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Author Topic: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?  (Read 1736 times)

Ceicei

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Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« on: March 02, 2013, 05:26:57 PM »
I know with handguns, for example, a .357 gun will also take .38, but a .38 gun will not take a .357.

What rifles will be similar in taking other calibers?

I'm trying to expand my options here and thinking that rifles capable of taking more than just one type of calibers may be more cost effective and useful.

Thanks,

Ceicei


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Nightcrawler

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2013, 05:45:49 PM »
Not really. 

Most rifle cartridges utilized bottlenecked or otherwise tapered cases.  This generally precludes using a shorter cartridge with the same caliber bullet.  You also get feed issues in rifle magazines (detachable or fixed) if the cartridge has a shorter overall length than the magazine was designed for. Also, non-rimmed cartridges need to be the proper dimensions for the chamber, otherwise they may not headspace correctly, which will cause malfunctions.

Now, in the 19th century, there were cartridges like the .45/110, .45/90, and the familiar .45/70.  You could fire the latter in a single-shot rifle of the other two calibers, if I'm not mistaken (and I may be, I'm far from an expert on 19th century weapons).

See, .38 Special and .357 Magnum actually are the same caliber.  They both use a .357" bore diameter.  The .38 was called the .38 for marketing reasons, even though it's closer to a .36.  .357 Magnum is a longer version of a .38 Special case.  It's dimensionally the same, except for the overall length, and is rated for higher pressures.  A revolver firing .357 can utilize .38 Special because, in the chambers, the cartridges basically hang from the rim and can't go too far forward.  The .38 round's bullet has to jump a slightly larger gap than a .357's before hitting the forcing cone, but we're talking about a fraction of an inch.

It doesn't really translate to rifles.  It's mostly a revolver/shotgun thing, though it does apply to rifles chambered in .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum, that feed from tubular magazines.  You can use .38 and .44 Special in them, just like you can fire 2.75" shells from a shotgun with a 3" chamber.

The .40 S&W cartridge is basically a shortened 10mm Auto round.  You can't, however, just load up your 10mm with .40 rounds and expect it to function.  I might, especially if you load the .40s as long as possible to try to get within the 10mm's overall length dimensions, but all sorts of function problems can occur, and it might not be safe.

I do remember one gentleman coming into the gun store once, complaining of a malfunctioning 9mm Beretta.  We traced the problem to the fact that it was actually a .40 Beretta, and it was pretty amazing that it functioned at all with 9mm rounds bouncing down the barrel.

You can usually convert a .40 handgun to 9mm with a swap of the barrel and a replacement magazine, though.
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Ceicei

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2013, 06:16:22 PM »
How about carbines?  Any that may take more than one type?

I was under the impression there are at least one or two kinds of rifles and/or carbines available that will shoot more than one type of ammunition.

Ceicei

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2013, 07:55:14 PM »
How about carbines?  Any that may take more than one type?

I was under the impression there are at least one or two kinds of rifles and/or carbines available that will shoot more than one type of ammunition.

Ceicei

I dont think you are getting it, Its not the gun its the ammunition. In a 357 you can shoot 38, in a 44 mag you can shoot 44 special.  In some 10mm (usually revolvers) you can shoot 40s&W. This isnt a function of the rifle, its a function of the cartridge.

Some rifles (NEF handy rifles, Thompson Contender) sell barrels for different calibers and are fairly quick to change over, but those are all single shot guns.
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ksuguy

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2013, 07:57:27 PM »
With AR's, you can swap uppers and shoot a few different calibers.   However,  that is basically replacing half the gun.   
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Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2013, 08:17:53 PM »
With AR's, you can swap uppers and shoot a few different calibers.   However,  that is basically replacing half the gun.   

And since many of the calibers other than 5.56 are a little more rare, you pay as much for some of those uppers as for a whole new gun...
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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2013, 09:44:25 PM »
The important thing to understand here is headspacing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headspace_%28firearms%29

Most modern rifles shoot cartridges that depend on the location of the shoulder for correctly determining how deep the cartridge fits in the chamber. That pretty much precludes the use of a different cartridge that fires the same diameter bullet from ever being safe to fire in a chamber other than the one it's intended for.

A few rimmed or belted cartridges may allow for this kind of thing (such as firing .45-70 in a rifle chambered for .45-90 or .375 H&H in a rifle chambered for .375 Weatherby), but they are rare exceptions.
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schapm

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Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2013, 11:26:16 PM »
If I was looking for a very versatile rifle I would look hard at a bolt action .30-06. You can load bullet weights from 110 to 220 grains and hunt any game animal on this continent from varmints on up to moose and bears. You can even get a .22 bullet in a little plastic sabot to hunt squirrels and stuff. And of course, as Col. Townsend Whelen said, "the .30-06 is never a mistake."
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seanp

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2013, 11:56:48 PM »
I know with handguns, for example, a .357 gun will also take .38, but a .38 gun will not take a .357.

What rifles will be similar in taking other calibers?

To actually answer your question rather than the unasked implications of the question:  Yes, there are numerous rifles that will accept other calibers in the same way, but they are relatively uncommon when compared to rifles that can accept only one chambering.

Most lever guns in rimmed pistol calibers will accept the same chamberings as their revolver counterparts.  IE) Winchester '94 in .357 mag will chamber and shoot .38 Special.

Basically you are looking at Winchester, Marlin, and Rossi lever guns in rimmed pistol cartridges.  That is the best rule of thumb.

If you are talking about magazine fed semi-autos, you can use the same AR lower with a different upper in a multitude of calibers.  But that is about the only one.
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Ceicei

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2013, 12:12:34 AM »
I was told by a friend that...

Quote
A 5.56 will take .223
A .308 will take a 7.62x51
A .357 lever gun will take .38 spcl
A 44 mag lever gun will take 44 spcl

Aren't these true?

Ceicei

coelacanth

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2013, 12:25:20 AM »
There are some rifles that can be had with the ability to switch calibers by switching out barrels but other than what has been said by others here thats about it.  The best examples I know of that are the Thompson Center Dimension in centerfire and the CZ and Sako rimfires.

The 5.56 is simply the metric NATO designation for the .223 and those cartridges are in fact interchangeable.  The same goes for the .308 Winchester and the NATO metric designation 7.62 x 51 mm.   
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seanp

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2013, 12:33:01 AM »
Aren't these true?

These are basically true, but you have to verify your weapon on an individual basis.
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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2013, 01:29:49 AM »
A 22lr rifle may chamber and fire 22 longs and 22 shorts, if you can even find those kinds of ammo anymore.
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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2013, 05:45:02 AM »
yes, those are mostly true.

5.56 and 7.62 are the military designations, in millimeters, for commercial cartridges; .223 Remington and .308 Winchester respectively. properly it would be 5.56x45 NATO and 7.62x51 NATO, though most don't bother. these cartridges are functionally identical and to most intents and purposes are functionally interchangeable, but the exact length and pressures vary and a few guns can handle one and not the other. here are some details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.223_Remington, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.308_Winchester, the short version is some .223's shouldn't shoot 5.56 and some 7.62x51's need to be very careful with the more powerful .308 loads.

the others go back the invention of metallic cartridges, the basic form of ammunition for a long time was a (mostly) straight cylinder capped at one end with a bullet and at the other with a slightly wider rim. examples: http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i219/GrantRCanada/Cartridges/455_45sw_45colt.jpg, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:500SWMag005.png.
basically the cartridge was shoved into the chamber up to the rim to fire, and then the extractor pulled/pushed on the rim to eject. this simple design made it easy to make a more powerful version simply by making the case and chamber longer, allowing more room for powder and making sure it wouldn't fit in a gun designed for the older cartridge. ex: .22 rimfires http://www.theintermountain.com/storyPhotos/Ken's_bullets.jpg, http://cartridgecollectors.org/images/introduction-to-22-box-collecting/22sllr.jpg
so when you have a longer version of one of these 'straight walled' cartridges you can shoot any of the shorter versions it was based on, though it might not cycle through the action.
a few off the top of my head:
.44 magnum > .44 special >.44 russian
.357 magnum > .38 special
.327 federal magnum > .32 H&R magnum > .32 S&W long > .32 S&W
45-120 > 45-110 > 45-90 > 45-70
.22 long rifle > .22 long > .22 short
12ga 3.5'' > 12ga 3'' > 12ga 2 3/4''
20ga 3'' > 20ga 2.75'' > 20ga 2.5''
etc.

now assuming that made any sense, let's go back to your original question and expand on it. are you looking to have a gun that's more versatile, one that has a wider selection of ammunition or both?
the trouble with most of these combinations is that only one (or none) from each group is common, with the exception of .38/.357 and the shotgun shells, so it doesn't help much with ammo availability.

if you have a revolver to go with it a carbine in .357 or .44 mag is pretty neat, but the best answer to your question might not be a rifle at all but a shotgun in 12 or 20. very common in all sorts of flavors, and the different types of shells give it a great deal of versatility (birdshot, buckshot, slugs etc.)


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hi-power

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2013, 05:47:00 AM »
hmmm, i'm sure i could have worked the word 'cartridge' in there a few more times...

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2013, 08:55:57 AM »
I was told by a friend that...

Aren't these true?

Ceicei
Yes and no. 5.56 and 7.62x51 are the military versions of the .223 Remington and .308 Winchester. While they are indeed very similar, there are some differences that mean some guns can shoot both an some guns can not. You will need to research the individual firearm model. Even just saying AR15 could be dicey and you will want to double check that the particular upper receiver will work with one or the other or both.

If you really want interchangeability then your best best will be to stick with lever actions chambered in either .357mag or .44mag, which can shoot .38 special and .44 special respectively.

That then opens up it's own, albeit minor, issue. With the specials being shorter than their larger magnum counterparts if you shoot a lot of them and don't clean the chamber well you can develop a carbon ring inside the chamber. Not going to cause an issue in continued use of the specials, but if you go to use the longer magnums you can run in to issues. It can be fixed or prevented with proper cleaning, but it's a consideration to keep in mind if you fire a lot of the shorter specials.
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schapm

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Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2013, 09:10:39 AM »
yes, those are mostly true.

5.56 and 7.62 are the military designations, in millimeters, for commercial cartridges; .223 Remington and .308 Winchester respectively. properly it would be 5.56x45 NATO and 7.62x51 NATO, though most don't bother. these cartridges are functionally identical and to most intents and purposes are functionally interchangeable, but the exact length and pressures vary and a few guns can handle one and not the other. here are some details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.223_Remington, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.308_Winchester, the short version is some .223's shouldn't shoot 5.56 and some 7.62x51's need to be very careful with the more powerful .308 loads.

the others go back the invention of metallic cartridges, the basic form of ammunition for a long time was a (mostly) straight cylinder capped at one end with a bullet and at the other with a slightly wider rim. examples: http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i219/GrantRCanada/Cartridges/455_45sw_45colt.jpg, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:500SWMag005.png.
basically the cartridge was shoved into the chamber up to the rim to fire, and then the extractor pulled/pushed on the rim to eject. this simple design made it easy to make a more powerful version simply by making the case and chamber longer, allowing more room for powder and making sure it wouldn't fit in a gun designed for the older cartridge. ex: .22 rimfires http://www.theintermountain.com/storyPhotos/Ken's_bullets.jpg, http://cartridgecollectors.org/images/introduction-to-22-box-collecting/22sllr.jpg
so when you have a longer version of one of these 'straight walled' cartridges you can shoot any of the shorter versions it was based on, though it might not cycle through the action.
a few off the top of my head:
.44 magnum > .44 special >.44 russian
.357 magnum > .38 special
.327 federal magnum > .32 H&R magnum > .32 S&W long > .32 S&W
45-120 > 45-110 > 45-90 > 45-70
.22 long rifle > .22 long > .22 short
12ga 3.5'' > 12ga 3'' > 12ga 2 3/4''
20ga 3'' > 20ga 2.75'' > 20ga 2.5''
etc.

now assuming that made any sense, let's go back to your original question and expand on it. are you looking to have a gun that's more versatile, one that has a wider selection of ammunition or both?
the trouble with most of these combinations is that only one (or none) from each group is common, with the exception of .38/.357 and the shotgun shells, so it doesn't help much with ammo availability.

if you have a revolver to go with it a carbine in .357 or .44 mag is pretty neat, but the best answer to your question might not be a rifle at all but a shotgun in 12 or 20. very common in all sorts of flavors, and the different types of shells give it a great deal of versatility (birdshot, buckshot, slugs etc.)

This is good advice for my neck of the woods. I've often thought I could get by with nothing but my 12ga pump and a handgun if I had to. However, I live in IN where we can't use real rifles for deer and longer shots are rare where I hunt anyway. If I lived in a state that allowed it I still think there's a lot to be said for a bolt rifle in aught six.
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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2013, 03:37:25 PM »
This is good advice for my neck of the woods. I've often thought I could get by with nothing but my 12ga pump and a handgun if I had to. However, I live in IN where we can't use real rifles for deer and longer shots are rare where I hunt anyway. If I lived in a state that allowed it I still think there's a lot to be said for a bolt rifle in aught six.

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Ceicei

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2013, 11:36:57 PM »
Thank you all.  Very good information!  8)

Ceicei

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Re: Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2013, 12:17:41 AM »
The 30-06 is the ultimate jack of all trades round, it may not do it best, but it will work on anything in North America
It's a bit much for squirrel. ;)

Though, it will work, so you're correct, strictly speaking. Kinda hard to make potpie out of what's left...

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2013, 01:39:44 AM »
It's a bit much for squirrel. ;)

Though, it will work, so you're correct, strictly speaking. Kinda hard to make potpie out of what's left...

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See, now we're going to confuse the issue.  Just use reduced power loads and you'll have plenty of meat left.  Subsonic .30 caliber loads have been around long before the .300 Whisper.   You can get bullet weights down to 90 grains rolling out the barrel of a 30/06, a .308 Winchester, a .30-30 Winchester or even a 30/40 Krag at a leisurely 1000 to 1100 feet per second.   100 and 110 grain pistol bullets work nicely and in a pinch you can use No. 1 buckshot.   Regular rifle primers, a container of Trailboss, Red Dot, Blue Dot or Unique and you're in the plinking and small game business.   
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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2013, 05:31:56 AM »
It's a bit much for squirrel. ;)

Though, it will work, so you're correct, strictly speaking. Kinda hard to make potpie out of what's left...

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schapm

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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2013, 08:19:56 AM »
It's a bit much for squirrel. ;)

Though, it will work, so you're correct, strictly speaking. Kinda hard to make potpie out of what's left...

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I made a half-hearted effort to tell myself that arguing about this is stupid, but I failed miserably.

In addition to coelacanth's points above, there are the .22 caliber sabot rounds that can work for squirrels. I have never used one, but those who have have advised me to stick with headshots.

All that aside, I have a hard time imagining a scenario where I would truly use one rifle for *everything* other than some silly SHTF lone survivor BS, and even then I would use snares or make a bow and arrow before I'd use an '06 for small game. Outside of SHTF scenarios I'm pretty sure I could scrape together the coin for a Marlin 60 or a single shot 12 gauge to use for my small game hunting even if my budget was pretty tight.
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Re: Rifles that could shoot more than one caliber?
« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2013, 03:20:32 PM »
Quote
In some 10mm (usually revolvers) you can shoot 40s&W.

Just because you can does not mean you should.

Quote
In addition to coelacanth's points above, there are the .22 caliber sabot rounds that can work for squirrels. I have never used one, but those who have have advised me to stick with headshots.

Remington Accelorator was a neat load.  I had some for my .30-30 a long time ago.  They were accurate enough for groundhogs at 50 yars or so.
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