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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  The Darksider's Den (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Major 2, Capt Quirk)  |  Topic: BP .44-40 learning curve and discoveries 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: BP .44-40 learning curve and discoveries  (Read 2517 times)
OD#3
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« on: January 08, 2018, 05:46:24 pm »


I just finished loading up a little over 200 rds. of BP .44-40 loads.  If you saw my previous post about a cheap D.I.Y. compression die, you'll know that I've had some irritations in reloading for this cartridge.  Here are a few of my observations, since I had to use mixed brass (some balloon-head).

  Seating and crimping in one step is certainly do-able, but next to impossible to do well if using mixed brass of possibly unequal length.  I turned out some nice rounds crimped this way, but I had to use less crimp than I usually like in order to avoid bulging at the case mouth on the Ideal 42498 bullet.  And even then, I had to readjust the die whenever I switched brass (I loaded in batches of each headstamp).  I found it much easier to crimp separately, though this isn't unique to .44-40.  I already crimp separately for just about everything else, and I've acquired a few extra dies in those calibers over the years to help me do this.  I only have one Lyman three die set for the .44-40.

   The PRS Big LubeTM Mav Dutchman bullet is a pain in the butt to seat concentrically with just a Lyman three die set!  The meplat and ogive are just too big for the bullet seating stem to have a positive effect on aligning the bullet.  I noted which rounds had been seated with the Lyman seating stem and wrote that information down on the cards for those batches, because it was very obvious by the way the crimped case mouth lined up with the crimp groove that many of the bullets had gotten canted.  This was especially obvious when I was trying to seat and crimp in one step with the Mav Dutchman.

   I grabbed my .44 special seating die and began using that to seat the Mav Dutchman bullets in a separate step.  .44-40 brass will only enter a .44 SPL die about 2/3rds of the way, but adjusting the stem out further and the die up further allowed me to seat the bullets.  This resulted in more concentricity, but the seating stem was leaving some deep and uneven impressions on the ogive (my bullets are VERY soft).  I was really beginning to hate reloading .44-40; "I've never had this kind of trouble with .45 Colt.  I'm gonna end up having to get one of those expensive Redding competition dies after all," I thought.  Then I had an idea, and out went the .44 Special die and in went an RCBS .45 Colt seat/crimp die.  And that, my friends, was the solution!

The SWC bullet seating stem on an RCBS .45 Colt seater mates up perfectly with the bullet nose of the Mav Dutchman, and the .45 Colt crimp die won't even begin to crimp .44-40, no matter how far the case enters. 

Unfortunately, I didn't discover this until I started on the last 50 rounds.  But they turned out beautifully.  Now, I suspect that most reloaders here have already invested in numerous dies and accessories to load their .44-40.  But if anyone on here is like me, trying his hand at some .44-40 after many years of considering himself firmly wedded to the .45 Colt, and is trying to make-do with a Lyman 3 die set, I hope this helps you.  There are dies and/or parts from three other die sets incorporated into my setup, but it really does make some good-looking rounds that feed and chamber smoothly.  Discovering that the RCBS .45 Colt seating/crimping die worked so well as a Mav Dutchman bullet seater was a big deal for me today.  Swapping die bodies and parts around is a pain, and I know I'll acquire more .44-40 specific tools eventually, but it was nice to be able to make-do today and have the rounds turn out like I wanted them to.

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Bibbyman
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2018, 07:31:36 pm »

I have many years of reloading experience of all kinds.  But the 44WCF had some quirks that had to be worked out.   

First couple of hundred ran fine.  I had new Starline brass and Lee die set.  I was shooting them out of a Marlin 1894.  Then I got a pair of Taylor's Smoke Wagons revolvers in 44WCF.  That's when the problems started showing up.  The chambers were tighter and the reloads that I fired in the Marlin and reloaded,  would not reliably chamber in the Smoke Wagons.   I had to cut 1/16" off the bottom of the sizing die so it would push the shoulder back enough.    All was well.  Then we bought a second pair of Taylor's Smoke Wagons in 44WCF that were used and older manufacturer date of 2013.  The chambers and throats were even tighter than the first pair.  I had been using 430 diameter bullets in everything until this point. I bought a 427 diameter Lee bullet sizing die and sized down the inventory of bullets I had. The new pair of Taylor's Smoke Wagons will worn with the 427 bullets.   We now have 3 rifles and 4 revolvers in 44WCF. Working up a load for one ain't so bad. But working up a load that will work for 7 different guns has been a rough row to hoe.
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Lefty Dude
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2018, 02:22:45 pm »

Welcome Y'all to the wonderful world of the non conforming 44WCF, where every Manufacture has their own specification for the cartridge reamers.
I too have used many types of die combinations for the Great Cartridge.
I have an old RCBS two die set. The sizer die, sizes to .425".
The Lyman 44-40 "M" die will be your best Friend. Expands to: .427" and bells a very nice case mouth. This holds the bullet, .429"-.430" for a tight roll crimp.
The Best 44WCF dies set, is the RCBS Cowboy dies. Designed for lead bullet reloading. Lee dies are for jacketed use, and tend to be tight for lead bullets.
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Sir Charles deMouton-Black
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 04:49:28 pm »

All I have are LEE dies and a LEE factory crimp die with the collet action. I did swap out the neck sizing die for one from a .44Mag set. I use it as an M die and load .428 cast bullets.

The LEE dies worked in my OMVaqueros after I had some ground off the base of the sizer.
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Cliff Fendley
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 05:22:06 pm »

I've never had the problems so many people talk about. Maybe mostly because I use starline brass and keep mine separated by brand. Use RCBS cowboy dies with a Lee FCD.
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Yeso Bill
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2018, 09:32:43 pm »

If you change OAL much, the Redding Competition die is worth its weight in gold.  I have quite an assortment of 44-40 dies (Lyman, Lee, Redding, Dillon and presently using NOE expanders) and I have found out they all work very well.  Both of my 44-40 Dillon 550 tool heads are hodgepodge.  

I have loaded 45 Colt since the late 1960s and when I started loading 44-40 a few years ago it was about like a duck discovering a new pond.   Cheesy  

The only problem I have had is compressing a lot of powder with the bullet and air under the bullet popping the bullet up after seating.  The BACO die fixed the first problem and more neck tension fixed the second.  (smaller expander)  

But, things have to fit.  Both (45 & 44 - 40) Redding Competition Dies came with a concave seating stem which gave me erratic seating depths with the cast bullets.  I filled them in with epoxy and filed them flat so that the only contact is as the top of the bullet.  It has been my experience that run out will not be any worse than the case and I'm not convinced yet that .005" R.O. (unusual) is detrimental in the 44-40.

If you are going to change bullets much, the easiest way to change the powder compression die setting is to simply shim it with these shims.  https://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/08189029?rItem=08189029  
     They are about the cheapest I have found.
      Set your die for your deepest seated bullet.  When you go to a shorter bullet, simply add the appropriate amount of shims below your die which will raise it.  

Like Cliff, I have other brass but I only load StarLine.  But, you use what you have....

Billy

PS.  The link wont work.  Go to MSC Industrial....https://www.mscdirect.com/  and type in product # 08189029.  That should pull up the shims.

Lefty & Sir Charles:  I have two FL Lee dies.  One sizes the necks (ID) .422 and the other .427.5".   But, both need cutting off as one might be sizing 1/8" of the neck and the other even less.  I use a Lyman die that sizes all of the neck .422" but I believe .425" would be much better.  
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Noz
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 11:17:04 am »

Set your seating die for your longest cases and use a Lee FCD.  Thousands of cases with no problems.
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Dick Dastardly
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2018, 01:07:46 pm »

What NOZ said.

FWIW, the latest Mav Dutchman molds now have a deeper crimp grove.  This helps accommodate some differences in case length while allowing same cartridge OAL.

DD-MDA
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OD#3
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2018, 04:55:54 pm »

My Mav Dutchman mold was made in 2013, so I suppose it has a shallower crimp grove, although it looks plenty deep enough to me.  My Lee FCD finally arrived in the mail today.  Optics Planet had them for $10.99 ($18.24 after shipping), which was the best price I'd seen them.  But I ordered it early last week and needed it by early this week when I was reloading and had to make-do with what I had.  But at least it will be available for when I reload all of this brass back up.

The weather is forecasted to be VERY nice tomorrow, and I have the day off.  I'll be headed to the range with my Miroku '66 in .44-40 and my Miroku '73 in .45 Colt to film some side-by-side comparisons between the two.  Some of the ammo (all reloaded BP) is identically charged with 35gr. FFF Olde Eynsford and PRS Big Lube tm bullets, so I'll be interested in noting the velocity and accuracy differences between the two short rifles.  I haven't been shooting in about a month, and that was interrupted by other shooters.  I'll have the place to myself tomorrow, and I'm really looking forward to it.
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Cliff Fendley
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 05:36:02 pm »

Set your seating die for your longest cases and use a Lee FCD.  Thousands of cases with no problems.

This^
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Driftwood Johnson
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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 10:46:27 am »

Quote
Set your seating die for your longest cases and use a Lee FCD.  Thousands of cases with no problems.

Yup.
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Noz
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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 02:28:03 pm »

You should agree, I got all of my 44-40 knowledge from you.
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bear tooth billy
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2018, 04:45:35 pm »

The Redding competition seating die and the Lee factory crimp die took care of all my problems
44/40 was my first caliber I reloaded and had many bulging problems. No more.


                                           BTB
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« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2018, 12:36:19 pm »

This thread is one of those (threads) that make CAS City so much FUN!!!  Everybody pitches in to help out without beating up on someone (I did just beat someone up though).  So much really great information shared.

Several Lustrum ago, I had a thing for 44-40 as well.  I had lots of problems getting ammunition to work well in both my rifle and my pistol (singular, only had one).  Then I found THE solution.  I sold off the rifle, the pistol, all the dies and bullets.  Went back to .45s.  Been happy ever since.  No longer have an interest in shooting 44-40.  None.  Didn't help much with this thread either.  My contribution may be ignored by all without hurting my feelings at all.    Grin

PS:  I saved all my 44-40 Brass though.  Fire formed to 45 Colt, 44-40 brass eliminates Blow-By.   Cool
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Yeso Bill
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« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2018, 04:01:51 pm »

CAS City is a great place and I thank everyone that runs the place and contributes.  I have learned a lot here.

The smallest chamber I have is in a Uberti six shooter.  I use that cylinder (90% of the time laying on the bench) as an ammo checker.  Maybe I am the luckiest 44-40 owner on earth but I now only neck size and we experience more Blue Moons than I have bulged cases.  But in the beginning, it was not that way.   Grin

Billy
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Montana Slim
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« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2018, 11:42:38 pm »

Started loading the 44-40 in 1996. Started with the Lee 3-Die set, still use it today. Lee shortened the resize die for me to set the shoulder back a bit further. Loaded with all the common types of bass, plus a lot of old brass, headstamps that haven't been made in over 40 years.
Been loading the Mav, sized to .428 since it was available. Added the Lee factory crimp die to my setup a few years ago which solved the occasional problems with inconsistent case length. Powder compression isn't needed for everyday CAS shooting, I just fill to touch the bullet base.
BTW, I seat a shade deeper than the the crimp groove & make my own. My toggle guns aren't real picky about OAL.

I only have experience with this set of dies, so can't comment on the others.
Slim
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Sir Charles deMouton-Black
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« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2018, 11:11:49 am »

Montana; Your die setup matches mine, and the results are quite similar. I bought my LEE dies, cheap, in a round green die box from a small shop (but selling Containerloads of repacked powders - AMMO MART) in 1990. He had apparently had a customer order .303 brit. dies, and these arrived - apparently the product number was a digit off! I didn't use them until about 10 years later. I had OMVs in .44-40 by that time and the 55 series chambers were tight, the 56 series ones, not so much. I got the shaving done by the neighbourhood gun tinker and Roberts Yer Fathers Brother.
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NCOWS #1154, SCORRS, STORM, BROW, 1860 Henry, Dirty Rat 502, CHINOOK COUNTRY
THE SUBLYME & HOLY ORDER OF THE SOOT (SHOTS)
Those who are no longer ignorant of History may relive it,
without the Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
With apologies to George Santayana & W. S. Churchill

"As Mark Twain once put it, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
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« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2018, 07:38:57 am »

My Daddy always told me to make any modification to the cheapest part of the machine.

Rather than shortening the die, I faced off the top of the shell holder.  Works.
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Dick Dastardly
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« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2018, 10:58:08 am »

Good thinkn' Noz,

Now, keep that shell holder with that die.

Dick
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« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2018, 01:34:07 pm »

My Daddy always told me to make any modification to the cheapest part of the machine.

Rather than shortening the die, I faced off the top of the shell holder.  Works.

I agree. Here the shell holder was one I used for several calibers, and the dies served only one set of guns, and are still useful for most reloading situations, The price was cheap - merely goodwill from a neighbour - so no harm no foul.
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NCOWS #1154, SCORRS, STORM, BROW, 1860 Henry, Dirty Rat 502, CHINOOK COUNTRY
THE SUBLYME & HOLY ORDER OF THE SOOT (SHOTS)
Those who are no longer ignorant of History may relive it,
without the Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
With apologies to George Santayana & W. S. Churchill

"As Mark Twain once put it, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
wildman1
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« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2018, 07:46:15 am »

I bought a Marlin 44/40. Slugged the barrel with a 427 and got good engraving from the lands none from the grooves. Bought some 429 bp lubed bullets and then tried to load one with resized brass. Got it done but not very good. I have a universal expansion die but its only good for the very top of the brass. So I tried some brass that had been shot in my 66 and cleaned. No neck tension at all but would chamber alright. Next took some brass shot in my Rugers, used the expansion die  and the bullets were a nice snug fit that could be pushed with my fingers down onto the powder with a little effort. Chambers nicely and later today I will see how they shoot.
I tried some hardcast factory loads in the rifle earlier that I do not know what size the bullets were and it was very accurate at 50 yds.
wM1
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