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Looking for cheap 1886 in .33 WCF for load development
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June 4, 2024 - 6:56 pm
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I have inherited a Winchester 1886 in .33 WCF. It’s been previously restored so it is in great condition. Ammo is scarce and/or expensive so I’ve been getting my hands into reloading. I have enough stuff in hand/on order to produce over 1000 rounds. I plan to tinker around with my reloading and am looking for a “beater” 1886 in .33 WCF that probably lost all of its blueing and the stock has seen better days. I’d like to use that gun to keep the “mileage” off my heirloom. I only need it to have a decent barrel and action. I recently have seen one go for just under $1200, but I was in the mountains of NC without service so I couldn’t make a move. I’d like to be around the $1000-1200 range. If you have one of these guns or know someone who does, please let me know. Also, I’m all ears for any advice on reloading .33 WCF. Thanks. NOTE: within 2 days of this pic I received 400 more FTX bullets and 200 more pieces of formed brass.

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June 4, 2024 - 11:17 pm
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Welcome and nice score! One word of caution is that rifles often have “personalities” and the likelihood of that being the case increases with age. A load developed for one rifle may do poorly in another. Another caution is that a rifle that looks like a beater sometimes shoots like one. OTOH it doesn’t take a great bore to obtain decent accuracy, just depends on your expectations. I don’t know from direct experience but I don’t think the 33WCF cartridge is known to be hard on bores. Generations of shooters apparently haven’t lived long enough to wear this rifle out so while I wish you the best I wouldn’t concern myself. I have a Collector article coming out soon about a “test mule” project with some interesting and entertaining (I hope) results. 
Bend some brass and shoot that thing!

 

Mike

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June 5, 2024 - 2:01 am
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hiltunjl said
I have inherited a Winchester 1886 in .33 WCF. It’s been previously restored so it is in great condition. Ammo is scarce and/or expensive so I’ve been getting my hands into reloading. I have enough stuff in hand/on order to produce over 1000 rounds. I plan to tinker around with my reloading and am looking for a “beater” 1886 in .33 WCF that probably lost all of its blueing and the stock has seen better days. I’d like to use that gun to keep the “mileage” off my heirloom. I only need it to have a decent barrel and action.   

Hold onto your wallet and save your cash.  That very rifle you have is exactly what you need.  You have a rifle that is refinished.  It’s already lost all of its original bluing.  You state your rifle is in great condition.  Maybe, as refinished, but it has zero original finish.  Odds are, that “beater” you are looking for has more original finish, as yours has none.  At least as yours is described.

How many rounds do you intend to fire?  You could fire several thousand through your rifle with little appreciable wear.  If you deem wear to be too much, just refinish it again.  It’s much less valuable as refinished, can’t really harm a refinished rifle much, and make it new again someday if desired.

The value in your rifle is as an heirloom.

This is a long winded way of saying that what you desire might not be far from your arm’s length.

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June 5, 2024 - 2:06 am
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TXGunNut said
Welcome and nice score! One word of caution is that rifles often have “personalities” and the likelihood of that being the case increases with age. A load developed for one rifle may do poorly in another. Another caution is that a rifle that looks like a beater sometimes shoots like one. OTOH it doesn’t take a great bore to obtain decent accuracy, just depends on your expectations. I don’t know from direct experience but I don’t think the 33WCF cartridge is known to be hard on bores. Generations of shooters apparently haven’t lived long enough to wear this rifle out so while I wish you the best I wouldn’t concern myself. I have a Collector article coming out soon about a “test mule” project with some interesting and entertaining (I hope) results. 

Bend some brass and shoot that thing!

 

Mike

  

  Mike makes a very good point. Shooting the gun will not change the value of it, abuse will. You already own one use it. T/R

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June 5, 2024 - 10:03 am
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All, being a turn of the century gun, my overall concern is barrel life. If that’s not something I should be concerned with, then you guys are right about just shooting the 1886 I already have. As far as how many rounds I plan on shooting, I am preparing to produce ~1000 rounds currently. I want to shoot the gun semi-frequent and allow family and friends to as well. I hope the gun will see action in the field as well. Thanks for all your responses!

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June 5, 2024 - 12:08 pm
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Jerad–You may find what you need in “Winchester Lever Legacy” by by Snooky Williamson..Bill

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June 5, 2024 - 1:00 pm
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Barrel life?  How long will a barrel last?  That’s a question for the experts.

But, I can almost guarantee that the vast majority of Winchester rifles weren’t fired much.  The cost of ammunition was too expensive. 

Barrel life would depend on pressure and heat.  Don’t let the barrel get hot and don’t load high pressure loads, which shouldn’t be the case with an older .33 WCF rifle.

Realistically, how much would you fire this rifle?  My guess is 200 rounds a year or less.  I know you mention producing 1000 rounds, but if you wish to shoot that volume, get a .22 rifle.

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June 5, 2024 - 3:53 pm
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Barrel life is not likely to be an issue with your rifle.  That stated, you can assure the best possible results by keeping the bore as clean as possible, minimize extended shooting sessions between cleanings, and reload your cartridges to factory specification (or slightly less).  As others have stated, heat, pressure (velocity), and rapidity of firing it will have an effect on the life of the barrel.  Another factor that can reduce barrel life (and is frequently overlooked) is careless and improper cleaning methods and equipment.  If your Model 1886 is a Take Down, always take it down before cleaning the barrel, and clean it from the breech end of the barrel.  Use aluminum or brass cleaning rods and jags (not steel).

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June 5, 2024 - 5:30 pm
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I doubt, even you, will ever shoot this rifle enough to wear the barrel out.  Maybe some other parts though. I do have a 25-20 SS that the bore has no rifling.  This was obviously a target rifle and shot a lot.  I have shot out target barrels to where the group size expands to 1″ groups.  Some calibers that are not hot rods will shoot at least 2000 rounds before the groups get bigger and turn them from target rifles to hunting rifles.  Hot rods can wear out a target barrel at 600 rounds. Some calibers like the 308 can hold their target accuracy to about 2,500 rounds.  As far as the brass goes, if you take care of it by annealing and not shooting it too hot you can use the brass for 15 to 25 reloads.  I’m currently shooting a 6.5 CM and I have reloaded the brass 23 times and it is still OK.  The 308 brass I shoot usually only last about 15 times.   But, modern barrels are 400 stainless.

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June 5, 2024 - 11:23 pm
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426crown said
Jerad–You may find what you need in “Winchester Lever Legacy” by by Snooky Williamson..Bill

  

I’ve heard his loads can be on the hot side.  Mike Venturino’s book has a nice section on the .33.  

I’m a big .33 WCF guy.  My current project is experimentation with Bear Creek’s encapsulated lead bullets.  I’m optimistic that these will produce no appreciable barrel wear.  

https://www.bearcreeksupplybullets.com/aboutourbullets

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June 6, 2024 - 8:13 pm
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steve004 said

426crown said

Jerad–You may find what you need in “Winchester Lever Legacy” by by Snooky Williamson..Bill

  

I’ve heard his loads can be on the hot side.  Mike Venturino’s book has a nice section on the .33.  

I’m a big .33 WCF guy.  My current project is experimentation with Bear Creek’s encapsulated lead bullets.  I’m optimistic that these will produce no appreciable barrel wear.  

https://www.bearcreeksupplybullets.com/aboutourbullets

  

Steve, checked out the bear creek supply bullets site. I’d be curious how you like the 230 grain bullets. Thanks for the advice.

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June 6, 2024 - 10:42 pm
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hiltunjl said

steve004 said

426crown said

Jerad–You may find what you need in “Winchester Lever Legacy” by by Snooky Williamson..Bill

  

I’ve heard his loads can be on the hot side.  Mike Venturino’s book has a nice section on the .33.  

I’m a big .33 WCF guy.  My current project is experimentation with Bear Creek’s encapsulated lead bullets.  I’m optimistic that these will produce no appreciable barrel wear.  

https://www.bearcreeksupplybullets.com/aboutourbullets

  

Steve, checked out the bear creek supply bullets site. I’d be curious how you like the 230 grain bullets. Thanks for the advice.

  

I’ve got a bunch of Bear Creek bullets loaded up and ready to go in a variety of cartridges (including .33).  I just haven’t had a chance to make a range trip yet.  Plus, our range needs to be open when I do get a chance.

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June 7, 2024 - 3:27 am
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steve004 said

426crown said

Jerad–You may find what you need in “Winchester Lever Legacy” by by Snooky Williamson..Bill

  

I’ve heard his loads can be on the hot side.  Mike Venturino’s book has a nice section on the .33.  

I’m a big .33 WCF guy.  My current project is experimentation with Bear Creek’s encapsulated lead bullets.  I’m optimistic that these will produce no appreciable barrel wear.  

https://www.bearcreeksupplybullets.com/aboutourbullets

  

When Snooky wrote maximum, he meant it. He loaded, fired and documented many thousands of rounds. As with any maximum load it should be reduced and approached with caution. Some rifles perform best with maximum loads, Snooky knew what he was doing and anyone using his loads should do so safely. I enjoyed reading Mike’s views on the 33, I’m amazed I don’t have one yet.

 

Mike

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June 7, 2024 - 3:00 pm
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TXGunNut said

steve004 said

426crown said

Jerad–You may find what you need in “Winchester Lever Legacy” by by Snooky Williamson..Bill

  

I’ve heard his loads can be on the hot side.  Mike Venturino’s book has a nice section on the .33.  

I’m a big .33 WCF guy.  My current project is experimentation with Bear Creek’s encapsulated lead bullets.  I’m optimistic that these will produce no appreciable barrel wear.  

https://www.bearcreeksupplybullets.com/aboutourbullets

  

When Snooky wrote maximum, he meant it. He loaded, fired and documented many thousands of rounds. As with any maximum load it should be reduced and approached with caution. Some rifles perform best with maximum loads, Snooky knew what he was doing and anyone using his loads should do so safely. I enjoyed reading Mike’s views on the 33, I’m amazed I don’t have one yet.

 

Mike

  

Each to his own, but I am personally opposed to running these old rifles at maximum.  Even with my modern non-collectable rifles, I run them well short of maximum.  Granted, this has become more of a trend with me as I age.  

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June 7, 2024 - 5:36 pm
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Back in the day (when I was still handloading for the 33 WCF), I loaded it to factory specifications… a 200-gr jacketed flat point bullet @ 2,000 fps. I later backed the load off to just under 2,000 fps (for best accuracy in the rifle I was shooting), and it shot like a dream.

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June 11, 2024 - 2:09 am
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My best loads for “modern” hunting rounds are generally close to factory velocities but usually a bit under. The factories have the advantage of being able to use blended powders to give the optimum pressures for the bullet and cartridge. Some cartridges are happiest at maximum pressures but in my experience that doesn’t include the older cartridges I enjoy. I don’t know if the 33 can be successfully downloaded to 1300-1400fps but I’d like to give it a try someday.

 

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June 11, 2024 - 2:35 am
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TXGunNut said
My best loads for “modern” hunting rounds are generally close to factory velocities but usually a bit under. The factories have the advantage of being able to use blended powders to give the optimum pressures for the bullet and cartridge. Some cartridges are happiest at maximum pressures but in my experience that doesn’t include the older cartridges I enjoy. I don’t know if the 33 can be successfully downloaded to 1300-1400fps but I’d like to give it a try someday.

Mike

I have loaded the 33 WCF down to 1800 fps, but the accuracy was deteriorating the slower (less pressure) that I went.

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June 13, 2024 - 4:19 pm
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In my 4 1886 rifles in 33 WCF, the best accuracy seems close to what Bert alludes to:

around 1975-2000 fps velocity with both original Hornady 200 gr FP bullets. I have some 200 gr FP Hawk bullets that are just as accurate.

Incidentally, I have an 1886 TD rifle in 33 WCF for sale, but not necessarily cheap.

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June 14, 2024 - 1:59 pm
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Be very careful of Williamson’s loads-I have that book and he  pushes beyond the limits in some of his loading.

 

The very best article I have seen on reloading the 33 WCF is Jim Hanson’s long advisory piece in the Jan-Feb 1977 issue of the Handloader Magazine through Wolfe Publishing. In his 1886, H-4831 gave the best accuracy with acceptable velocity. It is important to remember that these rifles are at least 100 yrs old and if you wish to continue shooting them, stick to factory pressures and velocities. A chronographed factory cartridge with 200  gr FP bullets produced velocities in the 2160 fps range. Good to remember.

Also, the best factory 200 gr FP bullets currently made are produced by Hawk Bullets now in Salem, NJ. I have a few boxes of these for hunting, while also retaining some discontinued Hornady 200 gr FP original boxes of bullets. In a pinch for heavy game, you can use 210 gr Nosler Partition bullets that will actually work well for elk or bear. The Hawk Bullets by their design with annealed jackets are kind to older 86 rifle bores. I have used H-4831, IMR-4064, and both IMR and H-4198. Both H-4831 and IMR-4064 have good burning and pressure characteristics for accurate results with 200 gr FP bullets.

Good luck and good shooting!

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June 15, 2024 - 1:07 am
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Bert H. said

TXGunNut said

My best loads for “modern” hunting rounds are generally close to factory velocities but usually a bit under. The factories have the advantage of being able to use blended powders to give the optimum pressures for the bullet and cartridge. Some cartridges are happiest at maximum pressures but in my experience that doesn’t include the older cartridges I enjoy. I don’t know if the 33 can be successfully downloaded to 1300-1400fps but I’d like to give it a try someday.

Mike

I have loaded the 33 WCF down to 1800 fps, but the accuracy was deteriorating the slower (less pressure) that I went.

  

Bummer, that’s what the cartridge seems to be designed for. Had that issue before.

 

Mike

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