large enough to withstand higher pressures if you had it opened to a 40 caliber. The old 1895, which was chambered in 40 Marlin was thicker.
As you had thought, try a very soft cast bullet at a low velocity to see if that helps, then increase velocity a little at a time to find out at what point you might lose accuracy.
If all else fails, set aside the $$ a little at a time until you can reline it to .375 & keep the rifle in its' intended chambering.

Good luck & best wishes!
Hank
NRA Benefactor
 

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Hello Timber,

Before you do anything else, slug that bore to see what you are working with. Then let us know what you find. If you think that you can just load some bullets and shoot them in a 38-55 and they will be accurate...........well I have news for you.
As the 38-55 guru Wind has said elsewhere "making a 38-55 shoot well is not an event but a journey".

Good luck, you will need it. A re-lined barrel or a new barrel is no guarantee that it will shoot. The 38-55 is great fun but you will pay your dues. ;D ;D

.
 

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As JBledsoe posted,Measure your bore.Its important to know.You can also try firing the hardcast at a higher velocity.If you want to try BP then use a softer bullet with appropriate bullet lube.I find if I lube my cast bullets with Lymans Black powder gold and cast from WW it works for both BP and Smokeless.I have had great luck with 30.0 gr IMR 3031, Win brass,lyman 264 gr gas checked.
 

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The .444 case head is still the same size as a 38-55s shooting lighter loads in it say cast in the .444 would make it a rebore job. Keeping your gun as a standard cal instead of a wildcat would be easier when getting components.

Using the 38-55 brass to make a 40 cal would not be too difficult.
 

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You had said this rifle has no collector value, I beg to differ, as you have also said it is mechanically sound and that it is pre-1899 all of those things make it a collectible piece. I was at a gun show today and saw two 1893 Marlins, both beat to crap, the tags on each were over $1000. With that in mind I would say you would be ruining this rifle by re-boring it.

I have two 38-55s both like the same load and bullet. My alloy is 25 to 1 which is fairly soft and I shoot the bullets at blackpowder velocities which is about 1175 fps, depending on what you want to do with this rifle you might try loading down instead of up to see if you can find the sweet spot. I do not use these rifles for hunting only steel target shooting but I suspect a 250 grain bullet traveling at .22 LR speeds is still quite deadly at 100 yards. Enjoy the process of getting this fine old cartridge to shoot well for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I have some soft bullets cast for cowboy action shooting that I have not tried yet. No gas check, and might just be a good place to start. I purchased the rifle from Norman Johnson who declared the bore to be in good condition, and headspace correct, and mechanical function excellant. The bore is really not bad, and I have only tried a couple of differant loads in it. I will try soft and slow, and see what happens.

I do have a very nice cowboy 38-55 conversion, and it shoots great. I do not need this rifle to hunt with, it is the only real antique that I have. It would be nice to solve the riddle, and see what it will do. Most of the finish is gone, and it is a clean grey without rust or pitting. Someone made a replacement buttstock for it, not a bad job either.
 

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Timber - If you have some, or can borrow a bit from a fellow reloader, try 6.8 grains of Trail Boss under your soft cast 250 grain bullets. If you have some unsized,lube them by hand. You would only need about 10 to get some idea what is going to happen. I found for a 100 yard shot you need a calendar to time it, but is nice at 25 and 50 yards. I use W-W brass and primers and have had no problems. Shenandoah
 

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I know Norman fairly well and if he says the barrel is in good shape I would surely believe him, the man does know barrels and I have never known him to be less than truthful. You will find a good load for it, I am fairly sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
DAG, you are right about desireability of these old rifles, were it a Winchester with rocky road in the barrel, in a true pre 1899 in good mechanical condition, would no doubt be over a grand just to hang on the wall. The nice part about the Marlins, is we can still find them outside of a collection, and still afford to shoot them.
 

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Timber, I am in a very similar predicament. I have a great ol' 1893 built in 1903. And I love it! However, the barrel/bore is in terrible condition. Keyholes at 50 yds.

I love the rifle and the caliber and am definitely having a reline job on mine. Good luck with your endeavors.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Mine keyholes at twentyfive yards, but the bore is not bad, it will be an adventure to see what it takes to make it happy. If the bore were rough, I would not hesitate to have it relined.
 

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Timber:
My gun was made in '94 and shoots fine after John Taylor relined it. Turnaround was about five weeks, and you can't see the liner. It only sees black powder level loads, but that's fine with me. You might want to try some soft bullets with paper jackets for even more fun. The paper will leave the bore clean if used with smokeless loads.


Wayne
 

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Timber, did you ever slug that barrel? What does it measure? You sound like you are about to spend a lot of money, Probably with little or no improvement.
It's your money, go to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I want to say thanks for all the good suggestions and information. I will take the time to find what this rifle likes. I do not have to be in a hurry, as it has already waited for over a hundred years, and I have a very nice 38-55 that shoots cast great, first time out of the box.
I will bet that this old rifle only needs an opportunity to tell someone what it likes, and it does not need to be expected to keep up with the abilities of a modern high pressure 336 cowboy.
To get a look at my other cowboys, George posted pictures in the photo gallery of this site, as pictures of Timber's rifles. Long wait for those, and I am glad I started while Marlin, was still able to do custom work, and parts were still available. Those are real Marlins.
 
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