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Thread: Loads for 32-20

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    Member Arcticmayhem's Avatar
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    Question Loads for 32-20

    My dad and I are going to try loading some bullets for his 110 year old Marlin 1894 lever gun. We got some starline brass and some 95 gr lead bullets, but the load data has been a little inconsistent and hard to find. I have Unique, 700x, and H110 on hand for pistol and shotshell loading, but I would buy some other powder if I found a load that a lot of people recommend. I was thinking of buying some Trailboss, as it seems to be a favorite with CAS guys, but I can't find any load data for it. Most of the info I find is a little spotty or inconsistent. Unique seems like it would be a good powder, but the load data I find is anywhere from 2.5-4.5 grains, depending on the source. Talking with one of the guys at WWG, he said he couldn't get it to shoot consistently (not really sure what he meant). H110 makes me a little nervous to try, since they say not to under load by more than 10%, but I don't want to blow up this gun either. Does anybody that shoots these old guns have a favorite load just for killing cans and targets?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcticmayhem View Post
    My dad and I are going to try loading some bullets for his 110 year old Marlin 1894 lever gun. We got some starline brass and some 95 gr lead bullets, but the load data has been a little inconsistent and hard to find. I have Unique, 700x, and H110 on hand for pistol and shotshell loading, but I would buy some other powder if I found a load that a lot of people recommend. I was thinking of buying some Trailboss, as it seems to be a favorite with CAS guys, but I can't find any load data for it. Most of the info I find is a little spotty or inconsistent. Unique seems like it would be a good powder, but the load data I find is anywhere from 2.5-4.5 grains, depending on the source. Talking with one of the guys at WWG, he said he couldn't get it to shoot consistently (not really sure what he meant). H110 makes me a little nervous to try, since they say not to under load by more than 10%, but I don't want to blow up this gun either. Does anybody that shoots these old guns have a favorite load just for killing cans and targets?
    The .32/20 originally came out for the Model 1873 Winchester. I haven't loaded for some time, but try 3.g gr of Bullseye or 5.8 gr of Unique. These should give you 1060 fps and 1160 fps respectively. If those powders are still available, that is . . . . .

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    Not coincidentally it appears, my pet load is 5 grains of Unique under a 95-100 grain cast bullet (The Lyman Cast Bullet Manual lists a 6 grain max with Unique and a 95 grain bullet). It gives velocities +/- 1200 fps depending on the rifle's barrel length. My old Winnie 92 has an iffy bore, but does best with that load. My modern Marlin 1894 is a tackdriver with it. Pressures seem really mild. I use both for head-thumping snowshoe hare and they're plenty accurate for that. If your gun shoots like my Winnie, it ought to be a 50 yard beer can gun with no trouble whatsoever. If it's like the Marlin, make that a 100 yard beer can gun.

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    2.8 grain bullseye under a 115 grain bullet is what I use out of a S&W M&P. Tough cartridge to reload

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    Thanks guy, I appreciate your input. I can't wait to load up some rounds for this little gun. Of the 20-30 rounds we have shot with it, it has been surprisingly accurate and fun to shoot. I think it would easily kill a can from 50 yards. Looks like people are using Unique just fine, so I will probably start with 4 grains and work up to 5. If we have problems with that, maybe we will give Bullseye a shot.

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    Sounds like you're right on track. In my experience with the round, it pays to watch case length real close in order to sustain great accuracy. I measure all my cases after sizing on every other reloading.

    If you're like me, you'll see some of them getting longer faster than others. I'm convinced the way this affects accuracy is that the longer cases are getting more crimp, and the shorter ones less. Between the two, that inconsistent grip pressure really starts to spread groups.

    No "science" behind that, just pure observation. I do know that the cases seem to grow at a little different rate, and as that happens accuracy goes south. But the minute you trim them back to the same length, groups shrink back where they oughta be. YMMV

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    Check with a user that goes by "rbuck." He loads for a Model 92 in 32-20. He let me load some 32-20's for my dad's Colt Police Positive a few weeks back, and we used 3 grains of Unique. I was going for a low power load as I don't wish to stress the gun.

    By the way, lubrication is important. It has a very thin wall and collapse easily. Just go slow and lube every case.

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    Use 20 grains of Black Powder.

    3 F should work fine.

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    Here's IMR's data....
    32-20 WINCHESTER
    Case: Remington Twist: 1:20"
    Barrel: 5.5" Trim: 1.305" Primer: Winchester SP

    Bullet: 90 GR. LRNFP Dia. .314" COL: 1.490"
    Trail Boss 2.5 785 11,400 CUP 2.8 830 13,900 CUP

    Bullet: 115 GR. LRNFP Dia. .314" COL: 1.580"
    Trail Boss 2.2 642 11,300 CUP 2.5 707 15,300 CUP
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    I have a manual that list a bunch of loads for the 32/20. I'll check this afternoon when I get up. I work nights and am just leaving work.

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    Thanks a bunch guys. Rbuck, thanks in advance for looking up that data. Do you have any preferred powders? I can't wait to start shooting this gun again.

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    Sorry, my wife has been after me the last couple of days finishing her deck. I will get those loads for you shortly. I have a prefered powder but it's not something available from the normal sources. I use H116. Unique or 700x should work well. In a gun as old as yours, I would load it fairly light. I will look in my book and see which powders will work for you.

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    Ok. I have a bunch of loads but most all come with a "Don't use in a black powder gun" warning. At the age of your gun I am a little concerned that it may be a blavk powder gun. The Trail Boss loads already given should be fine. 700x is listed with a 115gr bullet at 2.8/ 3.9gr and I would think the 2.8gr with a 95gr bullet would be fine but this is just an educated guess. Unique is listed the same. One book shows a 115gr at 4.2 to 4.5 another shows 3.2 to 4gr. Again, a good guess would be to start at 3.2 but I would not push things to far in your rifle without having a gunsmith check it first. If you use Trail Boss, check powder height vs bullet depth to make sure you do not compress the powder. Using starting 115gr loads with a 95gr bullet should keep you safe but I don't know the condition of your 110 year old gun. Err on the side of caution. A light load in that gun will be a pleasure to shoot and make an excellent small game getter.

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    Thanks again rbuck. From the research I have done on this gun, the 1894 isn't a black powder gun, but since we don't need to hunt with this gun, I don't plan to push it. 3-4 grains of Unique should kill cans all day, and will be something a little bigger than the 22 for the wife and kids to shoot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    ....and make an excellent small game getter.
    And how. I'm using modern Marlins (25-20 and 32-20) for snowshoe hare rather than my Winnies, just because I don't want to get the oldies any wetter than they've been in the past. The Winnies are still fun range guns and fair weather hunters, though.

    Bottom line, if you slow those larger bullets down to 22 rimfire velocities or slower, they're outstanding performers on small game. And it's sure a lot more entertaining to me somehow to use them rather than one of my many rimfires. There's no deader than dead when head shooting snowshoes, whether it's a 22, 25 or 32, or even a .177 pellet. But there's just something more "emphatic" about the impact of that bigger slug.

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