The 25-20 was first introduced in the 1890’s for the Winchester 92 lever-action. In reality this cartridge was just a necked down 32-20. In its’ day it was a very popular small game and varmint round, and was advertise for small deer. This last claim is probably a little more than it could and can today handle, and would not be recommended due to undue cruelty. For the UK I would say that this would be a great fox round, nice flat trajectory with ballistic as high as 2000fps with the correct powder and bullet selection. Though 17hmr is much quicker, the 25-20 imparts more energy on the target, and in my opinion has better knock down power especial if you don’t get a head shot.

Marlin 1894CL Classic

Bullets range from 75 grains to 86 grains, 90 grains for lead from the main manufacturers, and I have even loaded a Hornady V-Max ballistic tip 75 grain but only loaded one at a time with excellent results. If out in the field and you need something with a little more than the 22rf, 17hmr, but not as much as 223 then this fits in just nice.

There are two main draw backs that I can see, (unless anybody knows differently.) I know of no manufacturer that is still making rifles in this calibre, and the rifles that there are, are not threaded for a silencer. Real shame that as it would be my calibre of choice round the field over others for our varmint friends. If you ever come across an example, check the barrel thoroughly, as many were given to children due to easy handling and light recoil, and many have had the ass shot out of them. However a nice one is like rocking horse doo-doo and would be a nice little historic addition even if a modern “Classic” offered by Marlin.

All the loading components are available, though for those of you without expanding ammo on you FAC you will have real problems if you want to use jacketed as they all tend to be soft points. I tried lead, bought and own cast, but had problems with any accuracy as load data with the lightest load gave 1400+fps. I could have persevered a little longer but had good results with jacketed, so I just decided to stick with them. I used my Marlin “1894CL Classic” for the test, and a 4x40 scope. The scope was not the best choice due to its’ size, as more powerful but smaller are available.

Picture shows a .357 case next to the 25-20 as a size comparison and the Remington 86 grain soft point.

I Tested over 50m & 100m using IMR 4198, Viht N110 Alliant 2400 AA No 9 & Hodgdon H110. The heavier 86 grain hunting bullet from Remington was used though similar accuracy was achieved in past testing with Speer 75 grain bullets. Though I have used small pistol primers in the past, this is not advisable as this the little cartridge has an industry standard of 28,000 CUP which is not bad for a classic small cartridge. The pistol primer is not as hot so you can get some un-burnt powder, and can blow back as it is not as thick as small rifle primers. I had a few Federal left, though noticed no difference in performance from MagTech, and MagTech are more easily available.

Groups at 50m were very good, and matched the best performance of 17hmr or 22rf, but did open up at 100m by about 1.25 inches, so were not able to compete with 17hmr on that front.

Best powders were IMR 4198 & Viht N110, I particular liked the IMR 4198, as a compressed load can be used, 12.6C grains that gave approximately 1750fps. I backed it off a little to 11 grains, and still got 1300fps, this being the all round best performer. Alliant 2400 was also good, but was a little bit harsh, and seemed to perform only at 50m. Still a good choice though for that range if you are happy with a maximum load of 9 grains giving about 1600fps.

So my first choice would be IMR 4198, then Viht N110, followed by Alliant 2400.

Loading Tip: As per the manuals, the case necks are quite thin so it is advisable to seat then crimp, or as I did seat & crimp together, but take your time if you don’t want to throw away damaged cases.

If you need a bit more speed, go for the Speer 75 grain, this is a nice bullet, and will get you just over 2000fps