Favorite handgun cartridge for a carbine

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Scearcy posted this 20 June 2017

I have been bitten by the lever gun bug. In part I caught this bug because Marlin currently has rebates on many of their rifles. My question is not about brand, however. Since I have never  owned a rifle in a handgun caliber, my question is actually about caliber. There are rifles available in 45 Colt, 44 mag, 41 mag and 357 mag. I reload for all of these except the 45 and I have several hundred 44 special  and 41 mag cases on hand. This is to be a fun gun and there is very little chance I would use it for deer hunting. Reasonable accuracy is important and small game hunting is certainly a possibility.

I am sure that several of you have much more knowledge than I. What would you recommend?

Jim

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rmrix posted this 20 June 2017

If you are not going to hunt big game - ever, the 357 mag is hands down the way to go.

If I were to buy one based on need and all around usefulness, for me the 44 mag would win.

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45 2.1 posted this 20 June 2017

The 357 Mag is about the best alternative, it is usually very accurate and easy to feed also. I have used all that you specified............ the 41 mag would be next on the list.

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TRKakaCatWhisperer posted this 20 June 2017

I've had the 94 trapper in .44 mag - too LOUD; I have a 94 trapper in .45 Colt - excellent but short fat bullet sometimes has loading issues; I have the Marlin in .357 - EXCELLENT but don't put .38spcl wad cutters in it - it will lock up.  Of the 3 the .357 is my favorite.

What would I do for another one?  Hmmm.  .25-20 or .32-20.

 

 

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GP Idaho posted this 20 June 2017

Good buddy and shooting partner Wes M. owns both the 357 and 41 mag  in lever actions the 41 is a Henry and the 357 a trapper.  Hard to go wrong with either, very fun beverage can rollers.  Judging by the guns I own I'd opt for the 357 as I own five different guns in that caliber and just one 41mag. One of these would be my choice over 44 or 45 calibers. Gp

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Scearcy posted this 20 June 2017

I hunted deer with a couple of 41s for several years. It is a flexible and sometimes under rated caliber. Loading data and molds are a more scarce.

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R. Dupraz posted this 20 June 2017

For the purpose that you describe, .357M without reservation. There has been a "re-introduced" Winchester 1892 .357M carbine around here for a few years now and was brought home for those very reasons. Just a fun little can and clay buster. Some times a steel chicken and pig or two. Likely that it will never see any game.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I use the same load in both my revolvers and  rifle so it's about as convenient as one would want. Just grab a couple of handfuls of bullets out of the ammo can and go to it. Pleasant to shoot and amazingly accurate besides for what it is. 

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mrbill2 posted this 21 June 2017

I killed a lot of silhouettes with my 357 Winchester. Even killed some deer with the S&W pistol in 357. I guess you could say it my favorite?

mrbill2

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BigMan54 posted this 21 June 2017

I've shot many thousands of rounds in COWBOY ACTION SHOOTING. In both the modern Lever gun calibers & the original WCF cartridges.  If you're just looking for a fun gun that's cheap to shoot/plink & good for small game then get a .357mag. Almost all will shoot .38 brass with the correct shaped bullet. And all major mold makers have a bullet designed just for Lever guns. I favor the .44WCF in a Win 1873 clone. The one I use most has stood up to as many a 1200+ rds a month for 20yrs with minimum breakage. That said I've put 2000rds thru a WIN/USRAC 94 IN .44MAG in just one weekend without cleaning, 250grRNFP over 9.5grs Unique.  And the MARLINS that I have from the 1990's have also had hard use in .45colt, .357mag & .44mag.  Never a problem a GOOD CLEANING wouldn't put right. The .44spl feeds well in MARLINS, WINCHESTERS need a LONG NOSE COWBOY BULLET to feed reliably in the WIN 94. Hope I haven't confused ya too much.

Buy what feels good in your hands. Or what ya got dies & brass for.

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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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 21 June 2017

jim ....  as you wander about the lever action universe ... take a look at an old marlin 336 in >> 35 remington ..... almost a pistol cartridge, and what fun it would be to find it in about a 1957 year marlin !!!   bet it ain't shot out either ... in that cartridge.

if yer gonna get a new one go to a store that has 8 or 10 of them to inspect ... maybe you can pry out the rare good parts of several and assemble a good one ... like _ for a few dollars more _  ... big_grin

ken

 

 

 

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TRKakaCatWhisperer posted this 21 June 2017

Ken - hmmmmm.  I'd forgotten that one.  I have one (with the real rifling) of about that vintage in excellent shape.  OK, time to dig out the rcbs 35-200's.

 

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Scearcy posted this 21 June 2017

Ken - I believe that Marlin has a rebate on the new 35 Remlins but only for a short time longer. The new ones are microgroove of course and then there is the quality lottery. Old ones are hard to find and more expensive than the new ones --- but probably not more expensive than a new Henry 357. 

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Ed Harris posted this 21 June 2017

While I agree that the .38/.357 is the most logical choice, a .44 Magnum doesn't need to be run with "full charge" loads, and when fed with .44-40 equivalent loads is most enjoyable. BigMan54 I see is an advocate!

I would make your choice based upon availability, price and brass supply, and not worry about the caliber.

Most of my .44 Magnum loads are similar in power to black powder .44-40s, using 200-230 grain bullets with 6-7 grains of Bullseye.  My Marlin 1894 feeds .44 Specials too as long as they are longer than 1.40" OAL 

Pleasant, accurate, economical,  FUN!

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

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Scearcy posted this 21 June 2017

I really appreciate everyones input. While I am a little surprised by the lack of support for the 45 Colt everything else makes sense to me. I believe you guys have redirected my thoughts some. I definitely was leaning 41 mag and that certainly is doable but components are the most limited and the only rifle available is not cheap. If I could get comfortable with the Remlin quality raffle I would certainly go 44 mag as the Marlin 1894 has a $75 rebate at the moment. This would make it over $200 cheaper than the competing brands. $200 will fund a whole bunch of shooting.

On a related note a 35 year old Winchester Model 70 - Ranger youth model just came in at MLGS. 243 Winchester. I weighs under 6# and the metal is very nice. It certainly doesn't look like it has had much use. It would make up into a really nice little light rifle by simply adding a compact scope. I must be able to make it shoot PB bullets, no?

Life is all about choices isn't it?

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M3 Mitch posted this 21 June 2017

Do you have (or plan to get) a revolver in the same caliber as the carbine?  To me, that's "where it's at" with pistol caliber carbines. 

If you don't have a revolver (yet) I tend to agree that the .44 Magnum is popular for good reason.  Both revolvers and I think most carbines have pretty good chamber standardization in this round, it can be loaded up for deer if you ever decide to go that route.  A .357 also has good chamber standardization (I am thinking of making up mass quantities of plinking loads on a Dillon, using a carbide die, and not having to push the lever down all that hard).  And decent brass life.  Both of these are easy to find in new or once fired brass.  The .41 Magnum is less popular and brass less common.  But if you have a good .41 wheelgun already why not do it in a carbine as well?

The .45 Colt is a cool round, but I have read on here some carbines have oversized chambers, and depending if you have older revolvers for this, they may work the brass excessively.  Same can be said for 32-20, although if I can find a good 32-20 carbine to join my Bisley, I will grin and bear with the brass issues.

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Scearcy posted this 22 June 2017

Point taken. I kept my 44 specials but the 44 mags are gone. I still have 41 mags and 357 mags although I only have 100 357 mag cases. I have always shot 38 special brass in my 357s. Actually brass is fairly cheap if you amortize the cost over many loadings.

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delmarskid posted this 22 June 2017

I've had or do have, .44s, 45 colt, .357, and 32-20 in lever guns. The bigger ones kick a little more but the brass is easier to see on the ground. The 38/357 rifle I have now is a real fun gun. Brass is every where, and it lasts till you lose it. The old '89 Marlin is fun because it is old. It's a 32-20. If I find a 327 federal lying in the road I will steal it with no guilt. 

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Scearcy posted this 22 June 2017

It looks like 327 Federal carbines will be available some time this year. They are currently catalogued by Henry and were supposed to be shipped last month. 

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Scearcy posted this 22 June 2017

I just ordered a Henry Big Boy Steel 41 mag. Opted for the shorter barreled version.

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GP Idaho posted this 22 June 2017

Good choice Jim, I've had the chance to shoot one just like yours. NICE rifle. I'm saving up and looking forward to the 327 Federal. Gp

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Scearcy posted this 22 June 2017

Eighteen years ago I had open heart surgery. While I was waiting to go back to work, I reloaded e very piece of handgun brass I had. I still have about 300 41 mags left in storage boxes. I also have 500 bullets I got free from a friend.  I am going to set up the Dillon and wage war on every beverage can I can find.

Jim

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