out as a varmint/small game round, the .25-20 W.C.F., or repeater, not to confused with the single shot version has been used for game
up to moose. Subsistence hunters up in
of loaded ammo is one reason people try their hand at reloading. A 50 round box
bullets weights that are applicable in the .25-20, usually range from 60-86
grains. However, gleaning other published material, bullets up to 115 grains
can be found. True to his penchant for heavy bullets, 'ol
Elmer Keith said the Ideal #257306 (115 grain) over 10 grains of 2400 was one
of his better loads. Can you visualize him even shooting something as small as
a .25-20? Well I've experimented with that bullet in my 92 & 43 Winchesters
both with a 1-14 twist, using 10 ½ grains of 4227, and at 50 yards, it's still stable.
Trying heavy weights like the 257325, 257231, 257306, produced tipping or
keyholes unless you found the right combination, and
that means pushing the pressure to the max. The
in a rut as far as powders go. Maybe it's because I've accumulated so much of
the old standard powders from 30 to 40 years ago. If new powder is what you
want to use you'll need to interpolate, and go to the standard reduction of
10%. Shotgun trap powder such as 700-X or Red Dot are
the fastest. On the slow end, H-322 turned out very dirty with much
unburned powder left in the bore. But a dirty bore doesn't mean bad groups. 13
grains of H-322 and the 88 grain 257312 will surprise you with sub 2” groups at
100 yards. When
remember right, Kimber's model 82 Custom Classic in
.25-20 that was produced only a few years, came without sights. I lusted for
one, but I could never justify a super expensive .25-20 in the battery. Another
“shouda” gun was on the rack in a pawnshop in
The little 257463 & 257420 weighing in at 72 & 73 grains respectively are my all out favorites. 11 grains of 4198 being the most accurate in either with a average velocity of 1500 FPS. Any of the rifles I've used if you stay at the 1500 fps range with any cast bullet, it'll probably be the most accurate. The 87 grain 257312 with a flat nose profile that when seated looks identical to the 257420, and will shoot less than 2” at a 100 yards; with 13 grains H322, 10 grains 5744, 9 grains 2400, 5 grains Unique, or 4 ½ grains of any fast shotgun powder. The 257464 gets used less because of its round nose shape. But if you’re target shooting with a lever, or using a bolt gun, don't pass up a chance to use this fine bullet. 5 grains of Unique will keep groups under 2”. I had a brief chance to compare my favorite Winchester loads in a now discontinued Marlin 1894CL, and the gun did not like anything I run through it. Might be the 1-16 barrel or the fact that marlin supposedly used longer chamber reamers.
Bolt guns like the Savage, Kimber, Winchester, and single shot rifles aren't subject to the same nose profile limitations, so the 257388, 257418, 257464, 257463 can be used if you take the time to work with different powders, and seating depth's. One of the best loads is 9 grains 5744 and the 78 grain 257488. I've used both XMP-5744 and the older MP-5744, and prefer the older version. Some of the larger stick type powders can be a pain to meter and measure. So for them, I rely on plain 'ol Lee scoops. After developing a consistent technique by eyeballing the amount of powder and weighing about every other charge, I soon had the scale going unused for rest of the session. I've tried the same load using .257 & .258 sizing dies, and have settled on the .257. Why? I can't say for sure. The chamber pressure's changing at different velocities, and bullet design can make it confusing.
Those thin necks don't take much abuse and buckle easily while seating without some flair on the mouth, so I made my own M die using an old 44 cal depriming die with the decapping pin removed. It's just big enough to fit over the case mouth and flair it to however you want. Herter's used to sell special expander plugs for cast bullet users for any caliber you wanted. You can do the same yourself by buying the next larger plug and reducing it to fit your needs, but I'd still fit it on a spare die body and have a three die set. The only problem with that is the tension on the bullet. Lever magazine spring tension and recoil make it necessary to crimp if your bullet isn't tight enough to keep the bullet from pushing back into the case. A lot of these steps and procedures can be eliminated if you’re just shooting from a bench, and loading directly into the guns chamber.