Loads For .25-20 Winchester

Marlin .25-20 Levergun

Marlin .25-20 Levergun

Q I just bought a Marlin 1894 CL lever-action rifle in .25-20. It came with nearly 100 once-fired cases, a RCBS 3-die set and a mould for an 85gn flat-nose bullet, two cans of AR2205 powder, a box each of Hornady 60gn and Speer 75gn flat-nose bullets and 200 small rifle primers. So I’m all set and ready to have a go at reloading. Can you suggest some loads and give me any tips about the operation?

George Martin

A Being a bottleneck cartridge, all of your cases should be lubed and full length resized every time you reload them, also crimp all loads to prevent the bullet being pushed down into the case while in the magazine tube, or making the journey from the tube to the lifter to the chamber. It’s lucky you have a 3-die set because you need the third die to bell the case mouths to accept cast lead bullets. But sometimes too, jacketed bullets will crumple the case mouths so I recommend you always expand the case mouths. I don’t know how well lead bullets will shoot in the Marlin’s micro-groove rifling, but you’ll soon find out. Start with 7gn of AR2205 for 1320fps and work up to 8gn behind the 85gn cast bullet for 1420fps. With the jacketed bullets, a charge of 9gn of AR2205 behind the Hornady 60gn JSP yields for 1525fps and 10gn gets 1605fps, but the maximum charge of 11gn gets 2075fps. With the 75gn Speer JFP 8gn of AR2205 gets 1275fps and 9gn yields 1500 fps. The old .25-20 has been a favourite of mine ever since I took a job on a property back in the 1950s. The first thing the property owner did was hand me a Winchester ’92 and tell me it was my job to shoot roos to feed the dogs. He gave me ammo firing the 60gn jacketed bullet at 2200fps that proved deadly effective out to 150 yards. I’ve had a soft spot for the .25-20 ever since.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.