View Full Version : Marlin 1894SS in .44 Magnum
A friend of mine has recently acquired the above rifle and asked me to help him research load data for both plinking loads and full power loads. Looking for info on your favorite loads to compare with what my manuals indicate. Your feedback is appreciated.
Most folks consider Saint Elmer's loads with 2400 to be a little bit too hot. Give "Sixguns" a read.
Take a look at Trail Boss loads, this is what I use in my .44 mag powder-puff loads.
Take a look at John Taffins' "Sixguns" froum. There is a section of his articles and he does a pretty good job of covering loads.
I have several .44mag handguns and a Winchester Trapper .44. I am still searching for that illusive "perfect load" for all of them, but I have come to a few conclusions that some meay agree with and some might not like at all.
As a "general" rule, I have found that it is a really good idea to look at what Elmer Keith ORIGINALLY intended for a big bore load. He wasn't after the barn-burning "world most powerful handgun, well 'sell a million of them if we can claim the power title" type loads. He was looking at a usefull "top-end' of a 250gn bullet @ around 1,200 fps. I have found that somewhere around 17.5 gns of 2400 up to 18.5 under a 240 or 250 KSWC to do what I can expect out to distances I can expect to hit at with a handgun. As a benefit I think the extra barrel of the carbine probably brings it close to a heavier dose of powder would get in a handgun, but in a more accurately shootable platform.
The higher velocity loads do perform well on paper from the Winchester, but in reality do not extend the range in that the gun and sights have their own limit anyway and I doubt anything smacked by a 240 gn bullet within that useful range is going to get up and shrug it of for want of a few fps.
Of course that is based on using the same load in a handgun with a reasonable amount of pleasure and control. The full Keith 2400 load (look up the current max in a loading manual for safety) runs very well out of the carbine. Other powders, 4227, trail boss (for light loads), h110, Unique, in their proper loads can work, but people forget that 2400 was a rifle powder first and still does well in the big cases and long barrels.
I've found the 1894 to be pretty finicky, so I use 2400. Although you can get max speeds, powders like H-110 / 296 have a pretty narrow window that they operate in... so I give up a little bit of speed with 2400 to have some room to work. 20 grains of 2400 and a 240 grain Gold Dot works very well in my rifle. These days, I'm casting my own 240 grain semi-wadcutter. Depending on the alloy I happen to get my hands on, the bullets actually drop from 235 grains (linotype) to 244 grains (straight wheel weights). So depending on the weight, I wind up loading them from 18.6 grains of 2400 for a 244 boolit up to 19 grains for the 235 grain boolit. Both loads are with Winchester brass and CCI large pistol primers.
Did I mention it was finicky? :supergrin:
In load development, I seriously would be shooting huge groups, moving up, shooting a huge group, moving up, then it dropped to nothing and gave excellent results, then 2/10ths of a grain higher it would open up to softball sized groups again at 100 yards.
FWIW, the loads are running in the mid 1,600's from my 1894.
The cast load is pretty darn accurate out to 100 yards (this was at 50). I shot the first 4 and noticed my stock was a little loose. Tightened it, and it moved the point of impact on the next three. =)
Mr. Muley didn't know the difference...
Can't help much with the lighter loads... just never had any interest in developing one for the rifle... good luck.
For my go to high velocity load I use 23.0 grains of W-296 with any 240 grain bullet, jacketed or cast. For my mild plinking load I use 10.0 grain of Unique. I used to cast both 240 grain and 250 grain bullets and used similar loads with them. I don't really have the time or the place now to cast bullets. I'll cast bullets once again though.
My rifle is a Winchester that was made in 1967. I really like the Marlin and I like it even better in stainless steel. I want to get one of those.
Accurate #9 works well as does 2400 but velocity is down a bit with those. I've had accurate loads with IMR-4227 but the velocity isn't as good as W-296 and pressure seems higher. Hodgdon Lil'gun gives about the highest velocities and lower pressure but with people reporting that it does odd things to their revolvers, I don't want to abuse my old Winchester if is causing something to happen. Ramshot Enforcer is similar to Accurate #9, maybe very slightly slower.
23.0 grains of W-296 and 10.0 grains of Unique with 240 grain bullets are some of the first loads I tried 25 years ago. They are still my favorites. Oh I think a friend gave me some 225 grain bullets for my first loads and I loaded them with Unique and then 2400 but I really like the 240 grain bullets.
I do have a load for pistol in a .44 mag case that's 7.8 grains of Unique... pretty much like a standard pressure .45 Colt load - the cast 240 lswc at about 950 fps from my 4" 629. Not sure how the rifle would like it...
I know there's a lot of Unique data for a 240 swc that goes much higher, but I was piercing primers at 10+ grains. YMMV. Just be careful with it. Just because it's a reduced load in terms of performance doesn't mean it's reduced pressure.
My 44 Mag rifle load is 23 grains of Win 296 using CCI 350 magnum primers and Hornady 240 XTP's at 1.600" oal. Wouldn't go above 24 and you don't reduce Win 296 loads in 44 Mag very much. I wouldn't go below 22-22.5 grains. My 23 grain charge shoots very well in my rifle and pistol.
Thanks for all the info so far. Hope to meet with my friend in the next few days in order to put together a plan. I'll update this thread as we move forward.
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