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Celt

Caliber Choice Trends

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I've read the rationals for choosing various cartridges and I'm curious about the actual caliber breakdowns people are seeing at their local clubs. Does it vary widely by club? I know most probably see more .38 special than anything else. I'd like to know, for instance, an estimate of what percentage you see shooting .44-40 in both pistol and rifle, or .45 colt. Is the trend toward the .38 special slowing down, or are the bigger cartridges destined to be oddities in SASS?

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New shooters still go to .38/.357 or .45 Colt mostly. A few drawn to shoot original cowboy cartridges will want to shoot .44-40 or such.

 

The biggest trend that I have seen is cowboys with multiple guns shooting .38/.357 or .45 and leaving their guns in other calibers at home. Brass for .32-20, .38-40 and .44-40 is scarcer than hen's teeth and expensive if It can be found.

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I'm shooting 38 SP. But......I've got a strong hankerin for a pair of pistols and a 1860 Henry rifle in 44-40. When I find the right deal I'll be buying. I'm firm on the Henry rifle, I might go open tops for revolvers, which aren't available in 44-40. if I go with the open tops, not sure what caliber I'll go with.

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My self I shoot 44 specials . :)

 

I have 3 sets of guns all in 44 special . :wub:

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I went with 45LC because when I was growing up, all I heard was cowboys shot the 45.

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There are a couple or three real advantages to shooting 38/357 caliber guns.

 

I) They are way the cheapest, (and easiest), to reload.

2) Re-loading components are very easily obtained.

3) Recoil is much softer

4) Resale ability is second to none.

 

Probably at least 50% of all Cowboy shooters use them.

 

RBK

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Been shooting .38 specials since I started CAS, occasionally moving to .45 Colt for CC. Am considering moving to .44-40 in BP for a bit. Bucking trends.....

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Does it vary widely by club?

Celt - hold the presses! With a club of 50 -80 shooters per match, the only way to determine the percentages would be a show of hands at the Safety Meeting. For small clubs, 1 or 2 posses, I can reply:

60% = 38 Spl

40% = 45 Colt

And there are the unique shooters using various calibers

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I started out with 44-40. I wasn't reloading then, so I was buying either the Starline or Winchester cowboy loads. When the price of those reached the insane mark I switched to 38 and was buying factory reloads for those. When the price of those got too high to make sense, I bought my 550 and have been shooting 38's 99% of the time since. I do reload 44-40, but the 38/357's are about 33% less to reload. I still take my 44-40's out once in a while to blow the cob webs out of the barrels.

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There are a couple or three real advantages to shooting 38/357 caliber guns.

 

I) They are way the cheapest, (and easiest), to reload.

2) Re-loading components are very easily obtained.

3) Recoil is much softer

4) Resale ability is second to none.

 

Probably at least 50% of all Cowboy shooters use them.

 

RBK

All of these are what I took into consideration when I started and why I use 38 when shooting smokeless

 

When I go to BP I use 44-40 in my rifle because it has ZERO blowback so all the mess is in the barrel. Cleanup is easy. For pistols I shoot ROA's in BP.

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Howdy

 

There are generally only one or two of us on the posses that I shoot with that are shooting 44-40. Figure the typical posse is somewhere between 12 and 20 shooters. When I decide to shoot 44 Russians in my pistols, I am always the only one shooting that caliber. Probably the only one in the entire match.

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At the clubs I shoot at I would say the 38 special shooters are above the 50% mark maybe closer to 60%. Hard to say how much without a count. As mention above, most new shooters seem to start out with 357/38 guns. Price and availability for both factory loads and reloading supplies were the deal sealers for me.

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Personally I started with 38s, but got some 45lc liked them better but price differential between the two grew drastically a couple years later. Then I came in to some unexpected money and got me some 38WCFs two USFAs and a 73to be historically accurate but now I'm looking for 38 again to save money already have the 73 that I use with my ROAs in frontiersman. I've seen other shoot 44WCF and then you get the gamers who like the 32s. With the 38wcfs I'm legal in all categories but shooting the smallest bullet allowed in all a 40 mm or .401 iirc. But must either shoot 38s unless the rules require more then it is usually a 45.

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Mary shoots 38 Short Colt and I shoot C45S in handguns.

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I love my 32-20 but the brass has a tendency to hide from the pickers. I figure 60% back is better than average.

Uses almost exactly half as much powder and half as much lead as the 44-40.

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I chose 38 because I already reload for it - have all I need. My friend chose 45LC - he wants to be more authentic. 38 is a tad cheaper and that can't hurt.

 

I am interested in fast draw and you pretty much a 45 for that...so maybe I'll add a second caliber in the future. There seem to be more classes for 45 in SASS to that's tempting for the future as well.

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Seems like there is a lot of praise for 44-40, but not many who actually shoot it in both pistol and rifle. Brass costs more, reloading a bit more trouble due to slight bottleneck, but would think that would not be a big impediment. I do notice it's a lot harder to find 44-40 revolvers than rifles. No Vaqueros are made anymore, and guns such as the Smoke Wagon never seem to be in stock for 44-40. Seems a shame.

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When I'm feeling it, I shoot my Uberti Bisleys in 44-40 along with my Uberti 1860 steel frame in 44-40. I also shoot 32-20 in revolvers, .38 Special in a Rossi 92, and .45 Colt in a Thunderbolt. Yes, I'm a reloader.

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Seems like there is a lot of praise for 44-40, but not many who actually shoot it in both pistol and rifle. Brass costs more, reloading a bit more trouble due to slight bottleneck, but would think that would not be a big impediment. I do notice it's a lot harder to find 44-40 revolvers than rifles. No Vaqueros are made anymore, and guns such as the Smoke Wagon never seem to be in stock for 44-40. Seems a shame.

 

I just got a call from EMF the other day. They have GW2's 5 1/2 barrels in stock in 44-40.

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I started out with .38's, then went to .45's then when I saw the light and started shooting the one true powder, BLACK, I went to .44-40 in rifle and revolvers.

 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it! :)

 

Rye :ph34r:

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Tom Bullweed

 

32-20, 38-40, and 44-40 aren't scarce. All you have to do is call Starline brass. They have them on a regular basis.

As to the rumor that bottleneck cartridges are a problem to reload. They are like any other cartridge. If your press is set up right then no big deal. I load 44-40 and 32-20 on my Dillon 650 and may screw up 5 in 1,000.

 

38 is the most popular for all of the reasons here. But if you shoot BP then the bottleneck wins.

Ike

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I started with .45 in 2006. I'm trying to make a switch to .38 because it is cheaper. I already have a Rossi 92 in 357. Now I am working on the revolvers

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Howdy; started with 38/357 got bored, went to 45 colt but usually shoot 38 revolvers and sometimes a 45 rifle just because I like the rifle.

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Howdy!

Around here (S. Nevada), 38 special dominates (probably 90%+). Very little anything else, including 45 colt. Forget the exotics like 44-40, 38-40 or even slightly less exotic 44 special/mag.

(I see SASS basically becoming solely 38 special for smokeless in upcoming years for a variety of reasons.)

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I can assure you that from border to border and coast to coast the larger calibers have never been, are not now, and never will be an "oddity" at a cowboy match.

 

Strap on your holsters and go find out why I can say this.

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I can assure you that from border to border and coast to coast the larger calibers have never been, are not now, and never will be an "oddity" at a cowboy match.

 

Strap on your holsters and go find out why I can say this.

I agree Max.

 

I shoot Sheriff Model .45's using the C45S cartridge.

 

My rifle is another story. Its a Marlin 1894 in .32 H&R.

 

 

..........Widder

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Most shoot 38/357 around these parts of Texas.

I occasionally shoot 45cbs or 44/40 but with the scarcity

of powder smaller calibers only make since...

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Started shooting 44 magnum, now shoot 44-40 with black. The one time a year I shoot smokeless I go back to 44 magnum. 44-40 is popular for black shooters. Probably 8 to 10 of 40 shooters using it.

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I don't believe the traditional calibers(32-20, 38-40, 44-40, etc) will ever reach the "oddities" status. As you mentioned, you have researched the rationals for each caliber. but a big one for me is the history and authenticity aspect which makes loading for these older calibers just a little more of an effort but well worth it. Having said that, I still find a place for the 38 spl as it was supposed to have been introduced in the late 19th century loaded with blackpowder, so all's well.

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I started with 45 but the more I shot the more I was tempted to move to 38 mostly to lower costs. That is what I have been shooting for the last few years. I still shoot 45 on occasion. I really don't notice much difference in speed between my two sets of guns, but I guess the really fast shooters would tell you 38s are faster. The shooters of 44-40 are generally more interested in authenticity. The 44-40 is harder to reload than the 45, but is cleaner. The shooters of 32-20 and 38-40 are really iconoclasts of the best kind. They love being different and shoot different.

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Many 45 caliber shooters have moved to 38/357s. Many of those still shooting 45s, down load them to 38/357 caliber levels using cowboy special brass and 165 g bullets.

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Somewhere... I thought it was over at CAS City, someone had a poll about caliber choices... but a quick search didn't pop one up. But, ever since I started shooting cowboy action, the .38Spl was the most popular, followed by .45Colt and then the other calibers. The one caliber that I've noticed mentioned more often lately, rather than rarely back then is the .38WCF. Mainly because the only shooters back in the '80s that shot it, had original guns... no reproductions were chambered in it then.

 

I don't see the various percentages as having changed. Sure individuals have changed calibers... either up or down as their interests or needs change, but overall, I don't see changes. And, I doubt if the percentages change from club to club in any great variance. Small variances are to be expected.

 

The only shooters that truly "buck the trend" are the C&B'ers. All those other gay caballeros seem unable to let go of their insecurities... :ph34r: by going caseless!

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