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Thread: Loading the 50-110 Winchester Express

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    Loading the 50-110 Winchester Express

    Hi..new member here. Wanted to pick some experienced loaders brains on this....

    I've been loading the 45-70 and 45-90 in everything from my vintage 1886s to trapdoors and highwalls. Lately I've been using Trail Boss instead of BP, especially for hunting deer, because sometimes its hours or days before I can properly clean these old guns. I'm very happy with it, its clean, nearly as mild in pressure as BP, and produces respectably accurate loads.

    Now I've recently lucked into an original 50 Express. 1886 rifle with a nearly perfect bore and internals, but the outside had been refinished. I am thinkin of sending the gun to Turnbull to be redone, and I really dont want to shoot BP in it. However, Hogdon doesnt list a load for the 50-110 in Trailboss (or anything else).

    Would it be an unreasonable assumption to take a load with a similar case capacity and bullet weight, scale it back 5%, and start from there? Hogdon does list a trail boss load for one of the big sharps cases (45-120 I think). TB powder is extremely voluminous and does not have to be packed like BP, so I'm not worried about the powder charge not filling up the case.

    I know there are some who will say there are no reasonable assumptions in reloading, but I thought I'd give it a try before risking damage to the gun, even though I have a lot of confidence in the strength of the 1886.

  2. #2
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    Bullshop's Avatar
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    Use data for the 50/70. The 50/70 at 1.75" length will produce higher pressure than the same load in the 50/110 at 2.4" length.
    I would think that the max loads for the 50/70 should be a fine place to start for the 50/110.
    If your rifle is stamped express I wouldn't bother with boolits much over 300 gn.
    I think the twist will be too slow for heavier boolits.

  3. #3
    Boolit Bub
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    Do you think the much larger case capacity of the 50-110 could cause such a charge to lay too low to the flash hole and cause an accelerated burn rate?

  4. #4
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    I dont think so for a couple reasons. One is and is why I said start with max loads for the 50/70 that a max load for the shorter case should be very close to a starting load for the longer case with the same bullet.
    Another reason is what you are going to find for load for smokeless powder is most likely going to be fairly fast powders.
    If you think it will be a problem use a filler. I use packing popcorn for filler for this type of thing and it works very well for me. Once the powder is in the case I fill the rest of the case with packing popcorn and compress it with the boolit. It is about weightless so it wont raise pressure the way a cereal filler will.
    You might also use data for the 50/90 at 2.5" and reduce the starting load for the 50/90 for the .10" shorter case of the 50/110.
    I would also use magnum primers. A 50 caliber has a high expansion ratio and a 300gn boolit will not offer much resistance for the powder to build pressure on.
    The mag primer will have a longer flame duration to keep the pressure building until the powder is fully ignited.
    Anyway that is about how I would do with it. I shoot a 50/2.1 in an 1886 so do have experiance with a similar arrangement.

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub
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    Thanks Bull, I'll give it a whirl with a compromise between the 50/70 and 45-120S, both of which Hogdon has data for TB that shows both as being fairly mild. The weak point on the 1886 isnt the action, its the chamber on the underside where I believe it is dished out for the mag tube. Turnbull used to have a picture of a blow up on his website, but took it down. I might use long 500 gr projectiles to take up as much case capacity as possible, even though i know the twist rate supposedly used in the 50 Express has a rep for reduced accuracy with heavy, slow boolits. At the distances I'm going to be hunting in the fall, I doubt it will matter much. I know the big .50 is probably too much gun for an eastern buck, but I am genetically incapable of resisting the urge to hunt with antique arms.

  6. #6
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    If your rifle is stamped with the word "" express"" on the barrel I bet it will be tumbling those 500gn boolits at 25 yards.
    If the barrel is not stamped with express it might shoot them.
    I may be wrong but it is my understanding that Win used two twists in the 86 and the ones stamped express have the very slow twist.
    Still at close range a tumbling 50 cal 500gn boolit should be very effective.

  7. #7
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    I believe Bullshop is right. The express rifles generally shot a light bullet, at higher velocities. Heavy bullets will be an "iffy" situation.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Call Hogdon for TB loads in your 50-110...
    Meanwhile Rome burns!

    The most deceitful way of lying is through insinuation..


  9. #9
    Boolit Master nanuk's Avatar
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    go to HODGDONS Basic Manual Inquiry!

    run your cursor over "Data" and a drop down menu appears. move your cursor down to Trailboss loads, and it tells you exactlly how to develop your load for any rifle cartridge.

    should be easily done.
    Good Luck

  10. #10
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    I dont know what type of loads you are wanting weather light, moderate, or high intensity. I have all the old articles from Wolf publishing on the 50 Ak. (50/2.1") in which they pretty much only get into the high intensity area. The loads in the articles were used in a model 71 Win but they do also mention using them in the 1886 Win.
    Pretty much the same receiver accept possibly the steel in the 71 may be better.
    Anyway this was done when a personal ballistics computer was a slide rule made by Homer Powley and the Powley computer pegged Dupont/Imr 4198 as the best burn rate to be compatible with the expansion ratio of a 50 cal bore and projectile weights that would normally be considered for this application.
    In my own experiance over the years I have found that calculation to be spot on the money.
    My workaday load for the 50 Ak. uses 4198 with a 510gn boolit at 1750 fps. My rifle is on an original 1886 receiver so likely the same type steel as yours. This is not either a hot load. I have had several 450 and 50 Ak. rifles build on the modern Browning 1886 and 71 model rifles and loaded those to the 2000 fps area with the same boolit.
    I backed off a bit out of respect for the age of the original action.
    Of all the rifles I have had all are gone accept the old one. In use on big game it has never shown any sign of lacking in power with the reduced load at 1750 fps.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check