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Title: Me and a .25-20 Contender carbine
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35remington
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Registered: 03/09/2004
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(Date Posted:03/13/2004 03:14:22)
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Gentlemen, as always, any comments you might care to make will be appreciated. I always wanted a .25-20 barrel for my Contender Carbine, but when Bullberry got up to a 4 month wait for their barrels I decided to give the T/C Custom Shop a try. All of their barrels in whatever .25 caliber they make are 1-10 twist. I initially thought this was too fast and was resigned to a wait for Bullberry. After reading the posts on the .25-20 on Shooters I figured 1-10 might not be such a bad idea and got it from the Custom Shop. I have heard criticism of T/C? work, including that the barrels are not stress relieved, etc. etc. Well, I gotta get my feet wet sometime. This I count as a learning experience. The barrel measures .2585 just in front of the chamber, narrowing to .258 further down the tube. I have two moulds for it, the RCBS 85 grain cowboy and the Lyman 70gr. 257420 GC. The RCBS will cast any alloy you pour into it and give useable, well filled out bullets. The Lyman design has smaller bands and refuses to fill out unless the alloy has a boatload of tin. I?e taken to using linotype in it exclusively. These run around .2605.?I have a .259?sizing die, but generally use it only for the Lyman bullet. The RCBS mould casts from .259-.260 depending upon the alloy. My die set is a Lyman, purchased mainly for the ??die. A Redding neck die does most of the resizing work. The Lyman full length sizer squeezes down the neck quite a bit and doesn? get used much. Lubricant for the bullets has been either 50/50 or Lee liquid alox when I get lazy. It has been an interesting experience right from the start. I started with jacketed bullets (sorry) and found that while it shot at least passably with the 86 Remington and a little better with the 75 Speer (1.1 to 1.3 inches at 50 yards) it really likes the 60 grain Hornady, and about any suitable powder will shoot into around .65 inch at 50 yards. Not a bad start, but only the 60 grain Hornady has usable accuracy at 100 yards plus for small critters. With about 500 jacketed bullets down the tube I started after the lead stuff. I made a few mistakes early on. First, the 257420 out of wheelweight metal did not group at all at normal 25-20 speeds-say 1600 to 2000 fps. I am an avid small game hunter, and I had visions of maybe trying an expanding lead bullet on a coyote at calling distance. Well, the only thing that expanded was the group size, to the point where the groups with higher velocity could not account for all the bullets fired at 50 yards. Not much of a start. Moderate loads using the ?ast bullet?powders like 4759, 5744, 4198 and 4227 did not show much accuracy at 50 yards either when I used the RCBS Cowboy bullet. When I say moderate, I mean 1400-1500 fps out of wheelweights or linotype. The only loads I got to shoot even passably, like 1.5 inches at 50 yards, were light charges of fast powders, like 3.0 grains 231 or Red Dot at around 1100-1200 fps. Bumping up the charge to 4 grains Unique resulted in another of those ?here did all the shots go??experiences. I recovered a few of the fired bullets and noted pretty severe gascutting of the bottom bands. The baseband measured .253-.254?on some of the bullets. I started afresh with the decision to protect the plainbase bullet with something, so started experimenting with faster powders and buffer/Dacron. Now, I know some of you don? pair buffer/fiber with fast powder, so if you feel the need to comment, please do so. I have had some experiences with buffer with the K-Hornet that gave me pause with light charges of fast powder, but not so in the .25-20. I have fired hundreds, near a thousand, of these loads over the chronograph and have never noted even one abnormal reading. Velocity spreads have been low and velocity of buffered/fibered loads vs. unbuffered loads are identical. I settled on 3.0 (later 3.1 grains of my newer lot) of W231 with the RCBS as giving the velocity I wanted for a small game load, 1150 fps. I found that buffer and a vegetable fiber wad (.030) gave better accuracy than the buffer alone. I couldn? see why that would be so and I recovered a few bullets. Each had a small mound of buffer still attached to the base of the bullet, even though I had taken care to remove lubricant from the bullet base. That may or may not be the reason the load shot a little worse, but it was something I could blame. The wad prevented this, but the load starts getting pricey. Buffer and wads ain? cheap, so I switched to Dacron with the same results. My technique for its use is identical to BruceB?. I picked W231 for its ability in a powder measure. This does around .8 to .9 inch at fifty yards. I am going to make some specific comments about this load in another post on this forum. I?e got some things going on with it that deserve your notice. Full power loads with the Lyman bullet have given me considerable trouble. Most surprising have been the large extreme spreads, upwards of 100 fps+ with a number of standards. To date, I?e tried IMR 4227, H4227, H322, H and IMR 4198, W296, 4759, 5744, AA 1680, H2400,Unique, Red Dot, Titegroup, and W231. Those charges of slower powder were most likely to give high extreme spreads. On average, I? say they do about an inch and a half to an inch and three quarters with most loads tried, which is pretty borderline, in my opinion. Reloder 7 was the last powder tried, the Swedish version, and it shows the most promise will full power loads around 2000 fps with the Lyman bullet. Probably not coincidentally, the case is full of powder and it groups around 1-1.1 inches at 50 yards. Only in linotype, though. This is my second Contender carbine barrel, and both have given me trouble with cast bullets. Frankly, these are the only shoulder arms I have loaded cast bullets for that didn? do well. It is possible there are some issues with the sizing of cases, how the action locks up, bullet seating, the forearm used, etc. etc. Relating everything I have tried would get tedious, and this post is long enough already. I?e got around 3500 rounds of lead bullets through the gun. I would appreciate some advice on getting Contenders to shoot with lead. Despite the trouble, I have hunted and bagged a lot of small game the past two years with the 25-20, and I cannot say enough good things about this cartridge. I can hunt anything from tree squirrels to coyotes with the same gun and be neither overgunned nor undergunned.
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SlowPoke 2
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(Date Posted:03/13/2004 04:48:48)

Reply to : 35remington


http://www.bellmtcs.com/TOC.htm

I believe this fellow knows Contenders and what makes them tick better than most.

He has alot of good info at the above link .  ---        Good luck

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MTNGUN
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(Date Posted:03/13/2004 06:28:25)

Yeah, what Slowpoke said.

There have been some very good TC barrels and others that were tomato stakes, usually due to dysfunctional throats.  A chamber slug or cast may shed some light on your barrel. 

 

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Buckshot2
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(Date Posted:03/13/2004 10:33:50)

.........I don't own any TC's, but I've shot a few and have some friends that have a couple, or a ton of'em. Seems all I've shoot when invited have been very accurate, regardless of the caliber. Of course I don't know how much work any of their owners have sunk into them to make them so.

Not being articularly interested in TC's I don't hunt up articles about them to read, but in passing, over the years I've read some. And probably more on the internet which I might take to be a bit more genuine as they're not trying to be polite to a advertiser. So I have heard some bad stuff about TC's too. SOme have to do with the heat involved in welding on the underlugs and also barrel alignment.

Reality suggests that anything made in any quantity is going to have a few stinkers get through on occasion. It may be a candicate for a trip back to Thompson for a checkup? The barrel dimensions aren'tbackeards at least. One of my friends with a TC in 22 Hornet laments that he only gets about 3 full power reloads before he has to toss his brass. On the other hand, he has a Win M54 and only gets 5-6 reloads in it before the brass gets flaky. TC has never suggested their pistols were as solid a lockup as a bolt action, and that 25-20 IS a slopy little case.

Other then that, all I can say is you sure made a very nice informatice post!

.............Buckshot
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Proud former Shooters.Com Cast Bullet alumnus and plank owner

35remington
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(Date Posted:03/13/2004 19:43:15)

Slowpoke, MTNGUN, Buckshot:

The part that's really got me turned around is that the other TC carbine barrel I own is a K Hornet, and it is by Bullberry. It doesn't like lead bullets either, and it has been even more trouble than the .25-20 barrel. The Bullberry absolutely does not copper foul with jacketed bullets and is accurate with its preferred loads. It is very finicky, though. If the K Hornet is supposedly less temperamental with full power loads than the original version all I can say is I would hate to try an unmodified Hornet.

Fred Smith at Bullberry has this "accurizer rail" that bolts to the bottom of the two holes in his barrels. Rather than the forend being screwed on to the barrel, like TC does, his forends attach to the rail, which is attached to the forend. Sound like a pretty good idea, but it hasn't helped my K Hornet with lead bullets. It loathes them all.

I've read Mr. Bellm's philosophy on Contenders, having been to his website before. What he says makes a lot of sense, and I've tried to incorporate as much of it as I can in my loadings. I guess opinions vary, though, because a friend asked Fred @ BB about Mr. Bellm's philosophy on throating barrels for TC's and if he throated his barrels like Bellm did. Fred responded that he did not see eye to eye with Bellm about a lot of things regarding TC's. His guarantee of sub one inch groups is with his own throat design and no, it's not like Bellm's.

I've done the chamber cast thing already, and here's my notes. If any of you have .25-20 dimensions, tell me how they stack up compared to yours.
1.314" front of rim to throat
.3511" chamber diameter near rim
.3353" chamber diameter just behind shoulder
.2822" neck just in front of shoulder
.280" neck at mouth

It really doesn't have a throat, just a short, sharp taper from the end of the neck to the rifling origin. This doesn't seem good, but I would like to compare some dimensions with someone else before I decide it is a problem. Bellm's comments about making sure the Contender locks up freely are good points and suggest that the gun might shoot better if the lead bullets aren't wedged into the rifling. This supposedly interferes with the lug engagement and the gun is only partially locked up. I haven't carried this idea as far as I could have. I've gotten accustomed to seating bullets at or into the rifling and could back the seating die off a little more in the .25-20, but then I've tried this in the K Hornet and it didn't help. I think I need to try resting the gun on the bags differently, on my hand then on the bag, or try a few pressure points or a more solidly bedded forend.

I'm not done yet, and I would like to have the forend rail installed on my .25-20. Fred makes them for the varied forend hole spacing of production TC's. The rails are cheap, but the forends he sells that fit them are not. In for a penny, in for a pound, that will be me. The roundbottom forends work like crap over sandbags, and right now I have a dinky little flatbottom forend from my 7-30 handgun barrel mounted on my .25-20. It looks sorta like a splinter forend for a British double shotgun. Rests on the bags a lot better, but screwing a hunk of plastic directly to the barrel doesn't sound like the best thing for barrel vibration patterns. I am not a small guy, and TC carbine stocks are made for the munchkin extras in the Wizard of Oz. The comb is narrow and chisel shaped, the butt area is tiny, and I'm really glad I'm not shooting a .45-70 in this gun. When I cheek a regular stock after using the TC it feels like I'm laying my head against a 36" pipe.

That little RCBS bullet looks kinda like an LBT flatpoint, and even at the slow 1150 fps speed can shoot through a lot of critter. Even worked pretty good on a possum or two, raccoons and a 16 pound feral cat. Carpetman might like to hear that.
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starmetal
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(Date Posted:03/13/2004 20:06:53)

Reply to : 35remington

Slowpoke, MTNGUN, Buckshot:The part that's really got me turned around is that the other TC carbine barrel I own is a K Hornet, and it is by Bullberry. It doesn't like lead bullets either, and it has been even more trouble than the .25-20 barrel. The Bullberry absolutely does not copper foul with jacketed bullets and is accurate with its preferred loads. It is very finicky, though. If the K Hornet is supposedly less temperamental with full power loads than the original version all I can say is I would hate to try an unmodified Hornet.Fred Smith at Bullberry has this "accurizer rail" that bolts to the bottom of the two holes in his barrels. Rather than the forend being screwed on to the barrel, like TC does, his forends attach to the rail, which is attached to the forend. Sound like a pretty good idea, but it hasn't helped my K Hornet with lead bullets. It loath

I don't own any Contenders either, just don't like the looks of them.  I do have a CZ 22 Hornet that cuts one .378 hole at 100 yds with the Hornady V-Max 45 gr and 12 grs of WW 296 (watch that load as it may be hot in your gun).  It also shoot the the Lyman 45 gr cast bullet pretty decent too.

Joe

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CarpetmanRay
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(Date Posted:03/13/2004 20:44:19)

Starmetal Joe---I read your post about RK surgery messing up your eyes. Felt so bad for you thought I might round up a few cats to send your way to train one for seeing-eye-purposes. You have to admit having a seein-eye-cat would be unique thing and a one of a kind deal. Then I read your post about cutting one .378 hole with your hornet. I wondered if you used a cane to line it up or perhaps braile sighting device??? Then darned if I didnt figure it out. I shoot one shot groups like that myself.
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starmetal
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(Date Posted:03/13/2004 21:05:47)

Reply to : CarpetmanRay

Starmetal Joe---I read your post about RK surgery messing up your eyes. Felt so bad for you thought I might round up a few cats to send your way to train one for seeing-eye-purposes. You have to admit having a seein-eye-cat would be unique thing and a one of a kind deal. Then I read your post about cutting one .378 hole with your hornet. I wondered if you used a cane to line it up or perhaps braile sighting device??? Then darned if I didnt figure it out. I shoot one shot groups like that myself.

Ray

Well the hornet group was with a scope, I'm fine that way.  My problem isn't so much seeing the iron sights but seeing the damn target.  I see the sights sharpely.  I know the target is suppose to be a blur and the front sight sharp, but my target is more then a blur! I will have to try the Merit type device.

Send the cat anyways, now those I can see as a target very well!

Joe

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35remington
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(Date Posted:03/13/2004 23:55:23)

Starmetal, I've loaded the 225438 44 RN, the 225415 49 FP, and the RCBS 55 in the K Hornet. It also shows high extreme spreads with most loads, so I've used buffer in it as well. That helped with the variations but didn't do much for accuracy. I went so low with the fast powders, like 2.0 grain Red Dot, that the buffer did not all get blown out of the case on firing. The gasses just sorta tunneled by the buffer and left about a third of it in the case, which looks like a dirty snowdrift. I stopped doing that pronto. I can just picture reloading a case that still has buffer in it, or firing another load that followed one that clogged just ahead of the chamber with buffer. These ultralight loads with Red Dot and others with the 44 RN went around 1130 fps and just don't seem to have the pressure to clear the case of filler. I can tell you the 225415 will stabilize down to around the same speed, but with cold temperatures or a little less velocity the bullets are borderline stable and holes in paper are getting ovate. They were going sideways at thirty degrees. My barrel has a 1-14 twist.

Gut feeling tells me a powder like RL 7 should work in the K Hornet with cast bullets, but I can't prove it with this gun. Haven't used the Swedish variety in it yet. I have tried the same range of powders in the Hornet as the .25-20, plus Lilgun in the Hornet. Velocities have varied from long rifle speed to 2400 fps. I have had suggestions to put a poly wad under the bullet, but the neck on the K is short enough that it would fall off into the powder charge. Can't see where it would gain that much over a load that has buffer in it. My K Hornet die set is by Redding. Did the pistol primer thing too.

The same bullets I use for the Hornet I put through my Savage 110FV .22-250, and as long as I don't use pistol/shotgun powders in it I can do no wrong. I would have thought the K would be as good or better cast bullet round than the .22-250, but it could be the issues with the Contender itself can negate all that.

Haven't tried the 45? VMax in the K Hornet but I have tried the 40 grain with the same 12.0 grain charge of 296 and got around 3070 fps with it, 22 inch barrel. My rifle will not accept the same charges of LilGun that Hornady lists for the standard Hornet. 12.0 grains of it gets 3160 fps and I thought that was plenty fast enough. Hornady shows quite a bit more needed for the standard Hornet to get less velocity. My rifle likes the 40 VMax and 15.1 (Hornady manual) of 1680, 3027 av. velocity. This is a good caseful. Wish I could talk about lead bullet loads more, but the grouping just hasn't been there.

Maybe if I'm really into pain this summer I'll drag it out and try again. I'm a glutton for punishment. I really hate doing all the cleaning, resizing, neck expanding, casting, segregating and all the other stuff when I have nothing to show for it, but maybe someday I'll stumble upon something that will make the pain stop, like tequila or methamphetamine.
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