Loading for 44-40 new service


February 18, 2012, 05:17 PM
My dad just gave me my grandads 44-40 new service revolver and I want to load for it. I want to know if there is anything in particular to look out for when reloading. I have the lee dies and factory crimp already. I had loaded some rounds before using .427 hardcast bullets but it seemed it took extra pressure to feed the rounds into the cylinder. Never shot any reloads yet though. Any thoughts would be helpful.
Thanks, Rod

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February 18, 2012, 10:23 PM
The 44-40 is a tricky cartridge to load. Particularly in old firearms. Mike Venturino wrote about this recently. I think it was in a recent Handloader magazine. Do a internet search with Mike Venturino. His articles are very informative.

February 18, 2012, 10:49 PM
Reloading 44-40 WCF for a single gun is no more difficult then any other caliber.

1. Buy a Lyman #49 reloading manual for lead bullet data.

2. Don't ding the thin case mouths on the sizing die.

3. And load them with lead bullets and standard 44-40 WCF pressure loads.

The problems come in when you are loading for Winchester rifles and Colt revolvers at the same time.

It seems Colt didn't want to exactly copy Winchesters chamber dimensions of the period.
So sizing dies and Winchester & Colt chambers sometimes don't co-exist.

The fix is to grind 1/8"off of the bottom of the sizing die so you can push the shoulder back where it came from if necessary in your gun.


Peter M. Eick
February 19, 2012, 08:20 AM
I agree with RC. I was very concerned with reloading the 44/40 from all of the horror stories on the web. Yikes I was worried before I got my first one.

No big deal!

I did exactly what RC said above (maybe he even told me?).

Get Lyman 49 for lead bullet data.

Be careful running the brass into the die.

Load them with Trailboss.

I found this very easy round to do. I have yet to crush a single case (now going on 5 years of loading).

Basically, if you have reasonable skills with a reloading press, the 44/40 is easy to deal with. Just don't try to force it!

February 19, 2012, 09:03 AM
Yeah the 44-40 is not that bad a round to deal with IMHO. Want difficult, then try to load the 25 ACP with its small components and small propellant charge.:D I did find that running the lead bullets through the proper sizing die before loading them in the brass took a lot of the hair pulling out of the equation at least in my world.:cool:

February 19, 2012, 09:26 AM
I' ve been loading for a OM Ruger Vaquero 44-40 for about 10 years now and haven't had any more problems loading it compared to any other large bore revolver. As stated before, be careful of the thin case mouths and walls when case sizing though. One advantage of my Ruger is that it has the same bore diameter as the Ruger 44 Mag. Both verified by Ruger and myself by swaging the barrel. Certainly makes bullet selection very easy.

February 25, 2012, 03:33 PM
Hey, thanks for the responses. I just ordered the Lyman 49 manual and read an article "Taffin tests the 44-40, and he says about the same as above. He also said cases seemed to be tight in his loads so we'll load a few and see. Thanks, Rod.

February 25, 2012, 06:27 PM
You'll read a lot of internet chatter about loading the short WCF's from folks who never tried it. I don't load the .44 but I do load the .32 and .38 and they are a joy. You merely have to be a little careful with the cases, making sure they run straight don't encounter anything on their way into the dies. Rather than going through the process of lubing the cases, I simply wipe a little gun oil on them before sizing. Another tip from Taffin.

You'll want to go gentle on the old Colt. I'd probably start with 8.0-9.0gr Unique under a 200gr RNFP and look no further.

44 Dave
April 11, 2012, 06:14 PM
Just took .o4o off my 44-40 sizing die last night.
I have Uberti Colt clone, Winchester 1873 and a derringer, the derringer is the one that has the problem chamber. The brass from the derringer would not re-size quite right but after shortening the die it now puts the shoulder where it will chamber in the other guns.
Glad I have a friend with a lathe and a tool post grinder.

April 11, 2012, 07:57 PM
There ya go then!!

I was shortening 32-20 , 38-40, 44-40 WCF dies for me and a friend every time I turned around about six years ago.

Seems like the die makers could make them so they would work right from the get-go with Colt & Winchester chambers by now.


April 11, 2012, 10:27 PM
I have one. It happened that my LEE dies and their 428(.5...) sizing die were like custom made for it.

What you have to be very careful with in New Services is that their D.A.'s timing is usually off. The hammer will strike the primmer before the cylinder is locked... and they have a pretty narrow forcing cone.
So I wouldn't shoot wadcutters or semiwadcutters in them, as they hit the side of the barrel.
RN's will show the dragging marks on their side if you recover them. That' still something I don't like (cylinders being wacked on the lock), so I don't shoot them D.A. at all.
The S.A. should also be checked for the same reason.

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