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Anyone use a38sp (specific) Uberti rifle?


DoctorWho
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Greetings all. In this post-COVID wasteland I am still trying to source my rifle. I was hoping someone here has used or uses a 38 special Uberti yellow boy, NOT a 357. I have a vintage Winchester 73 in 357 which I do not plan to beat up with monthly matches, but it cycles 38sp very poorly. Any thoughts for a newb as I?

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Posted (edited)

You need to adjust your ammo.  The 66 and 73 carriers and links are the same length so if your .38 ammo does not work in your 73 chances are that it won't work in a 66 either.  Look at the thread on ammo length.  You are either using the wrong bullet style or your OAL is too short.  Also what do you mean by "vintage Winchester 73 in .357?"  Original 73s never came in .357 and a Uberti or Miroku sure isn't vintage.

Edited by Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933
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My wife has a Uberti 66 carbine in .38 Spl built by Longhunter.  She has not had any issues with it.  

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My wife has used a 38special Uberti 1866 since we started about 20 years ago.

Lassiter tuned it, Coffinmaker short stroked it.

We shoot RNFP or truncated cone 125s in it & they run just fine.

If you load yours out a little longer, they would probably function just fine.

--Dawg

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Why Larsen, last week is a vintage, my Uberti Sporting Rifle is of a 1986 vintage... ;)  And I suspect someone coulda bubba'd a Winchester '73 into a 357?  But otherwise I suspect you're spot on.   I have seen some different angles and lengths to the ramp at the front of Uberti carriers, but in the main, they're fairly uniform.     That '86 vintage has the longest ramp I've seen.  It'll feed very short ammo.

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Quite often, actually - I shot this one just today at a match. It was originally a 20" barrel, but I cut it down to 17" - no particular reason, just bored one night.

It still holds 10 158 grainers just fine, with the 11th one going in about half an inch before bottoming out the mag spring. :)

 

1866_01.thumb.jpg.b1c4918d82ab9d8d67a9a4ee56112f16.jpg

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Older uberti rifles had shorter ramps on the carrier.  The ammo that won't cycle in the older gun may be long enough for newer '73s.  If not, it won't cycle in the '66 either.

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Thank you for all the replies. It didn’t even cross my mind about the ammo as I’ve always shot jacketed rounds. I purposely bought some lead nose rounds this weekend and will try those.  

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I have an older 66 in .38 spl. Runs great!

 

I also have a Uberti 73 in .357 I shoot .38's and my OAL is 1.47, they work fine.

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10 hours ago, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

You need to adjust your ammo.  The 66 and 73 carriers and links are the same length so if your .38 ammo does not work in your 73 chances are that it won't work in a 66 either.  Look at the thread on ammo length.  You are either using the wrong bullet style or your OAL is too short.  Also what do you mean by "vintage Winchester 73 in .357?"  Original 73s never came in .357 and a Uberti or Miroku sure isn't vintage.


Apologies! My 73 is just an American “vintage” I believe from the 80’s. My father has a a true antique 1873, manufactured 1892 in 44-40 I believe. I just didn’t want to run hundreds of rounds through the Winchester for CAS. Mine will cycle 38sp if I lever it really fast and hard but is prone to failure. With the ammo recommendation I’ll see if I can get it reliable enough for matches until I can find an Uberti. 

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The first several years of their startup production, Uberti built .38 Special marked 66s (and maybe some 73s).   They made these to function with the length of the first .38 Special ammo they got their hands on, which was military 38 special with a full metal jacket with a round nose.   So, the action length is only about 1.450".   After about 1986 or so, they started making .357 Magnum marked rifles so they could standardize all their machinery to make 1.600" actions (standard for .357,.  .44-40 and other WCF cartridges, and .45 Colt - even .44 magnum.

 

They have not made any of these short action rifles since.  So you won't find a gun made in the last 30 years that is marked as a .38 Special chambering.

 

There are now tens of thousands of us Cowboy shooters shooting .38 specials in our .357 chambered Uberti rifles. having 1.600" actions.  But if you really won't take the time to make sure your ammo and rifle will feed .38 special ammo shorter than 1.550", another way to approach this is to load .357 brass with loads similar to .38 special velocities.  And another way is to choose to use "long" nosed bullets in .38 specials.  Which will mean loading your own ammo for sure. 

 

Do some talking with folks in your local club about these two approaches and see which will better "suit your rifle" (to hack up a John Wayne line).

 

good luck, GJ

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1 minute ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

The first several years of their startup production, Uberti built .38 Special marked 66s (and maybe some 73s).   They made these to function with the length of the first .38 Special ammo they got their hands on, which was military 38 special with a full metal jacket with a round nose.   So, the action length is only about 1.450".   After about 1986 or so, they started making .357 Magnum marked rifles so they could standardize all their machinery to make 1.600" actions (standard for .357,.  .44-40 and other WCF cartridges, and .45 Colt - even .44 magnum.

 

They have not made any of these short action rifles since.  So you won't find a gun made in the last 30 years that is marked as a .38 Special chambering.

 

There are now tens of thousands of us Cowboy shooters shooting .38 specials in our .357 chambered Uberti rifles. having 1.600" actions.  But if you really won't take the time to make sure your ammo and rifle will feed .38 special ammo shorter than 1.550", another way to approach this is to load .357 brass with loads similar to .38 special velocities.  And another way is to choose to use "long" nosed bullets in .38 specials.  Which will mean loading your own ammo for sure. 

 

Do some talking with folks in your local club about these two approaches and see which will better "suit your rifle" (to hack up a John Wayne line).

 

good luck, GJ

 
Very well put and my thanks. I’m a retired Navy guy so other than modern weaponry I will gladly state my ignorance and ask anyone for tips like this. I got the bite though. 

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1 hour ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

The first several years of their startup production, Uberti built .38 Special marked 66s (and maybe some 73s).   They made these to function with the length of the first .38 Special ammo they got their hands on, which was military 38 special with a full metal jacket with a round nose.   So, the action length is only about 1.450".   After about 1986 or so, they started making .357 Magnum marked rifles so they could standardize all their machinery to make 1.600" actions (standard for .357,.  .44-40 and other WCF cartridges, and .45 Colt - even .44 magnum.

 

They have not made any of these short action rifles since.  So you won't find a gun made in the last 30 years that is marked as a .38 Special chambering.

I don't understand what you're saying - there are '66's marked .357 Magnum? I've come across a couple '66's that would chamber a .357, but they were still marked "CAL .38 SP".

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Posted (edited)

Yep, so let me state history more correctly.  Let me know if there's still parts that are incorrect.

 

All the Uberti 38-caliber 1866s have been chambered in .38 Special.  Both the early shorter-length action, and the current long-length action made since about the mid 1980s).   You won't likely find a short-length action any more at any shop, they have been out of production so long).  And some important parts are hard to impossible to get.    These 66s have also been made in several other chamberings, including .44-40 and .45 Colt. Even .22 rimfire.

 

All the 38-caliber 1873s have been chambered in .357 Magnum, and all have been made on the long-length action.   MANY of those are being shot successfully with .38 Special ammo, either loaded long or with some modifications made to the carrier block.   Likewise, other chamberings for the 73 have included .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, .44-40 and .38-40, and .32-20.  Even .22 rimfire.

 

(As you can deduce from my shoddy accuracy writing about 1866 models, I have less than a passing interest in that model, having in the past tried to make one of those early Uberti short-action .38 special guns run fast and reliably in matches.   :lol:)

 

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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I shoot a Uberti '66 in .38 special.    Only trouble I've had with feeding is that it doesn't like .38 special that's on the short end; I had a bag of .38 special cowboy 105gn from Cowboy Choice a few years back that it just didn't like.   Otherwise, I'd never have had a problem (as long as I keep my OAL in the upper half of the .38 special range).

 

One problem I DO have is that it hates black powder.  Essentially I have to clean it after every stage.   I spritz the carrier well with Ballistol as soon as I return my gun to the cart, and then give it a wipe down before reloading.   If I don't do it well, I find I'm locking up by the 4th stage (3rd stage if I don't do it at all).

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Posted (edited)

I began shooting cowboy about 5 years ago and the rifle I use for the majority of my shooting is a Uberti Yellow Boy 66 chambered in 38 special. I've got it running nicely but it did not start out that way. Out of the box it wasn't 100% reliable and would occasionally hang up. 

 

I followed some of the online advice and did a bit of shaping and polishing in the right spots. I also found that I needed a bit shorter stroke so I installed a kit from Pioneer. Just the normal kit, not the super short as I still wanted some of the mechanical advantage. I also got the aluminum carrier. 

 

In addition I had issues with breaking the ladle and did a JB weld upgrade. My third ladle has been good for several years now. My only complaint is that my rifle doesn't eject with much authority, the shells eject, but just a bit lazily. 

 

My rifle has a 16" barrel and loading 10 required a trim on the spring. I cannot load any longer than 1.5" and somewhere below 1.45" it starts having feeding issues as well. 

 

OAL is important as is the shape of the bullet. Certain bullets work better than others. I use a 147 gr 9mm shape that is cast large. I buy commercial cast, coated. I am in the market for a mold, but so far the search for a perfect one hasn't been successful. 

 

28261923_66RifleCartridge.thumb.jpg.d971c4c52c7be5260f454cb14b2c6ccf.jpg

 

Other shapes may work but IMNSHO, this shape is the best. It also feeds well in my 73 Winchester (Miroku). The thing to remember is that the Uberti 66 still has the same length of carrier as the other calibers, 1.6" and is not tailored to the somewhat shorter 38 Special cartridge. 

 

In addition, the 38 Special ammunition that you load for the rifle won't be the best for your pistols. With the rather long OAL the powder charge needs to be a bit more to keep powder position sensitivity to a minimal. Also the bullet weight is a bit heavy to give you the length needed. My rifle load chronos at almost 800 in the pistol. That is more velocity than is needed. To that end I load wadcutters in my revolver ammo. 

 

856525651_358-148WC.thumb.jpg.1fb359502856d8fe3889049dfda40118.jpg

 

 I also load for my revolvers with 357 brass as my revolvers are all 357. They are near 800 fps, and shot very close to the sights on just about every 357 revolver I have. Up until this year I loaded them in 38 Special but cleaning the crud ring got a little old. YMMV.

Edited by "Big Boston"
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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Bart Slade said:

One problem I DO have is that it hates black powder.  Essentially I have to clean it after every stage.   I spritz the carrier well with Ballistol as soon as I return my gun to the cart, and then give it a wipe down before reloading.   If I don't do it well, I find I'm locking up by the 4th stage (3rd stage if I don't do it at all).

If I may be so bold as to offer a suggestion or two.

 

1 - Anneal your brass.  And when you get tired of that,

 

2 - Take the carrier out and trim the sides.   I put a piece of 150 grit sandpaper on a block of wood, 8-1/2" x 11" held in place with thumbtacks at the corners.  Keep the carrier flat.  The sides will come out parallel with uniform pressure.  Slowly change to finer and finer sandpaper.  Inuit at a out 1,000 grit.  I took about .010" off per side.  I can run either of my 45 Colt '73 Ubertis, or my 45 Colt 1860 Henry for a 12 stage 3-day day match & clean when I get home.  I'll be taking my own advise this weekend for my C45S carriers!  The carrier block needn't be a precision fit part.  A little slop is your friend!

 

3 - What ever you do, do NOTuse a wet lube on it!

Edited by Griff
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Posted (edited)

BTW, DrWho, neat alias. He could easily be around in the old west! Will you carry a sonic screwdriver (sonic screwknife?) on your gunbelt?

 

 I have always used wet lube (TriFlow or Ballistol) on my carriers in all calibers.  So YMMV.

Edited by Abilene, SASS # 27489
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6 hours ago, Abilene, SASS # 27489 said:

BTW, DrWho, neat alias. He could easily be around in the old west! Will you carry a sonic screwdriver (sonic screwknife?) on your gunbelt?

 

 I have always used wet lube (TriFlow or Ballistol) on my carriers in all calibers.  So YMMV.


I absolutely will. Lots of little Easter eggs for those who know ;)

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On 5/23/2022 at 4:06 AM, DoctorWho said:

Thank you for all the replies. It didn’t even cross my mind about the ammo as I’ve always shot jacketed rounds. I purposely bought some lead nose rounds this weekend and will try those.  

Hope you are not shooting jacketed ammo at SASS matches. Lead only, no jacketed or semi jacketed ammo. If you shoot other than just lead ammo at steel the results may not be what you were hoping for. If I remember correctly just the possession of other than lead ammo at a match is an MDQ.

kR

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25 minutes ago, Kid Rich said:

Hope you are not shooting jacketed ammo at SASS matches. Lead only, no jacketed or semi jacketed ammo. If you shoot other than just lead ammo at steel the results may not be what you were hoping for. If I remember correctly just the possession of other than lead ammo at a match is an MDQ.

kR


No I’ve been buying up lead nose ammo the last couple weeks. I’m still fresh and new to SASS. Don’t want a DQ before I even begin hah

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43 minutes ago, Kid Rich said:

Hope you are not shooting jacketed ammo at SASS matches. Lead only, no jacketed or semi jacketed ammo. If you shoot other than just lead ammo at steel the results may not be what you were hoping for. If I remember correctly just the possession of other than lead ammo at a match is an MDQ.

kR

 

??

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58 minutes ago, Kid Rich said:

If I remember correctly just the possession of other than lead ammo at a match is an MDQ.

kR

Must be a local rule... 

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Even with smokeless I would never consider lubing the carrier on a 66. When apart I wipe the carrier and where it rides with Iso, clean and dry. It is brass on brass in a 66, lube will just collect cred. 

 

It (the carrier) can stand a bit of slop, it can rattle around, side to side a bit more than fore and aft, but it can rattle around. I neck size for 38 Spl and 45 Colt. You want about 0.003" clearance in the chamber max, 0.002" min. That lets the brass expand and touch the chamber walls without exceeding the elastic modulus. 

 

Annealing is a bit tricky, if you burn out the zinc you'll be left with a copper rich alloy, too soft IMHO. The trick is not to overwork the brass in the first place. Minimum size, don't overbell and don't overcrimp. Induction annealing looks like a good idea, it may be the preferred method. 

 

Uberti rifles do seem have large chambers. I have at least half a dozen 38/357 firearms, and the chamber on my 66 is the largest of them all.

 

 

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