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Thread: Marlin 1894 .44 Mag...sideways bullets...

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub Surfdog's Avatar
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    Marlin 1894 .44 Mag...sideways bullets...

    Folks,

    I picked up an inexpensive, used Marlin 1894 made in the late 70's. My goto cast load of a lyman 429244 over 18.3grs of 2400 literally had me spraying bullets all over the target...sideways...at 25 yards. I believe that the bullet drops from the mold at .429

    A 5.5gr of W231 under a non-gas checked MP 433640 and it would print a 1.5" round group for 5 shots and drops from the mold at .433 and was sized to .432

    Is this typical for the microgroove? I know that the bores are typically oversized, but I did not expect bullets to be sideways at 25 yards!

    Surfdog
    Last edited by Surfdog; 04-14-2017 at 10:56 PM.

  2. #2
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    Mine have LARGE bores...but, I have never had them keyhole a bullet at any distance...much less, at 25yds.

    However, I never got decent groups with cast, gave up and went to jacketed bullets...just got fed up with trying.
    Last edited by shoot-n-lead; 04-14-2017 at 11:23 PM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Mold
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    It's junk sell it to me lol. I know the twist rate on a lot of those is slow and won't stabilize a heavy bullet ad that with it being .429 but keyhole at 25 is extreme. I would like to see what happens with a .432 bullet at the same weight. What weight is the bullet that is giving you problems?

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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I had one from the 80's...horrible accuracy with any cast bullets..hard or soft. I now have a .444...fortunately .431" cast bullets are accurate in it up to 1,600 FPS. I am afraid that yours will only do well with Jacketed bullets. In the .44 Magnum I have a Win 94...it shoots cast bullets very well...sized to .431".

  5. #5
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    Mine likes the 429421 sized at .431. I haven't experimented a lot but this boolit with 4227 worked well today. Plan to try the Lee 200 grain boolit with more combinations for less recoil. It kinda liked this boolit with Universal today. 4X scope helps, too. I seem to recall it liked the RCBS 240 with gas checks....
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  6. #6
    Boolit Bub Surfdog's Avatar
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    Intersting responses. The 429244 bullet is a gas checked SWC that is 255grs. I'm think that there is something wrong with the load, not the rifle, but to keyhole at 25 yards just is astonishing to me...

    Oh, yes...the rifle has a 1.5x4.5 Bausch and Lomb Elite on it...and it seems to be working fine...

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    In a MicroGroove Marlin you need to be sizing bullets not less than .430 if in soft 8-10 BHN alloy and light loads with plainbased bullets at .44-40 velocities up to 1300 fps, and .432-.433" for full-charge .44 Magnum loads with harder bullets BHN 12-15 BHN.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master Nobade's Avatar
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    However big a bullet will slip into a fired case is what you want to use. Mine shoots great with .433"bullets, terrible with anything less. If I want to use some of my normal size moulds I just paper patch the bullets they throw. Size to .427" and patch to .433" Works like a champ.

    -Nobade

  9. #9
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    I had the exact same problem with a 9mm. Soon as I quit fussing around with .356's and loaded a .359 - 360 keyholes went away, group went from shotgun patterns to better than jacketed.

    Bullet fit is king, and must be right FIRST. Everything else follows.

    Take a lead bullet and smack it with a rubber mallet fairly hard. Or you can do the same thing with mechanical advantage. Either will shorten it a smidge and make it bigger. Does not take much to go from .429 to .432 or .433.

  10. #10
    what i have found out in my early 1970 1894 44 mag likes slow running cast bullets. keep it around 1,200 fps or under for best groups out to 200 meters. also they need to be sized .431 or larger. slug the rifle to see the correct size. my rifle will group good with fmj and or plated if i keep it around 1,600 fps or under.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master


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    I have the same problems with the exact same rifle. I could not get my cast bullets to shoot at all. I was using 200 gn. Lee molds, not sure of number. Yes 25 yards is enough to get keyholes. At 50 yards I could not hit a target 8X11". I could get jacketed boolits and commercial cast boolits to shoot well. These bullets would around 1" at 50 yards. I have powder coated boolits to try. I have not tried those yet.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Drm50's Avatar
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    I have a 1970 1894 saddle ring. Only purpose is legal deer rifle in Ohio. I couldn't better than 4"
    at 100yds. with cast of 5 different WTS up to 240g. Ended up with Horn XTP 240s / 22.5 of
    H2400. It will cut clovers at 60yds. my sight in distance.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master historicfirearms's Avatar
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    Your rifle needs a bigger diameter boolit. Likely .432 or .433. Measure the inside of a fired case mouth to get you close to the diameter you need.
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  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy Dusty Ed's Avatar
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    Howdy SurfDog
    Slug Your Rifle Bore an Size your bullet .002 over the size of your slug .
    Keep your velocity below 1500 fps , preferably between 1200 an 1300 fps

  15. #15
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    The SAAMI specification for .44 Magnum RIFLE bores is .431". Whatever the reason, that's what they chose for rifles in that caliber, but handgun specs are .429". You need to slug the bore and find out what size bullet you actually need, but I'm going to bet it's at least .431", but probably .432" or .433".

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    The wast majority of MG Marlins are on the huge side and a .44 clocking in at .432-.433" is not unheard of!




    Mine from '72 on the other hand measures @ .4295" and shoots like a lazer with cast.
    Here it is after @4,5k shots and but a boresnake twice a year:


    So do what you was supposed to do before you started shooting and go slug that barrel, so you know what size bullets to feed the beast.
    In general @275grains bullets are as heavy as the 1:38" twist will stabilize but some have found 300gr bullets to shoot fine.

  17. #17
    Boolit Bub Surfdog's Avatar
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    I will slug it and post the results, although you folks have already confirmed my thoughts...I just thought it unlikley that a undersized cast boolit would keyhole at 25 yards...but apparently that is very possible. The MP bullets shot pretty good with no development sized at .432...next I'll try a LBT 260 sized the same...

    Surfdog

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    You may want to run a tight patch through the bore to check for tight and loose spots.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I have one that I got used that is of 1980 and what ever I shot out of it is no problem and I size them to .430 for cast what ever I shoot out my RH will use the same in the Marlin. no keyhole,
    Life Member of NRA,NTA,DAV ,ITA. Also member of FTA,CBA

  20. #20
    Boolit Master MyFlatline's Avatar
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    I've got a keyholer also. I size 431 432, still key hole. I am finding it has to do with my alloy and the short barrel. They don't key hole with the 20" barrel but do with the 16. Bumped up the BHN a few notches and things improved. Still need to do some more testing tho.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check