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Old December 10, 2007, 10:58 PM   #1
Schofield
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.44-40 Question

New to to .44-40 caliber and have a question. I bought a box each of Ultramax and Black Hills ammo to compare in a new 73 lever action. I was suprised that the Ultramax has bottleneck style brass and the Black Hills brass are straight. Just wondering why the difference? Thanks
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Old December 11, 2007, 04:21 AM   #2
Hawg Haggen
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44-40 is a bottleneck, slight but still a bottleneck. A straight walled 44-40 is a .45 Colt.
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Old December 11, 2007, 05:31 PM   #3
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Case head.

I think Hawg Haggen is right. The foolproof way is to check the headstamp. The caliber will be there.
If they are the same caliber, then that's just weird
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Old December 11, 2007, 05:43 PM   #4
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It might also be stamped .44 WCF.

It stands for Winchester Center Fire.

In the late 1880's there was a .44 rim-fire.
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Old December 11, 2007, 06:21 PM   #5
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I don't think I'd try to load straight walled loads in a 44-40 no matter what the headstamp. You'll jam up that 73 quicker than you can spit. It's possible some 44-40 cases weren't finish formed and loaded as .45 Colt. I've bought new Starline 44-40 brass and had several unformed cases in each batch.
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Old December 11, 2007, 10:57 PM   #6
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The .44-40 base diameter is .471, the neck diameter is .443, so the case is certainly NOT straight; those cases are tapered in such a way that a real shoulder is not evident. Many .44-40 cases today are made that way and really present no problem. The "shoulder" may appear after they are fired, but I recommend checking the sizing die to be sure it has the shoulder. If not, that area is swelled and squeezed over and over and will fail rather quickly.

FWIW, the statement that a "straight .44-40 would be a .45 Colt" isn't true. They are different cartridges with different base and rim diameters. The .44-40 came first, designed by Winchester for its 1873 rifle. Colt developed the .45 Colt because the Army wanted a .45 caliber, but had to cut the rim diameter down to fit six rounds in the cylinder. That small rim gave extraction problems in rifles and revolvers that used an extractor (the SAA Colt, of course, had a rod ejector), and until recently, rifles were rare in the .45 Colt caliber. Now that the "cowboy" craze has struck again, there are rifles in .45 Colt, and (surprise!) they still give trouble due to the small rim.

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Old December 12, 2007, 07:55 AM   #7
Hawg Haggen
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You're right about the rim diameter but what I was getting at is if the mouth of the case isn't bottlenecked it would take a .45 bullet to fit, in effect making a .45 Colt. I've bought new brass that wasn't bottlenecked and a .44 bullet is too small. I had to resize them before they worked. I never bought loaded rounds so maybe some of them do come tapered down to the bullet with no bottleneck but all I've ever seen were.
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Old December 12, 2007, 11:34 AM   #8
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As the others have said, the .44-40 or .44WCF is indeed a bottleneck cartridge. However, chamber and cartridge case dimensions are somewhat ambiguous on the old `73 WCF's so the bottleneck just might not be as apparent on one cartridge as another. If the case is marked correctly and it chambers, shoot it.
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Old December 12, 2007, 12:28 PM   #9
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Some current factory .44-40 ammo has a seating crimp in the case right where the "shoulder" should be so that there doesn't appear to be any shoulder, only the indent for the crimp. Some have what might be termed a "bend" at that point, but there is not really a shoulder. .44-40 bullet diameter is actually .429, the same as the .44 Special and .44 Magnum.

But the .45 Colt base is .476-.477, the same as the OD of the case mouth, in other words, a straight case; mouth ID/bullet OD is .452".

The .44-40 base is .462, and a straight case would have a mouth ID/bullet OD of about .446, close to the old .44 Colt, which was a straight case and which was likely the starting point for the .45 Colt when the Army wanted the larger caliber. (I keep imagining someone using an MSOffice 72 Power Point presentation to show the generals that a .45 revolver would be much more powerful than a mere .44!)

So a straight .44-40 case would definitely be too big at .446 for a .429 bullet. I can't understand why anyone would sell anything like that, but maybe someone wanted them.

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Old December 12, 2007, 01:56 PM   #10
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Is current factory ammunition .429" or is it still .426"-.427"? I realize that many new guns are built with .429" barrels but this is a more recent thing.
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Old December 12, 2007, 09:49 PM   #11
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That's a good question. I would imagine it would be .427 as per the original rounds to keep from having problems in older guns. Some of the older clones have had .429 bores and .427 chambers which caused problems with reloads. I know new brass comes sized to .427 but I never bought loaded rounds so all that is speculation for me. I have three 44-40's, two pistols and a rifle and all mine take .429's.
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Old December 12, 2007, 10:28 PM   #12
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I would really like to see a picture of these different brands of 44-40's. You have me curious now.
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Old December 12, 2007, 11:16 PM   #13
Schofield
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"Some current factory .44-40 ammo has a seating crimp in the case right where the "shoulder" should be so that there doesn't appear to be any shoulder, only the indent for the crimp. Some have what might be termed a "bend" at that point, but there is not really a shoulder"

I think Jim may have answered the question with this statement. The Ultramax has its crimp about 3/4 of the way up the brass, whereas the Black Hills is crimped at the end of the brass. It sure makes it look like one is bottlenecked and the other one is straight. I will try to get a good picture tomorrow. I'm not having any luck tonight because of brass glare and the difference is subtle. I also plan on calling the companies tomorrow just to make sure.
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Old December 13, 2007, 02:19 PM   #14
CraigC
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Quote:
I would imagine it would be .427 as per the original rounds to keep from having problems in older guns.
That's what I would assume as well. Ammo loaded with .429's won't chamber in most original .44-40 guns. Even the Ruger Vaquero that is known to have a .429" bore but with original spec chambers. They're notoriously poor shooters until the chamber mouths are opened up to .430"-.431". Ruger didn't get that ironed out until late in its short production. Although I'm hearing that many new replicas of both single action and levergun models are coming with .429" bores so it may just be a crapshoot. Better off slugging the bore and handloading for them anyway.
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Old December 13, 2007, 05:30 PM   #15
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I have two Ubertis, a Cimarron and an older Cattleman imported by Stoeger. Also an older Rossi carbine imported by Interarms without the safety and crappy finish. I slugged all three and they're all .429. The pistols both hit point of aim except for six inches high at 25 yds. with my handloads. The Rossi rear sight was replaced with a Marbles full buckhorn. I plan on taking a deer with it sometime this season.
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Old December 15, 2007, 05:21 PM   #16
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Black Hills on left, Ultramax on right
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 104_0326.JPG (53.9 KB, 66 views)
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Old December 15, 2007, 08:25 PM   #17
38splfan
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Ammo.

The Ultramax Ammo has a much more pronounced shoulder to my eyes, but I can clearly make out the shoulder on the Black Hills as well.
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