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looking for some old 44-40 loading dies
Discussion regarding the reloading of ammunition and tuning of loads for accuracy
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dan1dad
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:30 pm    Post subject: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

In my inheritance of a gaggle of firearms from my dad, I have a 1873 Winchester lever action 44-40. Its an original, octagon barrel, brass receiver, all stock. Not a reproduction. Olin in Alton, industries just north of where i live in St.Louis, even borrow that and the 22 caliber that looks exactly the same [ I have that too] from my dad for a video shoot they were doing. In return he was blessed with a couple thousand rounds of pre conflict black talons [ i have those too]
I would like to reload the 44-40 and was wondering if anyone had some old dies they were not using.

the 22 I understand was actually a pre and early 1900s carnival type gun for shooting targets. but they are both identical looking in size and make, just one shoots big bullets, the other shoots little bullets..
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Vince
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:21 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

Don't really know anything about them old lever guns DD...but seeing it has a bvrass receiver, the only thing I can say is make sure you have it checked by a reputable gunsmith to ensure that it is safe to fire. After that make sure you have an "age appropriate" load for the rifle mate. Be a real shame to see it trashed by a modern load that is too strong for it...and see you, or any one else, injured if it does let go.

Cheers, Vince

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dhc4ever
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:52 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

I've just found 44/40 in my old Lyman 46th edition reloading manual.
First thing it says in the comments field;
"These loads should not be used in handguns or rifles which were designed for black powder."
It only lists very mild loads of nitrocellulose powders.
Also mentions that tolerances vary greatly and to have the barrel slugged and measured to obtain an accurate bore size.
Seems you're going to have to get an education in the dark arts of black powder rifles and cartridge reloading if you want to shoot the old girl.
There is a big difference in the way the pressure builds between black powder and nitro powders and a brass receiver wasn't designed for that.

What did your father shoot in it?

Dies shouldn't be a problem, most of the well known manufacturers have them.

Heres a site I found that may be of some help, it may lead to other useful links
www.davidscottharper.c...or_CAS.htm

and this link that has a BP load for the 44/40 win
www.goexpowder.com/ima...-Rifle.pdf

Looks like you have a few more toys to acquire Smile

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dan1dad
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:22 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

You know, I never ask my dad what he shot in it, He said he has shot it, my grandfather had shot it and my grandfathers dad had shot it. But I never even thought about the age and black powder cartridge, thanks for bringing that up guys. I am going down to my dads this weekend to try out some loads I made for my hornet and the 22-250 varmiter. I will have to ask him about it. He should know if anyone does.
You see, the problem is, my dad even though he has a great memory and very smart, kind of kept things to himself when it came to us kids. He always wants to be the one to do it. He has taught many of my friends and his friends things about guns and reloading, but when any of us kids ask him, he is always like " dont worry about it, I'll just do it for you".. Now that he is 81, he is starting to want to pass on his knowledge, but he is also having some problems with his memory and ability to do things. I guess the mistake was not venturing out on my own and just learning these things after I grew up. I kind of just stayed with that , let dad do it or he will have a shit fit , attitude because that was the way I was raised. I know it sound strange, but thats just the way it was with guns and him. Guns were his domain and we were not allowed in that much. It was my mistake for not venturing out on my own though when it came to reloading and working on the guns. Oh well, never to late to learn I guess LOL

I am even wondering now if its worth taking the chance. Its very old, still in working order, and if I were to mess it up, well, is it worth ruining it? I would still love to shoot it if even just once. Maybe I can do a couple light loads once I figure out just what I need for it and then put it away. I know I could probably donate it to some museum somewhere as good shape as it is and for what it is. I might think about that as well. Have to wait till my dad passes on though as he would have a hissy fit. He has never traded or sold a firearm in his life, and doesnt want any of them sold, just passed on forever. Which with as many as I got from him, plus the ones I have myself, I dont know where i will put them all. Oh well, such is life.

Now I do know for the 22 Winchester he said to never use anything except shorts , or better yet CBs, but nothing on the 44-40

I also have a Remington 41 cal , rimfire derringer that he said is ok to shoot , if you can find ammo. I dont think I am going to take him up on that offer though. Its just fine sitting in the gun safe! I cant even find 41 rimfire either so thats good incentive not to shoot it.



that BP website is great! thanks for that.
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Ominivision1
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:28 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

dan1dad wrote:
I also have a Remington 41 cal , rimfire derringer that he said is ok to shoot , if you can find ammo. I dont think I am going to take him up on that offer though. Its just fine sitting in the gun safe! I cant even find 41 rimfire either so thats good incentive not to shoot it.

That might be a good idea as them old Rem derringers were made out of cast iron instead of steel.

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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:23 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

The '73 was made up until 1919 but no effort was made to strengthen the design. Maximum safe pressure (due to the toggle-link action) was listed at 22,000 psi for the .44-40 (.44 WCF). Great care must be taken when crimping your loads since most .44-40 brass is thin and will crumple easily if over-crimped.

I'm not an expert on Winchesters by any means, but I am puzzled by the brass frame. I can't find a reference to the '73 being offered that way. Early on they were made with iron and later changed to steel. Try a magnet on it. I'm betting that it is steel or iron (depending on actual production date) that has been plated.

As an historical note, what we call brass frames (such as the Henry and the '66) were actually made of what was called gunmetal, which was a blend of copper and tin, rather than copper and zinc which makes brass.

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fnuser
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:25 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

omni, I bet if he finds a 41 rimfire though it will be factory loaded. So for the 44 With all the cowboy action shooting going on I don't think it would be that big of a trick to find a load, or just go ahead and use one of the b.p. substitutes, I think it would be alot of work to clean but there are some guns I don't mind lovin' on from time to time and some are just tools. the "cowboys" just want to put a hole in paper and recover quickly for a follow up shot so most of them are pretty light.

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Ominivision1
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:37 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

Some info from a book I have. The Winchester Book by George Madis.

"The Winchester 1873 was made in rifles, carbines and muskets. Most of the carbines and muskets were of standard configuration but many rifles had features such as fancy wood, pistol grip, checking, longer or shorter barrel length, heavier barrel weight, octagon or half octagon barrel (round was standard), matted barrel, shotgun butt, Swiss butt, sling swivels, special stock dimensions, shorter magazine, engraving, special sights, nickel or part nickel finish (sometimes silver or gold), case hardened frame and many other custom features. Standard barrels on carbines were 20" round, rifles 24" round (more octagon barrels were made), Muskets 30" round. The carbines and muskets were always made with round barrels. Rifle barrels were as short as 14" and up to 36". Carbine barrels were as short as 12" with many In 15" and 16"

"Magazines of all First Models and some early Second Models used a screw-in plug. Later ones used a plug that was held in by a screw.

Carbine front sights were an integral part of the front barrel band until about the 47,000 range when changed to a post type with blade.

Carbines in caliber 32 WCF (32-20) used a rifle type magazine hanger instead of a front barrel band.

1873's made after about the 560,000 range (1906) were proof marked on the front top of receiver and rear top of barrel. Earlier ones with proofing stamps indicate they were returned to the factory for repair or rework.

Butt plates of 1873's in 32 WCF were solid without a cleaning rod trapdoor. Also no cleaning rod trapdoor will be found on shotgun or Swiss butt plates.

Two magazine hangers were used on rifles with 32", 34" and 361, barrels with full length magazines.

Three types of hammer knurling were used.

All First Model 1873's were made in 44 WCF (44-40) caliber. In 1879 the 38 WCF (38-40) was introduced, followed by the 32 WCF (32-20) in 1882 and the 22 caliber in 1883. No caliber markings were used until the 38 WCF was made. Both the barrel and bottom of the elevator were marked.

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Pumpkinslinger
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:28 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

If your rifle has a "brass" frame it may be a Win 1866, not an 1873. You might want to do some research on that. How about a picture?

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Elvis
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:48 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

does it have a serial no. ?

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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:15 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

Pumpkinslinger wrote:
If your rifle has a "brass" frame it may be a Win 1866, not an 1873. You might want to do some research on that. How about a picture?

A picture would help. The 1866 was only manufactured in .44 Henry Flat (a rimfire) but conversions were known to have been made to the .44 WCF centerfire. It's possible that if this is the case, you might have a rifle too valuable to shoot!

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dan1dad
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:52 am    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

s281.photobucket.com/a...1dad/BANG/

Hope I got this right. I dont do photos online a lot, so here goes.

Now I have photos of both Winchesters here, cause its cool. Smile

you will see 2 photos where there is a little knob on the bottom of the 22 winchester, that is actually the safety.

The brass like receiver doesn't really show well in the photos. It would if I polished it up, but I dont want to. I hope its good enough for you guys to get a idea of what it is though.
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Pumpkinslinger
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:43 pm    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

Kinda hard to tell from the photos. A better photo of the receiver would help. It sure looks like a Winchester 1886 to me. Here's a pic >> upload.wikimedia.org/w...%2C_05.JPG

The 1886 was designed for larger cartridges so I'm betting that yours isn't a .44-40. There should be some caliber/cartridge info on it somewhere.

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Pumpkinslinger
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:46 pm    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

Try this site for IDing your rifle. >> homesteadfirearms.com/...y-1886.htm

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Ominivision1
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:12 pm    Post subject: Re: looking for some old 44-40 loading dies Reply with quote

Still cannot tell from the pics, if you are using a digital camera, there should be a macro mode where you can shoot closer than these pics. If you camera does have macro mode, shoot the frame and in natural light id you can.

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