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Reloading the 38-56 Winchester (Read 1997 times)
creedmoormatch
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Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Apr 25th, 2012 at 4:57pm
 

  My question concerns the correct bullet diameter for the 38-56 bottle neck Winchester.  i have located conflicting info as follows:

The Ideal Manuf. Co Reloader Handbook No.17 dated 1906 states the 38-56 W uses a 0.375" dia. bullet;

  An NRA Article written by Col B.R. Lewis U.S.A. Ret. and the NRA Technical staff indicates the bullet dia. is 0.370"

I do understand the the correct bullet diameter for any given rifle barrel is predicated upon the actual groove diameter, but for starters, I would like to resolve the discrepancy that my research has revealed.

Can anyone share his actual experience?
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boats
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #1 - Apr 25th, 2012 at 8:48pm
 
Web

Chris C has a 38/56 he used to use for BPCS, might ask him what worked well.

I do know most off the shelf modern barrels in 38 caliber are .375  Makes it easier for the barrel makers to furnish barrels for all the different 38 calibers. Old lever guns were larger generally .380 or so.  New Precision shooting has an article on the 38/55 and how bore size came to be. Could it be the same as for the 38/56 ? don't know

Boats
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wcf3840
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #2 - Apr 25th, 2012 at 9:15pm
 
I had an 1886 Winchester in 38-56. The bore was .379.
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SSShooter
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #3 - Apr 25th, 2012 at 9:23pm
 
What barrel are you using? If old, could be anything. If new (like all of mine), then is likely 0.377" grooves and 0.366" bore. 0.375" is nominal for jacketed bullets. 0.370" seems way to small for a cast bullet. Wonder if that might be for PP? I have two High Walls and a Marlin 1895 in 38-56. A Win-Miroku 28", 1-in-15" with iron sights, a C. Sharps 1-in-14" 32" GM barrel. The 1895 Marlin has a 26" McGowen barrel with 1-in-16" twist. All shoot cast lead sized to 0.378" very well. Sometimes, when I do my part, they are very accurate. Wink Will be developing some smokeless CLA silhouette loads (245gr hard cast) for the 1895 in June and some jacketed hunting smokeless loads (220, 240 & 275gr) later in the summer for deer.

wcf3840 - 0.379" is a really large bore. Am guessing you have an original 1886 and not a reissue.
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« Last Edit: Apr 26th, 2012 at 9:59pm by SSShooter »  
 
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creedmoormatch
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #4 - Apr 26th, 2012 at 7:45am
 

   Thanks Boats;

  Yes, Chris initially put me on to the 38-56 and we've been talking about how to proceed.  He is packing up for a trip to Camp Butner for a match (loading, clothes, etc. etc.) and I didn't want to bother him until he returns.

  Just trying to get some of my home work out of the way such as bullet size etc before he and I start talking powder charges.

  Thanks much
   Webb
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wcf3840
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #5 - Apr 26th, 2012 at 11:14am
 
It is an original. I have to size to .380 to get it to shoot well.
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boats
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #6 - Apr 26th, 2012 at 11:52am
 
Most of my friends with original Marlin & Winchester lever actions or Italian reproduction guns in 38/55's have bores around 380. Causes them trouble when they load cast bullets big enough for the bore. & too big to chamber.

it's not a problem in most single shots using .375 bore barrels. When shooting fixed I size .377 and even leave a little flare on the case, chambers easy in the CPA

I think 380 bores are why Starline came up with the new 38/55 cases with little bit thinner walls. Starline case .380 sized bullet buddy of mines new Marlin 1895 is a very good shooting rifle.

So it sort of depends.

Boats
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Quarter_Bore
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #7 - Apr 26th, 2012 at 8:38pm
 
There is no discrepancy. You are just thinking in modern terms. Back when these rifles were being used they used black powder and sometimes paper patched bullets. It was quite normal for the bullets to be at bore diameter or maybe just a little larger. This same thing can be noticed in .40 calibers. While Cartridges of the World lists the bullets for .40-70 Ballards and Sharps as .403 the barrels of these original rifles run about .410 or so. COW is correct. The ammo has .403 bullets. What they don't say is that the rifles have .410 groove diameters.
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SSShooter
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #8 - Apr 27th, 2012 at 12:19pm
 
My C. Sharps came to me with a very tight chamber. Did not like to load or shoot. I sent along to John Taylor to open up and now chambers easily and shoots much better than me. It will hold the X-ring at both 300 & 600 when I do my part. If you are shooting a new barrel and you can't get it to work well for you, talk to John.
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marlinguy
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #9 - Apr 27th, 2012 at 5:33pm
 
My 1895 Marlin in .38-56 had a .380" groove diameter. It liked .381 to .382" slugs.
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boats
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #10 - Apr 27th, 2012 at 6:40pm
 
Problem is when you shoot the old ones with modern components. My Trapdoors black powder hollow base bullets do fine under bore size. It's when I use smokeless and plain flat bases I have to load "fat' I use as big as will chamber using smokeless powder

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SSShooter
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Re: Reloading the 38-56 Winchester
Reply #11 - Apr 29th, 2012 at 12:22pm
 
For smokeless loads, Alliant and Hodgdon both recommended starting with 38-55 loads and work up from there. If you want some BP loads, can post what is working in my rifles.
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