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Thread: Winchester 1892 or Marlin 1894 44 mag

  1. #1

    Winchester 1892 or Marlin 1894 44 mag

    I currently own a Marlin 1894 in 44 mag. I have been working on a load to get it to shoot accurately. My barrel is the Ballard style rifling with 6 grooves and a 1:38 twist. The bore slugs out at .4325.

    I bought a mold from Tom at Accurate Molds that drops .434 240gr. bullets that I powder coated and sized to .4335 I loaded them with a light magnum load of 9.5gr. of Unique because that has been a very comfortable round to shoot. Hornady book says to expect about 1150 FPS from a pistol. When I tested the round, the accuracy was terrible. I could not hit a 4x4 target at 50 yards. Bullets were even hitting the ground before the target. What could the problem be? I have not had much luck with this gun shooting factory loads where the bullet is .429, .430 jacketed bullets seem to work much better, buy not great past 25 yards.

    I am very tempted to buy a Winchester 1892 in 44 mag from my local gun store. The twist rate on that is a 1:26. Will that stabilize my light magnum 240gr. rounds better? I would really be frustrated if I spent over $1000 on this rifle only to find I have the same problem.

    Thank You in advance for you replies.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    I have no experience with powder coating, but have two 1894S Marlin rifles with 1:38" twist, both having Microgroove rifling. One is in .44 Magnum and the other in .44-40. I use soft lead and .430" bullets from Accurate weighing 200-230 grains and loads of similar velocity to your Unique load with good accuracy with either smokeless powder or black using SPG lube.

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    The ENEMY is listening.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    currently working with a marlin same barrel type. im not sure on twist too slow as many say since some of my most accurate groups were 300gr cast being right at the edge of stable. so far I haven't found terribly conclusive results but it seems harder and faster = better. and im talking about plain base I have no 44 gas check molds and PC only. sounds like something is physically wrong with the gun if its so big. I don't know if you have but go over the gun checking the screws and the sights and clean the bore and crown then try hard boolits with magnum powder. those things helped me improve but it wasn't anywhere near that bad to begin with.

  4. #4
    Thank you for the replies.

    I have completely gone over the gun and polished all interfering metal surfaces. The action is super smooth. I ran a bore scope down the bore this evening and found nothing outside of normal powder fowling. I cleaned the bore with a brass brush and did not find anything out of the ordinary there either.

    I will try some hotter loads to see if that helps. But in the end, I dont want to shoot heavy magnums, light magnums are much more comfortable for target shooting.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Would you have or know anyone with pin gauges? I have seen a few over the years with internal bore affected by aggressive dovetail cuts and in roll stamp areas. Maybe a light muzzle crown cut just past bore ID to clean up just because.

  6. #6
    I did notice when slugging the barrel, it started hard at the muzzle, then got easy to drive near the middle of the barrel and then hard again towards the chamber, but not as hard as the muzzle.

    I have not slugged a lot of barrels, so I did not have any reference to know if this was normal or not.

    I don't know anyone with a pin gauge set.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    Evening, I have one or two of the Marlins just like you have and I did have some issues ....with the exact issues that you are having . I used this site for a long time to work those issues out .....some things work for this rifle and don't work for that rifle ....here's my question ....when you get ready to sell that rifle contact me , I'm serious , but the other half of the question is how much money do you want for a rifle that don't shoot?.....I'll be more than happy to buy it from you at a fair price ...I have a sweet spot for 1894 Marlins...

  8. #8
    I sent you a PM

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Think Gtek hit the nail on the head. Seems Marlin did cut some of the dovetails deeper on their 1894's and while my 1894 in 357 magnum shows no problems, my 1894 in 44 magnum the extra deep dovetails can be felt with a tight patch and the tight areas were at the areas where the dovetails were cut. So your cast bullets hit the area where the deep dovetail and actually get sized down or distorted and accuracy goes to pot. I've been shooting the Berry's 44 mag plated bullets and at close ranges up to 50 yds they are fairly accurate. Haven't tried them at 100yds yet. I do have to mention that the barrel mounted rear sight was replaced with a receiver mounted Williams rear sight. Never could get those barrel mounted sights to work for me. None of my Winchester lever actions when I do the tight patch thing show any tight spots caused by dovetails cut deeper than they should be. Frank

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    In box checked and cleared out , no pm received

  11. #11
    Boolit Master


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    If the barrel has tight spots, try lapping them out. I cannot think of any other way to address that. My 1894 in .44 Mag shot the Hornady swaged bullets into just over an inch at 30 yards with light loads. These are very soft bullets. I may still have a box or two buried somewhere and will have a quick look for them. I think I got them from Midway:

    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1010716635?pid=553095

    Hard cast bullets did not work as well for me but wound up selling the rifle as I had little use for it.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  12. #12
    beechbum444,

    I tried sending you an email this time. It is not showing in my sent messages, so I'm not sure it worked.

  13. #13
    I ran a tight patch down the gun and there were no tight spots.

    I tried shooting Winchester Whitebox 240 grain this evening with good results consistently hitting a 6" steel target at 25yards. I dont have bench rest paper results, but those results are better than what I was seeing.

    Then I loaded up some of my 240 grain powder coated bullets with 24 grains of w296 and got the same results. No crazy fliers. So this gun likes them fast.

    What I would like help with is finding a powder that would work well building a light load for this gun that would shoot accurately for plinking to keep the shoulder pain to a minimum.
    Last edited by eastwood44; 02-05-2020 at 12:02 AM.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    East of the Mississippi I see no need for a .44 bullet over 240 grains. The lighter bullets shoot well in the slow-twist barrels and have flatter trajectory. Heavy loads exceeding 1400 fps are not needed. Use about 7 grains of Bullseye or 8 grains of Unique, Herco or WSF in either the .44-40 or .44 Magnum with 200-240 grain bullets and 1:30 tin-lead from Roto Metals. You guys are over thinking this... Just my opinion.
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  15. #15
    I agree with you, I don't plan to shoot anything over 240 grains. 240 grains is the mold I have though, because it is the most common 44 mag bullet weight around here.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    Imr 4227 ,yep sent you a pm too , beechbum537@gmail.com is my personal email

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    My mouse load for my Marlin 1894 and SuperBlackhawks is a 240 grain bullet and only 12 grains of Unique powder. The most accuragte loads are 20 grains of Alliant 2400 and a cast 240 in the handgun and a jacketed 240 in the rifle. With their quicker twist, the SBH's shoot a 300 gr cast/ 16gr 2400 very well, too. All with WW large pistol primers.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    I had a marlin in 44 mag it worked ok but it did not feel right for me, I traded it and have since got my hands on a B92 in 44 mag more than happy with it.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy gumbo333's Avatar
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    I've mentioned this several times before, maybe people get sick of it, but have you checked for lower velocity loads at gmdr.com/lever/lowveldata. With 240 gr SWC in 44 mag using unique they had pretty good success with 6.0 gr thru 9.0 gr. At 10 gr accuracy went south. They had no data for unique using 300 gr boolits. Its a good read in addition to a ton of data.
    Never trade luck for skill.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy Cast_outlaw's Avatar
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    Well I would suggest getting the lee 429-200-RF and work up a nice load with that I say the lee because the mold is inexpensive and more than adequate for what u want to do and will stretch your lead supply out some use less powder and be easy on the shoulder

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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