Author Topic: Stevens 44 cartridge advice  (Read 2076 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Kmrere42

  • Trade Count: (2)
  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 315
Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« on: November 29, 2009, 02:05:56 pm »
Hi,


Just finished making a new barrel for my 44 Stevens to 38 special.  Lots of fun. 


In keeping with the 30k cup limit for a 32-40 head size, what other calibers can I safely put into it.  I have  a replacement barrel for re-doing the 32-40 but while making that I was thinking of a 38-55 and 40-65/45-70 with the trapdoor level of loading.  How does the case head diameter change effect the level of thrust to the breach block?? and will the 44 handle the larger case without loosening up.



Paul


Offline John Traveler

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1360
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2009, 09:29:57 pm »
Hi Paul.

The limiting factors on what cartridge you can barrel an action for are not only the chamber pressure rating, but the diameter of the case itself.  The reason for that is that at a given chamber pressure, the total backthrust against the breech is equal to the crossectional area of the cartridge case.  Simple physics are involved and you do not want to overstress that model 44 action.

Say your .32-40 cartridge is rated at 30,000 CUP which may translate to XX,000 psi.  The same cartrige casehead size "family" would include .30-30, .25-35, and .38-55.  You can likely chamber for all three cartridges IF you limit yourself to the original blackpowder chamber pressure equivalents.

However, if you chamber your rifle to say, the .40-65 or .45-60, .45-70 casehead size family and limit your loads to the same 30,000 CUP or XX,000 psi rating, the breechblock backthrust is now some 150% of what it was for the smaller .32-40 casehead size.  You can calculate it for yoruself.  Measure the base diameter of the cartridge cases and calculate cross-sectional area.  The breechthrust for the larger casehead is a LOT more.

According to the late Frank "Mr. Singleshot" De Haas, the Stevens 44 action is a realtively weak one, and rechambering for other cartridges should be done with great caution.  You should get a copy of his "Single Shot Rifles and Actions" and read up on it.  I don't have the book in front of me at the moment, but as I recall, even the last of the improved model 44 rifles were considered unsuitable for a mild cartridge like the .22 Hornet.

In my opinion, even chambering for one of the .45-70 casehead sized cartridges and loading to blackpowder pressures is taking a considerable risk.  The materials and design of the model 44 are not up to the task.

Have fun with your rebarrelling project, but please play it SAFE.

John   
John Traveler

Offline gunnut69

  • Moderator
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5074
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2009, 09:36:31 am »
Amen to what john T said. There are a lot of things that can be done with this action but these rifles were not made with modern materials and will fail if over stressed. Safety first is a wise move. DeHaas book (there are 2 volumes I believe) are wonderful reads on the old single shots and some of the new!!
gunnut69--
The 2nd amendment to the constitution of the United States of America-
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Offline Kmrere42

  • Trade Count: (2)
  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 315
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2009, 11:08:35 am »
John,


Updating on my 44,  I managed to get a .410 full choke barrel to put on.  I was thinking could I also use a 28gauge barrel as well.  It wouldn't be a breach issue as much as thinning of the chamber walls in that area. 

The nominal chamber for the 28gauge is .6270 at the base tapering slightly to .6140 at 2 3/4".  To thread the barrel I start at .750 to a length of .65 and threads of .805-20tpi to 1.2" , .810 to 1.5" to the receiver face. 

By using a boring bar I can leave a wall thickness of .070 which is backed up by the receiver with a diameter of 1.1". 

Even keeping the walls tight to each other is there enough material for standard pressure ammo at 12,500 psi.




Paul

Offline gunnut69

  • Moderator
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5074
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2009, 07:49:45 pm »
How much of that chamber will be exposed and unsupported in front of the action? Do the calculations yourself. The 28 guage has an owful lot of casehead..
gunnut69--
The 2nd amendment to the constitution of the United States of America-
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Offline Nobade

  • Trade Count: (2)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1981
    • Score High Gunsmithing
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2009, 05:06:24 am »
I don't reckon I'd be shooting any nitro loaded rounds in a 44 myself. OK, maybe 32 short but certainly not 410 or 28 ga shotgun. A 44 1/2 would be fine, but look at what the factory originally chambered those rifles for. They knew what they were doing. Stay away from the nitro powder and stick to black, it's much safer.
The most important aspect of this signature line is that you don't realize it doesn't say anything significant until you are just about done reading it & then it is too late to stop reading it....

Offline Kmrere42

  • Trade Count: (2)
  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 315
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2009, 02:14:28 pm »
Hi Gunnut,


The barrel will be 1.05" straight to 8 3/8" then a 45* down to .850 then straight again for the remainder to then end, perhaps 26" or 28".  This way I could would not have to make a new forend and the same profile of the original barrel. Might be a bit heavy swinging it but I would have something very unique on the trap field.


Nobade,   The original caliber was 32-40 170gr@ 1500fps  and pressures around 30k cup.


I have been looking for a 44 1/2 but no luck at my price range.


Paul


Offline gunnut69

  • Moderator
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5074
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2009, 12:46:37 pm »
Not being a Stevens fan I went back a read DeHass's piece on the 44. He stated that whjile the 3-40 and 38-55 were chambered initially they proved, even with the mild loads of the era(black powder?) unable to withstand the pressure. There after the action was limited to 25-20, 32-20 etc. Your 38 special will not stay headspaced long with heavier loads and anythuing stressing this action more would be a sure way to total a fine old action. this is not a falling bloxk it's a xwinging block. the shoulders that the breech block butts up against won't save your bacon. The breech blocks don't come straight back under heavier pressure, they twist. While the action can survive for a while it will fail. The 44 1/2 is a falling block and much stronger. Taht makes the 44 a very strong version of the Favorite,, I suggest either staying within the actions limits or using the rifles sale as a jumping off point for the purchase of a 44 1/2.
gunnut69--
The 2nd amendment to the constitution of the United States of America-
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Offline John Traveler

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1360
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2009, 08:10:40 pm »
Paul,

Gunnut69 and I are on the same page with the late Frank "Mr. Singleshot" DeHaas.  He was the greatest authority on single-shot rifles with over fifty years of experience as a gunsmith and custom rifle builder to back him up.  He was the American Rifleman Technical Advisor for many years and published extensively with numerous books and countless articles to his credit.

What he wrote about the Stevens 44, and the manufacturer's experience and caliber recommendations are all true.  It's best not to take his recommendations seriously in the interest of safety and preservation of an American Classic single shot rifle.
John Traveler

Offline gunnut69

  • Moderator
  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5074
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2009, 07:53:02 pm »
''It's best not to take his recommendations seriously in the interest of safety and preservation of an American Classic single shot rifle.''... I think John meant to say it's best to take his reccomendations seriously. To not take them seriously is a dangerous course of action. If I were building up a 44 I'[d build a 32-20 or maybe a 32 long. Set up with a match barrel and good sights it would make a fine squirrel rifle with cast slugs.
gunnut69--
The 2nd amendment to the constitution of the United States of America-
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Offline John Traveler

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1360
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2009, 06:27:37 pm »
THANK YOU gunnut!

Running with that double negative in the sentence removed the intended meaning!
John Traveler

Offline Kmrere42

  • Trade Count: (2)
  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 315
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2009, 06:27:38 am »
Thank you guys,



This is no win-mag anything.  I do have a barrel for the 32-20 or a 32h&r.  I will be keeping the pressures down.



Paul

Offline ssdave

  • Trade Count: (72)
  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 272
Re: Stevens 44 cartridge advice
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2009, 08:05:44 pm »
Paul, you've been given good advice on the strength of the 44 stevens.  It really should be used only for .22 rf and, on original rifles made for centerfire, blackpowder loads in original cartridges such as .25-20 SS. (not smokeless equivalent loads, they are not the same pressure wise).  As DeHaas noted, as did many other gunsmiths, the originals in .32-40 and .38-55 are not safe as originally chambered.

The chambering in .38 special is a hand grenade waiting to fragment, as is most any other cartridge loaded with smokeless powder.  Speaking from painful experience here; after an accident happens, it is immediately obvious that the cheapest alternative would have been to buy the most expensive, most suited tool for the purpose.  In this case, the most expensive custom high wall, CPA stevens, or similar rifle would seem cheap in comparison to the medical expenses if this rifle blows up, and that doesn't even consider the pain and the impact on your life adapting to the damage.

I have an original centerfire .44 stevens, with the larger pins (not two piece bolts) and an original .32-40 barrel.  I wouldn't even consider firing it with that barrel.  I have had other barrels fit to it, and really enjoy firing it with the .22 rf barrels.

dave