View Full Version : Anybody here shoot a 44/40 revolver and load for it?

June 15, 2008, 03:02 AM
I am looking/thinking about a S&W DA in 44-40. I really don't NEED to add another caliber, especially an odd-ball one. Any comments about ammo availability commercially, reloading it, and what are good loads? I will look at some load tables tonight I guess, but thought I'd seek some wise opinions. What does the round feel like and what's a good target load (I like WST in my target loads if anyone has a loading with that powder)?

What's a good woods load for it on the higher end of the scale?

Aren't the bullets a slightly different dia. than other .44s, or do you just use .429/.430 in it?

Sorry, I'm very ignorant about this cartridge and haven't done all my usual study/homework on it yet.

Jim Watson
June 15, 2008, 08:21 AM
I have loaded .44-40 for CAS at factory equivalent, 750-850 fps in a SAA, though never with WST. Bullet diameters are all over the place. The usual cast bullet is .427" but there are guns that will do better with larger diameters, up into the .44 Special range. I prefer .428" because that is as large as the chamber in my Winchester reline will take with all brands of brass.

I don't think a "woods load for it at the higher end of the scale" and a S&W DA Frontier topbreak belong in the same post. David Chicoine, a leading gunsmith on the old guns, recommends they not be shot with smokeless powder at all. Or do you mean the N frame commemorative they made a few of with poor sales several years ago?

June 15, 2008, 09:04 AM
I load 44-40. Most modern 44-40's have .429 bores. Older ones are .427. Most reloading dies resize to .427 so you may have a problem seating .429's. You can use a 44 mag expander die r do like I do and use a wad punch to flare the case mouth a tad. A fired 30-06 case will work also. Brass is thin and requires a little more care to reload. Factory loads are mild and cost around 35.00 per box. The new S&W Schofield clones do not work well with bp, there's not enough gap between barrel and frame. For smokeless loads I use 7 grs. of W231 and a 200 gr. cast bullet but that's in a saa clone not a top break. Recoil with that load is pretty good.

June 15, 2008, 01:28 PM
[QUOTE]I don't think a "woods load for it at the higher end of the scale" and a S&W DA Frontier topbreak belong in the same post.[/QUOTE

Sorry for the lack of clarity, but I said "DA" to distinguish from SA clones. But I am not talking about a topbreak - I am talking about an N-frame S&W - yes Jim, the under-appreciated 544.

Thanks for the info so far. I was wondering if I could load it about like a warmer .44 special, in the 1000 fps or so range with a decent commercially available bullet w/o casting my own. I guess the right thing to do is, where I to get it, slug the throats and barrel and choose a bullet based on that.

I have a thing for cartridges that used to be black powder, even if we don't shoot them that way today - 30-30, 45 Long Colt, etc. Just having one for that reason appeals to me though I don't need it or have any personal history with the cartridge.

Jim Watson
June 15, 2008, 02:06 PM
When first fooling around with it, I had loads up to 900 fps in a 3rd generation SAA with no fuss. So I would say 1000 fps would be reasonable in that S&W 544... with the standard 200 gr bullet.

I found two posts on the S&W board; one shooter preferred .429" bullets, the other .427". Now isn't that a lot of help. I like .428s but they are a little harder to find.

June 15, 2008, 05:37 PM
I have a thing for cartridges that used to be black powder, even if we don't shoot them that way today - 30-30, 45 Long Colt, etc.

Ummm, the 30-30 was never a black powder cartridge. It was smokeless from the get go.

June 16, 2008, 07:13 PM
Ummm, the 30-30 was never a black powder cartridge

Doh! You are right. It was the very first all-new smokelss rifle cartridge, right? I forgot, the -30 stood for the gr. of smokeless powder, not black powder.

I did buy the 544 today, so I will have to wait to receive it (it is on the other side of the country right now) to figure out the throats, barrel, etc. and what size bullets to use. If I could get 200gr. hard lead to 1000fps or a little more I would be very happy. I had not realized it was a bottle-neck, so that will require some care, I guess.

June 16, 2008, 07:29 PM
It was the first smokeless civilian cartridge. The first smokeless cartridge in this country was the 30-40 Krag in 1892. The very first was the French 8MM Lebel in 1887. The French actually developed smokeless powder in 1884.

Yep it's a bottleneck with very thin cases. Have to be careful seating bullets.