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Trapper Time...are they "worth" The Loss in Velocity?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Ugly Sauce, Nov 1, 2022.

  1. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    I tend to favor a longer barrel over a short one, and usually say so, but I don't want y'all thinking I'm anti-trapper. So here's my M94 trapper, with the Rossi just to show the difference between a lever action "trapper" and a carbine with 20" barrel.

    The 94 (.30WCF) I picked up in Missouri quite a few years back, found it in a pawn shop. It was a little beat, very patchy blue, showed lots of use, but I don't think it had ever been fired much. The shop (and it wasn't that long ago) only wanted $275 for it, and when I bought the guy said that $250 would do. !!??!! Well that turned out to be because it didn't feed. !!

    So I fixed that, had to weld some extra metal onto some part of which I forget now, and while I was at it, being a beat cheap gun, and having a nice 1949 94, and a nice Savage 99, I decided to make it into a half magazine. Also removed any remaining patches of blue on the receiver. I like the natural grey. It's a post-64 or course, and I think it might have been made right after the change over, on a Monday morning. The bottom of the receiver was very square compared to my 1949, and was kind of uncomfortable to carry, so I attacked that with a big file.

    She was a half-magazine for some time, even took it bear hunting once or twice in that configuration, but decided one day that "heck, this would make a cool lightweight trapper". So I trapper-ized it. It turned out okay I think, (this was a couple of years ago) and she's gone berry picking quite a few times with us. I load it with a 180 grain RNSP on the theory that the heavier bullet, being intended for faster calibers, should penetrate Mr. Grizz with minimal expansion, and get to the vitals.

    I'm not sure what the velocity loss is between 20" and 16.25". Is the "handiness" worth the velocity loss? Many will say the target will never know the difference, but I tend to think that when it comes to defense against animals that can bite, scratch, kill and eat you, that maybe every FPS helps. ?

    I can see where an actual, real life trapper would tend to favor the shortest rifle possible, as it would still be more powerful than a hand-gun. Or anyone that worked where a rifle needed to be "right there", for close up defense, or need to carry one on a dog sled, snowmobile, or something like that. For hunting, I think an extra four inches would be more better. ?
     
  2. 3Crows

    3Crows Member

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    You might think in pistol calibers not as much as rifle calibers? And probably a lower velocity rifle round like .45-70 or .38-55 compared to higher velocity rounds (relative) like .30-30 or .35 Remington also less?
     
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  3. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Yes, that did cross my mind, and in pistol calibers especially, going from a pistol length barrel to a 16" barrel is a substantial velocity gain. I'm kind of thinking more in terms of the .30WCF/.30-30.
     
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  4. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Not as much velocity loss as you might think. The numbers you see listed in ballistics tables are from 24" barrels. You are already seeing velocity loss from a 20" barrel. The amount between 20" and 16" in a 30-30 class cartridge is around 50 fps. You are probably another 50 fps between 24" and 20". I'd expect about 100 fps slower than most factory loads show on the box from a 16" rifle.

    I ran some ammo over a chronograph a few years ago from 20" and 16" 30-30's but lost that info when a computer died on me. Based on my memory I believe the above numbers to be close. I know that from my guns the speed from 20" barrels was already slower than the ballistics tables said.

    Maybe. But depending on the bullet many times a slower impacting bullet expands less and penetrates more. I've not seen any testing comparing 30-30 bullets for penetration. But heavy for caliber 30-06 loads have proven to give the exact same penetration as the same bullet weights fired from 300 WM. That extra 200-300 fps helps at long range but adds nothing at close range.

    I've had lever guns with 16", 18", 20", and 22" barrels. To me 18" is as short as I liked and 20" is my preference, but it isn't about velocity. It's about balance and looks. For whatever reason I didn't shoot the 16" rifle well. Maybe it was just that rifle. But I find 20" to be short enough. Although the 18" Marlin Texan I had is one I wish I'd kept. They only made that barrel length for one year I believe.
     
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  5. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Truth, there's more to it than just velocity. That is why, for trekking, berry picking, hiking, etc. I shoot a 180 grain bullet. I think a 190 would be ideal, but no one makes a 190 grain RN bullet for the .30WCF that I know of. From my research, the velocity loss from 20" to 16" is around 160fps. ? Or 40fps per inch, generally speaking. I could be wrong.

    I like barrels in the 20-22" range (not counting single shots and MLs) and if I hadn't come across this wreck of a 94 for $250 I don't think I would have cut one down into a "trapper". But, on the other hand I really like the gun. It's very light, carries nice.
     
  6. Risky buisness

    Risky buisness Member

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    I dont consider the maybe, 100 fps to be a hindrance, as I have a specific use for real light quick handling rifle and the trapper style suits it perfectly. I usually use a relatively soft cast 170 at just fast enough to not lead the bbl. Still working on a .3009 paper patch bullet thst I can push faster than the 170. As a matter of usefulness i aquired a trapper in .45 colt thst really rocks a 270 keith style cast or a Sierra 300gr with alot of authority for thick narly timber after elk.
     
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  7. 3Crows

    3Crows Member

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    My thinking and I am probably wrong and in no way mean to be sounding expert because I most definitely am not. In a rifle caliber like .30-30 I want a 20 inch barrel with one exception. In a pistol caliber I would take the 16.25 or 18 over a longer barrel.

    Okay, the exception, in .45-70 firing a bull dozer sized bullet, I think at the typical under 200 yards and more like closer to 150 yards, the difference in smack down will be inconsequential. If a Marlin Trapper TSBL were to land in my hands I would grab it, no doubt.
     
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  8. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I bought my brother a Winchester Trapper in .45 Colt many years ago. It was fun to shoot, and so handy, I borrowed it from him for a few years. It became my favorite camp and work-about rifle. I don't know that missing 4" of barrel really made that much difference with a 260grn JSP over a big charge of 2400... certainly there was some lost velocity, but not much. The handiness of the little carbine more than made up for the lost velocity.

    I've also got an M1a... with a 16" barrel. Yes, with the .308 cartridge, I lose a fair amount of velocity, but nothing that would be a detriment inside 200yds. It IS blasty, and it has a brake, likely making it worse than the standard 22" barrel... but I don't care. Like the Trapper, it makes up in handiness for what it loses in velocity because of the short barrel, around 200fps compared to the standard M1a.
     
  9. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    My Trapdoor carbine is kind of a Trapper, overall length with the 22" barrel is about the same as a lever with a 16". At one time I considered getting a replica High-Wall in .45-70, with a really short barrel but discovered they were going for more than original Trapdoors...! Anyhow...yes, the .45-70 Trappers are pretty darn cool lever guns. I wouldn't "mind" having one. But, still, wouldn't trade my JM Marlin 1895 22" for one.
     
  10. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    With either a pistol caliber, or a high power round like the .308, barrel length is less of a concern. With the .30WCF which is stepping along kind of slowly to begin with I think there's room for debate.
     
  11. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    Actually, I sold my Marlin 1895 LTD V for the money to buy a Pedersoli 1885 in .45-70.... it has a 32" barrel.

    If you are handloading, you can pick a powder that would help on the velocity...
     
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  12. Old Hobo

    Old Hobo Member

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    This is from Wiki. Can't say that I consider everything there Biblical.

    Wish I could have found better info.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.30-3...00,blast are stronger due to the short barrel.

    "When the .30 WCF was introduced, it was seen as fast and flat-shooting: 160 or 165 grains at 1,900 to 2,000 fps and a 4 inch drop at 200 yards if sighted in for 150 yards. The cartridge's common loads are 150 grain (MV 2,390 fps from a 24-inch barrel) and 170 grain (MV 2200 fps from a 24-inch barrel).

    "In the sport of handgun metallic silhouette shooting, the .30-30 has been used. The Thompson Center Arms Contender pistol, with its compact frame and break-action design, is available for the .30-30 cartridge. The .30-30 will produce velocities of nearly 2000 f/s (610 m/s) out of the 10-in (25-cm) Contender barrel, though recoil and muzzle blast are stronger due to the short barrel."

    -------------

    I don't know if I believe that 2000 ft/sec out of a 10" barrel unless maybe it was a hand-loaded round.

    ------------------------------------

    I like the Winchester Trapper barrel length. My prejudice. I've owned short rifles and a like how they swing into position so rapidly. I really like the looks of your 30-30 carbine.

    That said, for bear protection, that might do here east of the Mississippi with black bears being the critter. I've know people who have shooed them away like a big lazy dog. However for brown bear, grizzlies and other giant carnivores, I'd want something with a bunch more punch than a 30-30 ... and especially out of a carbine. That would be loud, but I'd not gamble on Mr. Brown Bear being frighted-off. As far as I know, grizzlies don't shoo off. Me, I'd not go with that plan.

    Not living anywhere near the big brown bears, I will defer to others as to what would be best lever action caliber for you.

    And, we're not talking about you stalking the bear. We're talking about some behemoth bruin running up on you -- very NOT good. If I had a short weapon for that situation, I'd want a short cannon.
    .
     
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  13. Old Hobo

    Old Hobo Member

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    The .308 doesn't need a lot of barrel at all. Reason is that the case capacity to bore volume is such that most all of the powder gets burned (magnum cases need longer barrels to burn all of their powder). I think that your 16" will be giving you excellent performance, velocity-wise. I have lusted for an M1a Tanker, myself. Haven't bought one -- actually would have to scrape up the cash to do so. In high school Jr ROTC, I was issued an M14 (they were kept in our school's armory) so have disassembled and reassembled them hundreds of times to get fast / outrun the other guys trying to see who could do so the fastest. The Springfield Armory M1a Tanker, I've heard one guy say that he had failures to feed with his. I'm not going with one person's opinion. Sounds like you are happy with yours.

    My dad drove tanks during WWII not in combat but in Ordinance delivering the tanks (drove tank carriers also; got buzz-bombed, never wounded, thumped around sure, hearing loss very little it seemed to me). They were first issued Thompson M1 .45 machine guns. He hated this, "Heavy, clunker", he said. Then issued a .30 carbine and he loved it. Decades ago, I should have bought me a .30 carbine when they were way cheap, lots and lots of them were readily available.
    .
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2022
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  14. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I loaded some .308's and .30-30's with the same 170grn cast bullet, and the same powder charge. I was surprised at how different the velocity turned out... the only thing being different was the case volume. 28grn IMR3031 launched that 170 out of the .30-30 at 2000fps... but only 1775fps out of my .308 Savage 99. It took 32grn IMR3031 in the .308 to match that 2000fps. Both were in 22" barreled lever-actions.
     
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  15. Cacas ex Fortuna

    Cacas ex Fortuna Member

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    Must be my feminine side, I think bigger is better.
     
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  16. Old Hobo

    Old Hobo Member

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    Here's a strange phenomenon:

    One is using a reduced load in a 30-06. Before shooting, the rifle with cartridge loaded is pointed upward then brought DOWN to the bench for firing. A group of five using this procedure is obtained. Now, with exact same load (reduced), the rifle with cartridge loaded is pointed downward and brought UP to the bench for firing. A group of five using this procedure is obtained.

    The rifle UP group will place differently than the rifle DOWN group. Why? The proximity of the powder to the primer. Gap vs. no gap give different velocities, thus they pattern differently. Burn patterns / churning vortecies are the engineering challenge for cartridge manufactures because they never want to send out ammo that could cause over-pressure dangers. This is one of those complicated / brain-pain issues for those engineering folk.
     
  17. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Well, that's a whole other issue. And, I have a .45-70 rifle, (three) a .350 Remington Magnum, heck a .75 caliber musket and .62 Caliber rifle, real bear whackers.!!! Those are "best" for me, for sure, but sometimes I like to travel light. I play the odds, and I think that even a .30-30, at ten yards, (or closer) will put a bullet (a good heavy stout one) into Mr. Grizz's brain, or do pretty good damage into the vitals. If I miss, well then...serves me right!! :) However, when you have a frontal shot at close range, as when a bear or cougar is coming at you, the bullet has the potential to reach more vitals, or it's brain, I think, than if you zinged one through the rib-cage or just the lungs shooting from the side. I may be absolutely wrong there, but again, I'll take my chances. I feel as comfortable with the .30-30 as I do with my .44 mag pistol, and most think a .44mag is bear repellent, but I believe the thutty thutty from a rifle produces a bit more smack down than the .44 pistol. (sometimes I take a .22 rifle and just the .44mag pistol)(or my bow and arrow)

    Or..!!!...in other words, when I go deep into the mountains and into Grizz's back yard, I'm willing to travel light and leave the big heavy guns at home, and take my chances. After riding motorcycles all my life, I know about taking chances!

    Dang, that was sure a lot of hot air!
     
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  18. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Not unusual, the smaller case will produce more pressure, with the same powder load and bullet...as you discovered!
     
  19. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Thank you, it is "different". Putting it next to my 1949 94, there really is a reduction in size and weight. Before I did that I was thinking that 4" of barrel didn't really make much difference, but actually it does.
     
  20. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    100, 110 grain bullet?
     
  21. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    I prefer shorter barrels for use in wooded terrain and blinds/stands.

    The way I like to compare to make my self appreciate (or disregard) the "delta" is by using both MPBR and some "advised" energy level. Usually that ends up being somewhere around 50yds in effectiveness, so handiness wins out and I feel better about my decision. :D
     
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  22. CraigC

    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    I used to be fascinated by the concept of a 16" levergun. I bought into all the hype that they were so light and fast and "cool". Two things happened. I got a couple of them and then i started hunting with +30" barreled, 10lb muzzleloaders. My longest has a 43.5" barrel! I found the handiness to be overrated and the negatives about long barrels to be non-existent. I also came to really prefer the sight radius of longer barrels over any perceived handiness in short barrels. So for me, a 20" carbine or short rifle is plenty handy.

    Ironically, I've also come to really appreciate short braced pistols in the realm of home defense but that's an entirely different purpose. When maneuvering through a house or building, or in and out of vehicles, that short barrel has some merit. Same would hold true for leverguns on horseback.
     
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  23. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Yes, same here, my Jeager and Bess have 32" barrels, and my 1861 has a 40" (42"?) barrel, (and weighs 10.5#!) and I've found them to be perfectly fine in the heavy brush, blinds, etc. Same thing with my modern rifles with 24-25" barrels, never a problem for hunting. But I can appreciate and understand a preference for shorter lighter rifles.

    I don't anticipate ever hunting with my little half magazine trapper, it is a hiking/woods-bumming/exploring/trekking/berry picking/map-N-compass rifle. For that, I might/may choose it over the 19" 94. For hunting, I'd grab the longer 94 over the trapper.
     
  24. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Growing up running trap lines, I eventually asked a few elders why Winchester called the short barreled carbine a “Trapper.” The response from the group was that “Trappers” rarely need a centerfire rifle at all, so having an EXTRA rifle on hand for opportunity shots on larger game was only convenient if the rifle were short, light, and easily packed. I carried a hatchet to club some game animals, and a 22LR pistol - a generational “upgrade” compared to the 22LR rifles my elders commonly carried for the task.

    I had a couple Win 94 Trappers, largely for the novelty. I do have Marlin 1894 Guide Guns still now as well, and enjoy the short and fast handling feel of these shorter rifles in the field - I hunt with short barreled AR’s as well, and have been lusting over a 9” bolt action rifle coming up sooner than later. I’ve also owned and used a lot of different specialty pistols which behave much like short barreled rifles in application… I personally am not a fan of the Winchester 94 action, and am much more a fan of a 44mag than 30-30, so the novelty of a 94 Trapper wore off for me pretty quickly - and I wasn’t quite satisfied by the 357mag version either.

    But I remain much more apt to buy a short barreled levergun - or really short barreled rifle of any action type - for hunting than to buy anything with a long barrel.

    The velocity loss isn’t of concern.
     
  25. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    The velocity loss isn't enough for me to worry about, but since my trapper 30-30 is a legendary lawmen collector I'm probably not dragging it around. I have a stainless trapper Rossi 92 in 44 Mag for that.
     
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