Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

NEW lever 444 or 358

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by andym79, Jan 22, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. andym79

    andym79 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Messages:
    447
    Location:
    Australia
    Hi,

    I am looking to buy a new lever to add to my 30-30 and 22.

    I am considering a 444 or 358!

    As far as I know the 358 has better ballistics, but is limited in that its only available in the not so affordable BLR (Savage 99 in 358 being rare)

    A second hand Marlin however in 444 would be a lot more affordable!

    How accurate can a 444 be at say 150 yards?

    Thoughts 444 VS 358?
     
  2. eldon519

    eldon519 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Messages:
    2,449
    Location:
    Georgia
    What do you want to do with it? Anything in particular you would be hunting?
     
  3. XTrooper

    XTrooper Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
    Messages:
    181
    Location:
    Retired & living in the mountains of NE Pennsylvan
    Using a good peep sight like those sold by Skinner Sights or if using a scope, the .444 Marlin is capable of "big game" accuracy out to 200 yards.

    Good 150 yard accuracy should be no problem if you do your part.
     
  4. andym79

    andym79 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Messages:
    447
    Location:
    Australia
    The intended game are camels, donkeys and wild horses!
     
  5. HoosierQ

    HoosierQ Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,568
    Location:
    Central Indiana.
    That's "game"?
     
  6. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Messages:
    3,623
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    The OP is from Australia, so his game animals are a bit different from what we may be used to seeing. Actually, I believe the animals he is seeking are considered vermin, not unlike prarie dogs and groundhogs.

    I am in the big slow boolit camp, so I would recommend the 444, unless you can get a 45-70.
     
  7. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    Messages:
    3,393
    Location:
    W.GA
    Camels, donkey's and horse's you say?!

    I own a BLR in .358 and Marlins in .30/30, .35rem, .338MX, and .45/70.
    You definitely want the .45/70.
    Factory ammo in .444 is typically loaded with "pistol bullets", meaning those intended for it' snubbier cousin the .44mag. (The .444 is actually a .429-.430" ....)
    Some of the 265-335gr component bullet offerings will be "stouter" bullets and would do what you want, however, most factory .444 are intended for deer and smaller bears, (Ursus americana, N. American black bear which will run typically 500lbs or smaller). Penetration on the 1,000lb+ ungulates you listed will be very limited.... You need much more penetration for those.

    Whereas the .45/70 bullets 350gr and heavier are better adapted to larger game such as the American bison, elk, moose and larger bears which are in the weight class of your "vermin". The "big factory" (ie: Remington and Winchester) 405gr bullets excepted. They are "softer" and again, intended for deer ect., from the older rifles such as Trap-door Springfields at lower velocities (below 1,400fps m/v).

    You'll also not likely find a Marlin .444 "down under" that has a fast twist rifling that will accomodate the heavier bullets you'll want. Factory barrels are typically 1/38" for the 240gr original bullet loadings and ususally don't shoot bullets heavier than 265gr's well. There are exceptions however. These are typically cast bullets specifically intended for the Marlins and are ususally a bit over-size (.431-.432") specifically for the Micro-Groove barrels of the Marlin .444. You'll likely have to cast them yourself.

    Again, from experience, I suggest that you'll be happier with a .45/70, than the .444. Ditto the .358wcf. Even state-side, it's not popular (outside a very small "circle" of shooters/hunters). I had a smallish gunshop owner practically give me a box of dusty old 200gr Winchester silver-tip .358's. He said he'd had that box of ammo for over 20yrs and I was the first person to ask for it off the shelf...... Price was 1/2 of the 1993 price. Less than I can buy the bullets/primers/powder and load them in reformed "range-pick up" OFB .308 brass.....
    The .358 with 250gr loads (factory discontinued) would do what you want, but again, rifles and ammo are are few and far between. I aquired mine from a friends widow. My friend passed away in 1998 and she was in '11 still "liquidating" his extensive collection. But, I bought the BLR because is was one of his "special-favorite" rifles. It was his "most favorite" and he took quite a few deer and a few ferral pigs with it. I hunted with him many times when he carried it.
    I took two deer this past season with it. It performed splendidly with 200gr Hornady PtSpts @ 2,500fps (chrono'd).
    However, for your purposes it will be strictly a "handloading" proposition.
    For "camels, donkeys, and horses", I can't imagine a better rifle-cartridge than the .358 BLR with Woodleigh 250's @ ~2,250fps.... Except for the .45/70 with my 400gr hard-cast bullets @ 2,000fps....

    edited to add: My .338MX and especially the .338/06, .375Ruger would likewise be splendid, but you inquired about the .444 vs. .358... vis .45/70...in lever-action rifles contrasted to bolt-actions.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  8. MARKMALL

    MARKMALL Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
    Messages:
    167
    Location:
    N.E. Ohio
    I have a BLR in 358 Win. I only hunt deer with it. I love it and if you hand load you have a much wider slection of bullets.
     
  9. mdauben

    mdauben Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2011
    Messages:
    2,163
    Location:
    Huntville, AL
    You may want to double check, but I think that Marlin dropped their 444 lever action last year, so you may have trouble finding a "new" one.

    That said, I might give the nod to the .358 myself. Its a very underated cartridge IMO and in many ways superior to the .444 cartridge. The BLR is the only gun currently chambered in .358 AFAIK, and its a bit pricer than the Marlin (it is a great rifle, though).

    If you like the "big and slow" idea of the .444 you might consider a rifle in .45-70 instead. Its similar in a lot of ways to the .444 but with a bit more power and a generally better selection of both bullets and preloaded ammo. There are also a larger selection of curretnly in production rifles which are chambered in .45-70 to chose from.
     
  10. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    Messages:
    2,439
    Location:
    Sullivan County PA
    I had a Marlin .444. Loaded it up with a lighter .44 pistol hollow point. It was a zippy gun. It could hit a smaller 6" paper plate at 150 with open sites. But - that was in the 70's. Can't tell you anything about the .258. Sorry.
     
  11. RPRNY

    RPRNY Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,337
    Location:
    Front Range, CO
    I too would be of the view that 45-70 might suit you better than 444. It takes your range out to a solid 300 yards (yes, even with the 45-70 trajectory) and will deliver solid kills on up through 600 kilo camels. I don't know what brass availability is like in Oz though for either...

    Now the .358 is an excellent choice as well but it sounds like you may have limited rifle options. If you were in the States, I'd say get a Marlin 336 in 30-30 and have JES Reboring take it out to .356 Win (a rimmed .358) or .375Win, but I don't know what work needs to be done to the receiver etc., for feeding. If it was just a barrel rechamber, it might be worth the wait and shippping to send it to Jesse, but it needs magazine and feeding mods as well. I don't know what resources are available there, but looking into a 336 30-30 or 32 special rebore to .356 or .375 would be no waste of your time.

    Finally, for range and penetrative power, a couple of calibers in bolt guns might also serve well - .35 Whelen (not sure how available/popular it is in Oz), .375 H&H, and finally for those big old camels, if it's available in Oz, the .376 Steyr Scout rifle would strike me as an awfully good option.
     
  12. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    Messages:
    2,341
    Location:
    Burleson,Texas
    There was an article a few years ago using the 444 in australia for donkeys in Rifle Magazine. They used a winchester big bore with nosler partition bullets but I don't remember what weight. They had no trouble killing donkeys with it. You can go to the Riflemag site and get a back issue.

    I had a 45/70 and it was a good gun and dropped one deer for me. I sold it because I didn't use it much.

    I would like to have a 444 myself. They still show them on the marlin website last time I looked a couple of weeks ago.

    If you buy one get the one with the Ballard rifling. It will have the 1-20 twist instead of the 1-38 like the first guns had. Then you can shoot heavier bullets.

    The 444 is close to the early express riflles that a 44 cal bore with a 300gr bullet at around 2000fps. They killed a lot of african big game with those rifles.

    I thought there was someone in austrailia that was rebarreling old enfield rifles to 444 or maybe it 45-70. I just don't remember.
     
  13. bergmen

    bergmen Member.

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2011
    Messages:
    1,319
    Location:
    Ukiah, California
    They still list it on their website.

    Dan
     
  14. DM~

    DM~ Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Messages:
    2,320
    Location:
    upper mid west
    Personally, i'd pick the 358 and reload for it!
     
  15. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    Messages:
    2,341
    Location:
    Burleson,Texas
  16. forestdavegump

    forestdavegump Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2010
    Messages:
    111
    Location:
    The Great NW
    I like my 444

    444 shoots more calibers? I dont have a 358. I got the 375 back in the day instead.
     
  17. andym79

    andym79 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Messages:
    447
    Location:
    Australia
    Well, I have been doing a bit of reading and I think besides the fact the 358 WIN is a lot less common its probably a better choice.

    It has a much flatter trajectory than the 444 at 300 yards a 250grainer has around 1900ft lbs and a drop of 11" at 400 yards a 250grainer still has around 1600 ftlbs and a drop of 32".

    Whereas for a 300grainer in the 444 the respective figures are 1100 ft lbs and 11" drop and 860 ft lbs and a 60".

    To me this means the 358 is probably good for a 100 yards more than the 444.

    In fact a 200 grainer from the 358 is not unlike a 30-06 in performance!

    opinions?
     
  18. RPRNY

    RPRNY Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,337
    Location:
    Front Range, CO
    Yes. .358 and .375 WIN are both excellent choices. But you seem to have limited rifle options. The .356 Win is the same round, rimmed, and would be an easier rechamber in a rifle if you went that route.
     
  19. andym79

    andym79 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Messages:
    447
    Location:
    Australia
    This topic has got me wondering why are .35 Cal so unpopular?

    The 358 of course has the advantage that bullet don't need to be round nose or flat point as with the 444.

    But BLR just don't look like a lever action should!

    How reliable are BLR's given their rack and pinion gearing? How hard are they to clean, do you just use a bore snake?
     
  20. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2005
    Messages:
    4,014
    Location:
    North Central Ohio
    True-maybe he should spend some time looking for a Savage Model 99 or a Winchester Model 88. Those two rifles look like a lever-action should! The .358 chambering, of course, would permit a vast amount of .357 caliber pistol bullets to be used for plinking, varmints and such, for the handloader.
     
  21. witchhunter

    witchhunter Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    Messages:
    1,875
    Location:
    Lassen County, California
    Consider that the .444 is basically a .44 magnum in a longer case. you are still shooting a .429 pistol bullet. In my opinion (and it is just an opinion), for something that large, you would be better off with a .45/70.
     
  22. Bio-Chem

    Bio-Chem Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Messages:
    246
    Location:
    Utah
    I own a Marlin 444 and my closest shooting buddy owns the .358 Brownling BLR. it's funny people talk about shooting either of these calibers out to 300 yards or further. if you are shooting that far you aren't using either of those rounds. out to 150 yards both are great rifles. the .358 will shoot flatter it's true, and will give you an effective range out further than the .444, but for your stated purposes either will do just fine. I've shot the 265grain bullet out of the 444 and got excellent accuracy out of it. at 100 yards standing, open sights i was on a paper plate every shot. to me this would be about rifle selection, not caliber selection. Do you like the BLR better than a Marlin, or vice/versa?
     
  23. ExAgoradzo

    ExAgoradzo Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Messages:
    1,163
    Location:
    Central Coast of Liberal California
    HaHa! I was just looking at a Savage and a Win 88 today: I like the hammer look of the BLR and the Marlins, that's what a lever should look like. I guess it is all opinion.

    I love my 45-70 Marlin 1895.

    Greg
     
  24. andym79

    andym79 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2005
    Messages:
    447
    Location:
    Australia
    It sounds silly to say what a lever action should look like, to me its always been a Winchester 94. Really without the box magazine the BLR actually looks like a lever should.



    True, I always take game at 150 yards or less!

    After talking to people here with experience of camel hunting thr recommended calibers seem to be .338 Win. Mag. and .375 H&H
     
  25. RPRNY

    RPRNY Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    2,337
    Location:
    Front Range, CO
    If you want a lever gun (an excellent choice) and for some reason don't want 45-70 (which will stop a bus at 150 yards) then here's another thought: the Winchester Model 71 in .348 WCF. These are current catalogue, but not sure if available in Oz.

    For comparison:

    .358 WCF (better than .35 Rem…)
    180 gr (12 g) SP 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s) 2,914 ft•lbf (3,951 J)
    200 gr (13 g) SP 2,500 ft/s (760 m/s) 2,776 ft•lbf (3,764 J)
    250 gr (16 g) SP 2,200 ft/s (670 m/s) 2,687 ft•lbf (3,643 J)

    .375 WCF (the modern big brother of 38-55)
    200 gr (13 g) JFP 2,223 ft/s (678 m/s) 2,194.12 ft•lbf (2,974.83 J)
    200 gr (13 g) JFP 2,419 ft/s (737 m/s) 2,598.09 ft•lbf (3,522.54 J)
    220 gr (14 g) JFP 2,029 ft/s (618 m/s) 2,010.66 ft•lbf (2,726.09 J)
    220 gr (14 g) JFP 2,236 ft/s (682 m/s) 2,441.85 ft•lbf (3,310.70 J)

    .348 WCF (one of the most powerful rimmed cartridges ever in a lever gun)
    150 gr (10 g) 2,890 ft/s (880 m/s) 2,780 ft•lbf (3,770 J)
    200 gr (13 g) 2,530 ft/s (770 m/s) 2,840 ft•lbf (3,850 J)
    250 gr (16 g) 2,350 ft/s (720 m/s) 3,060 ft•lbf (4,150 J)

    .375 H&H (The minimum requirement for elephant hunting in several countries)
    200 gr (13 g) JFP 3,195 ft/s (974 m/s) 4,534 ft•lbf (6,147 J)
    235 gr (15 g) SP 2,964 ft/s (903 m/s) 4,585 ft•lbf (6,216 J)
    250 gr (16 g) SP 2,835 ft/s (864 m/s) 4,463 ft•lbf (6,051 J)
    270 gr (17 g) FS 2,694 ft/s (821 m/s) 4,352 ft•lbf (5,901 J)
    300 gr (19 g) SPBT 2,645 ft/s (806 m/s) 4,661 ft•lbf (6,319 J)

    And, a stout 45-70 lever gun load (Marlin Guide Gun)

    300 gr JHP 2,275 ft/s (693 m/s) 3,449 ft·lbf (4,676 J)


    The .375 H&H is a serious big game round and the minimum for elephant in several African jurisdictions. It will take down a camel. It will take several donkeys end to end. It just seems a little much. Furthermore, rifles chambered in .375 H&H (there are no lever guns so chambered) tend to be somewhat pricier than other options and will be only bolt action, singles, or double rifles.

    If the Winchester Model 71 in .348 WCF is available there, it would be my second choice, after the round that just about exterminated the North American bison, the 45-70, available in several Win and Marlin options and, for those who like more risk, the Rossi.

    For an interesting read on the 45-70, the results of the Sandy Hook Trials 1879 (not to be confused with more recent and tragic events) may be edifying. Big and slow makes big giant holes.

    http://www.researchpress.co.uk/longrange/sandyhook.htm
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page