View Full Version : 44/40

August 15, 2010, 07:38 PM
I am sort of interested in the old 44/40 but have avoided the cartridge because of all the stories you hear about bulging the case while crimping a reload. In any event there's some reasons I would like the 44/40. First, it is a historically correct cartridge that could be used in both a revolver and lever action rifle. Second, I am told that with a modern case the 44/40 can SAFELY be reloaded to much higher pressures, maybe not up to 44 Magnum but certainly higher than the traditional loads. That would be of interest if a 1873 Winchester could safely handle the load, then the gun could be used for deer hunting.
In any event, I am interested in anything "44/40", if any off you reload and shoot this cartridge.

August 15, 2010, 07:46 PM
While not the best choice in ammo, I have killed several deer with factory .44-40 "cowboy" loads out to 70 yards. Never took more than one shot, and none of them went more than 50 feet before they went down. You just have to hit them in the right spot. I have moved on to full charge black powder loads.

August 16, 2010, 12:01 AM
You might want to ask the same question here:



August 16, 2010, 02:38 AM
I reload 44/40 for a '73 replica and for a revolver remington '75 replica!
You can bulge one or two case the first time for setting the dies and no more!
44/40 has a better seal of the chamber in lever action, and has no blow from action, the 45 colt sometime has it.
I reload sometimes with black powder, but my favourite load is with smokeless, i can't give you a recipe why i use european powder like vhitavuori, or the cheap rex powder.
A fiend of mine reload for a '66 yelloboy with 18-20 grains of N105, i think is too heavy for the toggle link action of '66-'73 winchester, but he is happy with this strong rounds!

August 16, 2010, 07:34 AM
It has been said for years (true or not) the .44-40 round has killed more deer than any other cartridge except the .30-30.

Mike Irwin
August 16, 2010, 08:42 AM
I used to reload the .44-40 for a friend.

It was pretty frustrating at first, as I really smashed a couple of cases, but once you get the hang of it, that becomes a non issue.

August 16, 2010, 09:02 AM
I don't reload or have ever owned a 44/40. As a 32/20 fan however I strongly recommend a lee crimp die.

August 16, 2010, 12:11 PM
I can't imagine what hunting deer with a 44-40 '73 would be like. Someday.....

August 16, 2010, 12:41 PM
I've loaded more than a few hundred .44-40 rounds, and usually expect to lose 2%-3% of the cases during a reloading session. I've never loaded it hot, but do remember Col. Askins wondering what all the fuss was about the .44 Special, when the WCF could do the same things.

August 16, 2010, 10:20 PM
Well that's sort of where I was headed. As I understand when the 44/40 first came out it had a balloon case, the black powder 40 grain charge of the day was about maximum. Nowadays the 44/40 cases aren't balloon, they are the same type case (full web- if that's the right term-as with the 44 special. 44 magnum, etc- so the case can be loaded to a higher level, at least that's my understanding. The issue is in a 1873 Winchester, I'm not sure if the action is strong enough to accept more pressure. A modern manufactured Colt Peacemaker however might be able to take the higher pressure, if it is the same steel as in one rated for 44 magnum. In any event, just wondering what some of you have done.

Mike Irwin
August 17, 2010, 02:26 PM
At one time Winchester offered a series of HS - High Speed - cartridges in a variety of calibers, including .32-20, .38-40, .44-40, and possibly others.

Essentially they were +P versions of those cartridges and were intended for use in the 1892 Winchester, NOT in the 1873 or older Colt revolvers.

People didn't bother reading the warnings on the boxes, though. Dropping an HS cartridge into an 1873 would normally blow the side plates off.

August 17, 2010, 09:02 PM
Thanks Mike, I think that answers my question in the respect that a plus P type load would not be suitable for a 1873 Winchester.

August 21, 2010, 04:00 PM
The biggest problem with reloading 44-40 is originals used .427 bullets and modern 44-40's use .429's. Most resizing dies stil size cases to .427. Trying to stuff a .429 bullet into a .427 case isn't easy as thin as they are. RCBS makes cowboy dies that do size to .429 but I just take a punch and bell mine a little.

Fingers McGee
August 21, 2010, 11:06 PM
I've loaded thousands of 44-40 rounds with BP, Subs and that newfangled powder that don't smoke on a Hornady L-N-L using RCBS dies. Once you get the dies set right in a progressive press, crunching cases isn't a problem. I use the expander plug out of a .44 mag set of dies and haven't found a pressing need to use a factory crimp die. The roll crimp die works just fine.