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Winchester’s XPR Renegade Long Range SR 300 WSM Part II Not just for long range shooting

01/03/2021 The Winchester XPR Renegade Long Range SR is a… pleasant and rewarding firearm to shoot. Certainly a couple of adjectives I don’t often use.The combination of a little bit of heft, a good fitting Grayboe stock and a SilencerCo Omega 36M took the edge off of magnum report and recoil in a major way….

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Ruger’s Precision Rifle in 338 Lapua Part II Enjoyable range time

I find myself at a crossroads in life. On one hand, I really want to build a’65 Falcon with a 460 CI Boss Block Ford and race on Street Outlaws. On the other hand, I want to make a sandwich, but the kitchen is so far from the sofa. Living in a state of cognitive…

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Please either Sign inorJoin Real Guns.

Ruger’s Precision Rifle in 338 Lapua Part I One of a number of excellent calibers

01/10/2021

The best way to improve a skill is to work at mastering associated extreme challenges. Practicing with a 44 magnum revolver makes a 357 magnum revolver’s recoil mild by comparison and easy to control. Extending shooting distances while getting in practice, beyond those anticipated within a planned application, sharpens marksmanship skills.

Extreme long range shooting provides an opportunity to sharpen marksmanship skills by amplifying the product of errors originating with a shooter and/or gear. The amplification makes it easier to isolate and analyze each problem and render appropriate solutions. Refinement of shooting skills and gear improves performance in long range competition, but improvement also carries over into hunting, recreational target shooting and competing at more moderate distances.

Would it not be terrific to have routine access to a 1,500 meter rifle range with interim 50 meter target positions…. and a truck full of ammunition? Or, if you are like me, a 1,640 yard range as metric is not my natural language. Change comes slowly to some. Twice as slow for me.

The Ruger Precision Rifle

In long range shooting, when a bullet enters a transonic zone and transitions from supersonic to subsonic velocity, it becomes destabilized. During that event, the bullet’s ballistic coefficient diminishes as the bullet begins to pitch and yaw; bullet nose moving up and down relative to the line of slight and bullet nose moving side to side relative to the line of flight respectively.

The combination of a Ruger Precision Rifle and the 338 Lapua Magnum push the onset of the transonic zone out to 1,400 meters. The combination is a pragmatic solution to a math problem, an engineering group’s expression of what it would take to push a 250 grain bullet to 3,000 fps and with enough retained velocity to have an effective range in excess of 1,400 meters.

Not to be typecast, the Ruger Precision Rifle is also available in: 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 308 Winchester, 300 Winchester Magnum, 300 PRC, as well as the 338 Lapua Magnum, so the Ruger Precision Rifle by chamber choice can be tailored to a specific application and none of them are slackers. The approximate supersonic to subsonic transition range for popular match ammunition, expressed in meters, in order of cartridges listed: 1200, 1300, 1350, 950, 1300, 1500, 1400.

The ergonomically designed Ruger Precision Rifle provides a high degree of reliable mechanical precision, while the cartridge selection provides the optimal ballistics to the shooter’s preference and for the application to be served. The subject firearm is the Ruger Precision Rifle chambered for the 338 Lapua Magnum.

Real Guns has previously evaluated Ruger Precision Rifle versions in 22 LR rimfire, 5.56 NATO, 243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC, 308 Winchester, 300 PRC. The 6.5 and 300 PRC were the most rewarding to work with because of the newness of the cartridges and the project handloading component. The 338 Lapua version, even though a mature cartridge, offered many of the same opportunities.

Ruger Precision Rifle
Manufacturer Ruger, New Hampshire
Model # 18080
Type Bolt Action 70° Lift – Inline
Caliber 338 Lapua Magnum
Mag Capacity As Supplied 5 Round
Barrel Length 26.0″ 3/4″x24 thread
Rifling 1:9.375 5R
Receiver Material 4140 CM
Lower Magazine Halves 7075-T6 Type III Anodized
Weight – Nominal 15.2 Lbs
Overall Length 42.25″ – 45.75″
Folded Length 40.35″
Stock Folding, Adj. Comb & Pull
Comb Height Adjustment +0.75
Comb Fore/Aft Adjustment 3.5″
Length of pull 12″ to 16.2″
Sights None
Scope Mount 30 MOA Picatinny Rail
Trigger – Ruger Marksman Adj. 2.25 to 5.0 Lbs
Safety Reversible, Rotating – 2 Position
MSRP $2099
l

The Ruger Precision Rifle evolution

The Precision Rifle was a mid 2015 phenomena. Introduced as a in-line recoil path, bolt-action rifle, 1,000 yard hitter, in 308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor and 243 Win. Others followed, each differing in configuration as an accommodation to caliber.

Date of Introduction Caliber Barrel
Length”
Twist
Rate
Nominal
Weight Lbs
2015 243 Winchester 26 1:7.7 11.0
2015 6.5 Creedmoor 24 1:8 10.6
2015 308 Winchester 20 1:10 9.7
2017 5.56 NATO 20 1:7 9.8
2018 338 Lapua 26 1:9.375 15.2
2018 300 Winchester Magnum 26 1:9 15.2
2019 6.5 PRC 26 1:8 11.0
2019 300 PRC 26 1:9 15.2

 

A mid 2016 upgrade to existing models, changed the configuration to a handguard without a Picatinny rail to provide more clearance for scopes with large objective lens bells and a wider flat for more secure bipod mounting.  Additionally, a Ruger Hybrid Brake was added, along with an upgraded anodized aluminum bolt shroud.

In Mid 2017, a 5.56 NATO version was added and the an AI magazine system was adopted.

At the tail end of 2018, 338 Lapua Magnum and 300 Winchester Magnum chambers were added to the Ruger Precision Rifle line up. These models also received a heavy contour barrel with a Ruger Precision Magnum Muzzle Brake and revised handguard.

In April 2019 both 6.5 PRC and 300 PRC versions were added. Both are configured with a 26″ barrel and Magnum Muzzle Brake, however, the 6.5 PRC has a medium contour barrel versus a heavy contour for the 300 PRC.

A couple of quick points…

The Ruger Precision Rifle’s mechanical components and assemblies have previously been covered extensively and exhaustively. For anyone interested in that level of hardware detail disassembled, please see, “A Ruger Precision Rifle In 6.5 Creedmoor Part I” which addressed the barrel nut system, handguard mounting, buttstock and hinge system, receiver extension, trigger, etc. etc.

The 338 Lapua and 300 PRC versions of the Precision rifle are fitted with a heavy barrel contour, 0.875″ muzzle diameter, and a Ruger Precision® Rifle Magnum Muzzle Brake.The brake is very effective in reducing felt recoil and controlling muzzle jump and the four set screws along the top permit refining the way a specific firearm/shooter responds to muzzle rise with removal of any or all increase down force on the rifle’s muzzle. I am old, so I have been misinformed that a shooter must learn the characteristics and personality of a firearm, then learn how to adapt to shoot it well. For those who are trying to tame a firearm to conform to their personal attributes and personalities… well, here ya go.

A great source of entertainment can be found in reading social media approaches to brake removal. People are torching the brake, soaking it in hot water, using an impact wrench, etc. An alternative is to open the manual to page 18 and following the simple instructions. With the rifle checked for empty and the bolt removed and facing the front of the brake, put a large screw driver or similar through the brake vents so the brake body can be held in place. Using a 1 1/6″ open end wrench… not 7/8″ indicated in the instructions, turn the jam nut clockwise about a quarter of a turn, just enough to take the pressure off of the threads. Use the large screw driver to turn the brake assembly counterclockwise and both the brake and jam nut will come off together. How to hold the rifle while loosening the brake/jam nut assembly? My approach is to lay the rifle flat on a clean carpeted floor, sit on it at the action, and unscrew the brake. Other than some irregular surface discomfort, butt wise, no damage to the firearm. Yes, it is amazing that I can expend 300 words obsessing over issues surrounding a muzzle brake.

The 338 Lapua Magnum and 300 PRC versions of the Ruger Precision Rifle receiver rails have a 30 MOA downward cant, as opposed to the 20 MOA cant on other versions. The intent is to bias toward a raised muzzle so a scope does not run out of elevation adjustment when long range shooting. The rail is secured with 8-40 fasteners to better stand up to heavy optics under recoil.

The folding buttstock serves a number of purposes. Because this is an inline recoil rifle with an extended action and a long bolt, there must be a way to move the buttstock out of the way when removal of the bolt is required. So Ruger put it on a stout, solid locking hinge so the buttstock can be folded out of the way. The Ruger Precision Rifle accepts AR standard buttstocks and grips.

The Ruger Precision rifle’s bolt is a push feed design with three locking lugs and a 70º lift. The bolt body is one piece and, like the rifle’s receiver, CNC from pre-hardened 4140 Chrome Moly steel. Dual cocking cams provide additional mechanical advantage, which reduces cocking effort on bolt lift. The body is full diameter, the same as the circumference of the lugs, for added strength.The bolt handle has industry standard 5/16″x24 threads, permitting the use of any from a broad selection of aftermarket tactical bolt handles.

Pull length and comb height and position are adjustable by lifting up on the quick release cam levers and sliding associated surfaces to position of preference. No, “Cant Adj” is not the same as “Can’t Adj”. The pad is recoil absorbing and it can be canted, rotated, left or right 9º. All of the camming latches and QD attachment points can be swapped to the opposite side to suit preference.

Prepping for handloads

Previously working with the 338 Lapua cartridge and a bolt action rifle, the emphasis for handloads was for target work and bullets were selected accordingly. As the 338 Lapua also makes for an excellent big game cartridge, I am leaning toward working up handloads with expanding bullets suitable for hunting. The Ruger Precision Rifle’s high degree of accuracy, weight and stability make it an ideal platform for handload development. As a starting point and point of comparison…

Best Zero Results – 338 Lapua 250 Grain Match
Near-Zero – yds. 20 Mid Range – yds. 184
Far-Zero – yds. 338 Max Ordinate – in. +6.0
Point Blank – yds. 346
Range
Yards 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000
Velocity – fps 3000 2838 2681 2529 2383 2241 2105 1974 1849 1728 1613
Energy – ft.-lbs. 4995 4469 3988 3550 3151 2788 2460 2164 1897 1657 1443
Momentum – lbs-sec 107 101 96 90 85 80 75 71 66 62 58
Path – in. -1.50 4.38 5.93 2.64 -6.08 -20.94 -42.73 -72.36 -110.93 -159.68 -220.10
Drift – in. 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Time Of Flight – sec. 0.00 0.10 0.21 0.33 0.45 0.58 0.72 0.86 1.02 1.19 1.37

 

Best Zero Results – 338 Winchester Mag 250 Grain
Near-Zero – yds. 18 Mid Range – yds. 160
Far-Zero – yds. 293 Max Ordinate – in. +6.0
Point Blank – yds. 300
Range
Yards 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000
Velocity – fps 2660 2460 2270 2088 1916 1753 1599 1460 1334 1227 1138
Energy – ft.-lbs. 3927 3359 2859 2421 2038 1705 1419 1183 988 835 719
Momentum – lbs-sec 95 88 81 75 68 63 57 52 48 44 41
Path – in. -1.50 4.87 5.48 -0.66 -14.80 -38.43 -73.42 -122.03 -186.98 -271.50 -379.15
Drift – in. 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Time Of Flight – sec. 0.00 0.12 0.24 0.38 0.53 0.70 0.88 1.07 1.29 1.52 1.78

A note on the ethics of long range hunting…

In 2019, J.C. Jarrell set the light Bench Rest 1,000 yard world record, 5 shots in the bullseye, a 2.83″ group. The following weekend, Jarrell put 10 shots inside of 6″, 6 of them inside 3″. Some time ago, I took a shot at a huge buck, 500 yards out… which turned out to be a relatively small deer at a much closer 275 yards. I was young, it was cold, I was hungry. I’ve since become much better at judging distances… and deer.

I do not know Jarrell… I don’t know a lot of people, but if he and I were in Alaska during hunting season, and stumbled on a herd of Caribou 600 yards out, I would not want to take a shot because I am not a skilled shooter at those ranges and I would not want to expend ammunition on a miss, or wounding an animal. Jarrell would have the credentials to attempt such a shot, I would not. In my opinion, it would be ethical for him to take the shot, it would be less than ethical for me.

The folks who burst into tears at the mention of a 300 plus yard shot, probably do not have the skill to take a 200 yard shot and are trying to judge all others by their level of limited competency. Often the same folks who pat the hide of a downed deer and thank it for giving itself up as food. Which is, of course, very silly because the deer did not volunteer to provide the hunter with a meal. If the deer could talk he would be cussing himself for being too slow to flee and would be telling our grateful hunter, “%##@&!!!”.

In summation, if a hunter has made his bones putting 5 shots into a 2.83″ group at 1,000 yards, he can make his decision to take a long shot within his range of competency. If you are like me, stick to smaller deer and shorter distances and lie like a rug when you tell the “longest shot” story.

The 338 Lapua in context… Which distortion of history would you like?

Yes, the 338 Lapua cartridge is a product of military origins, as are the 45-70 Government, 30-40 Krag, 30-06 Springfield, 308 Winchester, 5.56 NATO disguised as the 223 Remington, etc., etc.. They are all cartridges that have all been used for sniping, automatic weapons of the day and for general issue small arms, however, all have also made the successful transition to civilian applications.

As a young man, the 338 Winchester was the round that was too heavy for deer, but just about right for elk and big bear. It was also quickly discounted for use on any lesser game and slapped with the label of too hard of a kicker for most. Oddly enough it is still described in such a fashion. The 338 Winchester is based on a shortened and necked down version of the 375 H&H.

The 340 Weatherby is consistent with Roy Weatherby’s “more is always better” approach in that it is based upon a full length 375 H&H. Perhaps because it was affixed to the expensive Weatherby Mark V it never really achieved rock star status. It was chambered in the Mark V Sporter, a really good package for under $1,600, but ammunition is expensive, even for the reloader and velocity is only 100 – 125 fps greater than the 338 Winchester Magnum.

The 338 Lapua is based on a shortened version of the 416 Rigby. While the case head is 0.007″ larger in diameter than the Weatherby body above the belt, it is also 0.200″ approximately shorter than the 416 Rigby, which surrendered a good deal of powder capacity.

The 338 Remington Ultra Mag was, unfortunately, a part of a very high performance group of then new cartridges which included the 7mm Ultra Mag, 300 Ultra Mag, 338 Ultra Mag, and the 375 Ultra Mag. They were introduced just as Winchester was convincing the gun buying public that short was better. The 338 RUM is a terrific cartridge. I’ve owned them as a heavy barrel target rifle and as a shop built sporter on a Remington 700 action. The big down side is action length required and the lack of room for heavy bullets without surrendering case capacity.

The 338-378 Weatherby is a bucket full of smokeless powder and able to propel a heavy 300 grain bullet in a convincing fashion. I found shooting my Weatherby Accumark… invigorating and it remained so for the ten years it was actively put to work. It just seemed there was more work that could be done with 137 grains of powder held by each round.

My point is, don’t get caught up in the “What are you going to do with that ginormous 338 Lapua? It is meant for use as artillery and dinosaur culling!…!!” Is not. It is a moderate selection for perforating at 1,000 yards.

338 Magnum Cartridge Comparison
Date of Origin Bullet Diameter “ Case
Capacity
H2O
SAAMI Pressure KPSI Parent Case
338 Winchester Magnum 1958 0.338 86 64.0 375 H&H
340 Weatherby Magnum 1962 0.338 100 62.5 375 H&H
338 Lapua Magnum 1983 0.338 108 65.0 416 Rigby
338 Remington Ultra Magnum 2002 0.338 110 65.0 404 Jeffery
338-378 Weatherby Magnum 1999 0.338 137 63.8 378 Weatherby
*CIP registration 4400 bar

An now, a short brake

Yes, I know “break”. So some bullets will be selected, powder will be sought and primers will be secured. Hopefully, they will play nice together and some handload data will be the result. I like the hardware. It is beefy, aesthetically pleasing and well done on assembly. If I am bouncing around, I apologize. I am not a long range shooter by inclination, but there is a potential even for me with the Ruger Precision Rifle and I am trying to decide which version.

It might be that it is a rifle that is good for handload development; consistently accurate so one less variable in the process to worry about. It could be a challenge for me to engage long range shooting, to learn more about the influence of nature on shots at a distance; wind, temperature, varied elevation, and the dogged persistence of gravity. So I am writing, but mostly thinking aloud. Be back soon.

Winchester’s Model 1892 Carbine Part I Another baby Browning

Not going for melodrama here, but raking leaves in New England is worse than a Sisyphus bout with inclined, repetitive boulder rolling. The beautiful fiery red and golden leaves of autumn, drop dead, turn a very ordinary brown and begin to fall, and continue to fall, for a couple of months until the trees are barren. Leaves fall in the woods, they fall on the lawn, they fall in the garden, they definitely fall in the gutters and, then, they must be removed.

My wife and I dump leaves into a shredder, we run them over with a lawn mower, we blow them around with a leaf blower, we rake them until the lawn and gardens are rid of them and they are piled high behind the woodland treeline. Then we go inside and have dinner, as the wind kicks up and returns every single leaf to its exact original position and orientation. It is 762 B.C. all over again. In the morning, I’ll walk outside with a cup of coffee in one hand, shake the other fist at the sky skyward to express my displeasure with nature, before resolutely beginning raking anew.  Yes, “anew”. No, not “a gnu”.

Short of a cooperative black hole, nothing will stem the incoming tide of leaves moving from woods to lawn. However, I do wonder why the tide never goes out, moving the leaves from lawn to woods. All we can do is wait for heavy snow. It won’t solve the problem, but it will hide the problem, and isn’t effectively hiding a problem as good as a solution?

I am struggling with what to write that is worthy of this really nice firearm. A Winchester wrapped in nostalgia with performance potential to spare. So I am just stalling. I spent the past half hour trying to decide if I like Lucinda Williams’s 1988 version of “Change The Locks” or the 1996 Tom Petty version and I am wondering if anyone else still uses a mechanical pencil. Are you hungry, or is that just me?

I like Tom Petty, but Williams is just so much more….” And I love mechanical pencils and I do like Lucinda Williams, and Zombie Bob has more than earned a spot on my desk, holding a pencil at the ready. OK. You guys are no help, so I’ve mentally cracked my knuckles, adjusted my chair and I will poke at this keyboard until something comes out of it…

History. I’ll take “Things not taught in schools anymore” for $200, Alex

The Winchester Model 1892 represents only one of a number of Winchester’s Thomas Grey Bennett and Browning’s John Moses Browning collaborations. T.G. Bennett’s forte was manufacturing. Browning’s forte was exceptional, manufacturable firearm designs. Their working relationship was based on mutual respect, allowing it to endure for nearly twenty years.

As the story goes, Bennett needed successor for the Model 1873 successor, a scaled down version of Browning’s Model 1886 design, chambered for cartridges similar in size to the 44-40 WCF. Bennett created the incentives of bonuses to encourage Browning; $10,000 for design delivery in three months, $15,000 for delivery in two months. Browning countered with $20,000 if done within 30 days, and proceeded to meet that objective.

During the 50 years that followed, over a million examples of the Model 1892 were produced. Initially, the Model 1892 was offered in 44-40 WCF, 38-40 WCF and 32-20 WCF. In 1895, the then new 25-20 WCF was added. In 1936, and for two years that followed, the Model 1892 was chambered for the 218 Bee on special order.

The Model 1892 was produced with barrels as long as 30″, the Musket, and as short as 14″, the Trapper. Special order barrel lengths went as long as 36″. Tubular magazines were available in 1/2, 2/3 and full length. There were round barrel and octagon barrel options and rifles customized in various grades to suit. Not only was the Model 1892 a success in America, it was also well received in South America, Australia and the Far East.*

The Model 1892, at least in carbine form, was produced until 1941. However, derivative models such as the Models 53 and 65 continued on through 1947. Limited edition appearances of the revived Model 1892 occurred in 1997 and in 2006, resurrected for distributor and show specials. Full modern production resumed in 2011.

Some of the early limited production runs came from the Winchester facility in Connecticut, like my 90’s vintage 45 Colt Winchester Ranger that was sold through the western U.S. Big 5 retail chain. However, in 1995 Winchester Model 1892 production began at the Miroku firearms company in Kochi, Japan. In 2006, after the Connecticut Winchester facility closed, Miruku became the sole producer of Winchester lever action firearms for special runs and then continuous production.

 Chambers, then and now…

Cartridge Bullet
Weight
Rated
FPS
Max
CUP (K)
.44/40 WCF 200 1190 15
.38/40 WCF 180 1160 16
.32/20 WCF 115 900 16
.25-20 WCF 86 1673 16
357 Magnum 158 1600 45
44 Magnum
240
1350
40
45 Colt 255 915 14

The first four cartridges were included at some point within early production. All were originally black powder, all are bottle neck rimmed design and all were chambered in rifles and handguns. Interesting that none seemed to suffer from the cartridge setback in revolvers issue experienced by cartridges like the 22 Jet. But then, the 22 Jet bottleneck form is much more pronounced and chamber pressure was 37kpsi +/-. More than twice the level of the old black powder cartridges. More later, on why the 357 Mag was not chambered in the last stages of Model 1892 production. The 44 Magnum did not come along until 1956. The 45 Colt cartridge carried the wrong brand for promotion and the 44-40 WCF already outperformed the then very anemic 45 Colt.

All of the modern chambers are for straight walled and rimmed cartridge. By SAAMI standards, the 357 Magnum and 44 Magnum are comparatively high pressure. The 45 Colt pressure reference is misleading as the cartridge is commonly loaded at or near 44 Magnum pressures by specialty ammunition companies in the absence of a SAAMI homolgated 45 Colt +P version.

Mighty Mouse

I used the term Mighty Mouse to infer that the Winchester Model 1892 is very compact, but also very strong, but I am not sure if anyone still remembers Mighty Mouse. With a presence from 1942 through 1961, and only two minor attempted revivals since, too many people may be wondering what muscular rodents have to do with firearms. My point is, the Model 1892 is a very tough firearm. Based on the large, stout Model 1886 design chambered for cartridges like the 45-90 WCF, the Model 1892 is more than enough gun for any of its historical and current chambers.

The rectangular breechbolt rails ride in close fitting slots cut into the thick interior receiver walls. The breechbolt runs on bore center and is controlled in all directions. Longitudinal movement is controlled by the lever when being cycled, and locked into battery by twin locking bolts engaging the breechbolt when moved into battery. It is a great deal of mechanical containment for what are essentially moderate power cartridges.

Semi-Buckhorn rear sights and Marble Arms gold bead front sight are a combination that works well for the Model 1892 and its intended applications. The sights are dovetail mounted with a 0.040″ rear half aperture and a 0.125″ front bead.Windage is drift adjustable and elevation is adjusted with a rear sight stepped… elevator.

The Model 1892 is not drilled and tapped for optical peep sights. However, various aftermarket suppliers make adapters that replace the rear sight with a peep sight or mount for red dot and optical sights. There are also gunsmith fit sights and scope mounts.

The open sights, even with my diminished eyeball IQ are good for 100 yard shots on deer. The “U” notch rear and front bright bead make for solid critical alignment. Their battery will not die at an inopportune time, their reticle won’t fall and their adjustment will stay put.

Hammers that rebound and safeties that slide…

The Model 1892 has a rebounding hammer, a mechanism intended to prevent the hammer from making contact with the gun’s firing pin unless the trigger has been intentionally depressed. For relics like me, there is a missing familiar “click – click” when cocking the hammer. That has been replaced by just one click and either full cock and fully rearward, or rebound hammer position, down, but not resting on the firing pin as seen below.

The normal rifle carry position is the hammer in the rebound position (inset) with the tang safety on. After chambering a round, the hammer can still be lowered from full cock to rebound position by following the detailed procedures outlined in the product user’s manual. The tang safety is smooth, but positive in actuation and a welcome alternative to a Frankenstein, cross bolt through the neck safety.

The 357 Magnum

 

Winchester Model 1892 Carbine

Origin Japan
Manufacturer B.C. Miroku
Item # 534177137
Type Lever Action
Caliber 357 Magnum
Mag Capacity 10
Barrel Length 20″
Rifling 1:18.75″
Nominal Weight 6 lbs
Overall Length 37 1/2″
Stock Black Walnut
Hardware Blued Steel
Length of Pull 12 3/4″
Drop at comb 1 1/8″
Drop at heel 1 3/4″
Sights R – F Semi-Buckhorn – Post
D&T for Scope No
Trigger Pull 5 lbs. 7 oz.
Safety Tang – Sliding
MSRP $1,069.99

Elmer Keith and cohorts seemed to make a habit out of stuffing way too much powder in revolver cartridges. However, a big personality and many places for his thoughts to be heard, often resulted in major manufacturers making his forward thinking into product. In this case, the 357 Magnum was the manifestation of Elmer Keith and Phil Sharpe pushing the notion of high pressure 38 Special loads and S&W’s Major Wesson’s desire to make a safe product.

The factory cartridge was introduced by Smith & Wesson for revolver applications in 1935. Finessed and developed by Winchester for Smith & Wesson, the hot loaded 38 Special became the high pressure and longer 357 Magnum. As is often the practice, extending a case is done to prevent chambering the high pressure loads in a lesser cartridge chamber, not to gain powder capacity. Case length went from the 1.155″ length of the 38 Special to the 1.290″ case length 357 Magnum. At the same time, chamber pressure was increased from the 17 kpsi of the 38 Special and 20 kpsi of the 38 Special +P to the 35 kpsi of the 357 Magnum.

So twelve years lapsed from the time of the 357 Magnum’s introduction until the Model 1892’s production came to a close, during which time the chamber could have been added, but was not. The omission could have been concern over the 357 Magnum’s high 35kpsi chamber pressure. The omission could have been due to contractual agreement restrictions between S&W and Winchester. Omission could have been due to a lack of market interest in a rifle chambered for the 357 Magnum which was primarily associated with handguns.

A late boomer

Back in those days, “New” did not sell as well as it does today. Firearms were used more routinely for putting food on the table and keeping real and metaphorical wolves away from the door. “Reliable!”, “Dependable!” and “Available Everywhere!” made for better advertising keywords/key terms than “New and but not found at your local general or hardware store”.

Compounding the “New” problem was the fact that the 357 Magnum was factory loaded only with a 158 grain cast bullet, causing the 357 Magnum to develop a reputation for barrel leading. In the late 60’s general availability of jacketed bullets eliminated that handicap and the 357 Magnum passed into wide acceptance and popularity. By then, the Model 1892 had long since gone out of production*.

But Joe, the Model 1892 does not look like a survival rifle…

The Winchester Model 1892 is a perfect companion for a 357 Magnum revolver as, together, they can cover a lot of ground. Where a 4″ barrel revolver is compact, and easy carry, the 20″ barrel rifle increases power and, subsequently, range. Like the rifle, the revolver has good power, Like the revolver, the rifle is compact and light in weight. Both utilize the same compact, light to carry cartridge, drawing on a common resource inventory.

Yes, I do own firearms that defy ammunition supply or require manual cartridge fabrication. Both wildcat cartridges and cartridges that were, and remain, a good idea but never achieved popularity. Personally, I do believe the 8x56R Mannlicher Hungarian will be making a strong comeback… possibly pulling along the 7mm-30RG wildcat. But what happens if I find myself without brass stock, forming tools, a machine shop and ten hours to produce each round?

When planning for emergencies and concerns over supply shortages, having two firearms that share the same ammunition, especially a popular type of ammunition and common reloading components, offers a major advantage. Of course, that is as long as the cartridge can get the job done. In Maine, the job would be self defense and putting food on the table: small game, wild turkey, black bear, deer, and moose.

 

Cartridge Bullet
Grains
4″ MV
FPS
4″
ME
ft/lbs
20″ MV
FPS
20″
ME
ft/lbs
Barnes XPB 140 1397 607
1878 1097
Remington SWC 158 1310 602
1801 1138
HMS Bear Load 180 1180 557
1593 1015

The 357 Magnum would not be my first choice for medium and large game hunting, but if I needed something that was easy on hardware, easy to feed and would be used up close, the 357 Magnum would definitely work for me. The 140 grain Barnes expands, but holds together at both handgun and rifle velocities. The Remington 158 grain is not hard cast and will expand and penetrate on deer size game. The 180 grain hard cast exhibits minimal expansion, but penetrates deep and will break bones.

There are seventy seven factory loads for the 357 Magnum, representing twenty brands, to choose from. Within that population, there are fourteen types of bullet, in weights from 55 grain to 180 grains. For the handloader, there are sixty one bullets, a composite from fifteen manufacturers; cast, composite, jacketed, and monolith construction. Bullet weights range from 93 grains to 200 grains.

The Winchester Model 1892 and the 38 Special

The Winchester Model 1892 is stamped 357 Magnum only. The Winchester manual states only used ammunition as marked on the firearm’s barrel.  Yes, handguns chambered for the 357 Magnum routinely digest lower pressure, smaller of stature 38 Special ammunition, but those revolvers are loaded by hand, or with a speed loader, and empties removed by ejector. The Winchester must move the ammunition from its tubular magazine to a carrier in the receiver, then as the lever is closed, the ramped carrier raises the nose of the bullet to the opening of the chamber as the bolt moves to battery and chambers the round.

The cartridge sits on the carrier at an upward angle to the bore centerline. Closing the lever, the bolt pushes on the cartridge rim and pushes the cartridge forward and upward. Right – The longer 357 Magnum bullet enters the chamber before the cartridge rises high enough to bump the chamber opening and the bullet ogive guides the cartridge into the chamber as the bolt drives it home.  Left – Some shorter 38 Special cartridges will rise to intersect the chamber wall before the bullet enters the chamber, blocking the cartridge from entry.

Officially, the Winchester Model 1892 is a 357 Magnum only. Unofficially, it is possible to pick and choose ammo that will work reliably.

Left to right – Winchester 38 Special 130 grain FMJ target ammo will hang at the meplat and Remington 38 Special 110 grain JHP will do the same. Hornady Custom 38 Special 158 grain XTP with a more sharply tapered ogive feeds without a hitch. HSM Bear Load 180 grain also feed cleanly.

Personally, I do not shoot 38 Special ammunition in my 357 Magnums and I do not own, at the moment, any 38 Special firearms.

Additionally, I do not often shoot factory ammunition. Subsequently, it is easier to use 357 Magnum brass universally and light load if I feel the need for this type of cartridge. Which solves the 38 Special / 357 Magnum issue.

Overall Impressions

The Winchester Model 1892 feels like a Winchester built in the 1950’s… and that is a good thing. The action is slick in operation, ejection is positive and filling the tubular magazine is a straight forward process. Additionally, the straight cut stock and forearm are slender and unadorned with caps. By comparison, my recently produced Model 1895 Marlin’s stock is bulbous and overly decoratively checkered, the action is rough and I leave half of my thumb in the loading port at the range. My old Marlin, 1957 is closer to the Winchester in weight, form and finish. Winchester did a good job of keeping the Model 1892 close to the original.

The days of angle eject are gone, but ejected empties fly over the head with plenty of room to spare. The receive is not drilled and tapped for a scope or peep sight but, as noted earlier, there are aftermarket sights and mounts designed to fit into the rear sight dovetail that will accommodate any type of metallic or optical sight. As an honest rifle, and hunting within range of the rifle – cartridge combination, what comes on the rifle will easily get the job done.

For all intent and purposes, the rifle is recoil free. It is also light and well bounced, making tracking to a moving target realistic. Noise levels are low… a nice change of pace after a 280 AI project. Trigger pull measured 4.5 lbs with minimal creep. The Model 1892 is a lot of fun to shoot, as suggested by the empty ammo boxes laying around. So I am going to grab that empty brass, assemble some handloads and see if we can’t wrap up a Part II.

 

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