View Full Version : Why do they call it a 44?

July 9, 2010, 05:56 AM
The bullets I load in my 45 ACP are sized at .452. The balls I load in my 1858 are .454. So why do they call it a 44?

July 9, 2010, 06:12 AM
The bores are .450 but thats still a .45 right? Actually they're a .44 if you measure the lands instead of grooves. The bores are drilled to .44 and then rifled.

July 9, 2010, 06:18 AM
The reasoning was explained to me like this: during the percussion period and earlier the caliber was defined by the diameter of the lands, whereas from the cartridge era on (give or take a few years) it was defined by the rifling groove diameter.

July 9, 2010, 09:02 AM
And why do they call it a .38-40 when it's really .401?

July 9, 2010, 12:14 PM
I don't try to fathom the logic behind nomenclature of early calibers and cartridges. For example, the .52 percussion Sharps is closer to a .54 and the Spencer cartridges designated .56/50 and .56/52 are interchangeable.
Might as well ask why we have .220 Swift, .221 Fireball, .222 Remington, .223 Remington, .224 Weatherby, and .225 Winchester when all of their bullets are .224 diameter.

July 9, 2010, 12:25 PM

July 10, 2010, 08:59 AM
Why is it called a .38 special or .38 super when it's a .357?
Ain't it really a .36?
Why is it called a .44 mag or .44 special when it's a .429?
Ain't it really a .43?
Life is so confusing.

July 10, 2010, 10:01 AM
Why isn't it called a brunette, even though it looks like a blonde ? ;)


July 10, 2010, 10:41 AM
For cartrige guns, the reason is simple. The early 44's and 38's used heeled bullets like the 22 rimfire. When they went to non-heeled bullets they had to decrease the bore size.

The 45 colt came after this trend had completed, thus it was able to use a 45 caliber bullet.

For your BP revolvers, the ball has to be oversize so the rifling has something to grab onto.

July 10, 2010, 01:20 PM
"Why isn't it called a brunette, even though it looks like a blonde ? "

I think that it is a 'collar & cuffs' thing :rolleyes:...

July 15, 2010, 04:38 PM
A lot of the naming was, and still is, for marketing purposes only.
A "38 Special" sounded exciting when, it really is a .36 and many of the early revolvers were enemic .36s.
And same with "44 Magnum". Wow! Everyone wants one. But who would want a '.429 elongated case'?
The American non-system system of naming calibers makes no sense. But, it sure makes talking about them a lot of fun.

July 15, 2010, 04:52 PM
Why isn't it called a brunette, even though it looks like a blonde ?

Just so you know, Diet Coke hurts when it gets in your nose.

Old Grump
July 16, 2010, 08:55 PM
Came from the 44 rimfire which like the 38 long colt used a heeled bullet. the diameter of the bullet was .44" like the 38 long colt was .38".

The Russians didn't like S&W 44/100 and demanded they make the bullet the same diameter as the inside of the case, .429". The modern 44 was born.

T. O'Heir
July 21, 2010, 12:46 PM
"...don't try to fathom the logic behind nomenclature..." It'll give you brain damage if you even try with military cartridges too.
.308" doesn't mathematically convert to 7.62mms. Mind you, .308" is the groove diameter. 7.62mm is the bore diameter.
Then you get into stuff like the 7.5 Swiss that uses the same bullet.
"..."38 Special"..." Because it isn't a .38 Short, Long, S&W or Colt.