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Problem with chambering 44-40 in Uberti 1873 rifle


Marshal Fire, SASS 10064

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I have two Uberti made 1873 rifles in 44-40. Recently acquired the second rifle. It is a new model with the W prefix in the serial number. When I purchased it I did send it to a well known SASS gunsmith for a tune up.

my issue is with reloads in the new rifle.

I am using mostly star line brass but there are a few others that have the same issue. I have RCBS cowboy dies and a Redding profile crime die and in a Dillon 550. The bullet is a cast and coated 200 grain size at 427. I checked and confirmed 427.

the issue is as the round fits into the chamber there is often extra effort required to chamber the cartridge into the last quarter inch of travel.

I checked the sizing die and it is fully in contact with the shell plate on the down stroke. The sized empty case fall completely into the chamber perfectly.

I checked OAL and it is slightly under the max OAL according the the Lyman book. There is a firm crimp on the bullet with the Redding die.

theses same shells fly through my old Uberti but every third or fourth require a little extra effort the close the action on the new rifle. I also noted the the OAL needs to be slightly shorter for the new rifle.

Since a size case drops in the new gun the problem must with the bullet. 
Do I have. Rifle with a slightly undersize chamber or am I missing something?

Any suggestions or thoughts.

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Another possibility I recently discovered...

 

Are you certain your bullet is started squarely in the case mouth?  I've noticed a few of mine lately where the bullet was started at a little bit of an angle in the case mouth  and during the seating process, the case neck was nudged out of square.

 

Also, what Abilene Slim suggested...

 

Good luck!

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I do not see a bulge in the case, they drop freely into a case gauge.

I also tried a Lee factory crimp die and had the same results.

 

I believe the bullets are square in the case but will look closer.

 

a friend contacted me and stated that his experience was that some Uberti rifles were a little short in chamber length.

he used a 44-40 reamer to clean up the chamber on his rifle and that address the problem.

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Marshall Fire...check your headspace. I have a newer 44-40 rifle that had too tight headspace. Had to put 10 under links in it. This one is also very length sensitive. Mine worked fine empty after I got the timing down. But with a round in the chamber it wouldn't quite close the lever. You could force it closed...but it felt like something going over center to lock up.

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If you are "final" crimping properly with that Redding PCD there is NO way you can have a bulge at the crimp area, and most likely you are not over diameter on the neck of the loaded round, unless your chamber is HORRIBLY undersize at the neck.  

 

If your friend solved a similar problem with a touch of the reamer, I'd at least think about asking where that reamer is now and run it through your gun, too.

 

Some of the things you mention could point to your chamber being undersized, most likely in the neck DIAMETER.   A "short chamber" could be either a "short shoulder" that is too close to the breech (where the rim seats), or a actual short front end (mouth end) of the chamber cut.   A short "front end" would probably not let a sized case fall in, though, and would be pretty likely to fail to chamber ALL rounds you load, not just 1 of every 4 or 5.   A cerrosafe chamber casting would be the ideal way to check internal dimensions of the chamber - a good gunsmith should be able to test the chamber real quickly.

 

Savvy Jack and some others haves encountered "short shoulders" in some chambers before, and that condition could show up as a failure to chamber easily at the last 1/4"  of travel.   Again, running a proper finish reamer into the chamber would fix that problem, too.  In my opinion, it's better to fix a short-shoulder chamber than to shorten the sizer die and have to "work around" that rifle forever.  Like, never accepting a reload from another shooter if you run out.

 

Savvy Jack has recently posted that using a round-nose bullet with a too-large diameter on a driving band located to the front of the crimp groove can ALSO cause a chambering problem, affecting the last portion of closing the action on the round.  Thus, he has recommended that .44-40 shooters stick to traditional bullet designs without a driving band in front of the crimp groove, or one could just crimp out in front of that driving band.   Show or tell us what bullet you are loading!  And also a picture of your loaded round.   (A finish reamer does NOT take care of this problem, BTW).

 

Factory loads quite often are made with VERY little shoulder, almost more of a taper than a shoulder, in an effort to make sure the the rounds will fit all possible guns.  One can be misled by a test of factory rounds chambering.   If once-fired factory brass fail to reload and fit the rifle well, it shows that a "factory round" is not a great way to check the chamber of the bottleneck cartridges.

 

From your description of how much the rounds fail to chamber, I doubt it is a rim-headspace problem (that is only 0.060" or so).

 

It would be common AND SIMPLE troubleshooting to take a black marker (Sharpie) and color a load that won't chamber, then try chambering it to see where the marks appear in the coloring.  That really can pinpoint a chambering problem.

 

As you can see from this run down of possible problems, the .44-40 DOES have some peculiar difficulties that can pop up when reloading!

 

good luck, GJ

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A sized empty case drops freely into the rifle chamber.

I seat the bullets with a rcbs cowboy die and then crimp with the Redding profile die.

loaded bullets freely falls into a case gauge but often requires a little extra effort to have the bolt ram it into the chamber.

I have tried, star line, Winchester and rem brass.

my friend is loaning me a chamber reamer and I plan to touch up the chamber if needed.

he mentioned his Uberti rifle required this and a light turn with the reamer cleaned it up.

 

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The easiest way to determine the problem is find one of your rounds that will not chamber and coat it entirely with magic marker put it in and try to close the lever when you meet resistance remove it and expect it.

 I have found with multiple 44-40s that the only bullet that will work in all of them is a .427 200 grain crimped with a factory crimp die.

 Good Luck

kR

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9 hours ago, Marshal Fire, SASS 10064 said:

A sized empty case drops freely into the rifle chamber.

I seat the bullets with a rcbs cowboy die and then crimp with the Redding profile die.

loaded bullets freely falls into a case gauge but often requires a little extra effort to have the bolt ram it into the chamber.

I have tried, star line, Winchester and rem brass.

my friend is loaning me a chamber reamer and I plan to touch up the chamber if needed.

he mentioned his Uberti rifle required this and a light turn with the reamer cleaned it up.

 

Do you have the size die making contact with the shell holder when the case is fully inserted into the die?

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As stated in the original post.

I am using a Dillon 550 press. The sizing die is turned down and making firm contact with the shell plate.

I have  measured the finished ammo and find the dimensions are correct to the diagram of a 44-40 in the current Lyman loading manual. 

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I had the same problem with my Uberti 38-40.  Come to find out that the bullet was engaging the rifling just prior to closing due to the shape of the bullet.  I started seating my bullets a little deeper and it works fine.  CAUTION, I load with Black Powder or APP so seating the bullet a little deeper was no problem.  If you are using smokeless powder seating the bullet deeper will raise the chamber pressure so you will need to adjust your load.

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Not 44-40's but had the same problem with three Uberti 38-40's in early 2000's. I'm anal with my reloading, plinking or serious work. Always had to squeeze the lever about an extra 1" approx to chamber the round . Short story,,, short chamber. Bought a finishing reamer for the first rifle, shot it about a year,,,, bulged the barrel. Still shot good,, but ugly. Ordered a barrel,,, 10 months later , new barrel. Checked chamber,,, short. Reamed it out. Bought another one later,,, short chamber, reamed it out. I think Uberti just had a batch of short chambered 38-40's.. Maybe their chambering machines weren't set properly. But, as others have said earlier, more than likely a short chamber.

YMMV,

Isom

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22 hours ago, Marshal Fire, SASS 10064 said:

I have two Uberti made 1873 rifles in 44-40.

my issue is with reloads in the new rifle.

I am using mostly

star line brass - THIS IS GOOD

RCBS cowboy dies - THIS GOOD

Redding profile crime die - THIS IS GOOD AND CONFIRMS BULLET TO BE SMALL DIAMETER OR OF THE PROFILE TYPE IF LARGER

Dillon 550. - SHOULD NOT MATTER

bullet is a cast and coated 200 grain sized 427. - THIS IS GOOD BUT NOT ALWAYS NEEDED 

 

the issue is as the round fits into the chamber there is often extra effort required to chamber the cartridge into the last quarter inch of travel.

I checked the sizing die and it is fully in contact with the shell plate on the down stroke. - THIS IS GOOD

The sized empty case fall completely into the chamber perfectly. - THIS IS GOOD

I checked OAL and it is slightly under the max OAL according the the Lyman book. - THIS IS GOOD

There is a firm crimp on the bullet with the Redding die. - THIS IS GOOD

theses same shells fly through my old Uberti but every third or fourth require a little extra effort the close the action on the new rifle. I also noted the the OAL needs to be slightly shorter for the new rifle. - THIS IS MY CONCERN, not the AOL but the use of a non 44-40 profile bullet, with an exposed forward driving band.

Since a size case drops in the new gun the problem must with the bullet. - THIS IS GOOD
Do I have. Rifle with a slightly undersize chamber or am I missing something? - I THINK A SHORT CHAMBER BASED ON THE DETAILED ITEMS SO FAR

Any suggestions or thoughts.

 

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I had a 38-40 1866 carbine that took an extra last umph to close the lever. Showed it to cowboy and Indians one year at Winter Range (many years ago) and he said a batch had been imported with short chambers. He took it back to his shop after WR and properly reamed the chamber. Ran GREAT after that and has been my go to main match rifle ever since.

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One of the most popular bullets used by CAS shooters (Oregon Trail Laser Cast) for the 44-40 is not of the 44-40 Profile type. In the photo I posted above, there is an exposed foreword driving band that can make contact with the bore rifling when chambered in tight chambers. The same cartridge using a 44-40 profile bullet will not have this issue as long as the seating depth is within limits.

 

Left Cartridge - The rifling contacts the bullet ogive just above the exposed driving band. Note the diameter here is measured to be .424" on this bullet. On the cartridge to the right, the rifling starts much further foreword and measures .429". EDIT: Actually I the area just in front of the rifling is .429".

 

EmbeddedImage.jpg.ef2b98b4aa38620a7686ab5544952bcb.jpgEmbeddedImagea.jpg.f89a44e80fd04c13c6ab20137f46ee50.jpg

 

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