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.38-55 or .40-65 (Read 6962 times)
sabre85rdj
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.38-55 or .40-65
Jan 24th, 2010 at 11:24pm
 
My daughter is interested in shooting the Quigley this year with me.  Last year she spotted for me but my .45-70 has a little too much recoil for her.  I've been reading up on the .38-55 and there's a lot going for it but from what I've read it falls a little short past 600 yards.  The longest range at the Quigley is over 800 yards.

I'd be using heavy cast bullets 350 grains or more if I can find a good mold in the .38-55 with 1/12 twist.  I've also been thinking about the .40-65 to get a little more range out of the rifle.  I'm rebarrelling a Sharps 1874 and taking the weight down to about 6-7 lbs by shortening the barrel to 26 or 28 inches and going with a 1/2 round.    

I was wondering if anyone has any experience with these and could recommend one over the other.  
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40_Rod
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #1 - Jan 25th, 2010 at 8:34am
 
I would go with the .38, but in a different chambering. I would look at 38-56 Winchester or the 38-50 Remington. Despite the nomenclature the 38-50 holds more powder than the 38-55. Both cartridges can be made up from readily available parent brass rather easily.

40 Rod
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Old-Win
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #2 - Jan 25th, 2010 at 8:52am
 
Sabre, It sounds like you want to build a rifle with no kick but what you have in mind may not be the answer.  The 38-55 as you say, will work fine to the 600yd target but then is going to be lacking because of wind drift at the buffalo.  The 38-55 is a poor choice for that target, not only for wind drift but its bullet strikes are very difficult to see while spotting especially if there has been a little rain.  I'm not convinced that the guys talking up the 38's with fast twists and long heavy bullets is really that good of an idea.  I know there are fellows that say they shoot lights out at LR but show me one winner in a match.  The 40-65 would be a better choice but I would make the rifle around 10 lbs and a 30" barrel.  If you cut the weight to 6 or 7 lbs, then you've defeated the purpose that you're trying to achieve.  If you're trying to keep the rifle light for offhand, I think that the youngsters can shoot the bucket off sticks. Stay with a bullet that is about 1.38" in length.
The first 4 times I went to the Q, the only rifle I had was my 40-70.  It worked great at everything but bullet drift would get me at the buff if it was windy even though I used a 436 gr PJ Creedmoor. Actually it didn't do very well on the bucket either but that wasn't the rifles fault.
That's my take on it for what it's worth. Smiley
I also want to tell you that I am very envious that you're daughter wants to shoot with you.  I built up a sweet little 38-50 Hepburn for the grand kids.  So far, no interest but there still is hope for the last one.
 
PS  I was just going to post and saw that 40-Rod is pushing the 38's so I see now you have both sides of the story. Bob
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boats
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #3 - Jan 25th, 2010 at 8:57am
 
Did I read the weight right ? 6 to 7 lbs is a very light rifle.  Even Smallbore Silouette with a hunter rifle allows 8 lb guns, have seen young kids shoot them very well.   I would think 10 or so would be much more suitable for  youngsters single shot.  Particularly if from X sticks were you don't have to hold the gun.

I have shot the 38/55 quite a bit at Silhouette distances out to 500 meters and on paper to 600 yards in a 12 lb gun.  It's a great performer with a 300 gr bullet. Light recoil too.  Friend of mine has a 38/56 and while it's capable of higher velocity the bottle neck case was more difficult to get good results with using Black powder. If using Smokless the smaller case capacity of the 38/55 is an advantage in a strong rifle.

You might want to consult drift tables for the 38 bullets at 800 and compare to the 45/70. How it bucks the wind is going to be key.

I have always said recoil is a function of bullet weight and rifle weight more than caliber and velocity.  40/65 is a great cartridge and with a long heavy bullet probably much better wind wise at long distance than the 38's However if the bullet is heavy it's going to kick more than the lighter bullet.   Seeing the strike is an issue at our clubs 200 yard gong matches.  Some of the 32's miss recording a hit because you can't see them strike.


Basic rule is the lightest recoiling rifle that delivers the required ballistics is going to shoot highest scores. I would get her to try out some rifles with the 40/65 first, see if she can handle the recoil. For sure the 38/55 recoils less, if it's all she can handle then look very carefully at the balistic charts.

Boats
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« Last Edit: Jan 25th, 2010 at 9:06am by boats »  
 
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art_ruggiero
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #4 - Jan 25th, 2010 at 10:19am
 
use the 40/65. load it with 1f that takes the sharpness out of the recoil. in my opinion recoil is more affected by bullet weight , so a 370 grain 38cal is going to be nearly as stout as a 400 grain 40/65 keep the rifle at 10# or so.   artr
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #5 - Jan 25th, 2010 at 12:26pm
 
Agree with Art.  

400 gr 40 cal in a 10 lb rifle is just right for 800 yards on gongs.   Reason I went 300 with my 38/55 is I did want light recoil for the offhand leg of Silouette matches & bullet weight means recoil.   Also some of the long bullet 38/55's I had seen were not real good performers.  

You can only push the envelope so much. For sure 300 gr 38/55's shoot well not so sure the long heavy ones do. Some may have had good results but it's a streach when you get over 330 grs.  Fast twist are much less forgiving of bullet alloy and fit. Plus for any other match you are going to want 300's or even 255 gr bulletsfor less recoil.   1/12 is not as good for the shorter ones.

My opinon anyway

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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #6 - Jan 25th, 2010 at 2:31pm
 
I'd get her outfitted with a good shooting jacket and strap on sissy pad.

The rifle would be 40/50 SS throated to allow more powder in the case.
Shorten the stock so it fits her with the jacket and sissy pad on and short enough she can use a slip on recoil pad. She must be a small gal from what I gather, but young people can build up to rifle weight so I'd make it ten pounds in weight at the least.  If she grows to be 6' 4" and 240 pounds you can rechamber to 40/65 when need be.

I'd use a 400 grain tapered spitzer. Thats what I use in my rifle and it shoots to six hundred very nicely. I have not used it at 800 so I may be full of hot air.

I know I can get more than 55 grains of BP in the case and could also duplex so I think the little pipsqueak 40/50SS could get it done.



Theres my two cents.

                  Joe.

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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #7 - Jan 25th, 2010 at 4:40pm
 
Just my $.02 here... John Bly built his high school age son a BPC rifle in 40-60 Maynard caliber and that skinny drink of water is tearing up every match he goes to, it seems.  IIRC, John had an article in a recent BPC News telling all about it.  If I were building a rifle for a youngster for whom weight and recoil were both likely to be a problem, I would read that article before I did anything else.

Froggie
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sabre85rdj
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #8 - Jan 25th, 2010 at 8:38pm
 
Thanks all for the suggestions...that's why I decided to ask the experts.  Let me give a little more information.  First, we'd be shooting BP.  I enjoy smokeless because it just easier to deal with but having started with BP, I'm hooked for these old style rifles.  My daughter is about 5'6" but weighs about 120 lbs so she's pretty small framed.  My current Sharps weighs in at just over 10 lbs and she was hitting the buffalo off of cross sticks on the third attempt but after a few shots, she was getting a headache from the recoil even with a gel recoil pad.   I shot the first practice day without a recoil pad and I was pretty sore so it did kick a bit with that 535 gr bullet and load.

So I have two objectives, I need to manage the recoil and I agree it's a balance between bullet energy and rifle mass so there's some trade offs I'll need to consider.  The reason I was thinking about the lighter weight was for the offhand shooting.  She can't hold up my 10.7 lb rifle for more than a few seconds before she starts to shake and wobble.   It has a 32 inch barrel and it fits me good but it's too much weight too far from her shoulder for good control.  Maybe I need to consider a heavier but more compact rifle and concentrate more of the mass closer to the receiver.   Maybe a 30 inch half octagon barrel. My other option is to get her to lift weights and build up some muscle but... well, 'nough said.  I'll go find John Bly's article and educate myself a little more.  I have to get this right the first time because my pocketbook "wife" will protest if I try to sneak another rifle into the gun cabinet should I miss the mark.    Thanks all
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marlinguy
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #9 - Jan 25th, 2010 at 9:16pm
 
No matter which caliber you choose, I sure would not go that light! If you're looking to make it more manageable for a smaller shooter, then keep all the weight you can; up to 10 lbs. anyway.
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38_Cal
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #10 - Jan 25th, 2010 at 11:37pm
 
I would go for a 9 pound 40-50 that really fits her...toe out for a gal's (ahem) shoulder area...many gunsmiths don't understand the little things that make it more comfortable for the ladies.  I've done stock work for quite a few over the years, but you've also got to educate any new shooter on position...most hold their shoulders almost square to the bore line and crane their heads over the comb until they've been taught properly...it's not instinctive.  This will affect pull length also.

I would guess (sight unseen) that for 5'6" and 120 lbs that she would need a pull length around 13".  If your rules permit, use a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad fitted by someone who knows how to grind it to get a little toe out.  If you're restocking a rifle for her, you can build the toe out into the design.

David
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David Kaiser
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John in PA
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #11 - Jan 26th, 2010 at 12:29am
 
Here are a few thoughts, no particular order.

Heavier barrel equals less recoil.
Lighter bullet equals less recoil.

A 500 grain 1881 military 45-70 bullet with a deep hollow point is maybe 50 grains lighter, yet retains a great ballistic coeffecient.

Why not let her use a 45-70 and grow into it, with one or the other of the above mods? 

Test the heavy barrel theory by friction-taping a long lead bar (like a bar of bar solder) to the bottom of the barrel.  J P Lower of Denver, famous Sharps dealer, won a 200 yd offhand match with a stock military Borchardt so-modified. Butt-ugly, but shot like a house afire.  It would allow you to test the theory without the expense of a complete new gun, or rebarrel job.  The other guys on the firing line will stop laughing when she shoots the pants off them!!! Grin Grin Wink
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John Wells
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #12 - Jan 26th, 2010 at 7:24am
 
We covered recoil now lets talk about weight.  There is considerable difference in how a rifle hangs according to the way it's built.   People do fine with very heavy rifles if they are set up properly. 10 lbs is not too much for 120 # 5'4" people if the rifle balances.  Even .223 AR's purpose built for NRA Match rifles often weigh 15 lbs and shoot fine offhand

Shorter barrels pushing the weight back toward the buttstock more make a huge difference. Shorter buttstocks too.   How the rifle is supported, hip rest & cheek piece will be important too.  Most of my offhand rifles balance were I hold them with my left hand. The butt plate is just lightly hanging on which means it needs some hook.  Hook hurts in a heavy recoiler but not at all with a lighter cartridge.

Simple way to set up the weight and fit is get a smallbore free rifle with fully adjustable stock and set it up to fit her properly.   Some 10 M air guns will adjust enough too.   Key is barrel weight, length of pull and comb height.  Once it's comfortable you have the proper dim's for a nice single shot with all those parts fixed.

If I make a full size outline sketch of my Anschutz 54 free smallbore rifle and overlay a sketch of my CPA Pope style Schuetzen all the principal dimensions are exactly the same.  Same with my 10 M air gun it's exactly like my old Anschutz rim fire Silhouette gun. Most of the Air guns have barrel weights that can be changed.  Donuts of metal duct taped on the muzzle are often seen when setting up. Guy I know shoots Schuetzen with jack leged barrel weight

Tell the truth I am 6' 195 lbs  and don't shoot a 10 # long barrel 45/70 offhand very well either. If the plate has some hook it's going to hurt. if not it's going to be hard to hold steady.  They were originally intended to be shot under the old NRA 10 # rule prone.  Not the best choice for offhand rifles. Some shoot them well offhand but it's more a case of overcoming the situation than the rifle helping out.

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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #13 - Jan 26th, 2010 at 2:21pm
 
Sabre,
Lots of good advice coming in here. Now that we know a little more about your daughter, and what your plans are, you may be able to narrow things down.  Most agree that a .40 caliber is the way to go over a .38. I'm not sure how many years you've been going to the Quigley but there are a couple of gals that come to mind that beat most of the guys.  One of them is usually in the top ten over all year in and year out.  Both these women are similar to your daughter in size and both were shooting 40-65's when I was watching them.  While watching one shooting the offhand, she hit her first 3 shots.  After that, you could see that she was tiring and never hit again.  My point being, that girls are simply going to have difficulty holding a BPCR rifle offhand, 9 or 10 lbs.  Heck, most men have difficulty.  I think what you need to consider is giving up some scores on the offhand and making them up on the other targets.  The comfort of the heavier rifle will be appreciated after some days of practice and two days of match shooting.  You could go to a 28" barrel and leave full octagon which should keep it around that 10 lb range and it may help her with balance on the awful hand.  Put a good pad on it at the right length like .38 cal mentioned and get some range time in.  She can build herself up to recoil with practice.  If you don't want to put a pad on it, those Butt Ugly or similar pads really soak up the recoil.
All for what it's worth. Bob
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Re: .38-55 or .40-65
Reply #14 - Jan 26th, 2010 at 3:44pm
 
Shorter barrel, maybe some lead in the buttstock to get the balance right.  Weight isn't so much the issue with BPCR's for offhand work, but balance.  Ideally, the rifle should balance not too far in front of the trigger guard so that the balance point is between the shoulder and the left hand.  The further out it is, the harder it will be for offhand shooting.  A dedicated prone rifle usually makes a lousy offhand rifle...
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