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Reloading for 32-40
January 11, 2014
8:27 pm
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Fellows,
I am looking for some recommendations on reloading 32-40 in an 1885 high wall. This will primarily be target shooting and in the process of looking for some cast bullets to order online, I see there are quite a few choices. I'm not sure if I should get plain base or gas checked and I need some schooling on the different alloys. I'm guessing a round nose lower weight like 165 or 170 gr.? I have a few powders already that might work well if someone has a good load to share. IMR 4198, H4895, H335, IMR 3031, and a few others are in my powder supply.

~Gary~

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January 11, 2014
11:50 pm
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Gary,

I too load for and shoot a vintage Hi-wall chambered in 32-40. Mine shoots very accurately with 195 gr. lead gas check bullets fueled by 26.0 gr. of IMR 3031 sparked by a Federal match primer. I use W-W cases. I can constantly group five shots under an inch at 100 yards with a Lyman rear tang sight paired with a Beech combination front sight. The projectile itself is cast by a Dan at Bullshop bullets in Delta Junction, Alaska. It's of rounded design with a small flat tip. He can ship anywhere in the US with flat rate boxes from the USPS. In my hands, I have always achieved better accuracy with gas check bullets vs. plain base.

Mark

January 11, 2014
11:51 pm
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Check out the American Single Shot Rifle Association Forum

http://www.assra.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl

Those guys have hundreds of answers to your questions. Many shooters of 1885 High Walls in 32-40 are serious paper punchers. We always welcome new 32-40 shooters to our arcane world.

Try the 165 to 170 grain flat base "wind wanderers" cast about 1 part tin to 25 parts pure lead, with no antimony. Start out with SPG lube, made right there in Wyoming. Most modern WW or R-P cases are shorter than the old specs and will not give the accuracy that the older longer cases gave, but they are OK for starting loads.

Powder & loads: Start with 13.5 to 13.8 grains of IMR4227 or SR4759. Pistol primers may work better than rifle primers. My 32-40 High Wall shoots better with 200 grain bullets than it does with the 165 grain factory lead design. Keep velocity in the BP range. Don't try to go faster than about 1500 fps.

Source of bullets: Buffalo Arms, for starters. There are good custom casters, but you will pay $0.25 to $0.50 per bullet for the good stuff. Stay away from the hard cast or laser cast bullets if you are after paper-punching accuracy.

At some point you will need to learn about breech seating, because that is an integral part of small groups. That requires a special tool for the 1885 action and tang sights sometimes get in the way.

January 12, 2014
3:54 am
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My favorite 32-40 load for target shooting in Mod 1894 rifles is 18 -20 gr H4198 POWDER, with gascheck bullet 323470 165 gr. The gascheck improves accuracy in old bores with some wear. A lovely caliber to shoot !

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January 12, 2014
9:27 am
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Thanks for the comments so far. Sounds like the gas checked bullets give better accuracy, although I do have an excellent bore to work with(almost unbelievable for 124 years old).

Is there any reason why I cant work my way up to the original Winchester high velocity loads in a high wall action since it can handle the express cartridges and the monster .405? It looks like the WHV 32-40 loads were in the 1700mv range.

Also, would a 165-170 gr bullet have a flatter trajectory than the 190-200 gr.? Just curious which one would be better out at 200 yds.
I would like to use one of the powders I listed above since I have them already.

I'm assuming I don't need a crimp style bullet with a single shot?

And yes, the ASSRA site is loaded with information, thanks for the link.

~Gary~

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January 12, 2014
12:10 pm
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Gary,

With the gas check bullets, you can run them up to 2200 fps if you want to. That stated, your more accurate loads will most likely be in the 1600 - 1800 fps range. There are a lot of different loads out there for the venerable 32-40 cartridge... you just need to experiment until you find the one your rifle likes.

Bert

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January 12, 2014
2:35 pm
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25-20 said
My favorite 32-40 load for target shooting in Mod 1894 rifles is 18 -20 gr H4198 POWDER, with gascheck bullet 323470 165 gr. The gascheck improves accuracy in old bores with some wear. A lovely caliber to shoot !

25-20 - Do you happen to know what kind of velocity you get out of this load?

Bert - Ok, that's good to know there's plenty of breathing room

Finding the bullets might not be as easy I had hoped. I was looking at Montana Bulletworks but after I looked closer it says on the main page that he is closing his shop. Several of the others I looked at are out of stock, like everything else ammo related.

~Gary~

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January 12, 2014
6:48 pm
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Gary for the 4198 you can substitute your IMR here, I prefer the the H version because of shorter stick size,and easier metering thru a measure 18 gr should give around 1250 fps, and 20 should be around 1500 fps, a nice mild load that should be accurate
not having to crimp is a big benifit of shooting single shot , doing away with the need to keep trimming brass to the same length and omitting the crimp set up, but the best is you are free to experiment with oal of cartridge to see where best accuracy is obtained (usually with the bullet seated farther out closer to lands)

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January 12, 2014
7:04 pm
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As for bullet selection I do shoot some jacketed Speer 170 .321 dia and Hornady flex tip 165 with the 4198. most will advise against jacketed with the older (non Nickle Steel ) barrels , however most will agree that a few wont hurt, (if you near waiting for a source for cast )and I have shot many thru the years in 32-40 Mod 94's without any rounding of the lands or wear or drop off in accuracy, In fact my first 94 32-40 , bought more than 35 years ago and has had about 2000 jacketed thru by me, keeps improving as it is finally getting clean. The bore was very dark and very hard to clean out. Now shiney ,the corrosion pits are visable but the rifling looks good,and shoots as well as ever
However yours having a good bore may do well with any cast including non gas check selection. Try them all, and if cast are available and accurate ,that is certainly the best way to go for unlimited barrel life and preserving your desirable rifle

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January 12, 2014
8:05 pm
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Jacketed bullets can be shot with no ill affects as long as you keep the velocity under 2000 fps.

Bert

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January 12, 2014
10:35 pm
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January 13, 2014
2:42 am
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Thanks Bert I like to hear jacketed being OK , rather than the usual No you cant! A rough bore will usually shoot very well with jacketed.

Gary the first bullet listed looks excellent .322 possibly being perfect in your gun ( you will find out ) even .323 (8MM) is used . and the 500 pack is a good price and probably decent

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January 17, 2014
5:11 pm
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Thanks for all the ideas and info everyone, one of these days Ill get everything I need and hopefully work up a good load. If I get the time I'll post the results.

~Gary~

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April 30, 2014
8:05 pm
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I finally got out to shoot the 32-40 High Wall and thought I would share the results. Keep in mind this was the first time I had shot the rifle and the experimental starting load.

The load I started with is as follows:

170 gr. .322 cast bullet
17 grains of IMR4198
WW cases and primers

First a few pics of the rifle and sights.........

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I started out at 25 yds. to see where I was on the paper (hopefully) and was pleasantly surprised to find the windage was very close and I was 6 1/2" low. A couple adjustments to the Mid-range vernier and I was in the bull on shot #3.
(never mind the 22 shots my wife took at the same target with a Win M57 later on)

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Then out at 50 yds. I shot a 5 shot group around an 1 3/4" with three shots in the same hole. At this point I'm thinking this gun might just shoot.

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Made a slight windage adjustment to the Windgauge globe and shot 2 more. This seemed plenty good to proceed to 100 yds.

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At 100 yds. I only had 3 rounds left so with high hopes I touched off 3 more shots. The result was a 1 7/8" group about 2" right and 1/2" low. At this point it was getting dark and my hands were cold but I was very happy with the results for the first time out.

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One last picture on the wall with the other siblings. (32-40 on the bottom)

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It was a great way to spend Easter Sunday. 😀

~Gary~

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April 30, 2014
10:09 pm
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Gary,

I am really proud of you ❗ 8)

You have become quite the Winchester Single Shot collector, and you did a fine job shooting that old 32-40. A little more tweaking, and you will have it shooting like a dream.

Bert

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May 1, 2014
6:28 am
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Nice collection of 1885s Gary. Thanks for writing about your hand loads and shooting. I'm always trying to learn new stuff.

Brad

Regards

Brad Dunbar

http://1895book.com/

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May 1, 2014
10:09 am
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Beautiful collection!

May 1, 2014
5:36 pm
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Thanks for all the kind remarks, guys.

Does anyone know a good way to tighten up the adjustment of the front windgauge sight. It dials back and forth almost too easily and I wonder if the recoil of each shot might actually move it little. I wondered if a little low strength Loctite on the threads might make it tacky enough to keep it from moving. Obviously I don't want to get carried away and end up with it stuck in one spot or damage it. Any ideas on tightening it?

~Gary~

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May 1, 2014
9:12 pm
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Gary,

Once you have the sight set where you want it, use a dab of clear finger nail polish on the threads. If you ever need to move it again, apply acetone to the nail polish to remove it.

Bert

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May 1, 2014
9:17 pm
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Gary some nice single shots there & Good progress with your range report. looks like your gun likes the bullet just fine . What mold # ?. A great cal for target shooting , and it dosnt kick you too much. You may find you can tighten groups with just another gr or two of the 4198. Im sure you;ve noticed no pressure signs yet and recoil being very mild

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