36 vs. 44 Caliber Cap and Ball


October 5, 2008, 01:53 PM
Which caliber would be more lethal within 20 yards?

I know the physics would say the greater mass will win. However, with BP, the only force acting on it is the initial explosion and its the concussive force only that is driving it down the barrel.

Given a Model 1858 in both calibers at full grain load (I'm not sure the exact amount, say 20-25 grains) Would the extra mass of the .44 reduce the effectiveness of the round or would the lethality be greater with the increased mass but slower speed?

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October 5, 2008, 02:16 PM
.44 revolvers hold more powder that the .36's, so a better way to formulate your question is, which is more lethal WITH the exact powder load and from the same barrel lenght?

October 5, 2008, 02:19 PM
Most will agree that the bigger the bullet at the velocities we are talking about will create a bigger wound channel, more damage resulting in more blood loss. But, as far as what is lethal and what is incapacitating will be dependent on shot placement and what is struck. A shot to the fleshy part of the extremities will not be as effective as one to the brain. Major bone structures will put a person down and past that your looking at arteries and vital organs where a person could continue to take action for a minute or more.

Shoot accurate - Shoot till the threat no longer exist - Don't count on one shot stops regardless of calibre.

Eric F
October 5, 2008, 02:58 PM
44 revolvers hold more powder that the .36's more powder does not=more speed with a mass increase. But it could it depends upon how much more powder. Bottom line is both have killed and 1 shot stops are possible but not reliable.

October 5, 2008, 05:26 PM
Right. They will both stick a deep hole in you and the rest depends on where the hole is and luck

Marlin 45 carbine
October 5, 2008, 05:47 PM
the .44 '58 Remmy will hold 32gr 3F and an overpowder wad then a Lee mold slug.
I have personally shot this load through a jack pine that stopped a .357 mag 125 gr sjhp.
sort of like comparing apples and oranges I suppose but just says the .44 C&B revolvers do have some clout.
I have the 'Buffalo Hunter' 12" bbl model w/a stainless steel cylinder.

October 5, 2008, 06:13 PM
more powder does not=more speed

Perhaps not BUT More Mass at the same speed will to more damage.

147 gr. @ 800 FPS > 88 gr. @ 800 FPS.

October 5, 2008, 08:53 PM
Like was mentioned before one shot stops are possible but not reliable & that multiple shots into a single target may be necessary even with the most powerful of handguns but many will say "I mayself included" that a larger more heavier bullet gives the shooter more of a chance to inflict a more incapcitating wound than a smaller & lighter bullet.

With that said though I also agree that shot placement is key in either scenerio to a sucessful incapacitating hit to the target.

My Pietta '58 Remmy W/ 5-1/2" barrel likes a 30gr. FFFG Goex & a 220gr. .456 Lee Conical load, spits them out at around 700fps. & 240ft. lbs. which I would say is quite deadly, I'm not sure what kind of penetration it would have exactly but it will penetrate through almost 24 inches of compressed cardboard & magazines at 15 yards.

October 5, 2008, 09:18 PM
One other questions on loading preference.

I load my cylinders powder, lubed wad, ball. Does everyone do it this way or do you load powder, ball, wad?

October 5, 2008, 09:29 PM
The wad goes between the powder and ball. If your not using a wad - most put some type of lube (Crisco, etc...) on top of the ball.

October 5, 2008, 09:32 PM
IF you are using a lubed wad, the preferred method is powder, wad, ball.

October 5, 2008, 09:38 PM
That's what I do, just curious. The reason I ask is I currently have a 1851 Confederate Navy and was looking to get a Model 1858. I already have the .44 so I'm debating if I should stick with it or get a .36

October 5, 2008, 09:42 PM
Here is what Randolph Marcy had to say in The Prairie Traveler (http://www.kancoll.org/books/marcy/machap05.htm) in 1859:

Notwithstanding Colt's army and navy sized revolvers have been in use for a long time in our army, officers are by no means of one mind as to their relative merits for frontier service. The navy pistol, being more light and portable, is more convenient for the belt, but it is very questionable in my mind whether these qualities counterbalance the advantages derived from the greater weight of powder and lead that can be fired from the larger pistol, and the consequent increased projectile force.

This point is illustrated by an incident which fell under my own observation. In passing near the "Medicine-Bow Butte" during the spring of 1858, I most unexpectedly encountered and fired at a full-grown grizzly bear; but, as my horse had become somewhat blown by a previous gallop, his breathing so much disturbed my aim that I missed the animal at the short distance of about fifty yards, and he ran off. Fearful, if I stopped to reload my rifle, the bear would make his escape, I resolved to drive him back to the advanced guard of our escort, which I could see approaching in the distance; this I succeeded in doing, when several mounted men, armed with the navy revolvers, set off in pursuit. They approached within a few paces, and discharged ten or twelve shots, the most of which entered the animal, but he still kept on, and his progress did not seem materially impeded by the wounds. After these men had exhausted their charges, another man rode up armed with the army revolver, and fired two shots, which brought the stalwart beast to the ground. Upon skinning him and making an examination of the wounds, it was discovered that none of the balls from the small pistols had, after passing through his thick and tough hide, penetrated deeper than about an inch into the flesh, but that the two balls from the large pistol had gone into the vitals and killed him. This test was to my mind a decisive one as to the relative efficiency of the two arms for frontier service, and I resolved thenceforth to carry the larger size.

October 5, 2008, 10:05 PM
Sistema1927, I just got that book off of Amazon about a month ago - great read. A lot of neat areas are covered. Unique insights into the Western Frontier.

October 5, 2008, 10:07 PM
If your hunting grizzly bear, the 36 caliber is a poor choice. But in the 19th century the 36 caliber Colt Navy was the pistol preferred by many of the men who saw a lot of action in the civil war and on the Western frontier. Its really just a matter of personal preference.

October 5, 2008, 10:08 PM
well its been driven home here so many times that when it comes to handgun wound charecteristics, the only thing you have to count on is permanent wound channel. bigger and object passing through tissue and bone, the bigger the hole you get.

Elbert P . Suggins
October 6, 2008, 12:26 AM
Just this spring after butchering pigs, and before discarding the guts, I took three heads and used them for target practice most of the afternoon. I didn't use a 36 cal. but I used a Pietta 58 Remington pushing a .454 roundball and 30 grains of Goex. I got consistent deep penetration at ten feet but no exit wounds except one instance where I believe that ball followed the path of one previous. And all penetrated deep into brain tissue after going thru a pretty thick skull. In fact the 3rd pig I dropped with the 44 between the eyes instead of the usual 22 hollowpoint. By the way you got to try pork sausage links made up with Halapeno and Cheddar. Beyond description!

October 6, 2008, 07:03 AM
Last August I fired a Ruger Old Army at the metal insert of a Second Chance vest. This link will bring you to the pics. I also fired a .36 at it from the same distance, but I can't find the pic. The .36 dent was much smaller.


October 6, 2008, 07:35 PM
At these velocities, it's all about hole size, most other things being equal. I'd rather have a .44 miss me than a .36 hit me, but if put in the same place the subject is likely to bleed out faster after a .44 caliber hit.

October 6, 2008, 11:41 PM
I believe that history records the answer. During the Philippine Insurection the Moros were wraping their bodies in muslin before an attacl. The .36 cal werent doing their job. A larger bore pistol was brought to the fight. I believe it was an R&S .44 It stopped the Morros. When they were hit they went down. That was in a history that I read a long time ago.

October 7, 2008, 05:08 AM
Actually it was a little more recent than you think Snaggletooth, 1899-1902 & we were using a Dubble Action Colt Revolver chambered in the .38 Long Colt & then they reissued the Colt 1873 SAA in .45 Colt in responce to the insignificant stoping power of the then standard side arm & load.

October 7, 2008, 07:43 PM
My old memory comes and goes on somethings. Think Im getting senile. I know I have senior moments. That was in a Marine Corps history book. I thought it was the R&S but your correct. I know that a 1911 Colt will thru and thru in the chest. I was USMC 1950 til 1971

Claude Clay
October 7, 2008, 07:52 PM
36 vrs 44
9 vrs 45

whats coming next to debate should be interesting

October 7, 2008, 08:30 PM
The fact that the debate goes back to cap & ball days should tell us sommething... ;)

BTW, although everyone here knows this already, for the record, 9mm is ~.36 caliber (.355, to be exact, vs. .357).

October 7, 2008, 08:35 PM
.31 cal wins all hands down. Buy a Remington pocket if you want serious firepower. Watch out for the recoil though, you need man wrists to shoot it.

October 7, 2008, 10:39 PM
The fact that the debate goes back to cap & ball days should tell us sommething...

BTW, although everyone here knows this already, for the record, 9mm is ~.36 caliber (.355, to be exact, vs. .357).

9mm is .355 yes.
.36 is .375 not .357 in the time of these weapons & prior the caliber was measured by the lands diameter "Bore diameter" not by the grove diameter like todays standards.

A .44 caliber C&B revolver would nominally have a lands diameter of .440 but a grove diameter of approximatly .450 like a .36 caliber would nomially have a lands diameter of .360ish & a grove diameter in the .370's

October 8, 2008, 12:59 AM
Technically it's 9mmKurtz vs 9mm vs .380auto vs 38spl vs .357mag vs 44spl vs 44mag vs .45Auto vs ect...:evil:


October 8, 2008, 11:53 AM
Smokin Gun,

9mm Kurz is .380ACP and is 9mm Curto and is 9x17mm.

-Bob Hollingsworth

October 8, 2008, 02:34 PM
Noooo ... Really? HeeHee!

Don't stop there keep goin'..... here try these if you get tired of modern, this is a BP forum right?

.31 to .32, to .36c&b to .38 Colt, to .44c&b to .44 Colt to .44 Rem, to .45 Schofield to .45 Colt, to .46 Rem rimmed....


October 9, 2008, 12:32 PM
I read some accounts of the Phillipines were the 45 LC was up to the task only about half the time. The Krags were about as good as the 38 LC, and the best was a 12 gauge.

Drug induced frenzy is tough to stop.

October 10, 2008, 06:08 AM
I'd like to go back to some statements made in the thread starter. An assumption is made that the bullets are propelled by an initial explosion of black powder and then carried down the bore by their momentum. While I don't think that the pressure curve of black powder is as long as smokeless, I don't think that the bullet is propelled by an explosion, but by pressure from initial ignition continuing throughout all or most of its travel down the barrel.

Second, the way the post is worded I get the impression that it was believed powder charges for the 36 and 44 calibers are equal. That is incorrect, the larger caliber was/is shot with a greater powder charge.

The story about the grizzly bear demonstrates the importance of penetration into critical body organs for putting down game animals or men. By the way, the Army pistols mentioned were the Colt Dragoons, more powerful than the 1860 Colt or Remingtons.

October 10, 2008, 08:45 AM
i'll agree with tomahawk,last winter my son and i were hunting up in the mountains,a large black bear popped up out of nowhere and i went to fire my 45-70 marlin and it jammed,luckily i had my .31 pocket remmi on me,i fired it at the bear breakin my wrist insatanly!,the bullet went straight through the bears left eye instantly killing him and droppin him to the ground.my son and i embraced as we were saved by that lil beast,and than i proceded to walk across water and heal the sick in the next town over!


mike(the luckiest man alive)

David A Teague
October 10, 2008, 02:17 PM
Hello All,

While the 44 would have more stopping power, there were quite a few gun hands that used the 36 cal Navy in post Civil War America. It was for the guns quick pointibility & light weight.

Wild Bill Hickok quickly comes to mind for 2 reasons. First, his use of a brace of percussion Colt 1851s Navies (after cartridge conversions were available) until his death in 2nd August, 1876. Second, the fact that he'd shot and killed a number of men in fair and not so fair fights during his lifetime. If it was just about stopping power he would have used 44 or 45 cal handguns (However I've read the gun he shot David Tutt with on 21st July, 1865 was a 44 Cal Colt Dragoon... he even used both hands, sigh...).

Well, what it really came down to is the old proverb "whoever gets there firstest with the mostest" wins.


David Teague

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