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44 Special Ballistics & Question

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Foto Joe, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. Foto Joe

    Foto Joe Well-Known Member

    On Christmas Eve with the wife working and the weather beautiful, I decided to head out to my new found box canyon a couple of miles from our campground and play a little bit with my 1894 Marlin and a chronograph.

    Previously I've loaded about 150 rounds of 44 Special for this gun but fired very few of them myself. Most were fired by my daughter and grandson keeping them occupied while I loaded CB pistols.

    So...off I go with a box of 50 and a Chrony. The load is as follows:
    26gr 3f Swiss by weight
    No filler
    .030 Veggie Wad
    .430 200gr Mav Dutchman RNFP
    Gun: Modern 1894 Marlin 44SPL/44Mag with 15.5" Micro-Groove Barrel

    Chronograph results:
    Average MV - 1079
    High MV - 1094
    Low MV - 1054
    Avg. Muzzle Energy - 517 ft. lbs.

    I was impressed by a couple of items. First off, the velocity spread being only 40fps on hand loaded Black Powder cartridges. I've seen three times that spread on factory loaded smokeless ammo!! I attribute this reasonable velocity spread to uniform compression of the powder. I use a Compression Die from MidwayUSA that when set correctly for the bottom of the press stroke provides uniform compression.

    The other thing that surprised me was the velocity attained with only 26gr of powder. I load my '60 Sheriff's model with 30gr and a round ball that weighs only 70% of the RNFP and get MV's of 300 fps less. There's a lot to be said about the longer barrels allowing more complete combustion of the powder before the bullet leaves the muzzle.

    Now, on to the question: Are any of you loading 44 Special with Black Powder?? If so, what kind of powder charge are you using?? I pretty much settled on the 26gr 'cause that's what fit and compressed easily. As far as accuracy, she'll punch holes at 30 yards within a couple of inches, but as I said, I haven't fired too many of these yet because the kids grab the gun as soon as they see it. I'll have a better idea of the groups once I get to shoot it some more.
  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    A 200 gr bullet and 26 gr of black is pretty much a .44 Henry load, and that claimed 1125 fps out of the long Henry or Winchester rifle; so you are right in there with 19th century ballistics.

    A BPCR target shooter expects single digit velocity spreads. The last time I chronographed my .40-65 the spread was 11 fps, the standard deviation 3, which is more than usual.
  3. Foto Joe

    Foto Joe Well-Known Member

    Given that I'm a newly converted Cap & Ball shooter and a relative beginner on loading Black Powder Cartridge, I can't imagine getting a spread in the single digits.
  4. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member


    Is that there Marlin 1894 registered as a SBR being it's barrel is 15.5 inches?

    A 16 inch barrel (from breach face to crown) is what is required without running afoul of the NFA regulations.
  5. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    I figure he has a stock 16" barrel but was measuring down the outside to the receiver ring instead of down the bore to the bolt face.
  6. Foto Joe

    Foto Joe Well-Known Member

    You are exactly right, I just pulled it out of the case and threw a tape up against the barrel, it is undoubtedly a 16" barrel. It's completely stock and I purchased from the widow of a close friend years ago. I used to use it with 44 Mag for my deer gun, but I'd be a rotten deer hunter with a bazooka so I pretty much gave up that use for it.

    This brings up an interesting point now that you mention it. Shotguns are required to have no less than an 18" barrel, therefore my HD gun is an old Mossberg 500 with an 18.25" barrel and a pistol grip. Of course there are plenty of Howdah shooters out there who will correct me on this point.
  7. junkman_01

    junkman_01 member


    Glad to hear that your Marlin 1894 is good to go and not afoul of the law.

    Howdah guns are exempt from the 18 inch smooth bore barrel regulation of GCA 68 because they are muzzle loaders.

    Your shotgun must have at least a 18 inch barrel and be at least 26 inches overall to be legal without NFA registration.

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