.38-40 WCF Ammo

Loads for original .38-40 Winchester 73


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Q: I have an original Winchester Model 1873 rifle. I cannot buy ammunition for this rifle, but I have cases and a die set so I can load my own. Can you give me a recipe for loading these cases and the type of projectile to use? This rifle will be used for goats and pig hunting at close range. Would I use jacketed or lead projectiles?

Wayne Walton

 

Above:The .38-40 WCF makes a better pistol round than for a rifle. Pictured an original Colt SAA revolver in .38-40 chambering.

A. Seeing you have cases and dies for the .38-40 you should have no trouble assembling reloads. The cartridge dates back to 1874 and is misnamed. It was formed by necking down the .44-40 case to shoot.401 inch bullets. The .38-40 is a better pistol cartridge than it is a rifle cartridge, but is seeing increased use for Western action shooting. Winchester loads ammunition with a 180gn bullet at 1160fps – a load that should be safe in your old toggle-lock Model 1873. Your best bet for a jacketed bullet is the Hornady 180gn 10mm XTP which has a diameter of .400 inch. Loads will have to be held down for that old gun’s weak action. You should be very careful what loads you use in this gun. I’d recommend you get either a Lyman bullet mold No. 40143 or RCBS 40-180-CAS (a better bullet design) and mold your own lead bullets. You can use a 6.5gn charge of Unique for 1150fps. This stays inside the industry pressure standard of 14,000 C.U.P. Or you can use 6.5gn of ADI’s AP70N for about the same velocity.


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Nick Harvey

Nick Harvey is one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He has been writing about firearms and hunting for more than 65 years, has published many books and uncounted articles, and has travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject is unmatched. He has been Sporting Shooter's Gun Editor for longer than anyone can remember. Nick lives in rural NSW, Australia.

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