- November 9, 2016 at 1:31 am #31103
I am loading a Winchester 94 Commerative John Wayne short barreled rifle in 32-40 with the RCBS 170 grain, gas checked bullet with 26.5 grains of IMR-3031 for deer season. I don’t have a chronograph so I don’t know what the muzzle velocity is. I have the sites set up to hit on at 50 yards, and deer season starts this Saturday and started wondering where it might hit at other ranges. Like 25 or 30 yards and then again at 75 or 100 yards. How much holdover would I need to take for that 75 or 100 yard shot? And how low would I have to hold with that 30 yard shot?
- November 9, 2016 at 2:49 pm #31136
If you’re shooting at deer with iron sights, there won’t be a nickles worth of difference closer than 50 or out to 75. I would not take a 100 yard shot unless I had tested the load that far away.
I can shoot golf balls with my smooth bore shotgun using round balls at 50 yards, but at 100 the groups are too large to shoot at a deer.
The point is that almost ANYTHING shoots well at 50, but by 100 yards errors in bullet selection can start to manifest themselves pretty badly. You don’t know if you don’t know. There is no advice that anyone could give you that would amount to more than a wild flying guess. You have to take a few shots at the distance you plan on shooting in the field to know how your rifle will perform at extended ranges.
It would be a terrible thing to make a deer die a slow suffering death with the only comfort for your conscience being “Tim told me so online”.
Can you make it to a 100 yard range and take a few shots?
- November 9, 2016 at 5:57 pm #31149blackthornParticipant
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I do not own a carbine in 32-40. My rifle is an octagon, long barreled Marlin rifle, made around the turn of the 20th century. In order to get good results at 100 yards, I had to remove the sight adjustment “ladder” from under the rear sight. I have not shot cast in it at all, but using jacketed bullets there is a distinct interval between the firing of the shot and the sound of the bullet hitting the target. I really do like this rifle.
- November 11, 2016 at 2:33 am #31187
Ok, so maybe I better put this rifle up for this season and take the 338 Win Mag out. I know where that one goes at longer ranges. And it will sure kill deer at any range I can see them with those 200 grain Hornady bullets and a stiff load of IMR-4831.
- November 12, 2016 at 10:11 pm #31236
Goodsteel;n11158 wrote: If you’re shooting at deer with iron sights, there won’t be a nickles worth of difference closer than 50 or out to 75. I would not take a 100 yard shot unless I had tested the load that far away.
You were right Goodsteel and I thank you very much for your recommendations. My Winchester 94 32-40 John Wayne Commemerative shooting resized 30-30 brass, Winchester WLR primers, 26.5 grains of IMR-3031 powder and RCBS 32-170-gas checked bullets killed two deer this morning. A large for this area of mid-Missouri 10 point buck at about 20 yards with a perfect hit through the heart, and a short run, and a small button buck at about 50 yards with a perfect hit through the heart and another short run. Both bullets went completely through and came out a little bigger than they went in, giving me a real good blood trail to follow. And this rifle is so compact and light and easy to carry and shoots so comfortably with this load that I think I will be carrying it from now on for the woods hunts. And go back to the 338 Win Mag for across the soy bean fields!
- November 13, 2016 at 4:13 am #31246
Yeeeeessss!!! Well done!!!!
- November 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm #31253blackthornParticipant
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First, I apologise for the following lengthy post. This is an article I have saved hope you find it useful.
The Prince Of Small Arms
Western Field, vol 12, No. 2 March 1908, pages 129-131
NOT many generations ago, when the buffalo roamed the plains in count less thousands, and the traveller across the continent would a dozen times a day see little groups of the swift-footed antelope, a man buying a rifle for the hunt had but little choice. There were but one or two makes of repeaters, a half dozen standard makes of single shots, and they all used practically the same cartridges.
The ammunition was all black powder and practically all the standard hunting ammunition was in the forties, speaking of calibre. Most of the bullets used were short and stubby and the accuracy of these hunting rifles of twenty or thirty years ago left much to be desired at the longer ranges. Of course there were a few rifles on the plains which used the target ammunition, with long heavy bullet and enormous powder charge, but by far the most popular of the hunting cartridges was the .44-40 or its modification, the .38-40.
It is pretty hard to see how a poorer cartridge than this one, with its short stubby bullet and insufficient powder charge, could be designed; but the game was plentiful and could be killed at short ranges; the cartridges fitted the Colts revolvers which the plainsmen carried ; and so for fifteen or twenty years this cartridge with all its defects continued to be the favorite. In certain sections, namely in the vicinity of Uncle Sam’s army posts, the .45-70 was much used, but scandal whispered that its popularity was due not so much to its superior ballistic qualities, as to the fact that it could be purchased at astonishingly low prices from persons in blue uniform, who had mastered the trick of persuading their benevolent Uncle Samuel to dig up the desired gun food without question. Nowdays, of all the hunting cartridges, this old .44-40 is probably the poorest of all and but few rifles are sold to handle it.
The forward strides which have been made in ammunition and the rifles in which to use it have left the older calibres far behind. Of course when a man has used the older calibres successfully, it is a hard matter to persuade him that the newer ammunition is superior–on the principle that the proof of the pudding is in the eating ; but the fact that John Jones killed plenty of deer with the .44-40 fifteen years back is by no means a logical reason why he should stick by it and refuse to use the improved and more efficient weapons.
Our modern rifles of the .30-30 type are just as efficient at fifty yards as the biggest of the old style calibres, and at a hundred yards the advantage is with the .30-30. At two hundred yards and up to four hundred yards, which may be considered the extreme limit for successfully firing at game,– yarns to the contrary notwithstanding.–the older calibres with their high trajectories arc simply out classed by the modern high pressure rifles with their terrific initial velocity and flat shooting. This is simply considering the ballistic qualities of the two classes of ammunition–as to the difference in weight and recoil it is unnecessary to speak.
The modern types of ammunition are steadily crowding out the old, in spite of the various modifications and patching up which the old large calibres have been put through. There is but one of what might be called the old-fashioned calibres–but which was really the forerunner of the new ammunition– which has not only held its own, but is steadily increasing in favor with the rifle men who have been fortunate enough to try it–that is the .32-40.
Designed primarily as a target cartridge for use in the most accurate target rifle made at that time, the Ballard, the combination seemed to be just right and the cartridge has never been supplanted in the heart of the rifleman for fine target shooting. It had come to be an accepted principle that a cartridge lost in accuracy as it gained in flatness of trajectory–that is, as the powder charge was increased or the weight of the bullet decreased, or both, in order to get the desired flatness of trajectory necessary for a good hunting cartridge, the accuracy of the load suffered, arid the flat shooting “Express” loads were very inaccurate over two hundred yards.
The .32-40, however, appeared to be governed by no such a law. Its flatness of trajectory was remarkable, being even flatter than the much vaunted .45-90-300, hollow point, which was one of the best express cartridges. The latter cartridge, however, was much less accurate than the .32-40 and only possessed the advantage of being able to strike a harder blow, necessary for the largest game only. Thus the Marlin people, while primarily designing a target cartridge, had evolved a jewel of a hunting cartridge and the wise hunters were not slow in discovering the fact. For deer and all the American game up to and including black bear, the .32-40 was without an equal until the coming of the modern high pressure cartridges.
The twin of the .32-40, the .38-55, had proven to be just as accurate as the smaller calibre but lacked the flat trajectory of the .32-40. For this reason it has never approached the .32-40 in popularity, although an excellent cartridge in every respect.
The coming of the high pressure, modern type of smokeless powder ammunition temporarily supplanted the .32-40 with the up-to-date hunters, although the target shooters never wavered in their allegiance to the good old .32-40 and the larger .38-55 for the good reason that they found no occasion to do so. No arm ever made up to the present time, with the possible exception of the U. S. Government Model 1906, can touch the old .32-40 and .38-55 for distances up to 400 yards. It is safe to say that nineteen out of twenty of the fine target rifles used for off-hand work at the two hundred yard range are neither one or other of these, with odds in favor of the first mentioned.
The Marlin people, however, who had seen the .32-40 climb steadily in popularity in the days of black powder, had no intention of allowing so excellent a cartridge to be supplanted by the newer types and began to experiment. Their experience soon showed that this cartridge, loaded with modern smokeless powder and metal jacketed bullet was as accurate for all practical purposes as the old black powder loads and they promptly began making their .32-40s and .38-55s with nickel steel barrels, using the old twist of sixteen and eighteen inches respectively which proved so successful with the older cartridges. A certain competitive company raised strenuous objection to the new cartridges, fearing that its own rifles in these calibres, which it continued to make with the old soft steel barrels, would not stand the new high pressure load.
This company, foreseeing the great popularity of a rifle using high velocity ammunition, yet having a comparatively slow twist that would enable the shooter to reload with soft lead bullets and black powder, brought out a “32 special,” which was simply a bottle-necked .32-40 using a bullet 2/1000 of an inch larger, but using 40 grains of black powder for reloading and the same twist as the regular .32-40. The rifles for this cartridge were made with the high pressure steel barrels. This cartridge has absolutely no advantage over the .32-40 and possesses many disadvantages peculiar to itself.
It is a bottle-necked cartridge, while the .32-40 is a straight taper shell. No one who has ever used the bottle-necked cartridge very extensively needs to be told that the bottle neck in itself is a weak point, being liable to split or break entirely off at the bend. The bottle neck makes reloading much more difficult, and must be frequently resized, while a straight taper shell is free from such defect. The only reason for making this a bottle-necked shell was to prevent users of the .32-40 from shooting it in their rifles, which in the case of this company were made of steel not adapted to the modern ammunition. This .32 special cartridge is the most over-rated cartridge among all the modern types, insofar as it is supposed to possess any points of superiority over the .32-40 of high velocity.
There is no cartridge made which can be obtained in as many different variations as the .32-40, as at present turned out by the different factories. For instance, we find listed as regular factory loads, the following: .32-40 black powder–40 grains of black powder and a lead bullet 165 grains in weight. .32-40 short range–a lead bullet 93 grains in weight with 13 grains of black powder. .32-40 Miniature– smokeless powder and a 100 grain metal cased bullet. .32-40 low pressure smokeless–soft point bullet, giving an initial velocity of 1575 feet per second. .32-40 full metal patched bullet which is the same load as the one just preceding. .32-40 smokeless with 165 grain lead bullet. .32-40 high power smokeless with soft point bullet, and .32-40 high power with full metal patched bullet.
Thus the owner of one of these rifles (of course with nickel steel barrel) has eight different cartridges to select from, ranging from the short range cartridge with 98 grain lead bullet and 13 grains of black powder, an excellent and safe cartridge for rabbits and similar game, up to the terrific high power cartridge with its 2000 feet initial velocity and sufficient stopping power for the largest game on the American continent. A more flexible rifle and one approaching nearer to the much desired “All Round Rifle” has yet to be produced. And the foregoing list is of course simply the regular factory loads. If the shooter cares to reload–as of course he will, if he be a genuine rifle crank–he can evolve loads of infinite variation and not be troubled by that ever-present fear which haunts the experimenter who is misguided enough to buy a high pressure rifle with quick twist, of ruining his rifle by leading.
Looking at the rifle from a ballistic standpoint, and taking the figures of the U. M. C. Company, who are trying to make each cartridge as satisfactory as possible, we find the figures of the .32-40 are as follows : Black powder and lead bullet, initial velocity 1400 feet per second, penetration 9 ¼ inches. Height at one hundred yards when shooting at two hundred, 10.19 inches. It will be seen that this cartridge in itself is a wonderfully flat shooting and powerful load.
.32-40 low pressure smokeless, initial velocity about 1600 foot seconds, penetration 12 inches in pine. This load is powerful enough for any deer on four legs.
.32-40 high power cartridge as loaded by the U. M. C, Peters and Savage companies only, soft or hard nosed bullet, metal patched, initial velocity 2065 foot seconds; muzzle energy, 1558 foot pounds; height at one hundred yards when shooting two hundred, 5.47 inches.
Thus in this last-mentioned load we have a cartridge giving a striking energy of three-fourths of a ton and a flatness of trajectory only surpassed by the .23 calibre, or 6 .mm. Navy rifle, and the U. S. .30 calibre military cartridges with their unpleasant recoil.
The much-vaunted .30-30, as loaded by the Winchester Company, gives a muzzle velocity of 1960 feet and a striking force of. 1449 lbs., while the height at one hundred yards, when shooting two hundred, is 5.79. This shows the .32-40 high power to be a little ahead of the .30-30 from a ballistic standpoint, and it is a mile ahead from the standpoint of the man who wants a rifle of extreme accuracy to handle a great variety of loads, and using a shell which can be easily reloaded. It is a mystery why a man who uses any grey matter at all in purchasing a rifle, should take a .30-30–or for that matter any other rifle–when he can get a .32-40 with nickel steel barrel.
It is only necessary to take one of the high power .32-40 rifles out and test it in any conceivable manner against a .30-30 or .32 special, using of course the genuine high power loads in the .32-40, to satisfy one’s self that this is the finest thing in the rifle line on the market. There is no question as to its superiority in power over any of the automatic or self-loading cartridges on the market, as the Winchester self loading .351 gives a third less striking energy ; while for an all round rifle there is simply no comparison between the .32-40 and any automatic which requires a full charge to function the mechanism.
When it comes to the man who wants more power than the .32-40 high power cartridge, it is a waste of time to argue. A cartridge* with a soft nosed bullet of 165 grains weight, having a muzzle velocity of 2065 feet per second and developing a striking force of 1558 foot pounds will kill a grizzly deader than Bryan’s chances for the Presidency– if it hits the bear in the right spot. If it does not, it is no worse than any other bullet, no matter what the calibre. It has enough power to spoil a lot of meat on the game it may hit, and for deer or goats or other game of this class, the low pressure cartridge possesses ample power. It is not necessary to tear an animal into seventeen different kinds of mincemeat tp kill it, and a well-aimed clean kill is worth half a dozen murders where the game finally dies from loss of blood, leaking from the gaping but temporarily ineffective wounds inflicted by the cannons with a recoil like the kick of a mule which some of our hunters seem to fancy. The flat-pointed bullet has been found to give more accuracy than the round or blunt point type, and it mushrooms perfectly.
Black powder, or new empty shells should always be used for reloading, as the smokeless factory shells are grooved at base of bullet and unsatisfactory. By using the new gas check bullet, one may reload his own high pressure loads in any variety and never have to pay the factories a cent, except for primers and empty shells as the old ones may give out. Of course the users of the quick twist rifles like the .30-30 can do this also, but they cannot reload with the variety of loads, with soft lead bullets, cither short range or full charge, with either full charges of black powder or smokeless, that the user of the .32-40 rifle has at his disposal. Any departure from the regular factory loads of metal patched bullet with full charge of smokeless powder, or the hard lead bullet with an infinitesimal charge of powder behind it, will result in trouble to the user of one of the quick twist rifles, from the leading that will take place. [Our correspondent is mistaken in this. — Ed.] It is unnecessary to state that the continued use of factory metal patched bullets will ruin a rifle, to say nothing of the added complications of metal fouling from the copper jacket of the bullet and the terrific cost of this ammunition.
There is no occasion for the user of a .32-40 to fire a hundred rounds of regular factory metal cased bullets through his rifle in a year, with the great variety of loads offered which use the lead bullet. For game, of course, the metal cased bullet is preferable, but whoever has the opportunity of firing a hundred shots a year at game requiring a soft point metal jacketed bullet? For small game or target shooting the metal bullets are more desirable, as, being lubricated, they do not wear the barrel and their accuracy is much greater than the jacketed bullets.
If the item of economy enters into the question, as it will with practically every one, this factor alone will decide the question in the mind of the rifleman, balancing the .32-40 against the other calibres. Regular smokeless powder, metal cased bullet loads for the .30-30 and .32-40 rifle, retail for about seventy cents per box of twenty, or three and a half cents apiece. Reloading the .32-40 shells, the rifleman will find the itemized cost to-be about as follows, per shot: Primer l/5 c, bullet (home made) l/10 c, powder l/4 c, or allowing for the utmost variations in these figures, a total of not to exceed one-half cent per shot. The real cost will be nearer one-fourth of a cent if the rifleman watches his chances to pick up lead at less than the market prices on which these figures are based. Of course the reloading tools add to the first cost, but $5.00 to $6.00 will buy a very complete outfit. It will not take much figuring to see how soon the factory loaded ammunition, if used steadily, will run over this amount, besides the injury to the rifle.
The Ideal people have invented a bullet using the metal gas check to prevent fusion that gives about the same power as the regular high pressure factory load, and by using their separate soft tip the shooter can make his own high pressure hunting cartridges and load them according to his experience, to obtain greater or less power than the standard ammunition. The proper amount of powder with this bullet’, for high pressure loads, is about twenty-five grains of “Lightning” smokeless and the velocity will about equal the high pressure load turned out by the factory. It is by no means necessary to use this metal gas check bullet, however, for ordinary small game shooting or target work; and the shooter, by buying the mold for the gas check bullet, can have an ordinary soft lead bullet without gas check for shooting at moderate ranges–up to three hundred yards, or for such bunnies or coyotes as he may entertain grudges against.
It is a fact, contrary to old sayings, that good shots are made, not born, and the making process merely consists of much practice and as much brain matter. By the same process of reasoning, it by no means follows that a man will continue to be a good shot merely because he has been one. The man who lays his favorite rifle away at the end of the season and does not touch it until the time again rolls around to seek the high mountains or the deep forest, will invariably find that he is not quite as good a shot as he was the year before–that, through lack of practice, there is lacking that co-ordination between brain and trigger finger which is necessary to make a good shot. And this same lack of coordination may result in his shooting just a trifle too late and so spoiling the shot for which he has come many weary miles and spent many hard-earned dollars.
Therefore it behooves the hunter, as well as the target shot, to take that rifle out and shoot it through the year; to keep acquainted with it and keep the love for it in his heart which he should have. Then when the critical time comes, with the electric impulse through his train which says “Shoot !” the little rifle will obey seemingly without effort on his part, and the bullet will fly true to its billet. With a cartridge which can be reloaded cheaply and easily, the true gun lover will enjoy the loading process, and be tempted to take the rifle out and use it–even if on nothing better than a white sand stone in a patch of black ground–when otherwise the great cost of the factory loads will deter him. And if Brother Shooter thinks that a bottle neck shell comes under the heading of a shell which can be reloaded “cheaply and easily” let him try it and be disabused of the notion.
- November 13, 2016 at 6:52 pm #31254
Unbelievable! So, I was worried about killing deer with this rifle at 50 yards, and this article now “proves” that it would be suitable for bears at 400 yards! Since I am using a 170 grain gas checked bullet which is 5 grains heavier than their 165 grain bullet, and I am using 26.5 grains of IMR-3031, which is a grain and a half larger than their “Lightning” powder, I am probably good for that bear all the way out to 500 yards or so, right? I need to go find a shooting range with a 500 yard range now so I can tune the rifle up and know where it hits at 500 yards so I can use it across the soy bean fields at that range!
- November 14, 2016 at 1:56 pm #31268
The author of The Prince of Small Arms rightly praised the flat-nosed lead bullet as being efficient for taking game.
You’ve sure got to know the trajectory of your bullet when getting out past 100 yards. Wind drift too. I was reminded of that when shooting my .45-70 yesterday with a varying cross-wind at 90 degrees.
- November 14, 2016 at 10:55 pm #31289
Rattlesnake Charlie;n11321 wrote: The author of The Prince of Small Arms rightly praised the flat-nosed lead bullet as being efficient for taking game.
You’ve sure got to know the trajectory of your bullet when getting out past 100 yards. Wind drift too. I was reminded of that when shooting my .45-70 yesterday with a varying cross-wind at 90 degrees.
Actually the sight radius is so short on this rifle with the mid-barrel mounted rear buckhorn style, I think its probably not practical to use this rifle past about 75 yards or so. 100 maybe in a pinch if I was real careful with it. But its a fun rifle for those short woods shots at deer. And with me getting a little more elderly now, I find a scope is easier to use for those longer shots. Although I do still shoot pretty well with some of my 29″ barreled military rifles with good peep sights on them. And the 356 Winchester 94 has a scope on it so it is light and as easy to carry and sight in also.
- November 14, 2016 at 11:06 pm #31290
I know about the eyesight thing. Sunday morning was the first time I shot with my new glasses. Never had any for distance. Been using generic reading glasses for over a decade. I was pleased that the front sight is WAY more visible now.
- November 20, 2016 at 12:34 am #31403
Good shooting!. A classic caliber delivers just as it has for over a century.
- November 20, 2016 at 3:27 am #31407lar45Participant
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I was sitting in the stand today, seeing nothing but turkeys all day, and looked at external ballistics apps for the phone. I saw one that looks pretty nice, called Strelok,
here is a very long link to it.
- November 20, 2016 at 4:26 am #31408
I use Ballistic AE. Love that app.
- November 20, 2016 at 6:38 am #31411HarterParticipant
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I have the free version it seems to be accurate ,but like all calculators garbage in garbage out.
- November 20, 2016 at 2:33 pm #31417lar45Participant
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I can’t seem to find Ballistic AE in the Google play store. Is it available for Android phones?
- November 21, 2016 at 2:09 am #31427
It was such a nice afternoon today, and deer season only goes for two more days here in Missouri, that I decided to take my John Wayne 32-40 Winchester 94 rifle back in the woods again. And now knowing that the rifle and ammo is good for bear out to 400 yards, I had much more confidence in my shot. After sitting there in my deer stand for a few hours drinking hot tea from my thermos and eating some apple pie my wife made, I spotted a deer walking down from the farm pond about 400 yards away, getting glimpses of it flashing through the heavy underbrush, trees, cedars and vines. I set the ramp all the way to its highest point and sighted about eight feet over that huge deer, and leaned back against the tree for support and touched off the round. I could hear that 170 grained cast lead bullet crashing through the underbrush and finally a huge “Plump” noise as it hit that deer. It tumbled forward head over heals and fell dead in its tracks. Another single lead bullet and another dead deer. Yes! That was three deer for three shots this year and another one hanging in the shop to be butchered next weekend. We have already put the other two in the freezer. Since I only had three permits this year, what am I going to do with the other 120 rounds of ammo I made up for this 32-40? Maybe I could lend it to one of the grandchildren for the doe season since they usually shoot 8 or 10 or 14 rounds for each deer they bring home?
- November 21, 2016 at 3:27 pm #31432
400 yards, wow. Good shot.
- November 21, 2016 at 9:58 pm #31438
Rattlesnake Charlie;n11559 wrote: 400 yards, wow. Good shot.
Well, maybe I was exadurating a little bit. Maybe it was only 60 yards?
- November 21, 2016 at 11:08 pm #31439
You said it, not me.
- November 22, 2016 at 2:38 am #31440
I hear the line screaming off the reel as the fish, with gills flapping, swallows the bait. Sinker too. Hook and line too. Gullible, gullible, gullible, … or should I say gobble gobble?
- November 22, 2016 at 3:22 am #31443
Rattlesnake Charlie;n11577 wrote: I hear the line screaming off the reel as the fish, with gills flapping, swallows the bait. Sinker too. Hook and line too. Gullible, gullible, gullible, … or should I say gobble gobble?
Now wait a minute Rattlesnake Charlie. Are we talking about deer hunting here or Turkey hunting? Turkey hunting was last month and I used the 8 gauge magnum shells my father collected during the war that they used to start the engines on the B-17 Bomber he was the navigator on during all those flights into Germany. Yep, 4″ long mag shells will load 4 ounces of 0000 buckshot over 125 grains of SR-4759 powder and take those turkeys out of those trees 200 yards up!
- November 22, 2016 at 3:07 pm #31449
I suspect those would take out the trees too. LOL
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