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Thread: Lyman Sharps in .38-55 information desired

  1. #1

    Lyman Sharps in .38-55 information desired

    I broke down and ordered the Lyman Sharps in .38-55 today. I saw an advertisement in Rifle magazine this last issue. I find it is made by Chiappa. Here is a link to a GunsAmeraica video. http://www.gunsamerica.com/video/19/188.htm

    Does anyone have one and if so what do you have to say about it? I certainly would like to hear your thoughts on it and the caliber, too, if you're willing to share. I suspect others might also.

    Thanks.

    Froggfuzz
    Last edited by Froggfuzz; 04-02-2011 at 07:41 PM. Reason: misspelling

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    I just googled "Lyman Products" and found it. http://www.lymanproducts.com/lyman/m...dealsharps.php

    It is the "little Sharps" which is a scaled down version of the '74 Sharps. This particlar version is offered in 38-55 and 22 Hornet w/26" barrel and weighs 6#. If it were full sized, it would weigh at least 9#. It should make for a good hunting rifle.

    As for the 38-55, it has been around and used for a target cartridge since the 1870s. It was the later, longer version of the 38-50 Ballard cartridge, and originally loaded with blackpowder and paper patched bullets. The 38-55 was used both in singleshots and lever actions. I've owned a couple LAs and SSs in 38-55 and can attest to ease of finding accurate combinations. Its not a high velocity round, but an excellent cast bullet round.

    Original groove diameters and rifling twists are on the order of .380" and 1-20" vs modern .376" groove and quicker twists. My Douglas barrel is 1-16", Badger 1-15" and my rebored Savage 1899 was cut 1-12" by mistake as I had specified 1-16". I've shot the 150gr Lyman 37583 up through the 335gr Lyman semispitzer with excellent results.

  3. #3
    Thanks excess650; I appreciate the information.

    For starters, though I cast for about 40 calibers, I don't have a mould for a .38-55 and so have ordered 500 Oregon Trail 240 grain RNFP plain base boolits at .380" diameter. Also on order are RCBS Cowboy dies and 100 cases.

    I do have experience with the .32-40 in an 1894 Winchester and also in an 1893 Marlin.

    Any additional information regarding loads will be appreciated.

    Again, many thanks.

    Froggfuzz

  4. #4
    BTW excess650 and anyone else note the link to a GunsAmerica video in the original post, which I edited and updated with that link ( http://www.gunsamerica.com/video/19/188.htm ) as well as the info that it is produced by Chiappa.

    Froggfuzz

  5. #5
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    Trey45's Avatar
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    I'm loading 10 grains of Unique under a Lee hardcast 250gr bullet from their mold here:

    http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct...number=476-137

    This is a very accurate plinking load which produces around 1000fps. I use the Star Line 38-55 2.125" brass.

    My full snort loads use the same bullet and brass with 35gr of IMR4895 which produces around 1600 to 1700 fps.

    Not the same bullet weight as you will be using, not the same rifle either. My Buffalo Classic does exceptionally well with both of the above listed loads.
    Give us this day our daily lead.

    Sic Semper Tyrannis.

    If you don't want 1984 you're going to need some 1776.
    WWGWD

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I had their demo sample in my hands at last year's NRA show and I liked what I saw. I didn't get to shoot it, of course, but I liked my initial impression. If I were loading for that fairly light rifle, though, I think I would look hard at Lyman's 375248 bullet which runs about 250 gr +/-. I've even shot it in a repro Maynard with good results and without severe recoil. JMHO, YMMV.

    Froggie

  7. #7
    Trey45,

    Thank you for your input. I will follow up with that mould and your suggested loads, though I probably won't hunt with it; I just want to shoot target and do load development.

    I queried Lyman's customer service for the barrel specs, which they advertise as "Lyman barrel specifications"...whatever they are...I've asked them for groove and bore dimensions and rate of twist. also, i asked for their suggestions for a mould, based on their other customers input. If they reply, I will post their answers here.

    Again, thanks.

    Froggfuzz

    I've just found that they have a 1-16 twist. According to the Lyman website:

    Overall length: 42"
    Weight: 6 lbs
    Rate of Twist: 1 in 18"
    Barrel length: 26"
    Last edited by Froggfuzz; 04-02-2011 at 10:30 PM.

  8. #8
    Green Frog,

    Thank you also for your input. Great forum and wonderful cooperation! I like the idea of light loads. I'm 66 years old with bad shoulders (one repaired) and I don't really like a lot of recoil anymore.

    I'll look into your mould suggestion. what propellants (dang near typed powder; a near faux pas of monstrous proportions!) and charge weights do you use?

    Thanks again,

    Another froggie, Froggfuzz

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    I took another look at Lyman's site and they list the rifle as 6# in one place and 8# a few lines below. They also list the twist at 1-18", but don't specify bore and groove diameter.

    There was an article in Handloader or Rifle that included the "little Sharps". What reminds me was some wording and lack of proofreading in the article that aggravated me. It was a Mike Venturino article.....and that article may shed some light on barrel dimensions, weight, etc.

    If its a 6# rifle you'll want to work with lighter weight boolits. The Lyman 375248 should be a good choice provided that the groove diameter isn't larger than about .377". I suspect that the action will handle more pressure than your shoulder will tolerate, so no need for GC designs. Likewise, the slow twist should be pretty tolerant of soft boolits provided the rifling isn't too shallow.

    If you like the idea if light loads, my notes include the 37583 (150gr?) over 4.0gr Clays shooting sub 1" at 50 yards with iron sights, and being very quiet. This would be a backyard pest or plinking type load.

    I think I still have a target shot with a Marlin 1893 with the Lyman 375248 over 8gr Unique that was just a ragged hole at 50 yards. That should be around 1100fps, and was very soft recoiling.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master blackpowder man's Avatar
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    I have used Aliiant 2400, IMR SR 4759, IMR 3031, and goex FFg, and FFFg all with good results. Second the Lee mold. Boolits are accurate in my 1885 high wall and '94 big bore with both smokeless and black.

  11. #11
    trey45,

    I meant to ask you about the case length you use. I note Starline has both the 2.080" and the 2.125", which you use. Why? Is it solely determined by chamber length? What are the things I should consider, besides making it a point to ask Lyman/Chiappa about their chamber length and what they suggest as a case length.

    Froggfuzz

  12. #12
    excess650,

    I noted that discrepancy too, but chalked it up to rifle weight vs shipping weight. The rifle in the hands of the guy from GunsAmerica looks like a BB gun size. I definitely won't be shooting heavy loads in it, whether it's 6 or 8 pounds.

    thanks for the load information. It appears I need to hit my back issues on the Venturino article.

    Froggfuzz

  13. #13
    Blackpowder man,

    Thank you also for your input, especially regarding seconding the Lee mould suggestion. Also, I like 3031 for cast in the .30-30 and find it accurate in 20.5 grain charges behind a plain base 170 gr. boolit. Should do well in the .38-55, too, and apparently does as per your note.

    Froggfuzz

  14. #14
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    Froggfuzz,

    The 2.125" is the original length case for this caliber. I don't know the history of why or when, but somewhere along the line rifle compnaies began chambering their 38-55's with the short 2.080 chambers. This is pure speculation, but I bet it has something to do with Winchester making the brass for the 38-55 by expanding 30-30 brass. Originally, 30-30 was 38-55 necked down and trimmed. 30-30 is the more popular round now, so when the dies cut the brass, I bet they tried to save a little tooling money and decided to use the 30-30 brass cutting dies they already had, and just shortened the brass length of the 38-55 in the process. As stated, this is all speculation on my part, but it sure sounds good!

    I'd lay odds that your Lyman sharps is a short chamber length, Shiloh Sharps have a short chambers which your rifle is patterned after. Try a chamber casting to be sure.
    Give us this day our daily lead.

    Sic Semper Tyrannis.

    If you don't want 1984 you're going to need some 1776.
    WWGWD

  15. #15
    Trey45,

    Thanks for the info. Looks like I'd better drag Ken Waters out of the bookcase and do some reading.

    The info on the .30-30 having been adapted from the .38-55 is interesting. That is exactly how I make my .32-40 cases. I size .30-30 and .32 special cases down. The shorter length does not seem to have any adverse effects on the .32-40. i just load low to moderate, mid-range loads anyway, being a wimp when it comes to recoil. Anyway, no deer I ever shot with those wimpy loads ever complained.

    BTW, I'll my $$$ that your assumption about the reason for the shorter chamber length is correct. That's not cynicism on my part; it's just good business sense on their part. Wonder what the length of the Ballard .38-55 was. I'll bet it too was the longer length. Maybe Ken waters will tell me.

    Have a good one, and thanks again for your time and info.

    Froggfuzz

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    A buddy of mine just bought a 38-55 C. Sharps rifle and it is a beauty. Stainless Steel action and reciever and octagonal barrel. With a decent set of Vernier Sights it is a tack driver at 200 yds so far.

    A joy to shoot with 330 GR Creedmoor style boolits over Swiss 1 1/2 Black Powder. Low recoil and with a set of double triggers the firing trigger (front) is a very light pull. I surprised me and I wasted two shot that went off before I was ready to shoot. He bought it offa Gun Broker and it was listed as used. Although I could not find any evidence that it had been fired previously.

    It is so pretty that he is going to have it engraved.

    This is a modern one made up in Montana recently and he stole it at the price he paid.
    Pax Nobiscum Dan (Crash) Corrigan

  17. #17
    Boolit Master GabbyM's Avatar
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    I like this Saeco tapered bullet for single shot rifles. You can load it out long to give a bit more room in the case. This is the 255 grain bullet. The base cast .382” to fit the large bore rifles.

  18. #18
    GabbyM,

    Thanks for the picture and the advice. May I ask your alloy and what the expanded boolit struck. I hope it was a big buck and you got speed beef in the fridge now. And should you care to divulge it, what load and what rifle??

    Regards,

    Froggfuzz

  19. #19
    Crash corrigan,

    Thanks for the input. I've been to Big Timber and visited the Shiloh Sharps and C. Sharps plants. Got the royal tour and was very impressed with the workmanship. Old world style workmanship with modern tooling. Also visited Ballard in Cody. Ditto there. Unfortunately I was ejected from all three as I was drooling on the metal and had the windows all fogged.

    Froggfuzz

  20. #20
    Boolit Master doubs43's Avatar
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    Froggfuzz, I just shot a "Buffalo" steel target match two days ago. My rifle is a Winchester (Miroku) 1885 Limited Edition Traditional Hunter in 38-55. It has a 1:18 twist and I size my boolits at either .377 or .378". I see no difference in their performance.

    I use two boolits in my rifle: the Lyman 248 grain and the RCBS 312 BPS. The Lyman boolit is almost exactly the advertised 248 grains while the RCBS boolit runs about 315 grains.

    At 100, 150 and 200 yards the Lyman 248 grain boolit takes the steel targets down easily. I use Winchester cases and recoil is pretty light with my load of 2.5 grains of WW-231 and 34.0 grains of WC-860.

    I use the same load in 2.125" Starline cases and the RCBS boolit. The 40 pound steel rams at 350 yards go down but recoil is somewhat stiffer with the heavier boolit.

    The crescent butt plate of the Winchester doesn't soften the recoil one bit but the shotgun butt plate on your Lyman rifle should help. IMO, the 38-55 is a great cartridge and you're going to love it.

    BTW, I finished second in the match, one target behind the winner.

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