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Old November 26, 2018, 12:35 PM   #26
Driftwood Johnson
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Howdy

I have been loading 44-40 with Black Powder for years.

No, there are no carbide dies available for 44-40, so yes, the cases need to be lubed. It is no big deal. I stand up all my cases in loading blocks that hold 50 rounds each. Then a quick spray with Hornady One Shot case lube. Not too much, or the liquid will cause dents when the cases are run through the sizing die. Just a quick spray, takes about five seconds per loading block. If a little bit of overspray gets into the cases I don't worry about it. I spray the cases before setting up my dies and shell plate in my Hornady Lock & Load AP. When I am ready to load, the lube is dry.

After all the rounds have been loaded I like to wipe off the excess lube from the cases while watching TV, but it is not absolutely necessary.

Been loading Black Powder 44-40 and 38-40 for revolvers for a long time. There is no setback as there was with the 22 Jet. The cases are not that steeply bottlenecked, and they do not bind up against the frame. Everything keeps rolling along nicely.

I always say 44-40 is a little bit 'fussy' to reload. Not difficult, but you have to go a little bit slower than with a more robust case such as 45 Colt. If you slam a 45 Colt into the bottom of a die, it will shrug off the blow. Do the same to a 44-40 and you will probably crumple it. I just take it a bit slower when loading 44-40.

The reason the 44-40 can crumple is the brass is extremely thin at the case mouth, only about .007 vs about .012 for a 45 Colt. That really thin brass is the reason 44-40 seals the chamber of a rifle so well. Almost no blowy by. With a revolver, soot is going to get everywhere from the barrel/cylinder gap anyway.

P.S. These days I load 44-40 with Starline brass. The brass is so close to final shape that I usually don't bother to lube the cases the first time I load them. They get barely resized and do not jam in the die. After the first time, yes, I lube them.

Here is a photo of a batch of 44-40 being loaded. These cases are brand-spanky new Starline cases, so I may not have bothered to lube them. But you get the idea.


Last edited by Driftwood Johnson; November 26, 2018 at 01:16 PM.
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Old November 26, 2018, 07:23 PM   #27
44 Dave
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Driftwood,
What bullet and lube are you using for your .44 WCFs?
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Old November 27, 2018, 01:51 PM   #28
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I use the 44 caliber Big Lube 200 grain Mav-Dutchman bullet. This is one of the Big Lube series of bullets specifically designed with a huge Lube Groove for Black Powder. On the left in this photo is the Mav-Dutchman bullet, with and without lube, and a completed 44-40 round. On the right is the PRS 250 grain 45 caliber bullet, with and without lube, and a completed 45 Colt round.






When I used to cast them myself I used SPG for bullet lube, these days I buy them from Springfield Slim. He puts his own home made lube in them, but it seems very similar to SPG. I have Slim size all my Mav-Dutchman bullets to .428 so they will work in all my 44-40 rifles and revolvers, whose groove diameters vary from .427 to .429.

http://www.whyteleatherworks.com/BigLube.html
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Old November 28, 2018, 12:27 AM   #29
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Thank you Driftwood.
My Big Lube mold should arrive tomorrow and just picked up a Lyman Lube Sizer. Could not get enough lube in my Lee mold bullets. Have pan lubed, but that is less than fun.
Will still use Lee bullets and Alox for smokeless shooting.
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Old November 28, 2018, 09:53 AM   #30
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Your experince with pan lubing was pretty much the same as mine. I was pan lubing regular hard cast bullets, but they did not carry enough lube to keep the bore of a rifle coated with soft lube for its entire length. So I was adding lube cookies and all that stuff. That is when I discovered Big Lube bullets. If you check out the J/P 45-200 bullet, I designed that one. At the time the only option for 45 Colt was the 250 grain PRS bullet.

Good Luck with that Lyman Lube Sizer.

I was using an RCBS lube sizer for a while. It works pretty much the same as the Lyman. It did not squeeze out enough lube to fill those big lube grooves, so I had to run each bullet through it twice. After the first shot I would raise up the bullet and rotate it about 45 degrees or so and shove it down again so the lube would fill up the voids left by the first shot.

The other thing I dd not like about the RCBS lubesizer was you have to raise the bullets up after lubing them. After casting hundreds of bullets I would spend a few hours lubing and sizing them all.

So I bought a Star lubesizer made by Magma. Yes, it is more expensive than the RCBS lubesizer, but it is more efficient. One shove through the die is enough to completely fill the huge lube groove of a Big Lube bullet. In addition, you don't raise the bullet up to remove it after it has been lubed. Each bullet pushes the previous one out the bottom of the die. As an old friend said, it just keeps pooping out lubed and sized bullets.

After I bought the Star lubesizer I was no longer spending hours lubesizing my bullets.






Here is a link to the Star lubesizer. I was not using the heater attachment, SPG lube is soft enough to flow at room temperature.

http://www.magmaengineering.com/magma-star-lube-sizer/
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Old November 30, 2018, 02:06 PM   #31
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Cowboy action shooting has brought back much interest in the 44-40 and even the 45 Colt as well as the other -cartridges...but along with it, many myths, lies and inaccuracies.

For cowboy action shooting using the 44-40, stick with Driftwood Johnson!!!

John Kort's 300 meter steel javlin hits using black powder 44-40
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbxvlQUkQfU&t=7s
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Old November 30, 2018, 07:06 PM   #32
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Now that I have my notes...

44-40 Revolver
A while back I was able to get 40gr by weight of Swiss FFG into some RP brass with a .21" compression without any case distortion using RP brass. RP brass is thicker and less likely to expand with the compressed powder. I modified a bullet seating die to compress the powder. I used Dick Dasterdly's Big Lube bullet but the skirt is only a tad shorter than the 427098. According to my notes I achieved an average velocity of 960fps/409ft lbs of energy out of my 5.5" Uberti SA revolver....940fps with 38gr of Swiss FFG.

44-40 Rifle
Using a compressed load 40gr/weight of Swiss FFG and a Accurate mold 43-210B (Lyman 427098 replica with larger lube groove), I achieved 1,365fps out of my original 24" barreled 1989 Marlin manufactured in 1891.


45 Colt
Using 38.4gr of Goex FFFG and a Lyman 250gr 454190, I achieved 1,104fps/676ft lbs of energy out of my 5.5" barreled Uberti SA revolver. Using a lighter military type load....250gr Lyman 454190 and 36gr of Goex FFFG (some used less), I achieved 785fps/342ft lbs of energy.

By October 1873, Frankford Arsenal was manufacturing Benet-primed cased 45 Colt cartridges that were loaded with only 30gr of black powder with the 250gr bullet. This was due to 40gr being to much power for the early weak copper cases. By July of 1874, Frankford phased out the longer cases 45 and was solely manufacturing the shorter cased 230gr 45 Schofield cartridges used in both of the Armys 45 Colt and 45 Schofield revolvers with only 28gr of black powder. The cartridge boxes were not designated which was which but only listed the bullet type and amount of powder used. I have yet to make some replica loads but you can only imagine how much less they would be in power and energy.

Civilian world...45 Colt
I don't have any information on civilian offered cartridges at this early stage.

Thus until sometime after the 45 Colt cartridges used the improved brass center-fire cartridges, the 44WCF was actually more powerful than the 45 Colt. I have never loaded my 45 Colt revolvers with smokeless powders for a faster load than that I described by using black powder. Using smokeless powders, I have only achieved in the low 900fps velocity ranges.

44-40 Hot Loads
Using a 7.5" magnum frame SAA revolver with thicker walled cylinders...and using published hot "Group II" rifle loads from Lyman's 49th..., I have achieved over 1,200fps using hot 44-40 loads that should never ever be used in standard SAA or weak action rifles like the Winchester 73'.

Using a nice load of Reloder 7 and a 21gr Sierra JHC, I achieved 1,403fps in my Marlin 1894CB and grouped shots in a 4" circle at 100 yards. Also using a nice load of Reloder 7 and a 240gr SWC [1,373fps] and the Marlin, I grouped 20 shots in a 4" circle at 100 yards.

For cowboy action shooting, I used 38gr black powder or 6.4gr of Trailboss.

https://www.44winchestercenterfirecartridges.com/

Last edited by Savvy_Jack; November 30, 2018 at 07:37 PM.
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Old November 30, 2018, 10:32 PM   #33
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Howdy Again

I have never been concerned with trying to stuff 40 grains of powder into modern 44-40 or 45 Colt cases. I pour in as much powder as will be compressed about 1/16" - 1/8" when compressed by the bullet. That has always worked for me and been plenty to get the bullets to the target.

The actual amount of powder I put under a 200 grain bullet for 44-40 or a 250 grain bullet for 45 Colt is the same. 2.2CC. I arrived at that figure a long time ago using my set of Lee dippers, which are calibrated in Cubic Centimeters. Today I have the Lyman Black Powder measure on my Hornady Lock & Load AP set to deliver that amount. These days I am mostly using Schuetzen FFg powder, and 2.2CC weighs about 33.3 grains. Give or take a little.

The last time I chronographed my loads, which was a long time ago, my 44-40 loads were getting about 1015 fps out of a 24" Uberti replica of the Winchester Model 1873.

That same 33.3 grains of Schuetzen under a 250 grain bullet in 45 Colt was producing about 700 fps out of a 7 1/2" barreled Colt.

I did not get any 44-40 revolvers until much later, and have never chronographed my 44-40 loads out of one. I don't own any rifles chambered for 45 Colt and don't expect to.



Regarding the 30 grain loads in Frankford Arsenal 45 Colt cartridges, here is a box from my cartridge collection. You will see these are 30 grain loads. I have no idea what the granulation is because I am not going to take any of them apart.






The cartridge all the way on the right in this photo is one of my modern 45 Colt loads. The others are Benet primed, copper cased rounds from the box.






Here is my Hornady Lock & Load, with the Lyman Black Powder measure, ready to load a pile of 45s. I'm assuming they are 45s because one of the stations in the press is empty. (I took the photo a long time ago, and don't really remember.) When I load 44-40 or 38-40, all the stations are full. I don't usually crank out a whole lot of cartridges in one setting, it looks like I am ready to load six boxes in this photo. Anyway, these days I usually only load about four boxes (200 rounds), before I get bored and want to quit.


Last edited by Driftwood Johnson; November 30, 2018 at 10:42 PM.
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Old November 30, 2018, 10:43 PM   #34
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Very cool I must say.

Thought thought once the government decided to reduce the loads from 35 grns they also went to the lighter 230 grn bullets as well. Not that I’m in the know or researched it but it’s what I’ve read. Surprised to see otherwise.

And it was based off of the 28-30 grn with a 230 grn bullet that later birthed the original .45 ACP load looking for similar performance (something like 860 fps).
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Old November 30, 2018, 11:09 PM   #35
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Quote:
By the way, Colt marked their guns .44WCF until about 1900.
Same with .38-40, and .32-20.
Howdy Again

There is not much finish left on this Bisley Colt that shipped in 1909, but you may be able to read the caliber marking. 38 W.C.F.






This one should be easier to read. It shipped in 1907.



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Old December 1, 2018, 09:33 PM   #36
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I still pan lube with my homemade lube of rendered beef tallow and bees wax. I take the whole cake out of the pan and push on the bullet tip with my thumb while supporting the cake from the back with my fingers. Heat from my hands softens the Lube a little and makes them pop right out. Then I run them through a Lee 428 sizer die. I have all the Big Lube molds for 38, 44, and 45. I can shoot a two day match, 150+ rounds, and never swab the barrel. Because the fouling stays so soft, each bullet scrapes off the fouling from the previous shot, so your barrel is never dirtier than from shooting one round. Soap and water clean up with 2 or 3 patches.
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Old December 2, 2018, 08:26 AM   #37
Doug Lee
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Original 44-40 cartridges

Were the original 44-40 cartridges loaded with a heeled bullet like the .22 rim fire cartridges are now?
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Old December 2, 2018, 11:49 AM   #38
4V50 Gary
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@44Dave - you mentioned the 44-40 case seals the breech and prevents blowback, keeping the firearm cleaner. How is this distinguished from any other metallic cartridge like the 45 Colt? I thought all metallic cartridges sealed the breech.
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Old December 2, 2018, 11:50 AM   #39
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I have no experience with 44/40 in handguns. I had a Marlin 44/40 that I loaded cast bullets with Unique. When I bought this gun a partial box of Win ammo was with it. I still
have a few left. Was in the Yellow box so it wasn't real old. Jacketed soft point. I shot a deer
with it at about 60yds and it kilt it. Other than that it was all plinking/ target and a few varmits. I never saw 44/40 as a Handi cap. I've loaded both 44/40 & 38/40 for years with
cast and Unique with no problems. Most used in Marlin or Win levers for fun shooting, I never was interested in hot rodding them. I had a few revolvers in 44/40 that were shootable but bores were so bad they wouldn't shoot accurately. In situations that a 44 mag
would suffice I don't feel under gunned with a 44/40 - speaking in terms of hunting with
a carbine or rifle.
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Old December 2, 2018, 12:16 PM   #40
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Quote:
Were the original 44-40 cartridges loaded with a heeled bullet like the .22 rim fire cartridges are now?
Yes.

Quote:
@44Dave - you mentioned the 44-40 case seals the breech and prevents blowback, keeping the firearm cleaner. How is this distinguished from any other metallic cartridge like the 45 Colt? I thought all metallic cartridges sealed the breech.
The 44-40 has a very thin case neck and is a slightly bottle necked cartridge. The thin case neck expands and together with the bottle neck they effectively seal the chamber. The .45 Colt is a thicker straight walled case and doesn't expand enough to completely seal the chamber. If you clean the bore of a 44-40 rifle with a fired case in the chamber you will get virtually no powder fouling in the action.
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Old December 2, 2018, 05:43 PM   #41
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Quote:
Were the original 44-40 cartridges loaded with a heeled bullet like the .22 rim fire cartridges are now?
I am going to have to disagree with Hawg on that one. As far as I know, 44-40, also known as 44 WCF, has always been loaded with 'inside lubed' bullets, no different than most other cartridges. 44 S&W American is the notable exception, that cartridge was loaded with a heeled bullet. 44 Russian was basically the same as 44 S&W American, but a conventional 'inside lubed' bullet was used. Originally, 44-40 groove diameter was specified as .427, as opposed to the .429 groove diameter of 44 Russian and 44 Special, but actual groove diameter could vary all over the place from as low as .425 to up over .430.

But as far as I know, 44-40 has always been loaded with a conventional bullet the same diameter as the inside of the case mouth. I would certainly be open to seeing an example to prove me wrong, but I have never seen or heard of it.


Quote:
@44Dave - you mentioned the 44-40 case seals the breech and prevents blowback, keeping the firearm cleaner. How is this distinguished from any other metallic cartridge like the 45 Colt? I thought all metallic cartridges sealed the breech.
As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, 44-40 brass tends to be about .007 thick at the case mouth. 45 Colt tends to be about .012 thick. I have measured lots of cases over the years. The thicker brass of 45 Colt does not always expand enough to completely seal the chamber at relatively low pressures. The thinner brass of 44-40 will tend to do this better. When I first started Cowboy Action Shooting I can remember many times seeing a jet of gas escaping out the top of a rifle receiver from a rifle chamberd for 45 Colt. The relatively low pressure was not completely sealing the case mouth in the chamber, particularly with light 'cowboy loads'. The thinner brass of 44-40 can usually be depended on to expand more easily under relatively light pressure. My Black Powder 44-40 rounds do not generate a whole lot of pressure, but after a match the fouling is almost all in the bore and very little has 'blown by' as we say to foul the action.

Revolvers are a different story, it does not matter much how thin the brass at the case mouth is because soot will get everywhere after it is blasted out of the barrel/cylinder gap anyway. But the barrel of a lever rifle is basically just a pipe with rifling. Seal the chamber and nothing will blow by into the action, or out the top of the receiver.
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Old December 2, 2018, 07:28 PM   #42
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You're probably right Driftwood. I wasn't sure so I did a google search on it and found references to it and saw where heeled molds were for sale and an article in guns magazine that specifically mentioned it but when I went back just now that link is dead.
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Old December 2, 2018, 11:05 PM   #43
44 Dave
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When cleaning after bp I put an empty cartridge in my '73 and swab the barrel with bp solvent. The empty seals the chamber well enough nothing leaks by.
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Old December 3, 2018, 10:03 AM   #44
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"Any problems with case setback ? The argument for straight walled cartridges in a revolver is the brass grips the chamber walls better."

Case set back in handgun cartridges only really becomes a problem at higher velocities and pressures, short, sharp shoulders, short necks, and with smokeless powder.

The "neck" on the .44-40, .38-40, .32-20, and even .25-20 simply isn't enough to cause problems.

Rounds like the .256 Winchester and .22 Remington Jet had set back issues because they operated at FAR higher pressures than the older rounds.





"Properly-pressured, the case always backs out of the cylinder (or stretches at rifle pressures) to re-seat the primer* up against the recoil shield.
If it doesn't (i.e., low pressure), the primer stays backed out and ties up the cylinder/rotation."

Very true. The problem with rounds like the Jet and .256, though, is that as the case is backing out the shoulder is moving forward, effectively fireforming the case to the chamber.
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Old December 3, 2018, 10:14 AM   #45
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"Were the original 44-40 cartridges loaded with a heeled bullet like the .22 rim fire cartridges are now?"

No, they were not.

The .45 Colt, the .44-40, the .38-40, and the .32-20 all used modern-style single diameter bullets, at least as commercially loaded. As they were originally being developed they MAY have been developed concurrently with heeled bullets and single diameter bullets, but the heeled bullets were never marketed.
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Old December 3, 2018, 10:20 AM   #46
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"I am going to have to disagree with Hawg on that one. As far as I know, 44-40, also known as 44 WCF, has always been loaded with 'inside lubed' bullets, no different than most other cartridges. 44 S&W American is the notable exception, that cartridge was loaded with a heeled bullet."


The .44 American was the first commercially available center fire cartridge, introduced around 1869, and which served as a standard US military cartridge from 1870 until 1873.

But, it wasn't the only heeled .44 round -- the .44 Colt, used in conversion revolvers and which also saw US military service, also used heeled bullets.

Commercially, the .442 Webley round was also originally loaded with a heeled bullet, and very early loadings of the .44 Bulldog may have also been loaded with heeled bullets.
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Old December 3, 2018, 12:55 PM   #47
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Quote:
The .44 American was the first commercially available center fire cartridge, introduced around 1869, and which served as a standard US military cartridge from 1870 until 1873.

But, it wasn't the only heeled .44 round -- the .44 Colt, used in conversion revolvers and which also saw US military service, also used heeled bullets.
Howdy Again

A Colt Richards Conversion with a few original 44 Colt rounds.






A few old cartridges. Left to right, an old 44-40. Not sure exactly how old this one is, but if you look carefully you can see the bullet diameter is less than the case. Next a 44 Henry Rimfire and a 44 S&W American. These two used heeled bullets. The bullet lube has long since disappeared from the tiny lube grooves, but that is where it would have been. Next is a 44 Russian, with a conventional bullet the same diameter as the inside of the case mouth. Next is a 44 Colt, also with a heeled bullet. The bullet lube is long gone from this one too. The shiny cartridge is one of my 44 Special reloads, and last on the far right is an old 45 Colt, with the typical tiny rim. One reason rifles were never chambered for 45 Colt in the old days, an extractor could probably not get a good purchase on that tiny rim.






Winchester developed the 44 WCF (44 -40) in 1873 specifically for the Winchester Model 1873 lever rifle. Inside lubed bullets were becoming standard by this time, the 45 Colt also debuted in 1873. Although it was inside primed with Benet priming, the 45 Colt always used inside lubed bullets. So did the 45 Schofield. The other reason I doubt if Winchester bothered experimenting with a heeled bullet 44 WCF is the chamber would have to be slightly differently shaped, with the diameters for the bullet and the brass the same diameter. Not a big deal, but there really was no reason to do it, since inside lubed bullets were proving to be superior to heeled bullets. Heeled bullets carried their lube on the outside, just like modern 22 Rimfires. BP lube was soft and sticky, and the problem with heeled bullets was the sticky lube on the outside of the bullet could pick up dirt and contamination that would wind up in the rifle chamber. Inside lubed bullets did away with that problem.



Quote:
When cleaning after bp I put an empty cartridge in my '73 and swab the barrel with bp solvent. The empty seals the chamber well enough nothing leaks by.
I do the same thing. However, I learned a long time ago to always use the slotted end of my cleaning rod, with a patch stuck through the slot, rather than a jag. Using a jag can allow the patch to jam into the spent case in the chamber, causing great gnashing of teeth trying to remove it.
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Old December 3, 2018, 01:21 PM   #48
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I think people may mistake some of the really old cartridges like the .44-40 for having heeled bullets because of the combination of the very thin case necks and often the super heavy crimp some manufacturers used on the rounds.

I agree that the .44-40 was likely never concurrently developed with a heeled bullet, but it is a persistent rumor I've heard over the last 30 or so years. May be something to it, may not be.

And yes, the single diameter bullet (as pioneered by the .44 S&W Russian) was becoming the standard, but it was by no means a given that the bullets would be inside lubricated...

This line up shows what I mean... The two cartridges on the left were both European loadings using single diameter bullets, but the grease grooves were above the case mouth, not below. Similar bullets were occasionally loaded in the United States.

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Old February 26, 2019, 07:04 PM   #49
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I have not found proof that the 44-40 had a heeled bullet BUT I have discovered some very interesting facts.

The 44WCF prototype or experimental cartridges used shorter cases as well as Milbank primers. An original short case cartridge was x-rayed...does not appear to be a lube groove nor does it appear to be heeled.

Early surviving cartridge boxes showing a Milbank primed photo seem to contain normal length cases as well as cartridge with boxer primers. There are other confusing things about the boxes etc, but so far no proof of heeled bullets.

However, I did dissect one cartridge where the bullet had a slight heel to it. I copied the measurements and had a custom mold made with one slight mod and it performs very nice. My testings show that the pressures are consistently lower than their counterparts.

For photos and more information......
https://curtisshawk21.wixsite.com/44centerfire


https://curtisshawk21.wixsite.com/44...-1bullet-molds
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Old March 5, 2019, 11:44 AM   #50
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Yep, there were at least two, possibly more, case lengths looked at for the .44-40 as originally developed by Winchester. That apparently wasn't uncommon in the early days of metallic cartridge development.
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