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reload bullets for 1885
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February 6, 2018 - 4:53 pm
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       I have a pretty nice 1885 High Wall in  .32 WCF caliber, made in 1889.     It is in good overall condition, with a good bore (# 1  OB).

       I will be purchasing bullets for reloading, which brings me to a few questions  :

                1)   Being that old, would it be better to get slightly softer cast bullets, say about 12 – 15 BNH, rather than harder 22 BNH ones  ?

                2)   Would there be any problems shooting jacketed bullets occasionally,   and should they be at, or .001″  over, the groove diameter  ?

       Thanks for the help !


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February 6, 2018 - 6:03 pm
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Softer bullets will be your best choice, I’ve heard that 12-15 was considered “hard” in those days. I cast a NOE clone of the Lyman 311008 (314008) with good results and I’ve had some success with Lee’s 314-90. When you order commercial cast bullets make sure you order them for 32WCF/32-20 and NOT 32WS (Winchester Special). Bullet weight should be around 90-100 grains and diameter .311-314″.

I don’t have much use for jacketed bullets for this round, hopefully someone else can address that for you.



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February 7, 2018 - 3:33 pm
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I have 2 1873’s in 32-20, 2 1885’s and 3 1892’s.  I’ve been casting the Lyman 311008 since the early 1970’s using wheel weights mixed with scrap lead.  Have no idea what the hardness is. One of the 1873’s has a rough bore and one of the 1885’s has a brand new replacement barrel, with the rest being in the 8.0 to 9.5 range.  I do use a gas check on all my loads.

Over the years I’ve found that my reloads are much more accurate that the factory (jacketed) loads.  In the 1873 with the worn barrel I’ve found the most accurate load is a slow (1100 fps) load of 4.0 grains of Unique.  In the rest, my best accuracy has been a hot (1700 fps) load of 9.5 grains of 2400.  Regardless of what I’ve pushed down the various barrels, I’ve never noticed any wear to the bores, though the gas checks seem to act as a bit of a scraper and clean out the bores for me.


"This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." 

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