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25-20WCF, 25-35, 32 WCF, 32-40, 38WCF 38-55
January 13, 2020
9:07 pm
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Hello All,

Every once in a while a little light bulb goes off in a dark recess of my brain.  I have often wondered why on the Model 1892 the calibers are 44 WCF, 38 WCF, 32 WCF and 25-20 WCF.  Except for the latter the first three were all in existence and interchangeable with the Model 1873 rifle.  But what do you do in 1895 when the 25-20 was introduced for the 1892 rifles and at the same time the 25-35 was introduced for the Model 1894.  They couldn't BOTH be 25 WCF.  Was it decided then that the 25-20 and 25-35 nomenclature would come into use.  And is that why the 32-40 is designated as it is since the 32 WCF was already widely used?  And to follow that train of thought, since the 38 WCF was around when the 38-55 was created it was then designated as such so that there would be no confusion.  

As I said, it was a little light bulb but I have not read anything that deals with why/how these caliber designations were derived by Winchester.  I would love to hear any thought from others or maybe/hopefully someone has stumbles across some paper trail from Winchester which has this discussed.

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January 13, 2020
10:07 pm
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twobit said
And is that why the 32-40 is designated as it is since the 32 WCF was already widely used?

Not to mention the hutzpah it would have required to claim credit for this Marlin-originated cartridge; ditto for .38-55. 

January 13, 2020
11:48 pm
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twobit said
Hello All,

Every once in a while a little light bulb goes off in a dark recess of my brain.  I have often wondered why on the Model 1892 the calibers are 44 WCF, 38 WCF, 32 WCF and 25-20 WCF.  Except for the latter the first three were all in existence and interchangeable with the Model 1873 rifle.  But what do you do in 1895 when the 25-20 was introduced for the 1892 rifles and at the same time the 25-35 was introduced for the Model 1894. 

Michael  

In regards to the rifles, I do believe the 25-20 WCF was not available in the 73, because Winchester didn't want the added expense of making the tooling necessary to make the 73 in 25-20, and there intent of producing the model 92 to replace the 73. With the 73 only continuing on, due to it being such a favorite of the public, and being a lower price of the 92. Which I suppose is the same reasoning for continually producing the 66 while 73 production was on-going for so many years.

As far as the caliber designations go, let me think some more on it, as I thought I recalled seeing some type of factory explanation somewhere before.

Sincerely,

Maverick

P.S. I have come a cross a 73 in 25-20. It was non-factory work. It was a 73 carbine with a model 92 round barrel on it. It also had a 32wcf magazine and elevator. If it fired, I would imagine it would have been dangerous, as I doubt any type of proper head-spacing was done on it.  

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January 14, 2020
4:51 am
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Michael,

The "25-20 WCF" moniker was used for the new Model 1892 repeater cartridge because Winchester had already used the "25 WCF" on the Model 1885 rifles chambered for the 25-20 Single Shot cartridge (beginning in the year 1890). While the naming convention was the same for the 25-20 WCF and 25-35 WCF, I am not of the opinion that it was for the reason you opine.

Bert

 

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January 14, 2020
5:30 pm
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Cartridges and their names is an interesting subject. With respect to cartridges from 100 years ago “38 caliber” could refer to anything from 38 Short Colt to 38-55 Winchester (Ballard) with bullet diameters from about .358 to .401 with a wide variety of cases. The stories about how the name came to be are as varied as the cartridges.

 

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January 14, 2020
10:13 pm
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The 38-40 is the one that baffles me the most. Why in the world would you designate something with a 40 caliber bullet with a prefix of 38?  Maybe Winchester didn't take a hankering to having a 40-40 to go alongside their 30-30.LaughTo complicate it even further, the case only holds 38 grains of black powder, I reckon they must have turned the numbers around as it really should of been a 40-38.Wink

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January 14, 2020
11:28 pm
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Erin Grivicich said
The 38-40 is the one that baffles me the most.

More baffling to me than the caliber nomenclature, is the redundancy of a cartridge having ballistics that duplicate, almost, .44-40.

January 14, 2020
11:34 pm
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That's easy Clarence, it's an "express" cartridge. Kinda like the 45-90 VS the 45-70. Wink

January 15, 2020
12:59 am
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Erin Grivicich said
That's easy Clarence, it's an "express" cartridge. Kinda like the 45-90 VS the 45-70. Wink  

180 g. bullet vs. 200 g. bullet with more powder behind it doesn't seem like much of a difference to me; like to see the difference in 100 yd. trajectories between the two--suspect it would be hard to measure.

January 15, 2020
1:58 am
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I had a 38-40 Peacemaker and was told to make sure the rounds I bought were "pistol rounds" and not rifle rounds.  All I can say is they would not punch through an old pick up truck tail gate. Dent, yes, but not much. 

January 15, 2020
2:26 am
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clarence said

180 g. bullet vs. 200 g. bullet with more powder behind it doesn't seem like much of a difference to me; like to see the difference in 100 yd. trajectories between the two--suspect it would be hard to measure.  

Clarence, I was making a funny...… by calling it an "express" cartridge.Wink 

 

Huck, Those 900 F.P.S. factory loads are pretty pathetic. Kind of like shooting a big, standard velocity 22 short. If you put 25 grains of IMR 4227 behind a jacketed 180 grain hollow point and shoot it out of a 92 it's a whole different animal.Cool NOT for use in anything other than a model 92.

Best,

Erin

January 15, 2020
3:11 am
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Erin Grivicich said

Huck, Those 900 F.P.S. factory loads are pretty pathetic. Kind of like shooting a big, standard velocity 22 short. 
  

Considerable difference, actually--the Short will probably penetrate to a "killing" spot--brain or heart--IF accurately placed.  A while back, '92takedown talked about .45 Colt slugs that literally bounced off a steer's skull; don't think that would have happened with a SV Short.   

January 15, 2020
5:22 am
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clarence said

  A while back, '92takedown talked about .45 Colt slugs that literally bounced off a steer's skull; don't think that would have happened with a SV Short.     

Clarence, maybe I wasnt clear in that old post, but those rounds from that colt all penetrated but they were too low to hit the old brain pan.  How that old cow survived that punishment those couple days before we returned is a mystery still, something I'll never forget.  We had that old cow head stuck in the flower bed with 7 bullet holes through her skull till it it crumbled apart from age. 

I would agree there isnt a lot of difference between the 38-40 and 44-40 in terms of ft/lbs of energy, velocity, etc for standard loads.  Going by Winchester's 1905 Catalog trajectory charts, the standard load for the 44-40 is listed as having 44 more ft/lbs energy than the 38-40 and the 38-40 shoots a bit flatter.  If comparing the WHV loads for each, Winchester places the 38-40 velocity at 1700 FPS, Energy at 1154 ft/lbs, and again, a flatter bullet trajectory.  The 44-40 WHV  on the other hand has velocity placed at 1500 FPS, Energy at 999 ft/lbs.  Energy in ft/lbs stated as measured from 50 feet.  However, anything on receiving end, its not going to know the difference.   

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January 15, 2020
11:40 am
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Here is a comparison between the 38 WCF and 44 WCF cartridges.  Zeroed in at 50 yards both cartridges have a drop of 48 and 47 inches out at 200 yards!  That is A LOT of hold over.  

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Michael

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January 15, 2020
3:05 pm
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Yep, two feet of drop from 150-200 yards, far from what you would term "flat shooting" !!

Erin

January 15, 2020
3:35 pm
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Erin Grivicich said
The 38-40 is the one that baffles me the most. Why in the world would you designate something with a 40 caliber bullet with a prefix of 38?  Maybe Winchester didn't take a hankering to having a 40-40 to go alongside their 30-30.LaughTo complicate it even further, the case only holds 38 grains of black powder, I reckon they must have turned the numbers around as it really should of been a 40-38.Wink

Erin  

Don't forget about dates of introduction! The 38-40 was introduced well before the 30W.C.F. Also when they were introduced they were simply the 44W.C.F. and 38W.C.F. Winchester didn't start referring to them as the 44-40 and 38-40 until after 1895 when smokeless powder was introduced / produced by Winchester. Prior to that there would have not been much of a need to call out the powder charge when "naming" the cartridge for their own proprietary cartridges. 

Also if you look at the context and timeframe of the other .38 caliber cartridges Winchester sold ammunition for, other than the .38 S&W, the rest are hold overs from Rim-Fire ammunition. They may have also decided to name it a .38 caliber instead of a .40, due to all the .40 caliber Sharps Cartridges, to avoid any confusion and again all those were originally rim-fire. The 44 W.C.F. (1873) was the first commercially successful center-fire cartridge. And when the .38 S&W came out in 1877, Winchester may have wanted to compete with it by introducing the .38 WCF and got it out by 1879. Another reason they simply named the cartridge .38WCF, was due to the .38-40 Remington-Hepburn cartridge already being out in 1875. But when looking at these cartridges, a person could easily discern that they were different.

Another overall factor to consider is the amount of changes in cartridge design and development that has taken place. You go from the year 1873 of one center-fire cartridge to over 200 by the year 1910.  The initial train of thought or reasoning for naming a cartridge, maybe nixed in comparison with the overall changing with the times.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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January 16, 2020
1:39 am
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Maverick said

The 44 W.C.F. (1873) was the first commercially successful center-fire cartridge.

Though the .50-70 was not a commercial development, it was introduced in 1866 & soon adopted by many commercial arms makers; for ex., by 1870, Remington was chambering it in Rolling Blocks, which would give it a slight edge over 44 WCF.  (A big edge in power.)

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