Author Topic: What Caliber?  (Read 8092 times)

Offline Sir Charles deMouton-Black

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What Caliber?
« on: January 21, 2006, 09:42:10 PM »
The first,a and almost the only caliber for the Henry and 1866 was the.44 rf Henry Flat  Apparently the last lot of 1866's was made in a .44 Henry cf.  By a coincidence, the first large frame S & W was made in .44 Henry rf, but quickly changed to centerfire, the .44 American.  By the way, the Turkish army used both the 1866 and the rimfire S&W in the original calibers.

In Cartridges of the World, the dimensions of both the Henry and S&W centerfire cartridges seem identical.

Except fot the Uberti "Yellow Boy", reproduction Henrys and 1866's started out in 44-40 wcf.  I got my 1866 in .38 Spl for two reasons.  First,  I saw an original 1866 in .38 Spl., admitedly made up from factory parts in about 1918, but of original manufacture, as a special order.  Secondly,  I adopted the 1851 navy Richard Mason as my match guns, so the caliber fitted in, even though it is not actually correct.

Would not the .44 Russian, as the closest kin to the Henry cartridge be the most appropriate repro chambering?  I see that someone does it in .44 Special, and claim that .44 Colt works just fine.  Seems closer to the original.

Any thoughts?
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Offline Fox Creek Kid

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2006, 12:02:43 AM »
There's a better way IMHO. I have a Henry in 44-40 & I load 28 gr. FFFg topped with a .135 thick card wad of .430 diameter and a 200 gr. BP lubed bullet. Identical ballistics as original & no straight case "blowback syndrome". This load gives a perfect 1/8" compression & shoots one hole groups at 25 yds. in my Henry & '66.

Offline Rapid Lee

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2006, 08:19:52 AM »
Sir Charles,

I agree with your logic 100%.  I've been lusting after a Henry in 44 Russian for a long time now.  It would go perfectly with my 44 Open Tops and conversions and I think it would be more authentic in 44 Russian than 44-40.  I guess if I could find (and afford ::))one in 44 spl, I might consider switching over to 44 Colt...  I do have a Henry in 44-40 which I only shoot American Pioneer through.  I get absolutely no blowback; in fact the receiver is hardly dirty at all at the end of the day, much cleaner than my '73 in 45 Colt with smokeless loads ;D.

Rapid

Offline Ottawa Creek Bill

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2006, 09:25:53 AM »
Actually .44 Colt would be the choice for a chambering in the Henry. It is the closest to the original rim fire (Henry's were never made in center fire, we all know that), in a center fire cartridge. I am in the process of rechambering my henry form .45 Long Colt to .44 Colt. .

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Offline Ottawa Creek Bill

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2006, 12:09:15 PM »
Seth,
You can! All you have to do is sleeve it the approprate length and rechamber it.

St. Charles,
I'm really suprised that the .44 magnum and .44 colt will interchange since the .44 colt rim diameter (.483) is much smaller then the .44 magnum. I'm wondering if the person had the .44 mag rims turned down to .483? Just curious as I was going to make a new lifter and bolt for this rifle and this would save a lot of extra work.

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #5 on: Today at 08:49:19 AM »

Offline Steel Horse Bailey

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2006, 01:02:48 PM »
In spite of the disparity in authentic calibers, I shall leave my Improved Henry at 45 Colt.
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Offline Dakota Widowmaker

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2006, 09:00:58 PM »
SHB-

Fine by me... a 45lc chambered Henry is still a thing to behold.

For the record, the 44Henry was actually a cartridge cased 454 heeled bullet with outside lubing and had BARELY 30gr of powder in it.
The bullet weight under 200gr, if I remember correctly. (although, some weight as much as 230gr from different manufacturers)

The closest case to what exists commercially today would be the 44S&W. (compare this to the 44Rus)



From what I have gathered, the 44 Colt was a RIMFIRE cartridge that was interchangeable with the 44Henry.

So, if one were to try and make an exact reproduction, start with a 44S&W or take 44long colt and trim down the cases. Then, stuff 25gr of powder in one. (somehow)

Then, cast up some .450" Lee black powder bullets and seat the heel inside the cartridge case, somehow. Crimp with a Lee FCD that is modified to fit the shorter case. There you have it! 44Henry, but, in a Centerfire version.

Offline Ottawa Creek Bill

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2006, 09:25:25 PM »
Or,
Use a hollow base .44 caliber bullet that will expand into the rifileing, they work real good. I am going to get a mold for the .44 heeled bullet., they are not that hard to load.

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Offline Sir Charles deMouton-Black

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2006, 11:37:34 PM »
Ottawa;   The articles I read about the .44 Spl / .44 Colt was in SHOOT!, I think.  I've seen references in a couple of recent magazines.  I'll have to look them up.  I don't collect Guns of the Old West, but that may also be the source.  As an almost senior, my memory is more on the "random access" mode. BTW, .44 Colt does have a .483 rim dia.  Easy to make by turning the rim down on a .44 Spl. or .44RM and then shorten.  I've also heard of a "universal" .44 case.  It seems to me that it must have been a .44 Rus. with a turned down rim.

Dakota;  .44 Colt, was an original centre fire cartridge developed by the army arsenal for army revolver conversions.  It used the MARTIN primer.  Both Colt and Remington domesticated the round, and gave their version a proprietary name.  You might be thinking of the STETSON version of the .44rf that was the ONLY round chambered in the 1872 Open Top.  Does anyone make the basic case for  the .44 American?  I think it can be made from shortened .41 Magnum brass?  I know of at least one centre fire 1866 owned by a guy in Saskatchewan.
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Offline Fox Creek Kid

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2006, 01:10:55 AM »
The .44 Russian only held 23 gr. of BP, the .44 Flat held 28 gr. The original .44 Russian was ORIGINALLY loaded with a bullet that was about 270 gr. and was not, repeat NOT an inside lubed cartridge until the 1880's. You guys are forgetting an important drawback here: BLOWBACK. Everyone I know who has a staright walled pistol cartridge, e.g. .45 Colt, has regretted it as they blowback a lot & this impedes chambering. Almost to a man they have sold theirs for a 44-40 which does not blow back. The originals were copper cases that expanded easily thereby preventing blowback. Besides, no stage in CAS has more than 10 shots anyway and the 44-40 Henry holds 12. IMHO you'd be throwing good money after bad. Buy a 44-40 & load it to original specs. The target will never know the difference.

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #10 on: Today at 08:49:19 AM »

Offline Silver Creek Slim

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2006, 10:47:00 AM »
Someone I know has an Improved Henry in .44 S&W Special. (I won't mention names unless they say I can.  ;) ) He had the carrier modified to feed .44 S&W Russians.

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Offline Dakota Widowmaker

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2006, 02:15:11 PM »
Dakota;  .44 Colt, was an original centre fire cartridge developed by the army arsenal for army revolver conversions.  It used the MARTIN primer.  Both Colt and Remington domesticated the round, and gave their version a proprietary name.  You might be thinking of the STETSON version of the .44rf that was the ONLY round chambered in the 1872 Open Top.  Does anyone make the basic case for  the .44 American?  I think it can be made from shortened .41 Magnum brass?  I know of at least one centre fire 1866 owned by a guy in Saskatchewan.

I stand corrected. Appreciate the info.

Yes, the 44colt, as we know it today, is a CF cartridge. (which was never chambered in the 72 opentop)

My point was the the 44Henry was similar to the 44Colt, in that they had very similar cases, but, that the Henry was/is RF and the Colt is CF.

It was my understanding that the 72 opentop was designed to use Henry/66 Winchester ammo. I have heard this several places.

I need to dig out some books on this again... Until then, I'll stop talking... (is it friday yet?)

Offline Ottawa Creek Bill

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2006, 08:00:13 AM »
.44 Kid,
I am converting my Henry to .44 Colt because it is my favorite caliber and more correct for the rifle then either 44/40 or .45LC, and, I have two 1860 first model Colt conversions in that caliber. I have been shooting full loads of pure black powder in it for over a year and have not experienced the blow back that you and others have talked about. Cuts Crooked has an excellent thread on the Black Powder forum that details how to load a straight walled case properly and eliminate almost all the blow back.
In the current issue of the Shootists, Lone Gunman does a review of the Republic Metallic Cartridge company's black powder cartridges. He experienced no blow back with his .45 cal 1873 Uberti Winchester short rifle. LG seems to think the reason he did not have the usual BP blow back is because the cartridges are loaded with the same style of bullet used for the original cartridges and not the modern designed black powder bullet that most of the cartridge makers use. They are also loading black powder shotgun shells with paper hulls. Up until last year I was ordering mine from BPI who was importing them from a British company overseas. They either stopped importing or making them (I'm not sure which) so now I have a place to buy my shotshells by the case. I don't mind loading my hand gun and riflle shells, but for some reason I hate to load shotshells.

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Offline Sir Charles deMouton-Black

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Re: What Caliber?
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2006, 09:15:21 PM »
Dakota;  I finally checked Bruce McDowell's book COLT CONVERSIONS, Chapter 7, p.277.  The open tops were recorded in Colt records as being "Army breechloading revolver for Winchester cartridge."  The entirety of page 280 discusses the calibre as being the rimfire Henry case with the STETSON swaged bullet.  The swaged bullet gave greater uniformity, and in 37 Open Tops checked, none would chamber any .44rf Henry cartridge except the Stetson version.(page 281)  All Henry rifles, and 1866 Winchesters would, of course, accept the Stetson cartridge as made by Colt.  Curiously, Colt records, and provenance letters refer to the cartridge as ".42 for Stetson cartridge."  .420 is the actual land-to-land measurement of both the Open Top, and Henry & 1866 barrels. 

When I said that this was the only cartridge that the Open Top was chambered for, I might have been a bit wrong.  Colt Day Journal entry for June 13, 1872 records a shipment to W.B. Franklin of a "1 N.M. 42/Cal B.L. Revolver, C.F. #51"  The author's note states his conclusion that this was "obviously" the .44 S & W American cartridge.  Some Open Tops were later privately rechambered to .44WCF.

Have fun with this trivia!
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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