Author Topic: .357 or 44-40  (Read 597 times)

Offline DustyRoads

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.357 or 44-40
« on: November 01, 2019, 11:05:05 am »
Howdy, I am fairly new to Cowboy Action Shooting but I have loved the guns of this time period my whole life. I have saved my dimes and am going to buy myself a 73, or clone, but I cant decide on brand or caliber. I am choosing between 357 and 44-40, having trouble choosing as I love both calibers. I do use my guns for sass style competition but I also use these guns on my Fathers ranch so I need something that can be both. I have a marlin in 357, which I love, and I tried a Japanese built Winchester in 357 at my last match and loved it. Another thing is I would like to use black powder and I know that 44-40 lends itself to that well, being it is originally a BP cartridge. Just looking for some input and any is appreciated.
Thanks,
Dusty
« Last Edit: November 01, 2019, 11:12:21 am by DustyRoads »

Offline Trailrider

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2019, 12:19:07 pm »
I have been shooting CAS matches for about two decades now, and shoot both .44-40 (smokeless powder only) and .44 Magnum (with loads reduced to equal the .44-40's). Having said that, the fact that you already have a Marlin and have shot a Winchester in .357, and with more sixguns being available in .357, you may wish to go with that cartridge.  On the other hand (OTOH), depending on what you might need to use a rifle or handgun for on the ranch, the .44-40 would probably be more versatile. If you were choosing between .44-40 and .45 Long Colt for black powder, the .44-40 is a much better choice in the rifle due to its bottlenecked cartridge and thinner walls, which will seal the chamber from blowback much better than .45 LC. I suppose you could shoot BP in .357 Magnum, but would have the similar problems with sealing the chamber in your rifles.
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Offline DustyRoads

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2019, 12:48:19 pm »
Thanks for the welcome friend. Around the ranch I use my rifle and revolver to handle coyotes, rodents, and of course pesky fence post sitting soup cans. Sometimes I will use hot loads for deer, when in season of corse. 357 gets it done mostly but the big reason I am even considering 44-40 is for black powder cartridges. I would still use smokeless but I want something that gets along with ole BP better than 357, also 44-40 is one of the original calibers for 73s so there is some cool factor in that I think. But I already have all my gear in 357 so I am hesitant to pick up a new round, and 357 is what I am used to.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2019, 01:00:58 pm by DustyRoads »

Offline Navy Six

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2019, 11:43:49 am »
Your .357 Marlin will run fine with blackpowder(I have two), but the 73 MAY not. The only straight wall cartridge (45 Colt) I tried in a Uberti 66/73 with blackpowder did not function well after a couple of stages due to blowback. The 44-40 will run all day long in the Uberti with blackpowder. So, if you are set on a 73, I hope someone can chime in who has used one in 357 with blackpowder before you make a costly mistake.
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Offline August

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2019, 12:47:52 pm »
Years ago, when I got serious about black powder, I was where you are at O.P.

Several people with LOTS of experience told me to go .357.  I didn't listen and spent a lot of time shooting 38/40 instead. 

Finally, it just got to be too much work to keep a battery of guns fed with 38/40, so I started loading black powder in .357.  I've never looked back.  And, I wish I would have taken the advice I was given to begin with.

If you use .357 cases, you'll have no more problem with blow-back than with a WCF cartridge -- all things being equal with respect to chamber dimensions and so forth.

I've never gotten any rifle caliber to run an entire six-stage match without attention, regardless of caliber.  But, the amount of attention is slight, really.

Go .357.  Especially since it's what you got.

The one thing I would caution you about, however, is switching back and forth between black powder and smokeless loads.  Find a bullet you like that is lubed with BP lubricant and use it exclusively for smokeless loads.  Otherwise, it seems like it takes a match, or two, to get all the petroleum lube out of the gun so things don't gum up.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2019, 12:52:07 pm by August »

Online Coffinmaker

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2019, 02:20:48 pm »

 ;D  I'm just piling on.  Trailrider and August both have given very valid information.

Your already set up for 357 and that is a BIG point.  I will add, there is a difference in 1873 rifles currently available.  The Miroku built '73 has almost nil for after-market goodies for CAS play time.  There are also only just a couple of Gun Plumbers working on Miroku.  Out of the box, they are very nice rifles.  Fear Not.

Uberti built 1873 Rifles are the most popular '73s for CAS play time.  There is HUGE supply of after-market goodies to make the Uberti go really fast.  Out of the Box, they are kind of clunky.  At the very least, a Uberti will REQUIRE changing out ALL of the springs to be real user friendly.  With the Uberti you will also have lots of fun trying to get all the screw out for the first time.  That is a subject all in itself.

Switching back and fourth between Black and Smokeless will drive you up the wall.  The rifle will run differently with each.  You can also run 38 Special cases but will probably have a fouling problem due to blowback with BP.  You can also wind up with a ridge in the chamber at the area of the 38 Special case mouth, creating a problem with 357 cases.  With the exception of cost, there is no real advantage of 38 Special over 357 cases.

44-40 will have a pretty steep learning curve for loading and reloading.  The 44-40 is more historically correct but still a bit of a pain at first.

Either way, CAS is a really fun thing to play.  Fear Not

Offline Cliff Fendley

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2019, 05:47:32 pm »
If you are going to shoot black powder then I would go 44-40. I wouldn't consider shooting it in a rifle in anything but the original WCF calibers. 44,38, or 32 wcf.
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Offline Tascosa Joe

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2019, 07:50:34 am »
I have shot a lot of BP over the past 25 years.  Mostly in .45 Colt and 38-40.  BP .45 Colt in a rifle is quite messy.  The 44-40, 38-40, and 32-20 are very nice with BP.  Bullet choice and lube make all the difference in the world with BP.  I personally do not care for 38/357 except in a M-19 S&W.  But everyone has an opinion.
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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2019, 09:25:14 am »

Just a little additional.  With most current manufacturers rifles chambered in .45 Colt, shooting Black Powder and or Subs is a groan with factory cases.  Chambers are oversize and Blowby can be horrendous.  Unfortunately, this is also true with most ALL the straight wall cartridges.  HOWEVER:

.45 Colt can be shot with BP and Subs and shot just as cleanly as Dash Calibers.  Takes a little very boring work to do.  ANNEALING 45 Colt and other straight wall cases makes them soft enough to expand enough to seal the chamber from Blowby.  My five .45 Colt rifles and my 44 Special (shot with 44 Russian) all shoot as clean if not cleaner than 44-40 or 38-40.

Annealing solves the Blowby problem.

Offline DustyRoads

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2019, 08:29:08 pm »
Thanks for the input Pards. I have settled on a .357 caliber Miroku, on order should be here in a few weeks. Thanks for the advice Coffinmaker, I did try a annealing the cases which I was loading BP into and wouldnt you know it all my fouling problems in my marlin are a thing of the past. I did however have another concern, how strong are the Miroku made 73s? I understand that the toggle link action is not inherently very stout and I do not intend to run a steady diet of full house magnums or anything, mostly cowboy loads and black powder, I just want to know if I can use it with magnums around the ranch without hurting the gun.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2019, 08:49:27 pm by DustyRoads »

Online Coffinmaker

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2019, 10:43:47 pm »

Hey Dusty   :D

Fine choice.  The Miroku replica '73 is a very well made rifle.  You will fine as long as the rifle is properly timed (it will be) the toggle link action is a lot more robust than folks give it credit for.  Feeding your Rifle 357 Magnum ammunition shouldn't over stress it at all.  I don't actually know of anyone or know anyone who has fed their rifle a steady diet of Magnum ammo but this whom have used 357s for hunting have reported no problems.  I seriously doubt you'll have any problem at all shooting it with 357s.

Offline DustyRoads

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2019, 02:10:07 pm »
Thanks Coffinmaker. It is reassuring to know I wont damage the rifle. I am however unfamiliar with the particulars of toggle link rifles, used Marlins up till now, what do I have to look for to ensure the rifle is timed properly? ???
« Last Edit: November 16, 2019, 07:13:15 pm by DustyRoads »

Online Coffinmaker

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Re: .357 or 44-40
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2019, 10:17:42 am »

There are two things really important with a '73.  First, the Breach Block (Bolt) absolutely MUST retract fully into the receiver BEFORE the case head of the cartridge touches the guide tab at the bottom of the breach block.  If it is intended to run the rifle with factory or better loads, it is important the three pivot points of the Links are in parallel.  Pull the side plate, chamber a dummy round and put a straight edge across the pivot pins.  VERY important to be in parallel to completely lock up.

Normally, you can't check these things until you get it home  :o