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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I received an old Model 1894 Winchester from my wonderful GF, it belonged to her late father.

The rifle was in very sorry shape when I received it, it looked like it had been fired, never cleaned, and hung on wall for 40-50 years (I've seen a pic from the 70's and it was hanging on the wall then too!)

The gun was completely covered in grime and filth, and the action was nearly frozen solid with hardened oil and dirt.

I managed to tear it down without hurting anything proceeded to scrub for about 7 hours. In the end, I only found one damaged part, the shell elevator. The elevator had been bent by someone not aligning it properly before putting the screws in on each side. I was able to carefully straighten it, and reassemble the gun.

After much scouring of the bore, decent rifling emerged under the crud. So I now have the gun back together and fully functional. A quick check of the serial number shows it was built in 1899.

I understand that lever actions from this period are very collectible, but this one is definitely a "shooter grade" gun. It has no finish left, fine pitting all over the receiver, a fairly rough stock that was heavily sanded and slopped with varnish at some point.

Despite being a rough example, the internals are solid, and the action is not overly worn. So I'd like to shoot this gun. It is chambered in .32-40.

I found one box of "John Wayne" 32-40 in her fathers ammo stash, but I wont be shooting it as it worth more to a collector. Any good sources of new loaded ammo? Cowboy action maybe???

My concern is the correct load for the gun. Should an 1899 gun be shooting BP? A quick check shows the John Wayne ammo was made in the early 80's to go with a new batch of guns. I worried any ammo I locate will be too hot for my old gun, but I would like to see how it shoots before investing in reloading dies for it. I'd prefer not to shoot BP if I can avoid it, as this thing is a real PITA to take apart and reassemble.

Thanks in advance.
 

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i have a friend who has a rifle that could be a twin to yours(i mean by the shape its in), and its in 32-40. he loads for it and it shoots very well,i will see him tuesday and find out what he loads for it and post it here. eastbank. ps it will take any factory load and reasonable hand loads. eastbank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I found two suppliers of 32-40 ammo,

Ten-X has it for $42 for a box of 20

Old Western Scrounger has it for $30 for a box of 20


OWS sounds like a better deal, but didn't they get sued a few years ago for dangerous ammo?

Maybe they aren't the better deal...
 

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I worried any ammo I locate will be too hot for my old gun, but I would like to see how it shoots before investing in reloading dies for it. I'd prefer not to shoot BP if I can avoid it, as this thing is a real PITA to take apart and reassemble.
Cabela's has Ten-X .32-40's, at the already mentioned $42 for a box of 20; Buffalo Arms lists .32-40's at $35 for 20.

Smokeless loads for the .32-40 were available as early as 1895, and Winchester loaded a High-Velocity version for the Model 1894 from 1905 until 1941. Manufacturers stopped chambering rifles for the .32-40 some time in the 1930's or 40's, except for a limited run by Winchester in the early 80's. Any commercial ammunition will be perfectly safe in your rifle, provided yours is safe to fire in the first place. Reloading will, ultimately, be the less expensive route, depending of course on how much shooting you plan to do.

Jim
 

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Some relationships are made in Heaven.

The Madis data on serial numbers is often criticised as unreliable, but the 94 Winchester was designed for smokeless powder from the start, and any example should be usable with moderate, not very low, pressures. It would be good if the barrel is stamped "nickel steel", which erodes less rapidly with smokeless powder. But even rifles which aren't can use smokeless to about black powder velocities, with which bore wear need never concern the occasional user.

Custom loaders vary very much in quality, and are all quite expensive. Loading your own is definitely the way to go. It is easy to form .32-40 cases from .30-30 or .32 Winchester Special. I don't know if cases can be formed easily with the really cheap zinc alloy presses, such as the Lee hand press, which are really all the casual reloader of a few cartridges needs. But if that is any problem, all you need is to know someone with a heavier iron press, and when forming is done once, the cheapest press will do the reloading work.

Stories of modern sporting bullet jackets wearing the bore are mostly untrue. It is gas that does that. But there is no urgent reason to use anything but cast lead alloy bullets, possibly with a gas-check base. The commonest bullet diameter is .321in., and you might find an old mould on ebay that you like better than the currently available ones.

If, on the other hand, you could turn Winchester enthusiast, you might wish to lay out serious money on a book, out of print but often on www.bookfinder.com . Clyde Williamson's "The Winchester Lever Legacy" is a huge book for users rather than collectors, very folksy and old-western, but containing an unbeatable programme of load testing and development.
 
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