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38-55 Hat Trick….Denied!
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May 10, 2024 - 11:36 pm
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Disappointing but a lesson in reloading. Beautiful Spring day in N. Texas and I had three nice 1894’s, all chambered in 38-55, that needed shooting as part of my ongoing retirement project. I found some hunting ammo on the shelf so I didn’t bother loading the freshly cast bullets on my bench. Rifle in the center was first up, it’s my wallhanger, (circa 1904, refinished many moons ago) often found hanging on the wall in my bedroom. Sights were a bit off, easily remedied. Second was the other rifle, made in 1895. The ammunition loaded for the 1904-built gun would not chamber in the 1895-built gun. Bummer. The ammo would almost chamber in the SRC (circa 1911), in fact one round did, but just barely. No need to force it and bend something. I decided this hat trick would have to wait for another day. EmbarassedA 69A with receiver sights happened to be tagging along and I got in a bit of enjoyable plinking, even a few on the wrong target! The attached target is likely proof the three shot groups lie…but we all like a little flattery now and then! 
Distance was 50 yards.

 

Mike

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May 11, 2024 - 12:29 am
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TXGunNut said A 69A with receiver sights happened to be tagging along and I got in a bit of enjoyable plinking, even a few on the wrong target! 

Give me my choice of the 4 to shoot, & I’d pick this one; gun looks nearly new.

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May 11, 2024 - 12:48 am
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I agree, the 69A would be my first choice also and yours looks great!

Best Regards,

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May 11, 2024 - 2:33 am
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Thanks Jeff and Clarence, the 69A (with receiver sight) is indeed one of my favorites and I ran across it while I was digging out the 38-55’s. I noticed today my eyes prefer the post front sight to some of the globe inserts on my target rifles. It indeed has the heart of a target rifle and the appearance of a sporting rifle. I think it likes the Norma Match ammo, good thing I have plenty!

 

Mike

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May 11, 2024 - 2:54 am
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Mike, I have an early 1894 in 38-55…just sayin’. Cool 

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May 11, 2024 - 2:58 am
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TXGunNut said I noticed today my eyes prefer the post front sight to some of the globe inserts on my target rifles.
  

Rather surprising, as for shooting at bulls-eye targets, an ap front sight is easier on old eyes, because they don’t have to focus, merely center the bulls-eye.  No good, however, for targets of other shapes, like the square steel ones I shoot using the same 93A or B sight you have on this 69.  Though I see only a blur where the top of the blade should be, that’s good enough to score enough hits to prevent me from giving up in despair.

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May 11, 2024 - 3:01 am
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Jeremy P said
Mike, I have an early 1894 in 38-55…just sayin’. Cool 

  

Jeremy-

Maybe when I get some ammo loaded we can switch games, four of a kind is quite a hand!

 

Mike

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May 11, 2024 - 3:02 am
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I just “might” have a couple of boxes of new in “storage” as well…unless you don’t like the fancy box cowboys stuff… 🙂

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May 11, 2024 - 3:11 am
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clarence said

TXGunNut said I noticed today my eyes prefer the post front sight to some of the globe inserts on my target rifles.

  

Rather surprising, as for shooting at bulls-eye targets, an ap front sight is easier on old eyes, because they don’t have to focus, merely center the bulls-eye.  No good, however, for targets of other shapes, like the square steel ones I shoot using the same 93A or B sight you have on this 69.  Though I see only a blur where the top of the blade should be, that’s good enough to score enough hits to prevent me from giving up in despair.

  

Clarence-

The front sight on the 69A (and the wallhanger) is the same apparent size as this particular bull at 50 yards. All I had to do was focus on the front sight and cover the bull. My favored 6 o-clock hold didn’t work as I couldn’t see the bottom of the bull clearly, but I can still see the front sight. My optometrist is a shooter, he knows I need to see my front sight.

 

Mike

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May 11, 2024 - 3:19 am
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Jeremy P said
I just “might” have a couple of boxes of new in “storage” as well…unless you don’t like the fancy box cowboys stuff… 🙂

  

Suit yourself, I can’t afford it. I’m on a fixed income, remember? 😉 Once you shoot both you’ll want to come see where the magic happens. Cases are in the cleaner, will need a couple days to tweak the load with the new bullets. Busy next weekend?

 

Mike

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May 11, 2024 - 3:20 pm
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Mike – your .38-55 experience reminds me of many a range trip.  But at least you went and you had some fun.  I’ve come to realize that it’s a rare day when everything goes like clockwork at a range trip.  This is particularly true as I am often trying different loads and trying the same loads in different rifles.  The failure to chamber, or only chambering with force has been factor at many a range trip for me. MANY times, a round will chamber in one rifle but not another.

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May 11, 2024 - 4:05 pm
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steve004 said
Mike – your .38-55 experience reminds me of many a range trip.  But at least you went and you had some fun.  I’ve come to realize that it’s a rare day when everything goes like clockwork at a range trip.  This is particularly true as I am often trying different loads and trying the same loads in different rifles.  The failure to chamber, or only chambering with force has been factor at many a range trip for me. MANY times, a round will chamber in one rifle but not another.

  

Yes, it was fun! This was actually the resumption of a load development project begun years ago. I used the wallhanger to cull a big spike on my brother’s deer lease about six years ago but haven’t taken the opportunity to shoot it or the other two 38-55’s since. Come to think of it, I don’t believe I’ve fired the carbine or the early rifle before yesterday’s attempt. I’m studying my load notes today, tomorrow’s rain should give me an opportunity to do a bit of loading. 

 

Mike

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May 12, 2024 - 8:19 pm
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Took advantage of a rainy day to hole up in my loading room for a little while. Almost had to give it up, electronic powder measure gets cranky or worse when power goes off for a moment. After calibrating the electronic powder measure four or five times I was seriously contemplating seeking entertainment elsewhere.
It seems my difficulty with the 38-55 is also why I’m attracted to it. The 38-55 was designed as a black powder cartridge but I’m trying to shoot it with smokeless powder. I’ve always done things the hard way, if my mother was here she would certainly verify that. Black powder gives a pretty swift kick in the butt to a soft lead projectile of less than bore size and this sudden, hard push causes the bullet to obturate and engage the rifling and the rifling in turn stabilizes the bullet. I’m using the wrong powder and wrong bullet alloy! A suitable smokeless powder for this cartridge gives the bullet a gentle shove in comparison to Holy Black. The tin and antimony mixed into my lead alloy limit the obturation of that comparatively hard alloy so the bullet needs to start out a thousandth or two over bore diameter (.380”) to engage the rifling. Therein lies the problem; a bullet of .380-.381 stuffed into a case with a wall thickness of .010”. Actually it’s not a problem until you try to chamber it in a rifle designed for a cartridge that’s supposed to measure .392” at the case mouth. Two of my 38-55’s not only have short leades but they also have tight chambers of perhaps .395” at the case mouth. 
Bill (426crown) offered a tip I haven’t had to use in awhile, he told me he sometimes has to use a sizing die to reduce the diameter of the loaded cartridge. As it turned out I had to do just that, after seating the bullet .035” deeper to accommodate the short leades of these rifles I had to bump the case mouth into the sizer die to apply a bit of taper to the leading edge of the case mouth. 
I needed a nap after all that figuring, 2.5” of rain fell before I woke up so the range trip will have to wait! Ground around here was already saturated or underwater, getting to the road may require a boat or waders.

 

Mike

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May 12, 2024 - 8:35 pm
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TXGunNut said
Took advantage of a rainy day to hole up in my loading room for a little while. Almost had to give it up, electronic powder measure gets cranky or worse when power goes off for a moment. After calibrating the electronic powder measure four or five times I was seriously contemplating seeking entertainment elsewhere.  

Why even consider using an electronic powder measure?  I don’t.  I use an old Ohaus and it works quite well.

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May 12, 2024 - 8:51 pm
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mrcvs said

TXGunNut said

Took advantage of a rainy day to hole up in my loading room for a little while. Almost had to give it up, electronic powder measure gets cranky or worse when power goes off for a moment. After calibrating the electronic powder measure four or five times I was seriously contemplating seeking entertainment elsewhere.  

Why even consider using an electronic powder measure?  I don’t.  I use an old Ohaus and it works quite well.

  

I have an RCBS balance beam measure, I even have a battery powered scale around here somewhere, maybe two. Once you use an electronic measure scale like the RCBS Chargemaster it’s hard to go back to balance beams or even a good electronic scale when loading rifle ammo. It’s a real game changer. 

 

Mike

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May 12, 2024 - 9:00 pm
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One of our club members sold me a Hornady scale for $10. It is fantastic in MHO. Don

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May 12, 2024 - 9:56 pm
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TXGunNut said
Took advantage of a rainy day to hole up in my loading room for a little while. Almost had to give it up, electronic powder measure gets cranky or worse when power goes off for a moment. After calibrating the electronic powder measure four or five times I was seriously contemplating seeking entertainment elsewhere.

It seems my difficulty with the 38-55 is also why I’m attracted to it. The 38-55 was designed as a black powder cartridge but I’m trying to shoot it with smokeless powder. I’ve always done things the hard way, if my mother was here she would certainly verify that. Black powder gives a pretty swift kick in the butt to a soft lead projectile of less than bore size and this sudden, hard push causes the bullet to engage the rifling and the rifling in turn stabilizes the bullet. I’m using the wrong powder and wrong bullet alloy! A suitable smokeless powder for this cartridge gives the bullet a gentle shove in comparison to Holy Black. The tin and antimony mixed into my lead alloy limit the obturation of that comparatively hard alloy so the bullet needs to start out a thousandth or two over bore diameter (.380”) to engage the rifling. Therein lies the problem; a bullet of .380-.381 stuffed into a case with a wall thickness of .010”. Actually it’s not a problem until you try to chamber it in a rifle designed for a cartridge that’s supposed to measure .392” at the case mouth. Two of my 38-55’s not only have short leades but they also have tight chambers of perhaps .395” at the case mouth. 

Bill (426crown) offered a tip I haven’t had to use in awhile, he told me he sometimes has to use a sizing die to reduce the diameter of the loaded cartridge. As it turned out I had to do just that, after seating the bullet .035” deeper to accommodate the short leades of these rifles I had to bump the case mouth into the sizer die to apply a bit of taper to the leading edge of the case mouth. 

I needed a nap after all that figuring, 2.5” of rain fell before I woke up so the range trip will have to wait! Ground around here was already saturated or underwater, getting to the road may require a boat or waders.

 

Mike

  

This might have well been written in Russian for me, but if we go shoot these I’m thinking you’re up first! 😀

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May 12, 2024 - 10:22 pm
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Jeremy-

Suppose if I could find the Cyrillic keyboard on this iPad I’d give it a try. 😉 The measurements would be a bit tedious as my caliper is not digital and the metric equivalents would make even less sense to most of us. No worries, though. Last gun I destroyed fired a factory low-brass shotgun shell.

 

Mike

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May 13, 2024 - 6:24 pm
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Bill (426crown) offered a tip I haven’t had to use in awhile, he told me he sometimes has to use a sizing die to reduce the diameter of the loaded cartridge. As it turned out I had to do just that, after seating the bullet .035” deeper to accommodate the short leades of these rifles I had to bump the case mouth into the sizer die to apply a bit of taper to the leading edge of the case mouth. 

Mike

  

Interesting.  .010″ wall thickness seems pretty thin for these cases?  I don’t usually check this dimension on the rimmed cases but do so for my target brass. I often see .013″ to .015″.  I have a case neck lathe that I haven’t used much.  My first thought was to ream the neck but maybe not for your cases?

How much does the f/l die reduce the diameter or are you just getting the small taper?  Are you over crimping? Sometimes this can cause a problem. Maybe more chamfering might help.

I am currently using the Lee scoops onto a very accurate scale.  I have a lesser model RCBS electronic dispenser brand new in the box.

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May 13, 2024 - 9:51 pm
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Chuck-

Minimal roll crimping with the Cowboy die, that’s all it needs with the neck sizer I’m using. All I’m getting from the sizing die is a small taper-but that’s all I need. I thought the brass was thicker but I was wrong. It’s the same thickness as some older W-W brass I have on hand. I will chamfer the case mouths next time as I’m planning on trimming them but I’m not sure my Lee trimmer be able to trim the 2.125” brass. I like using a scoop and a trickler for some applications but I find myself using the Chargemaster even for 10-20 round batches. 

 

Mike

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