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.32-40 Bd

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by DZon, Feb 9, 2021.

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  1. DZon

    DZon Member

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    Hey everyone, there is a particular firearm I am eyeing. It is an 1894 Winchester, chambered in .32-40 Ballard.
    How do I figure the pressures this thing is capable of withstanding? Why I say it is important, I'd only buy it, if it could handle modern smokeless loads, as opposed to being limited to just *cowboy* black powder loads. The current owner has told me, he himself hasn't fired it before, and advised on only using cowboy and weak target loads. The barrel is 26in, steel is said to be presumably good shape, no pits, little bore wear.

    The difference, is quite major.
    Black powder cowboy and target 165gr loads are about 1300-1400ft/s (sort of like upper .357mag loads)
    A modern rifle using new box smokeless 165-180gr loads can push it to 1875ft/s (sort of like .30rem)
     
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  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    You mean the 1894 Winchester that is more commonly seen in .30-30?

    ETA

    There used to be a lot of worry over shooting jacketed bullets in "pre-Nickel Steel" barrels but how much will you be using the rifle at full power?
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
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  3. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    From what I’ve read, the first year of manufacture was for black powder cartridges. The next year they improved the steel and started with the .30-30.

    Unless yours is a first year of manufacture, the gun was designed for smokeless powder and should have no problem with modern loads.

    Shouldn’t be too difficult to date it based on ser. #.
     
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  4. JT-AR-MG42

    JT-AR-MG42 Member

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    In 32-40 caliber. This caliber (along with the 38-55) were not exclusively made for H.V. loadings that were introduced later.
    If I were looking to buy it for shooting full power (a 1894 full rifle from your barrel length description?);

    I'd give the gun, breech, and locking bolts a good look for
    signs of wear or set back.

    I would figure out the receiver date and see how the barrel is marked.
    Then get permission to partially remove the fore end and magazine tube
    (sliding them both forward, but not out of the bands) to look at the bottom of the barrel at the breech.
    Looking for 'N.S.' mark (or variations including the N.S.)

    If it is has a nickel steel marked barrel, serial number from 1910 forward, and the headspace checks out,
    I would feel confident in working up to full power loads.

    My take, but I can't see the condition of the gun.

    JT
     
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  5. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    Are you only planning to feed this rifle "new box" 32-40 hunting ammo? If so, I'd say the chambering is going to be a bigger problem than the rifle itself.

    The .32-40 still gets made in occasional batches by Buffalo, Ten-X, PCI, etc., but it's usually expensive and tailored for older rifles at lower pressures. The last batch of commercial hunting ammo I recall was some Winchester-Western John Wayne commemorative ammo, which is collectible today. The .32-40 was once popular as a big game cartridge, but today it's really a handloading proposition and the biggest group of users are Schuetzen target shooters.

    Winchester-John-Wayne-32-40-Cartridges_101195586_106841_9CE1C8BC12217F17.jpg


    FWIW, I handload my 32-40 Ruger No.1 using reformed .30-30 brass, since even empty factory 32-40 cases are hard to come by and expensive these days. My rifle likes IMR4227 and cast lead .323" bullets.

    I'm not trying to discourage you from buying this rifle if it speaks to you. For my .02, I'd buy it if I was a 1894 fan and the price and condition was right. Just remember to factor dies and brass into the final cost.
     
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  6. Merle1

    Merle1 Member

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    so how does a Ballard differ from a Winchester? I'm not positive, but I don't think Winchester chambered for Ballards, so perhaps this rifle has been modified?
     
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  7. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Curious about your process for making .32-40 brass from .30-30. I have an old 1894 octagonal barrel that I was told was blackpowder cartridge only but I’ve never fired it. The firing pin is frozen in the forward position and there are some other issues I’m too dumb to fix.

    I bought dies for it a while back in a fit of optimism.
     
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  8. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    The same cartridge is known as both Ballard and Winchester.

    Your point is a good one, as I don't believe Winchester would have marked their rifles with 'Ballard', any more than Colt would mark their revolvers '.38 S&W Special' back in the day.

    The cartridge originated with Ballard, but was probably chambered in more Winchesters than anything else.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
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  9. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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    The process is easy: anneal the 30-30 neck and run it into a .32-40 sizing die. If you don't anneal first the case will wrinkle, but will still work.

    The case ends up slightly short, but usually will work fine in a levergun if the OAL is still roughly correct. Since you don't have a cannelure on the case itself to prevent bullets from telescoping in a tube magazine, you'll need to firmly crimp bullets.
     
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  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The Ballard is a single shot rifle dating back into the 1870s, even 1860s. Bought out by Marlin, therefore Marlin advertising for "Ballard style rifling" merely meaning "Not Microgroove."
    It is not as strong as a Sharps or Remington but it was known for good accuracy and good trigger pull. Pope and others built very fine target rifles on Ballard actions.
     
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  11. Gordon

    Gordon Contributing Member

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    The .32-40 was a .32 cartridge loaded with 40 grains of black powder. It was considered the most accurate cartridge for mid range rifles. The 30-30 was of course a .30 cal and was first factory loaded with 30 grains of smokeless nitrocellose based powder. The identity of smokeless cartridgeby grain weight ended with the .30-30 pretty much as the charge weight of smokeless is not identifiable for different cartrides.
     
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  12. DocRock

    DocRock member

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    32-40 has a SAAMI MAP of 30,000 CUP. Any SAAMI manufacturer ammo that you happen to find will conform to that. Any load data in a reputable load manual will conform to that. If your rifle is in good working order, it will handle 30,000 CUP MAP.

    By comparison, the 30-30 Win has a CUP MAP of 38,000.

    The 32-40 was never a “powerful” cartridge and it should not be made one. It is a very nice target and 100 yard varmint cartridge.
     
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  13. db_tanker

    db_tanker Member

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    First thing I would do is slug your barrel. Verify the diameter of the barrel FIRST.

    Then, using that information, use a load of 6 to 7 grains of Trailboss and a 170-180 grain bullet in the appropriate diameter and you will have a sweet shooter. The nice thing about Trailboss is that its difficult, if not impossible, to double the charge due to its bulk. Look up Trailboss and bottleneck cartridges and do your research but the "rule of thumb" is find the base of the bullet where it would sit in your case - fill the case with Trailboss to that mark. Measure that amount and measure in your scale. That number, multiplied by .70 (equals to 70% of that weight) is your starting load. This is information from IMR for that particular powder.

    Follow those instructions and have some fun!

    MTCW
    D
     
  14. DZon

    DZon Member

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    How much would I be using the rifle at full power? Well, according to what I've read at length from Chuck Hawks take, what new ammo manufactured lists, the round can stack energy to levels like .25-35 Win, .38-55 Win, .30 Rem. Out of a full size 26'' I bet you can tweak self loads to 2000ft/s, compared to 20'' barrels. While if I did purchase it, I wouldn't just fire off zippy rounds, I as well wouldn't just expect to shoot the thing exclusively with weaker target or cowboy loads either.

    The seller has never fired it before. He states some bore wear, no pitting, steel in good condition, action is in good shape and operates well. But he said that this is the kind of gun people would use weaker loads with, ''cowboy'' shooting. I will ask about the 1910 and onwards, Nickel Steel serial marking, sure thanks. I know a great wizard gunsmith in Dawson Creek, but that would have me owning it first.

    Dies and brass are the way to go, yes. Commercial ammo is rare, and costly.

    .32-40 WCF and .32-40 Ballard, same thing. It certainly isn't .32 Win. The Win tag has come later in it's history, probably an act to make it more widespread and commercial. Started off as Ballard
     
  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Trivia, not to be applied to a lever action:
    Back about 1993 I saw ads in Shotgun News for Manton brand double express rifles in .32-40.
    There were three on offer from private owners and I found another at Cherry's.
    I think they were actually German made but reviving an old English name.
    Any road, one of the sellers included brass, dies, bullets, and data.
    Including a load that gave .30-30 ballistics AND regulated in the double shooting both barrels to the same POI.
    Don't try that at home.

    .32 Win. is not a clear designation; there is .32 WCF = .32-20 and there is .32 Winchester Special which is pretty much .30-30 necked up a bit.

    Winchester .32-40 and .38-55 rifles were so marked, maybe because they were Ballard developments picked up by Winchester for the Single Shot and 1894. Same deal as Marlin and others not wanting to put "WCF" on their guns.
     
  16. DZon

    DZon Member

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    .32 Win, or Winchester special. .32-20 seems like a cartridge you would refer to as, .32-20. Like .32-40
    Speaking about old obsolete black powder cartridges, now in modern smokeless loads and with new bullet selection - .32-20 performs the same way. Out of a levers barrel, your looking at performance like .30 carbine or .327 fed mag. Zippy.

    Waiting on his answer, to see if it is nickel steel.
    Btw, the gentleman is asking for 1,200CAD
     
  17. Dave DeLaurant

    Dave DeLaurant Member

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  18. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    if it checks out alright with a gun smith, i would shoot it. i shoot a 1894 saddle ring carbine with a 165 gr jacketed at 1800 fps bullet. top rifle is the 32-40.
     

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  19. DZon

    DZon Member

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    He has not been able to identity post 1910- Nickel Steel markings.
    All he says, is it is a production run 1894 gun.
    It is pretty much swing and a hit or, strike out.
    I want the gun to handle those 165 / 17-1800ft/s loads.
     
  20. Dustbowl

    Dustbowl Member

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    From the sounds of it your seller doesn’t know much about the gun or isn’t much of a gun guy. Probably inherited it and never shot it? I don’t know the specifics on Winchester prices but a rifle configuration in a 32-40? 1,200 sounds like a deal depending on actual in hands condition.
     
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  21. DZon

    DZon Member

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    1,200 CAD, that is 'bout 940 US. That includes his shipping fees.
    The current owner hasn't ever fired it. He states it is in very good condition
     
  22. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    post the serial number and that will tell you the year it was made, my 94 carbine in 32-40,s serial number is 933678 made in 1923 and my 94 carbine in 32 spl,s serial number is 936122 made also 1923, my 94 carbine in 30 wcf,s serial number is 925233 also made in 1923. the 32 spl and the 30 wcf have nickle steel marked barrels, the 32-40 does not. i have heard of 94 winchester rifles in 32-40 that were rechamberd to 32 spl. i shoot .321 dia 165-170 gr bullets at 1700 -1800 fps with no problems at all.
     
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  23. DZon

    DZon Member

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    can you tell me ammo sources? Seems all places that sell have it on back order.
    I know reloading is the way to go. But I'll need a few boxes first.
     
  24. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Buy brass, dies, and pills
     
  25. ATCDoktor

    ATCDoktor Member

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    I have a Marlin Model 1893 chambered in 32/40 and it is extremely accurate with midrange loads.

    This is 12 rounds at 100 yards using 14.5 grains H4227 and a Hi Tek coated MBC 165 grain flat point bullet (velocity runs 1480 fps)
    A3363D78-5B8C-4456-A73F-AC7CB19105CD.jpg
    180 grain bullets using the same powder charge don’t shoot quite as well:
    226-CF279-786-D-4719-9-B5-F-4-F6-AE1335-B1-E.jpg

    Gratuitous pics of the rifle:
    F0B387D7-7270-4C36-B629-4CB6199032DA.jpg
    0F50661A-0609-4D9E-8316-3137E751318B.jpg
    0F3EC29D-C8B5-417D-9FDA-6AA6DECD04FF.jpg

    The 32/40 is a neat old cartridge and if you can find components and dies it’s not hard at all to find an accurate load.
     
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