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Ruger 44-40 brass and warranty question


Doc Moses
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I recently got a 1995 Ruger Old Vaq 44-40. I have a fluted 44 mag cylinder so I can shoot it now but wanted to ask about the 44-40  throats...WAIT!  Don't move on yet!  I knew when buying about the 425ish throats and 429 barrels. I have seen online that Ruger did 'fix' the throats to 430. I am fine with 44-40s that are not the historical size and only run in a modern gun.

Question 1. Did they mark the cylinders they fixed? 

2. Do they still do the fix? 

Lastly. I would love to buy 15 or 20 pieces of brass so I could get started reloading for it...and have the 44-40 cylinder be more than a paper weight. If anyone wants to sell a few pm me. Starline is out for a while. Just interested in a small batch. I will wait 4 Starline to catch up. Thanks for your help on the cylinder questions too. The new ruger in 44-40 instead of mag is because it is fun.

Edited by Doc Moses
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1.  No

 

2.  No Clue.  Call, I'd bet they do.

 

3.  I don't have any.

 

4.  There is a slight difference in the case diameter between 44-40 and 44 Mag.  You may get some weird case expansion.

 

OOOPSies.  Disregard answer number 4.  Not applicable.  Shooting separate cylinders for 44-40 and 44 mag eliminates any case dimension problems.  Don't know what I was thinking.  Low Caffeine Light is ON.

 

 

Edited by Colorado Coffinmaker
OOPSie Boo Boo correction
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No marks on 'fixed' cylinders.

As above don't know if Ruger still fixes it.  If not,  Bowen Classic Arms Corporation will and you need only send in the cylinder, not the whole gun.

As for trying the 44-40 cylinder before you get it fixed; you may not be able to seat .430 bullets in it (which are what one normally gets when buying for 44 mag/special ammo).

Once you get the cylinder fixed, try some black powder rounds in it as well; 44-40 really shines with BP!

So what Ruger in 44-40 did you get?

(Frankly, I'm glad Ruger went with their .429 barrels and not the historic size for their 44-40s for the very thing you mention; 44 mag/special compatibility and component usage.)

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I had a pair and like a fool I sold them. I ran 428 bullets in them and got decent accuracy. If you run 430 bullets you will probably have problems. The barrels are 429 but the chambers and your reloading dies are still for 427 bullets. I run 428 bullets and mild loads and the bullets expand and obturate the bore. I run Missouri Bullets and they use 12 BHN alloy for their cowboy bullets which are soft enough to expand the bullets with 700 fps loads. My Rifles and pistols all shoot pretty accurately with their bullets.

Most casters run hard bullets which ain’t for your accuracy but because it casts easier and ships with less damage. I run 12 bhn bullets for all guns that shoot below 1200 fps which is everything I own except the magnums and 9mms.

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Howdy, Doc,

Have you actually measured the throats on your .44-40? If not, it would be a good idea. Another clue would be the serial number (two-digit prefix and the first two digits may tell us more, as Ruger changed from .425" throats to .430 just before they ended production of the .44-40 Old Model Vaquero's. I have one of the earliest .44-40's, in the 55-269XX range. Aside from the .425" throats, the chambers of that gun were NOT uniform, and wouldn't universally accept even factory Winchester ammo! At first, Ruger would not do anything about it. It took about a year of phone calls by me, plus some adverse comments in gun magazines by Mike "Duke" Venturino to get Ruger to have me send the whole gun in for replacement of the cylinder. (I believe they installed a new cylinder because reaming the chambers probably wouldn't have worked...to little metal to prevent a reamer from chattering.  After I received the gun back, it would accept ammo consistently even with .430" bullets, provided I used Winchester brass, due to the thinner walls at the neck of the brass. But the throats were still .425"!  Rather than having the throats reamed out, I tried shooting .429-.430" hard cast bullets (BHN 17-22). Imagine my surprise when accuracy was great!  I could consistent 1-1/2" groups at 25 yds using a two-hand hold with my wrists supported on the bench (so the gun was free to recoil. These were with 213.5gr bullets sized .430" with a powder charge of 8.0 gr Hodgdon Universal. (NOTE: this is a higher charge than they show in their manual, but I have had zero problems. MV from a 7-1/2" barrel runs in the mid-950's, depending on air temp.  NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE USE OF THIS DATA IN GUNS OTHER THAN MY OWN!)  

 

How can I get accuracy (and virtually NO leading) using .430 bullets going through .425" throats?  The hardcast bullets do compress going through the throats. But because compressive strength is proportional to bullet hardness, and the dwell time going through the throats is so short, the bullet expands when it hits the forcing cone and fills the grooves in the barrel.

 

Before I was able to get the .44-40 cylinder changed out, I found a .44 Magnum cylinder and had it fitted to the gun.  When I finally got the gun back, I had both cylinders fitted and timed to the gun. When SASS went to using two guns, I bought a second one in .44 Magnum.  I lucked out and found a  .44-40 cylinder with .425" throats that someone had discarded, and had it fitted and timed to the 5-1/2" Old Model Vaquero, giving me a pair of convertibles, which I use.  If I am short of reloaded .44-40 ammo, but have the .44 Magnums loaded with 7.5 grs. of Universal, with the same bullets (the Maggie brass has less case capacity), I get identical velocities to the .44-40's. 

 

Oh, and to keep from having problems seating the .430" bullets in the .44-40 Winchester brass, I use an expander plug from .44 Magnum dies, but still resize with the regular (not the Cowboy) dies. 

 

Hope this helps.

Stay well and safe!

 

 

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2 hours ago, Sacramento Johnson #6873 said:

No marks on 'fixed' cylinders.

As above don't know if Ruger still fixes it.  If not,  Bowen Classic Arms Corporation will and you need only send in the cylinder, not the whole gun.

As for trying the 44-40 cylinder before you get it fixed; you may not be able to seat .430 bullets in it (which are what one normally gets when buying for 44 mag/special ammo).

Once you get the cylinder fixed, try some black powder rounds in it as well; 44-40 really shines with BP!

So what Ruger in 44-40 did you get?

(Frankly, I'm glad Ruger went with their .429 barrels and not the historic size for their 44-40s for the very thing you mention; 44 mag/special compatibility and component usage.)

I have a 4.6 blued case hardened old Vaq with the short grips. Love the look and feel. My previous guns are a stainless old vaq in 4.6 44 mag and a blued 4.6 super blackhawk with a fluted cylinder. (Keeping the fluted cylinder to make my new 44-40 a convertable!) I like this new one so much the SBH is up for sale or trade!

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I have five .44-40 Vaqueros at the moment, and have had eight others, and never experienced any problems. I once had a Navy Arms 1875 Remington with tight chambers that wouldn't reliably chamber everything until I dropped to a .428" bullet, so I used the .428"er in all my .44-40's, so as not to have two kinds of ammo - worked just fine in everything. The '75's are gone, and I'm back to using .429" in everything now.

 

Now the .38-40's... oof. Inexplicably, Ruger sized the chamber mouths to .395" - .396", and that is very problematic. I borrowed a reamer from somebody here on the Wire several years ago and opened all three of mine up. The .40 S&W cylinders have the proper throats.

 

Edited by Three Foot Johnson
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I have a pair that the cylinder throats needed "fixed". I called Ruger a few years ago about making them right and they told me that they don't do that anymore. I sent them out to get reamed. Good now. Maybe they'll do them again. I'd call.

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I had the same results with Ruger about 5 years ago, They replied the pistols were in spec. and they wouldn't open up the throats

Edited by Willy B.SASS#26902
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I run .429 lead through mine and the accuracy is just fine. Mine had been sent back to ruger and repaired well before I got them. I have noticed that the tolerances are extremely tight. I ended up replacing my lee die set for a redding die set and haven't had a single failure to chamber since doing so. There's a few threads in here on reloading for the 44/40 on the wire. Definitely the most problematic round I've ever dealt with when it comes to reloading. 

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12 hours ago, Doc Moses said:

I recently got a 1995 Ruger Old Vaq 44-40. I have a fluted 44 mag cylinder so I can shoot it now but wanted to ask about the 44-40  throats...WAIT!  Don't move on yet!  I knew when buying about the 425ish throats and 429 barrels. I have seen online that Ruger did 'fix' the throats to 430. I am fine with 44-40s that are not the historical size and only run in a modern gun.

Question 1. Did they mark the cylinders they fixed? 

2. Do they still do the fix? 

Lastly. I would love to buy 15 or 20 pieces of brass so I could get started reloading for it...and have the 44-40 cylinder be more than a paper weight. If anyone wants to sell a few pm me. Starline is out for a while. Just interested in a small batch. I will wait 4 Starline to catch up. Thanks for your help on the cylinder questions too. The new ruger in 44-40 instead of mag is because it is fun.

 

I can send you some 44-40 brass via Cowboy express.  I should see Tommy Reb this Saturday and will give him some that he can then drop off to you at the next Oakwood match.

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Whether you consider the .44-40 problematic or just finicky depends upon how hard it bites you. 

 

This cartridge was developed long before the SAAMI committee standardized the dimensions for the chambering.   Then various manufacturers converted over from making their .44-40 barrels with (approximately) 0.427 " groove diameter, to 0.429 groove diameter to avoid needing to have an extra seat of tooling.    All this has lead to serious problems over the last 60 years.  

 

And similar lack of attention to strictly holding to SAAMI specifications by manufacturers has affected many other old cartridges - like .38-55 and .45 Colt (to some extent).   Many folks claim they see NO benefit in SAAMI standards.  Or that it is fine to accept VOLUNTARY compliance with the standards.   I think this many years of difficulties puts the lie into such foolishness in important specifications meant for firearms functionality and safety.

 

good luck, GJ   

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25 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

 

I can send you some 44-40 brass via Cowboy express.  I should see Tommy Reb this Saturday and will give him some that he can then drop off to you at the next Oakwood match.

That would be great!  I am plnning to go to Sundays match

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