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45-85 in Winchester 1886?
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April 1, 2022 - 7:56 am
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Hi Folks, I just came across the 45-85 WCF offered back then for use in the 45-90 1886 Model, with a 405grs bullet… A bullet weight wise beefed up version of the 45-90 maybe. Obviously it was not too successful due to accuracy problems that resulted from the different barrel twist of the 45-90, which was adapted to the lighter 300grs being an express rifle. 

So my question is if it was possible back then to order an according twist such as found in the 45-70 barrel? would Winchester have done this kind of special orders? Could any other barrel gun smith like Harry Pope have made such barrel aftermarket?

A distant living friend of mine claims his 45-90 has a barrel twist that fits the heavier bullets better – but I wasn’t aware they were offered that way at all…. Maybe a take down 45-70 barrel on a 45-90 receiver? 

And can anyone give me an idea what the bullet trajectory of such a bullet combination would have looked like? 

So far I could not get my hands on this rifle personally…

Help from you guys is much appreciated… Thank you so much! 

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April 4, 2022 - 5:52 pm
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I believe that faster twists are for heavier bullets.  The 45-90 would have a slower twist than a 45-70.  300 grs. compared to 405 or 500 grs.  The 45-85 is a hopped up 45-70 with a 45-90 case. The lower powder amount is due to the heavier bullet.  This is a pressure thing.  I have a Pope barrel on a non Winchester but don’t know if he did Winchesters barrels except maybe target guns like the highwalls. If you buy the 45-85 shoot the proper load.  If you are going to shoot a 45-90 set up just use the lighter bullet.  The faster twist barrels will shoot lighter bullets just as well as the heavier bullets.  I don’t have a trajectory example to send you but heavier bullets drop faster that lighter bullets.  Heavier bullets are less affected by the wind. The faster you shoot a bullet the less time it is in the air to be affected.  Gravity is the problem and the slower the bullet goes the more time gravity has to pull it down.  Most long range target shooters shoot heavy bullets as fast as is safe.

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April 4, 2022 - 7:18 pm
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I don’t know the answers to all your questions but I have a reprint of the August 1895 catalog and on page 22 it has the cartridges adopted to the Model 1886 rifle.  Under the .45-90 cartridge it says that they can also furnish cartridges with a .45-85-350 solid ball, a .45-82-405 solid ball, a .45-85-300 hollow point express bullet, or a .45-90-295 metal patched ball.  These would have been black powder loads.  One can presume that they may have been adopted to smokeless at some later time.

The catalog doesn’t say anything about different rifling twist.  The standard load for this cartridge was .45-90-300 solid ball.  All these loads used the same cartridge brass shell.  They only vary in powder charge and bullet weight.

I call myself a collector as it sounds better than hoarder

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April 5, 2022 - 11:07 pm
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Very interesting Bill.  I wonder what the head stamps say?  I have a 45-85 cartridge and wonder about the bullet weight?

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April 5, 2022 - 11:17 pm
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I might be recollecting this wrong but I thought there were five or six M1886 rifles shipped as .45-85’s.  

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April 6, 2022 - 2:43 pm
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Chuck said
Very interesting Bill.  I wonder what the head stamps say?  I have a 45-85 cartridge and wonder about the bullet weight?  

Chuck,  the way I read the catalog the .45-85 is just a loading variation of the .45-90 cartridge.  It could use either a 350 grain solid ball, or 300 grain hollow point express bullet.  The cartridge case would still be marked .45-90 WCF.  Can you take a photo of your cartridge markings?

I call myself a collector as it sounds better than hoarder

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April 6, 2022 - 2:57 pm
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Read pages 149-152 in Ray Giles book for more info..I have 10 45-85 rounds, May pull the lead and primers and reload with smokeless and shoot in my 45-90’S–Bill

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April 6, 2022 - 3:40 pm
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I see I’m not the only one having problems with the Forum the last couple days.  When I try to respond nothing happens then I get a screen that says NO Service.  I close the Forum and re open.  My post is usually there.

45-85.jpgImage Enlarger

Here is the 45-85 head stamp.

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April 6, 2022 - 7:51 pm
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An interesting topic.  Chuck – thanks for posting that headstamp.  Surely what can add to the confusion is the .45-85 Marlin.  The .45-85 Marlin is based on the .45-70 case and the .45-85 WCF is based on the .45-90 case.  It would seem back in the day, it would have been possible for a shooter to grab a box of .45-85 WCF, thinking it was the right load for his M1881 Marlin (or Colt large frame .45-85 Express rifle) (or large frame Bullard rifle).  

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April 6, 2022 - 9:12 pm
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.45-82, .45-85 and .45-90 are all the same case length.  Only powder charge and in some cases, bullet weight change the nomenclature.  In order to differentiate one powder charge from another, Winchester marked each one individually.  It was a great way to marked different ammunition calibers.

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April 6, 2022 - 9:27 pm
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I remembered incorrectly.  I thought Pirkle has said Winchester made 5 rifles in .45-85.  I just checked.  It was 5 rifles in .40-85.

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April 7, 2022 - 5:48 pm
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steve004 said
An interesting topic.  Chuck – thanks for posting that headstamp.  Surely what can add to the confusion is the .45-85 Marlin.  The .45-85 Marlin is based on the .45-70 case and the .45-85 WCF is based on the .45-90 case.  It would seem back in the day, it would have been possible for a shooter to grab a box of .45-85 WCF, thinking it was the right load for his M1881 Marlin (or Colt large frame .45-85 Express rifle) (or large frame Bullard rifle).    

I’m not sure that the longer 45-85 WCF would chamber in the Marlin.  I know for a fact it won’t in the Colt.

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April 9, 2022 - 2:42 am
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For what it is worth, concerning the rate of barrel twist for Winchester Barrels.

The 45-90 had a 1 turn in 32″

The 45-70 had a 1 turn in 20″

The 45-60 had a 1 turn in 20″

The 45 Sharps Straight had a 1 turn in 18″

45 Express had a 1 turn in 36″

 

Winchester sold cartridge ammunition in 45-85 for the Colt Magazine Rifle.  They apparently are merely head stamped 45-85 and noticeably different than Chuck’s 45-85 WCF cartridge.

ColtLMRctgs-1.jpgImage Enlargerhttps://www.oldammo.com/august13.htm

I thought that there was an article about the 45-85 in the Collector Magazine, but can’t seem to find it.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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April 9, 2022 - 9:58 pm
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Winchester sold cartridge ammunition in 45-85 for the Colt Magazine Rifle.  They apparently are merely head stamped 45-85 and noticeably different than Chuck’s 45-85 WCF cartridge.

Sincerely,

Maverick  

I think you are right but how did one tell the difference?  The Lightning 45-85-285 is the same length as the 45-70.

Here are 2 attachments showing these cartridges.Colt-45-85-1.jpgImage EnlargerColt-45-85.jpgImage Enlarger

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April 9, 2022 - 11:37 pm
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Chuck said

I’m not sure that the longer 45-85 WCF would chamber in the Marlin.  I know for a fact it won’t in the Colt.  

The Marlin M1895 came in .45-90 and the longer .45-85 WCF would of course chamber in that.  The Marlin M1881 was chambered in the .45-85 – and given it wasn’t chambered in the .45-90, the longer .45-85 WCF would not chamber in that.  I’m always open to being proven wrong.  

Seems were getting dangerous close to a previous topic of the special .45-90 round that was made for the M1876 Winchester.  That topic was a great example of why I like to come here.  

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September 20, 2022 - 1:22 am
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I’ll add this. This 1886 was a 40-82 in 1889, it was a single shot Muzzleloader breech seat in 38-50 Ballard, drilled out of a Winchester 25-20 SS barrel-.380 bore by William Rice Ohio.  Along the way I rust blued the receiver.  A friend sold me an octagon barrel carbine 1886 barrel with a Winchester proof on the bottom.  in 45-90-it was still in the white from New Haven   threaded, chambered 45-90 case, all the dovetails and magazine screw thread was tapped, sight slots in order. brand new unused barrel.  I set to putting it together as a 45-90 WCF – Got the whole thing done and slugged the bore with .458 lead bullet last photo, before that a .452, I resize .458 for paper patch to .452.      Turns out the barrel was in .45-90 Sharps Straight… not WCF.  I found dies o ebay 45-90SS use 300 gr plated lead bullets at .452, pistol bullets 230 fly, it’ be that when Winchester made barrels for special order calibers .45-90 SS was an 1885 Hi Wall special order too. they must have made several of each rifle designation in case someone ordered.? or was ordered special and cancelled???   it’s 15/16th straight octagon. 22 inch barrel.1886 barrel, shoots ok still a BP receiver.  Has the oval proof no other markings except my caliber mark.

 

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September 20, 2022 - 1:35 am
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Thanks for reviving this old thread, Ralph. Somehow I missed it back in April. 

 

Mike

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September 20, 2022 - 6:08 pm
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This was a fun thread to read through again.  

It reminds me about the confusion that often occurs with the .40-60.  There’s the .40-60 WCF that was chambered in the M1876 Winchester, Whitney-Kennedy rifles and others.  The Marlin .40-60 version chambered in the M1881 was interchangeable with the M1876 Winchester.  But the Colt Express rifle in .40-60-260 took a cartridge that was interchangeable with the .40-65 Winchester.  The Bullard .40-60, .40-70 and .40-75 is interchangeable with the Winchester .40-65 cartridge.  Just like the .45-85 WCF takes the .45-90 case and the .45-85 for the Marlin M1881 and Colt Express rifle uses the .45-70 case, the .40-70 WCF case is not the same case that the Bullard .40-70 uses.  As I stated above, the Bullard takes the .40-65 case (.45-70 length) and the M1886 Winchester in .40-70 uses a .45-90 length case. 

There’s an amazing number of cartridges that are covered by approximate three case lengths.

Not an inclusive list:

The Winchester M1876 series (all of these were available in the Whitney-Kennedy):
.40-60, .45-60, .45-75 and .50-95

The Winchester M1886 series (all of the below are chambered in the Marlin M1895 except the .38-70 and the .50’s):

shorter (.45-70 length):  .38-56, .40-65, .45-70

longer:  38-70, 40-70, .40-82, .45-90, .50-100, .50-110

(.the .33 WCF is an outlier).

The Colt Lightning Express rifle chambered two different case length cartridges.  From the M1876 Winchester offering, the Lightning Express rifle came in .45-60 and .50-95.  From the M1886 series, the Lightning Express rifle came in .38-56, .40-60 Colt (really .40-65 Winchester) and .45-85 (.45-70 case)

 

Quite the brain-teaser Laugh  If I don’t have all of the above correct, I would enjoy being corrected.  I didn’t do any reference checks, just poured it out from memory and familiarity.  There’s very few of the cartridges mentioned above that I haven’t owned a least one rifle in.  I’ve never owned a Winchester M1886 in .40-70 but I did have two Marlin M1895’s in .40-70 (which is a whole lot rarer find than this chambering in a Winchester ’86).  

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September 20, 2022 - 10:08 pm
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Chuck said

Winchester sold cartridge ammunition in 45-85 for the Colt Magazine Rifle.  They apparently are merely head stamped 45-85 and noticeably different than Chuck’s 45-85 WCF cartridge.

Sincerely,

Maverick  

I think you are right but how did one tell the difference?  The Lightning 45-85-285 is the same length as the 45-70.

Here are 2 attachments showing these cartridges.Colt-45-85-1.jpgImage EnlargerColt-45-85.jpgImage Enlarger

Not to sound like a smart ass, but I believe just like today when you buy ammunition. You look on the BOX label to tell you what your buying.

Probably not many dealers back then selling “Loose” cartridges. Probably not many gun owners back then that owned both a Winchester Model 1886 and a Colt Lighting Magazine Rifle in 45-85.

Sincerely,

Maverick

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September 21, 2022 - 4:37 pm
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I’ve lost my train of thought on this subject but I can ask a Colt Lightning expert.  I know UMC did most of the loading for the Colt rifles.  I just can’t remember what they called the 45-85-285?  Again, I am not sure what Winchester called it?  But there is no argument, it is the same length as a 45-70 WCF.  I have both guns.  The 45-85 WCF is nothing but a 45-90 with less powder.

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