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Winchester 94 in 38-55: Safe for Smokeless?
September 14, 2021
1:12 am
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I’m wondering if anyone can provide some guidance on whether or not it is safe and/or advisable to shoot smokeless cartridges in a Winchester 94 chambered in 38-55.  The rifle I’m considering was manufactured in 1922 (according to Madis) and both the barrel and receiver bear the Winchester Proof.  However, the barrel is not marked as being nickel-steel, nor does it indicate if it is specifically designed to handle smokeless powder.  Thoughts?  Any information is appreciated.  Thanks!

September 14, 2021
1:18 am
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As manufactured, yes. But that was nearly 100 years ago. If you have any question have a reputable gunsmith experienced with older guns check it over before you shoot it. And no, .375 Winchester ammo is NOT safe in your rifle. Enjoy, the 38-55 is a really cool round and fun to shoot.

 

Mike

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Smokeless powder is a passing fad! -Steve Garbe
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Some of my favorite recipes start out with a handful of depleted counterbalance devices.-TXGunNut
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September 14, 2021
1:41 am
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Thanks Mike!  Just to make sure I’m understanding you correctly: As it left the factory, it was designed to take the smokeless .38-55 cartridges of the time, correct? (In this case, 1922)

 

Cameron

September 14, 2021
2:24 am
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Cameron,

If it is a 1922 production (the serial number will tell us the actual date) Model 94, it was specifically manufactured for smokeless powder cartridges. Any commercially loaded 38-55 ammo is perfectly safe to shoot in your Winchester.

Bert

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September 14, 2021
2:33 am
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Bert,

The serial number is 918758, and I got the DOM from Madis’ Winchester Book (if I’m reading it correctly; I utilized the list on page 407).  Based on what you’re telling me, would it be safe to assume that Winchester stopped stamping barrels with the “nickel-steel” and “smokeless powder” markings at some point?  If so, any idea when?  I haven’t found any reference to this in the book, but it’s a lot of information to digest.  

 

Cameron

September 14, 2021
2:54 am
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S/N 918758 was manufactured in October, 1920.  I your Winchester a Sporting Rifle or a SRC ?  

Winchester stopped making Nickel Steel barrels in April/May 1932 and discontinued the “smokeless powder” marking at the same time.

Bert

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September 14, 2021
3:05 am
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It’s a sporting rifle. Round barrel, 26″ with full length mag tube. I should clarify, I don’t have this rifle yet. I wanted to clear up this question prior to purchase. 

Cameron

September 14, 2021
3:28 am
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ck4241 said
 As it left the factory, it was designed to take the smokeless .38-55 cartridges of the time, correct? (In this case, 1922)

All current smokeless loadings for BP cartridges are safe, including your 1873, except HV loadings for modern rifles like Marlin’s Model 1895, which are always clearly labeled as such.  Ammo makers don’t want to see you in court.

September 14, 2021
3:30 am
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TXGunNut said
 If you have any question have a reputable gunsmith experienced with older guns check it over before you shoot it.

How far would you have to travel to find one of those?

September 14, 2021
3:45 am
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Not terribly far. If I buy it and turns out to be unsafe, it really wouldn’t bother me. I just wanted to be sure, hence the question. 

Cameron

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