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Thread: Paper patching .32-20 bullets

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Paper patching .32-20 bullets

    I have been playing around with my .32-20 Winchester a bit more, and with the Model 1892, the rifling being shallow, .312" bullets aren't giving me the greatest accuracy. I have ordered some .313" from Montana Bullet Company, but I have a lot of bullets on hand now, and was wondering if paper patching them would be something I could do, the problem is, they are Lyman's 115 grain #311008 which has lube grooves. Can I paper patch these to make up the difference and try to get some accuracy out of them?
    No people in the world ever did achieve their freedom by goody-goody talk and moral suasion: it being immutable law that all revolutions that will succeed must being in blood, whatever may answer afterward.

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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    You don't mention the actual age of the guns in question. My experience has been that the older the gun in 32-20 (and also in .32 Long), the larger the groove diameter. Most of my old .32's require a full 0.314". Newer guns (the 1980's or newer) can usually use 0.312". Slug the barrels.

    I have no experience with paper patching, so cannot advise on that.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master mehavey's Avatar
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    When you patch a bullet -- even w/ the thinnest of onionskin -- you're adding 8-thousandths to the diameter.

    So unless you're starting w/ something 0.305" or so . . . . . . .

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Most leverguns in classic calibers have throat leade forms with very steep and abrupt rifling origins. This sort of leade is quite hostile to paper jackets IME.

    The good news--these same leade forms are VERY FRIENDLY to cast bullets, and manage them quite accurately if the bullets are of the proper size. I suggest doing or having a chamber cast or pound slug of soft lead assess what diameter you are working with. My two rifles I have had in 32/20 (both Marlin 94s) did well with .314" bullets in a 1990-made 1894CL, and the 2004-made 1894CCL likes bullets at .313". All of my 32/20 revolvers have .313"-.314" throats, and .314" bullets run well in all of them.
    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.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master




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    As I understand it, the original 1892's had .310 bores. I have two, a 24" and a 28". When I had them relined due to bad chamber pits, we used .310 liners. They both do well with .312-.313 sizes. The original barrels may have been eroded by the black powder used back then, mine were. Best to slug the barrel and do a chamber cast to see what you really have.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I slugged the bore a while back and I am getting .312" out of it. Right now I get what I would say are about 3-4 inch groups at 25 yards with .312" bullets that I loaded for my other .32-20, and you can just see them start to keyhole, at 50 yards they open up a lot. I ordered some .313" bullets the other day, hoping I can get some accuracy out of the gun, but I think I might end up relining the barrel eventually.

    This is what my target at 25 yards with .312" bullets looks like, you can just see them starting to keyhole.

    No people in the world ever did achieve their freedom by goody-goody talk and moral suasion: it being immutable law that all revolutions that will succeed must being in blood, whatever may answer afterward.

    Mark Twain

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    If your rifle’s bore isn’t pitted, check the first inch or so at the muzzle with a lead ball. If the muzzle is blunderbuss shaped from careless cleaning, it will throw keyholes all over the place, and the only solution I’ve found is a reline job.

    You might also fire some jacketed bullets as a check on bore quality. I used to use Hornady .312” XTPs as a check for potential in troublesome .32s. I’m messing with a .38-40 that does an inch and a half with four shots of factory jacketed ammo at 50 yards, but throws cast boolits all over the place. It will probably be my next fire lapping endeavor.

    A run-of-the-mill .32-20 rifle should put ten shots into 2-1/2” at 100 yds with iron sights.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bent Ramrod View Post
    If your rifle’s bore isn’t pitted, check the first inch or so at the muzzle with a lead ball. If the muzzle is blunderbuss shaped from careless cleaning, it will throw keyholes all over the place, and the only solution I’ve found is a reline job.

    You might also fire some jacketed bullets as a check on bore quality. I used to use Hornady .312” XTPs as a check for potential in troublesome .32s. I’m messing with a .38-40 that does an inch and a half with four shots of factory jacketed ammo at 50 yards, but throws cast boolits all over the place. It will probably be my next fire lapping endeavor.

    A run-of-the-mill .32-20 rifle should put ten shots into 2-1/2” at 100 yds with iron sights.
    Nope, slugged it again, those first couple inches are as tight as a drum. I've gotten some paper patched bullets that right now are running .315" (used rice paper which is incredibly hard to wet and lay and wrap around the bullet since it basically wants to tear with almost no effort, but I got them done). I am going to see what I can get out of them once they are loaded up. The only issue I have with relining a barrel is one, the money. I have talked to a couple of guys, looking at anywhere between $350-$450, the price is fair but it doesn't change the fact that I don't have the money right now. The other thing is, the gun will be out of a few months. I am going to try a couple things first before I reline the barrel, I know that's most likely where I am heading with this gun. I have a local gunsmith/machinist I am waiting on to hear if he can do it. This is a gun I really like and I have put a lot of work getting it back into action again, and since it was made in 1894, I know relining the barrel might hurt some collector value, but I am willing to weigh that against it not being able to shoot accurately at all, because I would love to be able to take small game with this or even a deer at close range with a fine 115 grain cast bullet.
    No people in the world ever did achieve their freedom by goody-goody talk and moral suasion: it being immutable law that all revolutions that will succeed must being in blood, whatever may answer afterward.

    Mark Twain

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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