.

Old Winchester 1873 Accuracy Problems

critter3030critter3030 Member Posts: 29
Hi Guys. A while back I purchased a Winchester 1873 in 44-40 that was manufactured in 1884. The gun had been "improved" a few times over the years but overall it's pretty much original. 24 inch round barrel with what I would consider a good bore considering that only black powder load were available for the first several years of it's life. The bore still shows some shine with good consistent rifling the length of the bore. I knew the gun wasn't going to impress any hardcore collectors. I like shooting the old lever guns and have visions of poking a hole in a couple of the local whitetails some day with the old girl. After shooting the gun for the first time I'm starting to think that the original owner may have been killed by an Indian with a big rock. Got some 200g RNFP black powder loads from Buffalo Arms Co and laid the gun out on the sandbags. At 25 yards I shot about a 15 inch 5-shot group. Things did not improve from there. Now I'm trying to figure out if it's worth my time to buy dies and try to load up something that'll shoot better. I slugged the barrel and came up with a .4315 bore diameter. Near as I can tell the bullets in the Buffalo arms cartridges were about .4285" Is there any hope for this classic old gun or is she destined to live out the rest of her life in the comfort of the gun rack.

Comments

  • navc130navc130 Member Posts: 760 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The experts say that a lead bullet must be at least groove diameter and preferably two thousands over groove diameter.
    Sorry, I am not able to direct you to a bullet manufacturer. There are many out there. Also, there is such a thing of "bumping a bullet up" to expand it's diameter. A vise will work but hard to be precise.
    A die and a ram hit with a hammer is precise.
  • critter3030critter3030 Member Posts: 29
    edited November -1
    Thanks for the info. Is it likely that using the correct bullet will turn this gun into a decent shooter? Based on your recommendation I'll need to find bullets of about .433 diameter - right? I've never seen bullets of that size available. Any idea where I can find some. I don't currently cast bullets but I do know a couple people who do.
  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    +1000 You need lead bullets over bore diameter . I have both a colt lightning as well as a win 187 . Both are over size bore but both near mint bore . Would not hold 24x24 inch target at 50myards with factory ammo but will shoot one at 2.2 inch five shot at 50 yards and the other . 1.4inch 5 shot group with .002 over bore bullets. see if you can find some hollow base bullets.
  • machine gun moranmachine gun moran Member Posts: 5,198
    edited November -1
    Dardas Cast Bullets (Google) will cast and size bullets that are over the normal specs. Matt Dardas does it for me for a .38-40 that I have, that needs .403 bullets. With those, it does well.

    Guns with oversize bores, that also have shallow rifling, will certainly throw shotgun patterns.
  • MIKE WISKEYMIKE WISKEY Member Posts: 9,254 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Winchester (and others) 'overbored' a lot of the old black powder barrels (to allow for the b.p. fouling). The .38/55 'should' take a .375" bullet but most of the old ones need a .378" to .380" bullet to shoot accurately. On some barrels you will not be able to chamber a round with the correct bullet size as the neck will be too large. Star Line made a special run of .38/55 brass with thin case walls to take the .380" bullets.
  • yonsonyonson Member Posts: 577 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    You need to confirm whether the bore is larger at the muzzle than the rest of the bore (as mine is). Such a bore will be a scatter gun (as mine is). Also check condition of the crown for damage. Mine is 38-40 and might be overbored to 44-40. You may get by with some custom sized bullets if the bore is not belled out at muzzle.
  • longspur riderlongspur rider Member Posts: 2,620 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    My "73" in 38-40 Puts a 3 shot group at 25 yrds you could cover with a quarter. It's been well used but not abused. Lead bullets.
  • critter3030critter3030 Member Posts: 29
    edited November -1
    Thanks much for all the great info. I've got some .429 hollow base 222g bullets coming from buffalo arms and plan on using 777 under them (it's what I've got on hand). I've confirmed that the chamber will handle a bullet up to .432 without a problem so I've also got some .431 and .432 bullets coming my way to try out. Once I get a chance to try these out I'll start another thread with the results. Thanks again.
  • critter3030critter3030 Member Posts: 29
    edited November -1
    Hi guys. Got some Lee dies today and proceeded to whip up 10 rounds. Used 22g 777 under a Buffalo Arms 222g Hollow base Bullet (.429). Saved one for reference and used 3 to sight in. The last 6 fell in to an honest 2.32 inch group at 25 yards. The last 5 were in 1.66. Drifted the rear sight after the first 3 and the last 6 were all in the bull. The gun and loads functioned perfectly. I'm thrilled. After a rough start I think the old girl has been brought back to life. Thanks for the help.
  • Mikel54Mikel54 Member Posts: 1 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Great for you. My 3rd series (born in the early 1880s) 44-40 shoots a cloverleaf at 50 yards with the Buffalo Arms loads with a well worn bore. Enjoy!
Sign In or Register to comment.