Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default Vintage Winchester help 44-40

    So I've got this beautiful old Winchester '73 built in 1881. It came to me needing some tinkering & I have it running / cycling great - had to fit modern links & get the correct firing pin.

    The problem is accuracy. The bore's got some pitting, but generally has decent rifling. The issue is that it slugs at .438 or so, not .428. From what I've gathered on the internet, this is quite common on these old guns. I've tried casting soft lead 200 RNFP, 214 semi wad cutters, 240 grain semi wad cutters - using black powder & Trail Boss. I can't get the thing to group at all with the exception of some loads I did with a layer of masking tape on the bullets. I know I can get custom molds to fit the oversize bore, but I'm tired of throwing money at it. I boogered up one mold trying to ream it out with a bullet & lapping compound, thinking I could get a couple thousands out of it. Didn't work for me.

    Does anyone know of a relatively easy/cheap way to bump up the bullet diameter without resorting to individually paper jacketing each bullet? I'm thinking some sort of coating, but I don't have the set up for powder coating bullets.

    Another thing I'm thinking is my lead might not be as soft as I thought it was. I don't have a hardness tester unfortunately.

    Looking for new ideas to try.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Levittown, Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: Vintage Winchester help 44-40

    Hollow-based Minie projectile of 20:1 lead will help seal the bullet from gasses blowing by it. Paper wrapping works very well, as you have already partially done.
    I would suggest using paper that can leave the bullet within a few feet of the muzzle rather than masking tape that stays on the bullet to the target. The paper tape receipt you get at the register of a store is usually about .002" thick. I wrap .45-70 cast .458 bullets to fit a .463 bore. However, if the tape serves well, great!

    All that is not a great fix for a repeater. I just re-read that you want a better answer. How about shopping for a bore relining service. Too costly? Gun not worth it?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Vintage Winchester help 44-40

    The paper is a chore yeah. Was thinking of using it for cowboy action, so I'm looking for volume more than accuracy, but I still need to be able to hold 3" group at 25 yards. Right now it's more like 10".

    I tried to find a hollow base mold so the skirt would bump up, but haven't found anything to work.

    Re-boring is an option yeah, but way out of budget right now & I'm not really keen on doing it to a 130 year old gun.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Vintage Winchester help 44-40

    If the bore is that bad, it's value as an antique is going to be low. What is there to lose by re-lining? There comes a time when that gorgeous 1949 Cadillac needs a new or rebuilt motor. No longer all original, no longer worth $115,000, but it's drivable and worth $40,000.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Chalfont, Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: Vintage Winchester help 44-40

    That's the answer right there.
    Redman makes liners that will return the accuracy.

    The liners are not hard to install by any man even slightly north of Joe Scarboro.
    The most difficult part is finding the proper long shank drill.
    Crusader's local #556 South Central Asia chapter

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Pleasant Gap, Pennsylvania
    (Centre County)
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    Default Re: Vintage Winchester help 44-40

    yeah I would not rebore that gun under pretty much any circumstances. Too tight to use a .440 bullet?
    Last edited by Marcus99; June 30th, 2017 at 08:26 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Vintage Winchester help 44-40

    .440 would be good for the .338 bore, but the stock cartridge holds a .327. A custom chamber reamer would be needed, then custom dies to form wildcat brass.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Vintage Winchester help 44-40

    Yeah, too big to cram it in a poor 44 WCF case. I'd have to rechamber as Bang said.

    I will experiment some more with paper patches/jackets. It's just very time consuming.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Vintage Winchester help 44-40

    Buy lead 45 Colt bullets at 0.452"-0.453", and get a custom sizing die for a bullet sizer-lubricator that's 0.002" greater than the bore slugs.

    Noah
    If you are not part of the solution, you are the precipitate.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Vintage Winchester help 44-40

    How ya gonna seat it in what cartridge brass, and then how y' gonna chamber it? On top of that, the leverage of a bolt action ain't there. It's an old lever design.

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