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Which lever action rifle?


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Hi everybody,

 

I bought an Uberti 1873 24" rifle in .357mag a couple of months ago. I'm not happy with the week '73 construction which doesn't allow me to shoot .357mag a lot. Also the the carrier doesn't work well with most of the shorter .38special ammo.

 

I'm just shooting on 50 yard  targets, no competition whatsoever. So I was wondering if a Winchester or Marlin 20" carbine would be the better choice for me.

 

I like the 1873 design but I guess the other brands also have that problem with .357mag? Would a Winchester 1892 or Marlin Cowboy 1894 be the better choice?

I guess the risk of OAL problems with .38special can never be eliminated because it depends on the specific rifle.  

 

Best regards from Germany

krider

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Ok, let's try to separate the internet myths from reality. Any firearm marked ".357 Magnum" will reliably and safely shoot ammunition made to SAAMI standards for .357 magnum. Second, any 1873 or 1892 rifle marked ".357 Magnum" will have difficulty feeding the shorter .38 special round. The 1892 is especially picky with OAL, each rifle having a different preference.

 

Do you reload, or are you shooting factory ammo? If you reload, you can load to .38 special velocities in a .357 case and have no OAL problems. Or you can load longer (147 to 158 grain) bullets to .357 lengths in a .38 case by crimping behind the crimp groove with no problems. The one thing you won't have much luck with is getting a stock .357 rifle with no gunsmith work to reliably feed factory .38 length shells. However, there are some manufacturers that sell down-loaded .357 ammo as "Cowboy Loads"; the amount of down-loading varies by brand.

 

Hopes this helps, as I know that there is not the wide availability of ammo and component parts in Europe as here in the US.

 

One last thing, faking a SASS number will probably get your account closed, and possibly banned. Just use "Guest" and you'll be fine.

 

Welcome to the community, and feel free to ask as many questions as you like. 

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Hi, welcome to the Forum. The Rossi M92 will handle the .357 Magnums just fine too.

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Well my advice is to run... If you hang out here very long you will mysteriously acquire a couple of pistols and a shotgun, and a reloader; and be telling your wife half-truths about where it all came from and how much it cost. Just like the rest of us. Oh yeah, and driving hours each weekend to shoot with similar outlaws.

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If the toggle-link action rifle/carbine is marked ".357 Magnum" you should have no trouble with factory loads, possibly excluding +P ammo.  If you are still concerned, then a Rossi Cougar/M65/Winchester M1892 will handle just about any factory .357 load, as would a Marlin in the same cartridge.  Marlin quality control was an issue in the more recently produced guns, but only so far as fit and finish and possibly functioning is concerned.  I have no idea what is available over there. The main advantage to a Marlin is the ability to mount a scope on it if you wanted.  Otherwise, I'd go with the Rossi. 

Stay well and safe! Happy Holidays!

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None of the rifles, '73, '66, or '92 will run well with short ammo.  How short is too short is the issue.  Typically, as long as the ammo is 1.550 inches (39.37mm) it will likely run, but the shape of the bullet has a lot to do with it too.  '73s and '66s seem to be more forgiving than the '92s but even that isn't cast in concrete.  We started shooting with a pair of identical '92s both slicked up by the same smith at the same time.  One would run ammo that was visibly shorter than the other.

 

Try to find a brand of ammo that is longer than 1.550" and see if it behaves better.  There are brands of Cowboy ammo available here in the US that run longer, but I don't know if you can get them in the EU.

 

Best of luck, and welcome!

 

I should add that I didn't mention the Marlin 1894 as I do not have any direct experience with that rifle.  Possibly someone who is familiar with it will chime in.

Edited by Dogmeat Dad, SASS #48563L
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Let’s clarify a couple things before all kinds of solutions. 
1:  is it a new or used rifle?

2:  what are the overall lengths of the cartridges you are trying to shoot?

 

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13 hours ago, Too Tall Bob said:

Let’s clarify a couple things before all kinds of solutions. 
1:  is it a new or used rifle?

2:  what are the overall lengths of the cartridges you are trying to shoot?

 

 

It's a used rifle. Maybe 15 years old.

The .38 special cartriges have a length of 1.850in.

Edited by krider
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Well I guess I have two odd 73,s. Both will shoot 38 spcl just fine. One has been the main match rifle for at least 10 years, probably longer. Never any issues with 38 special. Heck most everybody I know shoots 38’s out of their 73’s with no problems.

 

Yes any firearm marked 357 will shoot 357’s with no problems. 
 

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1 hour ago, krider said:

 

It's a used rifle. Maybe 15 years old.

The .38 special cartriges are have a length of 1.850in.

1st off your cartridge length is too long.  For .38 spec you should be about minimum of 1.45” to 1.55 “ maximum. Another thing that could be causing feed issues (especially for limited use of .357) relates to shooting .38 spec. Almost exclusively before you got the gun. Because the .38 is shorter than the .357 a ridge of carbon/burned powder will build up at the end of the .38 case length in the chamber and make feeding .357 difficult if not impossible.  If you clean that crap out of the chamber, adjust your .38 spec. case length and use round nose flat point bullets you should be successful. The 73 is an extremely reliable rifle when taken care of. 
just my $.25 - good luck and let us know your progress

Edited by Too Tall Bob
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Here is some sound advice from one of the premier SASS lever action rifle gunsmiths. Palo Verde Gun Works, PV himself:

 

"If your rifle is a .357, it may like ammo loaded between 1.510 and 1.550” over-all length. The ’73 will likely lever smoother and your Marlin or Rossi will likely feed better. Personally, I like around 1.530 in a .357 case with a broad-pointed RNFP bullet. The narrow pointed, truncated 105g bullet in a .38 case can be problematic in some rifles if loaded to .38 spl OAL. Some Marlins prefer around 1.510”OAL, others like up to 1.570”. Most Rossi’s like around the same length. Marlins can be very sensitive about the over-all length and, reportedly, sometimes the shape of the bullet."

 

TB

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I shoot both a Uberti and Winchester 73. My first SASS rifle was a 92 so I reload my 38s to 1.55 or 1.56. When I said something about shorter 38s not working well I was told by most shooting them in 73s that they work just fine. Longhunter has some info on his website. Good info.

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2 hours ago, krider said:

 

It's a used rifle. Maybe 15 years old.

The .38 special cartriges are have a length of 1.850in.

 

Your problem is right here. Your ammunition far exceeds the SAAMI maximum OAL for .357 Magnum of 1.590" (40.39mm). Here are the documents: https://saami.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ANSI-SAAMI-Z299.3-CFP-and-R-Approved-2015-12-14-Posting-Copy.pdf

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With the gun empty, open the lever so that the brass carrier rises.  Turn the gun over.  Your cartridge must fit into the void under the brass carrier.  Most 73s will cycle best if the cartridge nearly fills this void.

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The 1873 Uberti is the most popular rifle for this game for a good reason. It is reliable, there is a massive after market of parts and accessories available for it, it doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to work on one. There are numerous articles and You Tube videos telling and showing you how to do just about anything to the guns. EVERYONE IS A GUNSMITH when it comes to the 1873 rifles/carbines Hahahahaha!  If it is a 357 it will digest 38 specials without knowing the difference if you use the correct bullet and load them to the proper length. Use the carrier as a gage for determining the proper OAL of the cartridge. If you do that the gun should work equally well using both 357 and 38 cases. If it doesn't then something is wrong. Many folks shoot cartridges that are much shorter. It will work if the gun is clean and tuned well. I don't like doing it because it forces cartridges in the magazine to move in and out with every lever of the gun and you just increase your chances of a jamb. I prefer something around 1.5" OAL.  The cartridge should be long enough for the bullet to function as a shell stop for the next round in the magazine. When I designed my Snakebite bullet I had two things in mind. ... first, to carry a large amount of lube for use with BP cartridges, and second to be loaded into a 38 special case on top of a standard load of BP with no air gap and come out to the same OAL as a 357. If you are shooting smokeless powder you can load most bullets out far enough in a 38 case to meet the most favorable OAL in any 357 rifle made. If you are shooting a 1892 rifle using a bullet that gives you more weight forward is a good choice for keeping the nose down and helping to avoid Stove Pipes.

 

Snakebite. 

Edited by Snakebite
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On 12/15/2020 at 7:56 AM, Snakebite said:

The 1873 Uberti is the most popular rifle for this game for a good reason. It is reliable, there is a massive after market of parts and accessories available for it, it doesn't take a Rocket Scientist work on one. There are numerous articles and You Tube videos telling and showing you have to do just about anything to the guns. EVERYONE IS A GUNSMITH when it comes to the 1873 rifles/carbines Hahahahaha!  If it is a 357 it will digest 38 specials without knowing the difference if you use the correct bullet and load them to the proper length. Use the carrier MORTISE as a gage for determining the Maximum OAL of the cartridge. If you do that the gun should work equally well using both 357 and 38 cases. If it doesn't then something is wrong. Many folks shoot cartridges that are much shorter. It will work if the gun is clean and tuned well. I don't like doing it because it forces cartridges in the magazine to move in and out with every lever of the gun and you just increase your chances of a jamb. I prefer something around 1.5" OAL.  The cartridge should be long enough for the bullet to function as a shell stop for the next round in the magazine. When I designed my Snakebite bullet I had two things in mind. ... first, to carry a large amount of lube for use with BP cartridges, and second to be loaded into a 38 special case on top of a standard load of BP with no air gap and come out to the same OAL as a 357. If you are shooting smokeless powder you can load most bullets out far enough in a 38 case to meet the most favorable OAL in any 357 rifle made. If you are shooting a 1892 rifle using a bullet that gives you more weight forward is a good choice for keeping the nose down and helping to avoid Stove Pipes.

 

Snakebite. 

Fixed those for ya...

 

krider,

 

In terms of action strength, I rate the Rossi 1892 as the strongest... heck they chamber in some far more robust cartridges than .357 Magnum.  Next would be the Winchester '94 action and then the Marlin 1894.  (Those two simply because the Winchester '94 has the whole of the bolt held in place by the locking lug, while the Marlin only engages approximately ½ the bolt.  Arguably so, as the Winchester 94 has a very long bolt, too long for pistol length cartridges, but... does have a supporting web web inside.) 

 

Everyone here seems to answer questions in terms of this sport (game), with little regard for other uses.  If you're not using the gun for speed, then some of things done to our guns are of limited value to you.  As long as the timing is right, it'll work fine.  The only determining factor on how short your cartridges can be in the 1873 (as well as the 1866 & 1860) toggle link action is the ramp at the front of the carrier.  The length of that ramp will determine how much of the 1st cartridge in magazine after the one on the carrier is able to be pushed back into the magazine lever the carrier up on the forward stroke of the lever.  A short ramp makes this "easier", while a longer ramp increases the effort to do so.  My oldest '73 is a 1986 production rifle in 45 Colt.  My other two are newer, and have a shorter ramp.  So, I assume that Uberti changed this over the years.  Others have noted changes in the ramps of their .357 1873 also.

 

And, while not absolutely necessary, I think you'll like the effect of Slix Springs for your carrier and lever springs in the gun regardless of the use you put it to, along with a reduced power trigger block spring.  Where they're available for the European market, I have no idea.  But... maybe one of the European competitors may be along and answer that for you.  As I'm sure that competitors on that side of the "pond" also like their actions light and fast as well!  

Edited by Griff
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