1893 Marlin .32-40 - when was it made? Loads?

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1893 Marlin .32-40 - when was it made? Loads?

Postby Wookie » Fri Jul 03, 2009 6:27 pm

I inherited a pretty nice Marlin .32-40 that was my Grandfathers and then Dads; now mine. Grandpa used it for a deer hunting rifle in upstate NY. I don't recall ever seeing my Dad shoot it (although I'm certain he did), and I have yet to shoot it myself.

Long post. Please bear with me. I figured it was better to include as much information as possible the first time around.

Serial number on the lower tang (above the lever) is 9080. There are no letters before or after the serial number.

Description of rifle:
Blued round barrel, about 25 1/2" long. The tubular magazine ends about 1/4" before the muzzle.
Front sight is blued, with an off-white bead towards the rear.

The top of the barrel is engraved/stamped above the front swivel; readable with the left side of the rifle facing you:
"- Marlin Firearms Co., NEW-HAVEN, CT. U.S.A. -
- PAT'D OCT. 11. 1887. APRIL 2. 1889. AUG. 1. 1893.-"

There is a 5/16" dovetail blank in the barrel 3 1/2" back from the front of the forestock.

About 1/2" further back is engraved:
"<> SPECIAL SMOKELESS STEEL. <>"
The font leans to the left (as reversed italics), the "S"s are quite a bit larger than the rest of the text.

About 1/2" forward of the receiver, "32-40" is stamped in the barrel in a small font.

The receiver is bone fired; it seems to have perhaps 50% of it's color remaining.
The top of the receiver is engraved:
"->>>{ MARLIN SAFETY }<<<-

There is a 6-ponted star engraved or perhaps stamped into the upper tang. The left rear point of the star is not very deep.

It has a flip-up rear sight that has a knurled area on the upper portion. There is a yellow bulls-eye with a black center about 1" forward of the rear sling swivel.

The forestock finish is perhaps 70%-80% intact, the buttstock has some minor dings and scratches. Probably better than 95% of the original bluing remains. There is some minor pitting on the receiver. I have no intentions of changing anything on this rifle other than proper cleaning and lubricating - once I can find instructions on how to properly do so!

I don't know when Grandpa bought this rifle, but it was on a list of firearms that he'd written down in the mid-1920's. I have some old boxes of .32-40 cartridges that he'd reloaded back in 1946, and subsequently fired.

Loads:
I really do not know what loads would be safe to fire in this rifle, except I'm reasonably certain due to the barrel markings and relatively good condition that it's OK for smokeless powder.

Out of perhaps a dozen old boxes of .32-40 ammo I found, one was a "Remington .32/40 Kleanbore HIGH POWER SOFT POINT" box, some were labeled "HIGH POWER SMOKELESS", some "HIGH VELOCITY", which to me indicates velocities in the neighborhood of 1,700FPS, where a standard load would be under 1,400FPS (ballpark). Am I correct in this thinking?

Some of the boxes appear to be quite old. One box had cartridge cases with VERY large-diameter primer pockets.

The oldest reloads I found (already fired) were marked:
#1090 5/7/46 165 gr Lead Bul. 8g Unique
(the #1090 was my grandfather's way of linking reloads into his reloading data kept in his logbook.)
I don't know if the 165gr cast lead bullet had a gas check or not.

#1091 10/6/46 165 gr Lead G.C. 8.5g Unique
(There were three boxes of load #1091; apparently either he or the rifle liked that load better)
(G.C. means Gas Check on the bottom of the cast lead bullet)

Some loads that my Dad did:
#1 165 Gr. J, 24 gr IMR 3031, 4/7/57
That "J" meant copper jacketed flat-nose lead bullets; the forward 1/8" of lead is exposed. 4 of 20 unfired.

#2 174g cast gas check 13.2g #IMR 4759 2/28/70 #8-1/2 Western
None of these were fired. I don't know if he decided they were too much, too little, or what.

#3 174 Gr GC, 21 Gr. Lightning
There was no date on those. I have never previously heard of a powder named "Lightning"; any clues as to who made it, and what it's characteristics might be?

I have more questions, but have already asked far too many for my first post.

I intend to enjoy and preserve this fine rifle.
Wookie
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Re: 1893 Marlin .32-40 - when was it made? Loads?

Postby Regnier (gunrunner) » Fri Jul 03, 2009 9:34 pm

Wookie;

The mid-1920's would be a very good time to figure when this gun was made. There are no records for the era, so we have to "guesstamate" it.
You may not want to shoot any of that original ammunition if it is in the original boxes. To valuable. Antique ammunition is going up in value very quickly.
The gun itself will be safe to shoot most modern ammunition in.
You are lucky to have a nice family piece to enjoy and cherish. Have fun with it.
Due to the increasing cost of ammunition, there be no warning shot!

The growing federal deficit = generational slavery to the national debt.
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Re: 1893 Marlin .32-40 - when was it made? Loads?

Postby Parley Baer » Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:07 pm

What is interesting is the .32-40 caliber. Especially that high in the serial number range. For the Model 93 that is the scarcest caliber to find not that it affects the value that much. I tend to agree with Rick as to about when the rifle was made however I might add a couple of years.

On the rear portion of the lever are the upper and lower sides rounded or is there a boss on the upper side of the lever next to the tang with only the lower portion rounded? Thank you for sharing the information on your rifle.
It's a chancey job and it makes a man watchfull....and a little lonely.
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Re: 1893 Marlin .32-40 - when was it made? Loads?

Postby Wookie » Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:18 pm

Regnier (gunrunner) wrote:The mid-1920's would be a very good time to figure when this gun was made. There are no records for the era, so we have to "guesstamate" it.

Thanks; at least it's narrowed down somewhat. :)
You may not want to shoot any of that original ammunition if it is in the original boxes. Too valuable. Antique ammunition is going up in value very quickly.

Actually, I only have one box of Remington soft point copper jacketed .32-40 that looks original; all cases are present but three of the 20 rounds have been fired. I only suspect that they are factory loads, because it was both Dad's and Grandpa's practice (along with mine) to record at least partial reloading data on every box.
The gun itself will be safe to shoot most modern ammunition in.

That's good to know.
You are lucky to have a nice family piece to enjoy and cherish. Have fun with it.

I'm hoping to! Thanks for the information you've provided. :)
Wookie
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Re: 1893 Marlin .32-40 - when was it made? Loads?

Postby Wookie » Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:37 pm

Parley Baer wrote:What is interesting is the .32-40 caliber. Especially that high in the serial number range. For the Model 93 that is the scarcest caliber to find not that it affects the value that much. I tend to agree with Rick as to about when the rifle was made however I might add a couple of years.

Interesting. I wouldn't know. Seems that .32-40 faded from popularity a good while back. Probably has a lot to do with the huge quantity of surplus military rifles chambered in .30-06 that were made available to the public after WWII.

On the rear portion of the lever are the upper and lower sides rounded or is there a boss on the upper side of the lever next to the tang with only the lower portion rounded? Thank you for sharing the information on your rifle.

The outline looks like this image (not my rifle, but similar):
http://www.oldguns.co.uk/images/2922.jpg
(I don't hot-link to images that I don't host - and I don't currently have a host)
The upper and lower sides are gently rounded.
The rifle in the photo is also a 1893 in .32-40, but I don't feel it's quite as nice as the one I have. Mine has far more bluing, nicer color on the receiver, nicer walnut, has the flip-up sight rather than the dovetail sight, and has sling attachments.
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Re: 1893 Marlin .32-40 - when was it made? Loads?

Postby Parley Baer » Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:51 am

Thanks. With that picture of the lever I will stay with my date. If it had been rounded I would have put the rifle in the early 30's.
It's a chancey job and it makes a man watchfull....and a little lonely.
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Re: 1893 Marlin .32-40 - when was it made? Loads?

Postby smithywess » Sat Aug 29, 2009 3:24 pm

Hello Parly Baer,
I think Wookie means that the rear portion of his rifle's lever looks like the one in the photograph.Then in his text below he says that 'the upper and lower parts are gently rounded'.So I'm confused a little.
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Re: 1893 Marlin .32-40 - when was it made? Loads?

Postby Parley Baer » Sat Aug 29, 2009 7:51 pm

Yes it is a little confusing regarding the lever. :wink:
It's a chancey job and it makes a man watchfull....and a little lonely.
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