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Christmas of the Old Saddle Guns : Anybody Actually Use these Old Calibers?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by scotjute, Dec 28, 2011.

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  1. scotjute

    scotjute Member

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    A cousin gave me my uncle's old deer rifle - a Winchester lever-action .38 WCF or .38-40. Then son-in-law showed me his great-grandfathers saddle carbine in .32-20, a Marlin lever-action. A search on the internet showed the .32-20 shoots about a 100 grn bullet at 1150 fps and the .38-40 pushes 180 grn bullet out to 1250 fps. These seem a tad on the anemic side. Both of these make my .357 pistol look like big news. Has anyone actually used one of these old caliber rifles to kill something and what were the results?
     
  2. forindooruseonly

    forindooruseonly Member

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    I have a Browning reproduction 53 and it will handle a bit more than the old guns. IIRC, a hot .32-20 pushes the 110 grain bullet around 1500 -1600 fps out of a rifle. It might seem anemic, but I find it a nice solid, low recoil and low noise rifle that I've used on lots of smaller game with success. I've shot a couple of beavers and bobcats with mine, good expansion and very little damage to the pelt. I've also shot several coyotes without a problem.

    It's probably a niche cartridge today and I certainly wouldn't use it on any larger game, but it competes with my .22 Hornet for time hunting small game.
     
  3. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Member

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    The lower velocity makes them perfect for cast bullets (reduces lead fouling). Lot's of folks in the mid-west still cast their own and shoot cheap. The trajectories are much like a 22. So if you practice with a 22 and are solid out to 100 yds, the old levers will be right at home :)

    Pop used to use a 38-40 for deer in the vegie garden. He's over 90 and pretty limited getting around, but up until a few years ago, the deer never stood a chance :)
     
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Yes.

    I have a Browning Model 65 Winchester copy in .218 Bee.
    A Winchester Model 53 in 25-20 WCF.
    And a Uberti frame with a Colt cylinder & barrel in 32-20 WCF.

    All fun guns when you don't need to shoot 400 yards, or get your fillings kicked loose.

    rc
     
  5. LoonWulf

    LoonWulf Member

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    ....you mean people dont LIKE having dental work performed by Newtonian physics? If i could afford a lever in 44-40 id really like to have one, dunno why just seems fun. As a note ive got some hot loads for the .32-20 listed in my speer manual for the win/browning 92 and 1894marlins. 1880 seems like a good velocity for 100grn softpoint, be great fun and decent for small game....and dare i say adaquate for deer at short range?
     
  6. Abel

    Abel Member

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  7. Float Pilot

    Float Pilot Member

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    Step one: Obtain a copy of Leverguns of the Old West by Mike Venturino.

    Two: Realize you are shooting a holding history.

    Three: Those calibers worked just fine back when folks were tough.

    My 1892 Winchester was made in 1892 and has been in the family since it was new. (The original owner / ancestor was killed in a shoot-out near Leadville Colorado and it was found with his body.)

    With cast bullets it will keep all ten shots inside a 3 inch circle at 100 yards.
    Not bad for a 120 year old rifle.
     

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  8. shuvelrider

    shuvelrider Member

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    Back in those days, it was a marketing idea to chamber lever guns in pistol calibers. It was practical in that the shooter only needed to carry one type of round and convenient that it fit both guns. Use them now as they were intended and they are still fine calibers, also gives you the excuse to get into reloading.
     
  9. Win73

    Win73 Member

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    Here is my "old saddle gun." Actually it probably wouldn't have been used as a saddle gun. It is the 24 inch barrel rifle version. For a saddle gun they would have used the 20 inch carbine version. It is a Winchester Model 1873 manufactured in 1891.

    I shot a deer with it four years ago. It was a 40 yard standing broad side shot on a doe. I waited 30 minutes before starting to trail it. I trailed it over 500 yards bleeding heavily before I lost the trail and could not find the deer. I am sure it had to die bleeding like it was. The area I lost the trail in was so grown up that I would have had to practically step on the deer to have found it.

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  10. 788Ham

    788Ham Member

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    At 40 yards, you should have shot her on top of the head, no trailing then.
     
  11. igousigloo

    igousigloo Member

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    shoulda woulda coulda not going to happen now!
     
  12. gunner69

    gunner69 Member

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    For the "old calibers" I tend to over-gun. My German Kriss Jeager (hunting instructor) stressed to use a caliber more than able to kill what you hunt. I use a 45-70 Sharps or 45-70 Winchester Model 1886. If it's for the smaller Alabama deer then I use my Sharps 38-55 or Winchester 1894 Rifle in the same caliber. I HATE to loose game to poor shots on my part......

    I do have a repo Winchester 1873 in .45LC that I have wanted to try on deer though.......
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
  13. grubbylabs

    grubbylabs Member

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    Those are guns that beg to be cast for and shot for fun and hunting. If they did the job when they were first produced then they will do the job today. You just have to use them how they were meant.
     
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