44-40 Reloading Tools Help/Suggestions


Foto Joe
December 5, 2010, 10:06 AM
I will soon be adding a Schofield Model 3 in 44-40 to the family. I'm totally unfamiliar with loading anything except straight case cartridges i.e., 38 S&W, 38 Spl, 44 Spl, 44 Russian & 45 Colt. All in Black Powder I might add so I use only lead. Consequently all my dies are carbide and I don't use case lube of any sort.

I would appreciate it if someone would clue me in to any tricks or traps I need to watch for with "Bottle Neck" brass, and what I might need in addition to the dies such as lube etc. I've heard good things about Lee Alox but have never touched the stuff.

Thanks for the help.

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December 5, 2010, 10:31 AM
Lee Alox is bullet lube, not for the case sizing. I use RCBS case lube on a pad. For a bottle neck, seat and crimp in seperate operations, less chance of colapsing a shoulder.

December 5, 2010, 11:29 AM
I have loaded a bunch of 44-40, and have found
Imperial sizing wax hard to beat. You take a little
and rub it between thumb and index finger.
You can usually do two or three cases before
needing more wax. It may seem tedious to do
it this way, but once you get the hang of it,
they go pretty quick.

I am loading Goex 2F, and sometimes will add some
cream of wheat on top of the powder, depending
on who will be shooting them. I have not found
a full charge of Goex too hard to handle, especially
out of a rifle. Cream of wheat does tame it a bit.

Watch how much crimp you put on those rounds.
Too much, and you will bulge the round and it will
not chamber. If you are using a bullet with a crimp
groove, all the better. Use just enough crimp to
keep the bullet from going forward. It will not go
back because the powder is keeping it from doing so.

Lastly, slug the bore, and size the bullets accordingly.
Most reproduction guns have a .429 or .430 bore.
If you try to load .427 bullets, they will lead unless
they are soft enough to obturate in the bore.

Have fun, take your time and enjoy loading this
fun old round. The case mouths are thin, and
if you get in a hurry, are easily damaged.

December 5, 2010, 09:48 PM
Also you cannot use a smokeless powder measure for blackpowder. It can spark and blow your bench to hell. Blackpowder measures have brass mechanisms.

December 6, 2010, 08:34 AM
You will need some lube on the inside of the case neck,apply with a nylon brush. Cleans and lubes the neck at the same time. Special dies for loading lead bullets might help. http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=414634&t=11082005

Jesse Heywood
December 6, 2010, 04:48 PM
I haven't loaded 44-40, but have been doing 32-20, which has a thinner case wall and is easily damaged. For case lube I have been using Frankford Arsenal spray. http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=204960
A very light spritz on the necks and a minute to dry. Case bulges are few and far between.

For crimping I switched from a roll to the Lee FCD. For a bottleneck round it's a bunch easier.

December 6, 2010, 06:07 PM
I load some 44-40 but I have loaded tens of thousands of 38-40, essentially the same round.

I use the RCBS "cowboy" dies. Dillon spray on lube. Goex or Trailboss.

Tumble clean after every firing, using very small granules of media.

Lightly crimp into the groove.

Despite the warnings about the thin case necks I have damaged only about 5 cases out of loading a thousand cases maybe 25 times.

Brass seems to last forever, which is good because it's not cheap.

December 6, 2010, 06:13 PM
It takes very little work to resize the pistol-length WCF's. There's no need to go through the whole process of lubing like you do with high velocity bottleneck rifle cases. All you need is a little oil on a rag. Just wipe the case, leaving a fine film and resize. Not even really any need to wipe it off.

I have also never had any issues with seating and crimping at once. My experience has been with the .32-20 and .38-40.

Jim Watson
December 7, 2010, 10:28 AM
You can resize .44-40 dry for that matter. I did that until I scratched up a sizing die with insufficiently clean brass. Better to tumble thoroughly and apply a LIGHT squirt of Hornady One Shot or Dillon Spray lube.

I have a TiN coated die that sizes them dry with little effort but it does not size quite small enough for good bullet pull.

Foto Joe
December 10, 2010, 08:35 AM
Okay guys this has been a big help. I've loaded a bunch of straight case pistol cases but the 44-40 is gonna be a new learning curve I'm sure.

I'm surprised by the number of responses from those who actually load Black Powder in cartridges. I haven't researched the historical load but I'm assuming that it was 40gr 2f or 3f. I'm curious to know from those of you who load "Real Gunpowder" what charge you're using for the 44-40?

Typically for my 45 Colt rounds I load a "Gallery" type load with only 20gr 3f and a 150gr bullet, I found that the 40gr loads with a RNFP sting pretty good when they go off. Everything else I pretty much go with a historical load, but then again a 44 Russian or 44 Special doesn't hold too much powder.

December 11, 2010, 12:09 PM
Speaking of blackpowder...I have a Win 1876 in 45-75 that I load with BP. Now that's a rush to fire. Kaboom!

December 11, 2010, 06:57 PM
Foto, you would have a difficult time getting 40 grains of black
into a modern case. The original loading was loaded with balloon
head cases. Modern brass will hold less powder. It may be possible
with a compression die, but I have never tried it.

I am loading 30 grains of 2f in mine, or as I said in my above post,
less powder with cream of wheat. 30 grains gives a nice amount
of recoil.

Foto Joe
December 12, 2010, 08:52 AM
As it turns out, I am one of those "Compression Die" people. I bought a cheap one from Track and it works(ed) okay, but then I turned around and bought a real one from MidwayUSA. For BP cartridges that one works very good and I think it was worth the $40 price tag.

My reasoning was I wanted to chronograph historical loads to find out just what they did. With the 45 Colt I was suitably impressed to say the least. But who needs 1200fps in reality for plinking. Besides they will eat you out of powder in a hurry. I haven't chronographed the 44 Special yet mainly because every time I go out to shoot I'm usually packing more than one other person, grandson, son-in-law, daughter etc.

The 44 Special I've been loading with 26gr 3f Swiss and a 205 RNFP and feeding them to a '94 Marlin. The interesting thing about those is it's less powder than I use in a Dragoon but that long barrel makes for some real zingers when they hit a gong. I will more than likely use about the same load for the 44-40's once I get things dialed in.

December 12, 2010, 09:09 PM
Not much difference from the straight wall cases really. The necks are a little thinner so be careful when you size. I use a bullet with a large crimp groove to keep the bullet in place for a 1873 Winchester. A little Imperial wax works great for a lube. Trail Boss will make a nice load for your revolver. Just my .02. BTW, what gun were you using for 1200 fps with BP in the 45 Colt? Also what compressed charge and bullet? Is your 44 Spl BP load compressed?

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