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I got the last of the stuff moved to the new house today. While I was putting all my toys back in the safe and my ammo in my ammo safe. I got to thining about what guns i have and the ammo I have for them and how much I had for each compaired to how much I actually shoot those particular guns. I never paid much attention to just how much I had or little of some I had.

I came across a box of winchester .38-40 rounds my dad gave me a long time ago. Its and old style box with 7 rounds in it that are far from safe to shoot. I forgot I even had them and how hard to find they must be even for a reloader provided that cal is even in production. Lord knows I have heard little about the 38.40 in my life much less ever seen or shot one. But its kinda cool having them. Has anyone any info on this .38-40 cal.

But i did realise that my stock is running low as a whole.
 

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Just old cowboy ammo 38-40 Win.
My buddy has one his dad gave him over 20 some years ago.
It held about 12 or so rounds in the tube.
Lever action & was a Winchester lever gun.

Fun gun to shot ground squirrels with. ;D
 

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If'n a feller was smart, he'd keep an ammo spreadsheet on the 'puter to keep track of ammo and reloading supplies. But like I said, if a feller was smart and I'm not. Moved all my reloading stuff to the SiL's and have bullets, primers,brass & powder all over the county now and still don't know how much loaded ammo we have for xxx caliber.
 

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First of all, It could be very possible depending on how old it is, it could be a collectors item if you do the research. Do not get rid of the box. The box may be the worth more money than the ammo, but with the two together, it would be worth more. It was a pretty common round back in the day so I wouldn't expect to retire to the Bahama's with it. Lots of cartridge collectors out there.
Here is what I found:

The .38-40 Winchester (.38 WCF)

By Chuck Hawks



This old timer dates back to 1874, when Winchester introduced it for their Model 1873 rifle. Winchester also chambered their later Model 92 lever action and Marlin offered their short action Model 1894 lever action in .38-40. The .38-40 was also known as, and head stamped, .38 WCF (Winchester Center Fire).

Around 1878 Colt followed Winchester's lead, introducing the cartridge in their famous Single Action Army (Peacemaker) revolver. The modest ballistics of the .38-40 make the cartridge more appropriate for a handgun than a rifle, despite its development for the latter, and it has generally enjoyed a good reputation as a self-defense load.

The .38-40 uses a short, rimmed, bottleneck case and a 180 grain round nose lead or jacketed soft point (JSP) bullet. Modern Winchester factory load rifle ballistics call for a muzzle velocity (MV) of 1160 fps and muzzle energy (ME) of 538 ft. lbs. with a JSP bullet. These .38-40 specs are derived in a 24" test barrel! This load is also safe for use in revolvers designed for smokeless powder.

At one time there was a high velocity factory load offered for the .38-40, intended for use only in rifles. This was loaded with a maximum charge of smokeless powder and had a catalog MV of 1775 fps. This ancient "+P" load was discontinued because shooters insisted in firing it in black powder revolvers and other unsuitable actions with disastrous results.

One peculiarity about the .38-40 is its nomenclature. ".38" is supposed to be its bullet diameter and "40" is supposed to represent the 40 grains of black powder that constituted the standard load. But, the cartridge actually uses .401" bullets.

The .38 WCF is based on a necked-down .44 WCF case. Other cartridge dimensions include a case length of 1.305", a rim diameter of .525", a rim thickness of .0650", and a shoulder angle of 6 degrees 48 minutes. Cartridge overall length is pegged at 1.592". The SAAMI maximum average pressure is only 14,000 cup, which explains the cartridge's poor performance.

The .38-40 a relatively difficult cartridge to reload due to its thin neck and the excessive chamber dimension variation typical of .38-40 rifles. The fact that most .38-40 rifles have weak actions that allow a lot of case stretch does not help. And new .38-40 cases are hard to find. The good old boys at Speer recommend trimming all .38-40 brass to a uniform length and separating the seating and crimping operations to avoid crumpled case necks.

The odd bullet diameter severely limits bullet availability. I know of no jacketed bullets available to the .38-40 reloader, who usually is reduced to casting his own lead bullets. RCBS can provide bullet molds.

Frankly, the .38-40 is a good cartridge for the modern shooter and reloader to avoid. But, for the shooter who already has a .38-40 rifle or revolver and wants to shoot it, reloading data for cast lead bullets can be found in the Speer Number 13 Reloading Manual.

That data shows that a maximum load of 7.4 grains of Unique powder will drive a 180 grain cast lead bullet at a MV of 846 fps from a 4.5" revolver barrel or 1275 fps from a 24" rifle barrel. A minimum charge of 6.4 grains of Unique is good for a MV of 776 fps from a revolver or 1162 fps from a rifle. The Speer technicians used Winchester cases and CCI 300 primers when developing these loads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thats some cool info. I'll have to look at the box to see if it has any dates stamped on it. These bullets are lead flat nose with no jacketing.
 

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Thats some cool info. I'll have to look at the box to see if it has any dates stamped on it. These bullets are lead flat nose with no jacketing.
In my research I found it to still be a round in use in the UK where reloading components are available.
 
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