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Thread: Original Gewehr 1888 and Lee 8mm Karabiner

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold Eddie1971's Avatar
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    Original Gewehr 1888 and Lee 8mm Karabiner

    I have purchased a numbers matching Steyr 1888 Commission Rifle with the original contour barrel, S marked, and it slugged out to .321. I also just purchased a Lee Karabiner 8mm mold. This dropped boolits in the 240 grain range, sized to .323. These are powder coated and gas checked as well.

    Looking at some posts from the past, I see a wide range of rifle type powders being used, from IMR4350 all the way to 3031. In old Lyman manuals I also see that for a 214 grain boolit they mention 30-40 grains of W748. I'm trying to formulate a load that would be target type for 100-200 yards. Powders I have are W748, W760, IMR4350 and IMR4895. Any recommendations from the experts here? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Hello, and greetings, welcome to the forum! I have several of these rifles with bore measurements that vary in size, with .323 being the largest. The "S" on your rifle's chamber indicates that the chamber was modified to accept the standard 8x57mm spitzer cartridge, but does not indicate that it was re-barreled. Had it been re-barreled it would probably show a measurement of .323 diameter. Although frequently used with the standard .323 cartridge in WW I, where the 1888 served as a substitute standard arm, there are many opinions to be had about whether or not these rifles will safely withstand the pressures of the modern day 8x57mm Mauser cartridge, and most advise to load cautiously for these 130 year old rifles. If you have a .321 bore and are using them as dropped (unsized) and then powder coating them you can figure that you're adding at least .002 diameter with the powder coat, and are getting a bullet of at least .325 diameter. It's my feeling that you might be pushing the envelope a bit on size, and consequently run the risk of high pressures. To specifically answer your question about powders, I use reduced loads of Red Dot and moderate loads of IMR-4895. My bullets are not powder coated, and are cast with the Lee RN mold and sized .002 over the bore diameter of the individual rifle I am using. I believe you'll really enjoy owing an 1888, and they can be very accurate. If your rifle retains the original magazine system, finding the original 1888 clips can be a problem. There is a book available, "A Collector's Guide to the German Gew.88 "Commission Rifle" by Pail S. Scarlata that is a gold mine of information.

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    Boolit Master TNsailorman's Avatar
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    I know that H335 is not used by a lot of people in medium sized cases but I have used it with better than average result with the 8x57 ; this with both cast and jacketed bullets. james

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    Boolit Mold Eddie1971's Avatar
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    I did size these after i powder coated them. They are sized to .323. What do you consider moderate? The gun has original magazine and I have clips as well. I also have the book as well. I just need some loads. I've had success loading jacketed and now want to cast. Thanks!

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    Boolit Mold Eddie1971's Avatar
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    I'm also familiar with history and what marks stand for on these...

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    I shoot that Lee boolit, sized .325, in three different 8x57s: an M48 Yugo, an M38 Turk, and a VZ24. For best accuracy the Yugo and the Pole like 31.0 gr H4895 and the Turk, surprisingly, shoots best with 33.5. Off the bench, using issue sights, all three rifles will match (or better) ball ammo groups @ 100 yds. With IMR4895 I'd begin with Lyman CBH starting loads and work up from there.

    Bill
    "I'm not often right but I've never been wrong."

    Jimmy Buffett
    "Scarlet Begonias"

  7. #7
    Boolit Mold Eddie1971's Avatar
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    I don't have any loads like that in my Lyman manuals with that heavy of a head or IMR 4895.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    The size of cast bullets wont affect pressure,but will affect leading......far better oversize than under.I assume you have cleaned jacket fouling from the bore,and are using a hard alloy gaschecked.

  9. #9
    Boolit Mold Eddie1971's Avatar
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    Yes I have cleaned them well with Sweet's. The Boolits are hard cast, Powder coated and gas checked and sized to .323. Ready to load. Just looking for the recipe recommendations.

  10. #10
    Boolit Mold Eddie1971's Avatar
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    Well I did some tests and had success! I did 25 rounds using IMR 4895, 5 round each test loads ranging from 28 to 32 grains, and another set using W748 from 30 to 34 grains. The IMR 4895 shot best with 30-32 rains. The W748 was the best, and it was amazing with the 30-32 grain range. I strung a 2 inch group at 100 yards with the 32 grain load. Next up, I will try IMR 4350 which I have seen some people use in other threads, and I think will work great with the long barrel 88.

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    You may have some luck with IMR4350 given boolit weight and long barrel, but it generally isn't an ideal powder with cast boolits. I have no experience with W748. However, I have used IMR4895 quite successfully with 280 grs cast boolits in 35 Krag and with j-bullets in my 18" 8x57 Persian Mauser. If you can lay hands on any IMR or H 4198 or IMR 4227, those are generally very effective powders with cast.

    Congrats on the new to you rifle!

  12. #12
    Boolit Mold Eddie1971's Avatar
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    Thanks! I may also try W760 as well!

  13. #13
    Boolit Mold Eddie1971's Avatar
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    Did the test with IMR350 today. Best results were with 36 and 37 grains. Got between 2 1/2 to 3 inch groups.

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    Boolit Buddy
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    Interesting that powder coat works OK at 2000f/s(650m/s in EU)......I have never tried it at that speed for fear of "plasticing" the bore.It not conventional,but Ive found the performance of slow powders in reduced loads can be improved with an "ignition additive", about 5gr of a fast flaky powder,like trailboss.

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold Eddie1971's Avatar
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    I've been using magnum primers. Maybe instead of adding trail boss you can try that.

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    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNsailorman View Post
    I know that H335 is not used by a lot of people in medium sized cases but I have used it with better than average result with the 8x57 ; this with both cast and jacketed bullets. james
    Are you using magnum or regular primers with H335? It's my favorite .223 powder so I always keep it around.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

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    Boolit Buddy jugulater's Avatar
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    i Shoot a 1890 Steyr manufacture 1888 that was converted to a internal magazine before WW1. its a S stamp gun that wasnt rebarreled as it slugs at .321. its a very accurate gun for its age and gets alot of attention at the range because of the barrel shroud. i only shoot Plain Base 190Grn Boolits out of mine over 10Grn of 700X, its perfect for ringing a metal target at 100 yards.

    1888s are always fun to look at and research, they are normally covered in German and/or Turkish markings and often times have significant modifications done to them. the german unit markings on the barrel bands are something i always look for when i see another 1888.

  18. #18
    Boolit Mold Eddie1971's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jugulater View Post
    i Shoot a 1890 Steyr manufacture 1888 that was converted to a internal magazine before WW1. its a S stamp gun that wasnt rebarreled as it slugs at .321. its a very accurate gun for its age and gets alot of attention at the range because of the barrel shroud. i only shoot Plain Base 190Grn Boolits out of mine over 10Grn of 700X, its perfect for ringing a metal target at 100 yards.

    1888s are always fun to look at and research, they are normally covered in German and/or Turkish markings and often times have significant modifications done to them. the german unit markings on the barrel bands are something i always look for when i see another 1888.
    I got 2 Steyr 88 S's that weren't 05 modified. They also slug at .321. These ones were surrendered to Allies after war and were not sent to Turkey. I love shooting mine. I also have a Loewe from the same batch same set up.

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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