- August 30, 2017 at 9:29 am #46850
I’ve been working with the 45-70 in the 1886 and other rifles for several years now, and I’ve learned a lot about straightwalled cartridges, and near straightwalled cartridges, their limitations, and how to get the most out of them. I always come full circle with the resounding conclusion that no straightwalled cartridge will EVER shoot to the same precision as a proportionally balanced bottlenecked cartridge using the same bullet. I believe this has to do with the effect the cartridge has on the powder and the relationship of the bore to the powder column diameters and how it forces a cleaner, more consistent burn on the powder, regardless of projectile used. In fact, one could go as far as to say that given the slow twist rates we use for short cast bullets, and the inability of a cast bullet itself to create back pressure once it has moved 1″ down the barrel, the bottle neck is the only thing we really have at our disposal to aid the powder in it’s burn.
Simply put: a straight walled cartridge shooting a cast bullet (or, to a lesser extent, a jacketed bullet) just blows the energy down the barrel too quickly for it’s own good.
I am working on several experiments that will demonstrate this as fact, or coincidence.
One of the things that has grabbed my attention quite thoroughly is that through the experiances of the past few years, I have realized my love of lever action rifles is as strong as it was when I was younger. I always thought my love of the lever action was simply because that was the first rifle I experienced. I always wished my father had placed a bolt action in my hands growing up, but instead, he chose the Marlin 336 in 30-30. I put the Marlin in the back of the safe as soon as I saved enough money to acquire a proper bolt action rifle, and I havn’t looked back until I decided to take a close look at 45-70 and it’s been downhill ever since with the resounding conclusion being: I am a hopeless levergun guy.
The time is drawing near where I need to modify the 45-70 to discover how that cartridge will do in a necked down configuration, in a lever action rifle. Of the options I’ve seen, there are two that seem to fit the bill in form and function. 348 Winchester, and 33WCF.
The 348 is just an odd duck. Hard to get barrels, hard to get dies, hardly any jacketed bullets to be had anywhere, hard to see why anybody would do that unless they had a very specific need for nostalgia.
The 33WCF on the other hand………. .338 bullets and barrels are readily available and the smaller caliber goes further toward my goal of constricting the powder column through a smaller bore. I intend to use this in the 1886 which I have already determined will feed this cartridge perfectly without alterations to the gun.
The cartridge itself is fascinating having an H2O capacity of about 63 grains (totally borrowed from the internet so “ish” is applied). This is less than the 338-06 and roughly the same as the 8mm Mauser. Sounds very interesting to me.
- August 30, 2017 at 12:51 pm #46853
I tried to eek out all I could from a rimmed, bottle necked cartridge, .303brit.
I gave up on it. Can’t do a lot with it, leave it alone as is.
You end up working the brass a whole lot. It fireforms to the chamber, which sets the rim onto the boltface, when you resize it you push the shoulder back, thus working the brass.
If you neck size only, you effectively headspace on the shoulder, thus headspace is between rim & barrel butt. At this point you may as well use a rimless cartridge, there is nothing to gain.
I never liked the idea of rimmed & bottle necked at the same time, I say choose one. Choose rimmed, or, bottle necked, but only choose 1 on a given cartridge.
In your traditional lever gun, you are dealing with low pressure loads anyway, I doubt you will see anything that will out perform .358 as is.
Did you see the new Henry lever in .243 & .308???
I say get a browning in 358 or barrel the Henry to .358
- August 30, 2017 at 2:10 pm #46855skeettxParticipant
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358 bullet on a 348 case, Lyman 358009 nearly 300 grain
with gas check!!
- August 30, 2017 at 5:04 pm #46856
Kens. I’m afraid you’re misapplying the blame for your brass failure.
The fact is that ANY cartridge will eat brass like it’s free and be real finicky about shooting correctly if your chamber is way oversize, and your headspace is sloppy, including a nice 308 winchester or 222 remington. It’s just rare to find manufactureres willing to make this mistake on these bolt action cartridges. They know they can get away with it in the lever actions so they DO. That’s not how I build guns here, and I negate nearly all of that right off the bat.
I actually worked on a Lee Enfield #4 MKI once just to prove this. I rebarreled it to my version of the 358/303 and headspaced it correctly. I cut the chamber and the dies to work the brass very little and I got HUNDREDS of shots out of my brass without ever a cracked neck one. In fact, I sold the rifle with the original batch of 100 brass. I was able to push it harder than 358 Winchester and all that talk about a “springy” bolt didn’t matter at all when I used ammunition that fit properly.
I did the same thing to my 1886 when I put the octagon barrel on it. I was doing precision tests with it, so the headspace was so tight that the lever could not be shut when a round separated on ejection, spilling powder in the action.
People are not used to this, because military and lever actions are built so sloppy, but mark my words, it’s a completely preventable outcome.
Also, the 1886 is one of the strongest lever actions in the world, and I will be using a quality modern barrel. With a tight chamber and a solid action and barrel, I feel completely secure running the pressure up a little warmer than usually done in this situation.
Skeettx, I have been kicking around the idea of doing a wildcat 35-70. The part that bothers me is the cost of the custom dies (and the difficulty of getting somebody to take the cartridge seriously enough to cut the die correctly).
I have to admit though, going 35 caliber would open up a plethora of projectiles. I just like the idea of the 338 because 30 caliber is too small IMHO, but 338 seems like minimum for the MO I have in mind for the rifle.
I’m still thinking.
- August 31, 2017 at 8:42 am #46860Rattlesnake CharlieParticipant
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I have never owned or messed with the .33 WCF, but IIR it is a potent cartridge. For your experiment it seems like the logical choice since you can get bullets, molds, dies, chamber reamer, etc. much more easily than a custom chambering.
Does the .25-35 have the same “throttling” effect you are looking for? Might be something to check out so you can keep your .45-70 for hammering deer in the woods.
- August 31, 2017 at 9:50 am #46861
- August 31, 2017 at 11:11 am #46863
Yes Kens, that is the cartridge. However, I’ll be forming my brass from Starline 45-70.
- August 31, 2017 at 11:20 am #46864
Gosh, that body taper looks like a candidate for the blown out ‘Ackley Improved’ version LOL
(and in .358 cal.)
- August 31, 2017 at 11:21 am #46866
Rattlesnake Charlie, I’m not giving up my 45-70, and I can hammer deer in the woods with anything from 22 Hornet to 50BMG. Arkansas deer were stunted in the 50s through a tragic accident involving the Arkansans cross breeding our deer with rabbits in order to reduce gameyness which resulted instead, in a species loosely referred to as “Whitetail deer” but which are about the size of a big German shepherd, tough as shoe leather with a love of carrots. (LOL!)
Being in the line of work I am in, if I have barrels made up, I can easily switch the 1886 from one caliber to the next in about an hour no muss no fuss. Truth is, EVERY rifle is a switch barrel over here!
You’re absolutely right about the reasons for pursuing the 33WCF though. It seems like a very logical choice.
As to the 25-35: I want this rifle to be worthy for both cast and jacketed, and I have an absolute aversion to cast bullets smaller than 30 caliber. I believe hell will consist of casting thousands of 22-270 caliber bullets without wrinkles or defects out of wheel weight alloy and the very next circle will be the poor saps that have to put on the gas checks. LOL!
- August 31, 2017 at 8:58 pm #46867
Ok, here’s a thought, 338-70? Take some 338 Win mag dies, cut them down and run some 45-70 brass in and see what you get. I know we had a discussion about a 35-70 using the 350 Rem mag and how the 350 reamer and dies would be too large at the base. But if we start with a longer cartridge, you will get some body taper and it might turn out close enough?
I looked around the shop and couldn’t find any 338 Win to measure, I know i have some in the barn, but did have some 300 Win Mag. So the 45-70 ammo that I had measured .5030″ just above the rim. If we measure 2.089″ down from the top of the 300 Win, we get .5045″. Would that be close enough?
- August 31, 2017 at 9:21 pm #46868uber7mmParticipant
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The 33 WCF sounds interesting. Store bought .338″ bullets might need the tips flattened/blunted to avoid magazine firing. A cast mold would be the natural progression. Is there a 35 caliber cartridge based on the same case?
A little off the subject:
I’ve always been interested in the 450 and 50 Alaskan. Both are blown out 348 Win cases and originally built on beefed up Mod 73 Winchesters. These guns were designed to take on the big bears and can’t be found for love nor money up North. The 50 Alaskan originally used a 50 BMG bullets cut in half and the bases turn up. Talk about a meplate!
- September 1, 2017 at 7:27 am #46870
Ok, I scrounged around and found some ammo to measure.
45-70 from the mouth to just above the rim is 2.010″ on my ammo.
The base on Rem is .4987″, the base on Win is 5.035″
Measuring 2.010″ from the mouth down, the body of the case is:
Fed 300 Win – .5048″
Fed 338 Win – .5053″
Rem 350 Rem – .5050″ at the base. The cartridge on the 350 Rem is probably too short to be useable for loading dies for a 35-70.
So my thought is that you could use a standard chambering reamer and just run it in part way. Then cut down standard dies to match it. This would avoid the expense of custom cut reamers and custom cut dies…
Another thought for a 35-70 would be to use 358 Norma reamer and dies. I have the dies on hand, but no loaded ammo.
Does anyone have some 375 H&H ammo handy that could measure 2.010″ down from the mouth?
I ran a piece of fired 300 Win mag brass into a 375 H&H die and measured .840″ brom the base and got .4966″. So that may be too small.
You might look at the 45-90 and cut it to what ever length you needed to make things work out. ??
- September 1, 2017 at 9:28 am #46873
I am really digging what you’re putting down Glenn. I think I may have some of the calibers your mention in my die set repertoire. I need to do some measuring, but if you’re right, it would save me the expense of a weird set of dies, and a custom reamer as I could just short stroke the reamer in the barrel.
- September 1, 2017 at 12:25 pm #46875
I got some fired .357H&H brass, 2.010 from the mouth was .497
.840 up from base was the same .497
.840 from base is the same as 2.010 from the mouth, it all adds up to 2.850
my .375H&H brass is .510 at the belt
- September 1, 2017 at 12:52 pm #46876
Isn’t this the same thing you guys did with the 35×57 XCB?
didn’t you short stroke the 35whelen reamer to end up with 35x57mm?
Is this the same idea, except you short stroke a .358Norma, then neck down 45-70 brass?
- September 1, 2017 at 2:31 pm #46879JRRParticipant
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444 Marlin necked to 35 cal.
- September 2, 2017 at 12:12 am #46883
Kens, oddly enough, that’s EXACTLY what we are thinking about.
Tonight, I took a Lee 338Winchester Magnum and cut .500 off the bottom of it. It took some doing to neck the 45-70 down that far without crushing the neck, but I wanted to get a cartridge to measure.
What I wound up with seems to be a rimmed 338-06.
The new cartridge has identical case capacity (H2O) and brass weight as the 338-06.
Here it is next to a 348WCF for comparison:
So, as you can see above. The H2O capacity is 68 grains and the brass was tarred at 199 grains.
And here we have a 30-06 case. Case weight was tarred at 199 grains, and the H2O capacity is 67 grains.
I really like what I’m seeing here!!!!
- September 2, 2017 at 6:44 am #46884
what is the difference in case capacity of the .348 vs .338-70?
- September 2, 2017 at 7:31 am #46885
That is different than 338-06.
The burning gasses exiting the neck are similar in form to a plasma. Body diameter, neck angles, and exit caliber, all have an effect on how pressures run & respond to a powder (and bullet weight)
Your new cartridge is larger diameter, different neck angle, so I expect it to run a little different than a ’06 case. No way to know if it runs higher or lower pressure, but, I think this where you are delving into in your experiments.
The plasma exiting the neck is basically trying to get forced through a funnel (neck & shoulder is the funnel). How well it gets through is the key. Your examples of straight walled 45-70 accuracy is a lack of the funnel action (plasma exits a straight pipe). An example of .30 bench rest would be one that does have the funnel action, and it seems to be efficient and accurate.
Perhaps emulate the funnel shape in the shoulder area from a known good cartridge (one that is not a barrel burner nor pressure finicky)
Here is a link that goes into this:
- September 7, 2017 at 10:08 am #46971
348 Win = 75gns H2O
338-70 = 68gns H2O
- September 2, 2017 at 7:46 am #46887
I had a thought ……. but I seem to have forgotten it……….
Joking of course…..
.338 in that form should be the ticket, shoulder angle hum….. not really looked at that closely yet but I lean kinda the same as Kens ( on the shoulder angle idea), one factor that is helping is the increased bore diameter which implies more area in the bore/throat to heat up than a thirty cal.
I’m gonna have to watch this one…
- September 2, 2017 at 8:15 am #46890
Here is a graphic picture of what I’m talking about. I am not a ballistician at all, I just read the articles already written.
Look at the 6mm Norma picture, notice how the angles of the shoulder intersect INSIDE the neck:
I think the angles intersecting inside the neck is the so-called ‘sweet spot’
- September 2, 2017 at 8:30 am #46892
Yes Kens, another member (CaDude) on here and I was discussing this about a year I think or almost a year maybe more. If I recall correctly I might have posted something about it here ( something about 6.5 Rem Mag’s I want to saay).
no argument here even though I can’t prove what I think on this issue. Another issue is that as the bore increases or decreases more or less surface area is in play. Couple that with the intensity of the heat and scrubbing effect of unburnt powder inside the throat. All of these factor I suspect play on the life of the throat or as some like to call the Leade.
- September 2, 2017 at 9:43 am #46893
In my previous post there are other factors involved that I have not discussed. But I suspect that we have hi-jacked this thread enough.
Onward to the cartridges….. I’m sure Tim and Glenn have a criteria in mind for this cartridge that has not been fully discussed. Even though he (Tim) has laid out some of the background, I suspect there is more involved in his quest.
The Bore size is a solid choice in my opinion even though I usually chose smaller, but this is not my project. Performance of a 338-06 in a lever is a good solid choice, although bullet selection will be limited to RN or poly /rubber tipped projectiles because of the magazine. As without discussing this offline with Tim I’m sure he will want a hunting application involved, hence the magazine becomes highly involved.
- September 2, 2017 at 9:47 am #46895
Well, I hadn’t thought of it that way,
338-06 in a lever gun would be a badd actor !!!!
- September 2, 2017 at 11:35 pm #46903
Here’s my thought on the bullet choice Sarge:
Lets be real about this and not just blanket the whole tubular magazine thing with a stigma. The chances of extremely tapered cartridges like these actually lining up perfectly in the tube so that one bullet tip is centered perfectly on a primer are very slim. It doesn’t take much of a flat nose (90 percent of the primer diameter aught to do it) to prevent this unlikely situation from ever occurring in the first place. That can be accomplished with one stroke of a file across the tip of the projectile.
- September 5, 2017 at 6:38 am #46932
338 Marlin express works pretty darn well, but there’s no way I’d buy one even though I think its a great concept cartridge.
But if I can make a better 338 from 45-70?
Now, some folks have said the 45-70 is too thin to take those kind of pressures.
Here’s a 458 Lott next to Star line 45-70. They are identical. In fact, the 45-70 is THICKER.
Of course, we know that brass thickness has nothing to do with it except in an unsupported bolt action design, it has to resist blowing out in the bolt face, but that’s hardly a problem because the head is so thick that most of the actual expansion chamber is inside the barrel.
The lever action has a weakness in that the thread tenon is very small thus the first 1/2″ is not as well supported as the front if the brass will be, but as the energy plumes in the barrel, the bullet does start moving first. In all the rifle I have diagnosed that had catastrophic failure due to overcharge, the barrel burst in front of the chamber and split both forward and backward from there.
Therefore, I’m not concerned about running the pressure up to the upper 40s.
- September 7, 2017 at 11:03 am #46974
I made an intermediate form die today. This will bump the neck down to .400 from .485.
Next is the 338 Winchester Magnum which will shrink it another .030 to .369.
If I decide to go to 300 WinMag short stroked, then the 338 becomes a second form die. If I go 350 Remington Magnum, the 338 is negated.
I’m going to try it. If it turns out to be too aggressive a forming step, I’ll open the hole to .422 (that’s almost exactly in between the 45-70 and 338 neck diameters.)
I’m still circling the wagons on this one. I need to make sure it feeds flawlessly in the 1886 and I’ll gladly change the design to save me having to work on the rifle (I want the option to go back to 45-70 if I want to).
- September 7, 2017 at 11:27 am #46977
Do you have enough brass to make enough dummy rounds to check the feeding.??
I had issues with my SR mauser to feed 35Rem. I worked on the action with its original milsurp barrel, just to get it to ‘want to’ feed the .35rem. Once the body had entered the chamber, I didnt care that it did not close, I only wanted to see it go up the feed ramp.
Perhaps I can scrounge up some belted mag brass if you need some brass for chopping and trying.
- September 7, 2017 at 11:42 am #46978
I have plenty of brass Kens.
Remember, this is not a belted magnum. I’m just using modified belted magnum dies to form 45-70 cases to something a little more practical.
- September 7, 2017 at 11:56 am #46979
Aw geez, I should have caught that……….
- September 7, 2017 at 5:26 pm #46980
What about the weatherby style of shoulders? Would that give it a rounder shoulder to feed smoother?
have you looked at bullet and boolit options for a flat, flex, or round nose? Will this be a cast bullet rifle or jacketed?
With a 200gn FTX you should be able to hit around 2600fps from a 20″ bbl, while keeping pressures in the upper 40s.
This one from NOE looks interesting.
Just a quick play on Quickload looks like maybe 2450-2500fps-ish
Are you sold on .338″? or would .358, or .375 be an option. Not that the .338″ 200 FTX at 2600fps wouldn’t be good for everything. 🙂
Will your rifle feed longer cartridges, or will that require modification?
- September 7, 2017 at 9:38 pm #46981Rattlesnake CharlieParticipant
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All else aside, the .33 WCF is just downright classic.
- September 7, 2017 at 11:01 pm #46982
Well gosh, the .45-70 necked down to anything is just a downright classic !!!!
- September 8, 2017 at 12:55 am #46986
I used the form die tonight. It worked perfectly. I still lost a couple on the 338WM short die, but I knew better than to run them through without annealing. Ive got it now, and I feel comfortable with taking them down as far as 30 caliber.
Now then. I’m sticking with 338 for the time being, and I’m sticking with the standard 2.1″ case length if I can get it to play with the rifle.
Why 338? Honestly, I’ve been shooting 35 and 30 caliber for 20 years and I’m bored with them. I’ve been sorrowfully longing for a 338 Marlin Express ever since they came out with the caliber, but I wouldn’t bite because I don’t trust Marlin to use a barrel or chamber worthy of the cartridge (or the price tag for that matter) and the brass was doomed to be difficult to get brass eventually. Call me a miserable cynic. I don’t like being tied down to boutique cartridges.
This cartridge (338WM short rimmed?) Is very close to the 338ME. In fact, if I were to shorten the cartridge just a little bit more, I could use the 338 Marlin a express dies to load this cartridge. Totally plug and play.
I want to use jacketed bullets in this rifle. The Sierra 215 Game King to be exact, and I want to shoot the FTX as well. I’ll just flatten the tips on the Game King. All that’s really needed is to pluck the lead tip off actually.
I’m not too keen on the Weatherby shoulder radius. I know all about the tricks Weatherby used to get what he did from his rifles, and the marketing strategy he used (successfully I might add). I just don’t like incorporating it in my projects if there’s not a direct effect on the performance. The radiuses shoulders might be a boon to feeding in a bolt action, but they mean nothing in a lever action (particularly the 1886). So I’m going to stick with standard shoulder designs.
So the plan for now is to put together ten dummy cartridges (if anybody has a few spare 200ish grain 338 bullets they could spare?) and check function of the rifle with this cartridge. I don’t need to rebarrel the rifle to do that. I’ll ruminate on the caliber choice once I’m sure what I can get away with in regards to cartridge length.
- September 20, 2017 at 4:16 pm #47099
I’ve done some more circling of the wagons on this issue, and I’ve decided to go with 30 caliber.
I still like the idea of .338, but while I was sick, I did so much reloading that I realized I’d be much better served by 30 caliber due in a large part to the fact that I have a barrel, I have the 300 Win Mag reamer, I have lots of bullets, and I have dies to modify. Basically, it’s cheaper to just dive in and get it done in 30 caliber, and I can always add a 338 barrel to the lineup later on.
Another reason 30 makes more sense is the general shape of the bullets provides for a shorter OAL than 30 can provide. The 1886 needs a COAL of less than 2.800 inches, and that’s a hard number to hit with most 338 caliber bullets, but there are many bullets that were designed for the 308 Winchester that do that exactly.
The comparison to the 308 based cartridges is even more valid because after sizing the 2.1″ 338 caliber brass down with the modified 300 Win Mag dies, the necks got shorter by .065 bringing my brass length to 2.035″ which is just begging for any bullet made for the 308.
- September 20, 2017 at 4:22 pm #47100
- September 21, 2017 at 5:05 am #47113
Just a quick trip through Quickload, shows a Speer 165 loaded to 2.8″ going 2750 @50k from a 20″ bbl with 57gns of RL17. I looked at several IMR and Hodgdon powders and it looked like RL17 would give at least 100fps more than anything else.
My favorite 30-06 load is a 165 Rem Corelokt at 2730 that I have used on many Elk and Deer in Idaho.
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