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Thread: 38-55 Load question along with bullet suggestions

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    38-55 Load question along with bullet suggestions

    I just picked up a 38-55 ssk custom 38-55 barrel for my TCR Rifle and as I have never had any experience with this round although I do reload I am looking for reloading info. from those who have reloaded and used this round for hunting as well as shooting paper or tin cans. Thanks in advance The powder I have in stock that I hope to use is H 4895-H110 Reloader 7

    Deaconllb

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I've tried at least a half dozen bullets in rifles and the best to date is the NOE 379-235 PB with 4198. Of the 3 powders you mentioned, RL7 might be the best. I don't think I would use H110.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by WALLNUTT View Post
    I've tried at least a half dozen bullets in rifles and the best to date is the NOE 379-235 PB with 4198. Of the 3 powders you mentioned, RL7 might be the best. I don't think I would use H110.
    My 38/55 is a Winchester lever - very accurate with the LEE 379-250 over FFF blackpowder
    This case seems to be an ideal match for RE7 (if yr into that new fangly fad smokeyless stuff)

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    You need to learn to use standard data in widely used loading manuals. Otherwise you are using data from complete strangers.
    Complete strangers may know less about reloading than you do and they may not care if you blow yourself up.
    Use well known data from proven trusted sources.
    Buy new powder if you have to. Never use a powder just because you don't have the right stuff.
    H-110 is a poor powder for the 38-55. You will not find much or any data for it be ause it is such a poor powder for low pressures.
    Use H2400, 4198, 5744 and similar EXTRUDED propellants.
    EDG

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    I am not looking for load data just bullet types and powder I thought as this was cast bullets and a number of members were shooting the 38-55 I might get some good tips in reloading for this cal.

    Deaconllb

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I wont tell you not to use data given to you by others some have worked very hard to come up with the best load and consistency. I will tell you never use a load till you verify it with a known data source like lyman, Hogdons, IMR, or other published data. Simply verify what is given to you in a manual dosnt take long and you know your safe.

    Another thing is to know the twist of your barrel 38-55 can be in a wide range from 1-18 to 1-12 and bore groove dimensions can vary some also. My C Sharps high wall is 38-55 and 1-12 twist it shoots the 365 grn bullets very well out to 500+ yds. Buddies had 1-14 and it liked the shorter 312 rcbs BP bullet. Doing your homework may save some struggles here.

    My 38-55 has never seen smokeless powder. But Look at IMR 4895, reloader 7, IMR4198 and IMR3031 these are listed in Lymans Cast Bullet Handbook 4th edition.

    Length of your barrel, twist rate, bore and groove dia, and chamber will be the major things determining bullet.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    My Uberti high wall is a bit slow twisted so I am constrained on bullet length it will handle.

    I use 250 or 265 grain bullets and 4198. I also played with Trailboss in the beginning. RL7 was a runner up I could have tried in my research.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I believe a friends Uberti was a 15 twist and he was shooting a 280 grn bullet with good results. He milled one driving band off a 300 grn mould not sure which one. But there was a big difference in his ding and mine with the 365 grn at 500yds

  9. #9
    Boolit Bub
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    I picked up a chiappa mini sharps in 38-55 that I hope to harvest some venison with. So far I have only tried one bullet and powder combo but they suit me well enough that I will be hunting with this rifle in short range conditions. Lee 379-250 gr fprn over 20.0 grains of H4198. This is a mild load but groups 5 shot within 1 1/4" at 75 yards. Shot some loads with heavier powder charges but shooting the little 5 1/2 pound gun with just a tee shirt on was a bit much for my bad shoulder. I think this boolit with a soft lead alloy will perform well on whitetail sized game

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Of the 3 powders mentioned, Reloder7 is the hands down winner. I've had good luck with some old W630 (the powder Winchester used to use in their factory loads), but that was with jacketed bullets and the powder is now as scarce as hens teeth.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    I'm new to 38-55 as well. Unique and the Lee bullet as cast have put a big grin on my face. I'm going to try IMR 4198 when I get some. I have IMR 3031 on hand to try as well. It's a neat cartridge; like a baby 45-70.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  12. #12
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Pretty sure the whole purpose of this forum is to help people with loading and shooting cast bullets. So I wouldn't hesitate to ask, or turn down info given. I always double check any load data offered, but I've gotten good info that I use.
    I've found bullets in the 250-255 gr. cast work best for most of my older guns. But unsure of the twist rate of your new barrel, so it might shoot heavier bullets better if you post the twist rate? I have a couple old rifles with Pope and Schoyen barrels that have faster twist rates and they like 290-300 gr. bullets better.
    I use both 2400 and Unique in my .38-55's and have gotten very small groups with both. My loads are kept to around 1300-1350 fps.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Also read the Ken Waters pet loads article via google on the .38-55 is rather thorough albeit dated.

  14. #14
    Boolit Man
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    You can't go wrong wit the suggestion to read the Ken Waters article. I did and the Lyman bullet & suggested IMR 4198 brought instant gratification. Keep in mind bore diameter. I finally learned that my 38-55 needed a .380 dia bullet or no joy. My other 38-55 will shoot great with a .377-.378. Like trying to figure out a red headed woman. Takes patience. Ken Waters knew his stuff.
    Enjoy the 38-55 journey. You'll like the cartridge a lot.
    Bob

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Yep. I am still working the .38-55 puzzle.

    Taylor Arms Uberti. Mine is grooved around 0.382 deep. Store bought 0.381” were marginal.

    I had Tom cut me a mold fat enough and still work and chamber, cutting that close, Chris, Lathesmith, cut me a sizer. Still working on the shooter interface. I couldn’t really tell how bad as I couldn’t see well with buck horn sights past 50. Things past 50 are troubling. I am near 50 myself. I picked up a tang sight from a member and should have the screws (metric, ETA, NOT METRIC, 10-32 apparently. Installed now, I had to turn the screw heads down as the Uberti ones were too wide for the cup of the c sharps tang, chamfered holes) for the Uberti any day now. We will see if that brings it all together.

    This is a plinking play project to me but a 265 grain flat nose will pole ax any deer.
    Last edited by Lance Boyle; 11-10-2018 at 08:13 AM.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy McLintock's Avatar
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    I shot Long Range Single Shot in Cowboy Action Shooting for over 10 years with a Browning Traditional Hunter in 38-55. Based on Ken Waters articles I came up with an RL7 load that did pretty well for me, but after reading his articles on the 375 Winchester, I settled on a load of 31 grs of 3031 with a 375449 gas checked bullet as it did quite a bit better in my gun, where I used it out to 500 yards with great consistency and accuracy. For shorter distances and tin cans a load of 18 grs of IMR4227 and a 250 gr plain base bullet did quite well, and was a direct load from Waters articles also. The Browning had a .376 barrel on it but the gun seemed to favor bigger bullets, as best results came with a .381" bullet size in the 375449 and a .380" in the 250's; so you might try experimenting there.
    McLintock

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Regards
    John

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    I have rather limited experience loading the .38-55, but have found that Lee bullet to be a good one. Something that worked well for me was when I switched to a set of the RCBS Cowboy dies from standard RCBS dies, my groups sizes shrank very significantly without changing anything else. I shoot the Lee bullet unsized, comes out to .380-.381.

    5744 is a good powder for cast loads in the .38-55.

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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