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Shot a 38-55 Saturday at a silhouette match

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by George Dickel, Oct 13, 2019.

  1. George Dickel

    George Dickel Member

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    Saturday I shot in a metallic silhouette match in the big bore class. A lady competitor had a Marlin with a 24" octagonal barrel in 38-55. I watched her shoot and it surprised me how slow that round is. They were hand loads with a 225 grain bullet but I didn't ask her what powder or the load. She was shooting at the chicken silhouettes at 50 yards and when she fired there was a noticeable lag between bang and clang. When I shoot my 30-30 it is bang, clang. When she switched to the turkeys at 100 yards the time between bang and clang was very noticeable. She let me shoot it a couple times and I was surprised how mild the recoil was however it is a heavy rifle. Kinda put a bug in my mind that it would be real cool to have one. Got to mention that she is a tough competitor an excellent shot and a very nice lady who has won her share of trophies in silhouette.
     
  2. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    38-55 Marlins command a serious premium.

    They are a relatively unknown gem of a cartridge. They can be loaded pretty hot if needed and are a hugely versatile cartridge.
     
  3. dc.fireman

    dc.fireman Member

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    When loaded with black powder, and using a cast bullet, silhouette rifles are (necessarily) some of the mildest recoiling rifles out there. Though I don't own any, many of my range buddies shoot everything from 32-40, to 45-70 using various 300 to 500 gr. cast bullets. It's amazing to watch these rounds in flight through a spotting scope - most of the time you can see them travel down range and strike the silhouettes.
     
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  4. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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  5. George Dickel

    George Dickel Member

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    I found that out when I did some searching of auction sites.
     
  6. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    Buddy of mine is really getting into 38-55. Seems like a really cool cartridge.

    Apparently there can be some discrepancy in the actual diameter of the bore, so be careful of that.

    He has an old (1893) marlin that he is casting bullets for specifically.
     
  7. Cocked & Locked
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    Cocked & Locked Member

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    Not a Marlin but it works. Stock butt plate not much fun. o_O

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  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I started BPCR MS with a .38-55. A rebore with 15" twist that let me shoot 335 gr bullets at 1100+ fps, it was accurate but did not have the punch for the 500 meter 48 lb rams. I rang so many that I was posting half points in my notebook to show my sights were zeroed even though the official scorecard did not show a hit/knockdown.

    .45-70-500 was no fun at all so I went to .40-65-404.
     
  9. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Member

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  10. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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  11. Cocked & Locked
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    Cocked & Locked Member

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    Yes it is...Winchester 94. 38-55 Legendary Frontiersman Commemorative.
     
  12. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    I shoot a pre-1898 design rifle competition and the 38-55 is the favorite in the rifle caliber class. I shoot a 45-70 RB and a Krag. But as noted above with the 38-55 and definitely the 45-70 using BP loads, you can actually see the bullets lobbing into the targets!

    The problem with the 38-55 is that there's a pretty wide variety of groove diameters out there in different makers and eras of barrel and in a lot of examp!es, they were cut with very tight chambers, in the .374-6" range and loose bores, out to .381" . This was an issue with the old H&R Target Classic that had like .374 chambers and .379 bores. Then, after the 375 Winchester came out, most 38-55 barrels seemed to tighten up to .375 as well. So, a good chamber cast to understand what you have and whether it can benefit from a chamber ream or not is always a good idea.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
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  13. midland man

    midland man Member

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  14. Gary W. Strange

    Gary W. Strange Member

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    I use a Winchester model 94 big bore for a hog gun. It does a good job on hogs. 375 Winchester ammo and brass is hard to come by. I have heard one can shoot 38-55 in a .375, I have s also heard you couldn’t. I am not sure what the answer is to 38-55 in a .375 is. Can someone that knows for sure chime in and shed some light on this question?
     
  15. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    38-55 is safe to shoot in a 375 Winchester chamber from a pressure perspective ( and NOT the other way round as 375 win pressures are much higher) but 1) it may not chamber as 38-55 is slightly longer in the neck and 2) even if it will chamber, changes to the throat and leade in 375 Win mean that 38-55 bullets are unlikely to enter the lands in ways that deliver accuracy. Short version, you may be able to but you shouldn’t.

    Starline sells SAAMI spec, properly head stamped 375 Win brass.
     
  16. Gary W. Strange

    Gary W. Strange Member

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    Sounds like very good advice. Thanks for the information.
     
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  17. JustsayMo

    JustsayMo Member

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    Great caliber. There is something just right about it.

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    It is true that there is some variation between chambers and bore sizes. Three pards have 336 Cowboys in 38-55 and mine has the most generous chamber and my bore slugs at .3805". The Lee 250 as cast gave OK accuracy but I had Accurate Molds make me a 382 -250b and the groups really tightened up. My ammo won't even chamber in their rifles. Using their ammo in mine I'm lucky to hit paper at 50 yards.

    With a good tang sight you can really reach out there.


    I've got an 1893 that luckily likes the same ammo as the Cowboy.
     
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