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Long Range Winchester
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August 19, 2022 - 9:52 pm
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Coming from a long range rifle background, I have an interest in maximizing the capabilities of any rifle I own. Of course the ballistics of the bullet we shoot as well as environmentals have a significant factor in that equation, but in terms of the rifle itself, I’m curious as to what the best rifle, caliber, and sight setup would be in these vintage guns? Of course we all know that the accurate rifle is the one you shoot the best and have familiarity with (beware of the man who only owns one rifle) but when you think of the best long range setup, what does it look like? I’ll admit I have a lot to learn in terms of vintage sights, heck I’m not even certain of what all is out there to choose from. But in gearing up for a November deer hunt, and my lifelong and growing obsession with all things Winchester, I have been pondering this question as of late! Curious what you guys will have to say : )

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August 19, 2022 - 11:05 pm
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Many if not most shooters in the Creedmoor & early Palma matches shot from the back position using heel sights, though I believe this was fading away by the time of WW I.  Of course, they weren’t shooting Winchesters in those matches. 

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August 20, 2022 - 12:12 am
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880E1EFD-E2FB-4192-9BCA-9C72FFA5BFCD.jpegImage EnlargerAs you may know the Winchester Single Shot (1885) was THE rifle for long range competition for much of its production life and IMHO still a contender, why else would C. Sharps still produce the action for this game? Cartridge would depend on your intentions but I’m thinking the 32-40 or 38-55 are worth a look. Tang sights would be my choice, mid-range are plenty tall enough for my purposes.

I’ll post pics after supper! Laugh

 

Mike

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August 20, 2022 - 12:15 am
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clarence said
Many if not most shooters in the Creedmoor & early Palma matches shot from the back position using heel sights, though I believe this was fading away by the time of WW I.  Of course, they weren’t shooting Winchesters in those matches. 

  

Interesting, I had seen those stock mounted sights before but didn’t know what they were called. Side note, when you google “heel sights”, nothing to do with a rifle pops up : ). Hahaha

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August 20, 2022 - 1:31 am
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Matt Herman said

Interesting, I had seen those stock mounted sights before but didn’t know what they were called. Side note, when you google “heel sights”, nothing to do with a rifle pops up : ). Hahaha

  

Matt, if you’re seriously interested in this subject, “Google” is not the way to approach it.  To start with, buy this inexpensive book:  Americans & Their Guns, by James Trefethan, an NRA pub.

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August 20, 2022 - 1:44 am
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TXGunNut said
As you may know the Winchester Single Shot (1885) was THE rifle for long range competition for much of its production life…

  

Mike,  If you believe that, you, too, would be well advised to buy the same book I recommended to Matt.  Guns being used now in modern events aren’t relevant to the history of long-range comp., which I believe was the subject Matt was inquiring about.

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August 20, 2022 - 3:03 pm
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Folks,  Seems to me we need some definitions here.  Such as what is “long range”?  In some folks’ minds that may be 200 or 300 yards.  Others a 1000, then there are a few who are playing with black powder and shooting heavy bullets in the 500 grain and bigger sizes at over a mile and hitting a horse and rider silhouette consistently.  Without knowing what range is “long range” its very hard to zero in on what caliber/bullet/rifle/sights may work for someone.  Suffice to say what equipment I have plus my abilities, the mile plus shooting is out of my league!  But I do read books and do ponder the imponderable!  Tim

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August 20, 2022 - 4:12 pm
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tim tomlinson said

 

Folks,  Seems to me we need some definitions here.  Such as what is “long range”?   

In the history of British & American match shooting, it has a well-understood meaning: competition at 800, 900, & 1000 yds.  (And to hell with your foreign measurements!)  Off-hand Schuetzen matches were customarily shot at 100 or 200 yds.  Mid-range was “in-between” those ranges.  Before cartridge rifles replaced cap-locks, bench-rest matches with “slug guns” were shot  at 40 rods, usually, though with some special matches up to 80 rods.  There’s no historical precedent for match shooting at the range of a mile. 

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August 20, 2022 - 4:42 pm
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Matt Herman said

clarence said

Many if not most shooters in the Creedmoor & early Palma matches shot from the back position using heel sights, though I believe this was fading away by the time of WW I.  Of course, they weren’t shooting Winchesters in those matches. 

  

Interesting, I had seen those stock mounted sights before but didn’t know what they were called. Side note, when you google “heel sights”, nothing to do with a rifle pops up : ). Hahaha

  

Some who know me here know I can’t help but jump in as it is a tangent of my collecting:

 

https://imgur.com/ayb6NV4

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August 20, 2022 - 4:51 pm
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And for those who say no supine position shooting with a Winchester lever action repeating rifle, as is the case with Winchester, “never say never.”  Here is a special order .30-40 M1895 Musket with a 32 inch barrel that had been in my collection.  I no longer have a photobucket account but did find a way to grab the photos:

 

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If used for deer hunting, both the Ross single-shot target rifles and this ’95 Musket would not be good for walking/still hunting.  But, in a properly constructed tree stand – big enough where you had a platform long enough to lay down on…  well, again, “never say never” Wink

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August 20, 2022 - 5:01 pm
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steve004 said
And for those who say no supine position shooting with a Winchester lever action repeating rifle, as is the case with Winchester, “never say never.”  Here is a special order .30-40 M1895 Musket with a 32 inch barrel that had been in my collection. 

An incredibly rare gun!  Maybe one of a kind, as it’s hard to imagine why anyone would choose a ’95 for this style of competition, where single-shots were the norm.

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August 20, 2022 - 5:50 pm
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clarence said

steve004 said

And for those who say no supine position shooting with a Winchester lever action repeating rifle, as is the case with Winchester, “never say never.”  Here is a special order .30-40 M1895 Musket with a 32 inch barrel that had been in my collection. 

An incredibly rare gun!  Maybe one of a kind, as it’s hard to imagine why anyone would choose a ’95 for this style of competition, where single-shots were the norm.

  

This ’95 Musket,  the Ross Single-Shot match rifles, my Standard Arms Camp .50, are excellent illustrations of my attraction to oddities.  I could name more Embarassed

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August 20, 2022 - 7:34 pm
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clarence said

TXGunNut said

As you may know the Winchester Single Shot (1885) was THE rifle for long range competition for much of its production life…

  

Mike,  If you believe that, you, too, would be well advised to buy the same book I recommended to Matt.  Guns being used now in modern events aren’t relevant to the history of long-range comp., which I believe was the subject Matt was inquiring about.

  

Quite honestly I was thinking about BPCR silly wet shooting but I only dabble in that because I like the guns. Rumor has it I’ll drag out a C. Sharps 1874 in .45-90 now and then if I’ll be passing through Raton…but OP was asking about Winchesters. 

 

Mike

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August 20, 2022 - 8:06 pm
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Great discussion here, I’m getting an education for sure! On the advice above I’ll look to acquire that book that was suggested, google definitely isn’t the answer ; )

For me my “ long range” is defined by the ballistics of the rifle and caliber I’m using, I want to be capable of using the equipment to its potential, even if I may not end up needing it. 

Love seeing the all the photos! Thank you for sharing

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August 20, 2022 - 8:19 pm
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I’d also like to pose the question, if you were setting up a lever action for hunting deer and elk, what rifle and caliber would you choose and which sight setup?

For deer and similar sized game I am planning to use a model 1894 rifle in 30WCF, with a Lyman tang sight, and Barnes 150 TSX hand loads going 2400fps. I will zero next week sometime at 100 yards and have no intentions of shooting past 200, as that is where the energy drops below acceptable to me energy at 885ftlbs

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August 20, 2022 - 9:37 pm
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Matt Herman said
I’d also like to pose the question, if you were setting up a lever action for hunting deer and elk, what rifle and caliber would you choose and which sight setup?

For deer and similar sized game I am planning to use a model 1894 rifle in 30WCF, with a Lyman tang sight, and Barnes 150 TSX hand loads going 2400fps. I will zero next week sometime at 100 yards and have no intentions of shooting past 200, as that is where the energy drops below acceptable to me energy at 885ftlbs

  

Matt – just to clarify – I assume you are looking for a lever action rifle that is of antique or at least vintage manufacture?  And is it important it not be an obsolete cartridge?  It sounds like you are a handloader so that opens up the possibilities tremendously.  Is it the case for both deer and elk, you would not be shooting past 200 yards?  

As far as sights, I like an ivory bead front sight combined with the Lyman Long Receiver Sight (i.e. the No. 21 or the No. 38).  I love the adjustability on these receiver sights.  As far rifle and caliber, for me (given elk is included in your list), I would select the Winchester Model 1886 in .33 WCF.  I will also remark that the M1886 Extralightweight model in .45-70 carries like a dream in the woods.  This is also a great choice for someone wanting a “modern” cartridge.  I find the use of the term, “modern” given the .45-70 preceded the (obsolete) .33 WCF by about 30 years.  

You mentioned you were enjoying the photos posted.  Here is one of some of my Lyman receiver-sighted Winchesters.  Top is a M1894 .32 Special pistol grip carbine with 3/4 magazine, in the middle is a M1886 .45-90 with round barrel and half magazine and on the bottom is a M1895 Carbine in .30-40.

5e0AEoq.jpgImage Enlarger

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August 21, 2022 - 5:15 pm
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Yes, without a doubt when I posed the question I was thinking strictly of vintage/antique firearms. 

In terms of cartridge, yes nothing obsolete, my opinion would be that sourcing components would determine whether or not a particular cartridge would fit the bill or not. If you can’t get the components then its pretty much a no go

In terms of the 200 yard range, when I run a ballistics chart for my particular rifle and ammo choice, the 200 yard mark is where the energy drops below 900ft lbs, and I don’t like to shoot anything really with less than 1000ft lbs. But for a deer I think 900 will do. So even if I could make a farther shot in terms of yardage, it wouldn’t be ethical to attempt, for my way of thinking. 

It’s funny you mention the 1886 in 33wcf, as that is the rifle I am currently planning to add next, just have to find the right one, and that is the difficult part. Also, I don’t currently know how difficult it is to find reloading components for that caliber. More to learn there! Nonetheless,  I’d love to elk hunt with just such a rifle someday : )

There are a TON of guys here in Alaska that carry a Marlin in 45-70 as bear and moose medicine, a bunch of my buddies always have one in their four wheeler if side by side. I do know though, if I paid the money for a vintage/antique Winchester in .45-70 I probably wouldn’t want to take it out of the safe and into the woods!!

 

Thank you very much for sharing the photos of your rifles, they just look amazing!

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