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1873 44WCF Bore Dimensions
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January 7, 2018 - 6:26 pm
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I slugged the bore yesterday on my 1873 rifle (built 1883) and came out with 0.4295 (caliper would move between .429 and .430 around circumference). With a light (I don’t have a borescope), the bore looks to have some corrosion forward of the chamber but largely shinny with well defined lands through most of the barrel length.  Some questions:

-Is this pretty consistent with 1873 bore diameters of the same production vintage?

-I haven’t looked a bullet moulds yet but if I decide to start loading, and casting, I assume I would want 200-205 gn and .430-.431 diameter mould.

-If I start loading I will use smokeless powder (will be conservative).  Would anyone have different advice on bullet mould diameter? And any suggestions on lube.

Thanks, JimB 

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January 7, 2018 - 7:15 pm
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Sounds like you’re on the right track. I would go with an Accurate or Lyman mould around 230-240 grains. RCBS Cowboy dies are worth a look if you haven’t made that purchase yet. Any lube using the NRA 50/50 formula should suffice, SPG will work fine as well. May want to spend a bit of time here http://www.castboolits.gunloads.com/ before jumping off into casting your own bullets. I do a fair bit of casting for my old Winchesters but generally don’t talk about it in depth around here.

 

Mike

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January 7, 2018 - 11:52 pm
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Thanks Mike,

I’ve been casting for 10+ years but only 45-70, 530 grain,  black powder for Sharps.  I used to spend time on Castboolits so will go back there.

JimB

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January 8, 2018 - 12:20 am
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Very good, hope to see you there. I didn’t know if you had any experience casting or loading, misunderstood your OP. Several guys around here cast a bit but I think you’ll get a larger variety of answers on the CB site. What is your SN on the CB site? Lots of new folks there, they’ll appreciate someone with experience.

I wasn’t able to access the Accurate site, are you familiar with them?

 

Mike

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January 8, 2018 - 1:19 am
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Winchester’s published bore dimensions for the 44-40 are a bore diameter of .4225″, and rifling diameter of .4285″. I am not a fan of using calipers to measure bullets, I prefer a micrometer and preferably one that has been checked against a standard. You may find a substantial difference. 

Steve

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January 8, 2018 - 5:08 am
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I have to agree with seewin.  I’ve been casting my own bullets for 50+ years and being sure of the correct bore size in any caliber is a must.  A micrometer is far more accurate than a caliper.  As far as bullet weight is concerned, I would not go any heavier than 205 grains in a .44-40, if used in a ’73 with smokeless.  The heavier the bullet, the more pressure you develope and you could either crack the joint on a toggle link or bend a breech bolt.  Unfortunately, I speak from an experience I had, long, long ago.

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January 8, 2018 - 1:24 pm
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 I use Remington jacketed soft points 200gr. .427″. If you shoot 20 rounds here and there they work good without the mess of casting. I have excellent accuracy at original velocity, (1245fps) or less, 1150. They do better in six land rifling and rough bores than cast. Most 73s above 110,000 s/n have six land rifling. T/R

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January 8, 2018 - 4:56 pm
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For years I’ve been reloading my own 44 WCF rounds using 10 grains of Unique behind a Lyman #42798 205 grain cast bullet sized to .429.  Last year I purchased an RCBS 44-200-FN simply because it is a 2 cavity mold and these cast a lot faster than the single cavity molds.  I haven’t fired any of the RCBS 200 grain cast bullets yet, so don’t know how they compare to the 205 grain Lyman ones.

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January 10, 2018 - 6:01 pm
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Thanks to all for your responses, 

-I misspoke, I did use a micrometer and not a caliper. However, the micrometer has not been checked/calibrated so that would be a good idea.

-I intend to go back to castboolits but it has been about 5 years so will have to get a new password & possibly screen name. I was doing a lot of casting/loading when we had a vacation home in Scottsdale, AZ- close to the Ben Avery range & a very active black powder silhouette group- nothing like that exists in the Chicago suburbs.

-Interesting that Winchester went to 6 groove rifling at SN 110,000. My rifle is SN 121,XXX (1883 mfg) so I am good on that count.

-Re bullet weight, yes I will stick with 200-205 grain. I don’t want to risk overpressure.

JimB 

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January 10, 2018 - 8:24 pm
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 Jim, The 110,000 rule on six land rifling is not hard and fast, Winchester switched back and forth twice between 5 and 6 land on 66’s. If you see a 73 with a USA barrel address it will be 6 land, the USA address came out in 1886 after a patent infringement case. The factory made barrels ahead and didn’t always take them off the bottom of the pile, with all the different types laying in inventory that rule is also not hard and fast. T/R  

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January 10, 2018 - 9:53 pm
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I’ve heard of the Ben Avery range, pretty sure at least one of the BPCR shooters on CB calls it home and I think they host a pretty famous match every year.

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January 11, 2018 - 4:04 pm
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TR

Thanks for the info, interesting.  When I slugged my barrel I counted so know I have 6 lands.

GunNut,

Yes, Ben Avery is a neat place.  They have a winter national shoot for black power muzzle loaders in Feb or Mar, week long with numerous events. The silhouette matches are once a month (if under 105 deg.!) and yes they have had national championship matches.  Once I watched a 1,000 yard black powder  cartridge competition- kind of neat to see barrels up in the air at about 30 degrees.

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January 14, 2018 - 6:59 pm
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I’ve had a couple 1873’s chambered in 44 W.C.F. and slugged them. My latest one, which was a high condition ’73, had a groove diameter of .432. The others have been around .430 and .433. I use soft cast bullets sized to .431 and get excellent accuracy, even in the .432 groove diameter.

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January 15, 2018 - 3:46 am
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win38-55 said
I’ve had a couple 1873’s chambered in 44 W.C.F. and slugged them. My latest one, which was a high condition ’73, had a groove diameter of .432. The others have been around .430 and .433. I use soft cast bullets sized to .431 and get excellent accuracy, even in the .432 groove diameter.  

Rumor has it the early 44’s had a bit of variance in bore dimensions because the combination of soft lead (20-1 or thereabouts) and black powder was very forgiving as the BP would “bump-up” the diameter of the soft slug the fit the bore. I haven’t verified this myself but have read tests of people I trust. I have found that a worn bore will sometimes shoot well with BP and soft lead but will only do so for a limited time before fouling out. I think some smokeless powders have a pressure curve similar enough to BP to bump up soft lead bullets with less fouling, one that seems to work for me is Unique.

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January 15, 2018 - 4:13 am
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Yes, I use smokeless only and medium speed burn rates (Blue Dot, 2400 and 5744). However, I have found 5744 to give the most consistent velocities and 2400 the least consistent. Blue Dot approximates the max pressure spike of FFFg and 2400 is closer to FFg peak pressures.

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January 15, 2018 - 4:20 am
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The information given by others fits well with my experience. I have two older 92s with bore sizes .430 or a little bigger. They will key hole smaller hard cast bullet. They shoot very well with 1:20 bullets sized .430.

Unique or trail boss have worked well for smokeless and fff swiss if you wish to go with black powder.

If you don’t want to cast, Desperado bullet company makes a 1:20 plain base bullet that I have used to kill 2 antelope 1 deer and a javelina with. However the lube they use is not the best for black powder.

Dominic

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January 15, 2018 - 4:28 am
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Forgot to add my experience with lubes. With bullets I buy i shoot what comes on them. If they have enough on them they all seem to work. I like big fat lube grooves so the lube makes it all the way to the end of the barrel.

If I cast my own or use black powder I have had best luck with SPG.

Dominic

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January 16, 2018 - 3:52 pm
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Thanks to all, great information!

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February 11, 2018 - 4:01 pm
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JM here is an article that might be of interest to you. It explains over sized bores in early Winchesters and a particular hand cast bullet that could help. 

Over Sized Bullets for Over Sized Bores

However, if your bore is only .4295 (as is my Marlin 1894CB), soft lead .427 bullets pushed by fast burning pistol powders will expand the soft lead into the rifling. 

Hope this helps.

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February 11, 2018 - 6:15 pm
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[email protected] said
JM here is an article that might be of interest to you. It explains over sized bores in early Winchesters and a particular hand cast bullet that could help. 
Over Sized Bullets for Over Sized Bores
However, if your bore is only .4295 (as is my Marlin 1894CB), soft lead .427 bullets pushed by fast burning pistol powders will expand the soft lead into the rifling. 
Hope this helps.  

More good information for us 44-40 shooters.

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