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38-55 cartridge for hunting?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Sheepdog1968, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Well-Known Member

    I have no need for another hunting rifle or cartridge. However, was at local gun store and was looking at used rifles. I saw a lever action (I have a fondness for them) Winchester in 38-55. My buddy says its a great target round. My guess is that it would be a great hunting round. Anyone use it? As I said I don't need it as already have 30-30, 30-06, and 45-70. Many thanks.
  2. Kachok

    Kachok Well-Known Member

    The 38-55 is a perfectly suitable hunting caliber in the brush, assuming deer is your game. Not better then the 30-30 IMHO but if you ever feel the urge to take it out go ahead. I don't have alot of fist hand experence with it and none hunting, but I know the ballistics. 255gr bullet at about 1800 fps makes a nice thump, and packs deer killing power out to about 100 yards.
  3. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

    It'll kill beyond a hundred, but the trajectory is nowhere near being flat. :) I'd set the sights for about two inches high at 100 and figure dead-on somewhere a bit past 130 or 140, maybe. Just guessing. Probably five or six inches low at 200, but I'd test on rocks before trying on Bambi. :)
  4. Sheepdog1968

    Sheepdog1968 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info.
  5. 788Ham

    788Ham Well-Known Member

    I've got a .375 Win. in a lever action, they'll do fine for hunting. You can't shoot the .375 in a 38-55, or the other way either, the .375 is the newer version of the 38-55. I shoot 200 gr. and 220 gr. bullets in mine, they'll knock the snot out of a deer, don't know about elk, but deer wouldn't be much of a challenge.
  6. tahoe2

    tahoe2 Well-Known Member

    38-55 as a hunting round?

    definitely potent enough for deer, hogs and elk at reasonable ranges 200 yds or less but you need to know your trajectory.

    +1 on the .375 winchester, it's a 38-55 on steroids.
    I have a Marlin in that caliber, I also load and shoot 200 and 220 grn jacketed flat points @ 2400 and 2200 fps respectively, also some 265grn gas check lead rfp's @ 2000fps. The 200 grainers are 2" high @ 100 and about 4-1/2 to 5" low at 200 yards, I wouldn't shoot past that, those big bullets hit like a bus !!
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2012
  7. natman

    natman Well-Known Member

    Factory SAAMI spec ammo pushes a 255 flat point at a stately 1320 fps. That's magnum pistol velocity, with a corresponding rainbow trajectory. It's loaded this softly because some of the old blackpowder guns for it aren't strong enough for more. If your rifle is strong enough and you handload (and you should, factory ammo is $2-$3 a round), you can better that considerably.

    A warmer 38-55 would be a terrific woods rifle.
  8. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    If we consider that the .44 WCF has probably taken more deer than any other single cartridge, with the possible exception of the .30-30...neither one being barn-burners in the velocity/energy/trajectory class...I don't see any reason that the .38-55 would be unsuitable for such pursuits as long as reasonable ranges are observed and the load is proven to be accurate in your rifle.
  9. alsaqr

    alsaqr Well-Known Member

    Yep, the current factory rounds are anemic. The old Winchester factory loads were hotter: Over 1,700 fps. They stopped loading that round a long time ago because people ignored the warning on cartridge boxes; "use only in guns in good condition designed for.....". Years ago i picked up about 10 boxes of that ammo at a garage sale. I sometimes kill a deer or hog with the old Winchester round and it knocks them dead in their tracks.
  10. Trad Archer

    Trad Archer Well-Known Member

    Good deer cartridge, a lot of fun to shoot.
  11. T.R.

    T.R. Well-Known Member

    Years ago, I was with USAF and stationed in Michigan. We often hunted within the vast Huron Nat'l Forest. One of my hunting buddies hunted with an older Winchester in 38-55. Every buck that he shot went down fast.


  12. jaysouth

    jaysouth Well-Known Member

    My grandfather bought a Winchester 94 light rifle in .38-55. in the late 20s. He paid $18 for the gun and 100 rounds of ammo. He claims that it fed his family in the worst time of the depression. He said that he killed 91 deer and 2 black bears with it. I never did ask whether these were all in season.

    My uncle has the gun now. I may get a shot at owing it some day.
  13. T.R.

    T.R. Well-Known Member

    Posted in wrong spot - sorry.

  14. eastbank

    eastbank Well-Known Member

    i have several 38-55,s,two old winchesters that i don,t shoot much and a newer marlin cowboy in 38-55 that i shoot alot and it puts hornady 220 gr bullets with 31grs of RL7 into 3/4 inch groups at 75 yrds, i use 375 win brass with no trouble at all. eastbank.

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