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Thread: Info on .380 Rook?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Info on .380 Rook?

    I once ran across a description of a revolver or carbine cartridge from the tail end of the BP era called, I believe, the .380 Rook. . . or .380 something. Anyway, it used a .375-.380 dia inside-lubricated boolit enclosed in the case, rather than a heel design with rim dimensions almost identical to the .38 Special/.41 Colt and was available until about WW1. I'm hoping to get case/chamber dimensions for use in a cartridge conversion of a Remington Beal repro, since the size of the cylinder would provide plenty of chamber wall thickness. The popular method with cartridge conversions seems to be to use .38 S&W cases with a heel boolit or re-barrel to .357 groove dimension and shoot .38 Specials. I'd like to keep it the "proper" caliber, but with the convenience of inside-lubed ammo. Cases could be made from plentiful .38 Sp. or .357 Mag, expanded and fireformed, which sounds fairly easy. I couldn't find it in Cartridges of the World or in Cartridge Conversions or even on the 'net, so I'm running out of places. Anybody got any info or know where I might look?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Yeahbub,

    It isn't in Hoyem's third volume either, which covers British cartridges. There's a .300 Rook and a .310/.300 Rook (also called the .305 or .300 Rook Special), but by the time Rook calibers reach the size of anything that looks like a .38 pistol cartridge, it's either the .360 #5 (1.05" case) or the .380 Long Rifle (31/32" case). They are described as Rook cartridges, but it is not in the cartridge name. My reprinted Kynoch catalog only lists these, under these names, as well.

    I don't know the groove diameter of the .360 #5; if it's really .360" it could be used with shortened .38 Spl cases and the usual run of .357"-.360" mould designs. My rook rifle is in .380 Long, and is at its best with .38 Long cases and the Outside Lubricated boolit. I have had adequate accuracy from the Hornady swaged hollow base wadcutters in .38 Spl length cases, and the .38 Short ammunition is at least OK for plinking.

    Generally these kind of cartridges take a .357-.360" hollow base bullet to replace the older full-diameter outside lubricated design. I've never heard of a full-groove diameter bullet for this caliber that was also hollow based. I don't have the proper hollowbase bullet in .38 persuasion, but I made a larger hollow base pin for a cast wadcutter to try in my rifle, and the results at target were not encouraging.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    From: Handloading for British Rook Rifles by Collin Greenwood, Handloader's Digest 1997.

    380 Long

    "This cartridge is an extended-case version of the British 380 revolver round. Colt took both rounds as his 38 Short and Long Colt cartridges, and early 38 Long Colts are identical with the 380 Long rook rifle except that, in the specimens we have measured, the Colt case is 1.2 inches in length against the .96-inch of the 380 Long. Overall cartridge length is the same. The bullet was outside lubricated, which means that its diameter is the same as that of the cartridge case and a reduced diameter heel allows it to fit into the case mouth. Colt later changed their cartridge to use inside lubricated bullets of nominal .358-inch diameter, but the rook rifle cartridge continued to use its heeled bullet, which is of .376-inch diameter for the nominal .380-inch bore of the rifle.

    Cartridge cases for the 380 Long can therefore be made from 38 Special brass, ideally shortened to 1 inch. This also resolves any problems about primers. The bullet, however, should be heeled. We have swaged our heeled bullets in a bullet swaging die made for us by North Devon Firearm Services. This die fits into any single-station press and produces heeled bullets to any weights for which it is set. We used a 124-grain soft lead bullet which was dip-lubricated with an Alox lubricant also from NDFS. Any 38 Special dies will do the job perfectly well. Four grains of Unique on top of a CCI small pistol primer produced excellent accuracy in a couple of rifles, which have each harvested rabbits with this load.

    Those who do not wish to be troubled with a heeled bullet could follow the path suggested by Lyman in their Cast Bullet Handbook (we referred to the 1957 edition). Their #35870 is round-nosed and has a deep hollow base. It was designed for "expansion in the 38 Long Colt with 3 grains of Unique." Other similar bullet moulds are probably available. Bullets designed for the 38 S&W or 38 Special will usually be found to be too small to produce useful accuracy. The 380 Long has been regarded as intrinsically inaccurate because users have failed either to use heeled bullets or those which will expand sufficiently, but it requires the choice of the right bullet to make it shoot well."

    Dimensions
    Rim .427"
    Head .379
    Mouth .376
    Length .96
    Bullet dia. .376
    Bullet weight 124 grs.
    Load 4.0 grs Revolver Neonite*
    Muzzle vel. 1050 fps

    *"…we have found that, in every case, we have been able to start with the same load of Unique which the tables suggest for the original powders."

    My Opinion: Hollow-based .38 Special wadcutters [I]might[I]work, but there may be a problem with seating depth in leaving enough room for the powder charge but still being able to chamber the round. I would be concerned about the skirt of the bullet blowing off because it was unable to expand enough to fill the bore and remaining in the barrel while the head goes on its merry way. Sounds like a hunt for an obsolete mould (the 35870 isn't in the current line) or a custom-made one.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    380

    As stated the 380 long was a rook cart. and according to cart of the world, also a revolver round.I use 38 long colt cases from Starline,(thanks cowboy action guys) with a beagled lyman mold # 358480 135 gr swc . Hollow base wadcutters work with 4.0 4.2 gr of unique. but show signs of tipping at 25 yd, good luck.
    John

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    I once had a Cogswell & Harrison rook rifle for .380 Long Rifle. As Greenwood suggests, I took .38 Special brass and trimmed to 1", then loaded Remington 148-grain HBWC match bullets seated out long and crimped in the top lubricating groove with 3.5 grains of Unique, 3 grs., of W231 or 2.7 of Bullseye, at an overall cartridge length of 1.25". Accuracy was very good, in the order of 2 inches at 50 yards, despite the large .366" groove diameter. I have since sold the rifle to a hunting buddy. My current "love" is an Army & Navy Cooperative Society rook rifle, originally in .255 Rook, which had a hopelessly pitted barrel. John Taylor relined and rechambered it to .32 S&W Long, which is an absolutely delightful combination, which is almost entirely silent with factory loads and shoots 1-1/2" groups at 50 yards with any reasonable subsonic cast bullet load. Attachment 75619

    Attachment 75618

  6. #6
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    I had a .380 Rook a while back. Trimmed .38 Special brass and used a mould from CBE in AU. I was a dinky little rifle.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Mold
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    My rook project is slowly taking shape, I spent the afternoon around the melting pot with my mold from 'Old West' and now I have some pills to play with. I got my hands on some special brass and now need to decide what length to cut it to. I had thought at one point to use long colt brass and leave it at 1.05, I noticed that the 360#5 use the same case at 1.02, I'm sure I've seen .965 quoted for the 380 rook. After having boolits to play with for the first time today I found the lands with a case length of .921". So what would be the suitable free bore for an 1860s 380 rook ?
    .020 ? More ?

    My boolit in a 38Spl case:


    380 Rook from "J.H. Crane, 3 Royal Exchange London"


    If anyone knows something of JH Crane or these rifles then I'd be happy to hear of it.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    That sounds like a very interesting project, requiring patience and skill.
    JMHO-YMMV
    dd884
    dgilbert07 at windstream dot net

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by yeahbub View Post
    snopped for brevity- I couldn't find it in Cartridges of the World or in Cartridge Conversions or even on the 'net, so I'm running out of places. Anybody got any info or know where I might look?

    See: Cartridges of the World 8th Edition, Chapter 8, British Sporting Cartridges, page 327. You will find the exact same cartridge again in Chapter 4 of the same book, Handgun Cartridges of the World, on page 258. Later as mentioned the .38 Short Colt (ibid, page 253) and the .38 Special grew from those.

    I did a blog (and video) on making these rounds which
    can be found on my site at
    http://livingiseasy.siterubix.com/ma...ulldog-pistol/

    The brass 'chamber' I use in my lathe seemed to me to be the easiest way of holding the case and not crushing it while trimming the rim down off a .38 Special. I am given to understand others came up with other clamp methods.

    The Goex pistol cartridge powder pdf mentioned in the blog seems to translate well as a scale of what to expect. With 10 grains of BP and a 125 grain bullet (close enough to 124 for my purposes in that video) I got half an inch of wood penetration. When I cut the cases long enough to allow 15 grains of fff under a 158 gr. bullet (as in the Goex 38 Special load) the 'authority' of the recoil greatly increased, but so too did bullet penetration. Sure, I know, the rifling twist rate is probably all wrong for that length of bullet. Strangely, in a bulldog clone with no rear sight intended for being 5 feet (or less) from the target, somehow I don't see that as an issue, but I think target penetration is.

    Someday I will get some more .44 Special brass and see if while still using BP I can trick a .44 Bulldog into emulating a .44 Colt.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    That is a nice little rifle and cartridge, and rook rifles are something I am very interested in. But wouldn't this be a better fit in the single shot subforum, than here in CB Loads/Military Rifles?

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Dusting off this old thread. I've decided to have built a small single-shot rifle chambered for .38 Smith & Wesson using a Green Mountain "gunsmith special" 1"x20" 9mm barrel blank with ten-inch twist, because I have several revolvers in this caliber and it seems like a good thing to do.

    Plan is to use my normal revolver loads established for my S&W Victory Model, S&W Model 32-1 Terrier, Colt Police Positive in .38 Colt NP and my Ruger India Model Police Service Six in .380 Rimmed. I would expect that ordinary revolver loads will be almost silent in a 20" rifle barrel and give about 800 fps.

    Poacher's Pet! 190-grain flatnose with about 2.2 grains of Bullseye

    Click image for larger version. 

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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    umm isn't the barrel blank, being a 9mm bore, going to be a tad tight?


    I once had the idea that a black powder revolver reproduction in a navy caliber, would be easy to convert to cartridge if a person used cut down 30-30 cases.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minuteshaver View Post
    umm isn't the barrel blank, being a 9mm bore, going to be a tad tight?....
    No tighter than my 1930 Colt Police Positive or the Ruger Police Service Six in .380 Rim.

    No strength issue in the small pre-war H&R rifle action either, already have a .357
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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