Anyone with 44-40 experience [Archive] - Glock Talk


View Full Version : Anyone with 44-40 experience

Uncle Don
04-23-2011, 16:36
Since my time in loading, I really didn't think I'd ever load another new cartridge. However, I just picked up an Uberti 1873 in 44-40 and have never loaded it before.

I'm not looking for a load as I'm familiar with referencing a loading manual - however by the looks of the case, I can't imagaine this to be as difficult as some say. Its got a thin neck, but that doesn't concern me as it just requires proper setting of the seating/crimping die. My question - I'm told it's a very tough cartridge to load and I'm hoping someone with experience can tell me what I'm missing.

04-23-2011, 16:39
I had 2 Uberti 44/40`s. They can be a pain to load. They take a .427 diameter bullet,instead of the standard .429. But the problem with the old elevator block Winchesters is that the OAL of the cartridge must be exact,or they will not feed.I had a Lyman .427 mold,and got em working perfectly. That was about 3o years ago, and i dont recall the mold number.

04-23-2011, 17:13
Taffin says he botches the cases occasionally if he goofs. I have no expirience with the 44-40.

Patrick Graham
04-23-2011, 17:25
I load 44-40 for my brothers Ruger Vaquero.

He doesn't load it because 44-40 is too hard.

It's real easy to collapse the case neck in 44-40 so flaring is critical.

The extra .001 of lead actually makes it even more difficult because the increase in neck tension will make it even easier to collapse the case neck.

Having a 44-40 case gauge doesn't necessarily help, the best test is the cylinders of the revolver itself.

I have the best luck with Winchester 200 grain JSP. I haven't seen them available for at least 10 years.

Edited to add; simplify your life, sell that gun.

Uncle Don
04-23-2011, 18:30
I guess the gun is cooperating or something. In response to a couple suggestions here. I flared very little, crimped lightly as well as seating the 200 grain RNFP bullet to the top of the groove.

Fortunately, they operated fine through the gun as loaded rounds, but I'll send them down the bore sometime tomorrow and will know more then. Thank you for the feedback.

04-23-2011, 19:30
I shot a 44-40 for years in CAS. I found the biggest issue is proper neck tension & crimp to prevent setback when feeding thru the tubular mag. I used RCBS dies, polished the expnader down about 0.0005" & load a 0.428" 200grLFP (RCBS). It ran fine, rarley a problem. The cases are quite fragile, don;t even need case lube as they are so thin they size quite easily.

Uncle Don
04-23-2011, 20:40
It ran fine, rarley a problem. The cases are quite fragile, don;t even need case lube as they are so thin they size quite easily.

I'm glad you said that as I suspected it, but everyone told me you must lube -I think they say that simply because they are steel dies. I got anxious so I shot it tonight with some "test" loads and it works great. I reloaded those I shot without lubing and it also worked fine. I also suspect the trick is having the seater/crimper set just right.

I've done my share of obsure cartridges over the years, but I'm glad I finally got around to the 44-40 WCF.

Postal Bob
04-23-2011, 22:06
There are 2 basic problems with the 44-40. One is that the brass is very thin and deforms quite easily as you already heard. Which is related to the 2nd problem.
The other problem is in the bore diameter of the rifles used. The original Winchesters used a bore of .427", while many of the newer replica rifles use a bore diameter of .429". So using .427" bullets in a .429" barrel means a loose fit, and poor accuracy. Now most loading dies use a neck expander of .427", and most of the common 44cal bullets are .429". So if you try to squeeze a .429" bullet into a case sized to .427", it may collaspe the case mouth. Now what you can do if you have a .429" bore, and .429" bullets, is buy a .429 expander plug to replace the .427" plug in your 44-40 dies. This is usually one made for the 44mag/44 special.
That is what I did with my Lee dies for making up loads for my original Winchester 92. Normally those rifles have a bore of .427". But I had it slugged, and it seems that after 116yrs, the bore wore out some to .429". Now with the right expander plug and right bullets, that antique gun can easily make 2" groups at 50yds open sights.

04-24-2011, 06:28
Bought an original 73 carbine from a retired sheepherder back in 1970s when he was very short of drink money. The gun was pretty tired outside but was mechanically like-new inside. The old boy doubted he'd shot over 2-3 boxes of ammo through it since he'd bought it used back in the late 1930s.

I first reloaded with Remington/Winchester 200grn.JSPs, whichever was cheapest. Evenually bought a Lyman mold and cast my own bullets. Aside from the aforementioned problem of thin case necks as long as slugs were sized to .427 and cartridges loaded to the proper OAL the gun was accurate and ran without a hitch.

After I had my fun with it I sold the gun to a bar owner who thought it'd be just the thing to hang over the main mirror in his joint. It hung there for over 20 years until the BO died and his kid inherited the business who then sold the piece to one of his buddies, a CAS shooter. As far as I know, he still uses it in competition.

Duck of Death
04-24-2011, 11:50
I got so disgusted w/44 40 brass I now use 44 mag brass. Works fine in my '66 Win.

04-24-2011, 12:27
The problems with Winchester Central Fire cartridges (25-20, 32-20, 38-40, and 44-40) all accrue from the fact that they were designed 140 years ago and have gone through changes over time.

In particular, there was not a SAMMI organization 140 years ago, or even 50 years ago. So, older (we used to call them obsolete) cartridges and the guns that chamber them have gone through many dimensional changes and variations over time.

The "trick" for your success is to load the cartridges to work in your Uberti rifle -- yet another variable that can make you scratch your head. Uberti rifles are patterned after original Winchester rifles, but Uberti used one rifle as a template in each caliber they developed. So, any idiosyncrasies of that (pattern) rifle were passed along to all those produced by Uberti. This is particularly true with the 38-40, where Uberti used a pattern rifle that had a very short throat. Therefore, all subsequent Uberti rifles in that caliber have notoriously short throats that prohibit proper bullet seating without further gunsmithing to the rifle.

While there are no reports of short throats in the 44-40 (I have several shooting buddies who use this caliber in Aldo Uberti's rifles), there are other dimensional issues.

The point of all this is you MUST be open minded and flexible as you develop a load for your PARTICULAR rifle. Here's something you don't hear very often -- disregard dimensional information in loading manuals for this caliber. Test every stage of round development in the actual gun to be sure that what you're doing will result in usable ammunition.

Specifically, most sizing dies in WCF calibers do not move the shoulder back far enough to permit chambering on previously fired brass. So, be prepared to take material off the top of your shell holder, or the bottom of the sizing die, in order to get shoulders set back far enough to allow the rifle to go to battery.

Hornady dies seem to be the only ones that don't demand alteration in order to get WCF cartridges to chamber after firing.

Additionally, be sure to use a bullet designed for the 44-40. That means that the crimp groove is in the proper location to permit chambering and to yield rounds that are long enough to support proper elevator function on the rifle. In the 1873, the round in the elevator is the cartridge stop for the next round in the magazine, so length is important. Also, with respect to the crimp groove, it is very important to use a proper bullet because a secure roll crimp is necessary to prevent rounds from collapsing in the magazine of the rifle -- a problem that often requires complete disassembly of the gun to resolve.

So, "listen" to the rifle as you use it to guide you in the development of a loading process that works. Be patient, test every process in the rifle before going to the next stage. You will end up with rounds that work great in your rifle. They may not, however, work in another gun of the same caliber due to the afore mentioned dimensional variations. (as a general rule, if you get them running in the rifle, they'll usually work in the pistol).

Once you get them running, you'll be amazed at what a wonderful cartridge this is. Chambers smoothly, keeps blow back out of the action, is reasonably powerful, and is very accurate.

Have fun with it. I sure have.

(P.S. 1. I lubricate brass before sizing. Always.
( 2. I have never found the wall thickness of the cases a problem of any sort.
( 3. By working carefully, I find it possible to seat and crimp in one station. Everything must be precisely adjusted.
( 4. Aldo Uberti rifles have consistent bore dimensions and work with standard 44-40 bullets. (.427-.429)
( 5. Neck tension is non existent in 44-40. Roll crimp is EVERYTHING. Firm Roll Crimp into Crimp Groove!!!!

Patrick Graham
04-24-2011, 22:03
I got so disgusted w/44 40 brass I now use 44 mag brass. Works fine in my '66 Win.

Hmm.. I think that's going to be my next move.

04-24-2011, 23:03
Hmm.. I think that's going to be my next move.

That might work, but the 44mag case & 44-40 case do not share the same head or rim dims. A tight fitting 44-40 will not accept a 44mag case. Yeah I had the same though when loading for my Henry.

Uncle Don
04-25-2011, 07:51
The moon and stars must have aligned because the 44-40 brass loaded fine with .429 projectiles. I've reloaded the same 20 three times now and so far, lubing hasn't been an issue. The 44 mag brass is a great idea had this not worked. I can see where it would be a finiky cartridge if the seating/crimping die were not set precisley.

Postal Bob
04-25-2011, 19:38
What type of accuracy are you getting from your loads? As was mentioned the bore on Uberti rifles is .429, so you have the right bullets. Personally I use the Oregan Trails Laser cast 44-40 200gr RN bullets. They have both the .427 and .429 size available. And I have to lubed the cases or else I couldn't get them through the sizing die. I use the Hornady one-shot spray lube for this. Great stuff as you don't have to clean it off like petroleum based lubes.

Peter M. Eick
04-30-2011, 08:37

I load Lasercast 44/40 200 grn RN's in 427 with CBC and starline brass in my pro2000. I use trailboss and have yet to bugger a case in the thousands I have loaded. The dies are standard RCBS. I find the 44/40 no different than say the 38 special in terms of trouble to use. The only difference is I give the 44/40 a shot of hornady one shot then run them through.

Accuracy out of my Henry 1860 is good. Lots of fun to shoot and reload for.

Maybe its the press or dies you all are using?

04-30-2011, 08:46
I used to reload 44-40 for a 1992 Winchester using RCBS dies. I don't remember any problems.