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Discussion Starter #1
I found what looks to be a good buy on a new production Winchester 94 in .38-55. However, I don't know much about the round. I'd like a rifle that that would be useful for deer out to about 150-200 yards maximum, black bear, maybe elk at close range. Deer and bear would be the primary purpose, however, and the primary shooter would be me, with my wife using it occassionally. She says she wants me to buy her a Ruger #1 RSI in .243, but good luck finding one, and even then I could get two good lever rifles for the cost of a #1. Plus, I don't feel good about the .243 for even small black bears.

Making the Missus happy aside, my question is, can the .38-55 be handloaded SAFELY to accomplish these tasks? I assume it can also be loaded down for more pleasant target shooting.

Also, how has the quality control been on the newer Winchesters? The last time I had any contact with their new rifles was in 1988, and I saw a batch of 10 model 94's come to the shop where I worked at the time. Four of those had visibly warped barrels. That scared me off for a while, but time can change things like Quality Control.

Regards,
Mike

 

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Big Bore Rifles

AZMIKE

Don't know much about the new production Winchester Rifles but i do know about the 38-55. Its a pretty good all around hunting rifle. If you hand load you can do a lot with the Rifle. You have to consider its not a long range gun but if you keep your shots to 150 yds and under you will do fine with it. It would do fine for deer and elk within those limits.........Joe............
 

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Mike - get the 94 in 38-55. That cartridge will do anything you want it to do within the ranges and on the game animals you mentioned. The 38-55 is one of the better oldies that keeps coming back. It has a lot of staying power and as oso45-70 said, if you reload you can do a lot with that rifle.

With all due respect to you and the Mrs., she must have an exhaust leak in her car if she thinks (1) the ruger is worth buying and (2) the 243 would be adequate for black bear. JMHO.

There was something very interesting I read recently about bear attacks - black bear are responsible for more bear attacks against humans than any of the other bears. Most often a black bear will try and avoid you but if they decide to attack they carry it to finality. With that in mind, ask your wife if she still wants to try and deal with a situation like that with a 243 when with the 38-55 you would be clockin' that beast with slugs weighing in at two and one half times as heavy. Just a thought. Mikey.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for your replies, gentlemen. They were very helpful. I may be going with the .38-55.

With regard to the missus and her wish for a .243...well. I have a friend whose mantra is "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy", and like all colloquialisms, there is a grain of truth there. That said, I tried to at least talk her into a 7x57 in the Ruger, to no avail. I figured that if the .38-55 could be loaded heavy for elk and bears, it could also be loaded down for light practice loads, so ol' girl would actually shoot the thing a few times.

Thanks again.

Mike
 

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Mike - another caliber you could try for your wife is either a 260 or a 6.5 Swede. Remington still offers both, I believe. The 260/6.5 can be loaded up for Moose, Elk or Bear, yet loaded down fer vermits.

The Remington is, in my opinion, a much classier rifle, probably one that would definately suit your Mrs. better that some ol Ruger, seein' that she is a Lady classy enough to be your wife (those are statements that always help turn a gal's opinion more toward your way of thinkin'. And, the 260/6.5 Swede is most definately a classic (6.5) and classy cartridge. My opinion is that if a woman is savvy enough to argue for a 243 over a 38-55, she has to be classy enough to go for the Swede.

Now, as fer as the 'if momma ain't happy business': Just tell her that neighter the 243 or the Ruger are classy enough for her and that you're getting her something that is more in line with her grace, elegance, classy nature and hunting skills. Now, with that she might expect something silver inlaid in a diamond encrusted stock complete with collage of friends, family and hunting successes, or she just might like to have a beautiful wood stock. I think you have a lot of room to maneuver here Mike

Also, the Remington actions for the 243 and the 260 are the same size - both rounds are based on the 308 and are the same length. I think the same goes for the 6.5 Swede, so your wife would be shooting the same sized rifle, just in a better caliber fer whatcha want.

And, I do hope this helps. Mikey.
 

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Elmer Keith wrote very favorably of the 38-55 as a good effective gun for hunting in timber. As usual, he advocated heavy-for-caliber bullets.
 

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Mike, stop being such a NANCY! I've tried to tell you to just go for the 38-55, you'd enjoy it alot more and it would be fun to reload for. Git-R-Done. J-P
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the replies, except yours, J.P. (does YOUR wife still think you quit dipping? :) ). It's looking like a big bore lever is in the future.
 

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Factory loadings in this caliber are EXTREMELY WEAK, energy wise.
The common 255gr 38/55 load from Winchester makes the relatively weak 30/30 seem like a cannon !
 

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Glock is right, factory stuff is pathetic - although it might be great for the missus to shoot for practice. Accurate Arms lists M94-safe data up to 2045 fps with the Hornady 220FN, generating pressures of only 25,700 CUP. That power level is close to that of the more powerful .375WCF, itself a virtual clone of the .38-55. For practical purposes, the handloaded .38-55 is as effective as the .35 Remington, and that's high praise indeed.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Upon further reflection, I ended up going with a Marlin 336 in .35 Remington instead. It should arrive within 10 days or so, then I will hopefully be able to break free from work long enough to shoot it.

Thank you everybody for your input.

Mike
 
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