NEED HELP-reloading manuals have very limited data


Tall Pine
December 27, 2006, 07:03 PM
I'm obviously a newb reloader, just getting setup. I got my Lymans #48 and Speer #13 reloading manuals and was surprised at how little data was supplied for my caliber, the good 'ole 44-40. I am beginning to read them from page 1 and maybe I'll find an answer. Maybe there is a formula or rule of thumb to use.

My question is how does one determine the EXACT starting point for the amount of grains to use, for the size lead you are reloading and the powder you are using. I can reload 160, 180, 200, 205, 230, and up and these manuals only have info on 2 of them at best. And they also do not show all available powder options. I have just ordered the IMR and Hodgdon guides to see if they give the detail I am looking for.

Can anyone shed some light? Thanks,

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December 27, 2006, 07:30 PM
Tall Pine,
The good old 44/40 was originally a a black powder round and limited in application. There are many cartridges that fall into that group and shooters don't seem to experiment with them. Modern cartridges lend themselves to tinkering and you will find more data than you know what to do with and you will find alot of different data for the same powder/bullet combinations. The 44/40 will serve you well using the data you have found.
Load it, shoot it and love it, it is a good old friend.

Tall Pine
December 27, 2006, 08:10 PM
Thanks redmist. But lets just say I want to load smaller lead to reduce my felt recoil for shooting CAS. None of the books show how much powder to use. There has to be a better answer. I can buy lead as light as 160 gr. The books only show data for 200 or 205 gr lead.

Wouldn't I want to use less powder than what is listed if I am relaoding a smaller bullet what the book shows? If yes, how much? Is there a formula to re-calc thepowder quantity?

I of course will start out using the data provided, but I know I'll want to customize before too long. Thanks,


December 27, 2006, 09:02 PM
Tall Pine try these links out. They should be able to help.

December 27, 2006, 09:11 PM
The stadard bullet weight for the 44-40(44WCF) is a 200 gr bullet which was the original black powder bullet load. The starting charge of either Bullseye or 231 shown in your manuals will give a mild load with light recoil. You may be able to go on line and get additional 44-40 "cowboy loading data" for Hodgdon also. Remember if your revolver is a fixed sighted one like the Ruger Vaquero and you change to a much lighter bullet , your gun may not shoot to point of aim any longer.

Tall Pine
December 27, 2006, 09:51 PM
Thanks RustyFN. Looks like they have some of what Im looking for.

Loadedround: Can you tell me more about the point of aim problem? I am shooting fixed sight Ruger, but at targets within 20 yards or so. Are you saying the bullet will take a significantly different flight path with a lighter bullet (within 20 yards)?

December 27, 2006, 10:12 PM
My Hornady manual has loads for modern firearms designed for smokeless powder only for 180gr and 200gr bullets only.

Here's a couple for you to compare:
180gr HP/XTP, C.O.L. 1.600"
Unique - Min 8.2gr (900fps) - 10.4gr Max (1150 fps)

WIN WSF - Min 8.7gr (900fps) - 11.1gr Max (1150 fps)

2400 - Min 16.5gr (1000fps) - 18.2gr Max (1250 fps)

200gr HP/XTP, C.O.L. 1.600"
Unique - Min 7.3gr (800fps) - 9.8gr Max (1050 fps)

WIN WSF - Min 7.4gr (800fps) - 10.0gr Max (1050 fps)

2400 - Min 14.3gr (900fps) - 16.2gr Max (1100 fps)

AA #9 - Min 14.1gr (900fps) - 16.9gr Max (1150 fps)

December 28, 2006, 12:44 PM
The heavier bullet A.-moves slower and B. generates more recoil which has longer to act because the bullet is moving slower. You will probably experience a noticable change in the point of impact at 20 yds but it should also be consistent for a given loading thus you can adjust your poa.

Father Knows Best
December 28, 2006, 01:54 PM
I load many thousands of rounds of 44-40 every year for cowboy shooting, and have been doing so for a long time. My first piece of advice -- forget about superlight bullets. The 44-40 works best with bullets in the 200-225 grain range, with 180 being the absolute minimum. Anything smaller than that is essentially a washer and not a bullet. I use 205's, myself. If you find the recoil from a lightly loaded 44-40 with 200 grain bullets to be too much for you, change to something like .38 or .32.

As for bullet impact -- yes, bullet weight plays a major role in point of impact with revolvers. Heavier bullets impact higher than lighter bullets. As 308win was explaining, a heavier bullet impacts higher for two reasons. First, it generates more recoil force. Second, the bullet accelerates slower. Combines, that increased means the barrel climbs more between the time you pull the trigger and the bullet leaves the barrel. I did some experimentation with my cowboy revolvers about a year ago and discovered that a 240 grain bullet impacted a good three inches higher than a 200 grain bullet at 7 yards. That's a difference that is big enough to notice even in cowboy shooting.

Fixed sight revolvers (like most cowboy guns) are typically designed with high blades that result in shots printing low, so you can file the front sight blade down to bring point of impact up to point of aim with your preferred load. Once you do that, though, changing your load much with result in revolvers that no longer shoot to point of aim. A small change in propellant charge and velocity won't have much effect, but even small changes in bullet weight can cause major shifts in point of impact.

A good "mild" smokeless load for 44-40 is a 200-205 grain bullet over 4.3 grains of Clays. It should produce around 600-700 fps depending on barrel length.

Of course, the 44-40 is one of the all-time great black powder cartridges, and really should be stuffed full of the Holy Black propellant. My standard cowboy action load is a 205 grain "Big Lube" bullet lubed with 50/50 over 35 grains of Goex fffg and lit by a WLP primer. It gives a nice satisfying boom instead of the wimpy "crack" of smokeless powder.

One last point -- 44-40 can be tricky to load for several reasons. The biggest is the bullet size issue. Originally, 44-40 firearms had .425-.426 bores and used .426-427 bullets. Factory 44-40 ammo is still loaded with 426-427 bullets. A few decades ago, however, many gun manufacturers started using .44 Special/Magnum barrels on their "44-40" firearms. Those barrels are .4295, and do best with .429-430 bullets (.430 in lead). Uberti, for instance, has used nothing but .4295 barrels for at least the last several decades. The only way to be sure is to slug your barrels. If you're not sure, .428 lead bullets are a decent compromise, but don't go over .427 in jacketed without slugging.

44-40 also has very thin case mouths that can be prone to crumpling if you over-crimp. Take your time to set your dies up carefully.

December 28, 2006, 03:16 PM

This might help. All the powder companies have online data.

Jim Watson
December 28, 2006, 03:36 PM
If you want to fool around with it, try a 180 grain bullet with the same powder charge as for a low end 200 grain load. You might be able to feel a slight difference in recoil.

Formulae for precise computation of loads are not really available. It is mostly empirical; the powder and bullet companies just have more equipment.

Master Blaster
December 28, 2006, 03:44 PM
After about 10 years of reloading and many tens of thousands of rounds,

I have learned one thing

The folks who make up the reloading manuals Lyman, Speer, Hornady...

They really do know what they are doing. The loads they list are safe and they do work. The experience these folks have is many times greater than my expertise.

If they are listing certain loads its because they work.

I use the components and loads in the manuals, I stay within the recommended ranges and use the recommended powder and components.

They really do know what they are doing...


Father Knows Best
December 28, 2006, 04:23 PM
Master Blaster ... +1. Well said.

December 28, 2006, 06:34 PM
You might also want to try Trail Boss ( in that .44-40. I really like it in .45 Colt.

December 31, 2006, 07:44 AM
Tall Pine: It is a ballistic fact that different bullet weights will shoot to different points of aim. What I and the others have suggested is to stick to a standard bullet weight for your this case, 200 grs and adjust your powder charges accordingly.

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