44-40 Ruger Vaquero heading my way.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by dredd, Mar 22, 2021.

  1. dredd

    dredd Member

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    I somehow placed the winning bid on this silly thing.

    I have been wanting a 44-40 and I am a sucker for single actions, color case hardening & blued steel.

    It wouldn't be a big deal, but I just bought another "can't pass up" the other day! LOL

    Grandma bought it new and only drove it to Bingo once a week.
    ( Supposed to be original owner with 50 rounds thru it )

    I realize that this is not a Flagship in Ruger's line up, but I still want one!!! LOL

    I might have to have the Cylinder Honed. I'll wait and see.
    That seems to have been an issue.
    We won't mention the 44 mag barrel.
     
  2. Pat Riot
    • Contributing Member

    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    Good for you. Congratulations! :thumbup:
    Quite often these 44-40 Vaqueros end up as Cowboy Action guns that get “slicked up” and have a lot of rounds through them. Not that this is a bad thing, but it’s nice to find them when they’re in great shape.
     
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  3. dredd

    dredd Member

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    Thanks!

    I'm excited about having a new toy.

    I found some RCBS Dies, but no body has the Cowboy Action sets from what I could see.
    I have Brass on Back Order at Starline. Who knows when that will pop up.
    I need to scrounge a few to start playing with.

    I'm good on Primers & Powder. I don't think Bullets will be a problem.
     
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  4. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Nice. There are a few ways you could go... like an additional .44 Spl cylinder, custom walnut burl grips, etc. to make it a touch more versatile when seeking scarce ammo and to make it truly your own. :thumbup:

    I have always had the .44-40 bracketed by .357, .44 and .45 Colts so I’ve never had one... but they are a neat part of Americana when paired with a sweet handling little Win 1873 carbine ;).

    Congrats on a great find :).
     
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  5. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    I have been loading 44-40 for years. You really don't need the fancy 'Cowboy' dies that RCBS makes, I have been loading the cartridge with a standard set of RCBS dies for many years. The 'Cowboy' dies are supposed to be set up better for lead bullets, and I do have a few sets for other cartridges, but frankly I have been loading 44-40 with my standard RCBS set of dies for a long time. There are a few tricks to loading 44-40, it can be a bit fussy to load. You MUST set your dies up very carefully, if you don't get the bullet seating and crimping just right you will probably get crumpled cases. And the brass at the case mouth is very thin, only about .007 thick at the case mouth, vs about .012 for 45 Colt. This means if you rush and allow a case to bang into the bottom of the sizing/decap die the case will probably deform and be ruined. I always take my time and load 44-40 (and 38-40) slowly, so I can stop the stroke if a case bangs into the bottom of the sizing die on the way up. You may want to crimp with a separate crimp die, but it is possible to seat the bullet and crimp at the same time with the seating/crimp die if you set everything up carefully.

    And there are no carbide dies for 44-40, so lubing your cases is a must. I like a gentle squirt of Hornady One Shot spray case lube. Just a little dab will do ya, too much and you can cause wrinkles in the brass.
     
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  6. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

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    Starline is the best 44-40 brass and I've used about all of it.

    I prefer the cowboy dies for 44-40 they are better for lead bullets but the regular dies will work. See if you can get a Lee Factory Crimp die. That is your friend especially with thin wall cases like the 44-40, 32-20, 38-40, etc. Don't crimp with the seater die just set it where it closes the bell. Then run through the Lee FCD on a separate station. Actually seating and crimping is probably a must but I always seat and crimp separately anyway.

    A lot of people complain about issues loading 44-40 but I've never experienced all that. It's a matter of having the right equipment and setting it up right.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2021
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  7. dredd

    dredd Member

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    I appreciate the loading advice from everyone.

    I definitely like to seat and crimp in two separate operations.
    I'm also a fan of the Lee FCD. I should be able to track one down.

    I'll be running things nice & slow on the old rockchucker.
    You certainly can develop a feel for how things are going when you take your time and pay attention.

    Thanks!
     
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  8. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

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    I’m fairly new to loading .44-40. I purchased dies and components from a fellow cowboy shooter who had sold off his only .44-40 revolver. I’m loading for a Miroku Winchester 1873 rifle.

    The dies happen to be the RCBS Cowboy set. I’ve loaded cowboy action ammo in .38 Special, .44 Special and .45 Colt using regular dies with no issues.

    I have always used standard seating/crimp dies for revolver ammo with no issues but have read a lot about the need to seat and crimp in separate steps with .44-40. I ended up with a Lee Factory Crimp Die and a Redding Profile Crimp Die. My only problem is that all five stations of my press are “taken”.

    I use Starline brass which reportedly is a little more robust than other brands.

    I was surprised to find that I was having a hard time with the separate crimp. Ammo was not chambering properly. I reset the RCBS #3 to crimp the case mouth and whaddya know-it works.
     
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  9. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Were you loading Black Powder? Years ago a friend was having trouble with his Black Powder 45 Colt loads. He was seating and crimping in two separated steps. He was also putting a wad in on top of the powder, I'm not quite sure why. Anyway, it turns out that with his full load of Black Powder, plus the wad in there he was compressing the dickens out of the powder. He reloads on a Dillon progressive press. In the few seconds it took for him to work the lever to rotate the shell plate for the next round, before his rounds rose up to be crimped, the over compression of the powder caused his bullets to rise up a bit so they were getting crimped with an Overall Length that was too long for his rifle. I forget now if he got rid of the wad inside, or reduced his powder charge, but anyway, when he reduced the column of powder inside the case the bullets stopped rising up and his problem went away.

    So were you loading with BP?

    I used to load 44-40 with Winchester brass. The brass at the case mouth was ever so slightly thinner than the brass at the case mouth of Starline brass. This would work out well if somebody needed to use 'fat' bullets in their ammo. Technically, the rifling groove diameter of 44-40 should be .427, but a lot of manufacturers are using the same .429 barrels that they use for 44 Special/44 Magnum firearms. Following standard logic, a lead bullet should be about .001 oversize of groove diameter. So the proper bullet for a .429 barrel could be as large as .430 in diameter. Uberti rifles tend to have tight chambers. So a .430 bullet might expand the case mouth enough that the finished round was difficult to chamber in a tight chamber. That extra .001 or so of 'thinness' at the case mouth in Winchester brass could make the difference in that situation.

    Unfortunately, it was sometimes hard to find Winchester 44-40 brass, they only made it a few times per year. So I changed over to Starline brass because it was always available. Ever so slightly thicker at the case mouth, but not enough to make a difference in my 44-40 rifles.

    I just checked and 44-40 brass is back ordered at Starline. Firs time I have ever seen that, it was always in stock when I needed some.

    Hopefully they will catch up with their orders soon.
     
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  10. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

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    That was not the problem as I started with a dummy cartridge with no primer or powder. I then worked up a smokeless load which as you would expect did not fill the case. I’m using Alliant Black MZ for my frontier cartridge loads and it’s not supposed to be compressed.
     
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  11. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

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    You shouldn't have any trouble loading 44-40 then. Just do what you normally do. A lot of people make a huge deal about loading that caliber.
     
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  12. Cowhide Cliff

    Cowhide Cliff Member

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    I have both those crimp dies. Just toss the Redding in the drawer and use the Lee FCD only. The rounds are not quite as pretty at the crimp but they will always feed in my experience. Only time I ever use the Redding is when using brass fired in chamber of certain guns and don't want to squeeze the whole case. I've played with that thinking maybe better long range accuracy (kind of the old neck size only theory) plus didn't want to take a chance on the FCD squeezing my bullet. It all sounded good but found not to be any more accurate than using the Lee FCD.
     
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