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Caliber & ammo distinctions
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RickC
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October 12, 2020 - 5:37 pm
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Can anyone advise on the intended purpose Winchester had introducing a 38-40 when the 44-40 was already in play. Pistol considerations? Surely wasn’t a velocity difference at 1160 & 1190 respectively.

RickC

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October 12, 2020 - 6:34 pm
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I wish I knew. I really like the 38-40 but it certainly has it’s peculiarities. The difference between the two is negligible.

 

Mike

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October 12, 2020 - 6:39 pm
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To sell another rifle to someone (with a weak mind) who already had a .44-40!  Same reason there are 20 or 30 new cartridges that weren’t  around 40 yrs ago–new cartridges sell rifles!  (To those who believe the hype.) 

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October 12, 2020 - 6:46 pm
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In the Winchester 1880 catalog it says pertaining to the new 38-40.

“This arm now offered for the first time, is intended to meet the demand of our many correspondents for a small bore repeater, suitable for small game”.  This same reasoning was used for the 32 Cal too in 1888.

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October 12, 2020 - 11:22 pm
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I think Clarence is spot on. For them to say “intended to meet the demand of our many correspondents for a small bore repeater, suitable for small game” the 38-40 has been introduced, compared to the 44-40 ? just gives credence “to me” to Clarence’s answer.

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October 12, 2020 - 11:22 pm
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Chuck said
In the Winchester 1880 catalog it says pertaining to the new 38-40.

“This arm now offered for the first time, is intended to meet the demand of our many correspondents for a small bore repeater, suitable for small game”.  This same reasoning was used for the 32 Cal too in 1888.  

And thank you Chuck for the reply & info.

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October 12, 2020 - 11:37 pm
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Chuck said
In the Winchester 1880 catalog it says pertaining to the new 38-40.

“This arm now offered for the first time, is intended to meet the demand of our many correspondents for a small bore repeater, suitable for small game”.  This same reasoning was used for the 32 Cal too in 1888.  

Thats funny Chuck.   I would think it boiled down to marketing and selling more guns with the “new” cartridge.  We see that every time we open the most recent issue of the American Rifleman, some new fangled wild cat cartridge designed to perceivably perform better than something else thats already out there or is comparable. But not really something there is a real need for other than to market and sell more guns.  Two years ago I didnt know anything about a 6.5 Creedmore, now it seems everyone I know has one–I’ll stick with my old 243.  On the ammunition side of things it likely allowed the opportunity to tap into the market share for pistol cartridges. 

I dont think anything on the receiving end of a .401 cal 180 grn bullet versus a .429 cal 200 grn bullet would be able to recognize much of a difference. 
  

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October 12, 2020 - 11:46 pm
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So outside of collector demand, which one do you all prefer. 38-40 or 44-40 ? I suppose they both have their intended uses.

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October 12, 2020 - 11:49 pm
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Chuck said
In the Winchester 1880 catalog it says pertaining to the new 38-40.

“This arm now offered for the first time, is intended to meet the demand of our many correspondents for a small bore repeater, suitable for small game”.  This same reasoning was used for the 32 Cal too in 1888.  

Valid justification for the .32-20, or maybe semi-valid, because it’s still too much gun for true small game like rabbits & squirrels; just right for big Western Jacks, though I never heard of anybody eating them.  Ideal for turkey. But absurd to call .38-40 a small-game cart.

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October 13, 2020 - 2:16 am
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RickC(AG) said
So outside of collector demand, which one do you all prefer. 38-40 or 44-40 ? I suppose they both have their intended uses.

RickC  

I prefer the 38-40 partly because I found a couple I could afford and partly because I decided long ago to avoid all things .429 and for the most part have stuck with that decision. Long story short, long before I discovered I was a Winchester collector I decided that I should choose between the 45 (not long!) Colt and the 44 Remington Magnum. I went with the 45 Colt and and have only strayed once to buy a test mule to develop loads for my brother’s 44. I have several revolvers chambered in 45 Colt but they won’t be discussed here.

Since I’m a shooter I prefer the 38-40 over the 44-40 because in many cases the same money can buy a higher condition gun (better bore) with the smaller cartridge. As if I needed another reason I find the 38-40 intriguing. Laugh

 

Mike

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October 13, 2020 - 3:14 am
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The cartridge designation is a misnomer in itself.  The caliber is 40 and the casings only hold 38 grains of BP. Traditionally the caliber is the first part of the designation and the BP powder charge is the second. I’m guilty tho, I own a couple of 44-40’s and a couple of 38-40’s…… just because I got a really good deal on a set of 38-40 dies and had to find something to use them for.Wink

As has been stated, “new” cartridges sell guns. If the potential buyers of these guns simply opened up a loading manual and checked out the ballistics data, they would find out quickly that no one has reinvented the wheel. The new ultramags really get my goat, huge casings that can absorb an extra 10-15 grains of powder to get a lousy extra 100 FPS over the existing belted magnums and deliver more recoil. Sounds like a real “blast” to me. (pun intended)

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October 13, 2020 - 5:51 am
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Id have to say Id go with the 38-40 in 1892 over the 44-40 as a preference.  It seems there are fewer special order rifles and carbines in that caliber than all the others and as someone mentioned, you can buy a better condition gun in 38-40 for the money. 

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October 14, 2020 - 1:26 am
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1892takedown said
Id have to say Id go with the 38-40 in 1892 over the 44-40 as a preference.  It seems there are fewer special order rifles and carbines in that caliber than all the others and as someone mentioned, you can buy a better condition gun in 38-40 for the money.   

Sure, but the original question pertained to the logic of bringing out two almost identical (ballistically) cartridges.  The queer predilections of collectors 100 yrs later was not part of that logic.

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October 14, 2020 - 1:42 am
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Chris was addressing the second question of the thread posed by RickC in the 8th post, Clarence.

Going back to the original question I’ve been wondering if perhaps the “38” was perceived as lighter and faster even though it probably wasn’t. Maybe something new was enough to pique interests, even back then. Maybe they wanted to see if Colt would follow their lead. I really like the “38” and the 32-20 so I’m glad some folks fell for the “hype”.Wink

 

Mike

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October 14, 2020 - 2:14 am
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I think other they were both almost identical as far as the fps specs & trajectory.

RickC

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October 14, 2020 - 2:35 am
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RickC(AG) said
I think other they were both almost identical as far as the fps specs & trajectory.

RickC

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Yes, but a smaller round may have been perceived as faster and lighter. 

 

Mike

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October 14, 2020 - 3:13 am
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1892takedown said

Two years ago I didnt know anything about a 6.5 Creedmore, now it seems everyone I know has one–I’ll stick with my old 243.  O

This caliber is no hype.  Sub .5″ groups at 100 yards and kills elk too.  It really is a do everything caliber.  Now I just wish I could get my latest 130 gr. to consistently shoot under .5″.  Shot 10, 5 round groups today and 8 of the 10 were in the .6xx” range.  The 147 gr. load I developed can hit a 6″ target at 600 yards every time if I can hold the gun steady. 

Also shot my 73 in 44 WCF at 50 yards.  Took about 9 shots to get it on the target but I thought it shot well.  Chronographed 18 rounds.  These were some cowboy loads and weren’t a very consistent load.    Average FPS was 773.  The extreme spread was 305 FPS. Terrible numbers.  You want your extreme spread and standard deviation to be single digits or at the minimum under 20.

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October 14, 2020 - 5:51 am
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I knew Id get a rise out of somebody SmileWink.  I have friends that love the 6.5, and a couple not so much.  Im just a meat and potatoes kind of a guy and stick to a few calibers in the bolt action rifles, 222 Rem, 223, 243, 270, & 7mm Rem Mag.  However I do have my sights for my next purchase on a 204 Ruger or 220 Swift. 

Chris

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October 14, 2020 - 10:33 am
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Found this on another website:

interesting. Maybe Bert or Bob can verify these numbers. Nonetheless I’m glad I never sold my 38-40 now.

“I have always thought the 38-40 cartridge started out as nothing more than a marketing ploy dreamed up by Oliver Winchester, to sell a new caliber to somebody who already owned a model 1873 chambered for 44-40. The first 73s chambered for 38-40 showed up in 1878 or 1879, according to a couple of different sources. But 38-40 was never a very big seller as far as the 1873 model was concerned. 44-40 was considered the standard caliber, and if no caliber was specified in an order, it would be made in 44-40.

Total sales by caliber for the 1873 model were

44-40 – 566,487
38-40 – 24,826
32-20 – 109,558
22 – 19,738

Sales of 38-40 rifles were a bit better with the model 1892, but it still comes in behind 44-40, 32-20, and 25-20.

44-40 – 598,680
38-40 – 109,714
32-20 – 127,511
25-20 – 168,770

Don’t get me wrong, 38-40 is a cool cartridge, the only original ’73 I own (so far) is chambered for it. It was just never a great seller as far as Winchester was concerned.”

P.S. 38-40 lagged behind 45 Colt and 44-40 in SAA sales too.

45 Colt – 158,885
44-40 – 71,391
38-40 – 50,520

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October 14, 2020 - 2:23 pm
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I think it boils down to marketing. Winchester wanted more proprietary cartridges on the market to compete with their competition. You had the 44wcf (1873), and 45-75wcf(1876), then the 38wcf(1879) added an additional center-fire cartridge. Along with the 45-60wcf & 50-95wcf in 1879. So now Winchester could compete with all the Sharps, Remingtons, & Ballards of the world.

The whole thought of “Why produce something similar, when there is truly no difference?” is true in all types of marketing. Why sell Premium, and Plus grade gasoline, when Regular Unleaded will do fine?

Sincerely,

Maverick

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