Author Topic: Winchester 1885 action  (Read 4661 times)

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Offline filmokentucky

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Winchester 1885 action
« on: January 19, 2009, 09:30:22 pm »
I recently bought a Winchester 1885 action and want to build a good hunting rifle with it. A .45-70 is a possibility but I'd like to explore other options too. This is an original action made in 1895 and I'm not sure what the safe pressure level is for this action. I've heard 28,000 p.s.i. to 40,000 p.s.i. and I'd like to get a more exact figure. Any ideas about this or about possible chamberings? I tend to prefer the old time calibers.
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Winchester 1885 action
« on: January 19, 2009, 09:30:22 pm »
 

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2009, 09:34:49 pm »
First you must know if Hi wall or Low wall as that will determine the size cartridges it can be chambered to. If Hi Wall then sure .45-70 is do able but not if Low wall. Since it's an original from the black powder era you should hold it to the same pressure levels as black powder cartridges and not assume it safe for higer pressure. If you want to use higher pressure rounds get one of the Japanese made guns made of modern steel.


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Offline LONGTOM

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2009, 05:55:19 am »
As always, GB gave you good advice.
Before you can do anything you must determine if it is a HIGHWALL or a LOWWALL.
If you aren't sure just GOGGLE HIGHWALL or LOWWALL and click on the IMAGES TAB and it will bring up some pics of each and you can compare the two.
Then come on back and we will see if we can suggest some calibers that would be suitable.


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Offline Frank46

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2009, 08:43:32 am »
You first have to identify your winchester 1885 action. If low wall then it is only good for certain small rifle and pistol cartridges. If it is a high wall action then some other factors come into play. Winchester when they first started making these actions case hardened these actions. This would be seen as colors in the steel. Sometime later the newmade high wall actions still made by winchester were blued and heat treated. The latter ones are supposed to be much stronger. Also some of the earlier actions had what one would call a black powder firing pin. Usually bigger than the later smokeless powder smaller firing pin. At one time winchester used to get the older actions (case hardened) and offer to take them through the newer reheat treatment process. Of course winchester stopped making these actions in the late 20's and 30's. The winchester high wall is a strong action and in the later versions was chambered for such cartridges such as 30-40 krag, 303 british, and 30-06 springfield just to name a few. If your action is one of the case hardened actions with the large black powder firing pin and you wish to have it rebarreled to 45-70 (always a good choice) then you will have to get the firing pin bushed. This is to prevent the older larger firing pin from puncturing the primer not a good thing. The 45-70 in black powder loadings was about 1300 feet per second with the 500 grain bullet. Believe me when I will say your shoulder will tell you when enough is enough. The standard twist for the 45-70 was 1turn in 22". Modern BP shooters who shoot silhouetts usually will get a 1x18 twist barrel with some going to a 1x16 twist barrel. Some of the bullets that they shoot weigh in at 530 grains and heavier. Good barrels can be had from douglas, badger, kreiger and green mountain. Its all according to how much your budget can stand. If you are into winchester single shots John Campbell has written two books "The Winchester Single Shot Rifle" vol 1&2. Definitely a set of books to be had by anyone interested in these rifles. Hope this helps. Frank

Offline filmokentucky

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2009, 12:08:44 pm »
   I knew I was forgetting something in that last post! It's a high wall action.  It is threaded for the large barrel shank and of course is a flat spring action.
   I have a .45-70 already, a sporterized Trapdoor that I shoot blackpowder handloads in. It weighs about 7 and 1/2 pounds and is a ball to shoot. I originally thought to use smokeless .45-70 loads in the high wall since I already have the brass and loading dies. But now I think that I would like to do something different--maybe a .50-110 or .45-100. I suppose I could have the action heat treated and go for something like the .405 Winchester or .50 Alaskan. I've heard of this being done. Right now I'm in the planning stage and still trying to keep the weight at not much over eight pounds. Iron sights only as I don't want the weight of a scope and am not likely to make any shots that a good tang sight can't handle.
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Offline LONGTOM

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2009, 12:30:18 pm »
I too like the 50-110.
That would be neat but componets can get quite expensive.
I have always liked a 50cal.
Just something about that big chunk of lead.

AT least we now know what type of action it is.
The barrel cost would be about the same regardless of cal.
Which ever you decide on keep up informed.
I love the old HIGHWALLS.
I have a LOWWALL action I was thinking of redoing in 32-20.
Have a few new HIGHWALLS and hope to have an original one someday!


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Offline mcwoodduck

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2009, 12:43:50 pm »
What about some old small bore ( called medium here) rifle rounds like 30-40 Krag or 303 Brit.
Both have a large rim and can throw big heavy for caliber bullets at decient speeds.  Both are similar to 308 Win/ 30-06 in preformance.
pointed bullets are available if you try to see how far you can stretch the gun to hit plains game.  Either round is enough for most hunted animals like deer, bear and pig.  The pointed bullets could come in handy for mule deer or pronghorn. Big flat pointed lead bullets would be great for woods with whitetail, pigs or black bear. Heck the largest elk was taken with 30-40 Krag way back when.  Brass, loaded ammo and componets are available.  Most of all there are not hot rounds loaded for it like 45-70 or 405 Win that could damage the action and your gun.  Hornady is loading 405 to some ungodly levels for the No. 1H and exceeds minimum for Cape Buffalo.
If you want more oomph maybe a 348 Win could fit the bill.  i am just guessing at the pressure levels as it was a lever action chamber or if your looking for something odd ball and low pressure there is the 475 Turnball that he has been loading in to old 1886 lever rifles.

Offline oldrifter

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2009, 01:00:34 pm »
I have a 45-70 I built on a Falling block works J action which is a copy of the Highwall action and it is my favorite hunting rifle.  I left it a slight bit heavy because I don't need the punishment .  I have taken 5 deer this year with it and it was pushing a 300 gr 2180 fps .  Never noticed the kick.  What I am saying is the 45-70 is a good choice.
Good hunting
oldrifter
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2009, 04:39:14 pm »
Were it me I'd go for a 38-55 for a first choice or 40-65 as a second.


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Offline filmokentucky

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2009, 07:24:56 pm »
I've got a an early (four digit) Winchester '94 going together in .38-55 so I'm inclined to go with a bigger bore on the high wall. I haven't had a .50 caliber for many years and the .50-110-300 or even the .50-90 would be good. I could likely build a lighter rifle if I went with the .30-40 though. That's one of the nice things about being retired--I have plenty of time to think about this stuff.
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Offline Frank46

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2009, 09:29:43 pm »
Great, now that we know its a high wall flat spring its going to make your task easier. Bear with me as I ramble on. Calibers, well kind of partial to both the 45/70 and the 30-40krag. If you cast your own bullets your even closer. The 45/70 has a lot going for it. Plenty of available bullet molds out there, brass is available, plenty of loading info and there is something really neat about launching big chunks of lead. I saved the 30-40 krag for last. Have both a 1898 krag and a winchester 1895 (origional) in 30-40 krag. Again plenty of 30 caliber molud, brass and info. Was at a gun show a couple years back and while wandering around a gentleman came walkingby with a high wall in 30-40 krag. He was kind enough to let me look it over. 30" #3 weight bbl octagon of course with single set trigger.Really nice shape with great bore. I have a origional high wall action that I've been sitting on for close to 26 years. Lately have been seriously thinking about getting it case colored, same weight bbl and 30-40 krag. It would be kind of clumsy here in the Louisiana woods with the long barrel, but would not feel undergunned in the least. Green mountain sells their barrels in octagon shape or you could go half octagon half round for a more classy look. As far as wood is concerned don't go for the really fancy walnut. Get the butt and forend in a good grade of nice plain walnut.
And while your at it, check out the assra.com website. The gents over there live and breath single shots, post what you have and what you hope to end up with. If you don't plan on any long range shooting check out the "Parts Unknown" tang and globe front sights the Buffalo Arms has. There are folks who do great jobs color case hardening also. And I confess to owning a Ruger #1 rifle in 45/70. Great rifle except I wish they would have put something longer on the barrel than 22". Us old farts sometimes need the extra sight radius as the eyes don't work so well any more. If you get a mid range tang sight your shooting will be limited to about 500-600 yds. Me I can't see that far. Listen to what these Forum members
have to say, the wealth of knowledge iis incredible. Same for the assra site. The more info you have at your disposal the better informed you will be when it comes to making decisions. My now deceased uncle used to hunt pennsylvania whitetails with an old 1898 krag. Always got meet. 'nuff said. Hope this helps. Frank

Offline filmokentucky

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2009, 11:37:16 pm »
I do a lot of muzzleloading hunting so to me a 30" barrel is kinda short--the fowler I'm having built will have a 48" barrel. I sold my Krag sporter and a nice '86 winchester action with a really sad barrel to cover the costs of building my high wall. Since I already have my Trapdoor I don't really need another .45-70 but you make some good points about the .30-40 and I'm familiar with it.  There's also some nice pointy bullets available for it too. Something to think about for sure! Thanks.
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Offline mcwoodduck

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2009, 08:34:08 am »
What ever you pick
Please take pictures as you go and post them here.  We would like to see what you do.

Offline filmokentucky

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2009, 11:33:40 pm »
I've been thinking about getting a Cody letter on this action and maybe restoring the rifle to its original configuration. The receiver still shows even but faded case colors, as does the lever. There is almost no wear showing anywhere on this action. Given the reasonable cost of a Cody letter, I think it is worth the time it takes to get one.

A friend of mine tells me that the .40-82 is the same case as the .405 Winchester. Does anyone know if this is true?
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Offline Frank46

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2009, 08:35:29 pm »
Have an origional 40-82 cartridge in my collection. It shares the same case head diameter as the 45/70 but the 45/70 case is too short. You'll have to use a 45 basic case that is available. Think these cases are available from huntinton's in california. Don't know how long the basic case is but you'll probably have to trim to length and form in a 40-82 form die. Then reload using a standard 40-82 die set. That will probably be a three die set. Full length die, expander die and seater die. So at this point you could do that, go for the 405 winchester, or the tried and true 45/70. Check the extractor on your action, they are usually marked as to the caliber. The cheapest ( wrong words in today's environment) the 45/70 would be your best bet. Your idea of getting a letter from the cody museum is a good one. Should give you the caliber as shipped from winchester. And probably the date of manufacture as well as any other info they have. Hope this helps. Frank

Offline LONGTOM

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2009, 08:02:32 am »
Most defiantly get a letter.
It will tell the date when it was mfg, the caliber, what barrel was on it, any special feathers (if any), where it was shipped to and how many guns were in the shipment.
Although yours is not a complete gun the letter will still add considerable value to it's price and your information about how it started out.

I have letters on all my 1873s that would letter,(some won't for various reasons) and was very pleased to find that one of them was ordered by JOHN BROWNING himself (and so marked under the butt plate) which adds a tremendous amount to its value not to mention the thought of owning a gun the the man handled personally!


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That my two young sons may never have to know the horrors of war. 

I will stand for your rights as my forefathers did before me!
My thanks to those who have, are and will stand for mine!
To those in the military, I salute you!

LONGTOM 9-25-07

Offline filmokentucky

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2009, 11:44:58 am »
Judging by the extractor, this action used a cartridge with a smaller head than the .45-70. Maybe something on the order of the .32-40 or some such.
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Offline filmokentucky

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2009, 08:18:13 pm »
I just realized that the only serial number that I can find is on the lower tang. Is this usual? Since the tang is removeable, the serial number could be changed simply by swapping the tangs out.
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Offline LONGTOM

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2009, 10:16:37 pm »
I just realized that the only serial number that I can find is on the lower tang. Is this usual? Since the tang is removeable, the serial number could be changed simply by swapping the tangs out.
You are correct.
I always thought the same thing but that is the way WINCHESTER did it.
The bad thing is that if the gun was sent back to the factory for a replacement trigger or for an up grade to double set triggers the workers would reach in the trigger bin and do what needed to be done but would not transfer the serial #.
If it had a trigger replaced by a gunsmith of the time he would have used one from another gun and therefore the serial # could call for a completely different caliber, barrel, wood, sights ect.
This has caused many good Winchester rifles over the years to be faked and sold at higher prices or sold at a fraction of the price they would have been if they would letter.

The only 73 I have that won't letter is the best one I have.
It is fully engraved, nickle plated, with a set trigger and deluxe wood.
I sent it to the CODY MUSEMUM and they said it was period done, meaning it was done in the style and appears to be original but the trigger has been replaced with a latter one.
No serial transfer and therefore they can't verify if it was engraved at the factory or not.
As it stands it is a $3000.00 gun.
If it was done at the factory it is in the $50,000.00 range. :-\
They tried every way to verify it with no luck.

If they just would have stamped them someplace else---------

It probablely would have been out of my price range!!! :D

Long answere to your quwstion.
YES that is the serial #!


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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2009, 03:46:43 pm »
   Why not go a bit different and look into some thing like a 9.3X74 or if you want a big thumper go to either the .450 N.E. or the .450 # 2 N.E., on the last one you might want to check the shank diameter but it pressures are in the 25,000 C.U.P. range.
There is no such thing as over kill!!!!  :-)

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2009, 06:26:33 pm »
Judson, is there any difference between the 450 #2 N.E. and the #2 musket?. If DoubleD sees this he'll probably chime in. Thanks Frank

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2009, 07:06:40 am »
   Yes there is.    The .450#2 N.E. is a Nitro Express cartridge opperating at very low pressure.  It runs in the 25,000 to 29,000 C.U.P. range.    I will try to post a picture of it compaired to a .243
There is no such thing as over kill!!!!  :-)

Offline Frank46

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2009, 07:53:09 pm »
Judson, thank you for posting the picture. English sporting cartridges are kinda thin on the ground here in louisiana. Frank

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2009, 06:00:21 pm »
I just got my Cody letter. The high wall was originally a .32-40 with a 30" #3 weight barrel. It had and still has a plain trigger and was received in the warehouse on April 11, 1895.

A quick look on the web indicates that .32-40 brass is going to be tough to find. How difficult would it be to convert to .30-40 Krag and has anyone done this? Thanks. Dan
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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2009, 07:15:09 pm »
Dan, congratulations of lettering your action. As for brass get either 32 win special or 30-30 and run through
a 32-40 sizing die. Use the imperial sizing stuff as a little goes a long way and it works good. Or get some starline 38-55 brass and resize it to 32-40. Check midway as I think they sell 32-40 brass. Nominal bullet weight for the 32-40 was 165 grains with the 1x16 twist. You can go with a faster twist such as 1x14 and go to a 200 grain bullet. Check out the american single shot association website  assra.com, lotsa good folks over there and able to help you out. You can set up your action as a hunting rifle or as a schutzen rifle. Or go with the 30-40 krag cartridge as you suggested. Great cast bullet cartridge too. keep us posted. Frank

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2009, 06:28:42 pm »
I'm also putting together a .38-55 1894 Winchester, so I'd like to go with something a little more powerful in the high wall. I can't find cartridge head diameters for the .32-40 and .30-40 so I don't know if I'll need a new extractor or not. The high wall was the first commercial rifle chambered for the .30 U.S. so the action should be fine otherwise. If it turns out that I have to change the extractor, then I can pretty much pick any cartridge I want right?
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Offline dorothy daily

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2009, 08:08:23 pm »
for whatever it is worth gander mountain has japanese 1885's in 22-250 &223 on sale $810.00as advertised in gundigest.

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #27 on: February 16, 2009, 08:25:45 pm »
Cartridge rim size for the 32-40 is the same as the good old 30-30. 30-40 krag is just like the 303 british. Except the 30-40 krag has the bevel on the rim whereas the 303 british does not. Frank

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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #28 on: February 16, 2009, 11:22:17 pm »
So I'll have to swap extractors if I go to the .30 U.S. or anything bigger?
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Re: Winchester 1885 action
« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2009, 07:47:31 pm »
While I know that winchester did build 1885's in 30-40 krag what I don't know is wether or not your extractor can be remachined when you get it barrelled to the krag cartridge. So I'm going out on a limb here by saying it would be better if you could get a 30-40 krag extractor. Hopefully someone with more info on these rifles will chime in and help us out. Frank

 

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