I’ve been loading for .33 WCF for just one year now and I thought I’d revisit this topic and share a few things. I moved to IMR 4064 for this cartridge rather than IMR 4895, which I had been using. I had also started doing a partial re-size rather than the full length re-size. Today I tried out my planned hunting load; max load in my Hornady book, only difference from my earlier development loads with IMR 4064 is that it’s crimped.
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I really like using small paper plates as targets now. For my eyes they give a clear target using the six o’clock hold with that plate right on top of the post. I made an elevation adjustment on my tang sight after shot 2. Called flier on shot 4 sharing a hole with shot 2, but 3,5 and 6 were good at 50 yards. My main goal is to be about 1" high at fifty yards, about 2"+ high at 100 with this rifle. 50 yard shots are about 1" +/- above the point of aim, 100 yard shot is 2". I’m confident with the elevation on shot 7 at 100 yards and want to save the rest of my cartridges from this session for hunting. This is my second session with this load, and fifth with IMR 4064. I can live with windage being off to the right 1/2" or so.
I’ve been using two sides on this same cardboard box all summer/fall. Here’s what earlier development looked like on the plate taped under this one and the box:
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Other changes were adding a "gold" bead Lyman No.4 front sight to the rifle in place of a big ivory bead Marble No.2. I found the earlier sight to be terrible in the woods in somewhat low light with the ivory somewhat brown. This new sight is excellent so far for the six o’clock hold. Tang sight stayed the same. One minor thing that confuses me is if I trim to the case length shown in my load data, I don’t have much cannelure to crimp in to. I find that odd because this bullet is specifically made for this cartridge. Picked up some prescription glasses this summer for this stuff too.
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A few things that I’ve changed since a year ago:
I have to utilize slightly different holds for different rifles to control vertical stringing.
I pay more attention to cases after firing.
I’ve been using a powder in the cartridge that seems to burn completely every time.
I partial length re-size and find it to be more accurate and better for case life.
I’ve found the tailgate of my truck (parked at a 30 to 45 to the target) and a folding chair is the best bench rest I’ve used so far.
I try to pull the trigger back the same every time and pay attention to breathing all the time.
So, anything new with loading/shooting this year for anyone else?
Great report and good photos. Thanks for the post.
I have done a fair bit of developing this year (at least for me). I started the year with figuring out a new, no filler load for my original 38-55. I then moved on to working out a load for my 45-70. I’ve got a good load for my 405 grain cast bullets, but I wanted a nice 500 grain bullet. I contacted Accurate Moulds with a modified design and Tom, whipped it up and it shipped yesterday. It is mould 46-500F http://www.accuratemolds.com/bullet_detail.php?bullet=46-500F-D.png This bullet is a plain based cast bullet with a crimping groove for smokeless powder that will feed through my original Model 1886, with an O.A.L. just short of the 45-90 and the original 45-70-500 Government cartridges. Then I went to work on figuring out a load for my 30 W.C.F. Finally got that done several weeks ago and turned my attention to the 44 W.C.F., which I am using for hunting this fall (two more weeks). I took photos but never got time to actually post much on my trials this summer. Right now, my focus is practicing up offhand shooting with my original Model 1873 at ranges from 50 to 100 yards. If I do bag a Whitetail, I will certainly plan to post photos and a write-up.
So Kirk, do you try for 1100-1200fps with that 500 grain bullet? That thing is like 2 1/2 bullets in one! What a change it was when the "little" 30-40-220, .30 WCF and 25-35 WCF bullets showed up in Winchesters in the 1890s.
I plan on sharing time with my 30 WCF 1894 rifle and my 1899 Savage 250-3000 rifle on coyotes this winter. I’m still liking the Sierra 125 FP in .30-30; very accurate for me and I think it will be a hammer on coyotes…just have to learn how to call some in.
Hi Brad and Kirk Nice report ! I have been enjoying shooting my .33 86 at 300M (330 yd) with Tang sight and Lyman 17A front with .100 circular aperture insert. I think black bulls-eye that I use for visibility is about 2 ft dia. I am also using Knoblock target shooting glasses with + 2 magnification for my old eyes. I am getting good accuracy with 29 H4198 and 35 H4895 and Hornady 200 flex-tip. (we can’t get the original 200 gr Hornady flatnose in Canada that you can obtain now from Buffalo Arms)
I dont use IMR 4064 because of the crunching and poor metering thru my RCBS Uniflow measure (There is so many powders now that will meter without weighing)
My friend also casts a good gascheck.339 bullet that is equally accurate at 100 yd I am awaiting more to try at 300m
The only problem being that as the barrel heats the shots string upwards vertically, so I will have to work on shot spacing more.
The barrel size on my 86 is a little thinner than I am used to, according to Pirkle sharing the later lightweight 24" barrel , even though mine is in old style standard rifle configuration with full mag
I also am getting great results with a 94 32-40 at 300m using 170 GASCHECK CAST and Hornady and Speer 170 gr 32 spcl bullets and 21 gr H4198. Also getting good results in 92 38-40, and Uberti 73 38-40 @ 200 M
With Uberti 73 32-20 great results with 100 Hornady XTP and H4227 @ 300m
That long range stuff (330 yds.) with the .33 is pretty neat Phil. Must be a good rifle!
In one of Jack O’Connor’s books he talked about the one shot group. Someone he wrote about was making one shot with a cold barrel one day per week from a few different positions. I guess the idea is being concerned about the performance of that first shot on an animal. I think I’m going to try that this winter.
Brad, I plan to put the 500 grain cast bullet out the barrel at around 1,200 fps, very similar to the original ballistics. Yesterday, I loaded up some 44 W.C.F. for hunting, starting this Saturday. Earlier in the week, I went to the range to do a bit of practicing with it and from a rest, that load and rifle (an original 1873) can put five rounds into a 2 & 3/4" group at 100 yards. Offhand, the 73 is remarkably stable. I plan to do one more practice session with it today, standing offhand, and then I’ll be ready for hunting.
It would be interesting to know what the gun makers or shooters of the day considered to be good accuracy at 100 yards with a hunting rifle. I guess I’ll beat the Jack O’Connor thing to death as it’s still fresh in my mind. In the same book he discussed sporting rifle accuracy and thought 1 1/2" at 100 yards with a scoped .30-’06 was good and normal. I can get 2" five shot groups once and awhile with a benched lever action and tang sight, sometimes a three shot group that’s much tighter or some days not so much. I think that’s OK. Maybe a better shot and more experienced hand loader could get them down to 1" groups. Like you mentioned before, under 3" is good. I guess if they were target guns expectations should be higher. It sounds like you are shooting your 1873 very well. I’ve found I like the heavier guns I own for off hand too.
I haven’t shot at a deer for three years now, so maybe this will be the year. Good luck with your hunting this weekend.
I used to read Jack O’Conner as a kid ,As a subscriber to Outdoor Life, it was my first read as the new issue came. I daydreamed when I was old enough to Hunt, but my fantasies usually included an antique Winchester especially a 92 in 44 .I guess our futures are a little pre determined based on our individual make up, but at about 8 ,I was really impressed with a neighbour’s 44 Win 92 carbine he bought at auction for $10 in the early fifties. I dreamt that I may find one for a bargain. Well Ive found a few, but still looking for my first bargain
But starting out hunting a few years later , I found that the best part for me was the sighting in and practicing, There . wasnt enough shooting in Hunting to lure me in. I found out that people joined gunclubs to shoot for the fun of it
But I still have the fantasies of being in the woods with that vintage Winchester and now the first week of rifle hunt in my area I feel an uplifting mood identifying with the hunters in camps now, that this is an annual celebration of a primal instinct
I really only meant( before this got longwinded ) to say that of course Jack was right with the one shot group , or ( 3 shot cold group or whatever) . I briefly had a 90’s Winchester 30-30 carbine with red dot that (providing you didnt leave it on )(dont know if the new ones have a power shut off, but if not they should) was a predictable impact tack driver for the first 3 shots , and this is what any Hunters goal would be , making that first cold shot count , and having the confidence of knowing where that shot will be with the ammo you intend using, and the practice to make it happen.
Good luck hunters and have fun. especially you overgrown kids with your vintage Jewels
I really do think there is something about hunting alone in the fall that is difficult to describe. Part of it is the desire to get my own meat rather than buy it in a store. Then there is the silence of the Maple forest, listening carefully for the snap of a twig, the cold pure air mixed with the smell of fallen leaves, and the feel of a vintage Winchester in ones hands.
I took some time off of hunting for about 15 years. I really didn’t start getting back into it until a few years ago. I had lived in a big town for 15 years because there was nothing for a young guy where I grew up. Now I’m back here because everything is here and there just isn’t enough light most days to get everything done. Better late than never.
There is also the camaraderie that can exist in deer hunting when you hunt together or just meet up at the end of the day to talk about the day’s events.
I get the urge to be out there when fall comes around. Best time of year in my opinion…and you’ve got to be out there to get a shot a something.