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44 Special in 44 Colt? - Advisory

machine gun moranmachine gun moran Member Posts: 5,198
I now have two Uberti Colt Open Top copies, in .44 Colt. The second one I purchased (also a new gun) was advertised as being marked for .44 Colt, but that it would chamber and fire .44 Specials. I did not mind having chambers which were .050 deeper, although I intended to fire only .44 Colts in it.

When the gun arrived, I found that it would indeed chamber .44 Specials - but that the cartridges would not headspace on the rims. They would stop short of the rims making contact with the cylinder, but would go in just far enough to allow gate closure and cylinder rotation, and actually could have been fired. I was trying factory-loaded .44 special ammunition which had a strong crimp, and it was obvious that the cartridges were headspacing with their crimped portions on the tapered throat leads at the front of the chambers. If fired with the crimp actually into the throat taper like this, the crimp cannot open, and the bullet will have to size down from .430 to .410 (the inclusive thickness of the brass walls) in order to escape the cartridge. This will do wonders for pressure (as well as accuracy), and seems to be very inadvisable to even attempt. The gun will not accept a new, straight (uncrimped) 44 Special case, which essentially represents the form of a fired case in the chamber.

All of which reinforces using the ammunition for which a gun is marked, in spite of claims by a seller or anyone else, to the contrary.


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    44caliberkid44caliberkid Member Posts: 925 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Good Advice. I have a Belgian made copy of a S&W double action breaktop that is marked 44 WCF. First time I shot it (with black powder cartridges) the bottlenecked cases came out straight wall. The cylinder was bored straight through and it would chamber any 44 cartridge including 44 Magnum, which, if fired, would have made it a hand grenade.
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    JohnnyBGoodJohnnyBGood Member Posts: 1,443 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by machine gun moran
    All of which reinforces using the ammunition for which a
    gun is marked, in spite of claims by a seller or anyone else,
    to the contrary.

    If you were inclined to give the seller the benefit of the
    doubt, I present the following possibility.

    As I'm sure you are aware the original .44 Colt used a heel
    type bullet of .440+ diameter. Modern .44 Colt's use a
    regular style bullet of .429-.430 diameter, thus allowing
    the use of readily available .44 Special bullets. Since many
    people confuse/misuse the word bullets for
    cartridges, he may have been told that it can use
    .44 Special bullets, which he took to mean .44 Special cartridges.

    Anyway, if I may offer a few photos of our .44 Colt made
    by American Frontier Firearms in California, along with
    Mrs. Johnny taking it for a test drive [:p]




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    machine gun moranmachine gun moran Member Posts: 5,198
    edited November -1
    Johnny, that's a righteous looking case job. For its part, Uberti's case coloring was often a little weak in times past (predominantly gray), but the last three that I bought (two SAA's and an Open Top) had much more browns and blues, and came off pretty well. Those case jobs are hard and deep, by the way, they're not just window dressing. I even grooved a new Nicholson file intending to break a sharp edge on one of them, before resorting to a Dremel tool.

    This is even farther off-topic, but the Colt percussion designs have to be the prettiest guns ever invented.
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    v35v35 Member Posts: 12,710 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Some older 32-20, 38-40 and 44-40 chambers had straight tapers to ease extraction and ejection. Actually, so did the 45Long.
    The SAA was criticized from day one for its' slow loading and ejection and these tricks were used.
    Note,prewar production quantities for the many different calibers chambered in the SAA. Straight walled cartridges were very, very few while the bottle necked three were the major sellers by far.
    A good example is the total 44 unit production of 45ACP despite its' popularity & brisk SAA sales following WW1. This is a true PITA to load because of the thick, uncrimped brass hanging up on chamber mouths.
    On your Open top repro guns. I would run a 44Spl chambering reamer in the chambers to enable using 44SPL brass. I question strength of Colt's open frame design and would stay with 44 Colt equivalent loads; nothing more powerful than any caliber presently chambered in that company's open top repros.
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    machine gun moranmachine gun moran Member Posts: 5,198
    edited November -1
    I've read that the government-spec chambers for the .45 Colt were large, to facilitate reloading in the presence of a lot of black powder fouling. Colt apparently used this chamber dimension to at least into the 1970's, because an early 3rd generation gun that I shot a lot, would produce some pretty swollen empties. I had one Remington factory 250-grain load split its case full-length. I think a lot of guns were made with oversize chambers, as I've seen fired 38-40 brass that, as you say, came out as a straight taper with no bottleneck at all. In my 38-40, the empties come out as a bottle-neck, but the shoulder is moved way forward. Modern dies are apparently made to resize the case to below the minimum factory chamber specs, but this is considerably over the maximum factory cartridge specs, because the cases retain the much longer (pretty much 'as fired') case body. But it all chambers well.

    I dont load anything hot for the Open-Tops, as I believe such recoil forces will be hard on the guns. I use only Trail Boss in the .44's, and I think my top load generated around 750 fps with a 215-grain bullet. But the load was shooting a little high, so I decided to stick with a 200-grain bullet at about 700 fps. I also have a .38 Open-Top, which shoots to the sights with 148 to 158-grain bullets loaded to around 725 fps. Apparently, the Open-Tops are sighted to shoot POA with loads in those ranges.

    I wanted to go no larger than a .44 chambering because of reports that some of the .45's were splitting the forcing cones at the bottom, where their barrels are cut really thin for gas ring clearance. The splitting of forcing cones is apparently not a new problem, as a local gunsmith has an original 1851 Navy in nearly new condition, that has a split forcing cone. The metal is fairly thick around the cone in a .36, but the materials used were not nearly of the quality that they are today.
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    perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,107 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    44 RUSSIAN should work well I bought a bunch of loaded rounds Cheap
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