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what serial number safe to shoot smokeless powder in Winchester 1886
June 27, 2016
1:31 am
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If I had to “guess”, this would be when the Winchester Proof marks appeared on receiver and barrel, circa 1905. However, for example, I have an ELW rifle, received in warehouse 07 December 1901; these ELW rifles seem more modern than their true, standard rifle counterparts. So at what serial number/date range for the 1886 (and 1873, 1885, 1892, 1894, and 1895) should one stick only to black powder and/or when is it safe to use smokeless powder?

June 27, 2016
2:28 am
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You can shoot smokeless in all of them as long as you load them properly. I had 38-70’s that were all antique and shot smokeless loads in them all.

Bob

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June 27, 2016
2:31 am
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1873man said
You can shoot smokeless in all of them as long as you load them properly. I had 38-70’s that were all antique and shot smokeless loads in them all.

Bob  

Well, I actually have! But now that I have become more educated about reloadin and black powder, in general, early Colts and Smith & Wesson revolvers should never be fired with smokeless powder. This may be good advice for Winchesters as well.

June 27, 2016
4:20 am
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Its not the powder type but the pressure that is important.  I have 3 Model 1886’s made in 1888 in the 22K to 25K range (45-70, 40-82 and 40-65) and I shoot smokeless in all of them.  That having been said, I reload all my ammunition and do so to match the original factory velocities or slightly less and I use only lead bullets.  Been doing so since the early 1970’s.

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June 27, 2016
2:13 pm
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mrcvs said

Well, I actually have! But now that I have become more educated about reloadin and black powder, in general, early Colts and Smith & Wesson revolvers should never be fired with smokeless powder. This may be good advice for Winchesters as well.  

First,  A Winchester Model 1886 rifle is not anywhere near the same thing as an old Colt or Smith & Wesson handgun… they are not at all comparable!

Second, as others have pointed out, it is not a “black powder versus smokeless powder” issue.  The true issue is the pressure range that the specific powder type is capable of creating in the specific cartridge.  In that regard, there are a substantial number of smokeless powders available that create identical (or even less) pressure than the original black powder loads.  When Winchester made the transition to smokeless powder cartridges beginning in the late 1890s, they loaded them to the same pressure and velocity as the previous black powder loads. 

Finally, as long as the correct load parameters are adhered to, smokeless powder can be used in all of the center fire lever-action models & cartridges.

Bert

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June 27, 2016
5:38 pm
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Bert H. said

First,  A Winchester Model 1886 rifle is not anywhere near the same thing as an old Colt or Smith & Wesson handgun… they are not at all comparable!

Second, as others have pointed out, it is not a “black powder versus smokeless powder” issue.  The true issue is the pressure range that the specific powder type is capable of creating in the specific cartridge.  In that regard, there are a substantial number of smokeless powders available that create identical (or even less) pressure than the original black powder loads.  When Winchester made the transition to smokeless powder cartridges beginning in the late 1890s, they loaded them to the same pressure and velocity as the previous black powder loads. 

Finally, as long as the correct load parameters are adhered to, smokeless powder can be used in all of the center fire lever-action models & cartridges.

Bert  

Bert,

I am pleased to hear that! So much easier to strip down a revolver than a Winchester rifle after firing black powder.

Like I said, have fired before with light smokeless rounds with no problems.

June 27, 2016
11:19 pm
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I shoot appropriate pressure smokeless rounds in my ’73 (1892) and trapdoor (1883) with no issues

 

44 

June 28, 2016
2:14 am
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Nice to hear from people who have done things themselves and know about it 

As you all know the armchair experts on majority of other forums will be quick to go on record just to add another post ,as saying on the smokeless issue ‘I have heard it is very dangerous  DONT DO IT ‘

Although I am an old fashioned guy and dont know why BP never grabbed me ,   I have never used it , yet fired all antique and vintage rifles my whole reloading life with mild smokeless loads with good success

I know how soft the old steel is as witnessed by hack marks in chambers where separated shells were removed by Bubba digging at them , but I have fired many jacketed bullets through VG Antique bores , and I was always constantly looking for signs of wear in the rifling and as of yet have never experienced wear myself . I certainly cant recommend this based on many other opinions.

I am now using more cast GC bullets with good accuracy , as I was faced with rising Jacketed bullet costs and declining availability

 

Phil

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June 29, 2016
2:13 am
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On the other hand, I have a Model 1886 that I have not fired in years. With smokeless powder, accuracy is fair, at best. Now that I load black powder rounds, and this is an old black powder cartridge, maybe I can get improved accuracy?

February 9, 2018
4:35 pm
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Wilbur Epperly
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I have a 1873 Winchester that was made in 1889 I have shot a couple hundred rounds through it it’s a 38 40 with a 28-inch barrel and I use five grains of Trail Boss and have no problems whatsoever you can’t hardly feel the gun recoil Wilbur

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