Graybeard Outdoors banner

1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
111 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm a recently retired Army officer & lifetime avid plinker/shooter/hunter who started transitioning from semi-auto military-style rifles to CAS guns about 10 years ago. Honestly, I'd paid zero attention to H&R/NEF until I spotted a .38-55 Target Model in a friend's gun shop about a year ago. Haven't shot CAS since retiring in '05--too busy with other priorities--but the gun & caliber appealed to me so I bought it! Didn't get around to shooting it until this summer. . .
The rifle was very erratic with Winchester factory JSP (.375)--about 1/3 to 1/2 keyholed. The first three Buffalo Bore .377 JSPs keyholed, so I stopped shooting this powerful premium round. Black Hills Cowboy (.377, plain lead) shoot fine, so I breathed a sigh of relief that I'd found a solution short of reaming, rebarreling, etc. (After the Buffalo Bore experience, I'd sent the gun back to the factory in case it was defective, but they fired a good three-round group with some unidentified ammo and returned it, along with an offer to replace the barrel with one of my choice if this December's run of Winchester factory ammo didn't resolve my problem. Maybe a Winchester change in specs is imminent???) Ten-X "Game Loads" (.379 cast with gas check) also shoot great, and their ballistics and bullet construction are obviously meant for hunting rather than CAS purposes.
My bottom line: I'm really glad so much great info was on GBO, which helped me conclude that time-consuming repairs or modifications weren't the only answer! (Reaming the chamber, etc.) Apparently, the cast bullets achieve obturation in my barrel (nominally .379, although I haven't slugged it), whereas the JSPs can't. The Ten-X Game Load ammo is certainly adequate for the whitetails I hope to encounter this season, and since there are no elk in my part of Louisiana :) I don't really need the pure power of the Buffalo Bore ammo if I do my part with shot placement. I can cloverleaf the Ten-X at 25 yards, and am comfortable with making a 180 yard shot under good conditions. With Williams receiver sight and the trajectory of the round--plus my 49-year-old eyes--I think that's my max. . .and it's perfectly OK with me.
I'll reload with .377 and .380 cast bullets this winter, and see how they do.
Let me add that part of the reason I bought a H&R/NEF was a sentimental attachment to the first .410 I used to carry, my grandfather's H&R that my father inherited in the 1960s. Interestingly, it was marked ".44 caliber." Anyway, inspired by the entire single-shot idea, I bought my 11-year-old daughter a Versa-Pak this past spring, and she learned to shoot the .22 & .410 very well! That led to a .223 Superlight Youth with Red Dot scope for deer up close (no recoil!). . .and I even wound up getting her a Topper Jr. Classic 20 gauge for the weekend "youth-only 20 gauge" weekend right before blackpowder season opened. She'd progressed enough in her shooting that she was willing and able to shoot a slug & she was on-target at close range, if somewhat awed by the experience! So far, the deer are sticking to night navigation, but maybe that will change with the upcoming rut & we'll get some shots. Even when we're inside doing other things, we can keep a great selection of ordnance near our various doorways, ready to step out on the back porch if opportunity arises!
Regardless, I wouldn't trade the fun we've had shooting her new guns for anything. I also know she can keep them for everything from pests, to deer, to home defense in the future, and feel comfortable that she doesn't have to re-learn actions and safety procedures with a bunch of complex repeaters. She probably won't ever become a true aficionado who enjoys guns for their own sake like I do, but she'll be equipped for the basics & have some good memories to boot. I certainly will. I'm very glad that H&R/NEF fill the niche they do--I own & have owned some fairly expensive guns over the years, but could not have bought my daughter three different guns to fill different needs in a single year if I were plunking down $300-500 a copy!
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
949 Posts
I suspect that the .38-55 will be a dead duck soon because H&R has been peddling rifles with bores that will not shoot with the available ammo.
My 38-55 has a .381 groove diameter and the land diameter is .375. I have actually pushed a Hornady .375 jacketed bullet though the barrel with finger pressure. H&R claims they meet the SAAMI specs. but my chamber will not chamber a round loaded with a .381 bullet.
H&R needs to learn to meet the customers requirement or they will not be selling the .38-55 much longer. There is no reason they can't make these rifles with .377 bores that will chamber and shoot more normal size bullets.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,384 Posts
Welcome aboard and thank you for a service. I hope you enjoy a well deserved retirement. After reading of the experiences with your daughter, it appears as though you off to a good start. ;)

Unfortunately, the .38-55 has been somewhat of a disappointment. Its a shame that factory cannot get the bore right. It should be a natural in the classic single shot design. Fortunately, you have been able to find a load that works well.

Congratulations to you for introducing your daughter to the sport and the success you two have had. The experiences both of you share today will be there for her tomorrow. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
28 Posts
Hooaah! Thanks for the career service!

Congrats on retirement, LouisianaMan, your service is much appreciated to us all. I was actually getting interested in the .38-55, too, but your post makes me think that this may be a better excuse to go get another Winchester if I "have" to get this caliber.

Good luck with your daughters Superlight. I have one coming for my daughter, too, but in .243. Be sure to post pics if she is successful as there are too few fellow girl hunters for kids. My daughter gets a kick from seeing that other girls can go hunting. She figures that she must be able to do it, too, if they can shoot a deer!

There's no reason that you can't shoot lead bullets for deer in La...just find someone that has cast a bullet that fits. Better yet, go to the LBT forum/website and look around--there's plenty more information than you can digest in an evening...

Later,

IceKing02, formerly stationed at the home of the REAL big guns, Fort Sill !!! ;D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
111 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks to all for the feedback, and a "Hooah!" back to IceKing, the Redleg on this posting. . .Hope you're not at Fort Sill right now, as it seems mighty icy up that way! (BTW, as an Ordnance ammo guy supporting an Artillery Group for five years with nuke warheads, I got a St. Barbara's Medal & consider myself practically a member of the fraternity :)

Will keep y'all posted if we take a deer--my daughter enjoys the "girl's first deer" pictures that our local parish newspaper often features, so I know what you mean.

IceKing, I will add that I hope you don't give up on the .38-55 Target Model idea, although I certainly respect every other shooter's right to "scratch his own itch." Sure, I agree with many other guys such as EVOC and Ireload who aren't happy with the weird disconnect between H&R/NEF and Winchester over the specs on .38-55 loads & bores, but I found it encouraging that both Black Hills CAS/target loads and Ten-X Game Loads worked well in my rifle, and I expect the two diameters of cast bullets I'll reload will also do well. (I will update you all after I actually try them.) Should I decide to take advantage of the Ten-X reloading service, I can get relatively inexpensive Game Load-spec reloaded ammo for half the new price if I provide the cases. If I lived in elk country, I'd experiment with jacketed .379 bullets from somebody and I bet they'd shoot in my rifle; for my whitetails down here, I don't truly need the extra power.

I have no idea what the old Winchesters' bore diameters are like, so good luck if you find one!

Ireload, have you tried shooting cast bullets in your rifle? Since both .377 and .379 lead bullets work in mine, maybe that's a solution for you, too. Best of luck.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
949 Posts
I have only shot .379 bullets in mine so far. Accuracy is pretty good but the loaded rounds have to be ran into a sizer die about 3/16 to get them to chamber. There is no way I will be able to use .382 bullets without turning case necks or opening the chamber. The bore of my rifle is very well finished and is very uniform from end to end. There is no reason with such precision they could have figured out how to make a 123 year old cartridge work in a rifle made in 2006. The 38-55 was introduced by Ballard in 1884.
I am a manufacturing engineer and have spent the last nearly 40 years working with machined parts of all types. The mismatch of the H&R chamber, bore and ammunition is just poor engineering and management on H&R's part.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
379 Posts
I just had Richard Clark ream the chamber on mine andit wil now chamber a .381 cast bullet quite nicely. Haven't gotten to the range with it yet but I hear the guys that have had this done are quite happy with their 38-55s.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
51,245 Posts
That's the general consensus and a good move for any of those with bad chambers, although current production barrels made by Marlin may not be so bad, Handirifle's 38-55 chambers and shoots .379" cast bullets very well, so they may have a handle on the problem finally, s'bout time, eh!! ::)

But another option is to have it rechambered and rebored to .405 Winchester if ya get tired of the 38-55!! ;D

Tim
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
379 Posts
I slugged my barrel and it was a .381 groove barrel. A cast .381 bullet would not chamber. Now it does and I'm anxiously waiting to have a chance to try it out along with the new FP sight.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,560 Posts
I think the problem is that they 'did' follow Sammi specs. From what I have read, the bore diameters in the 'old' rifles were .379 or .380. But back in the day, the old soft lead bullets would slug up fine into the bore. But I have also read the the old timers didn't feel it was a very accurate caliber with jacketed bullets either. It would have been easy to correct, especially with our knowledge of bore v bullets today. Same problem many company's had with the .45 colt when cowboy shooting became popular. Many company's just went to the 'old' specs and made cylinder throats .455/.456 instead of bringing them down to match the bore size. At least that one has been corrected. If H&R doesn't want to re-tool to reduce the bore size, then they should polish out the throats for free so the .380 bullets will chamber. 44 Man
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
The 38-55 is a sweet gun!! It is a lot of fun to shoot. It has been a two year learning experience, however, in coming up with loads. The gun is most accurate with a minimum of .377 diameter. However, you can't chamber the load with the Winchester brass without doing some neck turning on the brass. Otherwise it won't chamber and won't eject. With the neck turned brass and the Barnes original .377 diameter bullet have been able to develop a load that averages 1744 fps with 5 shot cloverleaf at 50 yards. I have a buddy that is much more technical than me and neck turned our brass for the loads. However, he has discovered from talking to the guys at Buffalo Bore that Starline has developed a 38-55 brass that is not as thick as the Winchester brass. You can easily chamber and eject with that brass the higher diameter bullets, even .379 diameter bullets. We're still in the process of developing a load for it though, trying to find a load that will do 2000 fps with one-hole groups at 50 yards. Trying to do it as well without having to use the $40 plus for a box of 50 Barnes bullets. Good bullets, but they're mighty proud of them. Incidentally, they have the Starline brass at Midway. Get the original shorter ones.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
468 Posts
I've shot many hundreds of BPCR rounds through the barrel of my 38-55 El Cheapo and produced many nice groups at 100-200-300 and a few at 400. Even gave it a taste of white powder a couple of times. ;D After several sight adjustments (vernier rear), managed to ring a 48" x 64" steel buffalo at 1000 yds with a 330gr bullet too.

The H&R Target and it's big brother, the Buffalo Classic will stand toe to nose with many of the SS rifles costing many hundreds of dollars more for accuracy.

Buying one for the first time - send it immediately to Old Scout to have the chamber reamed to accept reloads with 380 base diameter bullets:
R. F. Clark, Gunsmith
640 Emerald St.,
Upland, Calif. 91786
909-984-1548
Old Scout ([email protected])

Then order a couple hundred of the Starline 2.125" brass, load em up and have fun shooting!
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
949 Posts
gcpatch,
Thanks for the information about the Starline brass. Unfortunately I have already bought 300 of the Winchester cases.
Has anyone cast the chamber of their stock H&R .38-55 and measured the length?
I am curious if they are 2.125 long or if they are the shorter length that matches Winchester brass.

Does anyone know what size the mouth of the chamber is produced by old scout's reamer.

EDG
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
949 Posts
Ireload2 said:
gcpatch,
Thanks for the information about the Starline brass. Unfortunately I have already bought 300 of the Winchester cases.
Has anyone cast the chamber of their stock H&R .38-55 and measured the length?
I am curious if they are 2.125 long or if they are the shorter length that matches Winchester brass.

Does anyone know what size the mouth of the chamber is produced by old scout's reamer.
I for a reamer with CH4D. His pilots were WAY under my bore size. I don't want my chamber opened up with a reamer that is not guided by the bore.

EDG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
111 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Well fellas, yesterday afternoon I was able to verify that my .38-55 will indeed shoot a Ten-X Game Load within the proverbial "minute of deer"!
The buck played cat-and-mouse with me for about 3-5 minutes, which felt like a lifetime, but in that special way that makes deer hunting such a great sport & memorable experience. I was having to work on deep, steady breaths as I watched through my binoculars to see him popping in and out amidst turkeys, trees, and shadows, so I was able to steady my pounding heart enough to make the shot when opportunity offered. Thank goodness it was only 75 yards! With him looking across Bayou Sara towards me occasionally, I had to shoot from the modified "rucksack flop" position in which I had set up--had I tried to adjust my position much, he would have spotted me and vamoosed.
The 260-grain cast bullet entered near the left shoulder, hit the spine, and exited the right ribcage. He dropped on the spot and stopped thrashing pretty quickly. I hardly remember reloading, because I kept my eyes riveted on the spot where I could see his head & rack popping up from the grass. I have an Allen 9-round cartridge holder on the stock, and slid a fresh round out of it and into the chamber by feel, I believe. . . :) I didn't figure he would be able to get up after seeing how he fell, but if he had gotten to his feet I would have put another round in him to keep him there.
The buck had 9 points and weighed 163 pounds. By the time we crossed the bayou and recovered him it was full dark, so I didn't see if the exiting bullet happened to nail one of the turkeys the buck was in front of! They must have bailed out FAST when I fired, but I had such a case of tunnel vision that I don't even remember them leaving!
I didn't measure the exit hole, but it was substantial. When we put the deer up on the four-wheeler to get him across the water and sandbars, blood simply poured out onto the sand in volume. In future, I will feel able to take a shot at 150-200 yards if I can hold steady enough with my stock sights (Williams receiver sight, front globe w/post). The published ballistics suggest it would be OK, and the performance of that heavy .379 slug at 75 yards suggests it would get the job done at any range that the trajectory makes feasible. The Shoot! v3.1 ballistics calculator indicates that my 1.1" high sight-in at 25 yards corresponds to a 9.9" drop at 200 yards, although the ballistic coefficient I'm using (.355) comes from a Buffalo Bore cartridge. . .assuming that trajectory is correct, I plan to hold at the top of the shoulder if I get a shot that long, can estimate the range carefully, and shoot from a supported position.
If anybody can help me dope out this trajectory more fully, I'd appreciate it. Will have to try it at a distance and see what I can hit (at $2.00 a shot!). I liked the zeroing and battlesight procedure with the M-16A1 when I was in the Army--zero with a tight group at 25m, then rotate the aperture and have a 250m zero on the large aperture. As I recall, the small aperture was zeroed for 25m and 375m. It was a simple, practical system. Of course, it was also predicated upon a single cartridge and ignored the exact trajectory--any hit on a silhouette target was acceptable, and we had no idea just how precisely the rounds were impacting. With iron sights on my Target Model, I'm sure shooter error would make it difficult to determine exact trajectories at long range. . .maybe I'll contact Ten-X and see what they can tell me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
379 Posts
John said:
I've shot many hundreds of BPCR rounds through the barrel of my 38-55 El Cheapo and produced many nice groups at 100-200-300 and a few at 400. Even gave it a taste of white powder a couple of times. ;D After several sight adjustments (vernier rear), managed to ring a 48" x 64" steel buffalo at 1000 yds with a 330gr bullet too.

The H&R Target and it's big brother, the Buffalo Classic will stand toe to nose with many of the SS rifles costing many hundreds of dollars more for accuracy.

Buying one for the first time - send it immediately to Old Scout to have the chamber reamed to accept reloads with 380 base diameter bullets:
R. F. Clark, Gunsmith
640 Emerald St.,
Upland, Calif. 91786
909-984-1548
Old Scout ([email protected])

Then order a couple hundred of the Starline 2.125" brass, load em up and have fun shooting!
I think this is an old address. Check with him via email because I think his address has changed..
If this is the new address then I stand in error. Email before sending tho.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
51,245 Posts
Ireload2 said:
I suspect that the .38-55 will be a dead duck soon because H&R has been peddling rifles with bores that will not shoot with the available ammo.
My 38-55 has a .381 groove diameter and the land diameter is .375. I have actually pushed a Hornady .375 jacketed bullet though the barrel with finger pressure. H&R claims they meet the SAAMI specs. but my chamber will not chamber a round loaded with a .381 bullet.
H&R needs to learn to meet the customers requirement or they will not be selling the .38-55 much longer. There is no reason they can't make these rifles with .377 bores that will chamber and shoot more normal size bullets.
Here's a little follow up on your prediction, here it is about 2 months later, the 38-55 Target has been discontinued as a rifle, the accessory barrel is still on the list, whether it'll continue in production remains to be seen, but here's the irony, I just got a new 38-55 made in 2007, the bore slugged .374" at the lands and .379" in the grooves, they finally get it right and they all but do away with it. :-\ I have yet to cast the chamber tho.
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top