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Thread: 44wcf with large bores, school me!

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Remmy4477's Avatar
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    44wcf with large bores, school me!

    Been seeing a lot of conversations about bore diameters and boolit sizes for the old 44-40.
    Been 30 years since I've owned a 44-40. It was a 92 with a bore diameter of .427, I used anything sized at .427-.428 and it was accurate with either.

    Loading at first was a challenge due to the necked case and thin brass. Once I figured it out loading was easy.

    So After seeing boolit diameters now from .429 to .431 for the 44-40, how in the world is everyone loading those boolits without loosing a lot of brass in the process? Real curious about that! Neck expanding? Would that overwork the neck area after several resizes? or just neck sizing?? Bigger neck expander? Bigger flair?

    I understand the train of thought for the larger diameter, manufactures can use 44 mag barrels without major retooling, and a bigger selection of boolits with the 44 mag diameters.

    But the brass is still thin in the neck? Unless something has changed in the past 30 years with the brass? I still have my dies and brass, 30+ years old winchester brass and lyman dies.

    Will be looking at a marlin 1894 in 44-40 today and guessing since it's a newer one the bore is probably .429-.431?

    School me!

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    I've owned 2 (and still have 1) Miroku built Winchester 92's and both had .431 bores.
    I now own a Miroku built Winchester 1873 and the bore on that is .430.

    I have had no problems with Starline or Winchester Brass. I usually use an appropriately sized NOE expander but sometimes use RCBS cowboy expander die.
    I've never lost a case when expanding but i have lost a more than a few through sheer clumsiness on my part. The 44-40 is not very forgiving with mistakes such as not having the case centered on the shell holder and then mashing it into the die.

    You probably won't find a properly sized off-the-shelf mold that works well. Most in the .430 size are for .44 Mag and the nose is too long to cycle. Most designated 44-40 molds are .428 so a little on the small side.
    Fortunately custom mold makers like Accurate Molds make a huge selection of suitable molds in whatever size you care to order.
    I have found the Accurate 43-220C to work best.

    The chambers on my 92's are different to the 73's with the 92's being somewhat looser tolerance.
    There's a fine line between loading a bullet that's right for the bore but will also chamber and have sufficient clearance for the case mouth to expand and release the bullet.
    For that reason i've settled on loading bullets at the .431 in the 92 and .430 in the .73.
    Both loaded rounds are a sliding fit in their respective chamber. Going up to 1 thou over bore diameter will chamber but a loaded round will not drop in or out of the chamber.

    My biggest issue has not been the rifle or the molds but rather the dies on the market. The main challenge has been to find a seating die that will handle the larger bullets as many won't take a .430 or .431 bullet. If they do take a larger bullet they quite often won't accept the expanded case neck without sizing it down which causes bullet shaving during the seating.
    The other issue i have seen is that most brands of F/L die has the should too far forward and only sizes a short section of the neck. I have not yet found a die set where i am happy with all dies in the set.
    So my working set now has a Lee F/L Die, an RCBS cowboy expander and a Hornady Cowboy seating die.

  3. #3
    Boolit Mold
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    My Rossi faux 92 would key hole .428" bullets. My slap my forehead moment arrived when I thought about Rossi also chambering their 92 in 44 mag. I found some 429215 Lyman Thompson designed bullets I had cast and measure them at .431" and the little carbine shot fine. Later I saw that Magma offers their 44 200-RNFP in two different basic diameters. The original 44-40 bullet designed to drop from the mould at .429" and be sized to .427-.428" and the same bullet designed to drop at .432-.433" and to be sized to .430-.431". Perfect solution. I have never had any trouble with brass being loaded with these slightly larger bullets. As a matter of fact I don't even lube my cases for full length sizing. I use the RCBS Cowboy set.
    Duke

  4. #4
    Boolit Master bikerbeans's Avatar
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    I bought a marlin 1894 44-40 barrel from Numrich and installed it on a glenfield 30 frame. The groove measured 0.4295". With starline brass the largest diameter bullet that would chamber easily was 0.429". Rifle would shoot jacketed fine but not so good with cast. I considered neck reaming the chamber so i could shoot 0.431" cast boolits. I ended up rechambering to 444m and making the gun my dedicated cast bullet 444.

    BB

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master Don McDowell's Avatar
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    I shoot a .430 cast bullet in both a 3rd generation Colt model P and a Winchester/miroku 73, no problems loading either winchester or starline brass.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    My modern Ruger revolvers and Marlin .44-40 rifles all perform best with .430" bullets.

    The Vaquero cylinder as it came from the factory was to tight, having .444" chamber neck diameter with .425" cylinder throats. John Taylor rechambered my Vaquero cylinder to produce .447" chamber neck diameters and .4305" cylinder throats which are a good match to the .429" barrel. John fitted and chambered a Hamilton Bowen cylinder blank to .44-40 for my Ruger Super Blackhawk, and these two revolvers will interchange fired brass with my Marlin 1894S which has a similar chamber.

    I use RCBS dies, but with a .44 Magnum expander plug. I had the neck of my FL sizer die honed so that it didn't work the brass as much, but instead so that Starline brass comes out of the die .427-.428" inside, which correctly holds a .429" jacketed bullet without expanding.

    I use 1:30 tin-lead from Roto Metals and the Accurate 43-430G bullet, which is a double-crimp-groove design I also use in my .44 Specials, and .44 Magnums. If you plan to shoot black powder I would recommend instead th John Kort design 43-215C which is well proven.

    Some older rifles have tight-necked chambers and oversized bores. The correct "fix" for those is Accurate 43-200QL, which works with either smokeless or black, and is a heeled design with smaller shank, and an enlarged nose which can be sized to fit the barrel, without affecting the smaller diameter driving bands inside the case neck. That bullet is VERY accurate and has been proven in original rifles with bores up to .436".

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    Last edited by Outpost75; 12-01-2018 at 01:57 PM.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master Walks's Avatar
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    I guess the older guns are a bit different. All my .44WCF Rifles & Revovlers were made more then 30yrs ago. All have bores less then .429 diameter.
    The UBERTI 1873 Rifle & Carbine that I own have bores smaller then .429 diameter. Even the ROSSI 92 Rifle I own has a .428 bore. And all my COLT SAA's have bores of .427-.428, regardless if they are .44SPL's or .44WCF.

    I bought a pair of UBERTI 5 1/2" in .44WCF in 2003. The bores slugged .431 and of my Gunsmiths plug gauges, the first one that would fit was a .430, most were.431.
    I wasn't about to buy a new modern die set and load special ammo for 2 Revolver's out of ten. So I sold them off.
    I don't know why the Foreign Manufacturers can't make Guns according to SAAMI Specs.

    A .44WCF is NOT a .44MAG, and should not be made to the same specs, simply as an expedient or just plain laziness.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    There is always the pressure vs. soft alloy workaround. You can load a .430" boolit that is cast soft enough to scratch with a thumbnail, and if you have a decent charge underneath, it will gladly slug up to fill the bore. This works with Ruger and other revolvers as well, where the neck in the chambers is too tight to load a bigger than .431" in 44-40 brass. It will also work in a levergun.

    The trick with the Ruger revolver is to ream or hone the cylinder throats to .4315" which you can then load a .430" or .431" boolit, and upon firing it will leave the front of the cylinder at throat diameter. I would not advise doing this with .424" throats, since presenting a .424" boolit to a .430" bore will only be marginally successful if at all.
    Last edited by DougGuy; 12-01-2018 at 01:58 PM.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I had two early 1990's 44-40 lever actions when I first started CAS. Both had the larger -.430"-0.431" .44 Magnum barrels. Luckily, both also had a chamber large enough to chamber 0.431" bullets. They were accurate. At Cowboy Action pressures, the case life is not too bad, even with Winchester and Remington brass. At higher pressures, I only use Starline brass.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Most of the older 44-40 s have such tight necks,that bullets over 429 wont chamber ,even in thin Winchester made brass.In fact one of my 94 s is so tight a 429 bullet will seat tightly in a fired case.No sizing required.Bore size is 423-427 groove.Very shallow rifling.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Remmy4477 View Post
    So After seeing boolit diameters now from .429 to .431 for the 44-40, how in the world is everyone loading those boolits without loosing a lot of brass in the process?
    Simple, when using .427 bullets...Winchester JSP are actually smaller...I use the Lee resize die. It resizes the case neck back down to the smallest size. I use a Lee powder thru die to expand the brass, expands just big enough for snug shoulder retention. I can use the Lee roll crimp and then run the cartridges through a 44-40 Redding profile crimp that mimic's the Winchester factory crimp and smooths out the neck or just use the Redding Profile crimp.

    When using .429 bullets, I use the RCBS "Cowboy" dies. They are designed for the larger .429 diameter bullets. The cowboy resizing die does not resize as much as the Lee and the cowboy expander die expands a little but more then the lee helping to prevent crumpled brass. I roll crimp with the Cowboy seating/crimp die. It does a great job. I can still use the Redding profile crimp as long as the bullet has the same "profile" as the 44-40 bullets. i.e. Winchester JSP's, Lyman 427098 type O'gives.

    I can use .430 bullets if I use the thinner Starline and Winchester but not the thicker Remington brass. If I use .430 bullets, I use the Cowboy dies BUT I may substatute the expander die with the Lyman "M" die for the 44 magnum (.430). I can also use Lyman's 44-40 "M" die if using .429 bullets but work better with .427's....another "ya gotta get use to it" methods!!

    The trick to preventing crumpled cases is a two part step. First, using the correct expander plugs for the different size bullets and second...being careful of the seating depth when roll crimping. If you seat the bullet too far when roll crimping (in the one step method)...if the case rim touches the bottom side of the driving band as it is worked into the crimp groove...the case is too thin, weak, and will crush rather than force it's way in. The 44-40's roll crimp is shallow unlike a 44 Magnum, 357 Magnum case roll crimps...and even less shallow than the 45 Colt crimp.

    If the case mouth is not expanded properly, the case mouth can bind on the driving bands as the bullet is seated, crushing the side the binds. If the lead is pure, or very soft...sometimes the case mouth will shave the lead rather than crushing.

    Some people use the Lee Factory Crimp Die rather than roll crimping. I dislike the FCD because it permanently imprints the case mouth. Not enough to harm the case use but enough to where it bothers my OCD.

    If any splits/crushes accrue, IMHO...I think this is what causes them. Constant resizing with the Lee (small diameter) dies, expanding with Lee dies and trying to cram in .429/.430 bullets.

    If that isn't confusing enough...I don't resize my brass when using black powder or a case load of the correct smokeless powder to where the bullet sits snug on the powder with a mild crimp. With this load, I use the Lyman 310 handtool. No lube necessary. Not to forget, I do use case lube when resizing BUT I use balck powder bullet lube to do so. I use extremely little as not to let it accumulate up inside the resize die. It will puddle and "crater" the side of your case.

    Also, dont forget the crimp design on the bullet. The mild roll crimps don't work well with Winchester and Remington 44-40 bullets. This is why manufactures put a canular on the case at the bottom of the bullet to keep the bullet from telescoping down into the case from the magtube spring retention. This is where the Redding Profile Crimp works magic mimicking Winchester's concave crimp and not "damaging" it with the LFCD. Roll crimps work well with lead bullet crimp grooves BUT don't forget what I sad above about seating the bullet too deep and crushing the mouth or shaving your lead.



    I forgot where I was...and in lieu of what other suggested...I will stop and continue if the are any questions...hope that helped.
    Last edited by Savvy Jack; 12-04-2018 at 10:56 PM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Savvy Jack, my Lee F/L die is opposite to yours.
    I've tried a half dozen die sets in 44-40 now and the Lee F/L die is the largest and works the brass less than the others. Cases that are sized in other brand dies will literally drop into the Lee.
    But I have also found that the Lee is one of the only dies that sizes the entire neck and has the shoulder in the right spot (for my rifles at least). Most brands only size about 1/2 of the neck and have the shoulder too far forward.

    For neck expanding i was using the M-style plugs from NOE that go into the Lee universal die. They mostly work ok but i was noticing some shaving during seating with some designs of boolit. I have since gone back to the RCBS cowboy expander which puts a subtle flare on the mouth. The flare doesn't seem to shave lead at all.

    My seating is handled by a Hornady Cowboy die. It's like a poor mans Redding competition seater.

    I got a Redding profile crimp die in the mail yesterday and loaded some rounds today. Let me tell you that it works a treat and has solved all the issues i had with chambering ammo loaded with fat bullets. I tried a few different combinations of bullet that were previously a tight sliding fit into the chamber with a roll or FCD crimp. They now drop in with a plunk.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CamoWhamo View Post
    Savvy Jack, my Lee F/L die is opposite to yours.
    I've tried a half dozen die sets in 44-40 now and the Lee F/L die is the largest and works the brass less than the others. Cases that are sized in other brand dies will literally drop into the Lee.
    But I have also found that the Lee is one of the only dies that sizes the entire neck and has the shoulder in the right spot (for my rifles at least). Most brands only size about 1/2 of the neck and have the shoulder too far forward.

    For neck expanding i was using the M-style plugs from NOE that go into the Lee universal die. They mostly work ok but i was noticing some shaving during seating with some designs of boolit. I have since gone back to the RCBS cowboy expander which puts a subtle flare on the mouth. The flare doesn't seem to shave lead at all.

    My seating is handled by a Hornady Cowboy die. It's like a poor mans Redding competition seater.

    I got a Redding profile crimp die in the mail yesterday and loaded some rounds today. Let me tell you that it works a treat and has solved all the issues i had with chambering ammo loaded with fat bullets. I tried a few different combinations of bullet that were previously a tight sliding fit into the chamber with a roll or FCD crimp. They now drop in with a plunk.
    Excellent information, thanks for sharing!!

    Just curious, was the NOE "M" die for the 44-40 (.427/.429) or the 44 magnum (.430)? I did not know they offered an "M" die.

    I can post measurements from all my dies if I need to.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Savvy Jack View Post

    Just curious, was the NOE "M" die for the 44-40 (.427/.429) or the 44 magnum (.430)? I did not know they offered an "M" die.
    http://noebulletmolds.com/NV/index.p...4pvjsrps1bt2s0

    They are designed to be used in the Lee Universal expander.

    They make them in a range of sizes for just about any diameter bullet you desire.

    I use a .431 - .427 which is best for .429 bullets but it works ok with .430 bullets

    Ideally i should use one in .432 - .428 but it's not in the catalog. They skip and go one size up.

  15. #15
    Boolit Mold
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    i use rcbs cowboy dies for my miroku 73 and marlin 1894 with 427 and 429 bullets. i screw down the expander die a tad to open the case mouth more for 429 and 430 hornady jacketed bullets. the cowboy die seems to have no seating pressure with the 427 but i cant push it in with my thumb and it crimps too so it works well. i never lube my cases and dont have any problems related to the thin brass

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    The Redding Profile Crimp not only crimps, it forms the case wall at the crimp and smooths it out.
    Last edited by Savvy Jack; 12-07-2018 at 11:05 PM.

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BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
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