load for 44mag rifle and 240 lead bullets


November 25, 2006, 09:56 AM
I recently got a Taurus 44 mag revolver (model 44) and a Marlin 1894 rifle 44mag. These are the first 44mags I've ever owned or loaded for.

I bought the Laser Cast (oregon trail) 240gr hard cast .431 bullets for revolver and rifle both. For the revolver, I loaded up a bunch yesterday, half with 6.0gr win231, and the other half with 6.5gr win231.

My reloading manual (speer 12) doesn't have any lead data for 44mag rifles. I bought some 2400 to use in the rifle. What are some good loads to try in this rifle with a 240gr lead bullet? I'm thinking 18 or 19gr of 2400?

I'm going to buy the Laser Cast reloading book over the web in a few days, but I'd like to try out this rifle for the first time tomorrow at the range. Thanks!

PS: does anybody know if the "Loadbook" for 44mag has data for rifles also?

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November 25, 2006, 10:30 AM
I'm not sure if I need to make any disclaimers about maximum loads or not, but these are straight out of the manuals as listed.

From the Lyman manual, 48th edition:

Pressure limits for this cartridge are the same in rifles or handguns, cast lead bullets tend to foul the pistons in semi autos and are not recommended (figured you knew that). In rifles with shallow multi-grove rifling cast bullet velocity must be held to 1600 fps or less.

240gr #2 alloy (bullet #429667), 1.645" OAL

Start, Max
Titegroup 9.0 gr - 1356 fps, 10.0 gr - 1443 fps
Unique 10 gr - 1332 fps, 11.7 gr - 1482 fps
Herco 10.5 gr - 1362 fps, 11.7 gr - 1450 fps
Blue Dot 13.9 gr - 1447 fps, 15.5 gr - 1589 fps
AA #9 18.2 gr - 1560 fps, 20.2 gr - 1710 fps
2400 18.5 gr - 1574 fps, 20.6 gr - 1686 fps
No pressures are listed for any of the 44mag rifle loads in this manual.

I have noticed some significant differences in max loads between the Hornady and Lyman manuals. For example, 44mag rifle, 240gr JHP, OAL/COL 1.610"
Hornady 2400 18.5gr - 1500 fps, 20.0 gr - 1600 fps, 21.5 gr - 1700 fps, 23.0 gr - 1900 fps
Lyman 2400 18.4 gr - 1479 fps, 20.5gr - 1602 fps

FWIW, the 4th ed. Hornady manual doesn't have any lead bullets listed in the rifle data either.

November 25, 2006, 10:36 AM
Hopefully someone with first hand experience will jump in and correct me if I'm wrong, but when I bought my Marlin 1894 in .41 mag I was advised against using lead bullets in it, something to do with the nature of the rifling I believe.

November 25, 2006, 10:43 AM
hmm... don't know about the rifling thing. My 1894 has "ballard" style cut rifling, which I think is good for lead bullets. I think marlin for a while was using "micro-groove" rifling which is good for jacketed bullets.

they went back to cut rifling due to the popularity of cowboy action shooting and lead bullets.

at least I think... :confused:

Ben Shepherd
November 25, 2006, 11:20 AM
With cut rifling you're fine. Even the microgroove barrels are ok, as long as your alloy is hard enough that it doesn't "strip" in the shallow rifling.

You'll know if it does, because you'll have severe leading and horrible accuracy. If this happens, you need to go to a harder alloy, or slow the slug down.

As for an exact load with a 245 and 2400:

Start at around 18.5 grains and work up from there, but I wouldn't push that revolver much higher than that. You should be around 1300 fps.

November 25, 2006, 11:27 AM
Basic rules of thumb.
If you get leading at the breech there is not enough pressure or to hard an alloy for the pressure of that cartridge.

If you get leading towards the end of the barrel you don't have enough lube or you have exceeded the velocity of that alloy.

If it leads the whole barrel, Punt. Start over.

Ever used poly fillers or wax gas checks. Poly fillers fixed my leading in a Winchester .44 Mag M94 with oversized barrel. (Winchester Super Grex)

November 25, 2006, 11:59 AM
I thought I was the only one using Super Grex as a filler in some cartridges. It's nice to know someone else is, too. I've pushed a 420 grain cast bullet through my 45-120 Sharps at 2100 fps with no leading what so ever by using Super Grex. I've also used it in a hot .41 Magnum load for my Model 57.

It's too bad that Winchester stopped making it available. I bought a whole case just before they discontinued it. Ballistic Products sells something similar, but it's very expensive.

I've got a safe full of Marlins with Micro-groove rifling. As long as the alloy is hard enough, in the range of linotype, it will shoot fine through the Micro-groove barrel. Or if you keep the velocity down around 1500 fps or so.

The Lazer Cast bullets from Oregon Trail are hard, and will shoot just fine in the .44 with Ballard cut rifling.

Hope this helps.


November 25, 2006, 07:39 PM
I see that Laser Cast has their own reloading manual for their bullets. I'm gonna order one.

Earlier today I went ahead and loaded 50 rounds of 44mag for my Marlin 1894. Used the 240gr laser cast bullets, 17gr of 2400, and Lg Pistol primers. Going to the range tomorrow to try it out. Haven't shot the rifle yet.

November 25, 2006, 10:10 PM
I used to load 240 gr Hardcast for my Marlin 1894S and the same bullet for my DW 44VH-8 and VH-4.

I use Winchester brass and 19.5 gr of 2400.
Winchester primers.

My old Marlin is gone now. A friend offered me a large sum of money for it. Like a fool, I sold it. It had the Micro-Groove rifling. It shot this load quite well.

November 26, 2006, 06:02 PM
I blew up an old Ruger 44 carbine with barrel leading from 300 gr Liberty bullets

It peeled the muzzle back like a bannana.

Now I have a heavier Marlin 444 barrel on it with 44mag chamber, but no more lead for me in that rifle.

November 26, 2006, 07:44 PM
Yes the 2400 load works well in both the rifle and pistol .
Do a deep clean with a good copper solvent if you have been shooting jacketed bullets in either gun before shooting lead. I firmly believe that many folks experience with guns/loads that leaded a barrel are actually a pre existing copper fouled barrel not a problem with the lead reload.

November 26, 2006, 07:55 PM
I shot my new Marlin 1894 today for the first time. I had some handloads of 17gr 2400 and the 240gr Laser Cast lead bullets. It shot fine, and functioned fine.

Today was the first time I ever shot a lever gun. I was shooting at 50 yds... if I could have seen the target and sights clearly I would have shot better. Open sights and targets are all a blur to me these days :(

Dave P
November 26, 2006, 08:00 PM
FWIW: my lead pistol bullets are ,429, not .431. Don't know which is best.

November 28, 2006, 10:16 AM
quote: my lead pistol bullets are ,429, not .431. Don't know which is best

When and why would you use .429 .430 .431 for a 44mag?
Ok I admit it this may be a real dumb question, but I thought all 44 mag where .429

Ben Shepherd
November 28, 2006, 11:56 AM
Which is best? Slug YOUR particular gun. Then you'll know. That's why they make them in different sizes. My 44 SRH is a little on the large side, hence it prefers hornady jacketed slugs at .430

November 28, 2006, 01:42 PM
Again sorry for newbe question. How important is it to get a gun slug tested. Is there a big difference. Want is envolved and normally what does something like that run to have done.

Ben Shepherd
November 28, 2006, 01:53 PM
You slug them yourself. The fastest and cheapest way is to go get some fishing sinkers that are just over .431 diameter. Or you can get a barrel slugging kit from places like midway, brownells, etc.

Drive one of them carefully through the barrel with a nylon or wood rod and a mallet. Measure it with a micrometer. Then you know how big your barrel is. Then you know what size slug *should* shoot the best in your gun.

Not critical unless you are after the utmost in accuracy, or suspect an oversize bore.

November 28, 2006, 01:59 PM
Slugging a barrel can be done by almost anyone. It just takes a soft lead slug of slightly more than bore diameter and a wooden dowel slightly smaller than bore diameter. You push the lead slug through the barrel with the dowel, which will involve some type of mallet, as it's going to be a tight fit, with lots of friction.

Once you've driven the slug all the way through the bore, then you measure the widest point across the diameter on the slug and that will tell you the bore diameter. Just make sure your dowel is long enough to drive the slug all the way through the barrel and you have an accurate caliper or micrometer. The reason you use the wooden dowel is so you won't damage the rifling inside the bore. You don't want to ruin a good barrel by using a steel rod to drive that slug through there.

Hope this helps.


November 28, 2006, 02:15 PM
Thank You

I will have to give it a try for my SRH 44. Is a kit like this what I need?


November 28, 2006, 02:16 PM
does it matter if you measure the slug with a micrometer or a dial caliper? I don't have a micrometer.

Ben Shepherd
November 28, 2006, 02:20 PM
Either will work. Just make sure it's accurate.

November 30, 2006, 04:40 PM
Bender--Tell me about it! If you have gotten yourself a levergun treat yourself to a peep sight. You can go with a old timey tang sight or a side mount rieciever type . I like the tang type (Lyman) on my marlin cowboy but it requires a different grip and I had to have a smith drill and tap a mount hole. The side mounts (Lyman,Marbels ect) will match up with the Holes Marlin give you and only takes a screwdriver. The side mount isn't allowed in SASS type Cowboy shoots
You will be amazed how easy it is to shoot well with a peep sight,almost as percise as a scope and faster to find a target.

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