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Thread: Hopkins and Allen .25-20 Single Shot problem?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Xringshooter's Avatar
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    Hopkins and Allen .25-20 Single Shot problem?

    Customer brought in a Hopkins and Allen single shot rifle. Only markings were the company name/city and .25-20. He got some .25-20 rounds made by PCI Ammo (new brass, 90gr Bear Creek FP - unknown powder charge - customer is going to try to find this out). Fired one round and called me.

    Here is side by side picture of the fired and unfired rounds. On the left (where the bulge of the one on the right starts closest to the base) measures 0.304. The bulged case on the right measures .352

    The measurements of the unfired round match what I could find about the .25-20 SS round.

    If I drop an unfired round in the chamber, it goes in further that it should, it goes in well past the extractor and when you close the action the extractor goes over the base not under the rim of the round. The chamber apparently is too large a diameter. The customer wondered if there was supposed to be a "sleeve" in the chamber for the .25-20 ss round but I couldn't find anything that said there should be. Examining the chamber, there are no markings that would tell me that a sleeve whould have been placed in it. That said, the bulged case diameter is close to the case diameter of a .25 WCF. Might it be that someone at some time rechambered it for .25 WCF? I'm going to get the rifle back in the next couple days and do a chamber cast to see how it measures out.

    Thoughts? This rifle is in very good to excellent condition. The barrel/action has been (very well done) and it seems to be a good solid rifle, abet not as a .25-20 single shot chambering.

    Ron
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  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master
    Mk42gunner's Avatar
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    I'd be investing in some cerrosafe, if you don't already have some on hand.

    My guess is it has been rechambered, the big two questions are to what cartridge, and is the new cartridge safe for the action?

    Robert

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Definitely needs a chamber cast. I would think if its been rechambered to .25-20 WCF the case would have fire formed a more pronounced shoulder like the WCF round has.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Jedman's Avatar
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    I agree with Mk 42 that the gun has been rechambered. If it was a 25 wcf the rim diameter of a 25-20 SS is larger than the base diameter of a 25 wcf and wouldn’t be able to slip past the extractor and enter the chamber as far as you mention.
    I have studied these H&A single shots and don’t know of any that were factory chambered in a 25 cal. cartridge that was any larger than the 25 wcf.

    The fired case doesn’t show the more bottle neck form of the 25 wcf and the OAL of the 25-20 SS is too long to chamber that deep in a 25 wcf chamber.

    I also agree if it has been rechambered I wouldn’t trust it with a larger smokeless cartridge such as the 25-35.

    Jedman

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    As has been mentioned frequently, cast the chamber. That is the FIRST thing to do when acquiring ANY old rifle, regardless of what is stamped on the barrel. I've been misinformed too many times by sellers who "assumed" what they had is what it said.
    "In general, the art of government is to take as much money as possible from one class of citizens and give it to another class of citizens" Voltaire'

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  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    It looks to me like the rifle was rechambered to 25-35WCF

    When the 25-20SS load was fired in the 25-35WCF chamber, the forward section of the brass case expanded and fireformed to the 24-35WCF (re)chamber. But the rear part of the 25-20SS brass case didn't expand and fireform to the new chambering.
    That failure to expand of the rear section was likely due to a very lightly loaded 25-20SS round, made up in deference to the H&A action.
    The other reason is that the rear section f the case is heavier walled and just didn't expand with the lighter load.

    H&A built some of the 25-20SS chambered rifles on the small 922 action. These were called a Model 3925.
    The .22rf caliber version (more common) was the # 3922.
    Neat looking little target rifle with Scheutzen styled stock, oct bbl, checkering, heavy steel BP. I had one of the .22cal version (Mod 3922) that I restored and upgraded a few yrs back.


    They also built some 25-20SS on their medium size drop block single shot frame. These have screw in bbls and are much stronger than the 922/3925 Model which use a simple slip in bbl shank and set screw like a Stevens Favorite.

    I would not trust a Model 3925 rechambered to 25-35WCF.
    Even in 25-20SS,,loads must be kept very light. It was a target rifle after all with it's Model being called the Junior Scheutzen by H&A.

    The Medium frame single shot would be a better choice for the 25-35WCF. H&A used to chamber that particular rifle in 38-55WCF.
    Keep in mind 38-55WCF was a BP round at that time of production.
    The 25-35WCF has always been a HV smokeless round.

    I would only load the 25-35WCF in a medium frame w/screw in bbl H&R action with starting loads and not excede that.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy Xringshooter's Avatar
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    Thanks for the quick responses. Yes, I do have everything needed to do a chamber cast and that's what I'll do when I get the rifle from the owner. I did not take the forearm off to see if I could see any other markings. The barrel was reblued but I would hope that the markings are deep enough to see them. The H&A name and address and the .25-20 were deep enough that the reblue didn't hurt them.

    This is an old hand me down so the owner doesn't have the complete story but the chamber cast should tell me more and we can go from there. I will post what I find.
    Last edited by Xringshooter; 06-24-2021 at 11:19 AM.
    Ron
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Be interested in what you find. I don't think it's been reamed to .25-35. The expansion would go almost all the way to the case mouth if it were that, and the fattest part would be about .400".

    Do we know whether the rifle is a pre-1900 "medium frame". or a post-1900 model "3925"? The former was cataloged in cartridges up to .38-55, and would probably hold a .25-35. The latter is much smaller, and probably shouldn't even be rechambered to .25-20 WCF, since some factory ammo is up the the 25kpsi range.

    Photos of the receiver would help. The 3925 has a barrel retainer screw on the bottom. The medium frame is a taper pin coming in from the side.
    Eleutheromaniac

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy Xringshooter's Avatar
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    Talked to the guy that brought it to me to look at. Explained what I wanted to do and the cost. He said he would talk to his dad, who actually owns the gun and will get back to me. When/if the gun comes back in, I'll get the chamber cast done and take pictures of the of the receiver anany other markings and post them here.
    Ron
    USAF Ret (E-8) (1971-1997)
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    I had a 44 Stevens that came in a while back that was re-chambered in 256 Winchester mag. Someone had fired a 25-20 WCF in it and it look close to what you have. The chamber can be lined if the rifling is good or the barrel could be lined.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Holy Cow! .256 Win. Mag. In a Model 44. As soon as you think you've seen it all, they go you one better.
    Eleutheromaniac

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by uscra112 View Post
    Holy Cow! .256 Win. Mag. In a Model 44. As soon as you think you've seen it all, they go you one better.
    This came from another shop and when I pointed out the problem and what it would take to fix it they sold it to me at a good price. It is now a 44-40 and a lot of fun to shoot.

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Hate to say it, but I was thinking .256 Winchester. Hope not, but if the OP gets to do chamber cast that will tell.

    Robert

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I bought a fancy H&A rifle at estate sale. Very good condition but missing forearm. Octagon barrel and 25/20 SS. I forget full name but in Fladermans it was Ladies Perch Belly—-Target ? I was going to have it sleeved but guy offered me a nice m53 Win in 25/20 Win so I swapped him. He had a gunsmith over in WVa make forearm to match book and guy did beautiful job of matching existing stock too. I had another H&A that was rechambered to 22 Lovel.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy Xringshooter's Avatar
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    Ok, did the chamber cast and took pictures of everything I could think of. Pictures will be in sequence with the narrative.

    The cartridges the customer brought me. Left is unfired, right is fired (obviously).


    The chamber cast. Measurements from right to left. First mark is where the bore started. Couldn't really see a distinct shoulder, almost like a taper from the neck to the base like the "bad" cartridge.
    neck - 0.2755
    Top of Shoulder (?) 0.2845
    Base of shoulder (?) 0.3075
    Base 0.3710
    Rim 0.430
    Length - approx 1.687



    Diameter of opening at receiver end of barrel where the base would be - 0.3710



    Diameter of where the ejector is - 0. 448



    General pictures, looks like the s/n is 1330
    Barrel at muzzle - 0.7325
    Barrel at receiver (across the flats) - 0.9545





    Last edited by Xringshooter; 06-26-2021 at 02:36 PM.
    Ron
    USAF Ret (E-8) (1971-1997)
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Well, clearly not a medium-frame. Pretty sure it's the post-1900 "3925" model receiver, which supposedly was slightly bigger than the "9xx" model it was patterned after. I've seen only one in the flesh, and that was 15 years ago. The checkering pattern matches the cut in my catalog reprint. Buttplate should be a nickel-plated "Swiss" style.

    Can that possibly be a close-coupled set trigger? As far as I know H&A never offered a true set trigger of any kind.

    Looks like somebody reamed it with a bridge reamer. To what end the Devil only knows.

    I'd say it's definitely worth saving. The model is vanishingly rare. Sleeving the chamber might not clean up the damage. Time for a liner.

    Curiosity: H&A claimed the 3925 barrel was rifled with their "patented increase twist". Any chance to verify?
    Eleutheromaniac

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy Xringshooter's Avatar
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    The trigger is definitely NOT a set trigger set up, if you cock the hammer it will fire if you put something small between the two triggers and pull on the main one. I will get a twist reading as soon as I can and let you know what it is.

    The customer did say that the person who did the bluing told his dad that he couldn't get the bluing to take very good on the buttplate so that tells me that it probably had some type of plating as a magnet will stick. The person doing the bluing painted it black (and did a pretty good job).
    Ron
    USAF Ret (E-8) (1971-1997)
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    It may be that somebody ran a .25-20 WCF reamer in there with no other modification, just so they could shoot it with available ammo. Not a good job; the proper way is to shorten the barrel at the chamber end so the excess length of the Single Shot chamber doesn’t provide an impossible freebore for the boolit to jump across.

    It is possible to sleeve the chamber, and a worthwhile effort (IMHO) if the rifling is good. I did a .22-15-60 SS chamber on a Stevens 044-1/2 once that had the rear of the chamber screwed up like your rifle. I indicated the bore in on a lathe, drilled and bored out the damaged part to 0.375”, and turned a piece of shot-out .22 barrel to fit.

    I turned a graphite rod to the proper diameter to hold the sleeve concentric with the bore, tinned the sleeve and hole in the breech, heated the barrel and tapped the piece in with the graphite rod in place. When all was cool, I broke and drilled out the rod, faced the breech end off, and bored and reamed the sleeve to match the rest of the chamber. Loads, shoots and extracts pretty well now, using a few original and a bunch of RMC turned brass shells.

    Maybe too much trouble for some, but as gun restorer John Bivins used to write, “Original fabric is priceless.”

    See if pushing that rear trigger forward gives you a light trigger pull on the front one.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    The graphite rod idea is new to me. Consider it stolen.

    Phil
    Eleutheromaniac

  20. #20
    Looks like something made off the .357 Maximum, just a guess.

    AntiqueSledMan.

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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
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GC Gas Check