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H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619

Shooting Multiple Calibers

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When I first started this game, I was shooting .44 Specials in my rifle, .45 Colt in one pistol and .38 S&W in the other.   The next thing I added was another rifle in .32-20, and that's where I stood for a bit before slowly getting more and more stuff so that I can shoot the same caliber in everything.   

But what is odd, is that even though I have done it in the past, I find myself reluctant to do it anymore, unless the calibers in question are very visually different.   There's no way you're gonna mix up .32-20's and .45's for example.

 

But I am well on my way to being at the point where I'll be using 2 pistols in .45 and a rifle in .44 Magnum.   Part of me says those two cartridges are very visually similar.  Don't do it, you'll make a mistake.   On the other hand, the boxes are labeled and so are the headstamps.  I also carry my rifle and pistol ammo in different places as I got to the Loading Table.   Am I just over thinking all of this?   I tend to think so.   While I would never have a newbie using my guns mix calibers, I'm pretty confident I can do it safely.   Still, I guess I am wondering if anyone who shoots different calibers has ever mixed them up, and if it led to problems.  I know one fellow whom I respect greatly that usually shoots .45's in his pistols and .44-40's in his rifles and has never had a problem.   Also, it seems clear to me that with *some* mix ups the worst you'll get is a split case, but I also know that other goofs could be very dangerous indeed.

Better to think about it and talk about it for a bit, I guess.

 

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How about different loading in same caliber?  Lady in front of me at loading table had 38s loaded for specific bullet and OAL for rifle.  And another load for pistons.   Guess what?  She loaded all guns up with wrong ammo before realizing it.  Had to hold up match while she unloaded guns and reloaded.   

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Posted (edited)

My recommendation would be to load each caliber with a different color of bullet. One of the benefits of powder coated bullets is that you can color code your ammo.

Edited by Sedalia Dave
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How about a swipe from magic marker across the head of the brass..   Maybe red for rifle.   I do this to all my brass so I know which brass returned was mine, the rest goes in practice bucket.   I shoot 2 different loads in my derringer, black in bottom barrel--green in top barrel

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For a long time I shot 44 mag rifle and 45 Colt pistols, then I got a 45 Colt rifle and shoot 45 Colt in all, but my pistol loads are lighter than my rifle so I still have to be conscious of what bullets are going in what gun....it ain’t rocket science.

 

BD

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The way I look at it is if I lived back in the old west I would have simplified and had the same ammo in pistol and rifle if I could. I've been shooting SASS for 20+ years and I've always had the same ammo.

 

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I shoot .44 spl. in my 1872 Open-Tops and .38-40 in my 66, this is my go to set I shoot FCD ...

For years I shot a pair of Uberti Cattlemen and a 66 in .45 Colt ...

I have Also shot a Marlin 94 paired with my Open-Tops all in .44 Spl.

And I just got a pair of Uberti Cattlemen from Cimarron in .38-40 than I am looking to Pair with my 66...

If we ever get out of the House ..... Had them one Week ........

I haven't had a problem using mixed calibers , I have used one Conversion in .38 Spl. , a Open-Top in .44 spl. and a Rifle in .45 Colt before ...

But I can't Wait to try my Newest Set all in .38-40 ....

 

Jabez Cowboy 

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i have enough on my mind at any given moment at a match without keeping two separate calibers cartridge straight - i even tuned my OAL to work in both rifle and revolver so i dont have to think of anything but loading correctly at the loading table , i see no reason that someone should not shoot three calibers of cartridge i just dont need the extra work , i do have 45s and 38s - ive just always stuck with my 45s , 

 

i do recall an event where a husband/wife combo - he shot 12ga , she 20ga - he got shotguns mixed up and had to reshoot a stage when the 12ga would not fit the 20 he staged with , sometimes the simplest things can mess your day up , 

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On occasion, I shoot 38WCF and 44WCF together.  I use a loading strip and look at the headstamps before loading.  Never has been as problem.

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You started out with almost the same combination I did, and I never mixed anything up at the loading table but sometimes had the wrong gun in hand when I needed to reload from my belt during a stage.

I typically shoot .44 Special in everything and my wife shoots .38 pistols with a .44-40 rifle.  A mistake in either direction between the .44's puts a rifle out of commission when you try to chamber the first round.  We have only had it happen once in 2 or 3 years, and that was actually a case of going to the loading table with the right ammo but the wrong rifle.  Luckily it was the first gun to be used...

I sometimes shoot .44 Special or .45 pistols with a .44-40 rifle, and have gotten away with it, but have to be a lot more cautious than I would prefer.  Since I don't have .44-40 pistols, I tend to go to .38 pistols if I want to shoot a .44-40 rifle in a big match, specifically to avoid the possibility of a mix-up.

If I remember correctly, I have read of a Texas Ranger back in the day that loaded at least one .45 into his Winchester in the middle of a firefight and had to disassemble his rifle under fire to clear it (successfully, since he lived to tell the story), so I always have that in mind when mixing calibers in a match.

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Just keep it simple, one caliber for all, remember Murphey's Law. 

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Posted (edited)

You end up with funny looking reverse necked shells when you load your 44mag cowboy loads into your 45LC Old Model Vaquero.  Dont ask me how I know...:blush::blink:

 

 

Use colored Sharpie pens to color primers when using different similar ammo since then...

Edited by Crazy Gun Barney, SASS #2428
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Had a Fellow Borrow My 92 in .45 Colt , For a stage Last stage of the day , I told him To use the Rounds from the RED box Marked .45 Colt ...

Well He shot the stage pretty Fast And Clean, when he returned the Gun he commented on how slick it worked and sounded surprised ....

I was More Surprised when the brass came back to me, he had fired my .44 spl. rounds from the Blue Box ....

 

Jabez Cowboy

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The problem I run into is that Sawmill Mary tends to being home one or two 45 Colt or 44 Magnum or other people's 44WCF cases.    I'll often find out when I'm in the middle of reloading.  

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My wife shoots 45 Colt in her Rossi 92 and 44 mag in her Super Blackhawks....I load all her loading bags before the match and the 45 Colt are marked on the bottom with a red marker...as she says “red is for rifle” :D...been shooting that way for 6 years and hasn’t messed up yet.

 

BD

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Posted (edited)

A sharp eyed loading table officer saved me embarrassment and possibly injury when he caught me loading the wrong caliber into my rifle.  No need for details, suffice it to say that after that I no longer use  revolvers and rifles of different calibers at any match.  OLG is correct, do not tempt Murphy.

Edited by J-BAR #18287

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I sometimes shoot a 44 mag rifle.  I get 45 Colt and 44-40 brass back with my 44 mag brass.  These go to Garrison Joe and Anvil Al.  There is a reason I don't just dump my polished brass in a case feeder and run a progressive press.  Cases need to be sorted.  I loaded some junk ammo until I learned this lesson.

 

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A long Lustrum Ago, In a Land Far, Far away, I shot different calibers.  38s-n-45s.  Hard to mix those up.  Then I Switched to 45s-n-45s.  Simplified, since it was C45S, used RNFP inna Rifle and Barnstormer FP inna pistols.  Pretty hard too screw up.  But, relying on Murphy, it can be done.  Now, I still mix and match.  45s, using C45S inna one rifle, or 45 Schofield in the other three (Henrys) and .44s inna pistols (Round Ball). that won't run inna rifle.

 

But I also have my Classic set, a 44Spl 1866 running 44 Russian pared with 44Spl Open Tops also running 44 Russian, but all the same load.  Can't screw that up.

 

Variety is the spice of life has been said.  Tis True.  But, never count Murphy out. 

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When I first started SASS years ago I was using borrowed guns and factory ammo.  I remember being very nervous as I was just starting out. I had a Browning 92 in 44 magnum and a borrowed 2nd gen Colt 45. At the unloading table I noticed the Colt had powder stains on it and when I unloaded it was 44 magnum brass.  Thank goodness I had bought some 44 mag light loads.  I believe the brand was 3-D.  I gave. The owner back his Colt and never borrowed it again.  I bought a old model 44 vaqueryand shot it for years

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I use revolvers in 45 Colt & rifle in 44-40 & have for about 6 years or so.  I have enough cartridge blocks to cover up to 8 stages & load up enough before a match to cover the stages to shoot that day.  The only ammo that goes with me to the loading table is in those blocks, so if I don't screw up filling them, I shouldn't screw up loading the guns...at least that's how it's supposed to work.

 

Holler

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20 hours ago, Crazy Gun Barney, SASS #2428 said:

You end up with funny looking reverse necked shells when you load your 44mag cowboy loads into your 45LC Old Model Vaquero.  Dont ask me how I know...:blush::blink:

 

 

Use colored Sharpie pens to color primers when using different similar ammo since then...

They also have really bad blow by in the rifle and very poor accuracy :o

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Howdy

 

What's the big deal?

 

I've been shooting 44-40 in my rifles and 45 Colt in my pistols since day one, almost 20 years ago.

 

All my 45 Colts go into gray plastic boxes, all my 44-40s go into blue plastic boxes. The 44-40s all get a black stripe across the case head.

 

poQPAfBij

 

 

 

 

I made up this loading block a bazillion years ago. It works fine, but one of these days I have to freshen up the labels.

 

pmTQBgecj

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Sawmill Mary shoots 44WCF with Missouri Bullet Company Hi-Tek bullets and we keep them in blue boxes of 100 ea.  I load BlackMZ with homemade bullets.  Stored in clear boxes.  

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I agree with Driftwood.  Clear markings on ammo boxes and cases themselves and careful segregation minimize this issue. Once I did put a .44 Special round into my .44WCF Winchester and it was a hassle having to fix the problem at the loading table but other shooters simple “went around” me so it didn’t hold the posse up much.  It was also good that a pard had a mag tube wrench handy.  But I have had and seen others with much worse loading table problems not involving different calibers.  I now use a 20 round leather loading strip with Special on one side and .44-40 on the other so the chance of a mistake is really minimized. 
 

Seamus

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Quote

Lady in front of me at loading table had 38s loaded for specific bullet and OAL for rifle.  And another load for pistons.

I've seen several gamer's shooting 38 Spl's with different powder charges and you can watch the bullet going to the plates

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I agree with the KISS Principle.  One caliber, one load for everything.  

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When I began SASS decades ago, I used different calibers in rifle and revolvers. Increasing complexity voluntarily in a competitive sport made no sense to me. Accordingly, I use warthog loads of 45 Colt Holy Black in my competition guns.

Now that I am an EL REY, reducing unneeded thinking is even more essential.

 

My loaner set is .8 S&W Specials with a 20 gauge double and my kids loaners are .22s and a hammered .410 double.

 

Now my only complicated decision is what to have for lunch!   :P

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Posted (edited)

So the reason I have always shot 44-40 in my rifles and 45 Colt in my pistols is because I started with an original Winchester model 1892 chambered for 44-40. Rifles were never chambered for 45 Colt until sometime in the 1980s.

 

For revolvers I had a pair of 'original model' Vaqueros chambered for 45 Colt.

 

When I switched to Black Powder I had heard that pitted old bores of antiques were not so good for cleaning all the fouling out of, so I bought a used Uberti 1873 with a nice shiny bore. It turned out that cleaning fouling out of all the pits in an old bore was no big deal, but I used the '73 for a few years. When I bought my Uberti Henry a few years ago, of course it was chambered for 44-40 because I am so used to loading 44-40, and with its thin brass at the case mouth it seals the chamber much better than the thicker brass of 45 Colt. So to me, 44-40 in my rifles, or occasionally 38-40, was a no brainer.

 

Revolvers chambered for 44-40? Case expansion is not so much an issue with revolvers because soot is going to fly out of the barrel/cylinder gap  and get all over the place anyway. So when I started acquiring Colts for CAS, 45 Colt was a no brainer too. Except for a couple of 1st Gen Bisleys chambered for 38-40.

 

Anyway, that's why I have never shied away from different calibers in my guns.

 

Did I mention my 44 Russian S&W New Model Number Threes?

 

pnIVU3B0j

 

 

 

 

Or my 44-40 Merwin Hulbert?

 

plcAM7Ijj

 

 

 

 

Limiting oneself to one cartridge for CAS limits how many cool guns you can shoot.

Edited by Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283
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Back when Betty Lou and I were going to matches, we loaded the shorter .44 s into a rifle and locked it up.  Ever since then, we became more deliberate grabbing ammo out of the cart.  

 

I never thought of using a marker... Just stopped tumbling the rifle brass for as long.  So ugly ammo =rifle.  Shiny = wheelguns.

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I sometimes use my .45 Colt pistols and my .38-40 rifle at a match.  All my .45 Colt cartridges are marked on the head so I don't mix them up and try to put one in my rifle, because it will load into the magazine, but it won't feed.

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I just checked my records from 2019.  I shot 32 CAS matches, and shot mixed calibers in 22 of them.  About a half dozen combinations of 32-20, .38 Spcl, 44 Russian, 44 Spcl, 44-40, 45 S&W, and .45 Colt.  Of the six matches I shot this year, five were mixed caliber.  Variety is the spice of life. :)

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I’m with Driftwood and others. Using different calibers in pistols and rifles isn’t that big of a deal and probably more likely in the old west. I have a system of sharpie stripes I use. Blue for 45 colt, red for 44-40, green for 38-40 and black for 44 special. All black powder of course 

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Both the Colt Single Action Army and the Winchester Model 1873 came out in 1873. The Colt was chambered for 45 Colt and the Winchester for 44-40. It was not until 1878 that Colt chambered the SAA for 44-40.

 

It is often stated that if one was lucky enough (or rich enough) to own both a Colt and a Winchester, 44-40 was the preferred chambering, because the same ammunition could be fired in both. However there was a period of five years when this was not possible.

 

I like to think I lived then.

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On 4/23/2020 at 5:11 PM, Crisco said:

I never mixed anything up at the loading table but sometimes had the wrong gun in hand when I needed to reload from my belt during a stage.

^^^^ THIS!

 

Most are talking about beeing focused at the loading table where taking your time isn't a (big) issue. But grabing the proper cartridge for a reload on the stage on the clock is a different story. For me it could cause a problem two have different calibers as I use the same hand to reload pistol and rifle (through loading gate).

 

Equanimous

 

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