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1885 Low Wall - early blued frame
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March 23, 2021 - 1:24 am
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I just got this 1885 in.  It’s a 94,000 serial number era, blued frame and color case hardened lever, block, buttplate.  I’m happy it’s bore looks pretty good, and it’s indeed in .25-20 SS, not bored out for WCF.  In good condition for a 119 year old rifle.  Very svelte and light, yet hangs steady offhand.  I was going to find a tang sight for it, but may not now.  Just seems right with the buckhorn.  Not very versed in Winchesters, I didn’t know that sight can adjust within the buckhorn.  Can’t turn the screw yet, put some oil on it.  

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March 23, 2021 - 1:32 am
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WOW!  That’s a dandy!  Congratulations!!!  Easy does it with the sight screw.  Might be right on with your ammo.  I don’t remember you mentioning the ‘single set trigger’.  RDB

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March 23, 2021 - 2:43 am
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I agree… it is a very nice looking low-wall Plain Sporting Rifle.  With the correct rear sight elevator it will be back to 100%.

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March 23, 2021 - 12:30 pm
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Thanks.  The only other question I have is about the firing pin.  It seems there is not a return spring in it.  It just moves freely back and forth.  I’m worried about a deep primer strike getting it stuck, then breaking when I lower the block. Did they have springs?

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March 23, 2021 - 1:30 pm
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AZshot said
 Did they have springs?  

Needs no spring, because firing pin is mechanically retracted as lever opens.

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March 23, 2021 - 2:10 pm
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Thanks for the info.  But I’m still seeing potential for firing pin problems, on mine.  I’ve been using unprimed brass to test the chamber/brass fit. 

When the hammer is down, and I try the lever, it’s stuck closed.  The pin is obviously inserted in the empty primer pocket at that point, and the block cannot move until I cock the hammer.  

If the hammer is back (half or full), again the lever will be stuck IF the primer has moved forward into the primer pocket.  I have to lift the muzzle to get the firing pin to drop backwards, then the lever opens fine.  

When I remove brass have the hammer down in fired position and cock the lever, I see the block start to drop about 2mm before the hammer moves at all.  In other words, if the firing pin was in the primer dent, I don’t see how the block would lower.  There is no movement of the firing pin back that I see, unless it’s as the lever continues down.  But at that point, the gun would either be stuck, pin broken, or pin just naturally moves back a tad.

Is the action missing something? 

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March 23, 2021 - 3:01 pm
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AZshot said

Is the action missing something?   

Not likely.  Before worrying about it, test with a primed case, fire it, then see what happens when opening the action.

Another feature of the design is that the block moves back slightly as it begins to fall; doesn’t drop straight down, in other words.

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March 23, 2021 - 3:50 pm
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Ok, you convinced me.  Just fired a case, extracted fine.  Didn’t really eject, but easily lowered the lever and the case came all the way out in one movement, and lay in the tray.  Maybe I won’t sweat it.  

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March 24, 2021 - 1:49 am
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Just an observation.  When you drop the hammer on a case that has no primer, there is nothing to stop the forward motion of the firing pin.  The firing pin is stopped by the hole in the locking block and it will tend to get stuck from being over extended.  This is one reason they discourage dry firing any firearm, especially rifles that have long firing pins.  The locking block is not designed to stop the firing pin.  RDB

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March 24, 2021 - 3:12 am
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OK, I figured it out.  My firing pin doesn’t have the leg or protuberance at it’s bottom, that the linkage cam pushes against when you open the lever to retract the pin.  I got the whole thing disassembled. Of course it took about an hour to get the trigger group back in.  The hammer was cocked, sans trigger.  I think it was down when I took the trigger group out.  Finally found a way to make the hammer fall without a trigger. Then the trigger group slipped right in.  Whew. 

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March 24, 2021 - 4:12 am
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AZshot said
My firing pin doesn’t have the leg or protuberance at it’s bottom, that the linkage cam pushes against when you open the lever to retract the pin.  

Inexplicable–it’s a part that can’t break or wear out, except for the tip. 

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March 24, 2021 - 1:06 pm
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It must be rare special factory order for a non-retracting pin.

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March 24, 2021 - 2:05 pm
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AZshot said
It must be rare special factory order for a non-retracting pin.  

Must be a replacement, but why would it need replacing, unless the tip broke off?  (Which can be repaired.) Replacements are available from various sources, but never known of one made without the lug on the bottom.

Here’s one Homestead Parts has for $40:

https://homesteadparts.com/shop/firing-pin-original-centerfire-winchester-1885-rifle-p-3672.html?cPath=1_6

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March 29, 2021 - 8:44 pm
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I should have left the rifle disassembled.  Got a new firing pin in, it won’t slip in because of it’s lower protuberance hits the hammer, even at full cock.  Now I have to take that super tight lever pin out again, and jimmy the action parts back together just right to get it reinserted.  

I did fire it last weekend.  No problems with the pin.  But only jacketed rounds shot well, my cast bullets were awful accuracy, keyholing and such.  Both 86 grains too.  

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March 29, 2021 - 11:53 pm
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AZshot said

I did fire it last weekend.  No problems with the pin.  But only jacketed rounds shot well, my cast bullets were awful accuracy, keyholing and such.  Both 86 grains too.    

Try a lighter weight bullet.  The 86-grain bullet is in my opinion on the very upper end of the weight range for what the factory rifling twist rate will stabilize.  If you can find them, I recommend 70 or 75 grain bullets.

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March 30, 2021 - 10:54 pm
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Thanks, I’ve only got the one mold right now, but will try to kill two birds with one stone by going to wheel weight alloy (vs the 20:1 lead/tin).  Harder and will be a little lighter.  

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March 31, 2021 - 1:49 am
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Another thing that causes key holing is the diameter of the bullet is too small to grab the rifling.

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April 2, 2021 - 2:01 am
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I got some 75 grain jacketed bullets now.  Need some loading data for the powders I have, 4350, W231, Titegroup.  

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April 2, 2021 - 2:08 pm
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I don’t have anything to add but this thread is a typical example of how the large body of knowledge members here have, is generously shared with others.  Kudos to Bert, Roger, Clarence and Chuck.

Let me comment, that is a very nice looking single-shot rifle!  Love the rich full coverage blue.

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April 11, 2021 - 3:13 am
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Thanks, now that I’m working up a better load, I’m happier.  This today:

 

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