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Echota Kidd

Which is better for long range, 38-55 or 30-30?

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Looking for an experienced opinion.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Echota

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Most of the experienced long range shooters I know prefer the ballistics of the 38-55.

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Guest Maker-Wright

Howdy EK,

 

I shot Silhouette for years with a 30-30. Told myself if I ever got my Grand Slam that I was going to quit silhouette 'cause I was sick of the abrupt whack of the 30-30 recoil. Then I got a 38-55. SO much more pleasant to shoot. Extremely accurate. More trajectory than the 30-30, but that's why LR sights are adjustable, and we spend time on the range acquiring sight settings. Plus, you can throw 250-300+ grains of lead with a 38-55, for situations that targets must fall down to be scored as hits (I've seen LOADS of 30-30 rounds shatter on impact, and leave rams standing at 200 yards). 38-55 wins out nostalgia wise too; it was developed as a BP cartridge, 30-30 was for smokeless right from the get-go.

 

And, I earned a Grand Slam with the 38-55.

 

Never have fired another round through a 30-30.

 

Maker

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Guest Maker-Wright

If you get a 38-55, it is imperitive to slug the bore, as they tend to vary a lot from manufacturer to manufacturer (e.g.; Modern Marlins tend to like .381", whereas modern Winnies tend to like around .377").

 

Also, get the RCBS "Cowboy" dies. They're made to expand the cases for the larger dia. lead bullets (Standard 35-55 dies are typically set up for .375 cal, and the cases will bulge when you seat the bullets)

 

And, if you get time, if you go through the hassle of having a Collet Neck-Sizer die custom made by LEE, I'd bet you'll be glad you did (no more lubing cases to size them, makes loading 38-55 as easy as loading 38.sp).

 

Maker

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Most of the experienced long range shooters I know prefer the ballistics of the 38-55.

 

+1

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Thanks, this is great info. There is a gun show here locally this Saturday. I just sold a rifle with the hopes of finding a 38-55. I've been wanting one for a while, but like an idiot, I stopped by the local gun shop and they had a beautiful 26" Winchester in 30-30 ($700), which made me want it too. They also have the 26" Winchester in 38-55 ($1,000). Bottom line is the 30-30 was $300 cheaper. I think I'll see what I can scare up at the show. Of course, both of those guns are commemorative for some cause or another and what I want is a shooter.

 

Echota

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I fell in love with 38-55 from the get-go. Had an 1893 Marlin that was more accurate than my old eyes could hold once I found the right combination :blush:

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Guest Maker-Wright

EK,

 

I will caution you on one thing... If you happen across a Marlin 336CB in 38-55, I've had to hone the chamber on several of them. On the overwhelming majority that I've seen, the chambers are a few thousandths too tight to allow chambering a cartridge with a large enough diameter bullet to get good accuracy. I'd even venture to say that's why many of them find their way back to market; the owners get frustrated trying to find a cast-lead combo that'll chamber, and shoot well, so they bag it. Some folks say to turn the case necks, but I don't like the idea of thinning case mouths on purpose.

 

Maker

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Guest Maker-Wright

Thanks, this is great info. There is a gun show here locally this Saturday. I just sold a rifle with the hopes of finding a 38-55. I've been wanting one for a while, but like an idiot, I stopped by the local gun shop and they had a beautiful 26" Winchester in 30-30 ($700), which made me want it too. They also have the 26" Winchester in 38-55 ($1,000). Bottom line is the 30-30 was $300 cheaper. I think I'll see what I can scare up at the show. Of course, both of those guns are commemorative for some cause or another and what I want is a shooter.

 

Echota

 

I know you're looking for a Lever-Action, but I've always thought it was very cool that the Winchester 1885 High-Wall Single Shot, and the 32-40 and 38-55 cartridges, were all introduced within a year or two of each other (kinda like how the 1873 rifle, the Colt SAA, and the 44-40 and 45LC cartridges all showed up at once).

 

Maker

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I am looking for a lever action. I already have a rolling block in 50-70 for the single action category.

 

Also I figured to stay away from the marlin 336 because they are micro-groove. Been told that they don't like the lead as good.

 

Range is only 200 yards so it's not really "long" range, but that's definition by the book. Although I would fancy shooting further if I could find a range that had the distance.

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Micro Groove rifling is just fine with lead bullets up to about 1500 FPS. Keep the velocity under than and you should be fine.

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Guest Maker-Wright

I am looking for a lever action. I already have a rolling block in 50-70 for the single action category.

 

Also I figured to stay away from the marlin 336 because they are micro-groove. Been told that they don't like the lead as good.

 

Range is only 200 yards so it's not really "long" range, but that's definition by the book. Although I would fancy shooting further if I could find a range that had the distance.

 

The Marlin 336CB's have Ballard-Cut rifling, in both 30-30 and 38-55. The; 336SS, C, and W, are micro-groove.

 

Maker

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Thanks, this is great info. There is a gun show here locally this Saturday. I just sold a rifle with the hopes of finding a 38-55. I've been wanting one for a while, but like an idiot, I stopped by the local gun shop and they had a beautiful 26" Winchester in 30-30 ($700), which made me want it too. They also have the 26" Winchester in 38-55 ($1,000). Bottom line is the 30-30 was $300 cheaper. I think I'll see what I can scare up at the show. Of course, both of those guns are commemorative for some cause or another and what I want is a shooter.

 

Echota

 

If you run across a Winchester Legendary Frontiersman in 38-55 I would encourage you to buy it and shoot it. It's a commemorative but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's worth more, IMHO. The one that I have is an excellent shooter and it looks good too.

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Micro Groove rifling is just fine with lead bullets up to about 1500 FPS. Keep the velocity under than and you should be fine.

+1

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Thanks for all the help. I definitely learned some things here. I'll try to keep all this in mind as I'm shopping at the show.

 

Four-Eyed, could you pm me with the combination that you stumbled on? It may give a good starting point for whatever I wind up with.

 

Echota

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I thinned the herd and am down to three 38-55s. The Marlin CB may well be the most accurate of the bunch with bullets weighing less than 260 gr and isn't finicky about powder or bullet type. The key to getting anything approaching good accuracy is by using the thin necked original brass or the "long" Starline brass. This will allow you to seat a 381 bullet with no problem in most cases.

 

Read this before you jump the hoop! Starline

 

And this: Ken Waters book "Pet Loads" and the chapter on 38-55.

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I thinned the herd and am down to three 38-55s. The Marlin CB may well be the most accurate of the bunch with bullets weighing less than 260 gr and isn't finicky about powder or bullet type. The key to getting anything approaching good accuracy is by using the thin necked original brass or the "long" Starline brass. This will allow you to seat a 381 bullet with no problem in most cases.

 

Read this before you jump the hoop! Starline

 

And this: Ken Waters book "Pet Loads" and the chapter on 38-55.

Yellowhouse, of the three that you have left, any thoughts about parting with one?

 

Echota

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Guest Maker-Wright

I thinned the herd and am down to three 38-55s. The Marlin CB may well be the most accurate of the bunch with bullets weighing less than 260 gr and isn't finicky about powder or bullet type. The key to getting anything approaching good accuracy is by using the thin necked original brass or the "long" Starline brass. This will allow you to seat a 381 bullet with no problem in most cases.

 

Read this before you jump the hoop! Starline

 

And this: Ken Waters book "Pet Loads" and the chapter on 38-55.

 

Regarding the Starline link above; I believe Mr. McPherson is painting with too wide a brush. He knows what he has experienced, and I know what I've experienced. Every Marlin 336CB that I've honed the chamber on is a very accurate gun. They've won a Helluva lot of matches. The 336CB that Bristlecone Jan used to win the Long Range Lever Action match at the recent Texas SASS Championship was one that I honed the chamber on.

 

I'm a big fan of Starline, but when it comes to 38-55, I'll keep my Winchester brass with the "Thick" case walls of only .009" (the Starline "Long" brass is only about .007" thick at the mouth). I'd suggest folks read that article with a grain of salt.

 

Maker

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Regarding the Starline link above; I believe Mr. McPherson is painting with too wide a brush. He knows what he has experienced, and I know what I've experienced. Every Marlin 336CB that I've honed the chamber on is an extremely accurate gun. They've won a Helluva lot of matches. The 336CB that Bristlecone Jan used to win the Long Range Lever Action match at the recent Texas SASS Championship was one that I honed the chamber on.

 

I'm a big fan of Starline, but when it comes to 38-55, I'll keep my Winchester brass with the "Thick" case walls of only .009" (the Starline "Long" brass is only about .007" thick at the mouth). I'd suggest folks read that article with a grain of salt.

 

Maker

One thing I've learned about the 38-55 is that theres not a whole lot written in stone or improved upon from what Ken Waters wrote in Pet Loads concerning this chambering. I offered that article (McPhersons) in the event that someone might try a trick or two with thinner brass before shipping it off to be chamber relieved. If your WW brass is .009 then its a sight thinner than some I had 15 years ago. Sometimes .001 is all there is to chamber or no chamber. All I'm saying is that the Starline thats .0075ish allows me to seat and chamber a .381 bullet and send it into tiny little cloverleafs. Thats something I couldn't do with WW brass.

 

Its at least worth a try I think.

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One thing I've learned about the 38-55 is that theres not a whole lot written in stone or improved upon from what Ken Waters wrote in Pet Loads concerning this chambering. I offered that article (McPhersons) in the event that someone might try a trick or two with thinner brass before shipping it off to be chamber relieved. If your WW brass is .009 then its a sight thinner than some I had 15 years ago. Sometimes .001 is all there is to chamber or no chamber. All I'm saying is that the Starline thats .0075ish allows me to seat and chamber a .381 bullet and send it into tiny little cloverleafs. Thats something I couldn't do with WW brass.

 

Its at least worth a try I think.

Howdy Yellowhouse,

 

Understood. I meant no disrespect to you. Not that I'm that well-travelled, but the 336CB is the only modern 38-55 that I was aware had the chamber/bore disparity. I've shot with many a Browning, Winchester, and Uberti 38-55 owner who've never had a problem with chambering.

 

It's great that Starline offers a product that solves the 336CB issue, and that's great info that you provided. But regarding chamber honing, for McPherson to basically say ; "doesn't matter who does it, or how they do it, they're going to ruin the gun's accuracy" is, in my opinion, sensationalist. Especially given the fact that, as you said yourself, only .001-.002" may need to be carefully polished out of a 336CB for it to chamber correctly. And many rifles today, including the chambers and bores, are so rough from the factory (and often ridiculously over-sized as in the modern 45LC chamberings).

 

Maker

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Ye

Howdy Yellowhouse,

Understood. I meant no disrespect to you. Not that I'm that well-travelled, but the 336CB is the only modern 38-55 that I was aware had the chamber/bore disparity. I've shot with many a Browning, Winchester, and Uberti 38-55 owner who've never had a problem with chambering.

It's great that Starline offers a product that solves the 336CB issue, and that's great info that you provided. But regarding chamber honing, for McPherson to basically say ; "doesn't matter who does it, or how they do it, they're going to ruin the gun's accuracy" is, in my opinion, sensationalist. Especially given the fact that, as you said yourself, only .001-.002" may need to be carefully polished out of a 336CB for it to chamber correctly. And many rifles today, including the chambers and bores, are so rough from the factory (and often ridiculously over-sized as in the modern 45LC chamberings).

Maker[/quote

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

 

None taken nor intended on my part. But yep he stretched his piggin string a little far with that all inclusive statement concerning ruined accuracy. Ive run into what we deem a disparity in nearly all Marlins, one original 1894 winchester, and my current uberti. As you say most could benefit from a good polishing.

 

Evidently, Marlin and Winchester had their own ideas of proper chamber dimensions extending back to who knows when. As far as I know both had their fans in its heyday which was pre WW2 with the ammo of that time. Ken Waters goes into all this with his excellent treatise of the caliber and calls into attention the problems of modern brass thickness. I have to agree that WW sure muddied the waters when they "brought back" the 38-55 in its modern form. People that still have little stockpiles of the old RP or Western brass would no doubt express confusion over this chamber/bore disparity business. In all fairness, I think Win made a stab at uniformity with the 1894 and Marlin stayed with the old Ballard chamber/bore dimensions which, if you think about it, are really designed for BP.

 

Its all a wonderful arena for discussion and I sure enjoy this throwing out of ideas. Good shootin Maker!!!

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Here's a really good article on the Marlin barrels...

 

Marlin's Microgroove Barrels

By: Glenn E. Fryxell

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Well, here is a 30-30 shooter that can testify that you can't go wrong with the old "thutythuty". With gas checked bullets, it shoots true. You can use most rifle powders from IMR 3031, W748, Accurate XMP5744, and so on!

 

I'm not gonna say it is better than the 38-55. I am sure that both have their merits. I was raised around a bunch of old timers that all shot the 30-30 when hunting deer and elk and there was a lawman who carried one as his primary weapon. Tom Horn was noted to have carried a 30-30...

In general, it's what you prefer and how well you get to know your rifle... As for me, I know how my rifle shoots well and I have carried it on an elk hunt where I killed a big cow elk with it. As for accuracy, I hit that Elk behind her shoulder at 210 yards where she dropped. Pretty accurate I think!!!

 

Respectfully,

CBA 3195

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My Marlin has had the chamber recut and finds 290 gr. bullets ahead of 5744 to be as accurate as even Lumpy Gritts would appreciate. Good, well cast soft bullets are also better than hard cast in my 38-55's.

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My Marlin has had the chamber recut and finds 290 gr. bullets ahead of 5744 to be as accurate as even Lumpy Gritts would appreciate. Good, well cast soft bullets are also better than hard cast in my 38-55's.

 

What bullet are you shooting? I've a Accurate Mold that throws about that weight and is really good in the Uberti when cast 20:1 or softer.

 

Back on topic.....by virtue of longer, heavier bullets the 38-55 is superior to the thirty-thirty at long range which I'm calling over 300 yards. Don't hold me to that! ;)

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That's the bullet and nearly the same alloy 265's are good as well but not as good as the 290's. I've used a 245gr. as well but I wasn't as pleased with it. The 290 rules.

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Just WHAT do you call 'long-range'? 500yds+??

OLG

 

I guess it is not as long as you and I call it.

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If you run across a Winchester Legendary Frontiersman in 38-55 I would encourage you to buy it and shoot it. It's a commemorative but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's worth more, IMHO. The one that I have is an excellent shooter and it looks good too.

Yul, you'll be glad to know that I found a Winchester legendary and I bought it. I hope to shoot it soon.

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I'll be out in the shop in the morning and get the data for you. You might want to PM J Bar Binks, he gave me a lot of good info for my rifle, he's been shooting one for a lot longer than I have. That's a nice rifle isn't it?

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Yes it is. Can't wait to try it out. Also picked up an original Winchester 92 in 32-20. Gun was made in early 1893. Smooth as silk.

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