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#636745 10/23/23 09:55 PM
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Earlier this month I received my first English boxlock double, a Watson Brothers 360EX 2.25" from 1906.

  • 26" barrels, Extractors
  • Webley screw grip action
  • Standing 150yd and folding 250 rear sight leaves
  • Mint bores
  • Full engraving coverage
  • No nitro proof marks, just 360EX. No cartridge or load info on the rifle


Prior to purchasing the gun and reaching out to Watson Brothers for their records, my best guess on DOM was post 1895 (based on the maker's barrel address) and pre-1907 (based on another rifle, 29 after mine, sold in 1907). Turns out this was sold in 1906.

Workmanship is quite wonderful. After casting the chamber and measuring the bore, I tried 0.366" jacketed soft point bullets made by RWS back in the day for the 9.3x72r. These with a modest load of H4198 are printing to POA at 35 yards, so I'm looking forward to loading up more rounds and trying at distances out to 150 yards. This will be going deer hunting next month when I join a friend for a hunt in Minnesota.

If you have loads for the 360EX 2.25" using smokeless nitro-for-black power loads, I'd love to see them. This rifle was presumably proofed with black powder (given the absence of nitro proofmarks that would have been required by then), so I'm not loading with full nitro loads.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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That’s a lovely rifle. Thanks for sharing the pictures and details. Let us know how the trip to Minnesota goes!

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CJF,
This is a very nice rifle and a useful cartridge for your state. You have a fun project ahead of you, good luck.
Mike

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That's a beaut! I had a hammer double Purdey and its favorite load was 30 grains of 3031 with the 193 grain RWS.

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Thank you for the kind feedback (and the load recommendation!)

You wouldn't happen to know where to find more of the RWS 193s? This rifle seems to like them.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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CJF,
If you get a chance for some Norma or S&B 193 grain bullets, don't turn them down, they should work too. Cast bullets shouldn't be counted out, without giving them a good try.

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I’ll look for both. Thanks Mike. It’s a shame Norma, RWS and S&B all seem to have hard to locate distribution here in the States.

I’ve got to modify how I’m patching up my .358” lead round nose bullets. Finished diameter is too large for the expander I have. That’s a shame since I finally am getting tight patches. I know what to try next…or I think I do. Just need the time.

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CJF,
You may be able to find a set of Lyman 366408 mold blocks, or you can have a set of mold blocks custom made. This is not as hard as it used to be, since makers are using CNC lathes to bore the blocks rather than using a "cherry".
Mike

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CJF, the 366408 bullets were too heavy for the 4 360 2 1/4 rifles I've had. I had to get my 366408 cut down back when to get closer to 200 grains. Accurate Moulds makes a really nice 200 grain bullet mould 37-196B.

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CJF,
The 366408 bullet is also too heavy (read long) for some(newer) 9.3x72Rs, so I also have one of my molds cut back to about 200 grains. My favorite bullet for the 9.3s is a really blunt nose 208gr from Hensley & Gibbs. It is their # 512c, but it is very hard to find on the used mold market. A 512a or 512b can be shortened similar to the 366408, if you can find one. The bullets from my mold drop out at .368" which allows sizing to use in different diameter barrels. HalfaDouble is also correct about Accurate Molds being really nice, although I have never tried the 37-196B.
Mike

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I will ultimately need a cast bullet to practice, and potentially hunt, as my stash of RWS 193gr bullets is limited and shared with a 9.3x72r double. This is a shame, as they are super easy to reload since they have a mid-bullet band that stands proud of the base. I've been able to expand the case mouths enough to accept the smaller base diameter and then press and tap the bullets home, finishing with a pass through the seater with the central plug removed to smooth things out. These worked consistently at 50 yards and shorter. I haven't tried them further out.

I also tried 2 loads with purchased swaged lead bullets.

The first were naked 0.361" 145gr LRN bullets from Buffalo Arms that I got for my Alex Henry single($24.59 for 50). They weren't great in the Henry beyond 50 yard (likely too small), so I tried them in the Watson. They performed well enough at 35yds so I tried further out. We don't have steel at 100yrds so I tried the 200yd plates and was pleased to hit them 50% of the time for 6 shots. I'm happy with that given I am finding elevation to be the big issue I'm having with the Watson's iron sights. Not blaming the gun - I just need to practice with that wide shallow V and tiny front bead. I have only 8 loaded rounds left using the 50 bullets I bought and I won't replace them as I had much better luck with paper patched 0.358" 170gr LRN bullets from Bear Creek Supply. I bought a box of 500 of those for $50. They are terrible unpatched in the Watson and AH, but great patched in the Watson. I'll try them next in the AH. I'm hopeful about using these patched in all 3 of my 360EX rifles (there's also a GE Lewis hammer gun from the 1870s) after I get the Watson ready for next month's hunt. Bear Creek also offers a 180gr option at .358 and say they have a .361" 200gr coming soon, which sounds even better.

The patched bullets still reflect my newbie status as a patcher, but I'm getting better. Overall I need smaller finished bullet diameters, so I'll need shorter patches, and I have to make them stop further from the nose of the bullet as none of these rifles have long leades and I had some trouble closing the action on some rounds unless I peeled off some patch material.

It was a pleasant surprise that even rounds where the patch was cut off above the case neck by their final die pass performed OK. For patching paper I used gas station credit card receipt paper from refueling on our summer road trip. I will also try 9lb onion skin from Buffalo Arms.

So I'm planning on hunting next month with the jacketed flat nose RWS bullets, but I'll be exploring ways to make the 170gr LRN Bear Creek Supply bullets work via patching for use going forward.

Pictures below -- first target shows the first pair of 170gr LRN patched 0.358" bullets at 35yds. The second shows the longer rifle range with a zoom to the 200yd plates.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by CJF; 10/27/23 07:38 PM.
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Buffalo Arms shows a .366" dia., 193gr, SP Jacketed bullet for 9.3x72R, priced $46.19 for 50. They are marked as "out of stock" but seem to be reformed from another bullet, possibly 200 gr .358RN. Buffalo Arms is known to reform or resize bullets for specific calibers. Since this is the case, they will likely make another "run" when they get enough requests to make it worthwhile to them. It may be worth your while to give them a call and lodge a request. BTW, to see the bullet you have to scroll almost to the end of the list. Good luck.
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I had been on their site earlier today, checking their prices for 360EX and 9.3x72r brass to see if the Norma 9.3x72r brass I was seeing on GunBroker was a decent price. It was, so I am buying 50 cases of 9.3x72r from GB to a German boxlock double in that cartridge and provide more parent cases to cut down when my supply of Bertram 360 2.25” starts to wear out.

I’m intrigued how they form the two diameters of the bullet main shaft.

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I also own and shoot a similar boxlock double on a Webley action. Mine though was retailed by Isaac Hollis of London and spent its previous life in India. The engraving on both side depicts a Leopard - I think it would be a very confident, or possibly foolhardy, hunter who went after Leopard with this cartridge !

The barrels are marked 360 EXPRESS BLACK POWDER 2 1/4 CASE on the top, and 360 EX 55-190 below [presumably the regulation charge and bullet weight]

Being an oppressed UK shooter I have limited access to the range of powders and bullets available in the US, I also only use the rifle to punch holes in paper at 50yds, so my reloads err on the lower velocity side.

I use a Rapine mold 366195 bought many years ago - sadly no longer trading. I used to load with Trail Boss, 11gns giving 1300fps, but the EU banned its import a while back. I have also had good success with Unique 8.5gns giving 1200fps.

However I now use Lovex DO60 a czech powder, which if you read their web page they say is similar to Accurate 5744 [which I presume is available in the US] I find 13.5gns gives me 1100fps and regulates well about 3in high. This load does leave unburnt kernels up the barrel.

I find Bertram brass can be a touch thick at the neck for my right side chamber stopping the action closing. I size the bullets to 365 and use allox lube. For the right chamber I have a number of cases I keep separate, these I have put in a bench drill chuck and thinned down the neck using a strip of fine abrasive paper.

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Nick, thank you for the great information. If you have the means of posting photos I would love to see your rifle. Do you know when it was sold by Hollis?

Chris

Last edited by CJF; 10/29/23 12:23 PM.
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Chris, can't find any information on Hollis, but I guess it would be early 1900's. I will see what I can do about taking and uploading some pics.

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Please forgive my ignorance and jumping in here but where does this cartridge sit in relation to the 9.3x57R/360? From the descriptions, they seem to be the same or nearly so. Thanks!

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Hoot4570,
9.3x57R or 9.3x57R/360 are German designations for the English 360- 2 1/4". Just like the other old 9.3s, this cartridge shows variation in groove diameters and German guns may show "D" version or "E" version chambers, causing confusion IDing pre 1912 nominal caliber designations. BTW, there is no similarity in ballistics between the 9.3x57, popular in Sweden, and the 9.3x57R, under discussion here and only case length is the same, not head size
Mike.

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Thank you Sir. I have both the 9.3x57 and 9.3x57R on hand here. You and others helped me sort out the R version a few years ago---a Sauer Tell V single.

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Nick - Does your Hollis have a top lever like the Watson's?

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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Hoping to get to the range tomorrow in between errands. Have loaded up patched 170gr .358"s. The measure .363"...still undersized but at least for once the patches are perfect. I'm trying an excel template suggested by Capt Curl on another BBS, using 9lb onion skin paper from Buffalo Arms. These are at least the nicest looking patched bullets I've managed to date. Fingers crossed. I plan on patching more after I get back from hunting where I'm giving 3 wraps of paper instead of 2. That should take them up to .365", which should also work in my 9.3x72r German boxlock double.

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Good luck with the testing and hunting


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Undersized bullets are usually shot with BP, the theory being that the pressure curve of BP will bump the bullet up enough to grab the lands. I shot .366" bullets out of my .360" with superb results. I would recommend a premium bullet or hard cast lead for hunting, the ballistics of the .360 are pretty darn mild, not much room for error.


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Booking African hunts, firearms import services

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Chris, have you ever thought of swaging down a 375 Winchester bullet ?

Many years ago I took a 200gn, can't remember if it was a Speer or Hornady, soft point jacketed bullet and after a lot of grunting resized it through my 366 push through sizing die.

I only made the one as my little RCBS JR press nearly gave up the ghost with the force needed ! being a flat nosed soft point it allowed the surplus lead to extrude out of the top. I have sent you a pic of the assembled round by email - I never fired it but kept it as a souvenir.

I'm sure with a bigger press and an interim sizing die you could easily make and try a variety of different size and shape bullets. I can't attest for the accuracy of the bullet with this process but the one I made looked good.

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Have you run across this page?: http://forums.nitroexpress.com/printthread.php?Board=doubles&main=131910&type=post
There is really no need for jacketed bullets at the 1250-1650 fps regime of this cartridge and the lead bullets will be much kinder to the old barrel and the game will never know the difference in what made the hole in or through them. Remember millions of buffalo (bison) fell to a 1250 to 1350 fps lead bullet. The original load for the 38-55, which has a larger powder capacity, was a heavier 255 grain bullet at 1350 fps and untold deer, elk, moose and bear were felled with it. Find the most accurate and closest to the sights lead bullet load you can and go hunting with it. Have fun.

Last edited by HalfaDouble; 11/02/23 07:35 PM.
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CJF,
HalfaDouble just gave you some more good advice.
Mike

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Thank you HalfaDouble, Mike, Steve and Skeetex! Sorry for the slow response - have been with the family on some time away.

The only reason I would look to mess with jacketed bullets is that I hate cleaning up the leading I was getting before I started paper patching. That is now better. While I like the option of just reloading, without waiting for patches to dry, even if I wanted to use some of the 200 grain jacketed bullets and size them down, all the 0.375" 200gr jacketed bullets by Speer and Hornady seem to be sold out right now. I do ultimately want to try this, along with swaging 0.358" bullets up, but for now I'll focus on getting my patching and loading right.

I really appreciate you all and the help you give. Thanks.

Chris

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We had a good day hunting today. Got a nice buck…range was short, maybe 35 yards. Was in a stand, firing downward. Buck dropped where he was. A fairly big one, but it seems they get larger as you go farther north (we are in Minnesota, about an hour north of Minneapolis). Pics when I get home.

Very happy with how the Watson performed with the RWS jacketed soft points. Still will pursue a patched LRN load.

Last edited by CJF; 11/16/23 05:25 PM.
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So a few pics as promised. But first an observation.

While hunting, both from a stand and moving, I found the Watson's small size, balance and lack of protruding parts much easier to to carry over a few days of hunting than the scoped Dakota Model 10 I also briefly hunted with this trip. I'd brought the Dakota in case I needed more range than I was comfortable attempting with the 360EX's black powder loads (until I practice more.) I did pass on a 90 yard shot on a nice buck the day before I got my deer, and briefly hunted with 7mm-08 Dakota as a result, but then switched back to the Watson for the final day of hunting. Glad I did.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by CJF; 11/20/23 03:50 PM.
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CJF,
Waidmannsheil
Mike

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Thank you Mike. It was a great visit with an old friend. As a plus I got to see family in Wisconsin on the way to/from, and that was special as it’s close to the year anniversary of losing Mom.

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Chris,
That’s a beautiful rifle and beautiful deer. I really enjoyed you sharing the story about load development and getting the deer. It prompted me to research Watsons. Please keep us updated on the work to develop a LRN load.

Larry

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CJF,
Sorry about your Mom.
Mike

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Thank you Mike and Larry. It was a good trip, and great catching up with friends and family. I appreciate your kind words.

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