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John Kloehr

Philosophy question: .38 Special or 45LC

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Back in about 2008 I started with 45 Colt and was never disappointed, smokeless or the wonderful world of black powder. I eventually added some 44-40s and 44 Specials to the mix. They're all great.

 

If you are after authenticity you can certainly shoot 45 Colt revolvers and a 44-40 or 38-40 lever action rifle with black powder. Or just stick to the dash calibers in both revolvers and leverguns.

 

I never saw a reason to shoot 38 special. At one time I did own a pair of SASS Ruger Vaqueros in .357 (just wanted the SASS guns I guess...) and shot them at 1 monthly match two handed and they do shoot faster, but that just didn't do it for me. Sold those and bought more .45s.

 

I never worried about cost of reloading large caliber versus small caliber ammo. I figure with everything else we spend on this, all the equipment and firearms, travel and lodging, shooters fees, clothing and other accouterments ammo cost was the least of my concerns.

 

Ammo cost associated with larger caliber versus smaller caliber in my estimation is more or less minuscule if you are reloading your own anyway. Buying factory ammo because you do not or cannot reload you will notice a huge difference in ammunition cost.

 

 

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The young gentleman in this video is named Pecos Nick.  He's one of the best shooters on the planet.  He shoots 45s in both pistols and rifle.  Shoot whatcha like. ;)

 

Pecos Nick

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Posted (edited)

@The Original Lumpy Gritz Agree .38 Special is cheaper to reload, but reloading any common caliber is cheaper than buying any pre-loaded cowboy rounds.

As to buying in bulk, I see (or did see before Covid) that I could buy jacketed factory rounds for a couple cents more than just the brass. Since I can shoot that with SASS guns at Steel Challenge, it looks like a great way to both break in a firearm and collect reloadable fired-once brass.

@Doc Nelson #19958 Yes, I'll end up with more guns, just don't want to buy any I don't use.

@bgavin Thanks for the spreadsheet! If I divide the cost of brass by 10, this confirms reloading is a lot less than preloaded ammo. But I can see reloading some rounds is a lot more than reloading others...

@Nickel City Dude I am open to other calibers, the "feel" of .45LC compared to .38 prompted my query. The diameter feels good.

@Marshal Chance Morgun True, but which one felt better about the experience? That is at the heart of my question.

@Turkey Flats Jack Hmm, but what if I see a slightly different caliber in some awesome Taylor revolvers available now? Oh, yes, Doc Nelson may have me pegged... And no, I'm not going to make my own Holy Black. Well, not this year anyway.

@Widder, SASS #59054 5-1/2. And I think the rest of your post is spot-on.

@Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971 I can shoot Classic Cowboy... This post made me read the rules from beginning to end. And is the basis for my next thread since that confused me more than I thought possible. Thanks!

@J-BAR #18287 It isn't really... Well, it is a budget issue but this is not a cheap sport to get in to in the first place.

@Hashknife Cowboy Ah yes, the people of the sport! I like the people.

@Cat Brules That many times? I will be happy with 5 to 10 reloads on a case.

@Kirk James Thaks for the encouragement, and I will check out those videos.

@MBFields Good point, I have come to like the 1911 .45ACP on my hip compared to the Sig 9mm I used to carry.

@Cowboy Junky Yes, a tight budget would drive the configuration of the sport. I'm not rich which is a great part of why I will reload. I could not afford this sport in any caliber without reloading.

@Sarge Good point on KISS. One of the loaner sets I shot included .38 Special for the rifle and .38 shorts for the revolvers. Then I got confused and wondered if I loaded shorts in the rifle... I didn't, bought thought I did. So I stopped and asked for help. I don't think I would make that mistake again, but I almost did once.

@Rye Miles #13621 Full circle. That might happen. And I might want to try Wild Bunch at some point. Will that feel like home or will I come back to revolvers? I don't know.

@Go West My next thread is about the categories. I did not realize how that might affect the firearms choices and I might have made bad choices. Glad I joined here to ask questions first. Please join in my next thread.

@Baltimore Ed I consider myself a casual competitor. I compete against myself more than against others, but do look at my rankings every now and then. I'm generally somewhere in the middle in other shooting games.

@Johnson County Mike I like that different people in the sport follow different directions and all come together to shoot.

@Equanimous Phil Yes, wild bunch sounds interesting. Would save money over time if I only needed one more pistol to play that too.

@Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283 I've been doing some reading on loading, and filling the cavity is important. Besides spotty ignition, a squib could ruin a day. Sending another round after it would cost far more than a day. Thanks for the pics and other data. I'll be coming back to your post as my next thread progresses.

@ShadowCatcher I am leaning towards enjoyment over speed though speed is nice.

@Jabez Cowboy,SASS # 50129 Next thread, please check in.

@Dantankerous I share your opinion on reloading and the cost of this sport.

@Shooting Bull I'll look at the video tomorrow. BTW is your SASS number 47048? If so, you have two logins on this forum.

 

I'm going to do a quick run through for any likes I might have missed, then post my next thread. Hope to see you there!

 

 

 

Edited by John Kloehr
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Very good chance those jacketed rnds may not feed in the rifle.

Several CAS commercial reloaders out there. Scarlett Darling is one to contact.

Don't overthink this....

OLG 

 

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A little late to this party, but what the heck.  When I started ('99), it had to be big bore. .44 or .45.  So it was 45 Colt and 44 Special.  I had no interest in shooting .38's.  My mindset at the time was .38 is "too wimpy".  After a year, two things happened:  First, I won a .357 1873 carbine at Range War in 2000.  Charcoal Blue, tiger-striped wood.   Gorgeous.  I didn't shoot it for two months, thinking I'd trade it on a .45.  But then I decided not to look that gift horse in the mouth, and just shoot it.  Number two item was about that time Cimarron came out with the 1851 Richards-Mason conversion.  Loved the octagonal barrel.  Comes only in .38.  So, I added .38 to my arsenal.  I load in the middle of the loading ranges with 125gr bullets, and never feel "too wimpy".  And a case full of FFFg black powder in a .38 is plenty satisfying!  So... shoot what ever you want.  It's ALL FUN!

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21 hours ago, The Original Lumpy Gritz said:

Very good chance those jacketed rnds may not feed in the rifle.

Several CAS commercial reloaders out there. Scarlett Darling is one to contact.

Don't overthink this....

OLG 

 

I'm certainly willing to look at other reloads if the price is reasonable. The few commercial offerings I looked at for .38 special cowboy loads cost as much as my defensive ammunition for daily carry. 1,000 rounds of Blazer Brass (fmj, rnfp) came out as a great (bargain) source of fired-once brass, and breakeven for reloading that looked to be at about 1,000 rounds. And according to Winchester and Blazer, it should run fine in the 1873.

 

But yes, anything other than this caliber (.38 Special) means starting from scratch in some way. If affordable (and still a source of brass), I am not against buying quality cowboy loads. I just can't pay the prices certain big names are charging.

 

Heard Scarlett mentioned a few times here. Will check it out when I get to that point.

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On 5/2/2020 at 9:37 PM, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

Yadda Yadda some stuff

 

There are buku variables that all of us play with.

 

Yadda Yaddo some more stuff..

 

..........Widder

Widder, if'n yer gonna tawk Kajun at leest spel it write.

 

Beaucoup

 

Ur welkomb

 

Kajun

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11 hours ago, Krazy Kajun said:

Widder, if'n yer gonna tawk Kajun at leest spel it write.

 

Beaucoup

 

Ur welkomb

 

Kajun

Thought that was Merci Beaucoup Kajun.

kR

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I suspect a lot of folk that have been shooting SASS awhile have both 38s and 45s.

 

My suggestion is just make it easy on yourself and buy 38s up front and get in the game.

 

You may decide to try something different (no matter what you start with)  later on.  Most do if they stick around for long.   I have both the  bigger calibers and currently shoot 32-20 often as not.  

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Another factor is that the rifles were not designed for 45 Colt rounds.  They were designed for bottle-necked cartridges - largely due to the difference in how the original 45 brass was made - having essentially nothing for the extractor to hang onto.

 

Yes, with modern brass you can shoot them and they work pretty well.  But you will experience more "blow back" with 45 Colt  unless you use a little hotter loads and heavier bullets.  The reason is that the extra pressure is needed to help seal the brass to the chamber to keep blow back reduced.

That is not a problem with bottle-necked cases such as the original 38-40 and 44-40 cartridges.  And the 38 Specials seal better (being smaller) and do not require a relatively hotter load to avoid getting the gas in your face (if that bothers you as it does many.)

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If I was starting out (knowing what I know now) I'd go with .38s.
But when I started out, I already *had* a bunch of .45 Colt stuff.  I've been a fan of the ol' .45 since I was a pup.

Flint

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13 hours ago, Kid Rich said:

Thought that was Merci Beaucoup Kajun.

kR

 

I never could figger out who marcy bocamp was.  I saw a store with her name on it in natchitoches, but it looked like a fancy dress shop so I never went in. 

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For me it was cost.  38 spl ammo is less expensive.  Some time back when I practiced a lot, I went through over 1500 rounds a week.  It adds up quick.

 

Doc

 

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14 hours ago, Kid Rich said:

Thought that was Merci Beaucoup Kajun.

kR

Merci translates to "thank you" and beaucoup translates to "a lot or very much" so Merci Beaucoup translates to "Thank you very much."

 

De rien,

Kajun

 

1 hour ago, Ramblin Gambler said:

 

I never could figger out who marcy bocamp was.  I saw a store with her name on it in natchitoches, but it looked like a fancy dress shop so I never went in. 

 :lol:

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Posted (edited)
On 5/3/2020 at 9:41 AM, Baltimore Ed said:

...The .45 is the most expensive, not truly authentic except in the movie/tv context,...

REALLY?  What cartridge was the Colt SAA introduced in?  I seem to only recall reading that it was the 45 Colt.  

Edited by Griff
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Posted (edited)

But Winchesters weren’t chambered in .45LC then, only in the dash calibers. The potential lifesaving  ability to have a rifle and pistol in the same caliber was important to a frontiersman, lawman or outlaw and was a big selling point for the Colt and Winchester Firearm companies. The only truly authentic rifle and revolver calibers are the dash calibers. Caveat being unless the op wants to deal with reloading for multiple calibers and all that entails but that wasn’t my impression of his question. 

Edited by Baltimore Ed
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Like Doc said, the 38 ammo is less expensive.  I can shoot my brothers 45 Vaqueros and there is not a lot of difference in recoil.  Both are very smooth and easy to keep your sights on the targets.  If you like a heavy load in your 38's, just put a 158 grain with more power.  Good luck on your decision and hope to see you on the range.

 

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If I had to do the rifle over again, it would be one chambered specifically in 38 Special, not 357 mag.
The 1866/1873 toggle link action is super smooth and reliable for this chambering.
When the rifle is specifically chambered for 38 Special, you avoid potential problems of short cartridges in a 357 action.

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14 hours ago, Baltimore Ed said:

But Winchesters weren’t chambered in .45LC then, only in the dash calibers. The potential lifesaving  ability to have a rifle and pistol in the same caliber was important to a frontiersman, lawman or outlaw and was a big selling point for the Colt and Winchester Firearm companies. The only truly authentic rifle and revolver calibers are the dash calibers. Caveat being unless the op wants to deal with reloading for multiple calibers and all that entails but that wasn’t my impression of his question. 

I think you might be more accurate if you were stating that the most authentic caliber is the caliber it was introduced in and was preferred by both the military and those who really used the handgun more often, due to it's power.  The most practical though might well be the calibers that it was later released in to be compatible with rifle.  The .44-40 was introduced 1877, four years later than the SAA, as the Colt Frontier.  To date more than twice as many SAA's in .45 Colt have been sold than .44-40's.  

 

SC

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On 5/3/2020 at 10:41 AM, Baltimore Ed said:

You will need to use a dash caliber to be truly authentic, philosophically or historically, .38-40 or .44-40. Both are very black friendly and many guns are chambered for them. The .32 or .38s are the least expensive, good for the ladies, shooters with arthritic hands and of course gamers. The .45 is the most expensive, not truly authentic except in the movie/tv context, but can be downloaded with lighter bullets and cowboy special brass, it’s easy to reload and just about every repro gun is also chambered for it. All my cas guns are .45s with the exceptions of a couple of 44-40 winchester muskets, I shoot duelist too. It’s all about having fun. Whether you choose to be a competitor, a reenactor or a casual shooter it’s up to you. 

The very first Colt SAA, serial number 1, was chambered in .45, not a dash caliber.  Dash calibers were not even available in a SAA until 1877, by which time there were over 16,000 .45 caliber SAA's in circulation.  Between 1873 and 1940, just over half of all SAA's produced were in .45. 

 

I don't see how you can say it's not authentic when it was not only the most popular caliber, it was the very first caliber the gun was chambered in. 

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Posted (edited)

I will accede to the forum that the .45 is the authentic caliber for a Colt saa however for a cas shooter using a Winchester 73 and a Colt the authentic calbers would be a dash caliber. Unless he wishes to complicate his cas life with multiple gun chamberings. Attend a match and leave your rifle ammo home, got plenty of pistol ammo though, or try to shoot the wrong ammo in the wrong gun. Seen that trick done twice. Not trying to start a range war here. The op proposed a philosophical question about the potential calibers of guns he had not yet purchased to get some insight from the forum into the myriad and mysteries of cas calibers,.32mag, .32-20, .38spcl, .357 mag, .38-40, .41 mag, .44spcl, .44mag, .45cowboy, .45schofeld, .45lc, did I get them all? Stay safe all. Maybe we’ll all get to shoot in June.

Edit. Sorry about that Phil,  .44-40. 

Edited by Baltimore Ed
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10 minutes ago, Baltimore Ed said:

The op proposed a philosophical question about the potential calibers of guns he had not yet purchased to get some insight from the forum into the myriad and mysteries of cas calibers,.32mag, .32-20, .38spcl, .357 mag, .38-40, .41 mag, .44spcl, .44mag, .45cowboy, .45schofeld, .45lc, did I get them all?

Well, 44-40..?:D

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4 hours ago, bgavin said:

If I had to do the rifle over again, it would be one chambered specifically in 38 Special, not 357 mag.
The 1866/1873 toggle link action is super smooth and reliable for this chambering.
When the rifle is specifically chambered for 38 Special, you avoid potential problems of short cartridges in a 357 action.

 

Sorry, no.  The .357 1873 and the .38 Spcl 1866 use the same carrier.

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Thanks.. I see the carrier is the same between both models.
Thinking about this a bit more... the carrier is an elevator type in the toggle-link design, compared to the slant carrier of the Marlin.

However, the OAL for 38SP is 1.55" vs 1.59" for 357.. a very negligible difference.

Q: does this mean the 1866 will chamber a 357 cartridge?

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52 minutes ago, bgavin said:

...Q: does this mean the 1866 will chamber a 357 cartridge?

 

The '66 is supposed to have a shorter chamber so that it will not chamber a .357, same as a lot of .38 revolvers.  However, some folks have reported that their '66 will chamber the magnums.

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1 hour ago, bgavin said:

However, the OAL for 38SP is 1.55" vs 1.59" for 357.. a very negligible difference.

The part of a cartridge that makes the difference between these two is the CASE length, not the OAL.   The .357 mag has 0.100" longer case.  Thus the CHAMBER is cut 0.100" longer than the chamber for a .38 spl.   Since the bullet diameter is smaller than the OD of the case,  the OAL makes almost no difference to whether the round chambers.   It makes some difference with regards to whether the carrier or lifter can maneuver the tip of the bullet successfully into the chamber.   A really long bullet seated way out in the case could even jam the bullet nose into the rifling in front of the chamber, and thus not feed all the way into the chamber.

 

In a toggle action gun, the OAL has to be below the length of the lifter, and greater than what allows enough of the second round in the magazine to stick out so it jams the lifter as the lifter rises.    In a toggle action, if the round sits properly in the lifter, the bolt has a straight run to push the round into chamber.

 

In a pivoting lifter action, OAL has to be short enough to get the nose out of the mag tube, and long enough for the lifter to raise the nose of the angled cartridge so the nose points into the rear of the chamber before the bolt slams it in.

 

Good luck, GJ

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, Equanimous Phil said:

cas calibers,.32mag, .32-20, .38spcl, .357 mag, .38-40, .41 mag, .44spcl, .44mag, .45cowboy, .45schofeld, .45lc

Quote

Well, .44-40

 

 Keep going.  Lets add .22 LR, 7.62×38mmR, .32 S&W, 9 mm, .38 long Colt, .44 Russian, Cowboy .45 spl, .45 Colt, .45 auto

 

And delete the imaginary rounds - .45cowboy, .45lc.

 

When in doubt to the name of a cartridge, one can almost always trust the headstamp.

:lol:

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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G.J. thanks for the continuing education.

I can see the advantage to the straight ahead chambering of the of the toggle-link design.
In my mind's eye, the only place the cartridge would jam is if it does not have sufficient time to exit the tube and fully seat in the carrier before it rises.
A sticky magazine follower or weak spring, at the end of the 10 loaded could pose a problem with fast cycling.

As I understand it, the pivoting Marlin design inserts at an angle, and is apparently more critical of OAL and bullet shape.
As the carrier wears and its dimensions change, I can see where the "Marlin jam" comes from.
And to this day, Remlin continues to produce soft metal carriers, knowing this to be the root cause of the Marlin jam.

 

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21 hours ago, Abilene, SASS # 27489 said:

 

Sorry, no.  The .357 1873 and the .38 Spcl 1866 use the same carrier.


I am looking at the manuals (parts section) for both 1866 and 1873.
Apparently, they both use identical parts.
Even the brass receiver (frame) and steel receiver have the same part number.

I think somebody goofed along the line and simply copied the same parts list into both manuals.

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From a philosophical standpoint, it sounds to me like you really like the .45.   Therefore, shoot the .45.

 

From a historical standpoint, you could run .44-40 in both your revolvers and rifle, which would be very similar, of not identical depending on the load, to the performance of the .45.

 

From a personal standpoint, .38 Special is just about the only SASS legal caliber that I do not use in our game.  I do reload for it, but I don't use it here.   Why?  No real reason, I just don't.   

 

Getting back to philosophical reasoning, try .38 Long Colt.   

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22 hours ago, Baltimore Ed said:

I will accede to the forum that the .45 is the authentic caliber for a Colt saa however for a cas shooter using a Winchester 73 and a Colt the authentic calbers would be a dash caliber. Unless he wishes to complicate his cas life with multiple gun chamberings. Attend a match and leave your rifle ammo home, got plenty of pistol ammo though, or try to shoot the wrong ammo in the wrong gun. Seen that trick done twice. Not trying to start a range war here. The op proposed a philosophical question about the potential calibers of guns he had not yet purchased to get some insight from the forum into the myriad and mysteries of cas calibers,.32mag, .32-20, .38spcl, .357 mag, .38-40, .41 mag, .44spcl, .44mag, .45cowboy, .45schofeld, .45lc, did I get them all? Stay safe all. Maybe we’ll all get to shoot in June.

Edit. Sorry about that Phil,  .44-40. 

I've been shooting different cartridges in my rifle and pistols for years. Still hasn't overly complicated my CAS life. I have even used upwards of 4 different calibers in a single match. The key is to have a sytem in place. I mark the heads of all of my rounds with different colored sharpies.

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32 minutes ago, bgavin said:


I am looking at the manuals (parts section) for both 1866 and 1873.
Apparently, they both use identical parts.
Even the brass receiver (frame) and steel receiver have the same part number.

I think somebody goofed along the line and simply copied the same parts list into both manuals.

 

Good catch.  The '66 and '73 manuals each have the correct parts diagrams, but the '73 manual has the '66 parts list.  Probably been that way for a long time.

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The parts list on-line at VTI has always worked for me.

http://www.vtigunparts.com/store/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=42&cat=Uberti+1873+Rifle

 

Good luck, GJ

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Good system Hombre,  I use different stamped leather and wood block carriers for my 44-40/38-40 and my 45 colt.  Thinking they were made by Missouri Marshall. 

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