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Zipper!
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'Ever wish you had a lever-gun chambered in .223?  Consider the .219 Zipper.

Factory performance, a 56gr pill at 3110fps, is pretty easy to attain within lever-gun safe pressures.  Strong bolt action or single shot rifles can achieve performance levels mid-way between the .223 Remington and .22-250.

Vintage .219 Zipper Winchester and Marlin lever guns can still be found at reasonable prices, and converting a .30-30 or .32 WCF to Zipper is a straightforward proposition.

Several manufacturers of modern high-wall, Ballard, and Sharps style single shots also offer the Zipper.  Its rimmed design extracts a bit more reliably than the unrimmed .222 and .223 Remington cartridges.

Fox Ridge, TC's custom barrel shop, offers .219 Zipper G2/Contender barrels, and although not listed, they will chamber Encore barrels for the Zipper, as well.

My Marlin 336, Rebarreled in .219 Zipper
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                            Rechambering a Marlin or Winchester Lever Action 
                            to .219 Zipper is straightforward and can be done for 
                            about $550. 

                            Buckhorn Gun Shop in Boise did a great job! 

                            The 24" Montana Rifle Works barrel was contoured
                            just like the original barrel so that I was able to use
                            the rifle's original forend, barrel band, and sights.
           


Major manufacturers no longer offer .219 Zipper brass; however, Buffalo Arms and Quality Cartridge offer high quality cases at reasonable prices.

Cases can be formed easily by running .25-35 brass through a .219 Zipper sizing die and trimming.  Of course, case necks should be turned/thinned.

Using case forming dies from Redding, CH4D, or RCBS, Zipper cases can be made from .30-30 or .32 special with minimal effort.

History:

Now almost forgotten, the .219 Zipper was one of the first high performance factory .22 centerfire rounds.  Its more famous offspring include the .219 Donaldson Wasp, the .219 Zipper Improved, and the .225 Winchester...And a host of wildcats based on those cartridges.

During the 1920's and 1930's, Winchester dominated the .22 centerfire market.  Other period Winchester innovations include the .22 Hornet, .218 Bee, and .220 Swift.  Winchester was on a winning streak with their .22 centerfire offerings, and needed a potent .22 cartridge when it unveiled its M64 in 1937.

A 1938 catalog advertised the cartridge with two loads:  A 56gr SP at 3050fps, and a 46gr SP at a sizzling 3390fps.

Bench rest shooters were quick to adapt single shots for the new cartridge; however, the Zipper's bench-rest days were short lived.  Harvey Donaldson's wildcat version of the Zipper, the .219 Wasp, overshadowed the Zipper and dominated Bench Rest shooting until the advent of the .222 Remington.

Winchester dropped the Zipper from their line during the 1940's; Marlin catalogued it in their 336 until 1961.

By the 1960's, Remington had surpassed Winchester as the leading innovator of .22 Centerfire cartridges--Having introduced the .222 Rem, .223 Remington, .222 Remington Magnum, and .221 Fireball in rapid succession.

Winchester countered by reducing the rim size of the wildcat .219 Zipper Improved so that it would operate using an unmodified M70 bolt face.  The resulting .225 Winchester, a truly fine cartridge, was never really able to compete with Remington's commercialized version of the .22-250 wildcat.

A similar cartridge, the .22 Hi Power (.22 Savage) was introduced in 1912.  Zipper case capacity and dimensions are nearly identical to the Hi Power.  

The Hi-Power is known in Europe as the 5.6mm x 51, where it is used to hunt smaller species of deer. 

The Hi-Power uses odd-ball .227" diameter bullets of 70 to 71 grains.  

The Zipper uses easily obtained .224" bullets, but the normal Zipper 1:14" twist rate won't stabilize heavy bullets.

My Encore barrel employs a 1:12" twist rate, and I specified a Montana Rifle Works 1:10" barrel for my Marlin in order to stabilize heavy bullets.

Reloading:

My Zipper cases are made from .30-30 brass.  Water capacity, including case neck, is 34.9 grains.  This is slightly less than the .22-250, but greater than the .223 Remington.

Two factors usually limit lever action pressures:  Case strength and case stretch.

Excess pressure can cause cartridge brass to turn to liquid--Squirting from the action as if propelled from a firehose.  Needless to say, this can be bad for your health.

Winchester M94 and Marin 336 lever actions have fairly springy actions that allow the bolt to move rearward a few thousandths of an inch during firing.  This permits cases to stretch slightly.

Excessive pressures can cause cases to stretch so much that they wedge the bolt against its latching mechanism, making case extraction difficult.

Difficult extraction is one (of many) signs that your loads may be a little too hot.

There is no SAAMI pressure standard for the .219 Zipper.  The SAAMI maximum average pressure for the .30 WCF, on which the Zipper is based, is 38,000cup/42,000psi.  The more recent 7mm Waters operates at 45,000psi.

During testing, my custom Marlin functioned flawlessly as long as pressures remained at or below 42,000psi.  Pressures above about 48,000psi caused sticky extraction, and when estimated pressures hit 50,000psi, extraction was no longer possible--I had to knock-out cases with a cleaning rod.

Increasing pressure beyond 42,000psi yielded so little velocity gain that it was hardly worth the decreased brass life and difficult extraction.  42,000psi is my max lever gun pressure.

I didn't actually pressure test any of the loads.  I used a ballistics program to estimate the pressure necessary to achieve measured velocities given powder weight, bullet weight, friction factor, and powder type.  The program isn't perfect, and can't possibly account for all of the possible variables that might affect pressure.  Take any of my pressure information with a grain of salt.


The .219 Zipper

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e-mail:

mtsmike@mindspring.com


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