Best Cowboy Nostalgia Caliber: .30-30, .45-70, etc.?


March 15, 2003, 03:35 AM
I'm looking into getting a Beretta Stampede and may need a rifle to go with it.

What lever rifle round has the most cowboy nostalgia? Were pistol-caliber rifles around back then or were they predominantly .30-30 and .45-70? What rounds were the common calibers of its day, like .223 and .308 are now?

Please help a fledgling wannabe cowperson. This LA city boy never got to play Cowpersons and Native Americans in school, and need some learning. Right now I'm hoping Beretta makes a matching rifle to go along with that thing.

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March 15, 2003, 03:40 AM
What about .44-40?? One of the RO at the range I go to has let me shhot his .40-40 on several occasions. What a BLAST. No recoil. Heavy as all heck. And when you shoot out past 300meters, you can pratically see the projectile drop in like a artillary shell. Of all the cowboy weapons out there, that is the one I want.


March 15, 2003, 06:36 AM
44-40 or 45 long colt.

Get one of those to match your 6 shooter. Then if you still like playing Early American Bovine Relocation Specialist (non-gender Specific) get a Pedersoli or other Sharps replica in 45-70

March 15, 2003, 08:49 AM
I have a 3rd gen Colt SAA and a Uberti Yellow Boy in 44-40 This was one of the first centerfires and very popular (per the Native Americans at Little Big Horn). IIRC 45 Colt was just a few years later than the 44-40. 30-30 was one of the first smokeless rounds and came after the "Old West"

Your guns will get used (read beat up), so don't get something that's "too beautiful". Rugers and some of the clones hold up pretty well. I'd hate to take a $1,500 Colt SAA and beat it around.

If you reload, the 44-40 is more difficult as the cases are paper thin. 45 Colt is easy. Both are expensive to buy.

Some of the guys are getting 38 Special or .357's. Not exactly as authentic, but cheaper to buy.

Art Eatman
March 15, 2003, 09:57 AM
The 1873 SAA was introduced in .45 Colt. .44-40 became available in 1878.

The trail-herd era was roughly 1870 to 1890, starting slowly and tapering off with the advent of the railroads into the southwest. The Winchester 1892, then, pretty much followed what we think of as the "Cowboy Era". (Well, from the Hollywood "historical" perspective.) And, in only two more years, the Winchester 1894 came into production with it's much more effective cartridges.


March 15, 2003, 11:07 AM
WOW!!!!! I have never heard of the Beretta Stampede. I just checked the webpage

It is beautiful to say the least. I'm going to check it out. I was considering the USFA Rodeo or Cimarron Model 'P'.

You can not go wrong with any of the lever-action out there. You have Winchester and Marlin. You have imports such as EMF, Navy Arms, Cimarron, ect.

I prefer the John Browning designs. I like the Winchester 94 and 92's. Davidson's is having a short run of Winchester 92's. I like the Rossi copies that Navy Arms carries as well as Legacy Sports.
I have the Rossi 92 SRC with large loop levers that Interarms imported.

March 15, 2003, 02:18 PM
Uberti YELLOW BOY??!?! :eek:

Isn't that a tad un PC? :D

Is .45 Long Colt blackpowder then? Assume I won't be reloading.

March 15, 2003, 03:42 PM
:D They were called "yellow boy", Skunky, because they were yellow - specifically, the actions were made from brass, not steel.

.45 Colt is probably your best bet, unless you take up handloading. You can find that in single action "revolver thingies", single shots, like the Browning and Italian copies, and several flavors of lever action rifles, too.

The .45 Colt was originally a blackpowder round - the original load was a 250 grain bullet at a leisurely 800 fps or so. Modern duplicate the original velocity. You can of course get much hotter .45 Colt loads - intended for Rugers. They will disassemble old-fashioned guns, so use caution.

Now, if you want a Tactical Revolver Thingy, look for a Uberti copy of the Smith and Wesson Schofeld - you can get it in .45 Colt, and the top break feature allows you to reload about three times faster than a Colt copy:p

March 15, 2003, 03:51 PM
The Win models 92 and 94 came along after the cowpoke era. The real guns that won the west are the 1866 (44 Rimfire) and 1873 (44 WCF or 44/40) models.

The 45 Colt was never chambered in an original le-ee-eever gun, to my knowledge. The rim was too skinny and would pull off with the fouled chambers provided by black powder. The rim had to be small to fit in the Peacemaker's cylinder. The new Lever guns in 45 Colt are not copies of anything that existed "back in the day."

IIRC the newer 45 Colt ca-atridges have a beefed up rim to obviate the problem of the lil bitty rim on the original balloon head cases. :confused: Not really a fan, can anybody confirm?

March 15, 2003, 04:09 PM
BigG The rims arn't any larger, they cut a groove just above the rim that essentially lengthens the rim and blends it in better with modern cartridges, this would have been tricky with the old Balloon head cases.

Sir Galahad
March 15, 2003, 05:34 PM
The original Winchester 1873 was .44-40 caliber. It was in 1878 that Colt made a revolver in .44-40 to match it. The Colt "Peacemaker" of 1873 came in .45 Colt originally. The Winchester 1866 and the preceding Henry rifle were made in .44 Henry rimfire.

March 15, 2003, 06:02 PM

***THE**** rifle cartridge of the cowboy was the .44-40 Winchester, AKA .44WCF. Usually chambered in the 1873 Winchester.

Some market and sport hunters of the day used the .45-70, 45-75 and assorted others. The cowboy used the .44-40, and to a much lesser extent, the .38-40. The populatiry ot the .44-40 and the '73 Winchester was the reason that Sam Colt decided to chamber his SAA in .44-40.

The .45 Colt was not chambered in rifles because it's tiny rim made extractin difficult when the black powder fouling crudded up the chamber.

For today's cowboy action shooting, where you're using smokeless powder, the .45 Colt is fine.

But if you want true authenticity, use a revolver in .45 Colt or .44-40, and a rifle in .44-40 or .38-40.

Many cowboys and frontier lawmen used a Colt SAA and a Winchester '73 both chambered in .44-40, so the same ammo could be used in both.

March 15, 2003, 06:04 PM
Oh hell <slapping forehead> I know!

Skunky needs a Trapdoor Springfield


March 15, 2003, 06:07 PM
So what's up with the popularity of the .30-30, is this not really a cowperson round?

That Redneck Assault Rifle concept seemed pretty cool.

March 15, 2003, 06:22 PM
The .30-30, while very popular in the west (and the eastern U.S., too) wasn't introduced until 1894, and wasn't commonly available until a year or two later, so it missed the heydey of the Indian wars, buffalo hunting, OK Corral, etc. It was always loaded with smokeless powder, not black.

The .30-30 did become very popular among ranchers and farmers because they were (and are) fasthandling, reliable, reasonably priced, and sufficient to do the job. The flat action carries well in a scabbard, or in your hand.

It has adequate power for deer, black bear, 2 and 4 legged predators, plus adequate accuracy, out to 150 yards or so. The cartridge has more power than a 7.62 x 39, but not as much as the .30-06, nor even the .308. Until quality scope sights became common and reliable in the late 30's & 40's, the 30-30 was hard to beat as a hunting rifle.

Sir Galahad
March 15, 2003, 06:56 PM
Nowadays, you're just as likely to see a rancher with a SKS, AK or AR as you are to see a .30-30. And a lot of cowboys are more likely to be carrying Glocks for a handgun.

March 15, 2003, 08:32 PM
Ruger Bisley Vaquero (
Rossi Legacy 92 .454 (Puma)

You can have a cartridge belt with 45Colt loads, either cowboy or the hot ones from Corbon, and have no fear if the sidearm or the rifle will be able to handle the pressure. And they still look 'cowboyish' too. Just as long as you don't put tritiums and tact-slings on them. :neener:

Also, for extra oomph, you can get some 454Casull loads, and shoot them out of the Rossi. Should be fine with the 454 in the levergun. More mass on the gun, means less recoil on the shoulder. Plus, even if you mix up cartridges on the belt, the 454 Casull will not chamber in the Ruger pistol. But you can load 45Colt into the Rossi til the 'bovine meat production units arrive at the designated shelter and production center' :p

March 15, 2003, 09:20 PM
The reason the 45 Colt was not chambered in a lever action was because Colt had propriety ownership. It was also an official military round.

I read that information somewhere. Usually I copy everything of interest. I'll find it and post it.

March 15, 2003, 09:28 PM
How about a .38-55? They made the Winchester 1892s in that, IIRC.

Jim Watson
March 15, 2003, 09:46 PM
Winchester 94s.
The '92 is a short action, suitable only for pistol cartridges.

March 15, 2003, 09:46 PM
I stand corrected. Thanks, Jim.

March 15, 2003, 11:47 PM
Galahad, LOL! In Colorado and Wyoming most cowboys that I've seen carry the Glock also. Most cops as well!

Ranchers and cowboys carrying a rifle in these parts usually have an AR-15. if they can't afford one, then it's usually an SKS or AK. I even saw one last year that had a scoped FAL in the back window of the pickup.

What I don't see in farm/ranch vehicles are revolvers, and lever actions.

June 18, 2003, 06:38 PM
If you shoot Cowboy action matches, it will cost just about twice as much to shoot 45LC as 38spl, whether you reload yourself or buy commercial reloads.

I like both calibers, but I save about $50 per month shooting 38s. Over the course of the year that will pay for a new rifle.

Mike Irwin
June 18, 2003, 08:18 PM
"Were pistol-caliber rifles around back then or were they predominantly .30-30 and .45-70?"

Well, the first truly successful and popular lever-action rifle, the 1873 Winchester, was chambered in rounds like .38-40 and .44-40.

While these are thought of today as handgun rounds, the truth of the matter is that they were rifle rounds before they became handgun rounds. Same with the .32-20.

The .30-30 didn't come out until 1895, and by that time the "Old West" as we've come to romanticize it was pretty much over.

The first lever action capable of handling cartridges more powerful than what could also be chambered in a handgun was the 1876 Winchester, but the cartridges it introduced, rounds like the .40-60, .45-75, and .50-95, were popular in their day, but are virtually unknown today.

The exception to that is the .40-60, which has seen a rather nice comeback as a round for NRA's Blackpowder Cartridge Rifle Silhouette matches, and that's in single-shot rifles.

The .45-70 was a round of the Old West, but the first successful lever action didn't come out for it until 1886.

June 18, 2003, 08:31 PM
The .30-30 didn't come out until 1895, and by that time the "Old West" as we've come to romanticize it was pretty much over.

The range was still open up in this part of the country up until about 1910.

And Tom Horn (hanged in 1903) used a 30-30.

June 18, 2003, 08:54 PM
The original blackpowder .45 Colt load pushed a 252 grain bullet to around 800-950 feet per second, depending on barrel length. (I've heard different numbers) VERY potent nonetheless.

The cheap cowboy loads you find today usually do a 250 or so grain bullet at 750 feet per second. Good for plinking, but not "authentic".

Mike Irwin
June 18, 2003, 11:21 PM
Tall Pine,

Yep, I know.

That's why I said "pretty much over" and "as we romanticize it."

Talk to a lot of people and the "Wild West" was still firmly in action as a cowboy/Indian/cattle type thing until about 1967, or when they go old enough to start watching girls instead of TV, and the last of the good daytime TV westerns went belly up.

Wounded Knee, the last great indian uprising, happened in 1890.

The vast herds of Bison that everyone seems to naturally associate with the west were gone long before that.

Barbed wire had slammed shut much of the open range by that time, too.

June 18, 2003, 11:40 PM
One of the neat things about a "carbine" or saddle gun was that it used the same ammo as your pistolé, which is not something a big game hunter or buffalo scout would do, nor would a long range shooter.

While its true that the Peacemaker and Winchester could be had in the same caliber (44wcf or 44-40) the same was true of Colt's Lightning rifles in 38-40, 44-40 and 32-20.

Colt's large framed rilfe came in 38-56, 40-60 and 50-90 (if I recall correctly) and would be one HELL of a game getter.

You can find reproduction Lightnings at and

Definitely cool.

I'd like to see one in 44 magnum. If I buy a "cowboy" long gun I'll likely get a 44 mag, as i already have access to a 30-30 and 45-70's, all are Marlins btw. no it's NOT a "cowboy" caliber, but my vaquero is a 44 mag... and you need 2 revolvers to compete in SASS... and a rifle and a shotgun.. well you see where this is all going right?

June 19, 2003, 06:48 AM
And Tom Horn (hanged in 1903) used a 30-30.

Well, that pretty much indicts the effectiveness of the .30-30. If he had been carrying/using a .45-70, he might still be alive! ;)
w/tongue firmly in cheek

June 19, 2003, 10:09 AM
Yup if you want to be authentic and use the same cartridges in your pistol caliber rifle and revolver, then .38-40 (.40 S&W Cowboy) and .44-40 are your choices. No lever gun was ever made in .45lc or .45 schofield in the old west, if you wanted the both guns to fire the same cartridges you used the above.

Now if you bought some older guns, like the cartridge conversions and an older lever like a '66 winchester, then you might chamber them in .45lc under the auspices of ".44 henry centerfire".

That said there is a lot of debate on what a real cowboy carried. Pistol caliber carbines are nice, but won't take bigger game easily which is potentially important. And we're completely neglecting shotguns which were also fairly common.

Mike Irwin
June 19, 2003, 02:34 PM
Dr. Rob,

Unfortunately, unless the rules have changed, slide action rifles aren't legal for Cowboy Action Shooting.

As for the Colt Lightning Rifle, I've fired large frames in .38 and .40.

LOTS of fun.

June 19, 2003, 03:06 PM
I believe slide action rifles of period design are legal in SASS. Seems to be a lot of chatter about them on the SASS Wire. The new "Henry" lever guns are not however.

Mike Irwin
June 19, 2003, 03:49 PM
I could have sworn that I read that the slide actions aren't legal.

As for Tom Horn's rifle, I thought he used a .40-65...

June 19, 2003, 04:07 PM
Mike, this is where I got my info

300 yards with a 30-30 ... I guess he didn't know that he couldn't do that ;)

Mike Irwin
June 19, 2003, 05:21 PM
Yeah, and I think I know where I got the idea that Tom Horn used a .45-60...

The movie.

And everyone knows how historically accurate the movies are... :rolleyes:

Johnny Guest
June 20, 2003, 07:32 PM
While it is well documented that Tom Horn used a .30-30 during some of his Wyoming "stock detective" exploits, he was a well known figure prior to that time. As in the link given by TallPine, Horn participated in the 1886 expedition to capture Geronimo.

Horn was apparently a marksman of some repute. It stands to reason that he would have outfitted himself with the best available rifle for BOTH long range shooting and fighting. This would indicate some type of repeater, and it would not be at all unreasonable that he would have had a .45-60 or .45-75 (or some other, for all I know) model 1876 Winchester, before the 1886 arrived. While Horn was aparently quick to adopt the smokeless .30-30 soon after it became available, it would have been unlikely that he could have procured an '86 so early in the same year as it was introduced.

I hasten to add that I also ridiculed the image of Horn (actor Steve McQueen) affixing a tang sight to a '76, in the later era. The more I think of it, though, it is likely that he owned BOTH '76 and '86 Winchesters prior to the .30-30. I read somewhere that he went to the "small bore" smokeless .30 because it has so much flatter a trajectory than the older, larger, cartridges.

Horn was a fairly up-to-date rifleman, indeed. He also carried a double action Colt revolver in a flap holster while in the field, at least part of the time. He was not really state-of-the-art in his handgunnery, however. After his trial and death sentence, awaiting appeal, Horn broke jail. He stole a jailer's automatic pistol - - I read in one place that it was an early model Luger - - but couldn't figure how to make it fire, and was promtly recaptured.

Oh, well - - - -


June 20, 2003, 10:32 PM
My main point was that there was still some wild west goings on after the 1894 introduction of the 30-30, at least in the northern part of the west.

A lot of people don't realize that the homestead era in Montana wasn't until about 1910 - 1925. It didn't last long because the dustbowl cut it all short, but by then the native prairie was plowed under to blow in the wind.

Slowly, all of the little claims began to be coagulated into larger ranches again, but never anything like the days "before the wire"

A lot of ranches up here are 10 to 20 sections (that's a square mile, BTW) or more, that's what it takes to eek out a living. Unfortunately, many of these ranches aren't contiguous - everybody's land is all mixed up like a checkerboard.

These days, a cowboy's horse is likely to be named Kawasaki or Yamaha.

"If I could roll back the years ....."

Mike Irwin
June 21, 2003, 03:28 AM
"I also ridiculed the image of Horn (actor Steve McQueen) affixing a tang sight to a '76, in the later era."

Two comments...

Tang sights are pretty ridiculous on any rifle with recoil much more than a .30-30, and even that's marginal, IMHO. Too much of a chance of taking the sight disk off the eye if you're making a snap shot.

But, but that as it may, I don't have any problem believing that he would have used a tang sight. Even then tang sights were recognized as being vastly superior to the ludicrous buckhorn sights, and were extremely popular as extra-cost addons. Tang sights are really the precursor to the modern receiver-mounted peep sight.

Mike Irwin
June 21, 2003, 03:38 AM

I know what your point was. But my point remains that when people think of the "Wild West," they don't think of unfenced land, herds of cattle, and dirt farmers.

They thing of Indians in war paint, vast herds of buffalo, and cowboys dueling it out with Matt Dillon-types in Dodge City.

That's the romantic notion, based on what the Wild West was between about 1865, when the major westward expansions across the plains began, and about 1885, when the last of the vast buffalo herds were exterminated, the majority of the indians had been rounded up and stuck on reservations, and barbed wire began closing the open range.

Moreso, the view that most Americans have of the Wild West is largely a fantasy created by eastern writers who never visited the area.

Montana, Idaho, the Dakotas, they all maintained significant open range until well after the death of the classic Wild West.

My Great-Grandmother homesteaded -- solo, but her brothers had their places in the area -- in Idaho in the 1890s through the first decade of the 20th century.

My Great-Grandfather, who married the woman above, was a cowboy for several years in the Dakotas.

My Grandmother was born in the Black Hills.

Oh, and there are a few states that still give homestead exemptions on property taxes.

June 21, 2003, 09:06 AM
get the .30-30; you'll be glad you did. Nostalgia is a great thing, but the .30 WCF was as much of an improvement over the 'punkin rollers' as the '06 was over the .30 WCF a few years later. If you're just shootin' at tin bad guys then any of the pistol-caliber lever actions will work fine- but for a 'using' gun, the .30-30 outclasses them significantly.

June 21, 2003, 09:31 AM
I like the 45-70 myself(custer and all that), but if I were to buy a revolver and rifle of the same caliber it would be a 44WCF(44-40).

June 21, 2003, 10:29 AM
Hey Mike, Colt only ever sold all of 6000-ish large-frame Lightnings, apparenly they had issues with primary extraction, so they didn't sell so great. You notice any such effects in the two you shot?

It is worth noting that Trapdoor Springfields also had extraction issues, but that was not the fault of the gun. Early Frankford Arsenal cartridges were inside-primed, and made from drawn COPPER.

Copper completely lacks brass' springiness, and the cases would fire-form a very malleable metal into the chambers, and stick them hard enough to have extractors rip through rims. This was a BIG problem for Custer and Co. when it mattered. Frankford Arsenal didn't fix the issue with brass cases until a couple years after that, IIRC. Didn't replace the copper-cased ammo in inventory, just used it up.

I dunno if the various other rounds that were prevalent at the time had copper cases or not. .45-70 was the first center-fire case in gubmint service, and certainly one of the first extant, dating from 1873 like the rifle that introduced it. Lightnings were introduced in 1884 I believe, with the large-frames coming out in 1888, I think. (Don't have my Wilson handy right now.) By then, the copper thing may have been hammered out. Lightings don't have any camming action for extraction, just elbow power.

My vintage Trapdoor certainly spits brass cases with alacrity, and they even re-chamber with no problem. Not so my 1884-vintage .44-40 Lightning! Those cases come out with their shoulders very nearly gone, a problem typical for most vintage .44-40's, which contributes to very short brass life due to excessive re-forming. I've read speculations to the effect that these grossly oversize/mis-shapen chambers were an attempt to assure functioning with lots of blackpowder fouling, but I wonder if in fact it was to attempt to fend off case sticking due to copper cases.

I dunno. I can't remember the details of the dates, I don't have my books handy, and I don't know if anyone other than the gubmint arsenal used copper cases. They certainly would've stuck any serious-powered round like the big blackpowder rounds in the .45-70 class, and stuck HARD. Mallet-rap on a cleaning rod hard.

FWIW, my '91-vintage .38-40 Lightning also has the same case-bulging tendency that the .44 has. Funny fire-forming aside, both rifles have no extraction issues with modern brass, and both are quite accurate with black-equivalent smokeless reloads with either jacketed or lead bullets. (I shoot lead, though. Jacketed bullets are hard on archaic barrel metallurgy, and jacketed Winchester ammo costs $25 a box IF I can find it.)

I want a large-frame Lightning. But at only 6000-ish built, I've never even SEEN one. They cost a lot, as you can imagine. I wonder if the replica folks'll ever make 'em. I don't think the Lightning action will ever be offered in big-bore magnums, though. While not as delicate as a '73 Winchester's toggle-link set-up, the dropping-lock action parts (The action bar does sorta the same thing that the FN FAL bolt carrier does. The front-pivoting locking brace drops down against frame lugs when locked, but at the front rather than the back of the bolt.) are pretty thin, as are the receiver walls, and even with modern steels I doubt they would withstand 40,000 psi. Winchester 92's and 94's are a bunch beefier.

Lightnings are GREAT fun. Lots of folks at the range come up to me wondering "what kind of .22 is that?" because of it's funny little fore-end grip, negligible recoil, and it's (Relatively.) quiet operation. Then they see 1.) the brass fly out, 2.) the "thwack" of a 200-grain flat-point bullet impact, and 3.) the hole in the end of the barrel. Most people have never heard of 'em, much less seen one. I like to tell 'em it's my "Colt-flavored Winchester competitor".

Mike Irwin
June 21, 2003, 12:36 PM
Copper cased .45-70? Inside primed?

Oh, you mean one of these. :)

I've got one of those around here in .45 S&W, too...

The copper-cased .45-70 round was adopted for a very logical reason -- deep brass drawing was still in its infancy, and still giving the military a lot of trouble. As a stop-gap measure it was decided to stick with the copper until the brass draw method was perfected a few years later.

Commercially the deep brass draw method was used a number of years before the military used it, but it was very problematic. The only saving grace was that commercial ammo didn't tend to sit around for nearly as long as military ammo.

And, early on, the commercial companies didn't necessarily use deep brass drawing, they spin drew them, a much slower and less precise method that leaves you with thicker case walls.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that's how Ballard's "Everlast" cases were made. There is no way that they could have been deep drawn using the technology and methods of the day, not with case walls that thick.

As for not knowing anyone using copper cased ammo other than the US military, the commercial loaders in this country churned out BILLIONS of rounds of copper-cased .22s all the way up to, and possibly past, World War II.

The priming method, in this case the type developed by Col. Steven Benet, was because copper wasn't strong enough to support a punched through center fire primer.

The British, of course, addressed both problems in a different way -- to deal with the fact that they couldn't draw brass, they used a rolled brass foil/cardboard sandwich for the bodies on the .577 and .577/.450 cartridges. The body was rolled, and then inserted into a punched brass cup. An iron washer was placed on the back of the cup, and a hollow rivet was run through all three pieces, holding the whole thing together. The primer was then set into the hollow rivet, making it look not unlike a shotshell.

Contrary to popular belief, the extraction problems weren't due solely to the fact that the cases were relatively soft copper. It had lot more to do with the design of the extractor (it bore on only a very small part of the rim), it was a black powder gun, so the chamber fouled, and when fired quickly, the gun heated up.

The British experienced many of the same problems with their Martini-Henry's and they were shooting the composition cartridges I've described above.

As for the Colt Lightning, the rounds that I shot were very light reloads to take into account that the rifle is old and valuable. So, no extraction problems.

June 23, 2003, 12:08 AM

The only way to fly, bro.

As far as pistol calibers, take a look at the Marlin 1894 Cowboy models.


June 23, 2003, 01:19 AM
I'm partial to my lightweight Marlin 93 carbine in 32-40. The stock John Wayne loads were right on the money for SASS shoots . I reload cast lead 190 grains at 1200-1300fps in my 5 boxes of John Wayne headstamped cases for the same results. I had Dale Storey tune it up and make new firing pin. The original Ballard rifling makes 32-40 unbelievably accurate for some reason.;)

June 23, 2003, 03:22 AM
I've got a pre-64 model 1894 Winchester in .30-30 and love it. Sure, most the west was tame by then but I think it should still count as a cowboy gun/caliber. If it's good enough for John Wayne its good enough for me ;)

And how about a model 1895 Winchester? Does .30-40 Krag count as a cowboy round? I think the rough-riders used this round durring the spanish-american war...

June 23, 2003, 06:47 AM
Just wait til they come out with a lever action in .500 Magnum.:what:

June 23, 2003, 07:03 AM
Thanks for filling in the details, Mike. That clears up my questions nicely. It's worth remembering that metalurgical technology and machine engineering was evolving side-by-side with gun technology.

I agree that the Trapdoor extractor isnt all that big, but the only gun with a bigger one I can think of is the "Super Claw" typical of a Mauser. The Springfield extractor covers about 40-50% of the cartridge's upper left quarter, which is pretty good, almost 1/4" of bearing surface. With the leverage provided by the length of the breech-block, Trapdoors can tear through drawn brass cases too. I remember an account of a Cavalry fight where-in one of the soldiers was equipped with an infantry rifle, and he used his cleaning rod to knock frozen cases out of his compatriot's rifles so they could continue to fight without having to be reduced to a knife with the tip broken off from trying to prise out a lodged copper case.

The military's initial solution was to issue a broken-shell extractor. You can still buy 'em for cheap, but you'll likely never need it with modern brass cases. I wouldn't have wanted to stop in the middle of a fight to run through the tedious process of running the silly things. Some Indian's gonna charge up and scalp you while you fiddle about.

I've seen those nightmarish wrinkly rolled brass confrabulous flabtraptions the British were making, but I'd never heard of a similar problem. I haven't read as much British battle material as Indian war stuff, mostly because Trapdoor Springfield was the second gun I ever bought. Luckily, I don't expect to find myself shooting numerous blackpowder loads through my rifle fast enough to heat it up and get it dirty enough to cause problems.

That begs a couple of questions, though. Did .45-70 caliber Gatling guns have issues too? And I wonder if .44 Henry and .56 Spencer cartridges ever had extraction issues, or was it not a problem because of the much lower operating pressure in the big-bore rimfires. Spencer carbines ran a 530?-grain bullet at about 900 fps, and I think the Henry was pretty close to that also with it's 200-grainer in front of 28 grains of black. I imagine Henrys and Spencers would get plenty hot in a tight spot, but I've never read about similar problems.

Oops, thread drift. Lessee...

Skunk, go with the .44-40. It's got the most classic "Ree-haw!" nostalgia value, and it's more appropriate to CAS than a high-power round like the .30-30. It's getting findable for cheap-ish these days, (Like $10-ish/50.) it hits good and hard with big bullets, and has very little recoil and not much noise. And the guns hold TONS of those short little buggers. My Lightning will take 15-16 of 'em under it's 24" barrel. Winchester 94's hold 6. The Winchester '92 action is also one of the fastest, smoothest leverguns ever made. Only a Lightning, with it's approx. 2" action throw, might be able to surpass it for speed of operation.

.30-30's are LOUD, and in a Winchester 94 or similar, it kicks rather briskly. It'll drill right through a mild steel CAS target, and the lever throw is greater than 90 degrees. They get HOT too.

Henry rifle replicas have an unmistakeable silhouette due to their lack of a fore-end stock, and they all come in .44-40. Henry's have mucho style. '66 and '73 Winchester's also have a lot of panache.

The .45-70 belongs in single-shots, preferably of Trapdoor persuasion.

Jus' my $00.02. In CAS, style is half the fun. There we go, safely back on topic, at least until Mike reads this. ;)

Mike Irwin
June 23, 2003, 12:32 PM
A large part of the problem appears to be related to case length, more so than the power of the round.

The longer case would tend to hang up in the chamber more readily when the gun was hot.

You need to review some of the accounts of the early battles using the short lever Martini-Henry rifle and the brass foil cases. Jammed guns were found on the field at Islawandana after the battle, and jamming was experienced by soldiers at Rorke's Drift.

A show a few years ago, called "Secrets of the Dead" on PBS, examined a lot of the contemporary lore about both battles.

They did a rapid firing test of the short lever Martini-Henry, and used a temperature gauge on the barrel at the breech to see if the jamming problems were real or might have been caused by a measure of panic on the part of the troopers.

I forget how many rounds they fired in fairly rapid sucession, but when they hit a certain temperature, the Martini started jamming. Badly.

This wasn't as bad a situation as with American ammo, though. Remember what the head on the British ammo was made from -- it was a composite case with an iron washer as the case head. Pretty resistant to pull through.

Part of the response to this problem was to issue the Long Lever Martini-Henry starting in, I believe, 1883.

I don't think the Gatling guns had a problem replated specifically to this, but they MAY have. Early Gatlings were considered to be jammers. It could have been related to fouling, it could have been related to barrel heating, or both. One of the advantages of the Gatling is that each barrel gets a chance to cool, but if you do the math, if you manage to crank out 200 rounds a minute (a doable speed), and you have a 10 barreled gun, each barrel is firing 20 times in one minute. No matter what that's going to heat those barrels substantially.

Spencers and Henrys I don't know about, either, but once again I could see it being less likely because of the much smaller amount of powder being burned, which generates less latent heat, as well as the shorter case being less prone to jamming.

Johnny Guest
June 23, 2003, 09:31 PM
I've got a pre-64 model 1894 Winchester in .30-30 and love it. Sure, most the west was tame by then but I think it should still count as a cowboy gun/caliber. If it's good enough for John Wayne its good enough for me Wouldn't surprise me to learn that the Duke used a .30-30 in SOME movie. However, since I began paying attention to such things, he used a Winchester 1892. I've read that it was a .38-40 at least part of the time. Yup, even in a lot of movies clearly set inthe era when an 1873 would have been more proper.

Sorry - - - -


June 24, 2003, 12:09 AM
Thanks again, Mike. I've got some reading to do.

I MISSED all those classified PBS morgue shows. They interested me, but my virulent dislike of all things TV-related prevented me from actually enjoying them. I can't bring myself to turn on the babblebox. I hate it when my brain turns into clotted cream. Got no cable to make it worthwhile, me. And I CANNOT rationalize paying for something as fundamentally BAD as television, so I guess I'm just doomed to read books.

(Plug: Any books by a man named Arthur Guy Empey, who was an American who voluteered to fight with the British in WW-I. Wrote several very good books, one of which is called "Over The Top, Life in the Trenches by an American who was There." EXCELLENT read, with a few pictures. Go digging in the used book stores.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

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