Challenge question for the experts


November 17, 2012, 07:09 AM
I recently came upon an item I could not pass up. I found a Remington Model 8 in excellent condition for an outstanding price - so I bought it. the good part is this rifle has been refinished at some time, a good job too, has the pistol grip option, and has very little use in it's lifetime. Here's why that's a good thing: I don't have wall hangers and I like to shoot/use all my guns. If I had an original Model 8 in good condition I would feel guilty about shooting it. Now here's the bad news: It's chambered in .32 Rem. Now, I don't want to buy a box of retro ammo for $80 and I also don't want to re-size .30 Rem cases to .32 (I haven't gotten into reloading yet, but that's another story).

I'm looking to make this rifle something viable with modern, readily available ammo and my first thought was to restock and re-barrel the rifle and really fix it up. This will get expensive and take some time but to me it would be worth it. My question is what cartridge could I chamber a Model 8 spec barrel to without major modifications to the rest of the gun? I know the 32 Rem shares the same parent case as the 25 & 30 Rem, but not the 35 Rem and the difference is quite a bit, so that's out. I was thinking more like the 6.8 SPC as it was designed from the 30 Rem and keeps the same rim diameter. That would probably be the easiest but I'm not a big fan of the 6.8.

Part 2 - Would it be possible to modify the bolt to fit a .473 diameter case instead of the parent .420 32 Rem case, a difference of roughly 50 thousandths of an inch? If your keeping up, you can see I'm considering the .308 family. The .308 has a slightly shorter case length but a longer OAL and I haven't taken measurements of the non-removable magazine to see how it would all fit. To ensure proper space I could go with the 6.5 Creedmoor or even shorter to the 6.5x47 Lapua. But I would really like to keep this rifle in a hunting configuration so a .308 or .338 Federal is what I really want.

I'm far from an expert and am curious to see what those who know more than I would think about this project.


If you enjoyed reading about "Challenge question for the experts" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
November 17, 2012, 08:13 AM
There are no set answers to your questions and concerns. Within design limits, pretty much anything is doable. All it takes is money. The question is whether the cost is worth the end result, and even that doesn't have a standard answer.

i.e if it's worth it to you, and you can afford it and justify it, then proceed. If not...then don't.

i.e Grandpa's old Tradewinds 10 gauge double may cost twice what it's worth to repair, so on a practical's a wall-hanger. If the sentimental value outweighs the practical side...and you can afford it...then it's worth it to you to throw the money at it.

The simplest, least expensive solution is probably reloading and reforming existing brass. Even though the initial starting costs may outweigh your actual expected use of the rifle, I assume that you have other calibers that you can reload for.

And...there are several advantages to reloading other than just the issue of money. If you do no more than just break even, you have the resources and the ability to make your own ammunition, which has proven to be a distinctly good thing in the recent past. A question of giving a man a fish versus teaching him to fish.

November 17, 2012, 08:29 AM
Oh wow. I'm going to go slightly against my better judgment here and give a response on the negative side.

That Model 8 is a fairly rare antique. None have been made for over 70 years, and there were only about 80,000 ever made in all chamberings. Getting one that was a "shooter" (not a wall-hanger) would be a great thing. There's no way I'd attempt a cartridge conversion on a gun like that. It's too interesting, unique, and (at least to me) valuable in as close to original form. I'd be much more tempted to send it off to Turnbull's or somewhere like that and have it restored, if it's been refinished.

Now, as to how hard the conversion is, I'm not sure. If you're not sticking with the .32 Rem. barrel, where are you going to get a Model 8 barrel blank you can chamber to your new cartridge?

Even bolt actions can be surprisingly finicky about feeding right when converted to a different cartridge. Magazine feed lips often need a certain amount of magic to get to work with a new case. Autoloaders are a whole 'nother kettle o' fish. There's a very good chance you'll end up with a great old rifle that won't work at all with any cartridge.

Last, you're talking about major, MAJOR surgery on this rifle all so you can avoid a very, VERY simple thing -- learning to reload. Very seriously, this is going a hundred miles to avoid a quick walk down the block. Spending $100 to save a nickel. You could be all set up and reloading .32 Remington for a couple hundred bucks, which would barely buy you the gunsmith's first few hours of labor (and certainly wouldn't get you a barrel blank cut to work on a Model 8).

While I'm always hesitant to not directly answer the question this case I just can't see even trying such a thing. If you just can't live with that gun in .32 Rem, sell it to someone who will appreciate it and get something you can find ammo for. There are plenty of .35 Remington models around and you can buy that ammo anywhere.

4v50 Gary
November 17, 2012, 09:16 AM
Bite the bullet and buy the right boolits.

Don't modify the gun.

Jim Watson
November 17, 2012, 09:31 AM
Setting aside the undesirability of cutting up a fairly uncommon old rifle, I see two problems.

First is getting somebody to fool with it. It would take a very good gunsmith a lot of time to convert a Model 8 to a caliber it was never made for. A lot of it would be in redesign and experimentation to see what would have to be done. You might wave thousands of dollars at somebody and have him turn down the job in favor of regular work that he knew could be accomplished instead of wild experimentation.

Second would be durability. Let's say you converted the 8 from .32 at 36000 CUP to 6.5 Lap at 52000 CUP or thereabouts. That is more than a 40% increase in chamber pressure, acting on a larger head diameter and thinner chamber wall. Mr Browning designed them sturdy, and it probably would not blow up on the first over proof pressure shot, but I would not expect it to last long before it was battered beyond function.

November 17, 2012, 01:08 PM
It would be ill advised to try to convert a .32 Rem Model 8 to anything other then .25, .30, or .35 Remington.

The Browning designed long-recoil action was finely tuned to work with the low pressure and recoil of the four calibers it was made in.

Trying to convert one to any modern high-pressure caliber would result in a dangerous & expensive exercise in frustration.

And eventually destroy the rifle, sooner, if not later.


November 17, 2012, 05:49 PM
You guys all bring up good points. Even if I'm willing to spend the money on "major surgery" my efforts might just end up in frustration - feeding issues, cycling issues, or even damage to the rifle over the long term by using higher pressure modern cartridges. It would probably be best to just shelve this rifle until I get full up on reloading (planning on doing that anyway). 30 Rem brass is still plentiful and it should be easy to reform to 32, plus I've already got a couple 8mm mausers so I'm sure I'll end up with plenty of .323 bullets around - some day.

I still plan on putting hi-end walnut on this rifle and dressing it up to a much higher quality than it currently sits - but I'll keep it original on the metal side. You guys have shown me there's more than one way to breath new life into a rifle. Thanks for the responses.


November 17, 2012, 08:21 PM
A Very Wise Decision my friend!


Jim K
November 17, 2012, 10:38 PM
.30 Remington is getting hard to find, but .30 Remington can be made from .30-30 by cutting down the rim and cutting an extractor groove. For .32 Rmington, you can either start with .32 Winchester Special cases or expand the neck of the .30-30.


November 30, 2013, 05:15 AM
Well after considering the posts, I decided to find some new manufacture .32 Rem and fire the rifle before getting crazy. I had to be patient but found some reloaded ammo in .32 headstamped brass for not too much money. My trip to the range was a huge success...the best 5 shot groups ran just under 3" at 100 yards (way more accuracy than I expected with this rifle) with zero failures of any kind.

Thanks again to anyone who posted, I'm glad I took your advice. Shooting a rifle that's exactly 100 years old with accuracy and reliability is what I love about shooting.

The rifle was also a head turner at the range, especially with all the wal-mart AR's out there these days. There was only one gentleman who knew what the rifle and caliber was...he was 63 years young. I'm in my 30's so it was really cool talking to him about it, he even gave me some reloading tips.

November 30, 2013, 04:42 PM
Oh what a Happy ending to the story! Or rather, a very happy beginning to a great relationship. :)

December 1, 2013, 05:24 PM
A wise choice Vito. Try a post on the for sale section for some brass, dies etc. you might be surprised. I would look at the next gun show also, there is probably some 32 Remington ammo and brass out there. Glad you are enjoying it.

Jim K
December 1, 2013, 11:25 PM
A good choice.

Those Remingtons are long recoil and had to be carefully balanced in regard to pressure, bolt and barrel mass, and spring tension in order to work at all, and going to another cartridge would mean starting all over again with that very tricky task.

Even reloads that deviate much from factory specs can cause problems.


December 4, 2013, 11:03 AM
+1 on getting set up to reload. The model 8's were set up for the older cartridges. The 81 was an improved design that would stand more pressure and was chambered in 300 Savage.

If you enjoyed reading about "Challenge question for the experts" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!