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Thread: 44-40 Black Powder...a little something different

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    44-40 Black Powder...a little something different

    I wanted to go shoot about 100 test cartridges today but with weather creeping in, it just keeps getting worse. Supposed to get 12" to 24" of snow here in NC. I was going to wait until I shot these to share but figured I would go ahead and share what I have done already.

    Not trying to reinvent an inferior bullet, I wanted to try and load an as close to an 1873 load as I could. The Winchester 1873 cartridge bullet appears to be a 200gr swaged bullet with two lube grooves and no crimp groove. According to the Winchester 1875 catalog this is what is inside. If this tests nicely, I will use some original late 1870's or early 1880's unheadstamped semi-baloonhead cases.
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    As late as 1875, we see this bullet on the second style box label. This particular label is the later label that does not wrap around the box end which would date it as to the last of that style right at 1875 when Winchester started sealing their boxes...note the external lube groove. If this is indeed the same swaged bullets offered in the catalog, this means the crimp is about midway of the foreword driving bad leaving the first lube grove exposed and not having a crimp groove.
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    The current 200gr Magma bullet closest resembles this bullet design from what I can fine. The Ideal/Lyman 42798 is too long.
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    I decided to seat the bullet and crimp just a tad past midway of the forward driving band. I used an RCBS Cowboy die two step roll crimp. I thought the lead would be too hard but it works well.

    Before I go any further we should all know that I am just playing around and there is not enough bullet lube on these for many shots without fowling...like I said, probably an inferior design.

    I used new, unsized Starline brass. In the bullet photo on the box and in the 1875 catalog, the cartridge show no sign of a bottleneck. New Starline brass shows no sign of a bottleneck and chambers just fine if not resized. I also used WLP primers.

    The bullet is a Lasercast hard cast Magma design. I removed the lube, ran it through my lubesizer to .429 and added lube to the crimp groove for the exposed second lube groove.
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    I used 40gr of Swiss FFG and unsettled, the powder was even with the case mouth (#7 and #8). tap settled to .12" (#9). I used my modified bullet seating die to compress the powder .10" (#10). This gives me .22" to seat the bullet without any pressure on top of the bullet meplat...or just enough pressure to round the edges of the meplat.
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    Here are 5 loaded cartridges. The center cartridge has no lube in the exposed lube groove. The others have yet to have the excessive lube wiped off...using care as to not remove the external lube from the lube groove.
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    Showing the finished load but not cleaned.
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    Finished cartridge on it's side to resemble a late 1873 cartridge.
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    When I get a chance to run these through the chronograph and strain gauge, I will post the results.

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy ericandelaine1975's Avatar
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    Looks good. Should be fun.

    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    What I failed to include was the measurements. AOL will be too long for probably anything but the Winchester 73'...or at least my Uberti model. These will not work in either of my Marlins. I also don't expect much accuracy.

    The AOL is 1.647 and just barely ejects from the 73' Does not touch the lands. I used an empty case to where the bullet is seated by fingers. I just insert the bullet and let the action push the case in and if it hits the lands, the pressure will seat the bullet to a default length. I back it off a tad more and use the seating depth. The AOL in the 73' is very user friendly!! An AOL of 1.66 will not eject from my 73'...but still does not touch the lands.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I don.t know if this mold is still made but I have a lyman 429215 it is copy of the marlin bullet. it is 215 gr. gas checked. I have loaded a lot of them with black powder in the .44-40. they were shot in a repro. henery in n-ssa .

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Walks's Avatar
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    What is this RCBS 2-step crimp die you speak of ?
    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walks View Post
    What is this RCBS 2-step crimp die you speak of ?
    Some people do not like to use the roll crimp and replace the roll crimp feature with a Lee Factory Crimp die. At one point years ago some folks referred to the roll crimp as the second step in the bullet seating process...hence "two-step". I guess it's just how the language changes from year to year.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Walks's Avatar
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    Seems a strange way to crimp, or refer to it. I guess because I'm using a set of OLD Lyman All-American Dies from the early 1960's that I have a lot less trouble loading my .44WCF ammo then just about anyone I met Cowboy Shooting. My die set reduces the case small enough that the bullet creates a "bulge" in the case when seated. it also has a .424dia on the bottom of the two-step M-Die Expander.
    I am able to seat/crimp at the same time. BP or Smokeless.

    None of my more modern die sets will size a case correctly to fit in my 1909 COLT SAA. I have 1981 & 1988 RCBS( 2 DIFFERENT STK # 'S ), 1999 REDDING, 2003 HORNADY & I even bought a Lee set about 5yrs ago.

    I loaded BP for my 1st 2 years of Cowboy Action Shooting.

    Using 30grs 3F under a Milk carton wad, .44 Wonder Wad & #42798. Cast 20/1 - sized .428 & Lubed with SPG or Crisco if I was out of SPG, tried T/C Bore Butter too, a tad expensive. I also put a bit of extra lube between wad and bullet about every 10th round.

    So I can't quite understand what you are trying to do ?

    Are you just trying to make ammo Realistic looking to the 1870's Time Period ?
    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Not sure why the op is not using a Black powder lube with that Swiss BP?

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walks View Post
    So I can't quite understand what you are trying to do ?
    Just having fun!!!

    I have two dies with no names that really shrink up on the resize. Can you ID them?
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    There is no expander die

    The resize die resizes the case neck to a length of about .40" while most modern dies resize the length of the neck to only about .30". The .40" allows the Lyman 427098 and like bullets to have complete shank retention. Modern 200gr Magma type bullets only need the .30". There are a few topics out there about this method.
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    Article...but I didn't have these dies at the time.
    https://www.44winchestercenterfireca...t-history-pt-1
    Last edited by Savvy Jack; Yesterday at 01:10 AM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MT Chambers View Post
    Not sure why the op is not using a Black powder lube with that Swiss BP?
    I am, take another look. I am not using the bullet with the blue lube. The fourth photo shows the bullet with BP lube. I also said this just above the photo;

    "I removed the lube, ran it through my lubesizer to .429 and added lube to the crimp groove for the exposed second lube groove."

  11. #11
    Boolit Master Walks's Avatar
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    This O.A.L. of yours is a bit confusing. I find that my UBERTI copies of the 1966/'73 will handle an O.A.L. of 1.600" maximum.

    My MARLIN 1894 & WINCHESTER 1892 will handle an O.A.L. of 1.620" without a problem.

    A loaded round that long will jam up a UBERTI 1866/'73.
    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walks View Post
    This O.A.L. of yours is a bit confusing. I find that my UBERTI copies of the 1966/'73 will handle an O.A.L. of 1.600" maximum.

    My MARLIN 1894 & WINCHESTER 1892 will handle an O.A.L. of 1.620" without a problem.

    A loaded round that long will jam up a UBERTI 1866/'73.
    not mine, I checked... 1.66 will jam, 1.64 is fine...Uberti 73' Imported by Cabela's.
    However, I would not want to try them in a shoot-out!!!

    For my rifle......AOL of 1.654 is the max I would use hunting and less than that if I needed reliable, no frills cycling!!! A single shot of 1.66 works just fine as long as it is shot...if not shot, manual release from the ejector is mandatory.
    Last edited by Savvy Jack; Yesterday at 04:06 PM.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    FINALLY after years of searching I finally found a photo...an ex-ray to be exact, of the 1873' 44 WCF PROTOTYPE cartridge valued at between $4,000 and $5,000.

    The bullet does appear to be of the 200gr-225gr heeled style (but not heeled) I am still awaiting conformation. Here is the kicker...the case is only 1.177" long rather than 1,300.

    Answered a lot of questions but creates more questions.

    I don't want to share the photo until I have written approval.
    Last edited by Savvy Jack; Yesterday at 06:15 PM.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Using the case length of 1.177" of the Prototype and a Lyman 427098 bullet, the results shockingly resemble the the 44 Winchester with exposed lube grove on the .44 Winchester Second Style ammunition box. A case could still hold 40gr of compressed powder BUT it would overflow the shorter case if not poured in from a drop tube or some form of settling.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    Savvy,, thank you ( and others ), really like the pics. ,, been think'n about shorting some of my cases to get uniform OAL using 427098's,,( good enough for you,, good enough for me ) .

    coffee's ready ,, Hootmix .

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hootmix View Post
    Savvy,, thank you ( and others ), really like the pics. ,, been think'n about shorting some of my cases to get uniform OAL using 427098's,,( good enough for you,, good enough for me ) .

    coffee's ready ,, Hootmix .
    I am still playing with it. I crushed the starline case on accident so I cut down an RP case...a bit stronger. I cut down my old Lee bullet seating die and it roll crimps perfect into the forward driving band!

    I'll get a pic of it asap

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Here is the RP case, everything else is the same. I started playing with powder charges but no measurements yet. I like the RP case so I might cut down about 9 more for testing in the test barrel then the 73' with some Goex FFFG. It that works out, I will use whats left of my Swiss FFG for target groups.

    Probably re-inventing an inferior cartridge but golly it's so much fun!!!
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master Walks's Avatar
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    I trim all my R-P brass to 1.285", it's reserved for my '66/'73's. I have 3 different Bullets I use; a MAGMA 225gr. a 210gr RCBS and a 200gr #42798.

    With the old LYMAN dies, I'm able to crimp on the Ogive of each bullet, maintaining an O.A.L. for each bullet between 1.588" - 1.600".

    I've been looking at the huge selection of .44 bullets that ACCURATE offers in the 200gr - 230gr range.

    I'd like to have a short nosed bullet with a crimping groove for when the 12,000 bullets I have cast and lubed run out. Sometime the middle of the next decade.

    And I want a 4-5cav mold.
    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Got ten of'em ready for the range!!!

    RP Brass...trimmed 1.184
    WLP's
    cast 427098
    Goex FFFG .20 compression. (Three look to be .21")

    AOL 1.600
    #5, #7 and #8 are seated a tad deeper.
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    If shooting BP, forget about the crimp. The bullet is sitting on the powder charge and will not telescope any deeper. Just iron the flare out of the case mouth and drive on. The crimp you are showing is excessive, even for smokeless.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

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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