Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by sixgun MAK, Feb 10, 2008.
Which would you choose for hunting, knowing shots are 100 yds in.
A strong modern gun like a Marlin? .45 Colt. Versatility of the .45 LC in a Marlin 1894 is very hard to match; lots of modern cannon loads available, along with everything else.
An 1873 replica? .44-40. AFAIK it works a bit better in the gun, and you can't shoot magnumified rounds in the old design anyway.
I inherited a .45 Colt marlin Cowboy. About the only ammo To be found in my area is Cowboy shooting spec plinking stuff.
I need to look for a hotter load if I want to hunt with it. The Marlin is a beautiful shooting little rifle, and just begs to be used for hunting deer!
If you already have a .45 Colt handgun go with that . If not the best of the pistol/lever combos is .44mag. Good usable power with great assortment of ammo and reloading options available almost everywhere.
http://www.buffalobore.com/ has some interesting .45LC for Marlins. Sufficient for buffalo at reasonable ranges.
If you are a traditionalist and reload then 44-40 is the right cartridge
If you want a more versatile caliber that is easier to reload for 45 Colt is the way to go. Not period correct but more quality bullets are available and its capable of more than adequate hunting loads.
My 1894 Cowboy is a favorite of mine.
I have Colt SAAs in 45. I figure the rifle in that caliber would be better for hunting. I have a '66 in 44-40 and don't know if that'll do the job.
The reason I chose 45 over 44-40 was I did NOT want to have to lube cases when reloading.
I chose .45 Colt for 1860 and 1873 reproduction lever actions because it is an easier cartridge to reload.
Modern .45 Colt cases have a larger rim diameter than the old balloon head cases so no problem with extraction and they don't have the tendency to collapse the case mouth while resizing like .44/40 does.
The .44/40 does have some merit for keeping black powder fouling out of the chamber because of the slight case taper and it is just a bit more accurate in most rifles.
With a modern .45 Colt rifle like the Marlin you can indeed shoot loads approaching .454 Casull power levels.
I would go with a 45 colt, 44 mag, or 357 for huning with a handgun caliber lever action. The older calibers can be cool but I wouldn't want to take the chance of wounding a deer because the round din't have quite enough punch.
For hunting, unless you handload, I would seriously consider a .44 Mag lever-gun.
You can buy suitable hunting ammo for it at Wal-Mart.
All you will find in 44-40 or .45 Colt are very low performance, and mostly Cowboy Action plinking ammo.
Buffalo Bore loads high performance .45 Colt hunting ammo, but it's not cheap!
Nothing for 44-40 is available except light plinking loads.
I'm not a fan of the .45 Colt in lever guns. If you reload, the 44-40 is an excellent cartridge. The slight bottleneck (more of a taper, really) and thin brass really seal the chamber well, so you get no blowback at all. That keeps the action very clean, and you get smooth, reliable feeding and extraction. If you want to shoot black powder loads, the 44-40 is the hands down winner.
If you don't reload, or you want the most oomph possible, then go with a Marlin in .44 magnum. They are strong, reliable guns that will easily take even large deer at 100 yards, and there is a wide variety of relatively inexpensive factory loads available.
Whatever you do, stay away from the Winchester 94 in .45 Colt. The 94 is a fine rifle, but it was designed for longer cartridges, and it really doesn't handle the shorter pistol cartridges very well. The Marlin 94 is a much better choice for pistol cartridges.
Unfortunately, this isn't true. If you want the most oomph possible, get the Marlin in .45 LC.
The twist in the Marlin .45 LC is a lot faster than the twist in their .44 M -- it doesn't have to be, but that's how Marlin makes 'em. So unless you put on a custom barrel, you can use a much heavier (longer) bullet in the .45LC gun, and you can load it every bit as hot as the .44 M.
For a hunting rifle, check out the Big 5 1894. A good deal less expensive than the Cowboy, and Marlin doesn't list a .45LC in their catalog except the cowboy. They're readily available at Big 5 for $400, though.
Will just any lever action do, or do you want a classic looking rifle / carbine?
The 45 Colt was never chambered into the original 1866s, 1873s, and 1892s. Or their Marlin competitors. The 45 colt cartridge originally had a small rim which made extraction a problem with black powder loads and the case walls are straight which causes blow-by in black powder loading (in some chambers).
The 44-40 (44WCF), the 38-40 (38WCF) and 32-20, were developed specifically for use in a lever action rifle during the period of black powder use. They all have large rims and tapered cases which expanded and sealed enough that the residue did not blow back along the side of the case.
They all just happend to be excellent six-gun cartridges as well.
There were factory loadings for the 44-40 and 38-40 which were labeled as being for rifles and carbines only. (around 1900 fps for the 180 grain 38-40 and the same for the 200 grain 44-40) They are very hot and were loaded with smokeless powder during the 20s, 30s and 40s. Of course the attack of the lawyers put a stop to that... NOTE:: those hot loads are only good for the 1892 Winchesters and the later Marlins, firing a hot load in a 66 or 73 action is not safe. The old Lyman books give some good carbine loads.
For non-classic chamberings:: As mentioned, the 44 mag is really the best hunting round in a short pistol cartridge length action lever gun, with factory ammo. The 375 mag is also very good from a strong 92 action or newer Marlin. You can safely push a 240 grain at 1800 fps from a 44 mag carbine and can get a 158 grain 357 mag to go about as fast. In fact the 125 grain Federal factory loads go almost 2,300 fps out of my carbine. SEE THE POST ABOUT THE BUFFALO BORE 180 GRAIN 357 MAG AMMO ON THIS SITE::: While you can load the heck out of 45 Colt ammo, you really have to make sure that ammo does not find its way into your old colt six-shooter.
Uh, last I checked, modern-built lever guns chambered for the .45 LC look the same as the ones chambered for .44-40. And I don't recall seeing any of the old guns chambered for .44 Magnum or .357, either.
.38-40 BP is kinda neat. I've met guys who hunt elk with them. But they're hard to come by. These guys use original 92's.
I use my 1892 vintage model 92 in 38-40, yes the first year of production and my 38-40 six gun for some light critter hunting and goofing around. The same load that pushes a 180 grain hard cast slug from my six-gun at 1,000fps safely, will also push the same bullet at 1,550 fps from my old rifle.
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