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Reloading 38-55 for a Winchester 1894


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A few years back I was able to buy a Winchester 1894 (1909) in 38-55 with a button magazine. The rifle is in good shape and shootable.

 

I finally got around to getting the necessary brass and bullets to reload it. The barrel slugs to .378 and the bullets are .378. My goto Cowboy powder is Trailboss. (Hey we are shooting steel targets not precision benchrest.) The Hodgdon Reloading Online Guide suggests 6 to 7 grains of Trailboss for 250 grain cast bullets. I am feeling good to go.

 

In a conversation with my SASS mentor (AD), he asked how much TB that I use for my 45 Colt. I answered 5.5 grains. He then opined that 6 to 7 grains for 38-55 sounded low. He suggested that I use the TB 60% method (fill the case to the base of the bullet, weigh that charge and start at 60% of that weight). Showing my math 12.4 grains times .6 yields a starting charge of 7.44 grains. Call it 7.4 grains. The load using the 60% method appears to be higher than the recommended Hodgdon load for that weight of bullet.

 

I guess I could load 10 rounds of 6.0, 6.5, and 7.0 grains to see how they function. Does anyone have a Trailboss load for 38-55 with 250 grain bullets to give me some ideas.

 

Thanks,

La Sombra

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Hodgdon cowboy load data lists 6.0 TB=842 fps       to     7.0 TB for 911 fps         GW

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52 minutes ago, La Sombra said:

A few years back I was able to buy a Winchester 1894 (1909) in 38-55 with a button magazine. The rifle is in good shape and shootable.

 

I finally got around to getting the necessary brass and bullets to reload it. The barrel slugs to .378 and the bullets are .378. My goto Cowboy powder is Trailboss. (Hey we are shooting steel targets not precision benchrest.) The Hodgdon Reloading Online Guide suggests 6 to 7 grains of Trailboss for 250 grain cast bullets. I am feeling good to go.

 

In a conversation with my SASS mentor (AD), he asked how much TB that I use for my 45 Colt. I answered 5.5 grains. He then opined that 6 to 7 grains for 38-55 sounded low. He suggested that I use the TB 60% method (fill the case to the base of the bullet, weigh that charge and start at 60% of that weight). Showing my math 12.4 grains times .6 yields a starting charge of 7.44 grains. Call it 7.4 grains. The load using the 60% method appears to be higher than the recommended Hodgdon load for that weight of bullet.

 

I guess I could load 10 rounds of 6.0, 6.5, and 7.0 grains to see how they function. Does anyone have a Trailboss load for 38-55 with 250 grain bullets to give me some ideas.

 

Thanks,

La Sombra

 

Check you scale.

 

Your math has a flaw. I doubt very seriously that you can get 12.4 grains of Trail Boss in a 38-55. A 45-70 maxes out at 13 grains with a 405 bullet.

 

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I’ve never used Trailboss, but if you have any Unique it works very well in 38-55. I use 9.6 grns W/ 250 grn Bullet 

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1 hour ago, Hoss said:

I’ve never used Trailboss, but if you have any Unique it works very well in 38-55. I use 9.6 grns W/ 250 grn Bullet 

I use 10.0 of Unique. Works well!

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I have two loads for my Winchester 1894s in 38-55 , one gun made in 1895 and the other in 1980 ....

Both guns use the same two loads with the exception of Bullet diameter .381 and .3785 the bigger bullet in the older gun the bullets weight 253 gr. 

The load used for SASS long Range pushes them out at 1,550 Fps . and my hunting load pushes the same bullets out the bore at 1,903 Fps. ....

These are RNFP bullets cast hard ....

I'm looking for a chance to put one of these bullets into the ribcage of an Elk ...

 

Jabez Cowboy

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What’s the bullet weights for all these TB powder charges thathave been posted?  Weights do matter folks.  6 to 7gr is listed on Hodgdon for 250gr bullet only

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The Trailboss formula is great for coming up with loads that there is no data for.   But if there is published data, I always go with that.

 

And a quick double check of the formula confirmed what I thought, that your stating of it was incorrect.   Here it is direct from their website....

 

"Find where the base of the bullet to be loaded is located in the case and make a mark on the outside of the case at this location. Then fill the case to that mark with Trail Boss, pour into the scale pan and weigh. This is your maximum load. Pressures will be below the maximum allowed for this cartridge and perfectly safe to use! Take 70% of this powder charge weight (multiply the maximum load from step 1 by .7), and that is your starting load. "
 

Your powder charge can be very different when using different weight bullets as they will vary as to how deeply into the case they fit.

Edited by H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619
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14 minutes ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

The Trailboss formula is great for coming up with loads that there is no data for.   But if there is published data, I always go with that.

 

And a quick double check of the formula confirmed what I thought, that your stating of it was incorrect.   Here it is direct from their website....

 

"Find where the base of the bullet to be loaded is located in the case and make a mark on the outside of the case at this location. Then fill the case to that mark with Trail Boss, pour into the scale pan and weigh. This is your maximum load. Pressures will be below the maximum allowed for this cartridge and perfectly safe to use! Take 70% of this powder charge weight (multiply the maximum load from step 1 by .7), and that is your starting load. "
 

Your powder charge can be very different when using different weight bullets as they will vary as to how deeply into the case they fit.

Only difference is I stated 60% instead of 70%.

 

My plans are to try 6, 6.5 and 7 grains TB to find out which one works best. These weights are min, middle and max charges recommended on the Hodgdon website for the bullet weight that I am using..

 

Thanks to all for the advice.

La Sombra 

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16 hours ago, La Sombra said:

Only difference is I stated 60% instead of 70%.

 

True.   But Trailboss is one of those powders where putting in to olittle powder can lead to too much pressure.  I don't understand the physics of it all, but too light of a charge of TB can be dangerous.  Or least, I've read that.

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The real beauty of Trail Boss is that even the manufacturer more or less  says "you can't hurt your gun with this stuff" (What an amazing thing for a powder company to say - but yes, I am sure they are NOT talking of light loads!)  I load a Steyr 8x56R for BAMM matches using a 90% case full of TB under the 208gr projectile..... about 1400 fps.   

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On 3/30/2021 at 10:42 AM, Bailey Creek,5759 said:

In my 38-55 i use 11 grs. Trail Boss .

Ouch, I use 6.0 and it's plenty.

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Maybe I'll try Trail boss my go to powders are getting in short supply. 4198, RL-7, and 3031.

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