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
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.
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.
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