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Wild Bunch lever action rifle

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I'm looking for a lever action rifle for Wild Bunch. But now realize there are several questions I'm not really sure about.


Having shot only once in a local match using my 73 .357 in "Mild Bunch/Open" class my experience is limited. But I enjoyed it. Shooting a 1911 and a stoked scattergun along with the lever gun on cowboy targets was fun.


My thinking is a 73 close to my Codymatic is going to be the best choice for me. Are there any considerations I am over looking unique to Wild Bunch? Could any of you share what thoughts went into choosing your Wild Bunch lever guns? There is a Marlin JM Cowboy .45 Colt locally at a good price?


Another question is what cartridge I should be looking at? I load on a 25 year old Dillon 1050 that has fed my pistol shooting hobby. Currently I load .45 ACP, .38 Special and 9mm. Is .45 Colt the only choice as it can share some bullets with the ACP? There is a 44-40 locally at a good price?


Thanks in advance for your input. I just wanted some insight into others thoughts and experience on these subjects before I buy.


Muchas Gracias Amigos,




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Kinda depends upon how competitive you plan to become. 


Your fastest rifle times and most reliability will come from a gun that is close in feel and stroke to what you already run for Cowboy. 


Cartridge choice makes less difference in Wild Bunch than in Cowboy due to the high power factor requirement (150+ PF).  Since the .45 Colt can be loaded to minimum power factor requirements without too much fouling or gas blowback, thinking of a shorter version doesn't seem to make much economic sense (like .45 auto or .Cowboy .45 Special).  We NEVER have to shoot more than 10 or 10+reload in Wild Bunch, so being able to shove 16 cartridges in a mag tube is a no-gainer.  But the conversion of a lever gun to run .45 auto can allow you to avoid buying a few hundred .45 Colt cases and a set of dies.  $200 savings or so with that, but a conversion cost in excess of $500....


.44-40 is a good choice in Wild Bunch.  It will run a little cleaner due to the thin case.  It will suffer more case damage due to being stepped on.


Buy cheap only if you are pretty sure you won't like Wild Bunch - and that idea will probably come true. 


Otherwise, buy to suit your expected competition level.     


I run the same bullets in .45 auto loads as I do in the .45 Colt for 73 rifle - 200 grain truncated cones.  If you are a heavy bullet fan, a 230 grain round nose flat point or truncated cone bullet will work well in both.


Good luck, GJ

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San Joaquin Shootist,


GJ is providing some good advice. If you shoot a 73' I'd stick with the 73'. My WB rifle is 44-40 and I love it, but it doubles as a BP rifle too which is why I went with 44-40.


I have a 44 spl 20" Marlin and ammo you're welcome to barrow until you find a rifle. Heck I sell it to you for a good price if you like it, but I would recommend sticking with the same rifle for Cowboy and WB. There's a different feel between the two.


PM me on Facebook, I'll give you my cell number.



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Hi San Joaquin


GJ and Tully are on the mark.  My wife and I match our Wild Bunch rifle to our cowboy rifle.  In a pinch, the WB can be a backup at a cowboy match even.  Having them the same just makes it all feel right and doesn't require extra familiarization.


We shoot .45 colt but there was little question as my wife shoots classic cowboy so keeping the dies and brass the same just makes sense.


I have looked at lots of power factor testing over the years and the majority of shooters (but far from all) use a 200 grain FP bullet for the rifle and a 230 grain round nose bullet for the 1911.  Lets face it, the 1911 was designed for the 230 gr round nose - or was it the other way around :)


Enjoy Wild Bunch

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Agree with what has been said.  If you do Cowboy with a 73 then probably stick with it.

i run cowboy with a Marlin so when started WB stuck with a Marlin.


Other than convience of running 45acp shared between rifle and pistol not much reason to me. 


My WB rifle is my backup cowboy as well.  I do not think much difference between 38 spl and 45 colt unless you are really loading the later up. 


I use 185g for 45s.  I have loaded those in 45acp, 45 cowboy special and 45 colt.


I run 97 shotgun (IAC Cowboy), have two and both set up with 6 tound conversions.  Primarily so I can use them in WB and cowboy.  Not maybe as good as a Model 12 but I am not looking for a top spot EOT place either.


I went with a Taurus PT1911, yes inexpesive, but it has run reliable with everything I hsve given it.  I have seen plenty of Amscore made 1911s and they have worked just fine as well.  Reliability is paramount in the pistol as well as good magazines.


Then you have to decide on Traditional vs Modern.  A traditional style pistol can be used in either category.



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