Classic Ammo – The .38-55 Winchester

.38-55 Winchester
38-55 Winchester.JPG
Type Rifle
Place of origin United States
Production history
Designer Ballard Rifle & Cartridge Company
Designed 1884
Case type Rimmed straight
Bullet diameter .3775 in (9.59 mm)
Neck diameter .392 in (10.0 mm)
Base diameter .421 in (10.7 mm)
Rim diameter .506 in (12.9 mm)
Case length 2.085 in (53.0 mm)
Overall length 2.510 in (63.8 mm)
Rifling twist 1 turn in 18″
Maximum CUP 30,000 CUP
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
255 gr (17 g) 1,321 ft/s (403 m/s) 988 ft⋅lbf (1,340 J)
255 gr (17 g) 1,593 ft/s (486 m/s) 1,437 ft⋅lbf (1,948 J)
Source(s): Whelen, Townsend. The American Rifle. The Century Co.: 1918, p. 272.

The .38-55 Winchester cartridge (actually .3775 caliber) was introduced in 1876 by Ballard.

It was used by Marlin Firearms from 1875 on for various single-shot target rifles and their 1893 lever action rifle. It was later offered by Winchester in its Model 1894.

Winchester continued to use the round in various rifles until about 1940, and also used it in a few commemorative editions of rifles since then.

In addition, Marlin offered it in some 336s and it was used in non-lever action rifles such as the Remington-Lee bolt-action and Colt’s New Lightning pump-action rifles.[1][2]

A modernized version of the cartridge debuted in 1978 as the .375 Winchester, designed with higher pressures and to be used in modern firearms only.

It is not safe to fire factory .375 Win ammunition in rifles chambered in .38-55, especially in older examples. The brass is very similar (shorter by approx. 1 mm), but using modern, higher pressure .375 loads in an older rifle could cause serious injury to the shooter.[3]

The .38-55 is used to hunt black bear and deer at moderate ranges, and is also used in cowboy action shooting side matches.

See also


  1. Jump up^ Barnes, Frank C. (5 October 2012). Cartridges of the World: A Complete Illustrated Reference for More Than 1,500 Cartridges. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-4402-3059-2. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  2. Jump up^ Sapp, Rick (2007). Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms. Gun Digest Books. p. 288. ISBN 978-0-89689-534-8.
  3. Jump up^ Thomas Henshaw (1993). The History of Winchester Firearms 1866-1992. Academic Learning Company LLC. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-8329-0503-2.

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