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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot (Read 4828 times)
Retreever
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Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Apr 23rd, 2021 at 9:32am
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On various sites I frequently see this caliber mentioned. I have a nice collection of antique and replica 45-70's but think I might like something in a smaller caliber just for a change.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Recommendations?

Thanks, Retreever
  
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Cat_Whisperer
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #1 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 10:00am
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Consider BOTH 38-55 and 40-65.  Both lest brutal to the shoulder and shoot medium to heavy bullets.  Watch to ensure you get the right twist for the bullet.
  

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marlinguy
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #2 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 10:21am
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The .38-55 Ballard is a very versatile and very old cartridge. It was first introduced in 1884 for the Ballard rifles, and was quickly picked up by other companies. It's been a popular hunting cartridge, and target cartridge for many years. And one of the few early BP cartridges that made the transition to smokeless and is still currently in production.
The .38-55 is mainly a mid range or closer cartridge, but a few have used it for longer range shooting with faster twist rates, and heavier bullets. The standard load was a 255 gr. bullet, but many shooters today use bullets up around 325 gr., and a few even heavier. Old time target shooters also used bullets around 300-315 gr. to shoot bench rest, and schuetzen too. But offhand shooters soon turned to smaller calibers to avoid stiff recoil over long shooting periods.
The .38-55 is one of my favorites, but as mentioned above the .40-65 is a better choice if your goal is 800-1000 yd. shooting. But if you plan to shoot mostly 500 yds. or less the .38-55 would get the nod from me. Very mild compared to the .40-65, and easier on the lead and powder supply too.
  

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JLouis
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #3 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 10:50am
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If you are trying to move away from recoil it might not be the best pick. What will it be used for I guess should be the next question in order to provide you with more valuable input.
  

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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #4 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 11:51am
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My thoughts: 
Yes, the 38-55 is a fine cartridge to work with for short to
medium range shooting. ESPECIALLY if you go with a 12 twist barrel to enable stabilizing heavier bullets out to 600yds.
AND the 40-65, is also a fine, modest recoil cartridge usually used for out to Midrange-600yds in usual 16 twist.
It is noted that the 40-65, with appropriate length bullets
has been shown to be accurate out to Long range- 8,9,1000yds.-even in usual modern16 twist.  However, for best versatility, I would go with a 14-14.5 twist barrel for long, heavy bullet capability.
NOW, there is a middle of the road cartridge to consider:
the 38-50 Rem Hep cartridge. My recent experience with mine
indicates much greater versatility/capability than the 38-55 BMW. (Ballard/Marlin/lately Win). It is a pussycat to shoot, but will reach out with heavier bullets, even up to 360-380 grain with a 10 twist barrel clocking up to 1375fps.
It is easy to form brass from 30-40 Krag brass. 
beltfed/arnie
  
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #5 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 12:46pm
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I think the .38-55 is a great cartridge.  It's the only one I've played with that is very easy to get shooting well with either smokeless or black powder.   I have never shot fixed ammunition with a .38-55 though, always breech seated, and at schuetzen distances. 

The .38-50 Remington Hepburn cartridge is nice too.  I've never shot smokeless in mine, just breech seated with black powder.  I like it too as it's also a traditional cartridge, although mine is a Winchester single shot, so not a traditional cartridge for that rifle Smiley.   

Chris.
  
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #6 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 1:54pm
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JLouis wrote on Apr 23rd, 2021 at 10:50am:
If you are trying to move away from recoil it might not be the best pick. What will it be used for I guess should be the next question in order to provide you with more valuable input.†


Recoil isn't my concern, I'm a big guy well padded† Wink and I like my 45-70's I'm just looking for a another caliber to have fun with - I'm fine with the mid-range limitation.

My 45-70's fill the bill for me for long distance.

Retreever
  
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #7 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 2:05pm
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I'm struggling with two antique 38's right now.   Both of them have groove diameters that are "larger than convenient", let's say.   Bullet diameter is as larger or larger than case-neck ID.   I'd like to shoot fixed ammo and smokeless powder,  but may have to go to "real" powder to get them to work.

CHRIS
  
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #8 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 2:41pm
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Thanks Retreever then I too would recommend the 38-55 for your own chosen use.
  

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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #9 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 3:42pm
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I use the 38-55 and longer ranges, so have some familiarity with it.  With smokeless powder, 12 twist barrel, and 360 grain bullet, it is the equivalent of the .45-90 loaded with black powder.  It is superior to the 45-70 loaded with black powder.   

The ballistics of the heavy bullet 38's are identical to that of heavy (540 grain) bullets in the .45's.  The only thing you give up is size of the splatter or dust cloud so it's harder to spot hits and misses with the 38.  Wind drift, ballistics, etc. it's exactly the same.   

As Beltfed said, make sure you use a 12 twist barrel.  That will stabilize both heavy and light bullets.  The traditional 16 twist, or even 14 twist will only stabilize lighter bullets, and out beyond 200 to 300 yard, they start to have limitations.
  
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #10 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 9:16pm
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I built a ballard in 38-55 with a 1:14 twist using a Manson McPherson reamer.  I love it, I could shoot it all day.  I shoot a 360 gr Paul Jones bullet and is very accurate, safe to say I can highly recommend it.
  
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #11 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 9:51pm
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Rex N wrote on Apr 23rd, 2021 at 9:16pm:
I built a ballard in 38-55 with a 1:14 twist using a Manson McPherson reamer.† I love it, I could shoot it all day.† I shoot a 360 gr Paul Jones bullet and is very accurate, safe to say I can highly recommend it.

Thatís a lovely gun, wood just speaks to me 
Gumpy
  
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #12 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 10:19pm
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I shot a 45-70 Sharps 1874 in Schuetzen competition for many years until I finally bought a High Wall in 38-55, and never regretted it. Great cartridge and capable of excellent accuracy. Mine is a Uberti with bullet diameter of .382 which is no problem with a custom mold from Accurate Molds, twist is 1-18 which works well with 250-320 gr bullets. 4759, 4227, M&P 300 and 5744 are all good powders for that cartridge. Joe S
  
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #13 - Apr 23rd, 2021 at 11:27pm
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Thanks,

I bought the wood at local lumber yard called Windsor Plywood, i think the guy thought I was crazy as I  bought the part with an ugly knot in it but it turned out well.  The action was just a rusty frame that a friend found at a gun show for me.  Turns out to be a forged frame and handles the 38-55 very well. It is one of my favourite rifles now.  Grumpy gumpy wrote on Apr 23rd, 2021 at 9:51pm:
Rex N wrote on Apr 23rd, 2021 at 9:16pm:
I built a ballard in 38-55 with a 1:14 twist using a Manson McPherson reamer.† I love it, I could shoot it all day.† I shoot a 360 gr Paul Jones bullet and is very accurate, safe to say I can highly recommend it.

Thatís a lovely gun, wood just speaks to me 
Gumpy

  
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Re: Talk to me about 38-55 Single Shot
Reply #14 - Apr 24th, 2021 at 12:06am
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I shoot a Pedersoli 1885 in 38-55 it has a 12 twist and use a 350gr bullet cast from an Accurate mold. It is very accurate and  lots of fun to shoot.
  
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