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Thread: Winchester Hi Wall headed my way in 38/55!

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Winchester Hi Wall headed my way in 38/55!

    I have a Win Hi Wall in 38/55 on the way, it is very similar to a Browning, which was made at the same time, 28" Tapered octagon with regular sights, scope mounts and rings, and a Marble's Peep mounted on the tang.
    The owner had slugged the barrel and sent me pics, it will need a .377 bullet, which I already have the mold and molded up about 250 slugs that are .379. Should I size them or try a few first. When I get it in and get some pics we will post them. I have really come to love the.38/55 in the short time I have had one, a JES Marlin 336 that was bored, chambered, and rifled by him. I may have to use it hunting deer next year.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I would make up a dummy round with one .379" to see if it will chamber properly and if it does load them at cast diameter. If it won't chamber then size them to .377"

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
    pworley1's Avatar
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    I shoot .379 in my 38 55 that slugged at .377. They seem to work just fine.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    Is it the .38-55 chamber length or the shorter .375win length?

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    I'm jealous! Been wanting one for a long time!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    473BH, it has the long chamber.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    Green with envy. The 38-55 is a great oldie but goodie. Have fun, and be safe.
    NRA Life 1992
    My avatar is almost a dead ringer for my little buddy Chico. Six pounds of mean that thought he was a Pit Bull. Miss that little guy.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by koger View Post
    473BH, it has the long chamber.
    I don't know what's the big deal about those short chambers but it seems that most everything is geared toward them, reamers, dies, etc. When building my 38-55 I insisted on (and still do!) having the CORRECT long chamber but it seems that most of the manufacturers of anything 38-55 related are determined to make that short chamber the standard for this round. I searched for a reamer and everyone had only the short chamber version as stock with the longer chamber being a special order proposition so I just made my own (a simple "D" reamer but it worked ok). With the shorter case and smaller diameter bore of today's modern 38-55s they are not the same cartridge anymore, with a shorter case and smaller bore it simply isn't the same cartridge as what started out as the 38-55 round but after a lot of recent researching on this excellent round I think maybe the smaller .375 bore is a good thing and a big improvement over the original larger bore but not that shorter case!
    Statistics show that criminals commit fewer crimes after they have been shot

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldred View Post
    I don't know what's the big deal about those short chambers but it seems that most everything is geared toward them, reamers, dies, etc. When building my 38-55 I insisted on (and still do!) having the CORRECT long chamber but it seems that most of the manufacturers of anything 38-55 related are determined to make that short chamber the standard for this round. I searched for a reamer and everyone had only the short chamber version as stock with the longer chamber being a special order proposition so I just made my own (a simple "D" reamer but it worked ok). With the shorter case and smaller diameter bore of today's modern 38-55s they are not the same cartridge anymore, with a shorter case and smaller bore it simply isn't the same cartridge as what started out as the 38-55 round but after a lot of recent researching on this excellent round I think maybe the smaller .375 bore is a good thing and a big improvement over the original larger bore but not that shorter case!
    Agree, they should call the short chambered gun 37-52.
    Spell check doesn't work in Chrome, so if something is spelled wrong, it's just a typo that I missed.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by ulav8r View Post
    Agree, they should call the short chambered gun 37-52.
    Now ya dun'it, got clean the coffee off my computer!

    Thanks for the morning chuckle!
    Statistics show that criminals commit fewer crimes after they have been shot

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    You are welcome.
    Spell check doesn't work in Chrome, so if something is spelled wrong, it's just a typo that I missed.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Nice. Yes the modern incarnation of the .38-55 is really a low pressure .375 Winchester. It really mucks up the process and discussion.

    I picked up a Uberti high wall in .38-55, theirs is the 1800s style cut with deep grooves and the longer proper chamber.

    The deep grooves, and mine are on the deeper end of deep, are problematic. Hunter specialties .381 255 grain did not do the job. My grooves were just over 0.382”. That is the way the original .38-55s were made in the bp era.

    I had to do some work arounds to work the old style as you noted everything is geared around the “.375 Winchester light” guns.

    - custom fat mold from Tom
    - custom fat expander I tuned and threaded on my own lathe
    - custom bullet sizer die, I did polish it a bit

    I am about as fat in the neck as I can be and chamber using the long star line, have to use the thinnest wall brass you can for the fat bullet to match the groove.

    All in all a tight fit but certainly not possible off the shelf.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Boyle View Post
    Nice. Yes the modern incarnation of the .38-55 is really a low pressure .375 Winchester. It really mucks up the process and discussion.

    I picked up a Uberti high wall in .38-55, theirs is the 1800s style cut with deep grooves and the longer proper chamber.

    The deep grooves, and mine are on the deeper end of deep, are problematic. Hunter specialties .381 255 grain did not do the job. My grooves were just over 0.382”. That is the way the original .38-55s were made in the bp era.

    I had to do some work arounds to work the old style as you noted everything is geared around the “.375 Winchester light” guns.

    - custom fat mold from Tom
    - custom fat expander I tuned and threaded on my own lathe
    - custom bullet sizer die, I did polish it a bit

    I am about as fat in the neck as I can be and chamber using the long star line, have to use the thinnest wall brass you can for the fat bullet to match the groove.

    All in all a tight fit but certainly not possible off the shelf.
    When I first started my 38-55 project I got a bit frustrated with all the .375 stuff and the fact that .375 barrel blanks were all I could find, odd that the larger bore barrel liners were easy to find but no barrel blanks? I wanted a REAL 38-55 and not a made-over .375 Winchester but it seems I was stuck with the .375 bore so I just grumbled and accepted it, however after a bit of research I found that the .375 bore probably is the better choice just for the very reasons you mention, on the Starline web site it explains the problems that plague the 38-55 with the more correct larger bore were from the original design specifications. These rifles with original bores and chambers obviously can be made to shoot extremely well as evidenced by their legendary accuracy but it seems they only do it with a very soft bullet, we can forget shooting jacketed in them with any reasonable expectations of accuracy. Not sure what the thinking behind the design is but according to Starline it's just about impossible to chamber a bullet in a standard chamber that will be large enough to properly fit that larger bore and they relied on bullet obturation for a good seal and tight bore fit, thus the reason they are pretty well known to shoot lead bullets and BP the best. If I had the "proper" bore for the 38-55 I personally wouldn't complain and would be happy knowing I had the real thing but I also would have to accept being "stuck" with only soft lead bullets and BP but since that's what I intend to use anyway it would be no problem!
    Statistics show that criminals commit fewer crimes after they have been shot

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Starline does make the 2.125" correct brass. A 1:20 bullet over BP with a .030" veggie wad and you and your shoulder will love that rifle.
    My Winchester Highwall in 38-55 loves a variety of cast bullets. Its a heavy one to carry afield though! Enjoy yours. Its a great caliber.
    So many toys........so little time.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by WBH View Post
    Starline does make the 2.125" correct brass
    Not only does Starline make that brass but Midway has it on sale right now, or least it was still on sale a couple of days ago.
    Statistics show that criminals commit fewer crimes after they have been shot

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I always loved the .38-55, and one in a Winchester 1885 is just like gravy on the biscuits.
    Whatever cannot be remedied, must be endured.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by koger View Post
    I have really come to love the.38/55 in the short time I have had one, a JES Marlin 336 that was bored, chambered, and rifled by him. I may have to use it hunting deer next year.
    Have a 336 (Texan) donor in my safe, just begging to grow up and become a 38-55, courtesy of JES! Would appreciate you sharing the rebore dimension you got, dies/mold(s)/load data you are using. I need to get off the fence and get this one done! AND take it deer hunting!

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I have a JES Rebore, a 336 Marlin that started out as a 30/30. JES rebores his with what I call Pope style rifling, narrow lands, and wide grooves. He cuts his chambers to use the short 38/55 brass from Starline, and you will need a .375-.377 diameter bullet. I am using a lee double cavity that casts a .377 265gr with my alloy, and with 22grs of IMR-4198, is literally a tack driver. It has a Williams peep sight on it, and shoots amazing groups out to 150 yds, that is the longest range I have here at my house. The Hi wall shoots the same length brass. And aside from negative remarks above, I see no issue with the shorter brass. I can load the maximum loads in it, gets good accuracy in both the lever and single shot. The Marlin needs the short brass to work flawlessly, per JES, and I know he knows what he is doing.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Green Mountain sells .379" barrel blanks, and always has. I've purcahsed from them numerous times, and always been pleased with the accuracy of their barrels.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Marlin man, I agree with you 100% on the Green Mtn barrels. I have about 12 of them on custom ML's, and I have shot my way to medals, in the NMLRA events 31 times. There may be better barrels out there, but I have yet to see one that would shoot better than theirs, especially in ML's and Single shot rifles.

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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