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Shooting the .38-72 WCF
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July 23, 2023 - 2:54 pm
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We’ve had increased forum traffic recently on the ’95 Winchester – which has been cool to see.  For some of us anyway Wink

I am a proud owner of a M95 round barreled .38-72 circa 1903.  No, this is not a recent acquisition as I’ve had the rifle several decades.  However, as of a couple days ago, I am now the proud owner of a like-new set of RCBS .38-72 dies.  So after having spent several decades in a safe, this rifle will be making its first range trip.

I’ve been reading up on loading the .38-72.  I recall Shrapnel acquired a .38-72 a year or two ago and ended up being very pleased with how he was able to get his rifle to shoot.

My M1895 shooting experience consists of several .30-40’s, one .30-03 and I did shoot (and load for) one of four .40-72’s I had.  All my .40-72’s are long gone but I still have brass and loaded rounds.  The brass was made from stretched .444 Marlin brass.  Yesterday, I ran those cases through the .38-72 sizing die and voila, I now have .38-72 cases.  They are the precise length to factory specs.  Given the bore size, I have a variety of cast and jacketed bullets on hand that I use in various .38-55’s, .38-56’s and .375 H&H magnum. 

My main task is to settle on a load.  Reloder 7, 5744, 4831, 3031, – all powders I have on hand and from what I’ve read, all good candidates.  I use a fair bit of Trail Boss in other calibers but I’ve yet to read a report of anyone using it in the .38-72.  If anyone has information on this (or using Trail Boss in the .40-72) I’d be interested.  

Any experience, tips, etc. on loading and shooting the .38-72 would be appreciated.

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July 23, 2023 - 10:18 pm
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Well if you don’t feel up to fooling around with it, send it on over, I’d be happy to wring it out for you! This gun is at the TOP of my list of MUST HAVES at the moment.. Got the brass, got the dies, got the bullets….no gun.Cry

 I just got a brand-new set of 38 72 dies a couple months ago, I’d have been glad to have loaned them to you. I’d probably go black powder first off, but I’m probably way more traditional than I should be. Something with 5744 is probably going to be where you want to be. Let me cast about in my notes and I’ll get back.

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July 23, 2023 - 10:27 pm
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Per Mike Venturino….

275gr lead flat nose sized .379

21gr 5744  1,324fps

23gr 5744   1,477fps

Black powder is running about 1,450fps.

 I wouldn’t hesitate to use a 255gr bullet that you use in a 38 55. Probably fly just fine.

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July 23, 2023 - 11:14 pm
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Brooksy said
Per Mike Venturino….

275gr lead flat nose sized .379

21gr 5744  1,324fps

23gr 5744   1,477fps

Black powder is running about 1,450fps.

 I wouldn’t hesitate to use a 255gr bullet that you use in a 38 55. Probably fly just fine.

  

Thanks for the data Brooksy.  I recall I have .375 lead bullets in both plain base and gas check versions.

As far as letting it go, that’s a problem I have with that – letting any of them go Surprised

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July 23, 2023 - 11:27 pm
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I’ have plenty of 255gr .380 I’d be glad to send you. I have some at .381 too if you think that would be better. Have you slugged that barrel yet? I don’t think the .375’s will punch up.

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July 23, 2023 - 11:38 pm
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Brooksy said
I’ have plenty of 255gr .380 I’d be glad to send you. I have some at .381 too if you think that would be better. Have you slugged that barrel yet? I don’t think the .375’s will punch up.

  

Thanks Brooksy.  I’ll see how the .375’s work first.  Do you have a feel for GC vs. plain based bullets (in the .38-72)?

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July 24, 2023 - 1:15 am
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Shouldn’t make much difference at that speed.

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July 24, 2023 - 1:44 am
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Brooksy said
Shouldn’t make much difference at that speed.

  

The variable I am mainly thinking of is bullet stability and accuracy.

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July 24, 2023 - 12:51 pm
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steve004 said

Brooksy said

I’ have plenty of 255gr .380 I’d be glad to send you. I have some at .381 too if you think that would be better. Have you slugged that barrel yet? I don’t think the .375’s will punch up.

  

Thanks Brooksy.  I’ll see how the .375’s work first.  Do you have a feel for GC vs. plain based bullets (in the .38-72)?

  

I would try at least one of each PB and GC. Velocities mentioned above are below the threshold where GC’s are considered necessary but you may experience better performance in your rifle. There’s also a good chance those .375’s will work if they have a soft lead core inside a thin jacket. Bullets designed for higher velocities may not bump up to engage the lands. 
Sounds like fun!

 

Mike

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July 24, 2023 - 1:04 pm
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I can almost guarantee black powder will bump them up if you want to go that route. Venturino is a big fan of gas checks. I don’t use them until I get up to 1600-1800fps. My eyesight is more of a detriment to accuracy than the base of my bullet!  LOL!

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July 24, 2023 - 5:26 pm
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Brooksy said
I can almost guarantee black powder will bump them up if you want to go that route. Venturino is a big fan of gas checks. I don’t use them until I get up to 1600-1800fps. My eyesight is more of a detriment to accuracy than the base of my bullet!  LOL!

  

I’m really right with you as far as the eyesight factor goes.  I can do ok with receiver or tang sight.  But a standard rear barrel sight – the level of blur is such that I can’t draw a fine enough bead to determine accuracy.  Over the years, I passed up various vintage Winchester and other lever rifles because they had scope mount tap holes on the receiver side.  A few were various nice other than the holes.  Most were priced favorably given the holes ruined the collector value.  I passed.  Kind of regretting that now.  This makes me recall that over 40 years ago I had a ’95 carbine in .30-40 that was a real tack driver.  It had side mount scope holes as well as a threaded muzzle cover.  I traded it off – I was well on my way to becoming a fussy collector.  I would very much enjoy having that carbine back now. Embarassed

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July 25, 2023 - 1:38 am
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Aging eyes trying to use Winchester open sights is just another example of how youth is wasted on the young. 

 

Mike

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September 3, 2023 - 9:09 pm
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I have a brief shooting report.  I loaded up two very small batches.  The bullets were 250 grain .375 cast lead gas checked bullets.  One small batch with IMR 4198 and one small batch with AA 5744.  Three rounds of each (glad I didn’t load any more).

Well, at 25 yards, it would have been six dead deer.  This assumes a key-holed bullet will kill a deer – which it just might at 25 yards.  Just two of the six key-holed (one from each batch).  Group size was six to seven inches.

It’s a no-brainer that .375 bullets are too small for the bore.  I have some larger bullets on order.

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September 3, 2023 - 9:59 pm
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You want me to send you some bigger bullets? I cast 255s at 380 and 381.  275gr would be ideal

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September 3, 2023 - 10:18 pm
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Bummer, I’m guessing hard commercial cast bullets. .375 will maybe work if very soft. Drop by after Texas cools off a bit more and I’ll show you how easy it is to pour a bunch of hot ones that will fit your bore.

Mike

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September 3, 2023 - 11:11 pm
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Brooksy said
You want me to send you some bigger bullets? I cast 255s at 380 and 381.  275gr would be ideal

  

Thanks for the offer – but I have some on order.  We’ll see how they work out.  I’ll also be trying them in my .38-55’s and .38-56’s.  

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September 4, 2023 - 1:53 pm
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I use the same bullet in my 38 55’s and 38 56. Soft alloy is the key. 

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September 4, 2023 - 2:19 pm
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Brooksy said
I use the same bullet in my 38 55’s and 38 56. Soft alloy is the key. 

  

Or a lead bullet with a polymer shell? 

Wink

We shall see.

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September 5, 2023 - 2:41 pm
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Blasphemer!Wink

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September 6, 2023 - 9:04 pm
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Brooksy said
Well if you don’t feel up to fooling around with it, send it on over, I’d be happy to wring it out for you! This gun is at the TOP of my list of MUST HAVES at the moment.. Got the brass, got the dies, got the bullets….no gun.Cry

 I just got a brand-new set of 38 72 dies a couple months ago, I’d have been glad to have loaned them to you. I’d probably go black powder first off, but I’m probably way more traditional than I should be. Something with 5744 is probably going to be where you want to be. Let me cast about in my notes and I’ll get back.

  

I have the rifle but no ammo.  Do you ever sell any?

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