38-55 got me scratching my head

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Qc Pistolero posted this 3 weeks ago

I post this under the ''accuracy''category only because there isn't any ''innacuracy''section.The gun is a Pedersoli High Wall in 38-55.The gun is brand new.At first,I only had bullets of 265gr from my RCBS mould.I beagled it and they come out at .378''.I'd shoot them topping 19 and 20 gr of 4198.At 50,1 out of 3 would keyhole and at 100,out of 5,3 would be out of the target.

I got me an Accurate mould that casts 330gr .380 bullets(38-270cb with one band added).Either with 17gr 4759(yes,I got a few pounds stashed away)or with 20gr,21 and 22gr 4198 loads,I get the same result.The pattern is, from a cold barrel,the first 2 or 3 rds print good rounded holes and as the barrel warms up,it starts keyholing so that after 8 or 10 rds,the bullets miss the target,and this even at 50 yds.I slugged the bore,.378.So my bullets at .380 are ok.I checked the twist;as advertised,1:12.I don't size and apply 2 coats of LLA.

The puzzling thing is that it does that only when the barrel warms up.I removed the forearm and it bears evenly on the barrel.

Coming home,I dabbed the inner part of the barrel with Ben'd Red;I intend to bring it back onto the bare metal and start over with regular 50/50 Alox/beeswax lube.

Anybody has any idea what is causing this?

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Fitzpatrick posted this 3 weeks ago

are you using star-line 2.125 brass,? I have a browning traditional hunter 28 in. barrel 1 in 15 twist ,I paper patch but have shot just cast and lubed everything from 215 gr. to 370 gr. buy mine does not like the short win.brass

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Qc Pistolero posted this 3 weeks ago

Yep;it acts exactly the same with Starline and WW brass.

I spent the evening trying to watch the ball game but not actually seing it.If the bullet hits sideways,it is not stabilised.But since it is when the barrel is cold and starts sending them sideways as it warms up,it has got to be heat related.The more I think of it,the more I think the wood forearm is the culprit.

I think my next step will be to try shooting it with the forearm removed.

I'm not desperate but see this as a major challenge.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 3 weeks ago

challenge.

hey, i think you have come to the right place .  over the years, i have come out of the closet safely here as another shooter who is easily bored with rifles that shoot well. 

i meekly offer that " only inaccurate rifles are interesting "  ......   

****************

i may not be mainstream. but thanks CBA for the company ...

**************

to start the simplification with your problem:  funny bedding doesn't cause wobbly bullets . scattered impacts, yes.

rule one is to match your throat, not * just * the main barrel.  38-55 specs have a reputation for funny throating, so i would make a casting or slug upset of your chamber, throat, and a half-inch of the rifling.  the story/rumor/myth/reality is that the throat is smaller than the groove diameter of the barrel.

the next possibility is the wrong twist for the bullet.  an easy check, but it is good to start with easy answers.

there is quite a following of the 38-55 here, so let us solve your problem and uphold the honor of that great old cartridge.  i sadly don't own one but have worked on and shot several in high-wall, and m94 win.; love the big holes they make in pop cans .

ken 

 

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joeb33050 posted this 3 weeks ago

"Dick Trenk was the driver in talking with Pedersoli during the development of the 38-55 Hi Wall rifles. Chamber was specified as 2.130 to accommodate the long brass. Groove diameter at .379 nominal for a .380 bullet with a .372 bore for a .373 bore riding nose. 1 in 12 twist to handle bullets up to 400 grains."

  

If your twist is around 12" it takes a major problem to get bullets to keyhole-bad barrel, big glurp in barrel, something big. It ain't bullet fit or velocity or brass length or lube or forend interference. Or moon phase.

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R. Dupraz posted this 3 weeks ago

Given what the OP wrote, there is obviously something major going on here. I would be interested in how an oiled tight patch feels when pushed through the bore from breach to muzzle. Smooth and uniform all the way or tight and loose as it is  pushed. And how  this barrel shoots with jacketed no matter what the dimensions are "supposed" to be. 

 

R. 

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45 2.1 posted this 3 weeks ago

The only time I've heard of this happening is when the barrel was mounted backwards. A barrel is usually tapered some from the breech to the muzzle, the muzzle being smaller. Tap an oversize round ball into the beech so it gets out of the throat area, then back out the same way, then do the muzzle with another oversize round ball, then drive it out of the muzzle and measure both..... The breech should be larger.

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Qc Pistolero posted this 3 weeks ago

I've checked the twist;1:12 as advertised.I've run a tight patch through the barrel and it feels uniform all the way.I've slugged it and the slug mikes at .3785.My bullets are cast and inspected from the same batch of lead I make my 45-70 from; my Dixon Pedersoli Sharps sends them with boring regularity between 1 1/2'' to 2'' @100.

The first 3 rounds @50 group good from the cold barrel.The 4th or 5th shows an elongated hole at 2 to 3'' from the center of the group either left or right of the group and if I keep shooting,the 6th or 7th will show the bullet hit completely sideways anywhere on the target and at the 9th and following rounds,they miss the target altogether.

I let the barrel cool down and the whole shebang starts again.The Starline brass will group better its first 3 or 4 rounds but will start having the same behaviour after the 4th or 5th.I shoot quite fast(1rd/minute)and it was hot and humid both times I tried it(85 to 90*F and humid).

I have a few rounds with JB I think I'll try.I hope I won't have to send it back as I had been waiting 6 months to get it.Guess I'll make a casting of the throat but then,how come the problems occurs only when the barrel is heating?

 

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beemer posted this 3 weeks ago

Have you slugged your bore and throat. If the bullet doesn't fit nothing else will help so get that out of the way first. As Ken Campbell stated the 38-55 can be funny. 

A good friend bought another brand of Hi-Wall in 38-55. We started with a Lee mould at about .378. Finally after lapping at about .383 it started to shoot, We went just a tad bigger and it started to give  chambering problems.. A Lee push through at .383 and everything is fine.

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BudHyett posted this 3 weeks ago

 Remington Rolling Block with a take-off barrel of known accuracy gave similar fits. One day it shot sub-minute ten-shot groups and the next day it shot improved cylinder. I was trying powders, primers, alloy hardness, anything.

One day, one of the ASSRA shooters at Tacoma Rifle and Revolver saw my exasperation and stopped to talk. He once owned a .38-55 with similar characteristics. He solved the problem with breech-seating and 20:1 Pb/SN  alloy. (He then traded for a .32-40 for less recoil.)

I used his counsel and tried breech-seating with a plugged case. The rifle shot far better and was more predictable. While the cartridge drawing shows a short neck on the cartridge, the chamber drawing does not show this and breech-seating may be your only option.

Work kept me from experimenting too much and I shot in Production Class since that was easier to load for at that time.In the end, the rifle went to Tom Gray to become a heavy sporter .45-70 that shoots very well. 

Country boy from Illinois, living in the Magical Pacific Northwest

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Tom Acheson posted this 3 weeks ago

This may or may not be helpful.

I had a Marlin 336 lever action that had a Green Mountain octagon  1:12 twist barrel. Using bullets between 265 and 300-grains it preferred 18.0 AA 5744 and 18.0 of IMR 4227. 20.0 of Re-7 and 21.0 of 4198 did OK but not as good. It was only shot at 100-yards, no chrono data though.

Tom

 

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Larry Gibson posted this 3 weeks ago

"The first 3 rounds @50 group good from the cold barrel.The 4th or 5th shows an elongated hole at 2 to 3'' from the center of the group either left or right of the group and if I keep shooting,the 6th or 7th will show the bullet hit completely sideways anywhere on the target and at the 9th and following rounds,they miss the target altogether."

To me, that is a sure indication of fouling buildup causing the problem, especially with a PB'd bullet.  Most often caused by a lube not working or too soft an alloy....could also be both.  A switch to the Alox/beeswax lube might be the trick, especially in the hot humid weather. If not I'd stick with the alox/beeswax lube and add more tin to your alloy.  You don't mention the alloy? 

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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Qc Pistolero posted this 3 weeks ago

Bud:I thought of breech seating;just what did you plug the case full of powder with?

Larry:I use 25:1 alloy.I'll try 50/50 Alox/beeswax next but if fouling would be the culprit,why does the problem creep up only when the barrel warms up?

This gun is my biggest challenge for the over 40 years I've been casting...but darn it,I'm not about to lower my arms.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 3 weeks ago

hey, the reward is much bigger for climbing mt. everest than mt. pisgah .... 

...reminds me :: back when i was a techie ... after working on a screwed up system for 4 days with no improvement  .... we had to write on our mental blackboard 100 times ::   " there is something wrong with it " .......

doesn't apply to fixing wimmin critters, of course ...  not enough blackboard ...

ken

edit:  trivia:  i just realized i live 5 miles from both mt. pisgah and podunk ...  am i lucky or what ?? ...

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Larry Gibson posted this 3 weeks ago

Larry:I use 25:1 alloy.I'll try 50/50 Alox/beeswax next but if fouling would be the culprit,why does the problem creep up only when the barrel warms up?

I'm not exactly sure what is happening there but I've seen it numerous times in the past.  Keeping in mind the more you shoot to "warm" up the barrel the more fouling is deposited and the lube/fouling consistency probably changes.  Also given the lubed bullet does not swage down to groove diameter but less because it rides over a film of lube and fouling and is swaged down to that.  The softer the alloy is the more swaging is done.  Also a PB bullet does not have the GC to scrape the bore.  As the barrel heats up and the fouling builds or changes the bullets may not be holding the rifling, especially with the faster 12" twist.  I believe a 18" twist was "standard" for the 38/55 prior to the advent of the 375 Winchester wherein Winchester just used the 12" twist 375 barrels they were making for the 375 H&H and other "modern" cartridges. 

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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BigMan54 posted this 3 weeks ago

I have a Friend that bought a Hi-Wall in 38-55 30" bbl about 18yrs ago. I don't remember the Manufacturer. It might have been Pedersoli.

I was stuck with the job of making it shoot Cowboy Long-Range. 

I started by dropping one of my own loads into the chamber. It didn't fit.                                                                                         I load a Lyman #377449GC, cast of #2 sized .380dia for a .379bore and a non-existent throat. There is just enough throat to allow crimping in the bullets crimping groove. As long as the case is trimmed to 2.075. Winchester cases only, starline cases are too thick. 

My .38-55 Rifle is a Winchester Commemorative: Chief Crazy Horse, made in 1982.   

The Hi-Wall's throat is shorter, I have to crimp over the bullets first driving band to allow the round to fully seat in the chamber.  Fortunately his bore is .3785dia, I used 50/50 lube and seated gas check with a Lyman gas check seater and then sized and lubed.

The load uses IMR3031, a middle weight charge according to what the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook #4. In my Lever Gun if I raise or lower the Powder Charge by 2.0grs and accuracy goes to blazes. No key holing but groups open from 2 1/4" at 100yrds to 4"+ from the bench. I put a no name tang peep sight on it in 1990, uses the factory front. Lyman wasn't making Tang Sight yet. 

Back to the Hi-Wall. Groups weren't bad at 3"+ from the bench. A Tang Sight was added and Bear Creek Bullets of .379 were purchased. My friend preferred the Moly-Coated bullets.

Accuracy was decent enough at 3+" at 100yrds for my friend. 

He traded off the 99 starline cases and I gave him 60 WW cases.  He doesn't shoot Cowboy anymore so I guess the Rifle just sits in his safe. I would have liked to continue to work with it. Try some IMR4198 or SR4759, fool around with another bullet. Even bought a Lyman #380681 to try a softer alloy. I choose the #2 originally because it cast big enough.

I always wonder if I remembered enough to do everything I was supposed to. The only Lever Guns I loaded for were .30-30 in a Win 94, .45-70 in a Marlin 1895 with microgroove Rifling and later a Marlin 1895CB.  And that 94 in.38-55.

It was 30yrs too long ago that I loaded any other Levergun Calibers. Forgot most of My Dad "Tricks". And he wasn't around to ask. 

Just what I did, hope you might find something usefull in my ramblings.

 

  

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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Qc Pistolero posted this 2 weeks ago

I,like Larry,thought that maybe my lube that does so well in my 45-70 might not be doing its job in that particular barrel.His thinking pretty well holds up when I consider that the measurements of both the bbl and the projectiles are ok.On my next batch,I will lube some with 50/50 Alox/beeswax.I put some Ben's red in the bore and let sit for 72 hours after some scrubbing.I ran over a dozen patches through it and will start over from a clean bbl.

I was loading 20 rds with 3031 and was sorting out my Starline brass from my WW.I then had a thought and bothered to measure the Starline.I was shocked to find that they both were the same lenght.While like Larry said that doesn't explain the keyholing,it should help shrink my groups...when I(should say we)will have found what's the bugaboo!

Well,at least I've found a good explanation to my wife why I've got to place another order to my favorite supplier.

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Qc Pistolero posted this 2 weeks ago

Did some more tests today.While I don't want to let myself get carried away,I think that we are on the right path.Besides,while talking about my problems at the range,one good friend came up and told me he has a bore camera and offered it so as to see if the innards of my barrel and chamber are in good health;offer accepted.I'll check it as soon as I get a few minutes,but as I first said,I think I'm on the right path.Just let me run some more tests so as not to bs you guys and I'll report back.

These coming days look a lot brighter than the last few I've been through!

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Qc Pistolero posted this 4 days ago

Just back from the range.Problem solved...or maybe I should write problems solved!

After I checked the bore with a camera,I was reassured to find everything was normal.Of course I had previously cleaned it to the bare metal(3 days soaking in Ben's Red + a few strokes with a bronze brush and many  patches).

I then shot a few topping 26.5gr IMR 3031(Thanks BigMan54)and they started printing straight through;no more keyholing.I guess I wasn't pushing them fast enough.But after 3 or 4 rounds,the groups started opening up and at about the 6th or 7th round,completely missing the paper.Back to the reloading bench!

Casted a few more and decided to lube some with 50/50 beeswax/Alox.Since my sizing die is .375 and I need .380,I lubed them by hand.I hate that game but went ahead in the interest of science!I again cleaned the barrel and shot 5 groups of 5 at 75yds(hurt one of my legs so I decided 75 was far enough for me to make sure everybody saw I was in pain getting there!).Bullets still printed head on and I had 5 nice round groups that got me whooping all along the firing lane(guys there knew I had a problem and weren't mad at me;I think they were just glad to see I was an happy camper again!).

I then fired 5 other rounds with the bullets lubed in LLA.After 3 rounds,the bullets were still printing head on but the groups were opening up in a dramatic way.After 5 rounds,they were again missing the target.

Larry's comment about the lube was right on.LLA ,I think because of the quick twist of the rifling(1:12)is stripping.Lots of smoke and gray streaks in the rifling near the muzzle.I'll now have to enlarge my .375 sizing die to .380 or maybe save me the grief and order one for my Star lubrisizer.But whatever I decide,thanks to all of you guys who pitched in some paths of solution.This site is like a well of experience!Thanks guys!

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BudHyett posted this 2 days ago

Breech seating was done with a plugged case. I drilled the base out of a case and started the bullet by setting the bullet in this case and tapping it into the rifling. Then I used the plugged case to finalize the seating. 

I used a cardboard wad from tablet backs at that time to hold the powder in place. Today, i use a thin, .250 inch, layer of floral foam to hold the powder. Push the case up through the foam in one step. The foam is consumed in the firing. 

Country boy from Illinois, living in the Magical Pacific Northwest

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