Hi Red Cent; Let's see.
The Model 1886
was obtained from a friend who paid $13 for it in 1937. He was sitting in the office of his family's ice plant one after noon when a carpenter walked up with the rifle. The carpenter had been doing some repairs on house a few blocks away and had found the rifle in the attic. The owner offered him the rifle in payment for the repairs. The carpenter didn't need it and had heard that my friend was a gun nut so brought it by. My friend who was of small stature, had the barrel shortened from its original 26-inch length to 22-inches to better fit his use of the rifle. He also ordered a replacement fore end from Winchester because the original was splintered. He said that Winchester sent out a high grade fore end because that was all they had left in stock. The fore end is very highly figured.
Hate that it was cut down but recognize that in 1937 it was just a big ol' gun with little value. It is handy for hunting. The first deer I shot with it was taken at 15 yards with a hand load consisting of 90 grains of FFg and a 300 grain cast lead bullet put up in Bertram .45-90 brass. The buck deer was facing me and the bullet entered the center of his chest and exited out through the center of his left ham, cutting an neat hole through the meat. Wasn't bloodshot at all. The buck did a sort of side ways "shuffle off to Buffalo" for a few yards to his right and fell over.
It was a drizzly, damp morning when I shot that deer and the copious amounts of smoke obscured all but the beginning of his sideways shuffle. I didn't actually see him fall. The cloud just hung there and I had to walk through it to find the deer lying on the ground.
I mostly use .45-70 ammunition in it out of convenience. One can shoot .45-70 in these .45-90 chambered rifles much the same as using .38 Special in a .357 Magnum revolver. It's favorite load uses a mild charge of IMR 4198 powder and a Speer 405 grain jacketed soft point. It is good for 2-inch 5-shot groups off the bench.
I was verifying its sights with this load a couple of years ago at a public range when an older gentlemen came up to my bench and took me to task for shooting jacketed bullets in it at all, claiming that I'd ruin the rifling in a very few shots. I've not found this to be true and the rifling remains sharp and distinct. The rifle has a very nice, bright bore.
The little '92 saddle-ring-carbine
is a Dallas Market Hall gun show pick up from many years ago and sees regular use on our old family place, being taken for frequent hikes and hunts and plinking sessions. It really is still a working rifle for my purposes. Its bore is usable but less than perfect but it will still shoot within about 3 1/2-inches at 100 yards. Over the years, I'm convinced that the use of jacketed .312 bullets has actually been beneficial to the bore and has improved its ability to group on paper from a bench rest. Their use along with regular attention to cleaning has helped the old bore. It is mostly used with cast lead bullets and mild charges of Unique. Great for Texas varmints and critters. I have a Smith & Wesson .32-20 revolver that is also used with these loads.
I've worked up some warm .32-20 handloads with jacketed bullets that exceeded 2000 fps, making the .32-20 the equal to the M1 Carbine. Have thought of trying for a deer with the little rifle just to say it took one but haven't gotten around to it. Seems a bit light. While the '92 action is robust enough for "rifle" loads it's better to keep things light for extended shooting.
The '94 carbine
is another old acquisition for years ago. It has taken 4 deer in its time with me. I have another pre-war Winchester rifle in .30-30 with the same length barrel. Fired some late vintage .30-30 170 grain factory loads over the chronograph along with some late vintage .32 Special 170 grain loads to find that the .32 Special gave a whole 10 fps more velocity. That said, both cartridges kill deer fine. 90 yards is the longest shot I've made with the .32 Special and 120 yards is the longest made with the .30-30. The deer couldn't tell the difference.
The Model 1895
rifle is a first year of production for the .405 cartridge. Picked it up for cheap around 1984 when I was in a gun shop after closing time and the owner came in with 10-12 rifles he'd obtained. He laid them all out in the floor and began dragging them out of their zippered cases. When he dragged this .405 out my eyes lit up and I took it off his hands before he even had a chance to clean it up.
It's been one of the most rewarding rifles for which I ever handloaded. Using 40 to 60 year old .405 cases I worked up loads with a number of powders to determine which gave the best performance with safety. Reloader 7 gave the best velocities with the lowest perceived
pressure signs. I safely obtained 2407 fps with a 300 grain Barnes jacketed bullet, backing off to a load that clocks 2319 fps.
In 1986 I took the rifle deer hunting here in Texas. Had a bad cold that morning and ended up climbing a tree and standing on a bough in the drizzle, feeling miserable. The drizzle let up and a fork horn buck wandered by about 90 yards out. The .405 made him collapse in his tracks. Looked like a stringed puppet who had the strings cut loose.
He was at the edge of a really long plowed field, stretching for perhaps 1/2 a mile. At the sound of the shot, the deer sunk to the ground, and a millisecond later a large geyser of dirt kicked up about halfway down that plowed field. Texas whitetail aren't tough enough to stop .405 bullets.
The rifle is one of the worst kicking firearms I own. A combination of light weight, excessive drop in the stock which is too short anyway, a narrow, and curved steel butt plate makes for a package that is dreadful to shoot, especially from off the bench rest. It's not so bad offhand but still can loosen the fillings in one's teeth if he isn't careful to place the butt stock just right and up tight against his shoulder.
Jacketed .41 Magnum pistol bullets are the salvation of the .405 shooter, both form a cost standpoint and from recoil. I've used the Sierra 220 grain "Silhouette" jacketed flat nose. The rifle's bore measures .412" so the .410" bullets work pretty well. Driven at about 1700 fps, they make shooting the rifle much more pleasant. I tried winding them up tight to about 2750 fps but they didn't group well and recoil was back up to the dreadful category. My tightest groups have been made with this Sierra 220 grain bullet. One went slightly under 2-inches for 5-shots at 100 yards.
The Savage Model 99
.300 Savage is a replacement for another just like it that served me for many deer killing years but was regrettably sold, along with some other rifles, in order to purchase a collectible car. I've not taken any deer with it yet but the round sure works. I probably took over 20 with the first Model 99. This one is more accurate and possesses a good trigger, something my first one was a bit lacking of. Here's a shot of me and my eldest son on his first deer hunt with the first Savage 99. He was 5 months old in this photo and will be 29 at the end of this month.