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Author Topic: 44-40 long range performance!  (Read 7720 times)


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44-40 long range performance!
« on: February 06, 2012, 08:59:30 pm »
Ran across this today:

300 Meters?  On a windy range?

  Targets are the second tier center.

 The black powder load information is shown in the commentary on You Tube.

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    Re: 44-40 long range performance!
    « Reply #1 on: February 06, 2012, 09:40:09 pm »
    woof.  Proof that just because a gun (or cartridge) is old - doesn't mean it can't kick your ass - even at range.   :clap
    ArizonaIn Deo Confido

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    Re: 44-40 long range performance!
    « Reply #2 on: February 06, 2012, 11:15:37 pm »
    Impressive, for what is by today's standards, essentially a pistol caliber.

    I have a Uberti  repro of the 1873 Winchester saddlering carbine in .44-40.  I'm not sure I'd want to try to pull off that shot.
    I wonder what gun was being used by the shooter.  If he mentioned it I missed it through the wind noise.

    BTW, do they still make windscreens for microphones?  They did in the 1970s.......
    "Through ignorance of what is good and what is bad, the life of men is greatly perplexed." ~~ Cicero.


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    Re: 44-40 long range performance!
    « Reply #3 on: February 07, 2012, 06:15:22 pm » may be a 'pistol caliber' nowadays, and yes soon after it came out in a rifle, it was chambered in handguns.

    But for quite a few years there were 'rifle only' loads where this bugger was loaded HOT, with velocities that were rivaling today's 44 magnum velocities from a carbine.

    There's a reason it took the 30-30 nearly 40 years to dislodge the 44-40 as the premier deer killing round.

    Savvy Jack

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    Re: 44-40 long range performance!
    « Reply #4 on: September 30, 2018, 08:52:34 pm »
    I know this is an old topic but......

    That was John Kort. He passed away a few months ago. He used a Marlin 1894 and a scope. Full load black powder and an original design bullet, the Lyman 427098.
    akode is correct about the High Velocity loads in strong action rifles. SAAMI still lists the 44-40 as a rifle cartridge as it should be. Just because manufactures loaded them with pistol powders doent make it a postal cartridge.

    If you are interested in learning the history of the cartridge and it's modern day capabilities, check out this website.
    North Carolina


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    Re: 44-40 long range performance!
    « Reply #5 on: September 30, 2018, 09:43:15 pm »
    Good stuff.  Thanks for sharing.  Sorry to hear about Mr. Kort's passing.   
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    Re: 44-40 long range performance!
    « Reply #6 on: October 03, 2018, 01:22:24 pm »
    Colt's Six Shooter
    .44 W.C.F.
    The Rifle's Companion

    by Bryan Austin a.k.a Savvy Jack


    In a book entitled "A History of the Colt Revolver" by Charles T Haven and Frank B Belden, the author describes the Single Action Army by its original classification, the "New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol". Just like many other old west guns and calibers, nicknames soon unfolded as so rightly so in this case. Folks always like to shorten names when they can. Probably the most popular names we are all so familiar with would be the "Single Action Army" or "Peacemaker". Trying not to get too deep into the name calling, I believe the factory official nomenclature was M1873. It is also my understanding that all .45 cal models were marked "Single Action Army". In 1876 Colt got smart and chambered the revolver for the 44 WCF, an excellent idea so the "cowboy" could have a rifle and revolver chambered for the same cartridge. All of Colt's single action revolvers chambered for other than the .45 were called "Frontier Six Shooters" as so stamped on the barrels. So technically, the 44 WCF was never officially a "Single Action Army" but a "Frontier Six Shooter".

    (Caliber Nomenclatures)
    Before I go any further, let me explain the main difference between the 44 W.C.F. and the 44-40. Early on the famous rifle was simply refereed to as the Winchester, "New Model of 1873". Eventually the caliber was called 44 WCF rather than the confusing 44/100 used by all three Winchester models, and Marlin called their cal. the 44-40. So unlike the 45 Colt, there where two (really three), official historic "factory" designations for the .44 WCF.

    Shooting both Revolver and Rifle chambered in 44-40

    I have really enjoyed having both rifle and revolver chambered for the same cartridge. When I first started participating in CAS I chose the .44-40 as many that love that caliber do, for the historical aspect of rifle and revolver being chambered for both. CAS was short lived for me because my interest was in the cartridge, and not the game. Most "gamers" choose the 38 special and for a very good reason. Other's choose the 45 as the true revolver cartridge. I started out with store bought ammo to get me going until I saved up enough brass to reload myself. I typically kept about 2,000 cartridges on hand and only shooting once a month at 100 cartridges. Eventually, I turned to black powder for the full experience of the old west. I shot slowly so I could "savor the flavor" so to speak. I enjoyed "the shoot", not "the speed". Eventually, I dropped out and enjoyed shooting replicated historical caseloads the best I could with the powders/primers and bullets available. One advantage I had was the ability to shoot out my back door rather than have to take trips to a range somewhere.

    Cartridge That Won The West

    During this whole time, all I ever heard was folks downing the 44-40 cartridge. Folks always saying that it wasn't any good, it is underpowered, barely can kill a whitetail, hard to handload, etc. Thus for the next ten years, I dedicated my time to prove them wrong. However, it really wasn't that those folks were "wrong" but rather they were just misinformed or had a misunderstanding about the cartridge's ballistics and characteristics. They soon forget that the 44-40 was "The Cartridge That Won The West", or rather used in the rifle..."The Gun That Won The West". Funny though, in movies, the directors make the weaker, .44 rimfire Henry rifle look like a 2,000 yard rifle cannon but they make the Winchester look like a BB-gun. They also show more guys making 100 yard kill shots with a revolver but yet constantly miss with a rifle in close. The .44-40 cartridge is certainly surpassed by better, more powerful and accurate cartridges but this in no way means it is no longer any good.

    Misunderstanding.......History vs Today

    If folks say bad things about the cartridge in a rifle, you can imagine what is said about the cartridge in a revolver. The biggest misunderstanding folks have is understanding the differences in ballistics with black powder, early smokeless powder, today's pistol powder as well as today's rifle powder and last but not least, the different barrel, chamber throat and bullet diameter combinations that wreak havoc on accuracy. This is where the misunderstanding/s come from. I have tried many times to simplify an explanation but it is impossible and, to use a modern teenage saying...."It's complicated". Two well known articles already have explanations by two different authors.

    "Two Peas in a Pod" by [the late] John Kort, explains the history and yearly changes in ballistic performances.
    "Modern Day Shooting" by Ed Harrison, explains modern day accuracy issues and some resolutions.

    Although both links apply generally to rifles, it is certainly related and extends over to the revolver's performance.

    Using modern black powder, I discovered SWISS manufactured black powder gave better ballistics and better replicated original ballistics in a revolver. One often hears the question, "Which was better the 45 Colt or the 44 WCF?" Well, the 45 Colt certainly performed better for a short period of time. The Army's .45 cartridge used a 250gr bullet only for one year...until 1874 and the 44 WCF used a lighter 200gr bullet until 1885. My testing (using semi-balloon head cases) with these options show the 45/40grs/250gr/@909-916fps and the 44WCF/40grs/[email protected] 960fps out of my 5 1/2" SA revolvers. What we don't know is what did the .45 civil market use most...45 Colt ammo or 45 Schofield ammo? We already know the military used the Schofield ammo almost exclusively by 1874, less than one year after its inception. The Schofield ammo only used a 230gr bullet and 28gr of black powder thus making the 44-40 more powerful. Trying not to get too deep again, the 44 WCF used 40gr of black powder with about a .20" compression in semi-balloon head cases whereas today in order to get 40gr, one must compress a tad more...about .21" compression. In my testing, there is only about a 2-3 grain difference. I don't shoot much at 200 yard targets with a rifle nor do I try much to shoot at 50 yard targets with a revolver. Many revolver shooters brag about making 100 yard shots with modern 44 magnum revolvers and that is fine but is not what I am trying to accomplish. 50ft groups with the 45 results anywhere between 1-5 inch groups depending on the application and 1-4 1/4 inch groups with the 44 WCF. The absolute best ES and Sd was with the 45 @ ES-5 and Sd-2 with Kik black powder.

    44 Magnum "Parts"

    Many new 44-40 revolvers use 44 magnum barrels with a bore of .429. This can be problematic enough but then to add on top of that, the cylinder throats, on some are only .427 such as Ruger's early problems. Then there are forcing cone angle issues... Winchester's JSP hunting ammunition bullets are no wonder the 44-40 has a bad reputation with all of these tolerance issues. Those problems, along with the lack of modern factory high-performance +P loads, drove the final death blow to the once famous cartridge. "It is hard to make chicken salad when all you have to work with is chicken crap."

    Old vs New-Weak vs Strong...Reminder!!

    Before I go any further, in case you missed it in all the other blog writings, Old....worn out, weak action and old weak steel rifle and revolver firearms can BLOW up if you use +P loads. I refer to such loads as High Velocity, High Pressure, +P and +P+ loads. Those old weapons are the "weak links" as to why the 44-40 is currently loaded with weak ballistics. For some reason, shooters claim folks won't get the right ammo and will blow up their old Winchester if they see this "high performance ammo" on the shelves at Wally World. I can't say it would not happen but what about the currently manufactured 45 Colt +P and 45-70 +P ammo? Most people that own the old guns know better....but there are always going to be a few numbnuts. For that matter, what about 38 +P loads? I don't see a flood of articles claiming guys are blowing up old guns!!! What I do see is a lot of blown up guns as a result of a double charge of pistol powder that can produce 58,000 psi or more, or an undercharged squib stuck in the barrel, unchecked, followed by a boom from the next shot. YET another reason why I use bulk rifle chance of an unseen double charge or under charge. It costs more but so do blown up guns or worse. Most are smart enough to read the box first when buying ammo as well as understand what it is they need. Those nay Sayers sound like a bunch of Liberals claiming if we don't "ban all guns", the world is going to end. Get a grip!

    Many old handload manuals such as Lyman's #47 and #49, list strong action rifles for their high pressure loadings. For example, in #47 on page 344 and in #49 page 299/300 they list 20gr of 2400 with a 200gr JSP @ 19,000 CUP. This load is for what they call "Category II" rifles, to include the 92 Winchester, 94 Winchester, Marlin's and Replicas of the same type. Replica Henry's and 66's chambered for the 44-40 as well as the Winchester 73 and early Marlins should probably be considered Category I rifles with weak actions or weak steel. This should also apply to revolvers.

    Lyman lists nineteen rifles chambered for the 44-40.

    Group 1 (weak actions)
    Winchester Model 1873
    Whitney Kennedy lever action
    Colt-Burgess lever action
    Marlin Model 1888
    Colt Lightning pump action
    Replica Model 1873s (And I'd include replica Henry and 1866s in 44-40)
    Remington No 2 Rolling Block Single Shot
    Ballard No 2 Single Shot
    Stevens Model 44 Single Shot

    Group 2 (Strong Actions)
    Winchester Model 1892 (& replicas)
    Marlin Model 1889
    Marlin Model 1894
    Remington Keene Bolt Action
    Remington Model 14 1/2 pump action
    Winchester Single Shot rifles
    Remington No 1 Rolling Block single shot
    Remington "Baby Carbine" single shot
    Stevens Model 44 1/2 single shot

    I personally go easy with my newer Uberti replica revolvers. I doubt seriously an old 1870's revolver was stronger than any action on a Henry or Winchester so I will call it the absolute weakest link. Take a gander at the thickness of an original 1870's 44 WCF cylinder wall. You can't tell me the thickness of a rifle chamber or the rifle's action is weaker than the thickness of those thin cylinder walls. The problem is not necessarily the reasonable amount of pressure or slightly overpressure applied to a square inch but rather how it is applied. For powder sounds massive when shot but it produces a slower, more rounded pressure curve. Smokeless powder looks more like a heart rate machine with a sharp pointy spike. If I were to put my fist on your shoulder and push, that would be more like black powder. If I were to put my fist on your shoulder and give a quick, kung fu jolt, that would be more like smokeless. This is what is so harsh on old steel, weak actions, and thin cylinder walls.

    Ubert claims to test their revolvers at 4 times the max pressures. If this is true, it would be that they test the Uberti Cattleman 44-40 at 32,000 psi. Boy that's a BIG If in my ignorant opinion but awesome if true. Even though, an accidental double charge of 8.5gr (14,248 psi) of Unique, will result in a 53,543 psi possible explosion.

    I did a lot of higher pressure testing in my Uberti "Buckhorn" SAA revolver. The Buckhorn is a 44 magnum and has a larger frame than the Cattleman. I use a 44-40 cylinder that is longer than the Cattleman's and has thicker cylinder walls. Again, this is a 44 magnum so the frame is not the weak link, only the thickness of the cylinder walls. I went through the same issues with the 45 Colt/ACP cylinder as well. The 45 Colt Pmax is 15,954 psi CIP and the 45 ACP is 18,855 psi CIP, but was advised NOT to use ACP +P loads. I think the ACP +P loads are 23,000 psi SAAMI.... unknown CIP pressures. The 44-40 cylinder walls are thicker than the 45 ACP which would be about 19,739 psi CIP with the 10gr of! I talked with an Uberti Rep and he told me that the cylinders, frames, barrels, etc. are all made from the same steel stock. If it's a lie, he told it!! I don't feel absolutely comfortable shooting 10gr of Unique in my Cattleman's, nor a case capacity load of any slower (NOT SLOW) burning rifle powders but I feel 100% comfortable shooting such loads in the magnum frame. I have shot those loads in the Cattleman and would certainly do so if I had to in an emergency with some confidence but continued use....not so much!

    I am not saying you can't get a better caliber firearm for self-defense or hunt with either the rifle or revolver, but what I will say is that the 44-40 cartridge today is very underrated. This underrating is the result of a misunderstanding and a refusal to learn and add it to today's +P load line-up alongside the 45 Colt +P and 45-70 +P loads.

    I forgot to add..... I was glad to see Buffalo Bore finally add the 44-40 to their list in Dec 2017. Although they call it the 44-40 "heavy" it is loaded to within SAAMI specs BUT could maybe exceed SAAMI max pressures if used in tight chambers, smaller bore barrels or old weak weapons.
    North Carolina

    Savvy Jack

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    Re: 44-40 long range performance!
    « Reply #7 on: October 03, 2018, 01:41:06 pm »
    I just cant add everything in there or it would be a book!!!  :D

    Today's smokeless powder factory 44-40 ammunition used in a rifle averages less than 1,190fps (my factory super-X tests result in velocities avg 1,030 in a 20" barrel).....has been neutered since it's original 1,300fps black powder ballistics. Almost the same results as the 44 Rimfire in the Henry and Winchester Model 66' which clocked in at 1,125fps.

    In 1910 the 44-40 was offered in a High Velocity factory loading, only for use in strong actions like the Winchester 94' and Marlin 94' type strong actions, velocity's clocked in at 1,500+fps

    Quotes from Winchester's 1873 catalog.....
    " the end of December 1866, the "Infantry Model" [Winchester Model of 1866] had finished field testing in Switzerland. Testings from 300 to 1,000 paces shooting at 6ft x 6ft targets resulting in 1.5ft x 1.5ft [email protected] paces. Several 50-75 yard shots reported by amateurs resulted in 1/2" to 3" groups."

    4" Groups at 100 yards with all of these rifles was considered awesome!!!

    I use a Sierra 210gr JHP in my Marlin 1894CB and in my 44 Magnum framed Uberti "Buckhorn" single action revolver.

     The following loads exceed SAAMI max pressures.

    Target #207
    25 Yards
    Uberti "Buckhorn" 44-40
    To include the flyer, Group is 3 7/8"
    Excluding the flyer, Group 2 3/4"

    Sierra 210gr SJHP
    26gr Reloder 7

    Revolver 25 Yards

    Rifle 100 Yards

    North Carolina

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