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Thread: .44-40 Vs .45LC in Current Winchester 1873

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    .44-40 Vs .45LC in Current Winchester 1873

    I already own a current production (ie. Miroku) Winchester 1873 with pistol grip and 24" octagonal barrel in .44-40. It is my favorite firearm and is by far the one i shoot the most.
    My rifle has a .430 bore but the chamber is tight so i can't load bullets larger than .430 or i will get problems with the rounds being hard to chamber.
    Finding a bullet that works well at .430 and dies that can handle the larger projectile has been a challenge but I've finally found a combination that works well. I'm using a combination of dies and tools from Redding, NOE, Lee, Hornady and Lyman to make the ammo.
    I've settled on the Accurate Molds 43-220C in front of Unique and when i'm shooting well i can blot out the 10 ring on the target at 50m.

    An opportunity as come up to purchase an identical rifle in .45LC for a great price. I don't need another rifle but i'm a curious beast and the price is right.

    What are the pro's and cons of the .45LC over the .44-40.
    Is it any easier to cast and load for?
    My main usage is 50m and 100m paper targets.

    Here's a pic of my .44-40.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by CamoWhamo; 09-05-2019 at 09:59 AM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master



    missionary5155's Avatar
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    Good morning and greetings from our side of the Big Blue.
    The 45 Colt will give the opportunity of firing much heavier cast. Plus bigger holes are always better on game.
    They both load easily. Yes we load for both. Our 45 Colt Winchester (jap) feeds most cast well. Every now and then a wad cutter type gets snagged on the flat shoulder if the shooter is a bit lazy on the leer.
    Caliber .45 slugs are easy to cast. Just use more lead for those over 200- 220 grains which is what we shoot in our 44 WF rifles.
    So me... I bought our 45 Colt because "it was a good deal". No regrets !
    Mike in LLama Land
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  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy Randy Bohannon's Avatar
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    I have a Miroku 92 in 45 Colt,the chamber is large and I have no problem getting a 300 gr. .456 bullet to fit and it shoots very well with 19 grs. iMR 4227. BTW I am using my Buffalo Arms custom expander for my 45 cal BPCR guns to expand 45 Colt brass to fit the chamber. Obviously using such a load in the 73 would not be good fo longevity I would start with the fattest bullet of my desired weight and alloy that chambers. Good candidate rifle for some top notch B/P loads.
    Last edited by Randy Bohannon; 08-13-2019 at 09:59 AM.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy veeman's Avatar
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    Go with the 44-40, cuz that's what it's supposed to be.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    What a nice rifle. I am biased towards the 44WCF but the .45LC is easier to load. If your .44 will work with the .430"s in unsized cases(with crimp)- you are golden. But by all means buy the .45 too. Those Ubertis are wonderful.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    I don't know about Oz, but in the states .45 Colt brass is plentiful and cheap. The .44-40 less so, although the Starline brass is readily available and of better quality and slightly heavier than Remington, Winchester or Magtech.

    The .44-40 cases are more fragile and there is a learning curve to loading the .44-40. Most of the difficulties newbies experience are mitigated by slowing down, paying attention to what you are doing and being sure to seat and crimp bullets in separate operations.

    I like the .44-40 mostly for nostalgia. The .45 Colt was not used in rifles until the modern era.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy JoeJames's Avatar
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    I am pleased with the Oregon Trail laser cast 240 grain swc's in .431". Works best for me with my Rossi R92 44 Magnum. The .429" and the .430" sized 240's tend to keyhole.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    For cowboy action when one fires at least 60 rounds through the rifle and 60 in the handguns, 45 Colt is by far the favorite with the 44/45 shooters as it loads with no lube carbide dies on progressive presses. And one can load 200 grain RF bullets in 45 colt as well.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CamoWhamo View Post
    I already own a current production (ie. Miroku) Winchester 1873 with pistol grip and 24" octagonal barrel in .44-40. It is my favorite firearm and is by far the one i shoot the most.
    My rifle has a .430 bore so finding a bullet that works well and dies that can handle the larger projectile has been a challenge.
    Simple: Purchase 200gr .431/2 Laser Cast "Magma" design bullets from Oregon Trail or whoever sells them - https://www.oregontrailbullet.com/sh...431-p104526384

    Use RCBS "Cowboy" Dies with the larger diameter bullets. Roll crimp or use a LFCD. Problem solved. However, the LFCD is for .427/8 diameter bullets. Using it on .430 bullets could leave collet gap marks on the case mouth.

    What are the pro's and cons of the .45LC over the .44-40.
    45 Pro...good for lazy handloaders. Components could be more plentiful.
    45 Con...chamber will not seal if using black powder unless, maybe, you anneal the brass.
    44-40 Pro - Can use 23.5gr of Reloder 7 with a 240gr bullet and stay lower than 11,000psi @ 10% to 20% greater performance than a 200gr and still get over 1,200fps
    Is it any easier to cast and load for?
    Casting should be the same but using more lead if casting 250's. For the 44-40s, purchase custom molds from Accurate Molds in many different flavors...actually for both 45 and 44-40
    My main usage is 50m and 100m paper targets.
    For the 73', a caseload of Reloder 7 with a 200gr bullet will give you 1,300fps with great accuracy, pending your mileage may very, @ only less than 14,000psi with 220gr lead bullets.

    Automatic Download 44-40 Loads File Link
    https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/0907a...reResults.xlsx
    Last edited by Savvy Jack; 08-14-2019 at 01:30 PM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    ^^^What Savvy Jack said.^^^
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Little late to the game here. Allow me to relay my sperience with my Japchester 45 Colt model of '73'. Barrel length is a very handy 16 inch. Carbine butt.

    I load between 37 sometimes to 40 grains other times. These loads are with Old E powder in 2F granulation

    My loads are such;
    ... unsized (fireformed to chamber)mix of Remington and Starline brass.
    ... flaired mouth with a RCBS flairing die just enough to start my boolits.
    ... prime the cleaned brass with CCI large pistol primers (mag not needed).
    ... droptube 40 grains powder into the preped cases.
    ... I compress my powder instead of trying to compress with the boolit.
    ... my boolits are 454260 from Tom at Accurate Molds, I lube with SPG in the big lube groove boolit.
    ... i seat these boolits and ensure there is no air under the boolit which push's the boolit off the compressed powder.
    ... next I crimp these in the crimp groove.
    ... now I take a rag and wipe all the lube off the boolit and loaded case.

    These shoot very accurately in my 2nd gen cavalry model Colt as well as my short model 73. These are so clean that I had to check to see if I somehow replaced them with either trailboss or unique loads ... but nope ... you know when you touch these off. Very fun and super accurate.

    They expand and seal the chamber of my rifle. Absolutely nothing in the action just a small sooting on the lifter block ... easily wiped clean.
    Last edited by bigted; 08-31-2019 at 07:42 PM.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Don't own a '73 but my Win '94 in 45LC is thumper ! Unlike the '73 it can be loaded to low 45-70 power levels with 300 plus gr bullets. At the '73 level loads it a dream to shoot an accurate as hell!

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy Randy Bohannon's Avatar
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    We’re talking modern 1873’s in 44-40 WCF here not 94’s in 45 Colt, so what did you add to our edification ?

  14. #14
    Boolit Man

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    I have always like the .44 WCF as it feeds slicker than snot and even light loads seal the chamber well.
    The case mouth is a bit more fragile so I always seat and crimp separately.
    Sucks that your .44 has such a big (.430") bore. I always used .428" bullets by Meister.

    I had a Marlin Cowboy in .38/55 and it also needed fatter bullets to shoot well, but then those fatter bullets barely chambered. I recall putting each loaded round into the sizing die a short way, "bumping them down". It didn't seem to hurt accuracy and they chambered much easier.

    As much as I like .44/40 in a rifle, I haven't had revolvers in that caliber do as well. So lately my levergun/revolver pairs have been in .45 Colt.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Manufactures are just as ignorant...(or just don't give a damn)...of the 44-40 as is the consumer.

    44-40 SAAMI spec chambers combined with 44 Special/Magnum barrels are a poor combination for the rifle BUT even worse for the revolver. Once the Consumer understands these "inaccuracies" as a part of a nine part multifaceted SAGA, he will be well on his way to obtaining a very accurate and powerful weapon.

    44-40 (Typically 200gr to 217gr)
    .427...original bores as small as .424. 44-40 manufactured bullets are .4255 to .426 jacketed bullets by Winchester and Remington (44-40 Profile Bullets). Lead bullets much the same. Early and modern Lyman cast bullets are .427, smaller or larger pending lead mix. Small Ogive radius to prevent touching the rifling when chambered in old tight chamber firearms (44-40 Profile Bullets).


    44 Special/Magnum
    .429...typically .429-431 bullets both lead and jacketed. Many weights and designs. Most O'give designs can not be used in older original 44-40 firearms without the bullet touching the rife lands when chambered. NOT 44-40 Profile bullets.

    44-40 "Modern Day Shooting" by: Ed Harris
    PART 1 https://curtisshawk21.wixsite.com/44...t-history-pt-1
    PART 2 https://curtisshawk21.wixsite.com/44...t-history-pt-2

    All current 44-40 cartridge commercial manufactures use 44-40 profile bullets with the exception of a few like Buffalo Bore. Winchester will not even sell their lead cowboy (swaged) bullets as a loading component. Buffalo Bore uses a commercial grade 200gr cast bullet cast from a "Magma" mold from Magma Engineering. http://www.magmaengineering.com/magm...-bullet-molds/. They have WARNINGS on their 44-40 ammunition about using such ammo in older guns. The MAGMA cast bullets are called many different names from commercial casters like "Cowboy" and "Desperado".

    Many so called 44-40 bullets are not true 44-40 bullets and do not carry the 44-40 bullet design "Profile". They are .429 or larger 200gr 44 Special bullets that can also be used in the 44 Magnum which are to be used in the larger bore barrels. Hence, 44 Special/Magnum barrels being used on 44-40 firearms.

    When the shooter/handloader truly understands these inaccuracies and misconceptions, the 44-40 Firearm's true strengths and weaknesses......the 44-40 Cartridge's true strengths and weaknesses...the 44-40 is a cartridge not to be reckoned with!!!

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    Ditto !! Ditto !!,, .

    coffee's ready ,, Hootmix.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Randy Bohannon
    As former New Yorker I take offense to your remark. So how is the Communist state ! Surprised you still have your guns! I was just saying a 45LC even in the weak '73 action is a fine round! Easily out preforms the 44/40!

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Savvy Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnut 45/454 View Post
    Randy Bohannon
    I was just saying a 45LC even in the weak '73 action is a fine round! Easily out preforms the 44/40!
    I do believe you are missing some vital information!!

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    Buffalo, Wyoming has nothing to do with Buffalo, New York.


    Ever. (*rim-shot*)


    But I have to say that if I was getting a traditional lever action repeater, Id go for the traditional .44 caliber. I have SA revolvers in both calibers, but I find myself shooting the .45 Colt ones more often than the .44-40s.

    But I dont compete in SASS; Im more into the Experience.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Savvy Jack
    And what info would that be? The 44-40 is no where close in capability of the 45 LC. I don't think I've seen any 300 gr load for the 44-40? Now we re talking about a '73 action. So with the 44-40 or 45LC we are limited to 1200-1300 fps! There are many 45LC loads with 300 plus gr bullets you can run through a '73 action an stay with in the Max pressure curve ! Do you have 300 plus gr loads for the 44-40? Never shot one! I'm sure its a fun cartridge to shoot. Sorry I've been a 45LC guy for to long! Will always be!

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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
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