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Thread: School me on the .444

  1. #1
    Boolit Master three50seven's Avatar
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    School me on the .444

    I walked into the LGS yesterday afternoon with no intention of spending any money. Lo and behold, there was a 1994 Marlin 444SS that looked to be unfired just sitting there on the consignment rack....I knew I had to have it. Anyone who suffers from Marlinitis such as I do is required to own a. 444, right?

    Anyway, I have no experience with the .444 so I'm open to all information, suggestions, etc. I haven't bought dies or brass yet so if anyone has any to sell I would be interested as well.

    Sent from my LGLS775 using Tapatalk

  2. #2
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Mild to wild, it is all there at your fingertips.

    Whats the twist rate? That will determine how large you can go.

    Mine is a H&R Handi rifle single shot. Shoots everything from 220 grain bare base up to the 310 gr gas checked.

    Powder wise I am not looking for a sore shoulder or a flinch so mostly I have loaded mine on the mild side. 6 grains of Red Dot under 220 gr cast (.44mag load in .444 brass) up to 13 grains of Red Dot under the 310 gr gas checked Lee. Cloverleafs 25 and 75 yards sighting in. Almost got one at 100 but shooter pulled it half an inch up and left. The gun will do it, its the shooter that is getting old.

    Find out what yours likes and run with it.

    Enjoy!

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Woods boomer. My neighbor has one. One mile away and I hear it go off every deer season opening day {morning} just like clock work. I figure that first box of shells he bought last him 20 yr. I don't think he reloads. But if he intends to go on shooting his 444 he's going to have too down the road. (future)

    Don't know much about the caliber other than its comparable to a 45-70. Only draw back if its a draw back? components i.e. brass as its seasonal made. Ammo on the other hand is probably less problematic. I like straight wall cartridges. But the 444. I'd have to give it some thought before its purchasing. Being a Marlin collector like you. Oh without a doubt_ I'd do the same > Buy one.
    "JUST A OLD DEPLORABLE THAT'S IRREDEEMABLE."

  4. #4
    Boolit Master pietro's Avatar
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    .

    I've had several different Marlin .444's (and 2 different Winchester 94's in .444), and every one of them really liked the 265gr Hornady JSP.

    AFAIK, the following are the barrel twist rates for the .444:

    1 in 12"...Win 94 BigBore Black Shadow

    1 in 20"....Win 94BigBore Timber Carbine, post-1998 Marlin (Ballard rifling)

    1 in 38"...Marlin 336, 444S, Win 94BigBore Standard carbine

    Never having one, I have no clue as to the twist rate of a H&R .444


    .
    Experience is a wonderful thing - It lets you recognize a mistake, when you make it again.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    I have 2, Timber Carbine and a JM Marlin stainless long barrel. Really nice caliber.

    Shoot everything from 240 gr to 310 gr cast out of them. My favorite is an NEI mold from Walt, 290 gr. FNGC.

    Don

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    You have read this, haven't you?
    http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell444Marlin.htm
    ..

  7. #7
    Boolit Master three50seven's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info so far. This one is a 1:38 microgroove I believe. I would like to load something in the 240-280gr range, preferably cast. I have a 45/70 as well, so no sense in shooting heavy's in the 444.

    Sent from my LGLS775 using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Boolit Master three50seven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beerd View Post
    You have read this, haven't you?
    http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell444Marlin.htm
    ..
    I haven't yet, but I will! I've read lots of Fryxell's work and found it very informative and interesting. Thank you!

    Sent from my LGLS775 using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Moleman-'s Avatar
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    Got one for fathers day 10-12 years ago! Love it. Came with 18 factory rounds and two fired cases from the previous owner. I don't think it kicks any more than a 30-06 other than it's more of a shove than a punch. I think a scope on a lever gun ruins the way they handle so it just has a redfield peep site on it.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy kaiser's Avatar
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    I'm on my third "Triple 4", and have loaded for one the last 40 years. My first was a 444S that was "impressively" accurate, even with "iron" sights. My second was a 444XLR with regular "Ballard" rifling (1:20) in a 24" BBL that maximized the potential velocity at the expense of "portability". My current is a 444P "Outfitter" with the same Ballard rifling (and twist), but with a 18 1/2" "ported" barrel (some like, some cuss). Each rifle has been particularly accurate regardless of rifle twist. They all shoot factory cartridges well. The faster burning powders (RL7, H4198, IMR4198, H322, etc.) are the place to start. Just make sure you "flare" the cases before you "seat" the bullets to prevent crushing the case! And, be aware that Hornady's Leverevolution cases are shorter than the "standard" Remington and takes some special loading techniques when using! The 444 is longer than a 45/70 case, but with some (slight) taper and less powder capacity. You cannot load and fire a .44 Mag case in it without a "rupture" of the case, even though the bullet is the same diameter (.429). I've read that the 44/40 will chamber (single loading) and fire in the 444, but I doubt it to be accurate since the 44/40 normally uses a .427 diameter slug. Initially there were reports that the 1:38 twist would not handle "cast" bullets well because of the "Micro-groove", shallow rifling. At least one reloading manual still repeats this "urban legend". The Marlin Forum has a dedicated "club" for the 444 with some really "expert" advice on every facet of loading, casting, and shooting 444's. It seems the 444S will shoot cast bullets extremely well, but you have to cast them .002 to .003 (preferred) over the standard .429 diameter to prevent "blow by" (my take) and drive them at "max" velocity and pressures for "best" accuracy. A fellow that goes by the name of "Ranch Dog" sold special molds, and prints (free) reloading data online. Unfortunately, he has "folded" his company to spend more time working at his primary "day job", but still "posts" now and again. While the 444 is not your "all around" caliber, it would make Col. Whelen happy, since he was only interested in "accurate rifles" - I think the 444 more than qualifies. Sorry for the long post, but as you probably will conclude, I kinda like it as well!

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Shawlerbrook's Avatar
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    Best factory ammo imho is Hornady Superformance 265 grns.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by three50seven View Post
    Thanks for all the info so far. This one is a 1:38 microgroove I believe. I would like to load something in the 240-280gr range, preferably cast. I have a 45/70 as well, so no sense in shooting heavy's in the 444.

    Sent from my LGLS775 using Tapatalk
    Yes, Marlin increased the rifling twist in the "Ballard-rifled" (actually just ordinary-rifled) version. It was probably a good change, since this rifle begs for heavier and smoother-shaped bullets than revolvers. With those it should give a flatter trajectory than a .45-70 loaded to comparable power and recoil. The 12in. twist which Pietro tells us Winchester changed to the same 20in. as Marlin, was certainly unnecessary, and particularly undesirable for cast bullets. When measured in calibres, which is what matters for the purposes of bullet stabilisation, it is about equal to an 8.6in twist in a .30 rifle. Not to mention being for shorter bullets, when measured in calibres, which is what matters.......

    The 38in. twist doesn't quite limit you to the commonest revolver bullets. I believe I have heard people say it worked with about 265gr. But I would hope to find some bullets to try before laying out cash on an expensive custom made mould. 38in. may have been chosen to impose the least possible resistance to high velocity, and that it will do, but I doubt if the difference in velocity is great.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master bikerbeans's Avatar
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    The 444 is addictive, I have four of them. Max load of Rl-7 and a hornady 265g JFN and no hog or deer within 200 yards is safe

    BB

  14. #14
    Starline stocks brass for it now. The reason I never bought one was due to lack of brass. Now that starline makes it I guess I need one.
    NRA Life Member

  15. #15

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    The 38" twist was set by Winchester in 1873 for blackpowder 44/40......and passed on to the 44 Mag.later on...Its obvious Marlin used it for reasons of economy.In my opinion the best twist for a 444 would be 24-28" or even 30"......I think 444 is a better case dimension for a Marlin,as it leaves a little more steel around the chamber than the 45/70, which is scary when you see one apart.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master


    HangFireW8's Avatar
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    A little advice, if you don't already have the updated follower, install one now! They're cheap, and they allow wide/flat nose and Keith profile boolits to feed easily, while they hangup when using the stock metal follower.

    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/42...colt-long-colt
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    If you are going into serious full-house load development, a good recoil pad like a LimbSaver or a Pachmayr Decelerator is also a good plan. I cut my Marlins stock with a 2.5 degree draft and 2.5 degree toe angle at the butt (bottom of butt pad is closer to trigger than top) because my pecks exist I don't have a sunken or collapsed chest, nor do I have a notch in my chest for a crescent butt pad point to fit into.



    Last edited by HangFireW8; 03-04-2018 at 09:09 AM. Reason: spelling
    I give loading advice based on my actual results in factory rifles with standard chambers, twist rates and basic accurizing.
    My goals for using cast boolits are lots of good, cheap, and reasonably accurate shooting, while avoiding overly tedious loading processes.
    The BHN Deformation Formula, and why I don't use it.
    How to find and fix sizing die eccentricity problems.
    Do you trust your casting thermometer?
    A few musings.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    The 38" twist was set by Winchester in 1873 for blackpowder 44/40......and passed on to the 44 Mag.later on...Its obvious Marlin used it for reasons of economy.In my opinion the best twist for a 444 would be 24-28" or even 30"......I think 444 is a better case dimension for a Marlin,as it leaves a little more steel around the chamber than the 45/70, which is scary when you see one apart.
    The .45-70 might sometimes be loaded to the same pressure as the .444. But although even SAAMI don't have figures, I think the .450 Marlin is meant to be, at least, and it has a .513in. base diameter. Similarly .44 Magnum revolvers have what would by rifle standards be considered terrifyingly little steel in the cylinder wall, and with a notch in it at that. That is on one side only, and almost certainly heat-treated. But in practice the barrel steel thickness has been found reliable with both cartridges.

    There is a table of 1909 in which Marlin give the twist for their .44-40 rifles as 36in., referring primarily to the 1894 rifle although they very likely chambered some Marlin-Ballards for it. But that had been a long time dead, and no .44 Marlins at all available, when they introduced the .444 in 1965. It was only in 1969, after unsuccessful attempts to make the .44 Magnum feed reliably in the .336, that they reintroduced the long-vanished short-action 1894 (and if you want a new square-bolt, Hepburn-designed centrefire Marlin, that is what you get.) They couldn't even have used long-stored equipment, if any survived military work, bankruptcy and very hard times in the Depression, as the .444 was button-rifled until later. So I don't believe there was any economy in giving the .444 a 38in. twist.

    I agree that something a bit faster than 20in. might have been best of all. But none of them, for unwisdom, rank with 12in.

    Incidentally SAAMI give the depth of the .444's Micro-Groove rifling as only .002in., and I don't know whether that was before or after Marlin modified it, due to excessive bore erosion, in 1968. Micro-Groove works well, when it works. Any used Micro-Groove Marlin could do with careful examination for throat erosion, and a pre-1969 one very careful. Those are conveniently identified by the change to FFL eight-digit serial numbers in that year, the preceding 444s having prefixes from AA to AD.
    Last edited by Ballistics in Scotland; 03-04-2018 at 11:36 AM.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master northmn's Avatar
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    Winchester made "Express" rifles which were in calibers like the 45-90 as an example that were designed to shoot 300 grain bullets and were 1-38" twists. Winchester never lacked for marketing and was pushing these as flatter shooting loads over the standard bullets. Mostly it helped maintain over all length for a lever action. The 50-90 using a 300 grain bullet was about the most interesting of these models as a 300 grain bullet would give little advantage for "flat shooting" in a 50. Some claimed they liked them in India for tigers? This was of course in the black powder era. Slow twists would not foul as bad. The slower twist for the 44-40 was mentioned. The 44-40 originally was loaded with bullets from 200 to about 220 grains. So it was not designed for heavier bullets. Marlins use of that twist in the 444 was a manufacturing economy and had little to do with any performance issues as those barrels could be used in a 44 mag also. The 444 was a big bore Marlin introduced designed around economy of manufacture. To be fair, Winchester was noted for that also as in the 73 cartridges.

    DEP

  20. #20
    Boolit Master






    Lloyd Smale's Avatar
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    heres a good article my best buddy wrote. http://www.leverguns.com/articles/an...4Outfitter.htm Look around on the leverguns website under articles and youll find a couple more real good articles on it.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

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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
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check