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Thread: 38-55 rifling - 3 or 4 or 5 groove?

  1. #21
    Boolit Buddy
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    My JES 3 groove rebored Marlin likes both .377 and .378 sized bullets with a slight preference for .378. Started out with the Lee mold and switched to an Accurate 38-250B plain based mold, much easier to cast good bullets with. The rifle likes both bullets though with the lower velocity loads I typically use. 10 gr Unique or Universal are great for plinker type loads, 31 or 32 gr 3031 makes a fairly stout hunting load. Both are really accurate in my rifle.
    I use the RCBS Cowboy dies with the larger neck expander to keep from resizing the softer bullets I use during bullet seating.
    I've only used the Starline 2.082 short brass and it works great in this setup.

  2. #22
    Boolit Buddy
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    I just got 50 of the Starline 2.082" brass today from MidwayUSA. The expander in the Lee die set seems to work, but doesn't expand the neck as far down as I would like. That will be one of the next things I make, an expander plug so the bullets won't be hardly as tight in neck. Do you know what diameter your expander is?

    I suspect the lower velocity loads will be 90% of my shooting since that's all that's needed to put holes in paper or ring steel gongs.

    Now, just playing a waiting game until JES gets my barrel shipped.

    Ken H>

  3. #23
    Boolit Buddy
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    What R.O.T. will shoot 250-300gr bullets ? The factory win 1894 is like 1-20 I think?

  4. #24
    Boolit Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pioneer2 View Post
    What R.O.T. will shoot 250-300gr bullets ? The factory win 1894 is like 1-20 I think?
    I talked to JES about my 38.55 project and he is using a 1:15 twist. He also recommended the 250 gr. bullet, but that the heavier (285gr.) should work also.

  5. #25
    Boolit Buddy
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    OK for a quick update on the 38-55 saga. I got the barrel today, got it blued and it looks pretty good. I screwed barrel into action. Boy did that have to be TIGHT!!! to index properly. By laying a 12" ruler across the sight dovetail, then another across the action flat on top, it was pretty easy to tell when index was correct. Got the barrel screwed in, but still have to finish up with magazine and misc stuff, but just can't wait to fire something.

    I loaded up a 30-30 brass with 5 grains Bullseye, put some filler to fill space, then plugged end with beeswax. Shot and it fireformed nicely. Looks just right and would work just fine. It is about .055" too short for the 2.082" 38-55 brass I ordered. I'm sure ya'll remember there are two different lengths, 2.082" and a 2.125" length brass. Take your pick - either works in long chamber. JES says he recommends the 2.082" so that's what I ordered when I ordered new Starline brass. Looks like I could have got by with fire forming the old 30-30 brass, but didn't wish to take a chance. 50 new brass with correct headstamp only cost $30 shipped so I decided to get new brass, but did want to try fireforming.

    Now to finish rifle and load some shells.

    Ken H>

  6. #26
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    That sounds great, post it up when it's lined out!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  7. #27
    Boolit Buddy
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    OK, you asked for photos - here are a couple. First photo is of the barrel showing the Western Auto brand.


    Next is the full rifle - looking at the photo, not sure what those stripes are showing on barrel. They're not there in real life. I used Brownel's Oxpho-Blue which seems to do an excellent job.... for a cold blue


    So far I'm having fun with rifle and it seems to shoot just fine. Using the Lee .379-250-F cast bullet with lead/tin alloy and around 10-11 BNH around 1200 to 1300 fps seems to be about max before groups start opening up. Not having a good bench rest, the best I've done is 1"X1/2" group at 50 yds (max I can shoot in backyard). That's with 17 grains of IMR-4759 powder.

  8. #28
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    I have a JES 3 groove modified Win '94 that I wanted to use at black powder velocities with smokeless. Found that with IMR 4227 and dacron filler. I'm getting that sized group at 100yds (with a 3x9 scope). I size mine .378.

  9. #29
    Boolit Buddy
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    Congrats T-Bird on your rifle - you're getting for sure a good group at 100 yds. Hopefully I can close my group up some with a bit more work. What bullet and lube are you using? When you say "black powder velocities" - are those in the 1200 to 1300 range? Or, just what are the black powder velocity for 38-55 with black powder?

    I've not considered black powder because of the hassle of cleaning a lever action rifle..... but maybe since removing the bolt is only 1 screw it wouldn't be so bad? Does the action need cleaning much down in the magazine portion when using BP?

    Again, congrats on a good group at 100 yds.

    Ken H>

  10. #30
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenH View Post
    I've not considered black powder because of the hassle of cleaning a lever action rifle..... but maybe since removing the bolt is only 1 screw it wouldn't be so bad? Does the action need cleaning much down in the magazine portion when using BP?

    Again, congrats on a good group at 100 yds.

    Ken H>

    I only use BP in my original 1893 Marlin.
    The bore is cleaned with water and the receiver is blown out with an air hose perhaps once a year. My load is 42 grains of Old Eynsford 2Fg under an Accurate 250 (260 gr as cast). There is no discernable blow back so receiver stays clean and rust free. Go ahead and try BP, you might like it.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  11. #31
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    Ken, I shoot the Lee 250gr boolit formerly with Lyman Super moly lube, now with Hi-Tek supercoat. The load I use now is 16.5gr 4227, dacron,Lee boolit for 1350ish fps.I was under the impression that this is a load comparable to a 250gr 38/55 load with BP. Dan, none of the BP fouling from the brass falls into the receiver when they are ejected? I've shot BP in muzzleloaders for years, but I can take them apart and wash them good. Are you using the Lee boolit with BP Dan?

  12. #32
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Bird View Post
    ............ Dan, none of the BP fouling from the brass falls into the receiver when they are ejected? I've shot BP in muzzleloaders for years, but I can take them apart and wash them good. Are you using the Lee boolit with BP Dan?
    I don't have any problem with residue from the fired cartridge infiltrating the receiver. The gun dates to 1893 and except for the ejector which I replaced, the innards look original so what ever lands in side the action does not seem to do harm. My bullet comes from an Accurate mould, 250 grains but don't remember which one.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  13. #33
    Boolit Buddy
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    That's cool Dan. I briefly shot my Pedersoli 45/70 sharps in the '90's with BP got good results, just lost interest in that pursuit I guess, washing brass etc decided that when I'd go black, I'd muzzle load, might revisit that area.

  14. #34
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    I'm so tempted to send my 94 30-30 to get rebored. And I can use the same bullet in a .375 H&H.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  15. #35
    Boolit Master northmn's Avatar
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    I tried fire forming 30-30's and they work, but it is a PITA and Starline brass is so much better and not that expensive. 4198 is also a good powder for the 38-55. I guess if some are getting accuracy with BP then it works, but many BP barrels had wide grooves and narrow lands to allow for fouling. In another discussion I asked an owner of an original Ballard if his rifling was the same as Marlin's "Ballard" rifling. He mentioned that difference.

    DEP

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by northmn View Post
    I tried fire forming 30-30's and they work, but it is a PITA and Starline brass is so much better and not that expensive........ DEP
    Yep, I'm with you, I just had to fireform some 30-30 brass, and it works nicely, but is a tad short. My fireformed brass is only 2.020" long while the Starline is 2.082" or 2.125" long. Since a tuber magazine almost requires a crimp, I really like to have brass all the same length.

  17. #37
    Boolit Buddy

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    My JES rebore is a 5 groove paid extra for it, but it's a tack driver! I am using a 254 PB from a Lyman 375xxx mold that cast some wonderful boolits!Click image for larger version. 

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    Using w-w brass with IMR 4198 getting squirrel gun accuracy!
    Semper Fidelis, to God, Country and Corps!

  18. #38
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by northmn View Post
    I tried fire forming 30-30's and they work, but it is a PITA and Starline brass is so much better and not that expensive. 4198 is also a good powder for the 38-55. I guess if some are getting accuracy with BP then it works, but many BP barrels had wide grooves and narrow lands to allow for fouling. In another discussion I asked an owner of an original Ballard if his rifling was the same as Marlin's "Ballard" rifling. He mentioned that difference.

    DEP
    I reformed 30/30 brass for a 375 Big Bore ages ago (PMC brass) just made a 3/8th expander from a high tensile bolt - nice gentle taper on the end and threaded into one of my RCBS dies - one pass and its done - yes they end up a little short for 38/55 - would work but proper brass is cheaper now.

  19. #39
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    9.3X62AL's Avatar
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    I am really enjoying my JES-rebored Win 94 in 38/55. It is the 3-groove form that Mr. Ocumpah considers "OEM", and it has shot very well with plain-base Lee 250 grasin flatnoses and with both the RCBS and the Lyman flatnose 250 grainers with gas checks. 50 yard groups hover just a bit over 1", and 100 yard groups run 2.5" to 3.0". Using open irons on a carbine that has two iron straps binding the barrel and magazine tube.......I find that acceptable. It's a LEVERGUN--1.5" of radial distribution from group center will make venison and whomp coyotes very well at any range appropriate for the 38/55.

    The only anomaly I have noted while playing with this rifle--and I am about 750 rounds into it--is that published data for the 38/55 can be a mite over-pressure. My belief is that a lot of what gets published concerning the 38/55 was derived by using undersized bullets in oversized bores. When you assemble ammo with close dimensions to the rifle using same, some caution is indicated as far as powder weights are concerned. Make haste slowly while stair-stepping your loads upward from published starting powder weights.

    Pet Load so far--the Lee 250 atop 22.0 grains of IMR-4198, which corresponds to Ross Seyfried's writings on smokeless-powder-for-black-powder-ballistic results. This load consistently stays at 1.1"-1.3" at 50 yards (1375-1400 FPS), and I am so happy with its performance that I have set aside 10 cases and filled them with this load and the Lee bullet cast as a Bruce B Soft Point. Cal-DFW says I didn't draw a desert muley tag (again) this year, so this brush load will get the call in the local mountains this coming deer season.
    Last edited by 9.3X62AL; 06-20-2018 at 04:50 PM.
    I don't paint bullets. I like Black Rifle Coffee. Sacred cows are always fair game. California is to the United States what Syria is to Russia and North Korea is to China/South Korea/Japan--a Hermit Kingdom detached from the real world and led by delusional maniacs, an economic and social basket case sustained by "foreign" aid so as to not lose military bases.

  20. #40
    Boolit Buddy
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    Interesting comment on the 5 groove, I asked JES about which to get (difference in price was not an issue), and he says 3, 4, or 5 all shoot the same. Only reason to get 4 over 3 was for ease of measure a slugged barrel. So, based on his advice I went with the 3 groove. Sometimes I wish I'd got the 4 groove - you know the old saying, you always want what you didn't get.

    9.3X62AL: your results are about what I'm getting with IMR-4759 power and shooting around 1200 fps on chrono. With 9 grains Unique powder (1157 fps; ES=29) best I've got was a 7 shot group with 5 shots in one hole, and two shots about an inch away in one hole. I've got that much wobble with my shaky rest.

    Ken H>

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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