Reloading for .44 Mag Rifles and Revolvers


December 27, 2003, 03:05 PM
Looking for some advice from any of you that reload for both .44mag rifles and revolvers. I just acquired a Marlin 1894 .44mag lever action for xmas, so I'm not familiar with .44 rifle ballistics yet. I currently reload for my Super Blackhawk. I generally make two different loads: a target load, usually close to .44 Special power using 200 or 240gr lead, and a hunting load (not that I've hunted with it yet, but I have high hopes of nailing a pig with a revolver someday) with 240gr lead or jacketed, usually pushing close to the max load in the manual for whatever powder I'm using.

Regarding the rifle: is there any reason not to use the same reloads I use for the revolver? Do any of you find they like / don't like lead or any specific bullet shapes (both from the shooting and feeding aspect)? I'd really like to make it easy on myself and just use the same cartridges for both rifle and revolver, but am always up for experimenting with a new batch of bullets. :)

And for my not reloading, but bandwidth saving bonus question: Has anyone who owns a Marlin found any feeding issues when shooting .44 Special instead of .44mag? Mostly a curiosity question since I'm more prone to shoot reduced .44 mag loads, but just in case a box of .44 Specials ever finds its way into my hands... :)

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December 27, 2003, 05:24 PM
Marlin 1894 and Redhawk in 44Mag here. Reason I got the Marlin in 44Mag was to shoot the same ammo as my pig hunting sidearm.

My favorite load for both is 24.0gr of H110 behind a 240gr JHP bullet (Hornady XTP for hunting, bulk Rem for plinking). Out to 100 yards, it hits like a train. As this is a max load, work up to it.

Been also playing with a 300gr JHP (XTP) load with 21.0gr of H110. This is showing promise and is going against those at MarlinTalk who "know for a fact" ( :rolleyes: ) that this bullet won't stabilize in a 38" twist, but 5 rounds in 2" at 100 yards seems pretty stable to me. And you should see what it does to the steel poppers at my club.

I've also played with the light magnum loads (12.0gr of BlueDot behind a 240 RNFP) and also the "special" loads (6.0gr of WST behind the 240gr RNFP with a light crimp) and they're fun, but the Marlin really seems to come to life with full-on magnum loads.

I've had pretty good luck feeding SWCs in my lever gun once the COL was figured out; too long or too short and things were sometimes funky. But sticking with either JHPs or RNFPs has eliminated any feeding problems.

I shot a box Winchester lead 44 Special RNFPs through the gun when I first got it and it fed fine, but that was like shooting a 22: I want that thump in the shoulder! :D

Enjoy the new toy, but beware: lever guns are habit forming.

December 27, 2003, 06:25 PM
I have found that loads that are very pleasant in my handguns kick like a mule in my Winchester 94.

December 28, 2003, 12:39 AM
I too have the Marlin and Redhawk combo. I run a hair lighter, using 23 gr of H110 and a 240 grain bullet. I also shoot this load through a 12" Contender. Works well in all the guns.

I think the manual for the Marlin warns against lead bullets with the Micro Groove rifling, but I need to double check. I don't use lead, so I don't worry about it.

I also used some Remington 275 grain CoreLokt rounds to take a Wisconsin whitetail a few years back. Very effective! I am thinking of picking up some 300 grain bullets to use in the Marlin...mainly to see if I can get my shoulder to bruise more than it does with the 240s! Heh...ouch. :)

December 28, 2003, 11:46 PM
4" Smith M29 & 16" Winnie here. It is a lot of fun carrying/shooting this combo. :D

Most of my revolver shooting is with 7 to 9 gr of Unique under a 240 LSWC these days. Standard power loads WW296 & 240gr HP/300gr JSP for the Lever. These rounds do fine, and I kinda suspect both the M29 & M94 are more accurate than I am ;) ....

December 29, 2003, 11:24 AM
Thanks for the replies all. Sounds like I should just shoot my regular reloads through the rifle and see how she does. Except for the lead/microgroove issue -- I'll have to look at the manual when I get home from work today. Anyone know what the reasoning for this would be? Is it lead buildup in the "microgrooves" or one of those funky rifling/pressure issues like they talk about for Glock rifling?

Enjoy the new toy, but beware: lever guns are habit forming.
Too late. :D I've always really enjoyed shooting lever actions, but up until now have only owned a 30-30. I'm slowly correcting that.:)

December 29, 2003, 05:07 PM
Don't worry about microgrooves, current 1894 Marlins in 44 mag have the deep Ballard rifling and will shoot both lead and jacketed loads just fine.

December 30, 2003, 11:19 AM
Well okay, here's a stupid question: How can I tell if I have microgroove or Ballard rifling? I checked the Marlin website and apparently some of the new 1894s still have microgroove rifling. I can't even find a picture of my rifle in their catalog. My barrel is simply stamped "1894" with no S,PG, or other designator behind it. I know I don't have a Cowboy model, because though I have a straight stock, I have a 20" round, not octagonal barrel.

I stuck a boresite down the barrel, and if I were to make the intuitive guess, I would have to guess Microgroove, because nothing in there looks "deep-cut."

December 30, 2003, 02:53 PM
Well, I (or rather Marlin Arms) answered my question. I ended up giving them a call and they verified I have the Ballard rifling. This is indicated by two stars stamped on the barrel on either side of the model number.

Sure doesn't look like "deep" rifling though when compared to rifling on some of my other rifle barrels.

Black Snowman
December 30, 2003, 05:11 PM
It's not deep relative to standard rifling, just deep relative to the Micro Groove. Isn't Ballard rifling just one of the "technical" names for standard rifling or diffentiates it from "button" riffling? I'm not 100% up on my rifling terms :)

December 30, 2003, 05:28 PM
I'm not 100% up on my rifling terms
Yeah, neither am I (obviously) :)
I've gotten to where I can talk a pretty good game re: ballistics where cartriges and different load combos are concerned, but I have to admit, I don't know jack about rifling and ballistics other than twist rates. There's always something more to learn in this durn hobby! :D

December 31, 2003, 12:35 PM
My rifle/handgun combo consists of the Ruger .44 carbine, and a .44 Super Blackhawk. I have found a handload which works well for me, in both, for deer hunting; 24.3 gr. H-110, Hornady 240 gr. HP/XTP, WLP primer.

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