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Reloading cal. 38-72 for my Winchester Model 1895
September 11, 2018 - 9:20 am

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I have just bought a Winchester Model 1895 i cal. 38-72. Serial number 395XX. Made in 1903.

Is it save to use smokeless powder for this rifle? I am trying to find out if Winchester made the Model 1895 in the year 1903 for smokeless powder, or it was later. The barrel is not stamped “Nickel steel barrel” or “Especially for smokeless powder”. Were all Model 1895 made for smokeless powder?

I hope someone can help me Cool

Best regards

Palle Heine Jensen

Denmark

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Posts: 4502
September 11, 2018 - 5:07 pm

2sp_QuotePost

The 38-72 and 30-40 were both loaded in 1895 with black powder.  Later almost all the 1895’s were loaded with smokeless.

Being a 1903 gun it was probably loaded with smokeless powder.  Shooting with black powder may be best. If the gun is safe you could shoot it.  According to Mike Venturino’s book he recommends using 21 grains of Accurate XMP5744 smokeless powder or 65 grains of GOEX Cartridge black powder.  This is with a 277 grain cast bullet.  A cast bullet is probably the better choice.  The bullet diameter should be about .379″ or .380″.  About 9.63 mm.

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Kingston, WA
Posts: 10577
September 11, 2018 - 5:40 pm

3sp_QuotePost

I believe that Chuck meant to say that the 38-72 WCF and the 40-72 WCF were originally loaded with black powder. The 30-40 (30 U.S.) was load with smokeless powder only.

Winchester made the transition to smokeless powder between 1900 – 1902 for nearly all of their older cartridges. They offered both black powder and smokeless powder loads for the 38-72 WCF for many years. You can safely shoot moderate smokeless loads in your rifle with cast lead bullets. Avoid jacketed bullets, and if you do load them, keep the velocity at or below 1,600 fps.

Bert

WACA 6571L, Historian & Board of Director Member
High-walls-1-002-C-reduced2.jpg

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Posts: 4502
September 11, 2018 - 9:10 pm

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Bert H. said
I believe that Chuck meant to say that the 38-72 WCF and the 40-72 WCF were originally loaded with black powder. The 30-40 (30 U.S.) was load with smokeless powder only.
Winchester made the transition to smokeless powder between 1900 – 1902 for nearly all of their older cartridges. They offered both black powder and smokeless powder loads for the 38-72 WCF for many years. You can safely shoot moderate smokeless loads in your rifle with cast lead bullets. Avoid jacketed bullets, and if you do load them, keep the velocity at or below 1,600 fps.
Bert  

Bert is correct.  These three cartridges were the first 3 produced for the 1895 but the 30-40 was the first to be loaded, from the beginning, with smokeless.  I would keep the fps closer to 1,500.

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Posts: 955
September 12, 2018 - 11:24 pm

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Hi Palle Heine Jensen

I’m not going to give any advice on loading for .38-72.  I haven’t loaded much black powder or the smokeless equivalent loads. 

Here’s some really brief history on Winchester’s loading of the two however:

The .38-72 and .40-72 were offered in smokeless or black powder from the start.  You can go back into the WRACo catalogs to find this, I believe in No. 58, June of 1896, with the individual cartridge sales descriptions in the later half of the catalog.  These two were offered with lead or metal jacketed bullets (full metal patch) and it looks like by the Dec. 1896 catalog, soft point, which also has a jacket of course.  These aren’t the only ones, and Winchester was loading smokeless in a lot of other cartridges by 1895-96 as well.

forest-and-stream-June-1895-a.jpgImage Enlarger

Forest and Stream June 1895

The factory .38-72 and .40-72 smokeless loads would have had similar velocities to black powder loads to the best of my knowledge.  I don’t know that either the .38-72 or .40-72 were ever offered in Short Range or WHV (Winchester High Velocity), but I would also have to look that up to double check.  

I will recommend One Hundred Years of Winchester Cartridge Boxes by Ray Giles & Dan Shuey and also Dan’s WRACo Headstamped Cartridges and Their Variations Vol. I and Vol. II, to anyone wanting serious details on WRACo cartridges (I haven’t checked on availability for awhile).   This information is also found in those books, a great deal of which came from primary sources.   

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Regards

Brad Dunbar

http://1895book.com/

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Posts: 850
November 10, 2018 - 3:23 am

6sp_QuotePost

I used to reload for the 38-72 and only used smokeless powder. I used medium speed powders and stuck to the original 38-72 ballistics (cast bullet weight and velocity). 

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Posts: 1535
November 10, 2018 - 8:35 pm

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Brad Dunbar said
I don’t know that either the .38-72 or .40-72 were ever offered in Short Range or WHV (Winchester High Velocity), but I would also have to look that up to double check.  

So far with my on-going research into Reloading Tools, I have yet to observe any Tools or Bullet Molds for either .38-72 or .40-72 in Short Range. 

I doubt any would have been made, but can’t say as of yet for certain as it is always I suppose plausible. 

Only know of Short Range in, .25-35 W.C.F., .30 Gov. (30-40 Krag), .30 W.C.F. (30-30), .32-40, & .38-55.

Sincerely,

Maverick 

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Posts: 850
November 14, 2018 - 3:28 am

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I know there was a bullet mould for the 38-72, because I borrowed an original from a fellow and cast up a batch of 38-72 bullets. I still have most of those bullets.

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Posts: 1535
November 14, 2018 - 6:07 am

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win38-55 said
I know there was a bullet mould for the 38-72, because I borrowed an original from a fellow and cast up a batch of 38-72 bullets. I still have most of those bullets.  

Yes Winchester made bullet molds for 38-72 and marked them as such. I have one myself. But I’m quite certain they did not make any “38-72 SHORT RANGE” bullet molds. 

Sincerely,

Maverick

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Taos NM
Posts: 224
October 25, 2019 - 10:02 pm
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Palle–I use IMR 4198 with 26 grains and 225 grain lead bullet.  Got the 1894 loading tool and Bullet Mold-Bill

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Posts: 850
October 30, 2019 - 3:49 pm

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I found that the original 38-72 bullets cast from the original Winchester 38-72 mould, were slightly wobbly (slightly oval-shaped holes at 100 yards) at the original ballistics, and did not give tight groups at 100 yards. Consequently, I ordered a slightly shorter and lighter bullet mould from Accurate moulds that dropped a bullet at around 260 grains (which I also use for my 38-55 loads). It was stable and more accurate, and I ended up taking a nice 200 pound doe with my 1895 38-72.

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Posts: 1535
October 30, 2019 - 4:27 pm

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Kirk Durston said
I found that the original 38-72 bullets cast from the original Winchester 38-72 mould, were slightly wobbly (slightly oval-shaped holes at 100 yards) at the original ballistics, and did not give tight groups at 100 yards. Consequently, I ordered a slightly shorter and lighter bullet mould from Accurate moulds that dropped a bullet at around 260 grains (which I also use for my 38-55 loads). It was stable and more accurate, and I ended up taking a nice 200 pound doe with my 1895 38-72.  

What mixture of lead and tin were you using when casting?

I’d recommend using a modern mold anyway, as you can usually buy a multi-cavity mold and it makes producing bullets much easier. 

Sincerely,

Maverick

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Posts: 850
October 31, 2019 - 3:19 pm

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I used pure clip-on wheel weights, air cooled, with no tin added. I measured a few bullets just now, and this alloy dropped a bullet weighing 276 grains, with an unsized diameter of .379″ (photo below). The official listed original bullet weight was 275 grains, so this is very close and the diameter is good. However, speeds approaching 1,500 fps are getting a bit fast for air-cooled pure wheel weight bullets, so maybe I should have water cooled the cast bullets, giving me a significantly greater hardness. The first target was shot with original cast bullets, five shots at 100 yards at around 1,443 fps, giving me a 5-shot group of around 5″ … not acceptable in my books. I shot maybe around 40 or 50 rounds with different loads and holes were very often slightly oval, showing that the bullets were not quite stabilizing for the rifling twist (top right bullet hole in first target illustrates what I’m talking about). Perhaps if I had increased the velocity another 100 fps I could have solved that problem, but I ordered a mould from Accurate Moulds that gave me bullets, sized and lubed, at around 262 grains (a compromise, since I wanted to use the same bullet in my 38-55’s). You can see the results are much better in the final target below, with a 5-shot group at 100 yards of 1 & 7/8″. All targets were shot using the original iron sights on the 38-72. If I recall, the gun was shipped around 1905 and was in about 85% condition with a much loved tapered octagon barrel. Alas, I sold it to get the funds to purchase a 95% Model 1873 32 WCF but after selling it, the 1873 guy backed out of the deal. Was not happy about that, after selling three nice old Winchesters to get the funds. Anyway, such is life. As mentioned earlier, I did manage to shoot one nice Whitetail doe of around 200 pounds pre-dressed with this beautiful old rifle.

38-72-original-cast.jpgImage Enlarger38-72-target-original-mould.jpgImage Enlarger38-72-target-Accurate-mould.jpgImage Enlarger

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Troyce
August 31, 2023 - 1:17 am

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I bought a 38-72 last year and just finished collecting the stuff needed to reload some rounds.

 

I have cci BR-2 primers (although the different primers make almost no difference)

Imr 3031

And cast water cooled lead 255gr rnfp bullets. 

Its all going into starline brass, and Id like to keep my initial load around 12-1300 fps before building to roughly a 1500fps load.

Anyone have any experience using IMR 3031 with 255gr bullets?

 

Thanks!

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Posts: 4502
August 31, 2023 - 6:18 pm

15sp_QuotePost

First, I have no experience with this specific caliber.  I do use 3031 in some of my other calibers.  BR 2 primers are Bench Rest primers and are usually more consistent than regular primers and are fine for your caliber.  If you don’t have a chronograph buy, rent or borrow one

Cartridges of the World lists a load for the 38-72 and a 255 gr. bullet using 3031 but it is too hot at 1735 fps.  If I were you I’d start in the low 20 grain area and work up.

1500 FPS is over the factory load for this caliber.  I would stay closer to 1400 max.

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Troyce
August 31, 2023 - 6:42 pm

16sp_QuotePost

Chuck said
First, I have no experience with this specific caliber.  I do use 3031 in some of my other calibers.  BR 2 primers are Bench Rest primers and are usually more consistent than regular primers and are fine for your caliber.  If you don’t have a chronograph buy, rent or borrow one

Cartridges of the World lists a load for the 38-72 and a 255 gr. bullet using 3031 but it is too hot at 1735 fps.  If I were you I’d start in the low 20 grain area and work up.

1500 FPS is over the factory load for this caliber.  I would stay closer to 1400 max.

  

I was thinking of starting with 20gr and then building up.

I did find some load data for 38-55 and 250gr using 3031.

It was putting out 1360fps at 26gr of powder, and 1450fps at 28gr.

I imagine that should be pretty comparable as the bullets are basically the same? If anything might just be a bit slower shooting the 255gr bullet.

If im not mistaken the original ammo was loaded around 1480fps?

 

I hadnt seen cartridges of the world, ill check that one out

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Posts: 4502
August 31, 2023 - 7:52 pm

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Troyce said

If im not mistaken the original ammo was loaded around 1480fps?

  

Depends on the weight of the bullet. All load data that is posted is for guns in new to brand new condition.  Since your gun is around 100 years old, I’d be safe. 20 grs. will be safe but low. Go up in .5 grn. increments for a couple loads.  You will see a pattern and can adjust from there.  

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Troyce
August 31, 2023 - 8:24 pm

18sp_QuotePost

Right, I think earlier in the thread, (and wikipedia) says that 38-72 was loaded with 275gr bullets at 1480fps.

 

My plan is to start with 20 gr, which id guess is probably going to be around 1000fps, before working up to a max of 26 gr, or 1450ish FPS with my 255gr bullets and record all the data I get.

 

I figured id check first though incase someone had already loaded with this powder and a similar weight.

 

Now to find a chronograph…
  

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Posts: 4079
August 31, 2023 - 8:47 pm

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Troyce said
Right, I think earlier in the thread, (and wikipedia) says that 38-72 was loaded with 275gr bullets at 1480fps.

 

My plan is to start with 20 gr, which id guess is probably going to be around 1000fps, before working up to a max of 26 gr, or 1450ish FPS with my 255gr bullets and record all the data I get.

 

I figured id check first though incase someone had already loaded with this powder and a similar weight.

 

Now to find a chronograph…

  

  

What diameter are your bullets?  Plain-based or gas-checked?

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Troyce
August 31, 2023 - 10:22 pm

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steve004 said

What diameter are your bullets?  Plain-based or gas-checked?

  

They are .378 rnfp going to put gaschecks on them, and Alox.

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