44-40 vs. 45 colt, your thoughts?


Peter M. Eick
November 17, 2005, 07:33 PM
I am thinking about buying a Henry Iron frame replica rifle. They can be had in 44-40 and 45 colt. I reload for neither, so no prior experience. I am looking for plinking loads, probably mostly lead, most likely Lasercast bullets (my favorite).

So if you had to pick based solely on ease or reloading, which one and why?

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November 17, 2005, 07:40 PM
For ease of reloading the .45 Colt beats the .44-40 because of the .44-40's unusual shape. But that said it's still not very difficult to handload the .44-40 and IMHO it's a much better levergun cartridge. The .45 Colt has a TINY rim and was never intended to be used in any levergun. The .44-40 is a true levergun carbine cartridge. I've had several leverguns in .45 Colt and had nothing but trouble with them.

November 17, 2005, 09:16 PM
I've heard that 44-40 is more difficult to reload because the thin walls of the brass buckle easily. Never tried it myself.

45 colt is easy to reload, and my marlin 1894 cowboy has never given me any trouble.


November 18, 2005, 06:43 AM
I've got .44-40 & .45 Colt. As above, .44-40 is paper thin. I use lube on the cases so they don't buckle. Even if they're clean, I have trouble in my Colt SAA with the cylinder binding when they back out after firing

My .45 is a Ruger Bisley and I've got a Rossi lever gun. The Ruger is my #1 pistol to shoot. I've run maybe 30 rounds thru the Rossi with no problems.

From what I've read here and TFL, many guys that have .44-40's end up going to the .45


November 18, 2005, 10:50 AM
IMHO and based on my thousands of 45 Colt reloads fired in Rugers and Marlins, go with the 45 Colt. Easy to load, works perfect (with correct bullets). If you are going to just casual shoot, try the 44-40 for old time sake. It does work good, just more prone to reloading problems.

November 18, 2005, 11:24 AM
I have multiple .45 Colts in S&W, Ruger and Marlin. It is an easy cartridge to load, can be load mild, medium for everything I have and even loaded hot for the Rugers and the Marlin. I have cases that I've loaded at least 10 times. If you load different bullets you'll want extra seating dies.

November 18, 2005, 12:22 PM
Another vote for .45 Colt. Very versatile round with a wide range of available bullet sizes and loads. You can build everything from mouse phart to hard core wart hog thumpers. Easy and inexpensive to reload and the brass will last practicaly forever.

Peter M. Eick
November 18, 2005, 07:28 PM
Thanks guys.

The historic viewpoint is go with the 44-40 mostly because it is more "right" and the blowback problem.

The practical viewpoint says 45 colt because it is easier to reload although I have read that the case rim is an issue because it is so small in the case holder.

The pragmatic view (mine) is I have to travel for a few weeks and I hope the guns are still there when I get back in mid december, otherwise the decision might be made by someone else.

Thanks again!

November 22, 2005, 10:07 PM
I've loaded a few thousand .44-40 cartridges, with smokeless and black powder, and capped with a lead bullet.
Never had one case collapse. But then, I take the time to guide the case and bullet into the die.
Some guys just place the bullet on the case and slam the case up into the die. This kind of ham-handed handloading will get you crumpled cases.
Another problem is failing to fully bell the .44-40 mouth. The bullet should be 1/8 inch into the case when it's belled.
I also load .45 Colt for my Ruger Blackhawk and a Colt 1st generation Single Action Army made in 1874 (the latter with black powder only). Never crumped a case reloading these, either.
About the only cases I've crumpled are .32 Long Colt and .38 Special but it hasn't been often.
From what I've observed, if you're crumpling cases: bell the case mouth a little more, slow down a bit, and guide the case and unseated bullet into the die with a little care.

November 24, 2005, 07:37 AM
My 2 bits worth. If your just starting out reloading, the 45 is way to go. I ruined a bunch of 44-40 cases until the learned the trick of reloading for the wcf. I now shoot 44wcf about 50% of the time and reload for it on a continuing basis. I prefer 44-40 over 45, just feels right to me.

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