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.38-70 WCF Reloading Data
August 27, 2017
4:33 am
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Does anyone out there have any experience reloading for the 38-70 WCF cartridge?   I’m especially interested in AA 5744 and 2400 loads using the standard 38-55 249 grain lead bullet.

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August 27, 2017
1:45 pm
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Can’t say I’ve even seen one, sounds like fun. Pretty sure you’re on the right track with 5744, seems to be the powder several of my recent load development efforts lead to since I started trying it. I’m trying to stay away from 2400 in big cases but have had impressive results in cases as large as 30WCF.

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August 27, 2017
2:34 pm
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  I loaded and shot 38/70, found it to be very accurate. I used 45/90 brass, annealed, reformed in 38/70 die and cut to size (2.340″). I used 25grs. 3031 plus thin paper wad  and corn meal. Used original Winchester mold (255gr), cast not sized. They shot accurate at 1450fps. I was happy with the load and never tried anything else. T/R

August 27, 2017
2:44 pm
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TR said
  I loaded and shot 38/70, found it to be very accurate. I used 45/90 brass, annealed, reformed in 38/70 die and cut to size (2.340″). I used 25grs. 3031 plus thin paper wad  and corn meal. Used original Winchester mold (255gr), cast not sized. They shot accurate at 1450fps. I was happy with the load and never tried anything else. T/R  

Thanks for the advise.  Going to do something similar with the cases.

I’m planning on using 40-82 brass as there will be less compacting at the muzzle end of the cartridge and the base end has much closer dimensions than the 45’s.  Planning on sticking to 5744 though, and possibly 2400.

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August 31, 2017
11:29 pm
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OK, I have a Model 1886, 38-70 WCF made in 1891 on the way.  For ammo I’m going to re-size 40-82 brass.  The exterior case dimensions of the 38-70 and 38-55 are almost identical, the main difference being the diameter, which would account for the 38-70 having approximately 25% more volume.  Would it be safe to use 38-55 reloading data to load the 38-70 cartridges, assuming identical bullet weights and sizes? 

What I have found so far is that with identical loads and projectiles in different volume cartridges, as the volume increases the pressure decreases.  But I haven’t found if there is a safe limit to the increased cartridge volume.

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September 4, 2017
3:19 pm
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Wincacher,

I defer to the Cartridges of the World when it comes to some of these cartridges and reloading for them.  I have not nor intend to reload for my very nice .38-70 chambered rifle, as what I have read there is no significant ballistic advantage over the .38-55.  Your choice of powder could be the real issue in reloading using .38-55 data, as the greater volume in the .38-70 case might allow for detonation where it would not in the smaller capacity case.  I should think, though, with the bulkier and faster burning powders, you would be OK.  Let me get my copy of Cartridges of the World and suggest some powders.

The older, 4th edition (newest I have) lists only two powders.  My favorite is listed first and is 4198 at 26.0 grains with the 250 grain bullet (and states the same bullet as the .38-55, but I have never seen a 250 grain bullet, only 255 grains)  Next powder is 3031 at 41 grains and a 265 grain bullet.  Velocities are listed at the 1700 fps threshold.  The factory load was listed with a 255 grain bullet and velocity of 1410, so I would not feel the need for speed with either of the above powders.  As a comparison, the .38-56 data shows the same powders with 4198 having one grain less, and 3031 being down to 36 grains, velocity in 1600 and 1800 fps realms respectively.  Bullets effectively same.

I do not know if you have a 38-55 load you like using the 5744 powder, but the above was printed before that powder was used widely or at all.  It might provide the bulk and work well for you as well.  Personally, I would think a load of IMR 4198 and a 255 grain lead gas check, with about 23.5  to 25 grains of powder, should do well and not push the bullet too fast to be reasonably accurate.  I usually have accuracy issues with lead above the 1600 fps threshold.  

I was hoping for someone with actual experience with the 38-70 to chime in.  The above is my considered opinion for what it is worth.  Let me know what works out for you, please.

Tim

September 4, 2017
3:29 pm
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Thanks for the input, Tim.  The bullet I’ve used for my 38-55’s since the 1970’s is Lyman # 375248, which is advertised as dropping a 249 grain flat nosed bullet.  Hadn’t considered detonation but have used 20.0 grains of 5744 @ about 1400 fps in the 38-55, from a 26″ barrel.

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September 4, 2017
3:37 pm
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Wincacher,

  Sounds as if you would have at least a start point.  I can’t say I have ever heard of 5744 detonating.  Might add a grain or two though because of the greater volume in the case, and see how it performs for you.  The little that I have tried 5744, it shoots well for me.  However, I gave up on it as when I would extract my case from the .38-55 high wall I shot, there would be unburned powder granules that would fall into the action and mess up the trigger, etc.  I then went back to my old standby IMR 4198 and have remained happy!

Safe and happy shooting to you!

Tim

September 4, 2017
3:43 pm
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38-55 data for starting loads sounds like a safe starting place. I’m casting a few .380 bullets these days, let me know if you want to try some. Lyman 380681 and the moulds mentioned in another thread; Accurate 38-255L GC and a 280 gr NOE copy of the Lyman 375449.

When’s the rifle due to arrive?

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September 5, 2017
4:11 am
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TXGunNut said
38-55 data for starting loads sounds like a safe starting place. I’m casting a few .380 bullets these days, let me know if you want to try some. Lyman 380681 and the moulds mentioned in another thread; Accurate 38-255L GC and a 280 gr NOE copy of the Lyman 375449.

When’s the rifle due to arrive?  

Well, my 38-70 project has been cancelled. 

The 1886 rifle was originally ordered from Cabela’s in Sidney a week ago.  First I couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone in the Gun Library or return emails.  After going through store management I got the gun ordered but they would never send me a tracking number.  Then it turned out to be on hold waiting for me to send them my driver’s license, though no one told me they needed that.  Then they improperly charged sales tax without telling me, which they finally agreed to refund.  Once all that got straightened out I get a call today informing me that the Library manager just told the clerk that the barrel was not original.  They told me the barrel is an original Winchester barrel but is not the original caliber of the rifle and did I still want it.  

Order cancelled, refund hopefully on the way.  At least they were honest about the barrel – eventually.

First, and last, attempt to deal with Cabela’s.

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September 5, 2017
12:45 pm
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Sorry to hear that, was looking forward to hearing about your project. Quite frankly I’m surprised they discovered the barrel issue, maybe the manager was aware of it all along. I guess it doesn’t matter at this point. It’s good that you cancelled it, their return policy is not as lenient as it used to be. I’ll give them a few points for making you aware of the issue before they shipped it. For the most part I’ve had good experiences with the guys at my local orphanage but now and then mistakes are made, in my case it’s been on both sides of the counter. I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the staff at the Allen store but didn’t have the need to interact with them much.

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Smokeless powder is a passing fad! -Steve Garbe
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Presbyopia be damned, I'm going to shoot this thing! -TXGunNut
September 5, 2017
1:51 pm
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Well, to top things off, today I’ll get delivery of the 38-70 RCBS reloading dies that I ordered from Buffalo Arms, plus some 40-82 WCF brass. 

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September 5, 2017
2:03 pm
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All you need now is a rifle, hope the right one will come along in due time.

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Smokeless powder is a passing fad! -Steve Garbe
I hate rude behavior in a man. I won't tolerate it. -Woodrow F. Call, Lonesome Dove
Some of my favorite recipes start out with a handful of depleted counterbalance devices.-TXGunNut
Presbyopia be damned, I'm going to shoot this thing! -TXGunNut
September 5, 2017
2:05 pm
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Wink

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July 8, 2020
10:35 pm
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John Mummert
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Hello Wincacher,

I see where you purchased a 38-70 Win. Die set several years ago fora rifle that you did not get.

if you still have the dies, and anything else like cases, molds etc. I will be glad to purchase them from you. 

I am also looking for an original Winchester reloading tool also.

my email is jemummert@aol.com

July 9, 2020
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 I have a original 1894 tool in 38-70, maybe 40% finish. $200 T/R

July 9, 2020
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TR said
 I have a original 1894 tool in 38-70, maybe 40% finish. $200 T/R  

Just to clarify:  the Model 1894 was never chambered for the 38-70.  It was chambered for the 38-55. 

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July 9, 2020
12:46 pm
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  The tool is the 1894 style, not for the model 1894 rifle. It’s 38-70 used in the 1886 model rifle. T/R

July 9, 2020
3:20 pm
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john mummert
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TR said
 I have a original 1894 tool in 38-70, maybe 40% finish. $200 T/R  

please send me your email so I can get you address to send payment

or, you can also send it to mine: jemummert@aol.com

is it possible get pictures?

July 9, 2020
8:53 pm
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 John, It will be Friday before I can send pictures. If you have any questions call 920-219-2026 T/R

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