loads for Win model 1892 .38WCF ???


January 28, 2012, 06:24 PM
My brother just bought a nice Winchester model 1892 chambered in .38 WCF
(.38-40). For its age the bore is in decent condition and the action is smooth as silk. My question is can smokeless powder be used in loads for this rifle or is it Holy Black only? As best we can find by serial number searches is this rifle was manufactured in 1895.

This is a gray area for me since all of my arms are more modern except for my Win 1890 in .22lf. I know my brother is just chompin at the bit to shoot this thing. I just what to make sure I don't endanger us, the rifle, or both by assuming and shooting it with the wrong powder.

Thanks in advance for the help!

If you enjoyed reading about "loads for Win model 1892 .38WCF ???" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
January 28, 2012, 06:37 PM
I would stick to blackpowder pressures, but that is not the same as sticking to blackpowder only. Most any loading manual that covers the .38-40 will have data limited to that pressure.

ETA: I would have a good gunsmith check it out to make sure that it is in shootable condition before trying it with any load.

January 28, 2012, 08:10 PM
I would suggest a 175 - 180 grain cast LRN-FP bullet over 8.5 to 9.0 grains Unique powder.

Missouri Bullet has one with the necessary flat point for the tube magazine, and crimp groove in the right place to feed in a lever-action..



Float Pilot
January 28, 2012, 08:18 PM
My 1892 in 38 WCF was actually made in 1892. It shoots lighter smokeless loads just fine, but when I tried to make some zippy smokeless loads (1,700 fps) (Unique loads from an old Lyman book) it had horrible accuracy. Plus lots of leading in the bore. (Mine is a 24 inch long M-92 rifle)

The rifling twist in the 1890s vintage guns was set up for lead bullets at black-powder velocities.

There is a square and level type of guy 75 miles north of me who runs a ammo shop. His 38 WCF loads are very accurate in my rifle. (2 inch group at 100 yards with an old Marbles tang peep) I think he uses 7 to 8 grains of HS-6 for his loads,,, but he is pretty secretive about it...

Recently I have used Trail Boss in a bunch of cartridges just to experiment. It works OK but it is slower than Black Powder in many cases and not super accurate or consistent with velocities. But it is easy to mass produce safe ammo since you can't overload with Trail Boss.
BUT,,I think I like Triple 7 and Pyrodex (P)(or Pyrodex Select) better than Trail Boss in the 38WFC...
Pyrodex select right up to the base of the seated bullets gives me just over 1,315 fps from my old rifle. Using a 180 grain hard cast bullet.

I have also tried Universal (7 to 7.5 grains) It is not very high on the pressure chart and it is pretty accurate with a 180 grain cast lead bullet. I think I was getting 1,200 fps from that load.

8.0 grains of SR 4756 is also a nice load of a 180 grain from either a pistol or rifle. I have a hard time finding SR-4756 around here...

I have not shot a lot of real black powder in my 92 since the rifle is pretty valuable and black powder tends to make things corrode. Plus the 1892s are a pain in the butt to totally disassemble and clean correctly. Unlike the 1873 model which is a dream to clean.

January 29, 2012, 08:56 AM
Many, many thanks to all of you! I couldn't have asked a better response. I had my suspicions that this rifle didn't have many BP loads shot through it. The crown and bore just don't have much of that tell tale sign of corrosion and pitting like you find on other known BP only arms. The mechanism is clean an works too smoothly to have had a steady diet of Holy Black. I've got some pictures but I have to reduce their size before I can post them, possibly later today.

Thanks again for all your input. It is greatly appreciated

January 29, 2012, 03:24 PM
Here are the pictures I promised everyone.

Thanks again all!!

Float Pilot
January 29, 2012, 04:36 PM
Nice rifle for being 117 years old.
Mine is turning 120 years old this year.

I have also discovered that some of the 10mm (40 caliber hard cast bullets that you can buy bulk these days are rather hard and they do not seem to grab the rifling lands like the old soft lead bullets were able to do.. Or maybe they are a little undersized....

When I used the warm Unique loads, which are probably not good for that old mild steel,,, my groups went from 2 inches to 15 inches. And it took all night to get the lead out of the bore.

I was thinking about taking mine out today but it is about 8 below zero. Plus I need to come up with some better loads. All I have loaded now are the Unique loads that do not work so swell.

You will also find that the case mouth on the 38WCF is rather thin and fragile, so it is easy to crumple a few when getting your dies all set up.

Mike Venturino has written all sorts of articles about loading the 38 WCF.

Here is mine..



January 30, 2012, 12:21 AM
Smokeless loads are a LOT easier to clean up after. I'm starting to use Trailboss powder for the .38-40 WCF and .45 Colt with lead bullets, that's what it was designed for.

January 30, 2012, 10:00 AM
The SR4756 powder Float Pilot mentioned is an excellent choice for older rifles that were built on the fringe of the change over from blackpowder to smokeless.

SR4756 is a smokeless substitute for blackpowder cartridges.
It DOES NOT load the same, i.e. volumetric ally, follow the loads listed in the loading manuals, but it does have the same bulking qualities and burn rate of FFG blackpowder as well as keeping in the pressure curves of blackpowder loads.

8 grains of the SR 4756 over a 180 cast lead 1/16 mix bullet would be a good choice as well.

I have been using SR4756 for years in blackpowder type cartridge rifles and pistols with excellent results.

Float Pilot
January 30, 2012, 12:55 PM
I did get a chance to run a couple loads of 7 grains of Universal over the chronograph before the battery froze. With a standard CCI primer and Star-Line brass (180 grain Oregon Bullet works cast bullet) it was right at 1,200 fps from the rifle barrel and 850 fps from my six-shooter.
8 grains of SR 4756 is about the same velocity wise.

January 30, 2012, 04:00 PM
I would suggest a 175 - 180 grain cast LRN-FP bullet over 8.5 to 9.0 grains Unique powder.
I would agree. I run up to 10.0gr in my 1873 but it's a modern Uberti reproduction. I still get 1550fps out of that load. Which should clock 1200fps out of a sixgun barrel. I would be gentler to the blackpowder era 1892. If it were a later model you could get a little frisky with it.

Float Pilot
January 30, 2012, 05:07 PM
The rifling twists in the model 1892 that were chambered for 38WCF (38-40) was 1 turn in 30 inches from 1892 until 1905 or 1907, when it was changed to a better twist rate (faster 1 in 24 inches) for smokeless powder factory loads.

If you enjoyed reading about "loads for Win model 1892 .38WCF ???" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!