Lever gun caliber decision……45 Colt vs 44 Magnum/44 Spec

Sour Kraut

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I want a lever gun, my first, but I do not have a specific “hunting” need to fulfill. I don’t hunt any longer, but enjoy woods hiking occasionally, so it would be a plinker-fun-gun more than anything else. I have a Ruger New Model Blackhawk in 45 Colt, and a S&W 629 3”. I enjoy shooting the Ruger, the Smith not so much unless I’m shooting 44 Spec rounds. The lever gun would be a woods companion for either of the two revolvers, and might do double duty as a home defense rifle. I am leaning towards the 45 Colt, but not dead set on it. I am not a reloader.

From you lever gun folks perspective, what would be the pros and cons of each considering my intended use?

Thanks!
 
44mag, or hot 45colt is gonna thump you harder than you'd think in those guns.

My usual advice for non-handloaders is:

Soft shooting 45lc is cheaper than 44spl, but hot 44mag is cheaper than hot 45lc.

Usually

Neither are "cheap"

So pick whichever balance you prefer and think you'll shoot the most of.

My advice for handloaders is : flip a coin
 
If you’re not a reloader there is only one good chambering for lever guns: .38/357. Or alternatively .22 rimfire. The 357 option gives you reasonably affordable ammo for both heavy hitting and recreational plinking.

The .44/45 options will kick harder and empty your wallet fast. If you think you want to get into reloading I’d recommend the .44 option because then you can load 44spl for plinking and 44 mag in case you need to take out a rampaging buffalo in your back garden.
 
As has been stated not a lot of real world difference between the two that really matters. Pro's and Cons to both choices. I picked 45 Colt and if thats what your gut is telling you go for it.
I reload and do load my own 45 Colt so that has some bearing on my choice. Hard to beat a good 44 mag lever though :)

-Jeff
 
.44 mag was a round built for hot loads from the git go. The venerable Colt had to wait for technology/designs to catch up to allow full use of its case capacity with modern powders. Regardless, Colt brass still isn’t as durable as .44mag. That’s only a concern for reloaders.

As already stated. It’s a toss up since you own the .44 mag and .45 Colt in handguns. Guess I’d go with whatever I could get the best deal on and like the most.
 
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One potential downside of 44 Mag is that the SAAMI specs for 44 Mag call for a .431" groove diameter for rifles vs. a .429" grove diameter for revolvers. This has been reported to cause issues when using cast bullets in that a bullet that does well in a handgun may be undersized for a rifle, and vice-versa. 45 Colt doesn't have this discrepancy.
 
I chose .45 Colt. But, I also reload and my first "bear" gun was a Ruger Bisley in .45 Colt.

Both calibers have a lot of plinking rounds available, but the cheapest is still over $.90 a round...


 
I'd have to see which leverguns you're looking at to give a informed opinion; there are certain guns I'd only have in 44 or 45 colt. I am a 44 mag fan, and don't presently own any 45 colt firearms, but I think either is fine subjectivity for any use a levergun could be pressed into. I'd pick 44 mag in a Henry and 45 colt in a rossi r92 for example, mostly due to rifling twist. Either is great in a gun that likes your specific loads.

I will point out that a big bore levergun is the ultimate excuse to START reloading. The price savings will allow you to really have fun with your new high volume toy, believe me!
 
.44 mag is an excellent deer gun in a carbine. It would go with your 629 nicely. 45 Colt is only a better choice if you want to compete in cowboy shooting and would pair with your Blackhawk. Id get a .44 mag carbine and save for a .45 Colt model 73 short rifle for fun.
 
If you are not big game hunting ...

And if you are not a reloader / bullet caster ...

Seems a lever gun chambered in 38 special / 357 magnum might be better .
A trip to local gunshops and a check on available ammo and it's price might be in order and might give you some real world direction . Typically there are more 38/357 ammo on a shelf than any other .

The 45 Colt and 44 magnum / 44 special might be more than you need / want in a lever gun for simple fun , tin can and target shooting . If you are hunting Deer and Hogs then yes ... 44 spcl / 44 magnum ... And don't forget a heavy 357 Magnum load from a rifle length barrel will kill Deer and Hogs with a proper placed shot , very nicely !

I reload and cast bullets so my choice would likely be ... 32-20 or 38-40 !
Gary
 
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.44 mag is an excellent deer gun in a carbine. It would go with your 629 nicely. 45 Colt is only a better choice if you want to compete in cowboy shooting and would pair with your Blackhawk. Id get a .44 mag carbine and save for a .45 Colt model 73 short rifle for fun.
Why is the .44 Mag better for deer hunting than .45 Colt? And why is the .45 Colt only good for cowboy shooting?

Buffalo Bore "Deer Grenade" hunting rounds for both calibers shown below. The .45 Colt has more energy.

44mag.png 45colt.png
 
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One thing you need to be aware of if you get a .44 Magnum lever gun. It may not run or feed .44 Special rounds. If the rollmark doesn’t say “.44 Mag / .44 Special, no matter what the salesman says it may not reliably feed .44 Special.

I prefer .45 Colt. Main reason being I don’t own a .44 Magnum, but after feeling the recoil of .44 Magnum rounds fired in my Son-in-law’s Winchester 94 carbine I wouldn’t want one. I swear it kicked harder than my 30-30s.

Also, depending on what brand you buy the gun may be cartridge overall length sensitive, so if you’re reloading .45 Colt the SAAMI specs call for 1.600” COL. My Rossi 92 did not like that, but it was just fine and had no feeding issues with 1.595”.

What brand are you interested in purchasing.

I recently bought a Henry Big Boy X model in .45 Colt. I really like this gun a lot. It’s not finicky at all and a lot of fun to shoot.

1716322832844.jpeg
 
I don’t own a 357 revolver, and this lever gun will be a companion rifle. I am looking at Henry for both calibers and Marlin in 44 Mag. As much as I like the Henry Big Boy X version, I am leaning towards wood or laminate furniture vs plastic.
 
One thing you need to be aware of if you get a .44 Magnum lever gun. It may not run or feed .44 Special rounds. If the rollmark doesn’t say “.44 Mag / .44 Special, no matter what the salesman says it may not reliably feed .44 Special.

I prefer .45 Colt. Main reason being I don’t own a .44 Magnum, but after feeling the recoil of .44 Magnum rounds fired in my Son-in-law’s Winchester 94 carbine I wouldn’t want one. I swear it kicked harder than my 30-30s.

Also, depending on what brand you buy the gun may be cartridge overall length sensitive, so if you’re reloading .45 Colt the SAAMI specs call for 1.600” COL. My Rossi 92 did not like that, but it was just fine and had no feeding issues with 1.595”.

What brand are you interested in purchasing.

I recently bought a Henry Big Boy X model in .45 Colt. I really like this gun a lot. It’s not finicky at all and a lot of fun to shoot.

View attachment 1210695
Do you find the stock of the Big Boy X to be at all slippery when shooting/carrying?
 
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