Author Topic: Compressing BP in .44-40?  (Read 711 times)

Offline Henryshooter

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Compressing BP in .44-40?
« on: April 24, 2019, 05:47:24 am »
Hi, I'm new here. I've been shooting MZ Ldrs since 1972, N-SSA since 1982 and shoot BPCR with a .45-70 and .40-60 Maynard. Just acquired an Uberti iron framed 1860 Henry and now working up BP loads for it. I have the Accurate 43-215C mould. Seems right now that 30 gr of 3F Swiss using soft lead bullets sized .429 has given best group at 50 yds. Just sighting it in. I'm going to try the same recipe using "hard" lead. I've read on this forum of members using up to 40 gr of powder. My question is: Are they using a .44 compression plug in their sizing die with an over powder wad of a certain thickness (.030?) like we do with BPCR? I'd like to see what this fun-to-shoot rifle will do at longer ranges. Thank you.

Offline David Battersby

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2019, 07:00:36 am »
I shoot the 44WCF in a Uberti 1873 and Winchester 1892
With the small charge of powder (compared to 45-70 etc)I do not use and have never tried a card or fiber wad.       I load the Accurate mold 43-220C , 30-1 alloy  DGL black powder lube, CCI#300 primer,  and about 36 grains of Swiss 2F. That equals about .2" of compression.  Yes I use a compression die.  Compressing the powder with the bullet will distort the bullet.
 I came up with that load via the help of the late John Kort and load development.  I simply tried varying weights of powder. With the bullet seating depth never changing this results in varying degrees of compression.  Then, when the 100 yard group size was smallest that was "my load".
You can try harder bullets but you will most likely find the best accuracy with alloys from 20-1 to 40-1.
There are more than a few writers that will claim "magnum primers are required when loading black powder".  This is not true.  Myself and others have found that magnum primers in the smaller "dash calibers" (32-20, 38-40, 44-40) cause a hard dry buildup of fouling just ahead of the chamber.
I am by no means an expert. But I am a fan of the 44WCF and have learned from others .
On this forum https://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php/topic,40683.0.html      and   https://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php/topic,54292.0.html    contain a great deal of information.   Don't let info overload scare you away.    The 44WCF (44-40)  is an easy cartridge to load with "The Holy Black" and achieve very good accuracy.
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Offline Crow Choker

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2019, 07:54:54 am »
I don't shoot or reload for 44-40, but I'll agree with David B that magnum primers aren't needed for metallic cartridges when reloading/shooting black powder in the revolver/rifle combo cartridges.  Maybe in large caliber rifles, I don't shoot those, others will need to chime in about that.  I reload black in 44 Colt, 38 Special, 45 Colt and once in a while 44 Special and have never seen any advantage in magnum primers. Have tried CCI magnums, but get along fine with Win LR. With the exception of 45 Colt, I shoot the other calibers mentioned in both revolver and rifle.
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Offline wildman1

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2019, 08:04:08 am »
Using hard cast bullets may be fine as long as you are still getting a good seal with the bullet to prevent blowby. Using a wad is OK as long as the bullet does not extend down past the neck part of the cartridge, if this happens you will get blowby if the wad is not big enough in diameter to prevent it. I shoot mainly BP 44-40 in CAS and do not use a wad.
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Offline Ranch 13

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2019, 08:31:35 am »
 .030 wad is a bit thick in the wcf cartridges. As Willy said just be sure that the wad if you try one doesn't get below the base of the neck.
16-1 works well for me in everything from 32 H&R to 45 2 7/8.
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Offline Dave T

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2019, 10:52:44 am »
I don't own a 44 WCF any more but did have a 1st Gen SAA and original '73 Winchester that I shot for years with nothing but black powder hand loads. My rifle would group about 6" at 200 yards when I did everything right. I never used wads in the 44 WCF. They take up room that should be filled with powder. Hard bullets will profit you nothing and possibly cause unintended consequences.

My $.02 worth,
Dave

Offline Ranch 13

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2019, 11:17:22 am »
What problems could you possibly have from using hard alloy? This business about soft alloys is mostly old wives tales. Take a spin thru some of the ammunition catalogs of the 1870's from Winchester etc.
 Heck even the government specs for the 45 colt called for 16-1 alloy..
 I have an 1889 Marlin in 38-40 that really gets it's jollies from bullets cast from Lyman #2.
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Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2019, 11:35:21 am »

Let us not forget, the results gleaned from a single sample example are not representative of the results that may result from a different rifle/manufacturer.

Oh, forgot.  Leading.

Offline Navy Six

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2019, 05:13:43 pm »
Will only add one thing to above comments. If you try to cram 40 grs of blackpowder into a modern case and then seat the bullet(of whatever alloy), you run a risk of bulging the case after re-sizing has been done. That leaves you scratching your head as to why your finished cartridge won't chamber. This is dependent on several factors. For example a 44-40 case is thin to begin with and some manufacturers are thinner than others. The modern case is comfortable with about 35-36 grs. Also how deep you seat the bullet comes into play. The 38-40 can be considered similar in this discussion. Understand I did not say this case bulge will consistently happen, but I have witnessed it. In the one incident I'm referencing, you could clearly see expanded sidewall of my friends case who insisted on the 40 gr load. He then had to run the offending cartridges back through a sizing die. I chose not to be around when he did that.
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Offline Ranch 13

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2019, 06:28:32 pm »
 37 grains of OE 2f in Winchester cases, lyman's current version of the 200 gr bullet cast from 16-1, sized .430, and lubed with Bullhshops NASA. Winchester 73 short rifle. Off hand 75 yards.

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Offline Bryan Austin

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2019, 09:02:47 pm »
I shoot the 44WCF in a Uberti 1873 and Winchester 1892
With the small charge of powder (compared to 45-70 etc)I do not use and have never tried a card or fiber wad.       I load the Accurate mold 43-220C , 30-1 alloy  DGL black powder lube, CCI#300 primer,  and about 36 grains of Swiss 2F. That equals about .2" of compression.  Yes I use a compression die.  Compressing the powder with the bullet will distort the bullet.
 I came up with that load via the help of the late John Kort and load development.  I simply tried varying weights of powder. With the bullet seating depth never changing this results in varying degrees of compression.  Then, when the 100 yard group size was smallest that was "my load".
You can try harder bullets but you will most likely find the best accuracy with alloys from 20-1 to 40-1.
There are more than a few writers that will claim "magnum primers are required when loading black powder".  This is not true.  Myself and others have found that magnum primers in the smaller "dash calibers" (32-20, 38-40, 44-40) cause a hard dry buildup of fouling just ahead of the chamber.
I am by no means an expert. But I am a fan of the 44WCF and have learned from others .
On this forum https://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php/topic,40683.0.html      and   https://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php/topic,54292.0.html    contain a great deal of information.   Don't let info overload scare you away.    The 44WCF (44-40)  is an easy cartridge to load with "The Holy Black" and achieve very good accuracy.

100% Agree

Will only add one thing to above comments. If you try to cram 40 grs of blackpowder into a modern case and then seat the bullet(of whatever alloy), you run a risk of bulging the case after re-sizing has been done. That leaves you scratching your head as to why your finished cartridge won't chamber. This is dependent on several factors. For example a 44-40 case is thin to begin with and some manufacturers are thinner than others. The modern case is comfortable with about 35-36 grs. Also how deep you seat the bullet comes into play. The 38-40 can be considered similar in this discussion. Understand I did not say this case bulge will consistently happen, but I have witnessed it. In the one incident I'm referencing, you could clearly see expanded sidewall of my friends case who insisted on the 40 gr load. He then had to run the offending cartridges back through a sizing die. I chose not to be around when he did that.

I agree 100%

Early 44 WCF cartridges did use some sort of card but certainly wasn't needed thus seldom seem examples. Winchester's 1875 catalog explains adding a card when handloading but does not specify exactly which cartridge. John even touched base on this at some point in his research of original cartridges.

A compression die is a must but too much, 40gr by weight (of Swiss FFG), can certainly and usually does bulge the case enough to not chamber in tighter chambers. That particular batch of Swiss was bulk for bulk 40gr weight by 40gr volume! Early unheadstamped cases gave me about .18" with a 427098 depth seating while the same amount in modern Starline was closer to .22".

Accuracy I never did really try since John pretty much cover all aspects at the time. However, I did try some pressures and the early unheadstamped yielded 14,300psi @1,373fps while the Starline yielded only 9,000psi @ 1,226fps.

For simplicity 35-38gr is just fine



« Last Edit: April 24, 2019, 09:08:35 pm by Bryan Austin »

Offline Henryshooter

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2019, 07:56:09 pm »
Yes, I reviewed all of the info the late "John Kort" researched about the .44-40, too soon gone. I bought the 43-215C on his recommendation. I do use CCI 300 LP primers in my .44-40 and Rem 2 1/2 LP in my BPCR. Right now my distances to shoot are 50 and 100 yds in N-SSA competition. However, such a sweet shooting rifle, I'd like to  shoot chickens and pigs at 200m and 300m. Turkeys at 385m might be pushing it. Thanks for the info. I love to read this website. Maybe someday I'll get an SA. Thank you.

Offline Ranch 13

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2019, 09:00:47 pm »
Henry you might look around and see if there's a Lever Action Silhouette match near you.
In the big bore matches they shoot full sized silhouettes with the rams at 200 yards/meters.
Pistol caliber, which are about half size with the rams at 100, and the chickens at 40

Rimfire 3/8 scale with the chickens at 25 and the rams at 100.

 I would think the 44-40 would work fine for both the Pistol caliber and big bore. I keep thinking to put one of my full size rams at 200 and give it a try.
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Offline Yeso Bill

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2019, 10:15:12 pm »
Henry, I have never shot the big bores (45-70s) etc. but I can say that the breezes really blows around the 44-40 bullets.  I'm shooting the 1860 and 1866 Uberti rifles at extended range.  I am waiting on a good still afternoon to see if the 1860 will take five consecutive 385 M turkeys.

I use BACO's 44-40 powder compression die.  The stem measures .415" and I think it along with RCBS's Chargemaster is indispensable. 

I wouldn't doubt one bit that magnum primers increase the fouling in front of the chamber.  But, Federal LMPM primers sure lowered the SD's in my guns to single digits and that is what I use.  The best SD has been a 2.2 and I surmise that on that day, the cases turned out randomly equal.  (inside capacity)  I load a .432" wax paper wad over the primer inside the case. 

The humidity here loves the 16 spot and I use a blow tube between shots.  Usually 12 puffs.  You can bet good money that the 7th shot will be through a fouled barrel and out of the group.  But not always. 

I shoot Swiss & OE. and finally settled on OE III because I believe it leaves a softer / more moist fouling in the barrel.  Swiss gives lower SDs but OE is more accurate. 

I am a firm believer that the hot gas cuts the bases of the bullets...., so I use a wad.  John Walters .030 Veg. wads work real good for me but the .060" veg. wads don't.  Oddly, .060" poly wads shoot good and the jury is still out on .030" poly wads. 

To my surprise, so far the 66 is the more accurate rifle.  I have shot a few .050 to .075" 5 shot groups at 50 yards with the 1860 but most of the time 5 will shoot 1.1". 

I started out with the Accurate 215 bullet and quickly changed to the 230 E due to the wind.  I just received an Accurate 245 with gas check mold that I"m anxious to try out.   I use SPG for lube. 

These two guns shoot the 230 gr. bullet most accurately in the 1250 fps. range.  If one will notice the two targets below, the loading was 36.7 and   36.5 gr. of OE III.  I am shooting the same velocity now with 34.2 gr. of OE III.  I think Swiss is more consistent between Lots and O.E....not so much.  I've noticed variations between cans of OE in the same lot. 

1:16, 1:20, 1:30 all shoot good but 1:16 does leave slivers in my bores.  Possibly the Uberti chambers aren't aligned very good?

I'm very fortunate in that I can walk to the end of my porch and shoot 1000 yards...so most strings are over a chronograph.  My records say that BP is temperature sensitive.   I figure ten degrees is worth about 10 fps. and I add or subtract 1/10th of a grain to gain or lose about 10 fps.

But, Loading bullets for tomorrow's weather in N.M. is pretty well a losing proposition. 

The two targets below were shot with the 66 last year and I believe I have posted them here before.  The picture of the range..... you can't see it in the picture because it is knocked down, but there is a full size coyote silhouette between the rams and the  turkeys  at the 450 yard line.  There is a cow in that pasture and that coyote just enrages her.  She will beller, charge and knock it down every time she comes in to water.  To the right of the 500 yard gong is a full size antelope silhouette that you can see.  He is painted like an antelope and the young antelope bucks can't resist coming up to "him" and give him a good sniffin'.   :D

What else to mention?  The sun just went down and the wind is still blowin' so no shooting today.  Typical day. 

Billy
« Last Edit: April 25, 2019, 11:33:02 pm by Yeso Bill »

Offline Cliff Fendley

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2019, 10:36:56 am »
Yes, I reviewed all of the info the late "John Kort" researched about the .44-40, too soon gone. I bought the 43-215C on his recommendation. I do use CCI 300 LP primers in my .44-40 and Rem 2 1/2 LP in my BPCR. Right now my distances to shoot are 50 and 100 yds in N-SSA competition. However, such a sweet shooting rifle, I'd like to  shoot chickens and pigs at 200m and 300m. Turkeys at 385m might be pushing it. Thanks for the info. I love to read this website. Maybe someday I'll get an SA. Thank you.

I use the 215C bullet and really like it and use 20-1. I use a drop tube and then just compress the powder the rest of the way with the bullet on 44-40. I don't feel like I deform the bullet doing that but for very best accuracy it would be interesting to use a compression die like you would the larger rifle calibers. I use Federal large pistol primers.
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Offline wildman1

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2019, 06:38:11 am »
.030 wad is a bit thick in the wcf cartridges. As Willy said just be sure that the wad if you try one doesn't get below the base of the neck.
16-1 works well for me in everything from 32 H&R to 45 2 7/8.
Willy?
 :P :P
wM1
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Offline Ranch 13

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2019, 08:35:06 am »
Eat more beef the west wasn't won on a salad.

Offline wildman1

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Re: Compressing BP in .44-40?
« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2019, 08:24:09 pm »
WARTHOG, Dirty Rat #600, BOLD #1056, CGCS,GCSAA, NMLRA, NRA, AF&AM, CBBRC.  If all that cowboy has ever seen is a stockdam, he ain't gonna believe ya when ya tell him about whales.