The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Art of the Rifle: Bolt, Lever, and Pump Action

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old March 1, 2020, 11:18 AM   #1
budrock56
Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2012
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 28
Winchester 1873 ammo

Just bought a Winchester 1873 rifle made in 1883. In great condition. Looking for ammo recommendations for just plinking and range target shooting.
budrock56 is offline  
Old March 1, 2020, 11:43 AM   #2
taylorce1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 18, 2005
Location: On the Santa Fe Trail
Posts: 7,277
What cartridge? HSM ammunition offers .44-40, .38-40, and .32-20 at fairly reasonable prices. It is all low pressure loads geared towards Cowboy Action Shooting, but should fit the bill you've described.
__________________
NRA Life Member
taylorce1 is offline  
Old March 1, 2020, 11:56 AM   #3
budrock56
Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2012
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 28
Oh it is a .44-40
budrock56 is offline  
Old March 1, 2020, 01:56 PM   #4
TX Nimrod
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 27, 2009
Location: Zona
Posts: 202
An M1873 built in 1883 is probably not a smokeless action. Is it safe to fire smokeless in it? I certainly won’t say either way, but the pressure curve for blackpowder is significantly different than that of smokeless. Personally, I’d fell better is the rifle was produced when smokeless loads were common. YMMV.


.
__________________
.22LR - .223 - .22-250 - .243 - 6mm REM - .25-20 - .25-35 - .25 BB - .250/3000 - .257 WBY - .260 - .30 M1 - .300 Savage - .32 H&R - .303 - .338-06 - .338 WM - .38 S&W - .35 REM - .38-55 - .45 LC - .45-70 - .50-70
TX Nimrod is offline  
Old March 1, 2020, 02:08 PM   #5
Paul B.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 28, 1999
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 3,384
I think probably the cowboy action loads would be suitable. Even the modern clones of the Henry, 1866 and 1873 Winchesters are not all that strong. I haven't owned an M73 in years but the one I had was a 38 WCF (38-40) in generally fair shape. At the time there were two loads sold for those old cartridges, one for handguns and one, a more modern load with jacketed bullet for the later 1892 Winchester and not recommended for handguns. I shot the pistol level loads in my rifle without problem. I did have a gunsmith check the rifle out beforehand and he said it would be safe for the handgun level loads. If the OP's rifle in mechanically sound, then cowboy loads.loading and enjoy. Have a competent gunsmith check it out first.
Paul B.
__________________
COMPROMISE IS NOT AN OPTION!
Paul B. is offline  
Old March 1, 2020, 02:16 PM   #6
T. O'Heir
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2002
Location: Canada
Posts: 11,931
I'd re-think the idea of shooting it at all. There's an 1880 vintage, .44-40, '73 on Guns International with a $48,500.00 USD price tag on it.
Another 1883 .44-40 on Collector Firearms at $17,500.00.
__________________
Spelling and grammar count!
T. O'Heir is offline  
Old March 1, 2020, 02:28 PM   #7
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 15,283
It's not proofed for smokeless but cowboy loads should be safe in it. Your best bet is reloading with black.
Hawg is offline  
Old March 1, 2020, 06:28 PM   #8
budrock56
Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2012
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 28
Mine is in real nice condition. Set me back a tad over 2k.
budrock56 is offline  
Old March 1, 2020, 07:08 PM   #9
ligonierbill
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 20, 2007
Posts: 1,710
Load holy black. It's easy. Can't overload. You won't fit 40 grains in a modern case, but it will still send a 200 cast with authority. Cleanup is not difficult, just messy. Enjoy!
ligonierbill is online now  
Old March 1, 2020, 07:35 PM   #10
mehavey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 5,577
Keep it BP.
Even "cowboy" smokeless loadings have a much faster pressure rise-time
(i.e., spike) compared to BP -- even for the same eventual max pressure.

Cleanup... just get a small funnel and pour hot water/drop of dishsoap down the barrel, chased w/ a braided-wire bore pull-through/tight patch or two.

While still warm, swab from muzzle w/ std 1-piece Dewey/RemOil/BreakFree CLP patch(es) and you're done.

Last edited by mehavey; March 1, 2020 at 07:43 PM.
mehavey is offline  
Old March 1, 2020, 08:15 PM   #11
budrock56
Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2012
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 28
Well . I just bought some Black Hills .44-40 WCF 200 gr. RNFP Cowboy to run through it.
budrock56 is offline  
Old March 2, 2020, 07:22 AM   #12
mehavey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 5,577
(Notwithstanding my counsel op cit) Black Hills was the most accurate ammunition in my Taylor's/Uberti `73




(`til i figured out how to duplicate it)
mehavey is offline  
Old March 2, 2020, 09:47 AM   #13
Old Stony
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 31, 2013
Location: East Texas
Posts: 1,671
I've shot them in 32/20 and in 44/40 for years, and they are fun with proper loads. I only use lead bullets in them as they do not build as high of pressures as the jacketed loads, and I load them at basically starting load levels.
Old Stony is offline  
Old March 2, 2020, 10:25 AM   #14
eastbank
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 7, 2008
Location: pa.
Posts: 2,213
the prices quoted in a earlier post are not for a run of the mill 1873 44-40 carbine-rifle in very good condition in the real world, they would be very special Winchester 1873 rifles you can bet on that.
eastbank is offline  
Old March 2, 2020, 06:18 PM   #15
Scorch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2006
Location: Washington state
Posts: 14,106
Quote:
I think probably the cowboy action loads would be suitable.
Just about ANY factory 44-40 load is loaded to less than BP max pressures because of the faster pressure rise curve. IIRC, max pressure for the BP loads is around 21,000 psi, smokeless loads are around 18,000 psi. Make sure you are shooting lead in it, the steel is softer than later steels and jacketed loads will wear it out in a hurry. I kinda take the middle ground on my BP cartridges, I load with American Pioneer BP substitute. Even full case loads are pretty mild, and the cleanup is much easier and not as critical as real BP. But of course, some people just GOTTA shoot real BP, so you can always do that if that's what you want. Just remember to go buy all new reloading equipment for the BP so you don't wind up in the evening news.
Quote:
There's an 1880 vintage, .44-40, '73 on Guns International with a $48,500.00 USD price tag on it.
Another 1883 .44-40 on Collector Firearms at $17,500.00.
Those prices are for either a really special gun or somebody is delusional. I picked up a pretty rough 1873 in 32-20 a few years back, sold it for $1200. Really clean ones can go for upwards of $3000-$4000, but run of the mill examples are considerably lower.
__________________
Never try to educate someone who resists knowledge at all costs.
But what do I know?
Summit Arms Services
Taylor Machine
Scorch is offline  
Old March 2, 2020, 09:00 PM   #16
Jim Watson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 16,187
I have not seen this "pressure curve" for black vs Nitro powders except an ungraduated sketch in an old NRA article about shotgun shells.
Where can I find the numbers this Common Internet Assertion is based on?
Jim Watson is offline  
Old March 11, 2020, 07:59 PM   #17
Savvy_Jack
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 4, 2018
Posts: 117
More myths about smokeless powders!

In 1895 when Winchester introduced smokeless powder for the 44-40, it specifically named the Winchester 73' on the label.



So that myth is BUSTED!

In the beginning there was slow burning black powder. Then there was a little faster burning (faster than black or at least known to be unstable at times) smokeless powder that specifically replaced black powder. Then there was an improved smokeless powder to be used in black powder rifles and then by 1900, fast burning pistol powders. Also entwined was the newer slower burning rifle powders like SR-80, IMR-1204 and IMR-4227. By the time IMR-4227 was in full swing, as well as 2400, the black powder replacement powders died off leaving the slower burning rifle powders. As years passed these slower burning rifle powders were re-named MAGNUM powders.

ANY MODERN FACTORY AMMUNITION is safe for your 44-40 as long as the rifle is in good sound operating condition. Even Buffalo Bore's "Heavy" 44-40 is safe for it.

With that said, I am still missing a "pressure" link from that time period. My early pre-1884 44-40 cartridge cases produced 14,000psi while the same loads in post-1884 WRA headstamped cases produced 12,000ish psi while the same loads in modern starline brass only produced 8,953psi.

SAAMI didn't set a standard in stone until about 1970 at 12,000cup and by 2015 12,000cup/11,000psi....much lower than original black powder pressures.

Pressure curves or no pressure curves....

Pre-1884 - 14,385psi, thats about 15,000ish cup (all firearms), 1,325fps
Post-1884 - 12,500psi, thats about 13,000ish cup (all firearms), 1,325fps
1895 Smokeless - unknown, safe for the Win. 73' (not for pistols),1,300fps
1900 Smokeless - unknown, safe for ALL FIREARMS, 1,300fps
1903 Smokeless - HV Low Pressures (unknown), Model 92 only, 1,500fps
1910 Smokeless - HV high pressures, 22,000cup, Model 92' and Marlin 88's/94's only, 1,570fps

So why High Velocity Low pressures? During the early 1930's we can see that the powders used during that time included Sharpeshooter. On the back of the can it shows a "44-40 W.C.F. High Velocity" load of 17gr. We have to go look at the handloading data of the time to check the pressures. According to 1937 Sharpe, 17.3gr of Sharpeshooter produced....da da ta da.......14,000cup, maybe 13,000ish psi. Obviously lower than the early 14,000psi black powder loads BUT YET NOT FOR THE 73' OR PISTOLS!!!!

It has also been said that the early smokeless powders, maybe Dupont #2, produced even less pressures than black powder. However, it has also been said that the "powdery" residue could settle into the primer pockets and create higher pressures.

Confused yet?

It all started with the .30-40 cal testings and is extremely related today!

The early smokeless powders were developed using the 30-40 Krag thus the early smokeless powders could be considered .30 cal powders. Many of those .30 cal powders worked well in the ole black powder calibers to include the 44-40 and 45-70.

By the mid 1930's, here were the popular powders;

Black Powder replacements
Dupont #1 - phased out
Dupont #2 - phased out
Sharpshooter - early .30 cal by Laflin & Rand

Sharpshooter, now under Hercules...still a black powder replacement
Lightning, another .30 cal powder also used in the 44-40
SR-80, a "bulky" 'Sporting Rifle-80' powder but not a Bulk powder like Dupont #2
IMR-1204 ("1204") another .30 cal powder to include "small calibers"
IMR-4227, directly replaced 1204 (Today's IMR MAGNUM powder)
2400, designed for the 22 Hornet and 25-20 (Today's Alliant's MAGNUM powder)

Pistol Powders
Unique - Originally a shogun powder adapted to small calibers and as we all know, many calibers
Bullseye - Came from "Infallible" floor sweepings but is/was position sensitive in large cal cases like the 44-40.

With all of that said, I have settle with three loads

Winchester 73' (Group I Rifles)
Slower burning rifle powder, Reloder 7, 43-214A (427098 replica) 1,361fps @ 12,000psi (13,000ish cup). 40 consecutive shots inside 3 5/8" @ 100 yards.
Can be used in revolvers but produce only 700fps due to slow burn rate.

Marlin 1894CB (Group II Rifles)
Slower burning IMR-4227, Winchester JSP, 1,590fps @ 18,000psi (22,000ish cup), 2 1/8" Groups @ 50 yards

Pistols - Colt, Uberti (Consider them in Group I)
Unique
Trailboss
Bullseye
NOTE: Too fast for rifle loads and create too high pressures when trying to achieve 1,350fps or greater velocities......stay closer to 1,200fps or less when using in rifles.

An accidental double charge of 6gr of Unique, which would be 12gr, can create 22,000psi (not cup) which is approx. 28,000cup to 33,000cup.


SMOKELESS POWDER TRANSITION YEARS
https://sites.google.com/view/44winc...ansition-years

Last edited by Savvy_Jack; March 13, 2020 at 04:37 PM.
Savvy_Jack is offline  
Old March 11, 2020, 09:53 PM   #18
budrock56
Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2012
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 28
Wow. Thanks for that info!
budrock56 is offline  
Old March 12, 2020, 01:19 AM   #19
Scorch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2006
Location: Washington state
Posts: 14,106
I've never seen any tables or charts that equate CUP to psi. Most of the CUP readings I have seen are lower numbers than the actual psi readings from transducers, not the other way as you are showing. Otherwise, interesting info.
__________________
Never try to educate someone who resists knowledge at all costs.
But what do I know?
Summit Arms Services
Taylor Machine
Scorch is offline  
Old March 12, 2020, 06:22 AM   #20
mehavey
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 17, 2010
Location: Virginia
Posts: 5,577
There is a CUP "Correlation" -- though not Equation.
It's a curve fit of otherwise differently-based criteria
https://www.shootingsoftware.com/ftp/psicuparticle2.pdf

And carries with it it's own inherent error limits.
as w/ any such derivation -- use with the understanding of those limits.
mehavey is offline  
Old March 12, 2020, 07:12 AM   #21
Savvy_Jack
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 4, 2018
Posts: 117
As mehavey said, there is no correlation. However, SAAMI has tested the 44-40 in both cup and psi as I showed. 13,000cup is equal to 11,000psi as far as testing the same batch of cartridges in both a copper crusher test and the piezoelectric test. https://sites.google.com/view/44winc...nsisaami-specs

We take those two test for the 44-40 and use a formula since they are so close together. Rather than post the "formula" here, I will post the reading material and let those of you that are interested pull the formula from it.
https://sites.google.com/view/44winc...essure-testing
Again, the formula is only good for close proximity results. Using the formula, some Lyman replicated HV loads using certain powders resulted in 18,000psi. Using the formula, that number equates to 21,276 cup, which is very close to the 22,000cup mark.

It may be much harder to equate higher pressures since cup and psi are not linear.

Lyman's 49th handloading manual lists nineteen rifles chambered for the 44-40. Lyman separates these rifles into two groups, Group I weak actions and Group II strong actions.
https://sites.google.com/view/44winc...nsisaami-specs

Last edited by Savvy_Jack; March 12, 2020 at 11:24 AM.
Savvy_Jack is offline  
Old March 13, 2020, 12:02 PM   #22
thallub
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 20, 2007
Location: South Western OK
Posts: 2,937
For 50 years i held onto an unfired, in the box, model 1873 rifle in .44-40 caliber. Couple years ago a man offered me more than i could refuse for the rifle.

The buyer had other model 1873 rifles that he reloaded for using smokeless powder. After less than ten rounds through the new old gun, the firing pin hit the primer on a round with a double charge of a fast burning powder. Luckily, the man was not hurt but the gun was destroyed.
thallub is offline  
Old March 13, 2020, 03:04 PM   #23
Savvy_Jack
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 4, 2018
Posts: 117
Yeap, the exact reason I use rifle powders. Reloader 7 is dirty but perfect for the old rifles.

An accidental double charge of 6gr of Unique, 12.gr, creates 21,786psi (Maybe 28,000cup or higher) during my tests.

Targets/Load Development - https://sites.google.com/view/44winc...ad-development

My Uberti Winchesrt 73' "GO-TO" load - 3.3", 30 to 40 shot Group at 100 Yards
https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/q8...RCizhNi8=w1280

Last edited by Savvy_Jack; March 13, 2020 at 03:13 PM.
Savvy_Jack is offline  
Old March 14, 2020, 09:44 AM   #24
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 40,357
Do NOT use jacketed bullets in your rifle unless the barrel specifically states nickel steel.

I think that's too early for a nickel steel barrel, though, unless the barrel was a later replacement.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old March 14, 2020, 10:58 AM   #25
budrock56
Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2012
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 28
My rifle is at my gunsmith's. He is checking it over. He will advise me. If I can't shoot it so be it. It is still a cool relic to have.
budrock56 is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:43 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2018 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.09203 seconds with 8 queries