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runningiron
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Winchester 1885 reloading information
Sep 2nd, 2009 at 12:34pm
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I recently bought a new 1885 Winchester in .38-55 caliber.   Can anyone tell me the groove diameter of this rifle.  I've heard  both .378 in. and .375 in.  I would slug the bore, but I've moved recently and my tools are still in storage.  Also, which of the Starline cases would be appropriate for the rifle?  Any load data would be appreciated, too.

Thanks
  

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Green_Frog
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Re: Winchester 1885 reloading information
Reply #1 - Sep 2nd, 2009 at 1:38pm
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When you say, "new," you cover a lot of territory.  Who made this particular "new" Winchester 1885?  The answer could be Miroku or whoever in Japan for Winchester/Browning, Uberti or Pedersoli in Italy, or one of the semi-custom American makers such as Ballard Rifle, Meacham or C Sharps.  The answers to your questions will vary significantly based on the answer to my question.

Ultimately, you will find the groove diameter to be anywhere from a very tight .375" to a generous .384" or more.  Your bullet diameter should be at or slightly above this, of course, so identifying the barrel and its source will help with a WAG on diameter.

As for the brass, AFAIK, everyone is still using the longer length (SAAMI spec) cartridge length for their chambers except those custom builders who want to make the chamber fit the available Winchester brass.  I would order the longer .38-55 Starline brass, then be ready to trim slightly if needed.  JMHO, YMMV!

For loads, I like to start with the basic 250 gr+/- bullet and a moderate load of IMR 4759.  This is a good baseline load to start from.

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Froggie
  
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runningiron
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Re: Winchester 1885 reloading information
Reply #2 - Sep 2nd, 2009 at 2:03pm
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Thanks for the info, Green-Frog. I should have said the Winchester / Miroku 1885, but, frankly, I couldn't remember the name of the firm.  I'm afraid i have just a touch of oldtimers disease at times.
  

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Green_Frog
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Re: Winchester 1885 reloading information
Reply #3 - Sep 2nd, 2009 at 4:59pm
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Texasmac is our ranking expert on that particular rifle and its many variations.  Perhaps he will see this and put a post on to let you know the answers to your questions.  Good luck and enjoy!

Froggie
  
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texasmac
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Re: Winchester 1885 reloading information
Reply #4 - Sep 2nd, 2009 at 6:39pm
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Froggie,

Thanks for the reference but my area of chamber and bore expertise is pretty much limited to the Browning/Winchester Miroku rifles with the 1/2 octagon 1/2 round Badger barrels, of which I have an intimate knowledge. These rifles are the subject of the book I have for sale. †

Of course the action is basically the same for all the Miroku 1885, but I have never sluged or made a chamber cast of the Win. 38-55. †I understand the barrels were made by either FN or Miroku (I'm betting on FN - Browning/Winchesterís parent company).

Wayne
« Last Edit: Sep 2nd, 2009 at 6:51pm by texasmac »  
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Green_Frog
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Re: Winchester 1885 reloading information
Reply #5 - Sep 2nd, 2009 at 9:10pm
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Thanks, Wayne.  I knew about your field of specialty, but was hoping to get a little more mileage out of it as well!   Roll Eyes  Now we're kinda back where we started... needing a groove diameter measurement for the .38-55 in the Japanese 'wall!   Huh

In your dealings with Winchester/Browning during the preparation of your book, Wayne, how forthcoming were they with information about manufacture?  Would it do any good to write/e-mail their customer service and just ask about bore/groove specs and chamber length?   Huh

Also, I recall seeing on this board where people were talking about getting the new Japanese 'walls in .38-55... hasn't one of you guys done the necessary load development and shooting to chime in here!  Let's help this guy out a little!  Cheesy

Froggie
  
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texasmac
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Re: Winchester 1885 reloading information
Reply #6 - Sep 2nd, 2009 at 10:47pm
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I would start with Winchesterís Customer Service by sending them an online request or call.  They should be able and willing to supply limited bore data.  Just keep in mind that if you do make contact with a helpful CS representative, he/she will have to contact someone in the technical dept. which will most likely pull their internal specifications for the information.  With the understanding that the actual dimensions are subject to typical manufacturing variances, I would expect the groove and bore diameters to be within +/- 0.001Ē of the specifications.  I have found that the same cannot be said for the many other chamber and throat dimensions.

With the above said, I personally would never rely on factory data.  To tailor my ammunition to a specific rifle I only rely on full casts of the chamber, throat and bore that I personally made and measured.  If only the groove & bore diameters are required Iíd slug the bore with a soft piece of lead or round ball a few thousands larger than the expected groove diameter.  Lacking the material or ability to make and measure a slug, the factory bore data should be close.

Chamber lengths are another matter.  Normally chamber lengths are needed to determine case overall length.  I have found that chamber lengths can vary significantly from the factory specifications.  And your definition of a chamber may not be the same as the factory.  Does it include the headspace and headspace clearance?  Does it include any portion of the transition step or throat?  How about freebore, which is designed into some of the Winchester throats?  I have found that even SAAMI (the industry standards organization) definition of a chamber is not consistent.  As far as Iím concerned the only way to determine an accurate overall case length is to do an impact casting of the chamber and throat.

Wayne
  
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Green_Frog
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Re: Winchester 1885 reloading information
Reply #7 - Sep 3rd, 2009 at 7:55am
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I'd have to second what Wayne said.  Perhaps you could fire a few rounds of factory spec ammo and check for signs of case creep, etc. then if the rounds are lead bulleted, checking for both leading and basic accuracy could give you some guidance.  Ultimately, a chamber cast and slugging the bore are in your future if you want the best accuracy.  Undecided

Froggie
  
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Re: Winchester 1885 reloading information
Reply #8 - Sep 3rd, 2009 at 11:00am
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Many thhanks for all the information and guidance.  I'm heading back to my old house this weekend, so I'll grab some of my tools when I come back and slug the bore
  

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