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when did winchester go to nickle steel in the 94,s?
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eastbank
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February 17, 2019 - 9:08 pm
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I have two 94 saddle ring carbines, a 32-40 and a 32 spl, the 32-40 serial number 933678 is not NC and the  32 spl serial number 936122 is NC. as the serial numbers are only 2444 apart is the cut off between thoses serial numbers? thank you.

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February 18, 2019 - 2:38 am
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Winchester introduced the Nickel Steel barrel alloy in early 1895 (with the introduction of the 30 WCF).  It was the standard barrel alloy material for all Model 1894 barrels made for the 30 WCF, 25-35 WCF, and 32 WS cartridges until early 1932 when Winchester switched to Proof Steel as standard.  For the 32-40 and 38-55 chambered guns, Winchester used “High Strength” steel for the barrels as standard until approximately 1910.  If someone ordered a Model 1894 in 32-40 or 38-55 W.H.V. cartridge (Winchester High Velocity), the barrel was Nickel Steel.

I highly suspect that the barrel on your 32-40 SRC is actually Nickel Steel, but that it is not marked in plain sight.  If you check the bottom of the barrel (under the forend stock), I am almost 100% positive that you will find that it is marked “M.N.S.”, or “C.N.S.”, or “B.N.S.”  The “N.S.” is short for Nickel Steel.

Bert

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eastbank
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February 18, 2019 - 9:47 am
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thank you.

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RickC
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December 30, 2021 - 3:52 pm
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Bert this 38-55(DOM 1902) has no mention in the letter of WHV cartridges. Was that the norm not to letter as such? An owner would want to check the barrel markings before buying 38-55 WHV ammo. Prob a few guns blown up with guys shooting HV through high strength steel barrels.

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December 30, 2021 - 5:52 pm
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Rick,

Nickel Steel did not become the standard for the Model 1894 38-55 and 32-40 cartridges before WW I.  From 1895 through 1919, High strength steel was standard for those cartridges, with Nickel Steel a special order option. In most cases, the entry in the ledger records was “Smokeless” or “WHV” when a nickel steel barrel was ordered.  That stated, I have seen a few instances where the ledger entry was just “Nickel Steel”.  Regardless of what verbiage was entered in the ledger records, the different terms were synonymous.

In regards to “blown up” high strength steel barrels, that was extremely unlikely to occur if the owner shot WHV loads on a regular basis. The true issue was rapid barrel wear.  The high strength steel barrels were designed for cast lead bullets and lower velocities.  WHV loads used Cupronickel or Copper jacketed bullets loaded to increased pressure & velocity.  The increased pressure was not nearly enough to stress the high strength steel alloy barrels, but the increased velocity and corresponding wear to the rifling caused by shooting jacketed bullets is why Winchester developed the Nickel Steel alloy for barrels.

Bert

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December 30, 2021 - 6:10 pm
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Bert H. said
In regards to “blown up” high strength steel barrels, that was extremely unlikely to occur if the owner shot WHV loads on a regular basis. 

I have a .32-40 HW with a slightly bulged chamber, which I assume to be the result of someone shooting HV in it.  But still extracts fine, no other problems.

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December 30, 2021 - 6:19 pm
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Bert H. said
Rick,

Nickel Steel did not become the standard for the Model 1894 38-55 and 32-40 cartridges before WW I.  From 1895 through 1919, High strength steel was standard for those cartridges, with Nickel Steel a special order option. In most cases, the entry in the ledger records was “Smokeless” or “WHV” when a nickel steel barrel was ordered.  That stated, I have seen a few instances where the ledger entry was just “Nickel Steel”.  Regardless of what verbiage was entered in the ledger records, the different terms were synonymous.

In regards to “blown up” high strength steel barrels, that was extremely unlikely to occur if the owner shot WHV loads on a regular basis. The true issue was rapid barrel wear.  The high strength steel barrels were designed for cast lead bullets and lower velocities.  WHV loads used Cupronickel or Copper jacketed bullets loaded to increased pressure & velocity.  The increased pressure was not nearly enough to stress the high strength steel alloy barrels, but the increased velocity and corresponding wear to the rifling caused by shooting jacketed bullets is why Winchester developed the Nickel Steel alloy for barrels.

Bert  

Thanks Bert. I learn something every day. If I only had another 100yrs… still wouldn’t know it all.

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December 30, 2021 - 6:22 pm
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clarence said

Bert H. said
In regards to “blown up” high strength steel barrels, that was extremely unlikely to occur if the owner shot WHV loads on a regular basis. 

I have a .32-40 HW with a slightly bulged chamber, which I assume to be the result of someone shooting HV in it.  But still extracts fine, no other problems.  

I wonder how many times WHV ammo was sold to unsuspecting gun owners or never bothered to read the label.

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December 30, 2021 - 7:10 pm
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clarence said

Bert H. said
In regards to “blown up” high strength steel barrels, that was extremely unlikely to occur if the owner shot WHV loads on a regular basis. 

I have a .32-40 HW with a slightly bulged chamber, which I assume to be the result of someone shooting HV in it.  But still extracts fine, no other problems.  

Maybe??  We will never know the real cause.  Blockage, over zealous hand loader, who knows?  That’s why modern guns have a relief hole to let some of the pressure escape if a major problem occurs.   To bulge a highwall something out of the ordinary must have happened.

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December 31, 2021 - 2:08 am
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Clarence,  Perhaps you or someone else can help me out here, as a follow on to your comment about a bulged chamber.  In the past, somewhere, sometime, I have read and have been told about “ringing” a chamber with improper wadding over smokeless powders for black powder cartridge rifles.  As I THINK I understand, there gets to be a high pressure spike within the confines of the cartridge brass and chamber when something mystically goes wrong with the wad over the smokeless powder.  I am told wadded up toilet paper never runs the risk Wink(by a fellow in our gun club who shoots a LOT of smokeless in black powder rifles).  I have been similarly told a patch of dacron fluff won’t ring a barrel, then another person says to avoid it at all costs because it will.  Cardboard wads are suspect, yet the black powder guys that compete a lot use vegetable fiber wads that are about the same as cardboard.  What is the story and who knows the real science if there is any?  I do know i don’t wish to be adventuresome with my Winchesters to find out the hard way.  I have learned enough on my own, prefer to learn from others mistakes or knowledge.  Any credible help out there?  Tim

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December 31, 2021 - 2:40 am
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tim tomlinson said
Clarence,  Perhaps you or someone else can help me out here, as a follow on to your comment about a bulged chamber.  In the past, somewhere, sometime, I have read and have been told about “ringing” a chamber with improper wadding over smokeless powders for black powder cartridge rifles.  As I THINK I understand, there gets to be a high pressure spike within the confines of the cartridge brass and chamber when something mystically goes wrong with the wad over the smokeless powder.  I am told wadded up toilet paper never runs the risk Wink(by a fellow in our gun club who shoots a LOT of smokeless in black powder rifles).  I have been similarly told a patch of dacron fluff won’t ring a barrel, then another person says to avoid it at all costs because it will.  Cardboard wads are suspect, yet the black powder guys that compete a lot use vegetable fiber wads that are about the same as cardboard.  What is the story and who knows the real science if there is any?   

Tim, my bulged chamber is entirely different from a ringed chamber, & yes, you will hear a hundred different theories about how it occurs & how to prevent it.  Wads used with BP usually poses no problems, as the charge should almost fill the case, & compressed charges are often more accurate; old time shooters also used wads of grease, graphite, other materials. 

Problem arises with small smokeless charges that leave a large airspace within the case.  A hard cardboard wad over the powder becomes a missile when it strikes the base of the bullet.  I think TP is safe, but what I’ve used in the past with large cases was DANDELION fluff, because 1 or 2 tufts (with the seed removed!) fill most cases, & is burned instantly when the powder ignites.  It’s possible to use very slow burning smokeless that more nearly fills large BP cases, but I think that may be where the danger of pressure spikes arises, although this is a poorly understood phenomenon; I prefer the fast powders.

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December 31, 2021 - 2:51 am
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RickC said

I wonder how many times WHV ammo was sold to unsuspecting gun owners or never bothered to read the label.  

Often, but that’s why these cartridges would not have been on the market if there was any significant likelihood of “blowing up” somebody’s gun.  As Bert said, the more realistic danger was accelerated brl erosion, & even that was probably not a major concern unless the gun was fired a lot more often than the average deer hunting rifle with a box or less of ammo through it each yr.

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December 31, 2021 - 3:13 am
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clarence said

Often, but that’s why these cartridges would not have been on the market if there was any significant likelihood of “blowing up” somebody’s gun.  As Bert said, the more realistic danger was accelerated brl erosion, & even that was probably not a major concern unless the gun was fired a lot more often than the average deer hunting rifle with a box or less of ammo through it each yr.  

Fair enough. Some good info here. I remember I was told my original Marlin 39 was not to shoot HV ammo due to possibly cracking the bolt head or breach. It doesn’t seem to apply in this case.

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The only way I’ve been able to “bulge” a rifle or pistol barrel involved a barrel obstruction, usually a bullet propelled only partway down the barrel by a partial powder charge in a repeater firearm followed by a fully charged round. Another way is a muzzle loader bullet not fully seated on the powder charge. An over pressure firearm failure generally happens at or very near the breech and is much more dramatic often involving broken bolt parts or chamber failure. 

Nickel Steel was developed for the new higher pressure smokeless powder rounds as is commonly believed but it was possibly an over cautious measure as 38-55 and 32-40 rifles with high strength steel have been fired with smokeless powder and jacketed bullets for decades. The 30WCF, 32SPL and the 25-35 are indeed higher pressure rounds but their jacketed (copper patched) bullets may have been more of a factor, as Bert points out. Lead bullets are certainly easier on bores than copper-jacketed bullets but I’d venture a guess that corrosive primers did much more damage to bores and they didn’t seem to discriminate based on nickel content. 

IMHO Winchester’s designers were awesome metallurgists but they simply didn’t have the equipment to accurately measure pressures as engineers do today so they likely erred on the side of safety. A good case in point is the Single Shot. JMB built it plenty strong; by the time Winchester’s “mechanics” were done with it they had an action that was much stronger than it needed to be. 

 

Mike

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March 20, 2023 - 1:30 am
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steve004 said
An interesting example regarding the topic of Nickel Steel barrel and the .32-40:

https://www.gunsinternational.com/guns-for-sale-online/rifles/winchester-rifles-model-1894-pre-64/special-order-1894-32-40-takedown-rifle-with-round-barrel-and-half-magazine-304xxx-made-1906.cfm?gun_id=102246249

  

Steve,

I have an 1894 deluxe with the NICKEL STEEL marking on the barrel.  It also letters as such.  I wonder how many nickel steel barreled 1894’s in 32-40 and 38-55 Bert has in his survey?  They don’t seem to be very common.

Don

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March 20, 2023 - 2:31 am
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Don,

I have (13) of them documented in my survey.  I do not survey any of the letterable Model 1894s.

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March 20, 2023 - 2:41 am
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Bert H. said
Don,

I have (13) of them documented in my survey.  I do not survey any of the letterable Model 1894s.

Bert

  

Thanks Bert.  That number is much lower than I imagined.  Sounds like a pretty scarce special order feature.

Don

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Also, just as an FYI for this thread, the Winchester “Proof Steel” was a Chromium-Molybdenum “Chromoly” alloy which today is similar to an SAE 41xx series material.  I suspect that the CMS marking on the underside of barrels means it was Chromoly steel aka “Winchester Proof” steel.

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March 20, 2023 - 4:02 am
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Don,

The total number I have documented thus far is very likely to be just a small fraction of the number that were actually manufactured. Considering the fact that the total number of 32-40 and 38-55 caliber Model 1894s that I have documented in the years 1907 – 1920 is just 1,304, and 13 of them are confirmed to have Nickel Steel marked barrels (1%), I suspect that there are several hundred more of them out there yet to be discovered.

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