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Old 08-31-2021, 04:00 PM
Bryan Austin Bryan Austin is offline
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Originally Posted by canoeguy View Post
My Nephew bought a Winchester 1866 "Yellowboy" reproduction in .44/40 caliber about a year ago, to date he has found a total of two boxes of ammo for it. To help him out, I have put together some .44/40 reloading stuff, a set of Lee dies, Lee Factory Crimp Die, probably 400 pieces of brass, 500 lead projectiles.

I have been handloading most of my adult life, and I can tell .44/40 is going to be a challenge compared to .44 Magnum or .38 Special. I put together a sample batch using the Lee Factory Crimp Die, and one cartridge had the bullet pushed into the case after running them through the rifle. Not enough crimp....

I read an article in the American Rifleman (online) that suggested you put in a light roll crimp to start, the follow up with a taper crimp, using a separate taper crimp die. Anyone use this technique, and where can I find a .44/40 taper crimp die?

I haven't put together another test batch yet, but will soon with a more vigorous application of crimp with the factory crimp die if I can't find a taper crimp die....

Howdy canoegy,

The 44-40 is actually very simple to handload when all aspects are completely understood. There are so many different "size" variables that can give this cartridge a bad reputation.

In order to properly tame the beast, one must obtain some information.

Barrel Bore - slug the barrel, this will tell you which diameter bullet will work best if not using soft lead. Some bores slug as small as .424" and some as large as .433". I find most modern Italian variants, and even my Marlin are .429"...thus I use .428" soft lead bullets. If you use a .430" in a .424", you run the danger of high chamber pressures.

Bullet Diameter - See above

Resizing Dies - Use a resizing die that relates to the size of the bullet/bore. Over working the case can lead to split case mouths. Lee resizers seam to resize the smallest (Winchester .4255" Jacketed Soft Points) while the RCBS Cowboy Dies work best with the larger .429" lead bullets. This gives good NECK RETENTION and aids in keeping the bullet from telescoping down into the case.

Case Mouth Bellowing - Here is where it hits home. Trying to shove a .430" bullet into a case sized and bellowed for a .4255" will cause case crumpling, bulges and other issues. For best results, use the Lyman "M" die to bellow the case mouth. This leave a "squared" step opening to allow the bullet to sit squared. This prevents side seating and side bulges that prevent the cartridge from chambering due to a now "over sized neck". Again, use the appropriate "M" size. Use a 44-40 plug for .425" to .427" and a 44 Mag "M" plug for .429" to 430".

For now, seat the bullet in one step and crimp in a separate step. For seating, use the longest case to set the bullet seating depth. Sometimes the cases can be slightly longer than some. If you set the seating depth for the shorter case, when crimping a bullet seated in the longer can crumple the case mouth when crimping.

Once the bullets are seated, roll crimp into a bullet with a roll crimp groove. Good neck retention, aforementioned, along with a good roll crimp will be enough.

However, when using jacketed soft point bullets or lead bullets with shallow crimp grooves, it is best to crimp with a Redding 44-40 Profile Crimp. This accomplished several things. The die "squezezes" or "resizes" any imperfections in the crimping stage, which is the second portion of the crimping process with the Redding die. The first process is used with lead bullets with shallow grooves or with no grooves at all. This, along with GOOD NECK RETENTION keeps the bullet seated.

For more detailed information visit the Handloading section of the 44-40 website here:
Chasing the 44-40 - Handloading

Scan that page for related information for your application. THEN check out the Redding Die information page here:
Chasing the 44-40 - Redding Profile Crimp Die

As well as Crumpling/Buckling problems here:
Chasing the 44-40 - Crimping/Crumpled/Buckled Case Issues?

Also, the definition of "waist wasp" as it relates to the portion of the case directly under the base of the bullet which aids in keep it in place.

In order to keep the bullet from telescoping down into the case, you need Several things.

1. The bullet needs to be sitting on top of a full caseload of black powder,

2. Full caseload of the appropriate smokeless powder (Please ignore this for now).

3. Tight neck resize (but not over doing it for large diameter bullets),

4. In leu of #3, wasp waist below the bullet, and or a good roll crimp and or a LFCD, or preferably a Redding profile crimp.

If the 44-40 LFCD is used with lead bullets that are too large, the collet will not close all the way and leave "bumps" on the case mouth as well as a "ring" around the case mouth. This will lead to case mouth splits. The LFCD does not crimp the Winchester and Remington JSP bullets enough without help from one or more of the aforementioned items.

The photo of the two bullet profiles below were crimped with the Redding Profile crimp die. The first crimp step is for the lead bullets, continue with the crimp, and you will put the "U" shaped crimp in the more narrow JSP bullets.

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Last edited by Bryan Austin; 08-31-2021 at 04:08 PM.
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