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Fellow MO Members:

I handload cast bullets in my Marlin .45/70, using .459 diameter bullets (I get 1.5" groups at 100 yards). Tomorrow I'm buying a new Model 1894C and want to load cast .38 Special bullets as well as jacketed .357 Mag.

The Mag load I'm planning on is the 158-grain Hornady XTP flatpoint with Hodgdon H110 and small magnum pistol primers. As for the .38 Special cast loads, I plan to use .357 Mag cases and load to .357 COL (using small standard pistol primers and either Hodgdon Universal or Bullseye at about 850 fps velocity). Should I use .357 diameter cast bullets for the .38 Special-level loads or .358-diameter bullets for the .38 Special-level load?

Any input/advice welcome . . . Thanks!
 

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My Microgroove 1894C likes .360" diameter bullets and in .38 Special I load these with 11 grains of Alliant #2400. Also OK to shoot in .357 revolvers or heavy S&W N frame .38s.

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Definitely need to slug the barrel. My 32-20 slugged at .308" instead of the .311"-.312" I was expecting. I never hurts to check. Which reminds me that I have another 30-30 and a .35 to slug still. Good luck, and let us know what you find. My 1979 1894 loves the 158 gr. XTP's, but come to think of it, I've never slugged that one myself!
 
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In straight-wall case, "black powder type" rifle chambers, in revolver "Cowboy" calibers such as the .38 Special, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt and .45-70, in which there is no "throat" or "ball seat," before the origin of rifling, you should load a lead bullet of the largest diameter which provides safe case release clearance.

Doing so should produce a loaded cartridge diameter which measures 0.0015" to 0.0020" less than the pound-cast of the chamber as measured at the case mouth.

This permits a loaded cartridge to be chambered easily which can be extracted without firing, doing so without difficulty.

Light marking of an exposed front driving band or exposed bullet ogive which does not impede easy chambering or extraction of unfired rounds does no harm.

In my Marlin Microgroove rifles I load .360" in .38/357, .430" in .44-40, .433" in .44 Magnum, .455" in .45 Colt and .462" in .45-70.

Your mileage may vary.
 

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As pointed out by some, if you slug the barrel then go .001-.002 over groove diameter you do just fine. Generally speaking though a .359-.360 diameter cast will shoot just fine in most rifles with little to no barrel leading. The no leading is the goal to aim for.
 
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