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I am new to Cowboy Action Shooting and my rifle is a Marlin 1894 CB. I have noticed that when I use brass rounds I occassionally get one that hangs up and doesn't feed smoothly. If you coax it along it will usually work its way in. I have fired a lot of rounds that are nickle plated that were provided by the club during a training session and never had a hang up. In fact, everything felt significantly smoother. Is this a common problem with brass rounds. My Marlin shoots .38 Special only, not .357.

At a shoot today I had several hang ups and even had to eject one that could not be coaxed along. As a result I had to take a miss for that round. CAS appropriate ammo for some reason is difficult to find locally, so I bought some from Ammo Direct. Problem is, it is all brass rounds, so I'm hoping this is a common problem with a common fix.

Any ideas.

JR
 

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brass vs nickled cases

jrdudas,

For a several generations now, nickel plated .38 special/.357 magnum revolver cartridges have been popular for law enforcement use for two big reasons: They are less likely to corrode while stored in belt loops and cartridge boxes, or in adverse conitions (high humidity, prolonged temperature extremes, etc) and they give easier extraction when fired. Both can be life savers when guns are carried for serious use.

These are also advantages when hunting, competitive target shooting, or serious defensive use.

For reloaders and users of reloaded ammunition, nickle-plated cases do have a disadvantage too. After several reload cycles, the nickle plating tends to flake and peel, especially at the case mouth were it is crimped onto the bullet. The flaking or peeling can cause feeding/chambering problems.

If your lever action Marlin gives noticeably better ammo feeding with nickled cases versus brass cases, I'd suggest some judicious polishing and tuning of your rifle. This can done by any competent gunsmith, or by you if you go slowly and carefully. Try a websearch for "lever action rifle tuning".
 

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brass cased ammo problems

jrdudas,

I forgot to mention that for the feeding/ejection difficulties you mentions in your 1894 CB, you might try lubricating your ammunition.

YES! lubricating your cases! When I used to do competitive pistol shooting, it was a standard procedure to lubricate the ammunition by squirting a few drops of light oil onto the cartridges loaded in a magazine. Most people think that lubricated ammunition is a bad or dangerous idea, and it usually is for high power or rifle ammunition. However, for the relatively low pressure of target velocity .38 or 45 wadcutter ammunition, it won't hurt anything, and absolutely DOES improve the relliabilty of semiauto actions firing butter-soft loads.

An alternative to lubricating oil is to WAX your cases/loaded cartridges, with furniture wax. Simply wipe on with a soft cloth, and wipe off the excess. The coating will make for easier feeding in semiauto as well as manually operated actions.

Those .38 special CB loads you fire equate to the butter soft .38/.45 wadcurter loads used in bullseye target shooting, and I would try lubricating your cartridges. Normal solvent cleaning will remove any wax residue from your guns after firing.
 

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jrdudas: I do not usually use nicke plated brass in my 38/357s for some of the problems mentioned - the stripping of the nicle plate during reloading and also the apparent thickness of the case. I find the brass cases seem to be a bit thicker as the nickled cases work more easily through my reloading dies and require a heavier crimp to hold the bullet firmly.

If you are reloading this ammo yourself I would look to be sure that the bullet is firmly crimped into the case and that you cannot feel the edge of the case mouth against the bullet when you run your finger over it. You may have a tight chamber that hangs up the brass cases if your crimp isn't tight enough.

Have a friend with one of the Titanium S&Ws, an early one with very tight chambers. He was having problems with some reloads he had purchased as they wouldn't chamber in his cylinder. I could feel the edge of the case mouth against the bullet with my thumb, so I ran them through my seating/crimping die and put a bit of a tighter crimp on the cases and the problem was solved. Hope this can help you too. Mikey.
 

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jrdudas:

I am assuming that from your post - that the brass cartridges were reloaded by you (and not new factory), and the nickel were reloaded by someone else.

I would guess that it has nothing to do with brass vs. nickel, but something not quite right with the reloading of the brass. Others have already mentioned a few, but look at these:

1) Is your brass clean? Running them through a tumbler makes a difference. At least for me. It takes off any powder residue, dirt etc. Makes a big difference in some of my "tighter" weapos (such as a Freedom Arms).

2) Are you sizing them all the way? Does the shell holder "touch" the bottom of your sizing die? If I don't, my Marlin in .45 LC will not feed those rounds, or makes extraction very difficult.

3) Is the crimp sufficient (as mentioned before), and I find a roll crimp works better for me (which the .45LC should use).

and here is the strangest one I ever ran into:

While using a Lee Factory Crimp Die - I was really cranking down on the crimps since I was using so little powder for Cowboy Action. Anyways, I was a little too heavy handed in the crimping, and it actually caused my shells to "bulge" just a bit. Small enough not be noticed by the human eye, but enough to give me feeding problems. I was going crazy thinking it was my sizing die, but finally found the problem. I may be the only fool ever to have had this problem.

Cheers!

Yukon Gold
 

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jrdudas;

One thing to make sure is all, I mean all of your screws on both sides of your reciver are tight. I've got a Marlin 1894S that had to be sent back to the factory for jamming problems. They fixed it. Since then, when my Marlin starts to have trouble feeding, I check all of my screws, and almost every time I have found that checking the screws takes care of the problem.
Hope this helps.

Dennis :D
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I do not reload as yet, all my ammo has been store bought. I think the ammo I got from Ammo Direct is reloaded rather than new, but I have used different brands of ammo with the same results. Brass sticks sometimes, but nickle plated is always smooth. I suspect that in addition to being not as slick as nickle plated, the brass cases are slightly thicker. This would also help explain why the brass cases can be reloaded more times.

At some point I may want to try reloading my own, but right now my bank account is still reeling from my recent CAS purchases.

Thanks, JR
 
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