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Thread: The Old Ones

  1. #1

    Default The Old Ones

    Anyone else shooting older calibers for small game? I'm talking about 25-20, 32-20, 25-35 and such. Especially the 25-20 was considered the "ideal" small game round in its hayday.

    I've got original arms in these calibers, but was always a little hesitant to use them in the field. Then I picked up modern Marlins in 25-20 and 32-20 and a new Winnie 94 last year in 25-35. None measure up to the original arms in the fine details, but they let me have a whale of a good time on snowshoes while shooting some classic calibers.

    One step beyond that I use reduced loads for my modern calibers (mostly cast bullets) and take those into the field to hunt snowshoe hares in the off season. Great field practice.

    A good 22 rimfire is still fun, but loading the old ones and getting more field time with my big ones sure fills the winter (and the freezer).

    Anyone else?

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    I whack some grouse and squirrels in the head with the ol 32 special!
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    My dad has an old lever action marlin 32-20 that has sat in the closet since he inherited it from my grandpa. Last summer we finally got some shells for it and fired it. That thing was a fun little tack driver with the fold down peep sights. I wouldn't hesitate to use it for small to medium sized game, except that it is such a classic antique. It would be a shame if anything ever happened to it, so I think it will stay safe in the closet or on the shooting bench, and use the .22 and .410 for small game.

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    Really glad to see your post, BrownBear; I love the antique guns (read that Winchesters). From everything I've read, those calibers should be great on hares etc. My older (c. 1980's) Lyman reloading manual describes the 32-20 as "an adult's 22." (I have a Colt revolver in 32-20 c.1920)

    The thing about 32-20 is finding ammo and components. It has seen an upsurge with Cowboy Action Shooting, but the few manufacturers out there are always out of stock. Be careful with vintage ammo. At one time, Remington made a "high vel" 32-20 marked "Rifle Only" which was too much for a handgun and might be too much for a vintage rifle.

    Don't be afraid to take those guns and use them in the field-that's what they were meant for. My antique Winchesters have been getting game for my family for going on 75 years. I just gave my Dad's 20 ga SXS (1947) to my son this past hunting season for grouse.

    If you find a place to get 3-20 ammo up here, please, by all means, do tell.

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    I realy like the 25-20 for small game .I have a Winchester 92 that one day would like to send to Doug Turnbull to get restored.Right now it's in bad shape and not very accurate.Like BrownBear said you can use reduce loads or load it hot for 2000+ fps- Speer #13. I would like to start to cast my own bullets ,have all the equipment just havn't started yet ,it would not take alot of components ,too be able shoot one for a life time of Food & Fun . It is also ideal caliber to get youngster interest in shooting,hunting and reloading and the guns that are chambered for 25-20 is lever action which most young shooters enjoy. I know my daughter likes too shoot my Winchester 9422 ,she thinks its the cats meow.

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    You have picked my absolute favorite small game round in the 25/20. I have one in a M92 Win and another in 23 Savage bolt action. Also have a Win 92 in 32/20 but can't get it to shoot as well as the 25/20s. For the 25/20 I'm using the Lyman 258415 cast at 72grs lubed with FWFL and a home made aluminum GC and 9.5grs 2400 for about 1980fps. It shoots about 1 1/4' at 85yds. H116 also works very well but is not easy to find. I just picked up a Lee 6cav mold that was supposed to cast 52gr .256 boolits but as it was cut oversized (258), Lee had it on their factory second site for $25. I cast a bunch the other day but haven't had the chance to load any yet. I think Rossi could sell a bunch of their M92s in either 25/20 or 256Win.
    For those of you in the Anchorage area, I load for both the 25/20 and the 32/20 and cast for both. Although I don't load for people( liability) I am willing to let folks use my equiptment to load their own with instruction. So save your brass and give me a PM if interested in loading your own or if not, I'll by your used brass from you. I have a spare set of 25/20 dies if anyone is interested.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    You have picked my absolute favorite small game round in the 25/20. I have one in a M92 Win and another in 23 Savage bolt action. Also have a Win 92 in 32/20 but can't get it to shoot as well as the 25/20s. For the 25/20 I'm using the Lyman 258415 cast at 72grs lubed with FWFL and a home made aluminum GC and 9.5grs 2400 for about 1980fps. It shoots about 1 1/4' at 85yds. H116 also works very well but is not easy to find. I just picked up a Lee 6cav mold that was supposed to cast 52gr .256 boolits but as it was cut oversized (258), Lee had it on their factory second site for $25. I cast a bunch the other day but haven't had the chance to load any yet. I think Rossi could sell a bunch of their M92s in either 25/20 or 256Win.
    For those of you in the Anchorage area, I load for both the 25/20 and the 32/20 and cast for both. Although I don't load for people( liability) I am willing to let folks use my equiptment to load their own with instruction. So save your brass and give me a PM if interested in loading your own or if not, I'll by your used brass from you. I have a spare set of 25/20 dies if anyone is interested.
    Wow! Talk about a blast from the past (original post was 2006 with no responses), but I'm really glad it happened.

    Anyone in the area ought to take up rbuck351 on his generous offer.

    I'm not sure I'd want to drag an original 92 around the bush any more, though in my shooting of lots of them most don't shoot all that well because the bores are pretty well hosed by the old corrosive powders.

    But I'd sure keep my eyes open for modern versions. Marlin only turned out the 25-20 for a brief period, though the 32-20 was around lots longer and there are lots more in circulation due to CAS. The modern Winnie 94 in 25-35 may be even more scarce than the Marlin 25-20, but that one is definitely worth tracking down. Yeah, it has a foolish looking tang safety, but I don't care. It cost about 10% what a pristine original costs today, and it shoots like crazy. Mine easily breaks 3" at 100 yards with factory loads and factory sights. My handloads with either Remington 86 grain jacketed or Speer 75 grain FP jacketed (both intended for the 25-20) at around 1200 fps easily beat that. Cast 117FPs can beat even them with a little load development. Most of my shooting with all those handloads it at 50 yards, but we're talking cloverleaf groups like a good 22 at that range.

    If you're a devoted snowshoe smacker like me, keep your eyes open for one of the modern Marlins and Winchesters. Not as "classy" as the originals for sure, but you'll spend 10% of what a like-new original will cost, and odds are extremely high that the new one will shoot better than the original by a mile due to the corrosive loads in bores of the old ones.

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    I still use .22 shorts on occasion for small game. That one has been around since 1857, so it's pretty old. I suspect you were primarily talking about the older centerfire smallbores though. I'd love to get my hands on a rifle in 25-20 someday.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

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  10. #10

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    Yeah, but you raise a good point about 22 shorts. I've still got a bunch of CB caps, BB caps, longs and gallery loads (the ones with clay bullets intended to disintegrate on impact), but I'm kinda hoarding them. Those gallery loads are surprisingly effective on snowshoe hare. Picture holding a shotgun up to their heads.

    But since I'm hoarding those old loads, I am in fact talking about CF and reloading.

    As for a 25-20, look for a Marlin 94. I don't know what they're going for now if you can find them on the lists, but they put originals to sad shame due to modern clean bores. I put a receiver sight on mine and with a small bead it doesn't give up anything to a scope for accuracy. I once added a scope for load testing, but it was kind of like a jet engine on a crop duster, and groups were no better.

    Long as you're looking, snag a Winnie 94 if you see one. In the dying throes of one Winchester owner a few years back, they turned out some. Like I said, it has a tang safety of all things, but it is a sincere tackdriver. At around $450 then, I couldn't touch one that shot so well for a whole lot more money.

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    Rbuck 351, that's very generous of you to offer to let essentially a stranger into your home to use your gear. I have 44 pcs of once-fired Remington *spit* 32-20 brass I'd like to reload at some point. Can you let me know the next time you'll be ordering components, and order a small bit for me as well? (I'll pay my end, of course, plus some of the shipping.)

    I've read that 32-20 is one of the hardest to reload due to their thin walls at the neck and shoulder; I guess a lot of cases get crushed. Has that been part of your experience?

    All this talk makes me think about getting my Dad's old Colt revolver out.

    To the group at large: if you're shooting 32-20, (I shouldn't be saying this) there are three boxes of Winchester at Sportsman's in Anchorage on the floor under the 243 ammo. It's $47 a box. There were four, but I bought one (all I could afford.) If it's still there next payday, I'll probably buy another.

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    Has anyone every had a barrel relined on the old Winchester 1892 in 25-20 and if so how did it work out , is it accurate ,does it look good was it worth doing or a complete rebarrel better.I read some gunsmiths epoxy the liner in and some solder the liner in ,any help is appreciative.

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    Old Town:
    I rarely order stuff as I am well stocked on most things. However I do have a spare bag of new Win 32/20 brass that I would sell you for what ever the current price is. I cast my own bullets so I have plenty of bullets. Also have plenty of powder and primers, so If you want, let me know and we can arrange a loading scession so you can get something to shoot that won't break the bank. PM me. I enjoy meeting shooters and really like showing someone how to reload.

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    You do have to be careful when loading cases like the 25/20, 32/20 and 22H as the case necks are thin and cast bullets are harder to start than jacketed. I make Lyman type M dies which allow me to hand start cast bullets a little way into the neck so unless I try to go too fast, I rarely ruin a case. Both my 25/20 and my 32/20 are beater rifles but the actions are still tight and as I got them cheap I have no problem carrying them in the woods. The barrels are less than perfect and I have been considering rebarreling or relining the 25/20 but as it's shooting cast at 2" or less at 100yds I probably will just use it. I have also been considering rebarreling my 32/20 to 256 Win as I'm not real happy with the 32/20. Wish I could find a newer Marlin in 25/20 that I could afford as I would like to see what a new barrel could do. I'd really like to see that old Colt in 32/20.

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    I'd like to see Rossi come out with their version of the Win 92 in .256 WIn. with a 16" barrel. It would be easy to rebarrel a .357 Mag gun to the .256 Win. I think that would be neat little gun...easy to carry, light weight, cheap to reload for and reasonably potent. There is no shortage of .357 Mag brass and you would have a much more stout case than the 25/20. Not sure why that round never caught on...guess the "experts" at the gun mags never pushed it.
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  16. #16

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    I made a bunch of 256 cases from 357 mag, and with Imperial sizing wax at least, it was a one-step job. Just run them into the 256 die and you're done. I tried Lyman and RCBS lubes and felt lucky to get the case back out of the die. About 1 in 100 would fold the necks wrong even with Imperial, but I can live with that.

    One thing to know- the finished 256 cases come out shorter than spec. Not really an issue because you can readjust your crimp die. I was loading for a Contender, so I didn't even bother with a crimp. The other thing in loading for the TC, I could ignore OAL specs. That was key and let me load 86 grain FNs and even 117 RNs lots longer due to the long throat in the barrel and no need to respect cannelures. Loading for a repeater or shorter throat might not let you load those heavies. The Speer 75 grain FN is a killer bullet in both the 25-20 and the 256. Easy to find, accurate as sin, and no issues with OAL in either round.

    And yeah, it amazes me that Rossi or someone else doesn't turn out a 25-20. The 32-20 got a boost for a while due to CAS, but it never stretched to the 25-20.

    That Lyman M die series is key to loading the thin walls cited including the Hornet, especially with cast. When not using the M dies, I've found lots of help in a little more aggressive inside neck chamfering, but it's not a cure all. I have the best luck just barely starting the bullet, then rotating the case 90 degrees before making the finishing stroke.

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    I don't know if anyone would be interested, but I saw this ad on alaskalist, and thought of this discussion here. This guy has what appears to be a Winchester Model 92 rifle with half magazine chambered in 25-20 listed as a Model 1906 (which it can't be; the 1906 was a slide action). He may not realize what he has. If it was 32-20, I'd be on it like Oprah on a donut.

    http://alaskaslist.com/1/posts/9_Gen...906_25_20.html

    (PS: I don't know the guy and have no affiliation.)

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    I have a TC in 256Win and really like the cartridge. I made all my cases from 357 with very few ruined cases. I run them part way into a 30 Mauser die set first and then the 256 dies. And yes, Imperial or Hornady Unique makes case forming a lot easier. I think I'm going to look for a Rossi in 357 to convert to 256.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    I think I'm going to look for a Rossi in 357 to convert to 256.
    I have one, but I'm not letting it go. =)

    BTW, I got your last IM, and I'm not ignoring you. I've had a busy week, but I'm hoping to meet up with you on your next off period.

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