Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marlin 336 Cowboy in 38-55 part 1

Not long ago I got my Marlin 336 Saddle Ring Texan back from Marlin after being converted to a Marlin 336 Saddle Ring Cowboy in 38-55.

A year ago I didn't even know I needed a 336 in 38-55 :p but the more I read about it, the more I needed one.

 My two 336 Cowboy (conversions), Top in 38-55, the bottom is in 30-30

The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the hole at the end of the barrel

The 38-55 is actually the "Parent Case" for the 30-30 (and the 32-40), which is a 38-55 case necked down to 30 caliber. I've not tried it (yet) but it is possible to "fire form" 30-30 brass into 38-55 brass - though the length is a little short.

Due to its versatility the 30-30 has been my go to ranch rifle for a while. The 38-55 is getting a try out in that roll and seems to be up to the task as well.

A spot on a stump that needed shootin'... three times

Taking on the 300 yard Dinger

The real advantage the 38-55 has over the 30-30 is the heavier bullet. The most common weight is 250 - 255 grains and it flies a little better over long range - less effected by wind - and has a lot of smack left when it arrives.

Marlin 336 Cowboy in 38-55 part 2

A friend of mine got a Marlin 336 Cowboy about the same time I did and we've been dialing in loads ever since.

200 yard target

He ended up putting a Montana Vintage Arms tang sight on his which gives it a lot more legs.  Here he is ringing the 600 yard Dinger with his.

Here is some 600 yard video

The next trip over he decides 600 wasn't enough so we marched it out to 800

Here is some raw video of me making my first attempts at 800 yards, took me a few shots but eventually got on it.

Marlin 336 Cowboy in 38-55 part 3

Since getting it back I've been shooting and packing it around every chance I get.

Here it is on a recent scouting trip. There is a Black Bear (he's actually cinnamon colored) on my property tearing apart pretty much every stump on the place, feeding on grubs.

Data for 38-55 Win is pretty limited but I have been trying several powders. Unique, SR 4759 and IMR 4198 have shown the most promise.

My rifle seems to prefer a cast bullet un-sized, as cast (~.380"). The .380" bullet won't even fit in my friend's Cowboy when using Winchester Brass but I have some Starline brass on Back-Order that is supposed to have thinner walls that should allow feeding of the fatter bullet in his too. Luckily a .379" bullet shoots very well in his.

In tests mine will put most of them into a <1" group at 50 yards with open sights, even with me behind the trigger.

With .379" sized bullets the group size doubles in my rifle.

I've used two different bullets so far. The Lee 379-250 RF and the Ranch Dog TLC 379 235 RF. The Lee bullet seems to like 1250-1400 fps the best and the Ranch Dog has shot well at 925 fps to over 1500 fps.

It really is a neat old (1882) cartridge. It reminds me of a skinny 45-70 and has a nice old fashion aesthetic that I'm really attracted too.

Marlin 336 Cowboy in 38-55 addendum

I have presses at home and typically don't run out of ammo when I'm at the Outpost but the voracious appetite of the 38-55 Cowboy and the limited number of cases I have required me to do a little front porch reloading with the excellent Lee Hand Press.

I haven't used this press before but found it quite simple and VERY convenient given the location.

This is about all you need to keep you shooting when you're away from the reloading bench. It all fits inside a Cabelas ammo box - which is a little bigger than a 50 caliber ammo can.

Resizing and depcapping is very much the same as it is on a single stage press. The spent primers are collected in the ram and needs to periodically be emptied to prevent jamming.

I prefer to prime with a hand primer but figured I'd give the priming attachment a try. It is slower but works very well.

The shell holder is switched out and moved to the top craddled in a fitting that screws into same place the dies do. The priming ram fits right where the shell holder goes.

I practiced with the Lee Powder scoops at home and noted the charge it would throw on each scoop.

No accuracy differences were detected in the ammo loaded at home vs the ammo loaded on the front porch, either on paper or on the dingers.

Overall I would recommend the system for those interested in a very portable and inexpensive way to reload.

A few more 336 Cowboy shooting videos:

I have both the RCBS Cowboy Dies and the Lee Dies for this caliber. I would HIGHLY recommend the RCBS CB dies. I do use the Lee Factory Crimp Die for crimping though.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A few more Long Range videos

400 yards, 38-55 Marlin 336 Cowboy

600 yards, 38-55 Marlin 336 Cowboy