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Old August 6, 2018, 06:22 PM   #1
ligonierbill
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Take a look at these old 44s

I don't know how old these are, certainly into the era of "metal patched" bullets. I will pull one and check it out, but making the conservative guess I'm assuming they are "high velocity" loads. OK in a '92, but too hot for a '73 or Frontier Six Shooter, even modern clones. Note the lower crimp. Prevents setback in a tubular magazine I guess.

Found in a jar in my brother's basement. Origin unknown.

Also some Peters and Western 44-40 headstamps and a few W.R.A CO 44 WCF.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 44-1.jpg (19.0 KB, 174 views)
File Type: jpg 44-2.jpg (15.8 KB, 136 views)
File Type: jpg 44-3.jpg (14.5 KB, 124 views)

Last edited by ligonierbill; August 6, 2018 at 07:06 PM.
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Old August 6, 2018, 09:56 PM   #2
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.44 WCF (Winchester Center Fire) is .44-40. I don't think that "lower crimp" is a crimp -- that's the step in the case diameter.

https://saami.org/wp-content/uploads...FR.pdf#page=13

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.44-40_Winchester
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Old August 6, 2018, 10:29 PM   #3
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I have seen that crimp on ammo in the past on Glaser safety slugs 45 acp

45 colt and 45-70 to keep the bullet from pushing in to the case would be my guess also.
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Old August 6, 2018, 10:53 PM   #4
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Bimus, that is exactly what that lower crimp is for. Don’t ask me how it’s done, cause I don’t know.
Back in the day I burnt up a lot of 44-40’s and they all had that mark. It was especially needed for the Winchester 1892 magazine.
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Old August 7, 2018, 12:44 AM   #5
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That's called a cannelure. Yes, it is intended to prevent bullet setback.

The Remington-UMC isn't as it may seem.
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Old August 7, 2018, 06:02 AM   #6
Mike Irwin
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"but making the conservative guess I'm assuming they are "high velocity" loads."

Most likely not.

Most manufacturers were very good about designating high velocity loads in the head stamp.

This picture, from http://www.oldammo.com/may06.htm, shows two such head stamps -- cartridges number 3 and 5.





I believe that Remington used Hi-Speed as their term to designate more powerful ammunition for rounds such as .32-20, .38-40, and .44-40, all of which would have been intended for use in the M1892 Winchester rifle but NOT for use in either M1873 rifles or in older Colt Peacemaker revolvers.



You'll also notice that the lead bullet loads don't have a case cannelure to prevent bullet set back... that's because you could get a more than adequate case mouth crimp on a lead bullet.
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Old August 7, 2018, 03:29 PM   #7
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Thanks for the insight. Not firing any of them, however. I'm happy with my own loads.
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Old August 8, 2018, 08:30 AM   #8
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I'm the same way. I have 4 boxes (3 unopened, 1 opened) of circa 1915-1920 Winchester .44 Special ammunition.

I've thought about firing some rounds from the opened box, but I've decided that with corrosive primers, the possibility of corrosive powder, and god knows what has happened to the powder over time, I'm not going to run them through my Model 24.
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Old August 8, 2018, 10:34 AM   #9
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Pull a bullet and see if the they are solid head or "balloon head" cases.
You can't get 40 grains of black powder into a modern, solid head .44-40 case, and I think balloon heads are from the early 1900s, at the latest.

I have a couple of balloon head .44 Russian cases, and it's easy to identify, because they have the appearance of the primer pocket being raised above the bottom of the case, rather than there just being a flash hole in the flat bottom of a solid head design.
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Old August 8, 2018, 10:34 AM   #10
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Note that the HV loads have cannelured cases to prevent bullet movement . some guns are visibly marked for HV loads like the 22 Colt pistol. firing HV loads in a standard load gun will eventually will damage the gun.
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Old August 8, 2018, 11:08 AM   #11
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" I think balloon heads are from the early 1900s, at the latest."

I discovered some years ago that, much to my surprise, balloon head cases/semi-balloon head cases, were still being manufactured into the 1950s.
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Old August 8, 2018, 12:12 PM   #12
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OK, I pulled three. Photos are of "Rem-UMC 44 WCF" headstamp, but the cases and powder all look the same.

Rem-UMC 44 WCF: 12.0 gr powder/199.5 gr bullet

Western 44-40: 14.4 gr powder/199.2 gr bullet

W.R.A CO 44 W.C.F: 15.0 gr powder/200.6 gr bullet

Does that look like a balloon head case? Sure doesn't look like my new Starline brass. My powder photo could be better, but it's little perfectly round flakes with a hole in the middle. Bullets are 0.426.
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File Type: jpg 44 powder.jpg (34.8 KB, 42 views)

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Old August 8, 2018, 12:29 PM   #13
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That is a semi-balloon head case.

Solid rim but a folded primer pocket.

Some good illustrations here on the differences.

https://forums.gunboards.com/showthr...oon-head-cases


The powder would be very difficult, if not impossible, to fully identify just given the shape.

However, I have some resources that may provide some insight on what it MIGHT be.

My guess is that it's from Hercules.
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Old August 8, 2018, 12:30 PM   #14
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Yeppers, that's balloon head.
I have an old box of .44-40 rounds that appear the same as yours, other than there seeming to be some sort of silverish plating on the jacketed part of the bullets, I think they're from the '50s, but haven't shot or pulled apart any of them.
I have lots of "old" revolver cases, and I haven't seen a balloon head among them, other than the .44 Russian; interesting that they still made them even after BP cartridges has completely disappeared.

Quote:
I discovered some years ago that, much to my surprise, balloon head cases/semi-balloon head cases, were still being manufactured into the 1950s.
Which cartridge(s)? I wonder if it was limited to cartridges that were no longer very popular, so they didn't bother to update to solid head, but, at the same time, if you were making solid head .44 Special and .44 Magnum, for example, why wouldn't you use the same tooling for .44 Russian?
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Old August 8, 2018, 12:58 PM   #15
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Corrosive powder? There is corrosive smokeless powder?

As far as age goes, I recall the .38-44 enthusiast who found first run ammo to be of low and inconsistent velocity.

15 grains of smokeless in .44 WCF might be Sharpshooter. I don't see one in Sharpe that would fit a 12 grain load.

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Old August 9, 2018, 06:03 AM   #16
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"15 grains of smokeless in .44 WCF might be Sharpshooter. I don't see one in Sharpe that would fit a 12 grain load."

I think you're correct that it is very likely Sharpshooter.

Sharpshooter was one of the early smokeless powders, introduced around 1897 by the Laflin & Rand powder company. Du Pont then produced it when it purchased controlling interest in L&R around 1902.

In 1912 the Du Pont monopoly was broken up and Sharpshooter went to the new company, Hercules, who produced it until the late 1940s or early 1950s.

Sharpshooters was a very useful powder for bridging between the old blackpowder cartridges and the new smokeless cartridges. Many older cans of Sharpshooter have loading information for rounds like the .44-40 and .45-70.

There's a picture of such a can in this thread at Cast Boolits (no information for .44-40, though): http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...-Rem-UMC-32-40.

The biggest problem with Sharpshooter (in its earliest iterations) was that it was 40% nitroglycerin, which meant that it burned hotter than all hell, and as such, was known for being very hard on early black powder barrels.

Later formulations dropped the amount of nitro, making it a bit friendlier.

In doing some reading on it, it would appear that its closest ballistic cousin today is 2400.





"Corrosive powder? There is corrosive smokeless powder?"

In the dawn of the smokeless powder era there were hundreds, if not thousands, of different formulations being tried by manufacturers. In some cases these formulas would leave residue that was mildly corrosive in its own right.

One example of this kind of powder was the California Powder Work's Peyton Powder, which incorporated ammonium picrate (picric acid/ammonia compound) into the formula. Ammonium picrate and its combustion products are mildly hygroscopic, which makes it corrosive.

There was another early powder, Goldenrod, that was also known to be hygroscopic. It quickly fell from favor because the powder smoke tended to dye clothing and skin a bright yellow if it blew back on the shooter.

As I understand it, the early bulk replacement smokeless powders which were designed to replace black powder volume for volume were also known for leaving mildly corrosive residue.

As far as I know, none of these powders have been manufactured in decades.

Not to mention, the corrosive effects of the chemicals in the powder were minuscule compared to the corrosive primers then in use.
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Old August 9, 2018, 06:09 AM   #17
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"Which cartridge(s)? I wonder if it was limited to cartridges that were no longer very popular, so they didn't bother to update to solid head, but, at the same time, if you were making solid head .44 Special and .44 Magnum, for example, why wouldn't you use the same tooling for .44 Russian?"

That seems to be the case, yes.

As far as I know, many of the older black powder cartridges were semi-balloon head until they were dropped from production during the Depression or for World War II.

I think in a lot of cases production of these older, less popular cartridges was simply moved over to older machines that were still serviceable, but which couldn't handle the volumes required for popular rounds like .38 Special or .44 Magnum.

When many of these cartridges were finally dropped for WWII production the older machinery was scrapped and replaced with more modern machinery that could handle the production levels required.

Essentially, WW II not only forced modernization on the ammunition industry, it made it possible.
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Old August 9, 2018, 09:54 AM   #18
Jim Watson
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Henry Stebbins mentioned finding most of a box of solid head .45 Colt empties on the range and thinking it unusual. This in his 1960 book but who knows when it actually happened.


I had heard of Peyton Powder, used by the Army for a few years before Whistler Aspenwald. Didn't know it contained ammonium picrate.

I cannot google anything on Goldenrod powder. I wonder if it did not contain ammonium picrate and more of it.
Ammonium picrate was known in the service as "Yellow D" and boy is it ever YELLOW, and long lasting. I learned real quick to wear rubber gloves handling 3" shells that had been filled with it. It is so yellow that it was used as a stain for microscope specimens.
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Old August 9, 2018, 10:15 AM   #19
Mike Irwin
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I couldn't find anything on Goldenrod, either. The only thing I've ever seen on it was a brief mention I came across in either a book or back copy of American Rifleman when I was on staff there in the early 1990s.

But, that is very interesting that you mention that ammonium picrate is yellow. That would make a lot of sense. I seem to recall that it was a shot shell powder that was responsible for dying people yellow.

My guess is that the military didn't mention the yellow staining because the higher pressure of the .30-40 ammo pushed the powder residue farther away from the shooter, while the lower pressure/larger bore of a shot shell didn't disburse it as well.



I'm not familiar with Henry Stebbins, but I would guess that he found those shells after World War II.

The .45 Colt was popular enough that it was brought back after WW II production, so it likely would have been made on the new equipment that was set up for manufacturing solid head cases.
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Old August 9, 2018, 11:29 AM   #20
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"...assuming they are..." The only thing you can tell by just looking at 'em is the brand of brass, the cartridge name, type of bullet and the colour.
You can probably be right that a jacketed bullet will be loaded to a higher velocity than a cast bullet.
No such thing as corrosive smokeless powder. The 'corrosive' part is and always has been the primer.
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Old August 9, 2018, 12:41 PM   #21
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Henry Stebbins was one of the old line gunwriters, not as well known as O'Connor, Keith, Whelen, et al. but an English professor who could put together a paragraph and a true gun crank.

https://www.amazon.com/Pistols-moder...ustomerReviews

https://www.amazon.com/Rifles-Encycl...Henry+Stebbins
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Old August 9, 2018, 04:58 PM   #22
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'No such thing as corrosive smokeless piwder.'

Wrong. Read my post.

Smokeless powder in its infancy tried LOTS of chemicals that are no longer used, some of which WERE hygroscopic, and thus corrosive.

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Old August 10, 2018, 08:26 AM   #23
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Another reason why the cannelure appeared in rounds like this...

With black powder loads, the bullet base was touching the powder. It couldn't move.

Smokeless powder occupied a lot less of of the case, so bullet setback in tubular magazines became an issue, especially with jacketed bullets.
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