Author Topic: Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?  (Read 2910 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline sport240

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 48
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« on: September 09, 2004, 06:05:33 pm »
Well, here goes....

Last year I found a really beat up 1873 from Winchester. It was made in 1891 according to it's serial # and has that classic look and feel about it...a real relic.  The problem though was that it had nothing going for it, rust, cut-off mag, re-welded steel, broken stock...you name it.  I spent almost a full year rebuilding it with many of it's original parts some new, some used and some machined steel. I re-did the stock with tung oil (35+ coats) and had a satin blue put on at the smitty's. Had it been a reasonably shaped '73, I probably would not have touched it, value-wise, but since it was a real beater, I decided to give it a second life.  Today...well...I don't want to brag...but it almost looks like new and works like new too.  The gun is solid and after close examination and testing by my smitty, has been declared safe.

I ordered some 180gr. soft-points from Winchester and am ready to go. (this is the only ammo I can get for it)

My question....any chance of me using it as a competent deer gun here in Quebec?  Our deer are anywhere between 125-200lbs field dressed.

I've always relied loosely on the 1000 lbs/ft mark of required energy to cleanly harvest a deer, but the 38-40 does'nt even come close.

The ballistics for the caliber and ammo on hand are the following:

Velocity:   100yds-999fps   200yds-901fps   300yds-827fps

Energy:    100yds-399f/lb   200yds-399f/lb   300yds-324f/lb

I really doubt that I will be taking a shot any further than a 100 yards, all my deer in the past have been shot between 50 and 90 yards.

Should I use it?  (There is something about hunting with a vintage rifle that gets me going.)

Will it do a good clean job on deer? (I have many other guns/calibers to choose from...it reeeeaaaallly is'nt a problem...)

Is the modern Winnie ammo safe in this 113 year old gun? Should I just put it in the cabinet and look at it? Am I pushing my luck with the old girl?

Anyone ever used such a gun/caliber for deer?

Any help would be appreciated. Basically looking for input.

Thanx

Sport240


Offline leverfan

  • Trade Count: (8)
  • A Real Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 823
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2004, 11:12:56 pm »
According to the date that you give for your rifle's manufacture, it was made before Winchester upgraded their barrel steel to handle jacketed bullets, as well as the higher pressures of smokeless powder.  I would hesitate to fire it at all, but if I did, it would be with lead bullets only, and low pressure loads (maybe even stick with black powder).  Cowboy action shooters have created enough of a demand that mild, lead-bullet 38-40 loads can be found, and one could certainly reload for them fairly easily.  I don't know how tough it is for you to order ammo where you are, but Black Hills makes .38-40, 180 grain flat point lead bullet loads, and Cabela's is selling them for $24.49/50.  Maybe a local sporting goods store could help you out by ordering some in, too.  The price might even be better than Cabela's.

Even in a new rifle with modern steel, modern bullets, and full-power loads, the 38-40 is on the low end of deer hunting rounds.  Ballistics are similar to the modern 40 S&W, assuming equal barrel length, and there are lots of better hunting rounds available.  A well placed 38-40 round will do the job, but I'm a belt and suspenders type of guy, so I like the bullets to be well placed   and potent.
NRA life member

Offline John Y Cannuck

  • Moderators
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • A Real Regular
  • *****
  • Posts: 805
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2004, 03:04:27 am »
If your smith has declared it safe to fire then it PROBABLY is. I would fire the first few rounds remotely, or at least at arms length.
As to it's hunting ability, the 38-40 has taken a lot of deer in it's day, even with black powder loads. Keep your shots under 100yds, and preferably under 75.
The smokeless barrels did not appear consistently until around 1910, but, modern loads from Winchester are at black powder levels, and should be safe.
I had a 38-40 in my 1911 era 1892, and fired it quite abit. It was reasonably inaccurate, it never made it deer hunting. It has been rebarrelled to 44-40, and I plan to hunt with it this year.
Canadian Liberal Gov't = elected Dictatorship

Offline Oldtimer

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1170
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2004, 06:35:39 am »
Let's think this out, big hole up front, about 1300 f/s, 180 grain bullet.  Keep it iron sight close and place your shot, burn some powder before opening day, and I don't think you will have any troubles.  I would agree that lead bullets would be the best choice for a gun of that era, and black powder would be the icing on the cake.  You should be able to load about 35 grains in a modern case.  I'd go for it. :D

Offline 86er

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 134
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2004, 11:13:48 am »
:D    Although it's been many years, I took a couple of Blacktail and even one large Mulie with my 1884 vintage Model '73 Winchester. Just keep the range moderate, preferably under 75 yards, and your old gun will do the job. If you do score, let the board know all all about it. Good luck.
I get my kicks from an 1886.

Offline sport240

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 48
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2004, 05:14:21 pm »
I want to take a minute to thank you all for your great responses, quite a few of you seem to have confidence in the setup and frankly so do I.  Thanx for your input it is greatly appreciated.

Just out of curiosity I decided to send this question to Winchester through their website and this is the answer I got back....

"Thank you very much for taking the time to contact us here at Winchester
Ammunition.  We are always glad to hear from our many friends and customers who share in the shooting sport.

Winchester recommends checking with the gun manufacturer, before using the ammunition."

I guess that someone in the technical department does'nt know that they are the ones who built the gun, albeit 113 years ago, but someone there must be able to answer the question...unless they are outsourcing to India too.....

Sport240

Offline leverfan

  • Trade Count: (8)
  • A Real Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 823
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2004, 10:30:18 pm »
Sport240-

You might try calling the Winchester consumer department at 1-800-333-3288 or 1-801-876-2711.  They can hook you up with someone that has some working knowledge of the rifle's limits, and the ammo.  

I'm still rooting for blackpowder and lead bullet reloads, and I have three reasons.  First, it's what the gun was made for, so there will be no doubt as to safety.  

Second, a case full of black powder will probably give better velocity than many of the low-pressure smokeless powder loads on the market today.  One prime example of the underloading of classic ammo can be found in mainstream .45 Colt loads.  Most of the lead bullet smokeless loads struggle to break 750 fps with a 250 or 255 grain lead bullet in a 7.5" barrel.  The original blackpowder load could easily go over 900 fps in the same barrel length, and some folks are still pushing 950 fps with today's brass and black powder.  That's in spite of the reduced internal volume of today's brass.

Third, if you enjoy using a classic gun, just think how much fun it will be to stoke it with a classic load.  Do you have any source for reloading components, or a buddy that could help you out with this?
NRA life member

Offline sport240

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 48
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2004, 06:04:20 pm »
Leverfan,

Thanx for all the good input...I really get your drift and see what you're getting at, the problem is that I really do not have access to any reloading components or buddies of the sort.  My gunsmith is an expert in musket and black powder, but has limited knowledge in the specifics of BP cartridges, admitting that it is the single part of BP in which he has not furthered his craft.  So unless I can find a company that makes off the shelf BP cartridges, or the help of a fortunate soul that will teach me how to BP cartridge, I have little choice but to use Winchester smokeless brass loads. Do you know of any company such as Gamebore (which manufactures BP shells for shotguns) which make BP cartridges for guns such as mine?

TY

Sport240

Offline Oldtimer

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1170
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2004, 06:39:39 pm »
Some years ago, a friend asked me to find reloading components for a .40-82 Winchester.  I went to a gunshow and found a Lyman nutcracker combination tool. which included a bullet mold.  It was slow going, but we got the old gun shooting. The bullets were quite accurate as cast, but one could size them with the tool. If you look around, you can probably find one for a .38-40, as it was a fairly popular caliber, a lot more popular than the .40-82.  Loading involves seating a pistol primer, as the cartridge is a pistol caliber, filling the case with black powder to within about 6 millimeters of the case mouth, then seating the bullet and crimping. Using black powder, the biggest problem you will run into is not using enough crimp.  The other problem is if you forget to load the powder. Bagging game with a gun with the history of your rifle and using handloaded cartridges has to be experienced.   Good luck! :grin:

Offline sport240

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 48
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2004, 07:31:11 pm »
Oldtimer,

Must I understand that there is no real mesure to the BP apart from filling the case to about 6mm of the case mouth?  I know little about smokeless powder, but I know that a specific amount of "grains" must be used.  I do own a smokepole and measure the BP by volume, usually 90gr. to 100gr.  

Is this simple enough as to pull the bullet from a modern cartridge, empty the smokeless powder, fill to 6mm of the case mouth with BP and re-seat the bullet?  Or am I missing something here...or soon to be missing an eye and a forearm with this combination?
(Hopefully not!)

Sport240

Offline LeverBar

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Posts: 4
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2004, 08:40:43 pm »
Hello Sport,
 
We shoot a '73 that was manufactured in 1885.  My youngest son has taken his first two mule deer with it, and I have shot several Blacktails using it.  Before I began to reload, I used factory jacketed ammunition.  Now that we load, we use Oregon Trail 180 grain .401 lead RNFN bullets over 5.6 grains of Titegroup.  Just don't push the range; 150 yards--maybe; 100 yards--definitely.
 
I don't know how to get cartridges to you.  If you know how, and want some, I'll send along a batch of them.  We are safe reloaders.  My sons shoot what I reload, so I'm extremely careful. --Let me know.

Offline leverfan

  • Trade Count: (8)
  • A Real Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 823
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2004, 10:09:41 pm »
Sport-
You can get factory black powder loads from the Old Western Scrounger.

http://www.ows-ammunition.com/cgi-bin/store/store.cgi  Just type 38-40 in the box, be sure to leave out the dot before "38", and you're in business.  They've got some 180 grain loads.

If you choose to load your own black powder cartridges some day, be sure to steer clear of any loading items that can create static or otherwise cause sparks.  This means no plastic powder funnels, for example.  You can safely make consistent black powder loads by making a little scoop that throws the charge you want.  A proper charge of black will be compressed when you seat the bullet, so you really can't get too much in.  Be sure to use a fairly soft lube, to keep fouling soft.  There are several on the market, and any mail order company could get you set up in short order with everything you need to load your own.  I'm moving in a couple of weeks, and my catalogs and reference books have been packed up since early August, or I'd tell you more.  Maybe get a book, and see if it's really for you.  Midsouth Shooters Supply should have a few good books on the topic.  Have fun this season, and be safe.
NRA life member

Offline Oldtimer

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1170
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2004, 11:07:50 am »
Sport, It actually could be done just the way you describe, but the factory cartridges are kind of an exensive way to go.  Black powder cartridges were named by the caliber and load: in the case of the 38-.40, it carried a .40 caliber bullet and had a powder charge of 38 grains of black powder.  Further many cartridge names also included  the weight of the bullet, so you would be shooting a 38-.40-180, for example.  The pressure of black powder is a lot less than smokeless, and the standard procedure was to fill the case so that the powder would be slightly compressed when the bullet was loaded. If you shoot a muzzleloader with powder, you know that the powder must be under some compression to burn efficiently and consistently.  In a modern case, you might be able to get around 35 grains of black powder under the bullet, maybe a couple of grains less.  I would use lead bullets out of concern for the soft steel in the barrel, and also because it will give a lower pressure than a jacketed bullet.  As long as you don't smoke while loading the cases, I wouldn't worry about blowing yourself up.

Offline sport240

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 48
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2004, 08:51:14 pm »
Thank you for the great info guys...

Discussions like this are the reason I love these boards.

Sport240

Offline w30wcf

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 187
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2004, 03:13:24 pm »
sport240,

A lot of great information from our fellowshooters.  Winchester began offering .38 W.C.F. smokeless powder cartridges in late 1894.    Cartridge boxes indicated that they were intended for both the '73 and '92 Winchester Rifles.   U.M.C. followed with their .38-40 smokeless cartridge a few years later.

According to Alliant powder data,  13 grs. of 2400  gave a velocity of 1,305  f.p.s. with a 180 gr.jacketed bullet at 13,400 c.u.p. in their 24" test barrel.  That load replicates the ballistics of the early smokeless loadings and is safe to use in your '73 if it is in good condition.  Also, they show 10.3 grs. of Blue Dot giving pretty much the same velocity at the same pressure as the 13/2400 in a 5.6" barrel so it should give pretty much the same results in a rifle barrel.

Oldtimer,
Thanks for the good info on blackpowder.
Regarding the .38 W.C.F. (Winchester), the early load of 40grs. was reduced to 38 grs. in the early 1890's.  

The .38-40 (U.M.C. designation) as it was loaded by U.M.C. and REM-UMC continued to be loaded with 40 grs.of black powder before the b.p. loading was  dropped in the 1930's.  

Sincerely,
w30wcf
aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
aka John Kort
Life Member NRA
.22 WCF, .30WCF, .44WCF cartridge historian

Offline w30wcf

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 187
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2004, 03:22:53 pm »
Forgot to mention that according to the 1899 Winchester catalog, the velocity listed for the .38 W.C.F. with a 180 gr. lead bullet was 1,268 f.p.s.

The early smokeless loading was a bit faster at 1,338 f.p.s.  using DuPont No.2 bulk smokeless powder or L&R "Sharpshooter". Both were slower burning powders like 2400 and generated about the same pressure as the black powder loadings.

w30wcf
aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
aka John Kort
Life Member NRA
.22 WCF, .30WCF, .44WCF cartridge historian

Offline jd45

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • A Real Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 537
.38-40 for deer
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2004, 03:54:15 pm »
I don't mean to pick nits with Oldtimer, but as I understand the black powder pistol cartridge designations, was regarded as a 38 caliber, altho it did actually measure 401, or so, and the ref to 40 was the powder charge in grains. Please correct me if I'm wrong. jd45.

Offline sport240

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 48
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2004, 05:51:21 pm »
Thanx W30WCF!

Reading your post I thought of trying to draw a parallel with the 1268 fps of early BP loadings and the annonuced MV of the modern Winchester factory loadings for the 38-40 in 180 gr. (which I have on hand) at 1160 fps.  Can we draw a conclusion that since my 1891 model '73 was designed to handle BP loads pushing 1268 fps, that it should be able to handle smokeless loads at 1160 fps?

Or is this linear logic too simple...or simply omitting other important factors? (such as pressure, etc...)?

Thanx again for the good info...

Sport240

Offline w30wcf

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 187
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2004, 08:05:54 am »
sport240,

Yes. Current manufactered smokeless .38-40 ammunition is loaded within the pressure limitations of the '73.  

By handloading and going to slower smokeless pistol powders such as Blue Dot and 2400, you will gain another 100+ f.p.s. in the same pressure range that  the '73 was designed for.  (See  post above regarding Alliant Data.)

Have fun!'
w30wcf
aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
aka John Kort
Life Member NRA
.22 WCF, .30WCF, .44WCF cartridge historian

Offline DPRinks

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 166
.38-40
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2004, 06:12:13 pm »
Just buy off the shelf, the tort lawyers have made sure no factory loads will cause problems.
I have shot a .44-40 over 50 years, just keep in mind that after 100 yds, think mortar, not rifle, sighted in for 50yds, the drop at 300yds is 95"
Supposedly, .38-40 is a mistake by some one in advertising as the original name was supposed to be .40-38, the actual original loading of the cartridge.
Don
D. Rinks

Offline 1860

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 154
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2004, 02:00:45 am »
The answere to the original question about shooting jacketed facory loads through an iron frame 73 is NO!...

It's not the velocity but the preasure created.  Sure, you could probably get away with it but let me know if you are at my range when you try it so I can leave.  As we all know, these are toggle link actions, not the strongest design out there, add in the softer metal used in those days and 100+ years and you are looking for trouble.  You spent the time to restore the gun to shooting condition, spend a little more and start reloading BP with lead bullets.  5.5grs. of Unique and a soft lead bullet will get you a round that will roll cans around, if you want to hunt go with 35grs of 2f Goex and keep your shots in the boiler room and 75yards max.

I shoot old winchesters a few times a month and the 38-40 is my favorite round, I love that "klink-klank" noise when you chamber a round...Do it right or don't do it...

60

Offline w30wcf

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 187
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2004, 03:48:29 am »
1860,

When the first smokeless powder .38-40 was first introduced in the mid 1890's they were loaded with jacketed bullets and the cartridge boxes indicated that they were for use in the '73 and '92 Winchester rifle.

THe .38 W.C.F. W.H.V. M'92 (Winchester High Velocity) cartridge first appeared in 1903 and that ammunition was for the '92 Winchester onlyas the headstamp indicated.

Modern .38-40 cartridges with both jacketed and cast bullets are loaded to the pressure limitations of the '73 Winchester.

Alliant Powder Co. has published data for the .38-40 uysing jacketed bullets loaded to the pressure limitations of the '73 Winchester as mentioned in my previous post...... ".According to Alliant powder data, 13 grs. of 2400 gave a velocity of 1,305 f.p.s. with a 180 gr.jacketed bullet at 13,400 c.u.p. in their 24" test barrel. That load replicates the ballistics of the early smokeless loadings and is safe to use in your '73 if it is in good condition. Also, they show 10.3 grs. of Blue Dot giving pretty much the same velocity at the same pressure as the 13/2400 in a 5.6" barrel so it should give pretty much the same results in a rifle barrel. "

w30wcf
aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
aka John Kort
Life Member NRA
.22 WCF, .30WCF, .44WCF cartridge historian

Offline 1860

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 154
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2004, 10:16:34 am »
w30wcf,

You are of course correct, it was 1895.  Before I originally responded I checked the Winchester site and it didn't list the presure for the round the original poster was using.  He also stated that something on his gun was "re-welded",it was generally in not too good of shape when he started, and some of the parts used were hand made.  Not knowing what was done to the gun or the presure of the loads in question, I chose to err on the side of safety and say no.  

I saw in your profile that you are really interested in these old timers, me too, great fun they are.  There are many handloads that are safe in firearms that are in good shape, probably the factory stuff to.  The original poster doesn't handload, but he would probably enjoy his gun more if he did...BP smoke out of a 73 is tons of fun...and light smokeless rounds also get the job done.

I'm just very cautious, earlier this year at a levergun shoot, I saw 2 Model 92s wrecked by the same shooter, in 2 consecuative shots.  I heard him fire and the noise was not right, I looked over to see him rubbing his face-gas blow back.  The gun was locked up tight and I had to take it apart it unload it, the primer was missing from the fired shell, and the bolt was very tight in the rails.  What does he do, he gets another 92 out of his truck, a nice carbine, takes another round out of his "baggie" of reloads and prepares to shoot it.  I tell him it's not a good idea, probably bad ammo, he persists so I excuse myself and head to the washroom(got outta Dodge).  When I get back the 2nd 92 is being taken apart as well.  2 classics wrecked in one morning and 92s as you well know are much stronger than 73's.  It certainly was bad reloading on his part but I won't shoot anything out of these old guns that I didn't put together myself, including factory stuff..Just the way I am...

Question,  Why does the .38-40 take a .40cal bullet, or Why wasn't it called the .40-40?  

 Good talkin to ya..

60

Offline DPRinks

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 166
.40-40
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2004, 05:27:14 pm »
1860;
Supposedly, someone in advertising at Winchester either misunderstood or did not like the first name, which was the caliber and the powder charge as first developed, that was .40 dia. and 38gr bp or .40-38, which is what it really is.
I have been shooting a '92 carbine in .44-40 over 50 years, never could hit anything over 75yd with factory ammo.
Finally slugged the barrel, .429", the factory bullet is only .426!
I am now hand loading with .429 cast gas check with the base 3/8 " sized down to .428, cannot chamber a .429 set in the case neck, chamber is too small.
A 240gr gas check swc as above with 26gr Reloder7 is giving 1450fps and 1" groups at 50 yds with no signs of pressure, case head of a new case with 25gr shows no expansion and with 26gr shows only .0005"
The '92 is much stronger, in what ever caliber, the .218 Bee was used in this action at 35,000-38,000 psi.
Don
D. Rinks

Offline w30wcf

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 187
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2004, 07:18:36 pm »
1860,

I agree. The old time caryridges are interesting and fun to work with.
Some of the best moments in my 30+ years of shooting have been with my 1873 Winchester .44 W.C.F. (Circa 1882) knocking down NRA steel Javelina at 330 yards.  Neat!  Or my Teddy Roosevelt .30-30 Rifle launching 311284's (220 gr. cast) at "Homer" the 1,000 yard buffalo.
Say what? a .30-30 @ 1,000 yards? You betcha!  

I, as yourself, am very cautious about what I put in my '73.  I would never use anyone elses reloads in it either.  I found my '73 in 1999 and since then it has digested about 3,500 smokeless and about 500 blackpowder and blackpowder substitute cartridges.  

The barrel in my rifle is pitted so it fouls with black pretty quickly.  I have found that  Pyrodex works well and continues to give accurate shooting since its fouling doesn't accumulate like black.  Swiss b.p. works better than Goex since it's fouling is softer and I can shoot about 15 rounds before accuracy starts to deteriorate.  Goex only goes about 7 rounds before groups really start opening up.  

I use Swiss FFG in W.R.A. Co. .44 W.C.F. headstamped cases that I pulled the original bullets, powder and primers from. I then annealed the cases and they are still doing ok.  It's neat having some of the original cartridge cases to use in a vintage rifle.  

With regards to the .38 W.C.F.,  I have always thought that the reason that Winchester did not call it the .40 W.C.F. is because they felt that it might be too easily confused with the .44 W.C.F.  In addition, the .38-55 and .38-56 were well known rifle cartridges but there was no .38 cartridge short enough to function in the '73.

Good talking with you as well.

DPRinks,
Glad to hear that you had some very good success with your .429" groove '92.  1 " groups at 50 yards are great!   I have found that Winchester brass, on average, is a little thinner than R-P and Starline, at least on the two lots that I have.  You may be able to use .429" bullets in it.

Interestingly according to Winchester catalogs from 1879 - 1892 the .38 W.C.F. was originally loaded with a 160 gr. bullet and 37 grs. of b.p.

In 1881 the charge was increased to 40 grs. b.p.  
In 1882 the bullet weight was increased to 180 grs.
From 1882 to 1891,  the .38 W.C.F. contained a 180 gr bullet and 40 grs. of b.p.
In 1892, the charge weight was reduced to 38 grs. b.p.

The .38-40 "Marlin Safety" cartridge always contained  40 grs. of b.p.  

History is sure interesting!

w30wcf
aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
aka John Kort
Life Member NRA
.22 WCF, .30WCF, .44WCF cartridge historian

Offline 1860

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 154
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #25 on: October 09, 2004, 03:45:19 am »
D.Rinks

I've been shooting and collecting 73s for quite awhile, mostly 38-40 and I never even shot the  44-40s I had.  Then someone offered me a 92 Rifle and Carbine at a real good price so I bought them, both .44-40.  Man, I didn't know what I was missing until I started shooting/handling that carbine, what a fine little gun.  But I thought I was "skunked" the first time I shot that carbine with factory loads(Store bought cowboy action loads), they went everywhere, even tumbled a little.  Mine likes soft lead in .430, really likes them, and w30wcf is correct, Winchester brass is a little thinner.  I've also found that if I don't use the seating die to crimp, and take the extra step to use a Lee Factory crimp die, I don't have any chambering troubles.  That roll crimping bulges the case ever so slightly, I adjust it down just enough to remove the belling and then crimp with the Lee.

Both,

I heard various reasons on the 38-40, I tend to go with the Marketing explaination.  Old Oliver W. was known to be a marketing genious in his day and I think he just felt calling it a .38 offered something "different" to his customers, a .40 cal. just sounds too much like a .44.  Sometimes I wish I was around to ask him :wink:

60

Offline 1860

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 154
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2004, 04:11:50 am »
w30wcf,

One can really draw a crowd at the range when you start ringing steel @200+ yards with one of these old timers.  My deer gun is a pre 1900 -94 SRC, in .38-55, once you get that ladder sight right, you can knock over bowling pins @200 pretty easily, steel plates @300 really opens some eyes, not having alot of wind helps :-) .

I have 2 - 73 shooters, both 38-40, one the rifling is a little on the thin side and the other has some pitting, both shoot smokeless very well.  Like you, both start to "chuck" bullets before 10 shots when I use Goex, and I've tried many lubes, bullets, cookies & etc.  Tripple 7 has been a boon to my shooting, but it's alot hotter than BP so take 15% off the loads.  If you like to shoot BP and want to extend your time before cleaning, drop me an email and I'll explain some loadings I've worked out.

60

Offline w30wcf

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 187
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2004, 09:18:16 am »
1860,

Sounds like you've got some neat '73's!  A friend of mine has a '73 rifle with a 24" round barrel in .38 W.C.F.  He's shot some current Winchester ammunition in it along with some smokeless reloads I had put together.  Yes, I would appreciate any data that you have regarding b.p. / b.p. substitutes. Thank you. My email address is [email protected].

Regarding your experience with a larger bore '73 in .44 W.C.F. mine has a groove of .433"!   I had the opportunity to speak with Gorge Madis about this and he indicated that it wasn't until the early to mid 1890's when Winchester tightened up their bore tolerances.  It wasn't that important when all the ammunition previous to 1895 was b.p. and lead bullets which worked aok with the variance in groove diameters.

Regarding b.p. and b.p. substitutes in the .44 W.C.F. and .44-40 I wrote my experiences a few years ago at the .44 WCF Club on Yahoo.

Here are the links:
Hodgdon’s 777 in the .44 W.C.F. / .44-40
http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/the44wcfclub/message/53

Pitted bores & black powder
http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/the44wcfclub/message/58

Pyrodex and other black powder substitutes  
http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/the44wcfclub/message/69

Sincerely,
30wcf
aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
aka John Kort
Life Member NRA
.22 WCF, .30WCF, .44WCF cartridge historian

Offline 1860

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Avid Poster
  • **
  • Posts: 154
Hunting with a 38-40 lever (M1873)?
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2004, 05:33:48 pm »
w30,

Thanks for the links.  I'm in the middle of a large project at work and time is short, I'll emule you something later in the week or the weekend.  I'll also attach a pic or 2, just so you don't delete it as spam or a virus, The subject will be 73 SRC and my mail is [email protected]..

60