44-40 and 32-40 in the good old days....


October 2, 2009, 12:06 PM
....they were considered very effective deer cartridges.

In their original loadings, their ME level is between 1/3 and half of a modern 30-30 round...not too mention that bullet technology was primitive 120-130 years ago compared to today's standard.

In an era when a 30-30 is considered by many "marginal" on deer, nobody would even dream to take one of these 2 oldies in the field anymore.

I ask the expert hunters....What has changed?? Distance of engagement were reduced, on average, compared to toda'sy typical 30 WCF range? Hunters were losing more game because of missed/ineffective shots? There was less emphasis on "ethical" one shot kill? They were more effective stalkers or it was easier to stalk?

Same thing for the original 45-70 trapdoor loads.....The Sharps slayed milions of buffalo....however the ME of these loads (~ 1500-1600 ft/lb) would make laugh a modern day serious buffalo hunter...probably an original trapdoor would not even be accepted by the guides in a typical canned buffalo hunt.

Again, what are the differences between our great-great-granfather times and our time...shooting distances? Less ethical shots and/or more lost game? Better stalking abilities/opportunities?

As non hunter I'm interested to know more about how the discipline and techniques evolved over time.


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October 2, 2009, 12:34 PM
A few quick comments:

I own and shoot a 38-40 and a 32-40 Winchester. I think that we as a people are obsessed with more, bigger, better. As far as techniques and discipline are concerned I think that they have declined.

An open sighted rifle is a short range weapon, not more than 100 yds and you really need to know the ballistics of the cartridge. Peep sights will extend that range. I have taken successful 150+yd shots with a peep sighted 7x57.

The .32-40 is one of the most accurate cartridges ever.

You might read this: http://www.chuckhawks.com/32-40WCF.htm

I have loved shooting both of these cartridges in the past and am returning to this.


October 2, 2009, 12:48 PM
I think the old timers were better hunters because for the most part, they lived closer to nature by necessity.

A lot of them lived & worked in the outdoors as farmers, ranchers, loggers, and cowboys.
Country folks and a lot of city folks even went out back to use the outhouse every morning!

It ain't no trick to pop a deer in the head with a 25-20 WCF if you see the same deer every day standing and looking at you while you feed the cattle & horses, or go to do your business.

I also think the demand for more power & range occurred following both WWI and WWII.
The large majority of young men served during the two wars, and learned what the bolt action 30-06 could do.
When they returned home, they were no longer satisfied with the old lever-action Winchester.

And generations of sportsmen have been brainwashed by the shooting press over the years. The gun writers in 1920 were already sneering at the old pop-guns and any real man would get at least a 30-40 Krag sporter. Later a .270 Model 70, and still later the latest Mangle'm Magnum they get paid to write about.


October 2, 2009, 01:05 PM
Why were 44-40 and 32-40 considered good deer rounds once but not now?

Well, it's true that the deer haven't grown armor since then so they haven't changed. But just about every thing else has. Seasons are shorter, hunting pressure is heavier and most importantly, rifle cartridges have gotten a lot better since black powder days.

People hunted with the 44-40 and 32-40 because they were among the best cartridges they had then. That's no longer even remotely true. I'm not saying you need a 338 magnum for deer, but would a 257 Roberts be too much to ask? A 260 Rem? A 7x57?

October 2, 2009, 03:12 PM
I ask the expert hunters....What has changed??

There are too many arm chair commandos who don't have a freaking clue as to what heck they are talking about. That's what has changed. :banghead:

The 30-30 is marginal on Deer?? *** are they talking about. I've killed well into double digits of deer with a 30-30 over the years and they were all DRT. If you can't kill a deer with a 30-30 you need to stop spending so much time on the internetz and spend some more time at the range.

The 44-40, 38-40 and 32-40 were carried by men who mostly knew the limitations of their rifles and hunted within those limitations.

If your trying to make a 500yrd shot with one... guess what? YOU ARE WRONG.

October 2, 2009, 03:41 PM
They had a couple of firearms and knew how to use them. Not buying a gun a week before season and then sell it after season. As stated above, we are told we need the magnums when in reality we need to know when to let it walk. just my .02

October 2, 2009, 04:17 PM
If your trying to make a 500yrd shot with one... guess what? YOU ARE WRONG.

Well many experienced hunters told me that 400 yards should be the very maximum distance for a shot, in particularly difficult terrain, no matter who you are or what kind of equipment (rifle/scope) your carry...beyond that range the potential for error goes up exponentially, and you should let it go..

They said that there is not such things as a 700 yards elk rifle simply because you should never take that kind of shot...

October 2, 2009, 04:37 PM
nobody would even dream to take one of these 2 oldies in the field anymore.

Hello. I just want to introduce myself. My new name must be nobody. (Well at least two years ago it was.) I went through a full season and only hunted with an original Win. 92 (both SRC and rifle at seperate times) or an original Trapdoor (both carbine and rifle at seperate times). It was the most enjoyable season I'd had in a long time.


Oops! I mean nobody:D

October 2, 2009, 04:41 PM

Funny how the older I get, the more aches & pains I get, and the more enjoyable those old weak and "worthless" lever-action calibers get!


October 2, 2009, 04:56 PM

Oops! I mean nobody

Have you ever heard of that old Western movie classic called "My name is nobody"? :D:evil::neener:

October 2, 2009, 04:56 PM
Here in the Alaskan arctic, 25-20 was extreamly popular.

PolarBears to Marmots, and all inbetween.

At the turn of the century, some guys still had Bows and arrows in case they couldnt trade for shells or reloading supplys.

25-20 and bigger were definitly a step up from Bows.

Alot of my fellow subsistance hunters use .223 to great effect, all year long.

Whats changed from then? Fewer hunters. Fewer people are familiar with proper shot placement and relying on some gun magizine promotion to have "Shock , Boom and awe" to kill 'em dead.

Old timers knew exactly where to hit them, so caliber didnt matter.
Still, placement is just about the only "Sure kill"

Its mostly industry hype is all "Buy this latest gun/cartridge/brand "bull****.

Its been 103 years.....and still, NOTHING has better'd the 30-06 as a high performance round, YET, (if ever) and I dont see anything getting close........but I am partial to the .243w........:D

October 2, 2009, 07:27 PM
From Milton Farrows Book, "How I became a Crack Shot", published 1882, the western "hunters and scouts" were awful shots. Read page 98-99.

These guys crawled up as close as they could, rested their rifles on stump, tree, rock, bush, and shot.

Mr. Farrow had a 200 yard competition at Fort Keough using a four feet wide by six feet high target. "and in many cases did the hunters and scouts astonish the celebrated shot and themselves, at the ease and frequency with which they could miss, not only the bull's eye, but the entire target."

The people who used these rounds, they shot up close. Real close. Or they missed.

jim in Anchorage
October 2, 2009, 07:58 PM
rifle cartridges have gotten a lot better since black powder days.

I think that sums it up. Not lot of model Ts on the road, ether.

October 3, 2009, 08:50 PM
How many people hunt with a .357 pistol?

Anybody think that a 44-40 or a 38-40 rifle is less powerful or less accurate?

Or that a .44 mag pistol beats a 45-70 rifle?

What's changed is our perception. Yes, there are many better cartridges now, but that doesn't mean that the old ones stopped working.

You definately have to work harder and get closer and be extremely carefull with shot placement, but please don't say they don't work.

However, in the old days as previously stated, some people didn't have quite the same ethics about letting wounded animals get away.

Read about Teddy Roosevelt and you'll find he was notorious for taking ridiculously long shots and then just turning away, not caring if he hit or not. Supposedly drove the the guides crazy in Africa.

He did fill the American Museum of Natural History in NY, of which he was a founder, with African animals though. He shot just about all you see when you visit, including the elephants.

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