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Mod. 73 .38-40 rate of twist
December 28, 2015
10:46 pm
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John Funk
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Can anyone tell me the rate of twist for the .38-40 cartridge?  

Can anyone advise me if the 180 or 185 gr is better ?  I want to retain the original 1300 fps.

Thanks,

John

December 29, 2015
12:10 am
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Neat Cal , one of my fav’s ,  looking around googled sites and handy ref books, I am surprised not to see a definate Twist for 73, but my Lyman 46th shows a rate of 1-36 for a Win 92 std 24 barrel. I think the 73 was the same. the slow twists for these BP cals helped keep bore fouling at a minimum

Phil

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December 29, 2015
12:10 am
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John,

The 38 started out with a slow twist of 1 in 40 and then went to 1 in 36. I would post your question about the bullet weight in the Shooting and Hunting forum you will get the input from the guys that reload for them.

Bob

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December 29, 2015
12:23 am
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Interesting about the 73 twist change Bob. do you know approx what ser # ?

Phil

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December 29, 2015
12:36 am
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Phil,

Around 350,000 if I remember right. Its in the Madis book

Bob

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December 29, 2015
12:45 am
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Thanks Bob…. so my recent addition 275897B is the slow twist ,  interesting good to know ,I have only shot it with Win fact Large white box, Accuracy is impressive . Only tried at 50 yds so far

Phil

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December 29, 2015
8:33 am
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Thanks Bob 

Impressive memory. I found it in the Madis book exactly as you state 350,000

Phil

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December 29, 2015
4:38 pm
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John

I like loading for the the 38-40, and find it very easy. I dont have to use lube to resize the pliable case. The FLS die is backed off to the point where cartridges chamber nicely but dont have to rattle around loose in there , and shorten my brass life with excessive re-sizing.

There is an abundance and large assortment of cheap available bullets cast and jacketed . I have used cheap pistol bullets that didnt look great or not even that concentric, but dont recall any really bad ones of many tried throughout the years. (I dont seek out overly cheap reloading supplies, preferring quality products , but sometimes get stuff given to me , especially 38-40 bullets )  I remember a few years ago surprising myself and the bullet doner ,getting great accuracy at 200 meters with a Win 92. and very bad looking bullets

I have had good luck with all bullet weights 160 -200 gr, getting good accuracy generally,  I find the 38-40 in various rifles very forgiving and dont recall anything bad.

Now knowing my 73 has the slow 1 in 40 twist , I will see what lighter bullets I have , I think I have several in the 165 range that might work well

I find Unique to be a well suited powder for 38-40, using about 8 gr for rifle mild load, and 6 gr for revolver

Try what you have and see what works best for you, 

I think its the easiest no-brainer cal I load and shoot

Good luck

Phil

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December 29, 2015
6:08 pm
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I’ve had good results with 180 gr lead bullets and Unique powder also.

For the bullets I’ve used both the RCBS mold 180 gr. #82306 as well as the Meister bullet:  38-40 180 gr.

http://www.meisterbullets.com/asccustompages/products.asp?AffID=&categoryid=22&navParent=0&Start=30

9.5 grains of Unique @ 1440 fps gives me a more accurate load than Winchester factory loads, but my most accurate load  is 7.5 grains of Unique @ 1189 fps.  (See target)  This is in an 1892 Carbine, vintage 1894 though, as I prefer to preserve my old 1873’s.

(In my 1873 Colt, 5.5″ barrel, 6.2 grains of Unique has been the most accurate load @ 555 fps.)

The only drawback with reloading the 38-40 is to be very careful on the downstroke with the resizing die as the thin cartridge neck will crush easily if not centered just right in the die opening.  (I use my finger to guide the cartridge into the die as I’ve lost many casings over the years).

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December 30, 2015
12:35 am
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John Funk
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Thanks guys.!!

Great info to start with.

What I’ve acquired  is a Model 1873, 465,000 B range.  Excellent exterior that someone chose to re-blue (good to very good job).  Go figure.  It also came with a factory letter and everything is correct!!!

The barrel has some lands and groves showing but for all intents and purposes probably wouldn’t shoot great.  I’ve chosen to reline the barrel (I’ve done many with great success) but the Redmond liner (.38-40) I ordered from Brownell’s is a 1/25 twist. (Hence my question of original twist rates.)  I called Redmond’s and spoke with ??  who advised the faster twist has not been reported as having any accuracy problems.  I did fail to ask and Brownell’s does not note it but I suspect the bore to be .401 +/-.  I’ll have to slug it once it’s installed.   I want to keep all my Lever Action Silhouette shooting pretty much within the perimeters of the original design intentions with regards to loads, velocity, etc.

I suspect I’ll load both BP and smokeless using Unique, A5744, and stuff within the appropriate burn range.  I’m contemplating ordering another Accurate mold in the 180 grn range with a crimp groove.

Guess my main concern now is…. what grain weight bullet would be best stabilized at 1300 fps+/- in a 1/25 twist barrel?????

December 30, 2015
1:51 am
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John

“Guess my main concern now is…. what grain weight bullet would be best stabilized at 1300 fps+/- in a 1/25 twist barrel?????”

   

I would think heavier 200 gr. might possibly be very good with that faster twist.Seated as long as you can, maybe over feed length, and single shot only

Faster twist is better as you can still shoot the lighter bullets well, but will also stabilize the heavier  ones , often  with more accuracy potential.

As  I said earlier the origional slow twist  rates were to help reduce BP fouling, and there was a school of thought to shoot lighter bullets faster and flatter (with in the limits of Black powder performance). in retrospect I suspect minimal improvement with the ‘express’ mentality ,as the tajectory change was not signifigant with BP, with the less than couple hundred fps gained. Alto I guess target shooters of the day would know best and perhaps every bit helped

if your bullets are starting to oblong on the target it is generally because the twist is too slow to stabilize that weight

I would prefer faster twists in the old originals I like to shoot, but am limited to what they originally were

Only your testing will tell

Let us know

Phil

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December 30, 2015
3:03 am
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The decision by Winchester to increase the twist rate in  the 73 tells us something about their testing , and I wouldnt be surprised if the twist was increased more for Berts later 1885 High-wall in 38 WCF . Do you know the twist rate Bert ?

Also the increased twist in the new liners offered is  for a reason , as we are constantly learning about ballistics

Phil

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December 30, 2015
3:29 am
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Phil,

My high-wall was manufactured late in the year 1917, and it has the 1:36 twist rate.  I shoot standard weight bullets in it at 1500 fps.

Bert

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December 31, 2015
2:33 pm
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Stupid statement on my part to say possibly  load over for feed length. I keep forgetting I am the only one who would do this. Any buyer of a Lever gun will want to load up the mag and cycle thru the action as intended. Also if someone were to put an over feed length cartridge in the mag tube it may not come up and jam the gun

Results sometimes shrink groups B/R. but for the intended purpose of the lever, results would be negligable , especially off hand. Still would suggest that experimenting with your equiptment in your shooting mode is of course benifitial to obtaining good loads and also satisfying and fun

I load and shoot single shot and think that way to get every bit more accuracy out of a lever, Bullet touching lands sometimes shrinks groups for me as well as reducing pressure , changing load performance , with the increase in cartridge capacity.  

I should have switched my collectiing habits over to the single shot model (have a few and love single shots too ) as my interest in accurate taget shooting grew , but still love the old levers, there is just something about Winchester levers that has infatuated me since a Kid. I know I am certainly not alone here in that 

Stii on the subject of twist , I found this chart on the Net giving twist rates Uberti uses in their modern manufacture. I am glad that they have vintage offerings in Calibers instead of the new  popular non orig cals

They have kept the 38-40 at 1 in 36 , but have incrased some others. I doubt they do that much experimentation with corresponding twist rate accuracy , because there are quite a few here and some are undoutable low volume sellers such as 38-40. But from what I have experienced with some of their 73 Rifles , accuracy is superb , (except for one rare offering in the  73 22 LR ) as I recall it would feed ok but all bullets tried tumbled badly. Still , kinda wish I still had it for the rarity factor, I dont sell many guns unless they wont shoot to my expectations

For best idea of Ideal twist for your selected weight bullet , a knowledgable target barrel maker would be your best bet

https://www.cimarron-firearms.com/bore-groove-twist

Phil

  

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December 31, 2015
6:20 pm
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Phil,

You are not the only one of us that experiments and single loads lever-actions. Many years ago (to win a bet) I loaded up several batches of 30-30 with 168-gr Sierra BT match bullets, and shot them with very good accuracy from my 1901 vintage Model 1894 Sporting Rifle (26″ round barrel). Shooting it off of a sand bag rest (with a Lyman No. 5B front and Lyman No. 2A tang sight), I was able to achieve several sub moa groups, with my best effort being a 3-shot group of just .487″. The old-timer that I made the bet with was absolutely beside himself after watching me shoot that group, and he had to buy me a steak dinner while I served him some Cold Crow!! I had the OAL so tight that it did take a slight amount of effort to get the bolt locked with the lever. Old Geezers can often times be awfully hard-headed, and not willing to concede that the a “young fellow” might know something that they don’t. I always relished the opportunity to prove to them that many of those so called “old Winchester 30-30s” would shoot better than they could with their “modern” bolt-action rifles.

Bert

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December 31, 2015
8:38 pm
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Great story Bert, I love hearing about stuff like this , I did know that you are an Avid shooter , and I bet , some if not all of your Single shots are tackdrivers, But get me strait , You are the ‘Young whippersnapper’ in the story ?

Phil

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December 31, 2015
9:04 pm
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Phil,

I was 37-years old when I beat the old-geezer out of a steak dinner… and that was a fair number of years ago.  There are many WACA members who still consider me to be a “‘Young whippersnapper”… at least by relative comparison.  I hit the double-nickel on my last birthday, which does qualify me for the Senior discount at most establishments.

Bert (a.k.a. the ‘Young whippersnapper”)

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January 1, 2016
6:04 pm
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John Funk
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I appreciate everyone’s collective insights.  Any suggestions as to whether to sue plane or gas-checked bullets?

I’ll definitely get back to this thread once I’ve put some rounds down range and can compare the results.

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