Our long wait for jacketed softnose
bullets of proper diameter and profile suitable for .38-55 and .38-56 Winchester - and
most recently Marlin - tubular magazine rifles appears to be over.
Mr. William Baden Powell of the Boer
Bullet Co. (516 Park Ave., Medford OR 97501) forwarded test samples of his new 220-grain
.38-55 bullets. Following is my report on them.
My micrometer (machine shop tested
for accuracy) shows their diameter to be .378 inch.
Quite as important, they are of full
diameter .378 inch for the entire length of the shank from base to crimping cannelure.
This makes a big difference in how accurately they shoot. Tapering bullets lose accuracy
in these rifles.
Their bases are flat and even, also
helpful of accuracy. Weight uniformity is remarkable! I picked a dozen bullets at random
and found a variation of only 0.4 grain. That’s .0018 percent - amazing, especially
in bullets as heavy as this.
With all this going for them, it’s
no wonder they shoot so well. The fact they weigh 220 grains rather than the usual 250
grains will help keep pressures down, raise velocities a bit and is certainly plenty of
bullet for deer and black bear.
In a Winchester High Wall .38-55,
35.0 grains of IMR-3031, or 37.0 grains of H-4895, produced around 1,800 fps in a 30-inch
In a Winchester Model 1894 .38-55,
32.0 grains of Reloder 7 generated just under 1,800 fps in a 26-inch barrel.
In a Winchester Model 1886 .38-56,
38.0 grains of H-335 registered just over 1,900 fps in a 26-inch barrel.
Accuracy will, of course, vary depending upon
whether iron sights or a scope is used, also upon the condition of a rifle’s bore. My
.38-55 and .38-56 test rifles have only iron sights but are still capable of grouping in 2
inches at 100 yards with the better loads. A new rifle with scope sight should be able to
cut that group size in half with these fine new bullets, shooting from benchrest. - Ken