44-40 Normal Velocities, Black Powder vs Smokeless Powder, Vintage vs Modern

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SavvyJack posted this 09 February 2020

Black Powder

Original Velocities

 

1873-1877

Early Black Powder loads were recorded to be 1,325fps. I, as well as John Kort, have replicated these velocities with Black Powder. John achieved great accuracy but all I have done is test for Pressures and Velocity. 40gr Goex FFFg gave me 1,356fps with a 427098 when using original early pre-1880's Unheadstamed cases at an interesting 12,648psi. Swiss FFg proved better at 1,370fps with the 427098 using the same cases at 14,285psi  

 

1886-1904

Black powder loads of this time frame show a lower velocity of 1,245fps. My test loads using various manufactured cases from this time period with the above powders recorded from 1,235fps to 1,276fps with pressures in the 12,500psi area, giving a good comparison.

 

Today

Using the above black powder loads in modern cases resulted in mid 1,250fps range with mild chamber pressures of only 8,500psi to 10,000psi. Powder compression is a must with both original and modern brass. H2O measurments of the cases resulted in different overall volumes as expected. Early Semi-balloon head cases yielded more volume than later semi-balloon head cases and of course more than modern cases. Powder compression was between .17" - .21" respectively between them.   December 20, 2014 John Kort resurrected the true potential of the black powder 44-40 cartridges using vintage cases. Replicating Doc Pardee's 1875 shots. Using these older cases shows an increase in velocity from modern cases. John recorded 1,330fps, nearly identical to my 1,335fps results using vintage REM-UMC cases.  

 

Smokeless Powder

Original Velocities

 

1895 brought out the first smokeless loads recorded to be 1,300fps putting the caliber back closer to it's 1,325fps roots. Since my testing of early BP loads showed higher pressures and early smokeless powder pressures were deemed unpredictable, later early smokeless powder loads are recorded to produce less pressures than even BP loads. To get a better understanding of early smokeless loads, visit the Smokeless Powders Transition Years. I have been able to replicate 1,325fps with smokeless loads producing low pressures using Reloder 7 as you are well aware of by now. Nailing 30-40 consecutive shots inside 4" at 100 yards. @ 1,354fps and only 10,500psi. The only drawback to using Reloder 7 is that only about 65% of the powder is burned leaving "skeletons" in the barrel and possibly in the action. This in no way bothers me. Other powders certainly do give good velocities as well but Reloder 7 gives me the best performance to include accuracy out to and past 100 yards.....200 yards is very nice.

If you are looking for this kind of performance in a factory load, don't waste your time looking, it only exists in one, BUFFALO BORE!

For photos, click here: 44-40 Normal Velocities, Black Powder vs Smokeless Powder, Vintage vs Modern 

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gard72977 posted this 09 February 2020

Very interesting. I really enjoy mild cartridges. I have been researching cartridges to have a Rem-Hepburn re-bored or rebarrelled.

People really underestimate the fun of hitting 100yd 10" steel offhand with a old style gun new or antique.

Most of my friends are only interested in high BC and super velocity. The can barley manage hit the berm offhand

I had the Idea of having a reamer made to reduce the inside of a straight wall case to the same diminsions as the old balloon head cartridges for black powder use. It would be time consuming lathe work but give you something unique for you caliber today.

Didn't mean to hi Jack your thread

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SavvyJack posted this 09 February 2020

 Didn't mean to hi Jack your thread

You did not, not at all.. Great ideas.

An enormous amount of people have misunderstood my intentions for years. Your comment brings inline much of my intent. Hitting 100 yard targets are fun with 900fps loads as well as 1,300fps loads both smokeless and black powder. Even when using a scope, it takes an effort to adjust for that next yardage shot...!!!

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Ed Harris posted this 09 February 2020

Larry Gibson has run comparison tests of .44-40 and .44 Magnum loads in his Ruger Vaquero revolver firing the same charges both calibers using two cylinders, and also measuring pressures of typical loads in his .44 Magnum T/C Contender with Oehler 43 ballistic test system and strain gage.  The powder capacities of .44-40 and .44 Magnum are very close, so the comparison is valid.

Bottom line is that 6 grs of Bullseye is safe, economical, clean burning and accurate load in old Colts and Winchesters with Accurate 43-206H. While the rifle velocities using Bullseye are much lower than BP, their revolver velocity compares well with pre-WW2 factory loads and gives exactly the performance desired. 

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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SavvyJack posted this 10 February 2020

Ed I know that those tests were in the works but somehow I missed the results, thanks for the update!!!

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Ed Harris posted this 10 February 2020

Larry is doing an article for The Fouling Shot.  That is where you will probably first see the data first in detail, unless he has posted a synopsis elsewhere.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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Larry Gibson posted this 10 February 2020

I haven't posted any of the data else where's as I'm waiting for it first to be in The Fouling Shot, hopefully.  It should compliment the excellent work savvy jack has done with the 44-40 and BP.   

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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Ed Harris posted this 11 February 2020

Thanks Larry!  It will be worth the wait. Glenn Latham did have a question re primers you need to get back with him to clarify.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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SavvyJack posted this 13 February 2020

Larry I certainly would like to add that information to the web site when it is released!!!

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Larry Gibson posted this 13 February 2020

I see no problem with that.  Hopefully it will expand interest in the fine old 44-40 cartridge.  Both my 44-40s are modern stronger actions; an OM Ruger Vaquero with 7 1/2' barrel and Chiapa M92 Carbine with 20" barrel.  I've come to favor heavier cast bullets (240 gr) in both with smokeless powders.  

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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SavvyJack posted this 13 February 2020

One of the powder cans I have or have seen lists a 250gr lead bullet but I cant remember which one. I'll stick to the 240's...!!

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Larry Gibson posted this 13 February 2020

The best shooting cast bullet in both my guns is the Lyman 429360, an excellent 240 gr SWC.  Unfortunately it hangs up on the mag tube cartridge stop in the M92....and I have a 4 cavity mould....cry.  The 2nd best is the Lee TL430-240-SWC.  It feeds perfectly in both.  I run it with the same load using either Bullseye or 700X in both the Vaquero and the M92.  Runs at 860 fps in the vaquero and 1075 in the M92, both with excellent accuracy.  With W-W and R-P cases I size the bullets .430 and lube with BAC.    

I could certainly push the 240s higher with Unique or Blue Dot but if I wanted 44 Magnum power I'd use my 44 Magnum.  The loads I use are just for protection against "hostile" rocks and assorted other targets of opportunity.

have to admit, though, the Lee 429-200-RF over 6 gr Bullseye at 1165 out of the rifle is a pretty good load. It just doesn't shoot to the sights of the Vaquero is all.   

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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SavvyJack posted this 13 February 2020

Absolutely,

Basically the only 240gr loading I have done is with Reloder 7 from Aliant's data. Once I discovered certain 240gr designs gave much higher pressures that others, stopped there. Aliant never specified which 240gr was used.

Maybe you can use this information

For hunting loads I use 25gr of Reloder 7 and a 240gr Hornady SWC-HP #11118, 1,371fps @ no pressure test

 

For Testing: 240gr, PressureTrace II, Not listed is diameters, seating depths etc.

25gr Reloder 7, 3D LRNFP, 1,300fps @ 9.613psi

23.5gr Reloder 7, ACME Hi-Tek, 1,284fps @ 9,761psi

26gr Reloder 7, Georgia Arms L44A SWC, 1,441fps @ 14,247psi

25gr Reloder 7, ACME Hi-Tek, 1,420fps @ 14,542psi

25gr Reloder 7, Speer DCHP #4455, 1,350fps @ 15,248psi

25.3gr Reloder 7, Lee 3 Crimp (forgot name), 1,446psi @ 15,279psi

27.5gr Reloder 7, GA Arms L44A SWC, 1,541fps @ 16,743psi

22gr IMR-4227, GA Arms L44A SCW, 1,480fps @ 17,610psi

23gr IMR-4227, GA Arms L44A SWC, 1,541fps @ 18,279psi

23gr IMR-4227, GA Arms L44A SWC, 1,562fps @ 20,114psi

22gr IMFR-4227, Speer DCHP #4455, 1,400fps @ 20,547psi

I have no desire to shoot any 240gr load over 10,000psi

 



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SavvyJack posted this 15 February 2020

Sharp once wrote in his 1937 hand-loading manual...

" The 44-40 is capable of excellent performance when loaded properly for handgun use. If, however, one endeavors to combine loading for both handgun and rifle in this caliber, he is destined to meet with only mediocre success. As in all other dual-purpose cartridges, the factory loads are only a compromise at best. Smokeless-powder loading for handguns requires a much more rapid-burning type than loading for rifle use, as the short barrel must burn all the powder if satisfactory results are to be achieved. In addition, rifle cartridges can be loaded to a pressure of about 30,000 pounds in this caliber, whereas the same load in a revolver would be more or less disastrous." Thus the reason for modern mediocre factory loads using pistol powders.


Did any English scholars out there notice the content that this was written? Although I am no scholar, this is written in a way that leads one to believe he is explaining that the 44-40 rifle loading has always been the lead role during that time-frame and that people were having issues with loading the revolvers, 100% reverse than is done today. Today, it is the revolver that is the lead role with pistol powders and the rifle loads that have mediocre success.


That wording meant that the rifle was king with rifle smokeless powders and the revolver needed help. Revolvers needed to use the new formulas of fast burning pistol powders to re-achieve their black powder performance. Lets change the wording of Sharpe and see how it will look with today's powder and loading standards.

Hypothetically...
" The 44-40 rifle is capable of excellent performance when loaded properly for rifle use. If, however, one endeavors to combine loading for both handgun and rifle in this caliber, he is destined to meet with only mediocre success. As in all other dual-purpose cartridges, the factory loads are only a compromise at best. Smokeless-powder loading for rifles requires a bit slower-burning type than faster-burning loading for revolver use, as the longer barrel allows more time for the slower burning rifle powders to burn enough powder if satisfactory lower chamber pressure results and original 1,300fps or greater velocities are to be achieved. In addition, revolver cartridges can be loaded to a pressure of only about 11,000 psi for weaker action rifles and closer to 18,000 psi. for stronger action rifles."

I do load my rifle powder cartridges in my revolvers but like Sharpe explained, velocity is compromised and results are notably slower than when using pistol powders. By the same token, using pistol powders in rifles creates less velocities at greater pressures than when using the appropriate rifle powders.

Sharpe goes on to continue and explains that a wide range of bullets are available but one must slug his barrel and measure the slug carefully.

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BigMan54 posted this 19 February 2020

I really wish you guys were around 33yrs ago when I started Cowboy Shooting. I really could have used the Help reloading .44-40, I had two(Colt SAA & Win '92)originals and a Uberti '73.

I had to learn by myself as My Dad had just passed, He was the Guru of all things loading/casting.  

I was most fortunate in that at the end of our last range session, He stuck His Colt SAA in .44Spl & Colt OP .38Spl-6" along with a old set of Lyman AA Dies in .44WCF in My Range Bag.  Passed less then a week later. His wife didn't even tell Us.

All .44-40 ammo was always cast/loaded by Him. It was not very interesting to Me. I thought only of .44Mag, .35Rem in My Contender, .375H&H and My Brand New Freedom Arms .454Casull. 

I learned long and hard. Finally mastered the cartridge, Smokeless & Black Powder. Shot it in Cowboy Shooting,  When the Original Ruger Vaquero's came out in .44-40, I bought a pair of Stainless 7 1/2" .44-40's. Accuracy was horrible, bores were. 430 & chamber mouths were .430-.432 bullets rattled down the bore. I was lucky enough to get 6" groups at 50ft. I couldn't see a way to reconcile the .428bullets I cast and loaded for My Old Guns & Uberti '73 with the .432+ that I needed for the Big Vaquero's.  So I sold them off for a pair of .45Colts, can't really complain. The big .45's will group into a tennis ball and better at 25yrds.

But where were Youse Guys when I needed you all those years ago ? 

By the way, this is Really Great information. Just a bit late for me.  But I downloaded it and put it in My 3-ring binder of go to loads. Yuh can never have too much loading info.

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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SavvyJack posted this 19 February 2020

Bigman54,

Sorry to hear of your loss even though it was some time ago. I am glad that you were able to spend that last day in an enjoyable atmosphere as well as acquire the firearms. I value each time I get to spend with my dad. We still hunt although I am unsure about this coming season. I still load for his 45-70 he uses to hunt with his 1886.

I too was like you in many ways when it came to loading the 44-40. The more I loaded, the less the 44-40 made sense. As I began my long quest for answered, thank god for the advent internet, I soon discovered that those that had been handloading the 44-40 for 50 years actually knew less than I did!!! I finally met John and he actually talked to me in discussions rather than ridicule. That is why I have the respect for him that I do. What we didn't know, we found together. Folks always told me to get books and read but yet failed at telling me which books. Eventually, after a 10 year quest, it all finally made sense!

Along with John's permission, the continued help of Ed Harris....I finally put as much information as I could into one website. Also there are my test handloads much using John and Ed's input along with the help of Buffalo Bore and Pressuretrace II, in obtaining the test results.

Much of the problems you described were solved by Ed Harris either in correcting the firearms by a gunsmith or creating custom lead bullets that fit the bill. That information is also on the website.

Maybe you can regain an interest and enjoy the 44-40.

https://sites.google.com/view/44winchester/

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 20 February 2020

...although i don't currently own a 44-40 ... or even a 44 mag. .... when i wuz a kid i got to load and shoot a genuine 44-40 peacemaker and Win. 73 in 44-40 ...   and during the hey-day of the TV western ...

i have come to realize that the real purpose of youth is to create and store good memories like a squirrel does with nuts ... so when we get real old and start hitting those razor blades on the bannister of life ... we can dig up a few of those memories and heal a little faster .......

...and so i like to read about you lucky guys that are still loading for these ...  keep it up, it ain't boring ...

ken

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BigMan54 posted this 20 February 2020

SavvyJack,

I think you misunderstood me. 

While it was difficult to master loading the .44-40 , I did master it. And it has been my goto Cowboy Rifle Cartridge after the 1st year of Cowboy Shooting. 

Of all My Rifles, at least one .44-40 goes to the Range EVERY TIME, regardless of what other Rifles go. 

I even have 2 convertible. 44Spl/.44-40 Colts and a convertible clone too. Got more .44cal molds then .30cal or even 9mm/.38cal or .45cal 

Now that I HAVE Mastered the .44WCF It's my #2 Favorite cartridge.

.38Spl/.44Spl are tied for #1, just depends on which one is in My hand at the moment.

So yep, I do love the .44WCF 

 

 

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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SavvyJack posted this 20 February 2020

SavvyJack,

I think you misunderstood me. 

While it was difficult to master loading the .44-40 , I did master it. And it has been my goto Cowboy Rifle Cartridge after the 1st year of Cowboy Shooting. 

Of all My Rifles, at least one .44-40 goes to the Range EVERY TIME, regardless of what other Rifles go. 

I even have 2 convertible. 44Spl/.44-40 Colts and a convertible clone too. Got more .44cal molds then .30cal or even 9mm/.38cal or .45cal 

Now that I HAVE Mastered the .44WCF It's my #2 Favorite cartridge.

.38Spl/.44Spl are tied for #1, just depends on which one is in My hand at the moment.

So yep, I do love the .44WCF  

 

Yes I sure did, I thought you sold them all a while back!!

Glad to see you still shoot this wonderful cartridge.

I can't say I have MASTERed this cartridge but I certainly do understand it now.

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BigMan54 posted this 20 February 2020

And yep while I do have a Combo load for Cowboy Shooting and general plinking, I also have a dedicated Rifle only Load with a Magma 225gr RNFP.  A light load for Uberti '73 and a heavier load for a rossi 92. 

And I hunted Jacks with that load on a trip to AZ years back. Knocked them down and dead. A rattler too.

 

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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SavvyJack posted this 2 weeks ago

Did I miss the issue of the fouling shot?

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