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Reduced 44-40 load provenance

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Good Evening:

I was cleaning up my hard drive, & came across this post from "w44wcf" from (I think) the old defunct forum "The Frontier Spot".

For those of us who shoot the 44-40 cartridge with black powder, it is interesting, to say the least! 



I was looking though the old ammunition catalogs that are illustrated on the International Ammunition Association's website and discovered that between 1906-1910  in addition to the standard 40 gr cartridge,  U.M.C. (Union Metallic Cartridge Co)  offered a reduced 28 gr. black powder factory 44-40 cartridge.  Then from 1911- to about 1920,  REM-UMC continued to offer the same cartridge variation.



U.M.C. also offered 28 gr. cartridge variations for the 38-40 & 45 Colt as well.

Being a history student of the 44-40, I found that to be particularly interesting since the .44 Henry cartridge that preceeded the 44-40, was also loaded with 28 grs. of b.p.  It seems that it is very likely, that there were requests from 44-40 users that a cartridge that replicated the earlier .44 Henry ballistics.

So......I decided to replicate that historic cartridge for testing. U.M.C. would have used a wad between the powder charge and the base of the bullet.
I used 28 grs of KIK FFFG ignited by a CCI 300 primer and 2 different bullets 1.) 200 gr. Mav Dutchman  2.) 43-215C

I settled the charge by dumping it slowly thorugh the funnel holding the pan about 5" above it. I then added, on top of the powder, .7cc PSB (Poly Shot Buffer) for the 200 gr bullet and .5cc (Lee scoops) for the 215 gr. bullet ( the 43-215C seats deeper). When the bullets were seated they  which compressed the filler and powder charge. 

It was a beautiful crisp day yesterday. The temperature reached about 40F with little wind and plenty of sunshine. I took the opportunity of the nice (for this time of year) day to head to the range to try the 28 gr 44-40 cartridges.
I set up the chronograph and sent 5 rounds of each recipe over it - average velocities were - 
200 gr. - 1,128 f.p.s.  (almost "spot on" the original 1,125 f.p.s. of the Henry 200 gr ctg which was loaded with 28 grs. of b.p.)
215 gr. - 1,107 f.p.s.

Accuracy at 100 yards was pretty good (2 1/2" with 3 in 1" / 43-215C ).  

It was pretty neat....stepping back in time......



Screenshot 2023-01-28 at 10.01.18 PM.png

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Any idea of what they used as a filler in the factory load?


I expect they did not have caulk backer rod (the “secret sauce” for the todays Frontier Cartridge shooter).

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5 hours ago, Abe E.S. Corpus SASS #87667 said:

Any idea of what they used as a filler in the factory load?


I expect they did not have caulk backer rod (the “secret sauce” for the todays Frontier Cartridge shooter).


The post did say that they probably used a wad between the powder and the bullet base.  Since shotgun fiber wads were in use, my guess is that they had them made to the appropriate size and used those.

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Handgun loads for the 44-40.


I loaded 45 Colt with 25 gr black and some filler ( corn meal or felt wads/with lube or not).

I’ll check my computer for any chronograph records.

Now, I simply load the 45 S&W for handgun. it’s a lot less hassle.



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He also published a similar article on the CASCity forum from 2014 here; https://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php?topic=52963.0


Also, don't forget the targets he shot at 250 yards with the 44 Henry replicated loads; 


John Korts replicated 44 Henry loads noted by Blue dots. Original Henry hits shown above with white dots.

Bryan Austin's 265 yard (range claims 300 yards) 44-40 hits shown with black holes on target...and large red dots on his ugly mug!




John's 250 yard replica hits noted with Red dots...shown above in blue dots. Original Henry hits shown above with white dots


Edited by Savvy Jack
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Thanks for the CAS City link -- That might have been where the original post was made.
I used to frequent both CAS City & The Frontier Spot way back in the old days.
Used to be on "MLML" too, back when forums were known as "bulletin boards", and conversations were small with no pictures, only text files.


A shooting pard of mine, who has been shooting BP rifles, pistols, and revolvers in competition for maybe 50 years, who believes that, for what we do, 15 grains of FFFg is enuf, so that's what he does for everything except shotgun.

He usually shoots clean & is really fast for an old BP shooter

So, don't shy away from lighter BP loads -- they get the job done.


Edited by Prairie Dawg, SASS #50329
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It looks like someone just has too much time on their hands out in sunny Ohio.  For those of us in WV, we spend our time shoveling the white stuff and chipping what used to be water.


I do plan to break out the 44-40 with black in a couple of weeks, just to see if it all will still make a lot of smoke.  Keeps the mosquitos away you know.



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