Shooting lead bullets out of a .44 Mag Rifle (Marlin 1894)?


February 22, 2013, 03:47 PM
I have been shooting 240g .44 Hornady XTP's out of my Marlin 1894 for the past few years and never looked at a different bullet. They were reasonably priced at first ($16/100) but have shot up to $25/100 lately. I like to shoot the XTP's over 24g of H110. Could a lead bullet be loaded with H110 and not foul up my bore horribly? I'm not really looking to develop a light .44 load since max loads are easy from the rifle and I'd rather be able to use these loads for hunting without marking light loads. I don't shoot in awful high volume, 500 bullets will last me a few years.

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February 22, 2013, 03:55 PM
As I recall, some of the earlier Marlin 1894 rifles in .44 Magnum had the Marlin Microgroove rifling, which works best with jacketed bullets. All of the current production comes with deep-cut Ballard-style rifling, which works well with plain lead, as well as jacketed. If you've got one of these, you're good to go with any bullet type.

February 22, 2013, 04:43 PM
I load a Ranch Dog gas checked, 260g through my 1894 and you can push it as hard as the XTP. It is a tumble lube mold, but I size, seat the checks and lube with 50/50. They shoot great, and ZERO lead fouling when pushed hard with W296/H110.

February 22, 2013, 04:50 PM
I have one of the older micro-groove models which does well with properly sized and lubed gas check lead bullets. Not supposed to work well but mine does. I use 2400 in my particular load.

February 22, 2013, 04:52 PM
I've used Cast Performance 300gr WFN that come with a gas check. My rifle is a Puma '92 and it shoots dead on with full power H110 loads and hardly leads at all. The bore is very good. There are probably other GC bullets out there - the last box I got from Midway were pretty pricey, but a great bullet for deer size game. Like GCBurner said, if it has Micro Groove rifling, well they say not so good for lead, but may be worth a try if you could find a few to load up.

February 22, 2013, 05:01 PM
It's best to slug your bore and find out what the actual diameter is. Once you determine that, then use a bullet at least .001" over the bore size. There has been great success in shooting cast bullets sized .431" through Micro-Groove barrels.

Hope this helps.


February 22, 2013, 05:27 PM
As I recall, some of the earlier Marlin 1894 rifles in .44 Magnum had the Marlin Microgroove rifling...

My early eighties vintage Marlin 1894C in 357 Magnum does indeed have a micro-groove rifled barrel. It does indeed shoot jacketed bullets better than lead.

I have not ever shot any gas checks in it.

I suspect a similar vintage 44 Magnum version might also have the micro-groove rifling and have similar likes and dislikes.

February 22, 2013, 05:50 PM
Though I haven't shot any lead bullets through my 2010-vintage Marlin 1894, I plan to in the next week or two, to get ready for my first Spring black bear hunt. I'll be using Beartooth 300-grain hard cast WFNGC bullets, at the recommended .432" diameter. My 1894 is the current standard blued model with 20" 1:38 twist Ballard barrel.

I did make up a few dummy rounds with these bullets, as well as with some Laser Cast 240-grain LSWC bullets, to check feeding before I loaded up a bunch, and neither would feed at all in my rifle. You might want to do the same before you order 500 bullets.

If you don't get reliable feeding, try this - it worked for me:

Oh, and if you do get some good performance from heavy hard cast bullets out of your Marlin using H110, let us know. I'll be loading mine up with Winchester 296, which I believe is identical to H110 these days. I'll post my results after I test a few rounds and am sure bullets aren't tumbling from the ridiculously slow 1:38 twist.

I also wish I had some cool ballistic gelatin to test penetration, but I have a feeling I'd need 5 or 6 feet of it due to the 300-grain hard cast WFN bullets doing between 1600-1750. :)

February 22, 2013, 10:54 PM
as much problems as I have had with my Remlin, as long as you are in the bullets velocity range, the rifle shoots them all fine.

Maj Dad
February 22, 2013, 11:47 PM
I have a 1973 or 74 made M1895 with a Micro Groove barrel, and as long as I use hard-cast boolits (≥ 18 BHN) I have no problems with leading (though my max velocities have not exceeded 1600 fps and I think you wouldn't with the 44 if you kept it around there). I use 405 gr flat base bullets, but may start using the 300 gr GC which can top 2200 fps - not sure how that will go, but I guarantee you it will be much less painful any way you roll it with that hard curved buttplate... :scrutiny:

February 23, 2013, 08:36 AM
My Marlin 1894 rifle in .44 Magnum had the Marlin Microgroove rifling, it did not like plain base cast bullets. Never tried gas checked.

February 23, 2013, 08:55 AM
I've been using 240 lead SWC (0.430") with 10 gr of Unique in my Marlin with microgrooves. I don't see any leading after 75 rounds. Lyman's 49th manual says that load ought to have a MV around 1300 fps. I've seen a number of other suggestions that lead bullet diameters should be closer to 0.431, but 0.430 does seem to work for me.

twice barrel
February 23, 2013, 09:43 AM
Its been many years but I used to cast my own 240gr SWC for my B92's with great success. I used gas checks at first but found I did just as well with the same bullets without the gas checks.

Only reason I quit fooling with it was those little rifles would beat the fool out of you with strong loads. Sold both of them.

Dave P
February 23, 2013, 09:47 AM
Just a heads-up: I spent a lot of time trying to get my marlin to shoot my cast bullets accurately. That 1/26 twist is gawd-awful slow. Very easy to get the bullets to tumble.

Leading, yeah, but what ya gonna do? I don't have the desire to try six different lubes, and 3 different diameters, and 7 different velocities. I just scrub it out every so often with copper chore boy.

February 23, 2013, 11:53 PM
I have both a .357 and a .44mag in the Marlin 1894 with the Microgroove rifleing. I can't make either shoot lead with much more accuracy than a smoothbore. The guns will both lead to the point of not stabilizing the bullet after about 3 shots. When I slow the velocity down to Special level loads I can get about 75 rds before I need to clean the barrels. I shoot jacketed exclusively. I have tried Rainiers and they seem to shoot better than lead but not as reliably as jacketed. I push my .44 to around 1800fps and the .357 to almost 2000fps. Drops a whitetail like a bad habit.

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