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Thread: 38-55

  1. #1
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    Default 38-55

    Anyone know where a guy could lay his hands on a 38-55? A friend of mine is interested, and I'd like to find one for him as a gift. I don't know anything about this cartridge yet, but will do some research. I understand they're not real easy to find. Thanks.

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    I think Marlin was making them recently..... not sure though. I would go poke around on the Marlin forums and see what they have in the for sale section. I know there were a number of guys converting 336's from 30/30 to 38/55 and 375W
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Marlin made a run of them 8 or 9 years ago... I think it was in their "Cowboy" line. Basically a gussied up 336 IIRC.

    I'd try gunbroker or guns america to locate one. If that failed a smith should be able to convert a 30-30 to 38-55- hopefully without a tremendous hassle.

    Out of curiousity- why the 38-55? Seems like an odd duck given all the other options available.

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    Hodgeman, that was my question to my friend. Mostly nostalgia, I think. And a taste for something out of the ordinary.

    I did try gunbroker, and there are several options there, and for less $ than I expected. I love the looks of those old beauties! Makes me think of the smells of woodsmoke, horse sweat, and dust.

  5. #5
    Member e45colt's Avatar
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    Default For nostalgia's sake

    If your friend wants a .38-55 for nostalgia's sake, get him an older original.
    I'm a fan of the newer souped-up version known as the 375 Winchester, but my research shows that the old .38-55 is very well respected. This old cartridge is a great example that, the "paper numbers" do not tell the whole story of its performance on game.
    It hits with authority out of proportion to what the "paper numbers" would suggest.

    Your friend has good tastes.


    Ed
    Afflicted by condition human

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    I've got a JM Marlin, circa 1870(ish) Origional Ballard. If you're serious pm me.

    edit.. Krap you're in Canada this is the Alaska area.... Never mind.

  7. #7

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    Depending on your friend's taste, a Savage 99 is a possibility too. I've got the impression that "in their day" they were pretty popular in Canada, and used ones therefore might be a little more likely to be encountered there.

    I "have" one that I've been shooting for a little over 40 years. I say "have" because my son-in-law borrowed it ten years ago, and it still hasn't migrated back to my own safe. Launching a 220 grain bullet, jacketed or lead, at 1600-1700 fps, it has an impressive record on game. It's also extremely accurate and great fun to shoot.

  8. #8
    Member Darreld Walton's Avatar
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    Default Find a nice...

    94, or a 336, or for that matter, anything that'll handle a .30-30, and have it rebored or rebarreled. Savage DID chamber some of the 1899/99's in .38-55, but be prepared to pull out a big wad o' cash for one of those.
    The simplest and easiest way to obtain a new or near new .38-55 is to look for one of the Marlin Cowboy guns, OR, one of the New England Firearms 'target' guns that were chambered up to .38-55. Just cross your fingers that someone hasn't been burning black powder through the thing, or that if they did, they cleaned it well. The NEF HAS shown up at some of the BPCR matches in my area from time to time.
    Browning, and I believe Winchester, have brought out the 85/1855 single shot in the round, but be ready to pony up some serious bucks for one of those.
    There were also a good number of the Winchester 'commemorative' types chambered for the cartridge. Prices on those are all over the map, but a nice one in the hands of a scalper can get scary.
    For a good read, go back through the forums here, and look for posts by Murphy on his Marlin, and loading for it....
    Personally, my Dad and I used his old Marlin and Remington 255 gr. jacketed factory loads back in 1966 to take a couple of spike bull elk. One bullet wasn't recovered, but the one in my animal penetrated the near shoulder, then traveled through the upper chest cavity, and was under the hide on the far side, and after it cleaned up, still weighed 230 gr. Range was just under 100 yards. Bullets have come a ways since then, but one of the best is the Barnes original.
    Know that if you elect to go with a 'vintage' gun, you may end up casting, or going with the 'generous' diameter Barnes bullets. My 1894 rifle shoots the .378 diameter jacketed Barnes VERY well, but ANY other .375 diameter bullet keyholes at any range past 50 yards.
    Last edited by Darreld Walton; 02-11-2010 at 23:34. Reason: .

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darreld Walton View Post
    Know that if you elect to go with a 'vintage' gun, you may end up casting, or going with the 'generous' diameter Barnes bullets. My 1894 rifle shoots the .378 diameter jacketed Barnes VERY well, but ANY other .375 diameter bullet keyholes at any range past 50 yards.
    That's an important point. My 99's rifling is pristine, but pretty shallow. Cast .378's shoot groups half the size of jacketed. I'm using the same bullets in my 1886 in 38-56, and it's got even shallower rifling, and is a certain keyholer with jacketed.

  10. #10
    Member IceKing02's Avatar
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    Default Just get a Winchester 94 and be done with it.

    I've got about 4 or 5 94s in 38-55 and, surprisingly, they shoot very well for leverguns with buckhorn sights.

    Ultimately my goal is to have taken animals with all of them...and cast the bullets that took 'em, too.

    Good luck in your search. I used Gunbroker with good results.

    IceKing02

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    Louis Knapp

  12. #12
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    Milarm in Edmonton has a couple. They are Winchester Commemoratives. I have one and love mine.

    http://www.milarm.com/rifles/hunting.htm

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Win94 View Post
    Milarm in Edmonton has a couple. They are Winchester Commemoratives. I have one and love mine.

    http://www.milarm.com/rifles/hunting.htm
    Can't beat those prices. And the heck with being "commemoratives." They should be terrific shooters.

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