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Thread: Winchester 1886 sticky extraction/lever

  1. #1

    Winchester 1886 sticky extraction/lever

    I have read of others complaining of sticky extraction/lever and or case head separation and short case life when reloading for an original 1886 Winchester in 33 WCF. This was happening to me with moderate loads with 200 gr jacketed bullets. After firing the lever would be hard to open and the case head would be stretched toward to bottom of the bolt. My rifle is a take down model so I removed the barrel and closed the action to examine the bolt face. After taking a close look I noticed that with the bolt fully forward and locked I could depress the ejector .008" below flush of the bolt face. I then replaced the ejector with a new part from Bob Knapp (Winchester Bob) and found the exact same condition. It is my theory that the case head is basically unsupported by the lower half of the bolt face until the ejector is depressed enough to make contact with the recess in the bolt face.

    Since this is the only 1886 I have access to I don't know if the ejector recess on my rifle was cut too deep or if all 1886's are like this. I made a shim out of .008" feeler gauge and placed it between the ejector head and bolt face recess and have fired two rounds of the same load that was previously giving me problems. This time the lever opened normally and the cases appear fine. The load I am using is 37gr IMR 3031, a 200gr FTX bullet and a WLRP in a reformed Starline 45-70 case. I will do some more extensive testing but wanted to get input from anyone with this rifle.

    Hornady lists loads for this bullet of 33.3gr to 40gr of IMR 3031. With 34gr I get 1813 fps and with 35gr I get 1912 fps in my rifle, did not chrono the 37gr load.

    It would be great to hear from others with 1886's about how much if any the ejector on their bolt face can be depressed below flush.

    Thanks for your input.

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  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy Ajohns's Avatar
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    I don't dare say. But I do remember Mike Venturino writing about the same thing, same caliber, for his shooting lever actions book. He'd approached loads not very hot and could barely get the lever open. Some time later, I think in RIfle or Handloader he'd reported the problem, and I wanna say headspace? Someone will remember, I'm sorry I don't have the info near me.

  3. #3
    I think headspace, caused by the size and fit of the ejector is basically the problem. The 1886 has a huge ejector that doubles as the lower half of the bolt face. If it were just a small pin type ejector I'll bet the problem would not be happening.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheyenne4090 View Post
    I think headspace, caused by the size and fit of the ejector is basically the problem. The 1886 has a huge ejector that doubles as the lower half of the bolt face. If it were just a small pin type ejector I'll bet the problem would not be happening.
    This I reckon

    I have a Browning 71 that never gave extraction problems - no baby loads in that 348 - thought the 71 may have been altered but the ejector is same as your pics (and same as my Chiappa 86) only thing different is the firing pin smaller diameter on the 71 - does the takedown action add to your headspace problem? and whats headspace at the top of the bolt measure?

    As soon as I see "case head separation" written, I go = old worn out rifle, been there - set the barrel back a thread and recut the chamber - easy fix on a solid frame gun.

  5. #5
    I checked the headspace by using an unfired case and feeler gauges at the top of the bolt. With a case rim measuring .064 it would close on a .008 but had noticeable resistance on a .010. So somewhere between. 072" and .074" headspace. SAAMI shows .070" to .077" so it should be good but being a takedown it could have some flex. Mostly I want to shoot cast loads at 1500 to 1800fps and plinking loads at 1100fps. Looks like limited use of jacketed 200gr ftx bullets at about 2000 fps for hunting will work without destroying the brass.

    Was just curious if others having similar problems with a sticking lever also had an ejector below flush on the bolt head.

  6. #6
    I should note that I fire formed the brass using a small rubber band around the case head so the case shoulder would blow forward. After that I only neck sized so even if there was a little bit of extra headspace the brass is fit to the chamber of that rifle.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheyenne4090 View Post
    I checked the headspace by using an unfired case and feeler gauges at the top of the bolt. With a case rim measuring .064 it would close on a .008 but had noticeable resistance on a .010. So somewhere between. 072" and .074" headspace. SAAMI shows .070" to .077" so it should be good but being a takedown it could have some flex. Mostly I want to shoot cast loads at 1500 to 1800fps and plinking loads at 1100fps. Looks like limited use of jacketed 200gr ftx bullets at about 2000 fps for hunting will work without destroying the brass.

    Was just curious if others having similar problems with a sticking lever also had an ejector below flush on the bolt head.
    Can you get that shim you made to stay put behind the ejector ? seems like that fixed the problem?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by indian joe View Post
    Can you get that shim you made to stay put behind the ejector ? seems like that fixed the problem?
    Yes, because the stem on the ejector fits through that hole in the shim, I don't think the shim can move. So far it seems to have fixed the problem.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    As Ajohns stated,Mike Venturino did write about sticky extraction in the W 1886 33 WCF. When he started loading 4350 with the 200 grain Hornady, his extraction issues went away. I have loaded and shot a number of these loads, no issues. It is also very accurate. Had Tom at Accurate Molds make a 2 cavity 220 grain gas check mold for this Takedown, 1886 33 WCF. It shoots extremely well also.
    Rick
    Last edited by Rick B; 01-18-2021 at 11:48 PM. Reason: Spellng

  10. #10
    Thanks Rick,

    I am really curious why some of these 1886s have this problem. I wonder if its unique to the takedown models possibly having a little flex at the receiver/barrel junction? I have Venturino's book and he was also using a takedown model.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    A while back I did a four barrel set for an 1886 takedown. The only barrel that gave a problem was the 348 using buffalo bore ammo. The gun would lock up but if the hammer was cocked and dropped the action would open. Using Winchester ammo there was no problem and it was obvious that it was a lower pressure. If the action will close on a .005" feeler gauge with a cartridge in the chamber then you have a headspace problem but you may also have a pressure problem if the action is locking up. Its really strange that a 94 shooting 30-30 can have .025" headspace and still function with pressures about 42,000 but someplace between that pressure and 49,000 the brass starts to stretch and that's when headspace becomes important. If the base of the cartridge is starting to flow into the ejector then the pressure is way too high.

  12. #12
    I shot two loads today at 50 yds using the Hornady 200gr ftx and cci lr primers with good results. Neither had sticky extraction.

    1st, 36gr of IMR 3031, avg 2125fps and SD of 19. Note, the Hornady manual shows the same FTX bullet and 36.6gr as only generating 1900 fps in an 1886 winchester.

    2nd, 45gr IMR 4350, avg 2155fps, sd 10.

    I am more than happy with the results. The velocity is more than i had hoped for and the action was not hard to open. I attribute the verticle stringing to the front sight. It was very hard to see where I was aiming on the bullseye due to the sun reflecting on the ivory bead. I plan to put an aperture front sight on and try again. I think the 4350 load is the way to go.

    I previously had good results with a 212 grain copy of the Lyman 338320 GC bullet and 22gr of AA5744. 1540fps, sd 16.

    The same bullet without the gas check and 5 gr of Unique is mild and accurate at 50yd, have not chronographed it yet but an old lyman book shows 1100fps for the load.

    I think now that my initial loads were just too hot for my rifle based on velocities I'm getting according to the chronograph. Venturino reported 1950 fps with a 200 grain jacketed bullet using 48 grains of H4350 I'm getting 2155 fps using only 45 grains of IMR4350. I know they are not exactly the same powders but that's a pretty big difference. Also as I said above I'm getting 225 fps more than the hornady manual shows with the same bullet and rifle and I'm using .6 gr less 3031. Whatever the cause, I'm happy it now appears to function correctly and is not ruining my brass.
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  13. #13
    This is the group with the 45 grains of IMR 4350. Left to right was easy to see on the front sight but I could not tell where I was in the bull because of the white ivory on the front sight.
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by John Taylor View Post
    A while back I did a four barrel set for an 1886 takedown. The only barrel that gave a problem was the 348 using buffalo bore ammo. The gun would lock up but if the hammer was cocked and dropped the action would open. Using Winchester ammo there was no problem and it was obvious that it was a lower pressure. If the action will close on a .005" feeler gauge with a cartridge in the chamber then you have a headspace problem but you may also have a pressure problem if the action is locking up. Its really strange that a 94 shooting 30-30 can have .025" headspace and still function with pressures about 42,000 but someplace between that pressure and 49,000 the brass starts to stretch and that's when headspace becomes important. If the base of the cartridge is starting to flow into the ejector then the pressure is way too high.
    John it seems like you have a lot of experience with these rifles, do you think this is a problem more common in the takedown model or have you seen it in the fixed barrel models also? Thanks, Mark

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheyenne4090 View Post
    John it seems like you have a lot of experience with these rifles, do you think this is a problem more common in the takedown model or have you seen it in the fixed barrel models also? Thanks, Mark
    The takedown models do not have the same support as the solid frame ( full thread) models. Heavy loads can cause the barrels to become loose over time, also assembly and dis-assembly can cause ware to the threads. The Winchester system for tightening the fit is not the greatest idea. Many years ago I had a shop that sent 22 1886 rifles to me for re-barrel. Many of the actions had the front lip ground off to make takedown rifles. Of the ones with the front ground off I had to true up all of them so the face of the action was square to the threads. Several were made in 50 EX which required some work on the inside of the action. All of these rifle came from an actor who thought he could do gunsmithing.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    A lot of the later takedown 1886's in 33 WCF, had Lyman Ivory front sights on them. I hesitated earlier in regards to discussing cast loads with Unique. 10.0 grains of Unique shoots cloverleafs at 75 yards. Velocity is 1210 fps. Bullet is an Accurate Molds 34-220A gas checked. Load cautiously, a double charge would be catastrophic.

    With jacketed bullets, I really like the 48.0 grain load of 4350 with the discontinued 200 grain Hornady.
    Rick

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick B View Post
    A lot of the later takedown 1886's in 33 WCF, had Lyman Ivory front sights on them. I hesitated earlier in regards to discussing cast loads with Unique. 10.0 grains of Unique shoots cloverleafs at 75 yards. Velocity is 1210 fps. Bullet is an Accurate Molds 34-220A gas checked. Load cautiously, a double charge would be catastrophic.

    With jacketed bullets, I really like the 48.0 grain load of 4350 with the discontinued 200 grain Hornady.
    Rick
    Rick,

    Do you know what your velocity is with the 4350 load and are you using H4350 or IMR?

    With 11gr of unique and a 212 grain gas check bullet similar to the one your using I am getting 1250 FPS.

    I also like 22gr of AA5744 and the same 212gr gc bullet, 1540fps and an SD of 16.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    48.0 grains of H4350, Winchester large rifle primer. 200 grain Hornady jacketed.
    Rick

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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