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Old 08-30-2021, 05:21 AM
canoeguy canoeguy is online now
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Default Taper crimp for .44/40?

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....
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Old 08-30-2021, 05:57 AM
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Try the Redding "Pro" crimp die.
It has a sort of compound taper-roll that has tested as the best one against bullet creep (albeit in the 44 magnum).
The 44-40 is the only "44" I don't load or shoot as it is not a .429-.430.
I do know the brass can be fairly thin at the mouth.
The Lee might not be the perfect crimp die for that brass.
I only use a Lee crimp (the collet crimp) in 444 when crimping against the nose of a WFN.
The 44 taper crimp die I use is from RCBS.
Redding make one as well I think.
Check those 2 for a 44-40 taper crimp die if you are not going to try the "Pro" crimp.
Actually any normal roll crimp die should work fine in the 44-40 once you get the touch if you are crimping into a cannelure.
I understand it's somewhat easy to crumple the brass with too much force.
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Old 08-30-2021, 06:41 AM
twodog max twodog max is online now
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I have been loading for a Miroku/Winchester 1892 44/40 for three years. First of all not all brass is equal. Winchester brass is extremely thin in the neck. It is supposed to be that way so that the brass will seal the chamber at the low SAAMI spec pressures. You have to be very careful when seating and crimping or the necks will collapse. Get the bullet straight before running it into the seating die. Get adequate flaring of the case mouth is critical to bullet seating. I seat and crimp in separate processes. I have RCBS dies but use a Redding Profile crimp die to do the roll crimp. IMO this is the only way to go. Technically 44/40 barrels should use .427-.428 bullets but the new Winchesters are usually .429 and the bullets should be .429 or .430 to shoot best. This is the biggest reason to exercise extreme care in the seating and crimping. You need good dies. I have little faith in the Lee stuff especially the factory crimp thing. Resist the urge to shoot heavy 44 bullets. Restrict yourself to cast bullets in the 200-220 weights. Don't try to magnumize this round. The 44/40 is not a magnum but an effective round on its own. Higher pressures cause early case failure. I use Winchester and Starline cases mostly but I have some Magtech that I got as factory ammo that I use and got to work well using the Redding profile crimp die.
The 44/40 is pure fun to shoot. Low recoil even when loaded to 12-1300 fps range. Rounds feed best if you stick to bullets that are or closely shaped like RNFP types. I have had great results using the Nosler 200 grain .429 bullet at standard velocities.
If you get in a hurry or try to take shortcuts you will ruin a lot of brass that is expensive and difficult at times to find.

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Old 08-30-2021, 07:59 AM
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What dia are the lead bullets?
As Twodog max relates, those made for the 44-40 will usually be slightly smaller in dia than those .44cal bullets for the .44spcl/44mag.
.427/428 vs .429/.430

That was the orig .44-40 groove dia spec. A lot of the modern 44-40 caliber guns just use the larger dia 44cal bbl specs to save bbl production costs.
But the bullet dia you are using AND the dia of the expander in the die set you have can be an issue.

If you have the smaller dia bullets and the die set has an expander for the slightly larger .429/.430 dia 44 projectiles,,that plus the very thin brass will not give you much grip on the bullet.
They will easily be pushed back into the case. Add to it, no crimp or a very light one and the bullet is just barely hanging on in the neck of the brass.

I put a decent roll crimp on my 44-40 reloads, but don't over do it.
Crimp the case so the edge folds over into the crimping groove of the bullet,,sounds crazy to even mention but I've seen some reloads that were simply crimped into the solid portion of the side of the bullet.
Not much holding power in that.

The round needs a pretty good crimp if used in the lever action with a full tube of rounds so the bullets aren't pushed back by simple mag spring tension.

I seat and crimp in one operation, always have and don't have any problems doing so. Many do those as separate trips through the press. What ever works for you.

I load the 44-40 for 2 orig Mod 73 rifles and an orig 92 SRC. Plus a Colt Bisley.
Brass life is as good as any other.
Trying to crimp the round too heavily usually just results in the thin wall of the case crimpling,,not being able to support the force being pushed down and inward on the top edge in the crimping motion.
The crimp groove in the bullet is only so deep anyway. So trying to press that thin brass any deeper than that depth and something has to give,,and it's usually the case wall beneath it.

I use about any headstamp brass I happen to have. It all seems to work OK.
I have found that some 38-40 brass necked up to 44-40 is too thick in the neck.
It necks up OK and sizes fine. Looks just like any other 44-40 case.
But the thicker brass walled necks then bulge when the same bullet is seated. These won't come close to chambering in any of my guns.

Back into the drawer to wait for a 38-40 project to reload for.
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Old 08-30-2021, 08:28 AM
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I have an original 1873 Winchester rifle in 38WCF, aka 38-40. The problem with both it, and your 44-40 is that both were originally loaded with black powder, and the slightly compressed full charge supported the base of the bullet, therefore it couldn't be pushed further into the case. I use either Unique, or Trail Boss under the 180 RCBS "Cowboy" bullet, but neither one will support the bullet, and you should never compress Trail Boss. The trick is to have a bullet with a pronounced cannelure, and most importantly, to trim all your brass to a uniform length to insure a consistent crimp. I seat my bullets to length with a standard seating die first, backed off to not crimp. Then I use another standard seating/roll crimp die with the seating plug removed to form the crimp. Seems to work better than seating and crimping at the same time. Never have had a problem using this method, and I'm sure the same will hold true for your 44.
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Old 08-30-2021, 08:37 AM
Ivan the Butcher Ivan the Butcher is offline
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I loaded 44-40 (44WCF) for Cowboy shooting. I had around 2000 brass, and loaded in batches almost that big.

Some notable points: 44-40 has a thin neck by design, nominally .010"

Depending on the chamber, the brass will stretch! On very loose chambers up to .025" per firing, mine were closer to .005" in the Ruger Vaqueros and .008 in the Marlin 1894 CB.

When seating the bullet is when 95% of problems occur! to avoid this:

Try to keep ammo in groups that are fired the same amount, or trim often!

Seat bullet and crimp in separate stages. This was the cartridge I used the Lee FCD on all the time.

My Ruger Vaqueros would not chamber ammo loaded with .429 bullets, only with .427 bullets, the marlin did not care!

When I loaded a batch of ammo. I took a revolver cylinder, and used it as a chamber gauge and tested every single round.

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Old 08-30-2021, 11:43 AM
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My experience with .44-40 has been in a Colt SAA (1914 production) and Marlin 1894 (1905 production). Observations (in no particular order):

1. .44-40 is a bottle-necked cartridge. No carbide sizer dies, case lube required.

2. Case walls and case mouths are quite thin (compared to most of the more modern designs). Easy to damage a case mouth or collapse a case wall while seating bullets, careful attention to case mouth expansion is required to avoid scrapping a lot of brass. I recommend the Lyman M-die, two-step expander to ease starting the bullet. Also note: bullet diameter will dictate case mouth expansion (see further comments on variations in bore/groove dimensions).

3. Very wide variations in chambers and bores are known to exist. The chamber throats of my Colt are 0.426" diameter, dictating the older small diameter bullets. The Marlin has 0.430" groove diameter, so the larger bullet diameters shoot better. I developed one load that I can use in both, consisting of a relatively soft cast bullet 0.427" as cast, lubed but not sized. Works fine in the Colt, "bumps up" enough on firing to shoot accurately in the Marlin. For those with larger diameter throats, bores, grooves and using .429" or .430" bullets I would recommend ordering the appropriate expander stem for the Lyman M-die to accept those bullets without undue stress on the cases during seating.

4. Marlin has a tubular magazine so a good crimp is necessary to prevent bullet set-back. I use a firm roll crimp in the crimp groove of the cast bullets and have had no problems with set-back. Flat-nose bullets, of course, for the tubular magazines.

5. With the thin case walls and case mouths, and the repeated stresses involved in neck expansion and crimping I do not expect long lives with my .44-40 brass. Metal fatigue is likely to be greater than we see in .44 Special or Magnum brass.

6. I have been advised by an experienced .44-40 user that brass can be made from .45 Colt, case head and body diameters being close enough to allow reforming to .44-40. I have not had to try this yet, but with current shortages it might be an alternative. If I were trying this I would start with a few dummy rounds with bullets seated and crimped, checking to verify they will chamber properly (easily), and only then would I continue to a few actual loaded rounds to test before I loaded up a quantity of ammo with such resized cases.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-30-2021, 12:25 PM
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Thanks for the great responses, a lot of great info.

I am re-habbing at home after a shoulder surgery, with a lot of time on my hands. I have just now regained the use of my right arm, so I'll be looking for a project to keep me occupied.

I'll start with a careful look at using the factory crimp die, and get a Lee trimming tool...
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Old 08-30-2021, 01:41 PM
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I've never loaded .44-40, but there's no real reason why it wouldn't respond to crimping as other such cartridges are crimped. I seldom use a Lee factory crimp die, not that there is anything wrong with them, I just don't have a need. I usually taper crimp handgun cartridges, even for revolver use, but roll crimping's often fine.

There is no standard definition of light, moderate, and heavy crimp. Regardless of the type crimp you use, crimp just enough to keep the bullet in place under recoil - and no more. This requires some one time experimentation that's worth the effort. Shoot groups.

Keep it all very simple and good luck.
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Old 08-30-2021, 02:37 PM
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It should be noted that the LEE FCD is a collet-style die in 44-40. As such, it is not "resizing" the lead bullet. Without knowing more (actual diameter, cannelure, etc.) about the bullets being used it is really hard to attempt to even diagnose the problem, much less suggest a solution.

With the collet-style LEE FCD there is at least that 2nd option for crimping. At 44-40 pressures it probably had much to do with the tubular magazine and not enough crimp, what ever the version.

Cheers!

P.S. The LEE collet-style crimp in a cannelure won't go anywhere, IMHO.
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Old 08-30-2021, 08:42 PM
twodog max twodog max is online now
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I have been reloading for over 50 years but the 44/40 showed me how little I really knew about bullet size, neck tension, bullet seating and correct and consistent case length. After initial trimming of new brass I have yet to need to trim again. Some cases have been loaded a half dozen times. The secret to this is not hotrodding the 44/40 rounds. 1892 Winchesters and Marlin 1894 will certainly stand much higher pressure but that is where brass life takes a dive.
As far as forming from 45 Colt I suppose anything is possible but why do all that. Go to the Starline web site and when they have it order direct from them. At least until the component crisis is a memory. I just ordered 250 more.
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Old 08-31-2021, 09:08 AM
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44-40 brass is a pain to load and your dies have to be set up just right or crumpled brass will be the end result. I would probably destroy two or three cases with every set up before I could get them just right every time I screwed them into my press. The problem was solved with the Lee Collet Die. I set my seating/crimp die just to make contact with the brass, then adjust my OAL, then run the batch. I then use the collet die to crimp and have no lost cases.

Lots of negative stuff about Lee Collet Die, but I will say it is the only thing that works for me. I have been experimenting with 240 grain 44 Mag JHP bullets and can improve my accuracy with a Uberti Model 1866 substantially using jacketed bullets. I found that my 3 die reloading die set will not put a proper crimp on copper plated bullets and they would move as the gun is shot. Problem arises because the 240 grain bullet is too long and if crimped at the cannelure, the cartridge will not work in the elevator.

Next I tried to push the bullet further in the case, but at the max OAL for the 1866, the crimp is above the shoulder, just above the transition from flat to rounding, and I could not get the standard dies to do the job of crimping. The Lee Collet die solved the problem perfectly. I can adjust the die to produce a solid crimp that stands up to a full magazine of ammo with no movement of the bullets.

I am now shooting with much more accuracy than lead, and with zero problems. At the price of under $20 on ebay, this all steel die is absolutely worth purchasing for all 44-40 levergun reloaders.

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Old 08-31-2021, 11:54 AM
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I have fired and reloaded thousands of 44-40 in SASS matches for over 20 years, yes, I ruined some casings because of it's very thin neck.

When I found a set of Redding dies and got them adjusted properly all of my problems disappeared. I have never used or needed to use Factory
Crimp die from any one.

Biggest thing "I" learned in all of this is to slow down and make SURE that the casing is going straight into the die body.

Have used Hornady One Shot spray lube for years and then couldn't get it for some time and decided to use what I already had.....a can of Pledge furniture wax...lemon scented....not only does it do a nice job but it smells good while doing it!!

Have never trimmed to length any of my brass.

Those are MY thoughts on reloading the 44-40 for what is worth to anyone.

Randy
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Old 08-31-2021, 12:08 PM
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I use the 44-40 in a S&W 544 and have loaded for it to use in a Marlun 1894S. I just stopped using anything but the slightly thicker Starline brass for reasons you can glean from above. The Nolser 200 grain JHP is a clean, accurate bullet, but hard to find in the current panic. I've been using 200 grain Missouri LFN and those are excellent as well.

You just have to be prepared to crush/ruin a couple of cases to find the most roll crimp you can apply. I use RCBS dies and have had no troubles, no setback, and no bullets moving forward (revolver) using this method. I gave away my Win and Rem brass years ago.
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Old 08-31-2021, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
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

Dies:
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 case...you 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.

HOPE THIS HELPS!
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Old 08-31-2021, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canoeguy View Post

I'll start with a careful look at using the factory crimp die, and get a Lee trimming tool...
As someone who appreciates simplicity, I've used the Lee trimming system (cutter with interchangeable stud that controls case length-if they also make a better system now, quit reading) for decades. However, you can't really depend upon the accuracy of the trim and since Lee does regular steel cutters, they get dull with much use. It can also be most time consuming even with an electric drill/screwdriver rotating the cases.

If you are going to go this route, have a good calipher on hand and check the length of each and every case while trimming.

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Old 09-07-2021, 05:49 PM
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I've tried the Lee trimmers (the ones that screw in your press) and went back to my old Lyman lathe system for the reasons stated above.
I could not get reproduceable, reliable results every time.
Might have to do with the plastic parts involved.
Scored a Lyman trimmer at a swap meet decades ago that is old enough it's grey and not the orange we know today.
The trim head was worn out so I got the driver adapter which is a whole new axle and carbide cutter.
Works fine after a rebuild. I can't imagine any faster, more precise way to trim revolver cartridges.
The amount of shooting I do, once is usually enough.
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Old 09-09-2021, 10:38 AM
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I went back and read post #1. At least one company makes a line of dies expressly for cowboy type cartridge reloading. SFAIK, the major difference is in the case belling die for bullet seating. The OP might be well advised to break out the wallet and get a better set of dies more suited for the task. Sometimes you aren't paying for "name", but technical superiority.

The suggestion to use new Starline brass is also a very good one.
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Old 09-10-2021, 05:39 AM
twodog max twodog max is online now
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Taper crimp for .44/40? Taper crimp for .44/40? Taper crimp for .44/40? Taper crimp for .44/40? Taper crimp for .44/40?  
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Just got 250 new Starline factory direct at a decent price too. I spent a day at the bench running them through my RCBS dies, tumbling off the lube and them trimming to minimum specs. They were all slightly over max out of the box and several had neck dingers as expected with bulk brass. Being retired a good way to spend a late summer day while recuperating from hernia surgery.
I can load up all my brass and have enough 44/40 on hand to make a John Wayne western LOL
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Old 09-12-2021, 02:23 PM
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Started loadin 44-40 40 years ago for el Tigre rifle. All case and going slow is best advice. used .428 and .429 200gr great results.
Jim
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