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Due to a wide ranging state policy change our local range has been restricted from all high powered rifles up to .45" cal to[/color] rimfire rifles, air rifles, centerfire pistol and rifle cartridge long arms under 1250fps, and......black powder rifles up to .70" cal. :?
I'm sure you can understand how annoyed we were after shooting 375H&H and 338-375 Wby there, not to mention the myriad of smaller cal centerfires. :evil:
As such I'm seriously considering picking up one of the extremely affordable Rossi (Legacy) Puma lever action carbines near the end of the year to use BP loads at the range.
I figure there'll be some fun in it and I'd also be able to score a rifle suitable for brush hunting.
I thought seriously about buying a H&R 45-70 but have little use for this cartridge and so am weighing up 44-40, 44 Mag and 45 Colt as they are lower velocity, use less powder and come in affordable repeater rifles but are still big bore cals.
Keeping in mind the rifle would also be used with smokeless loads for general hunting which do you believe would be the most flexible round?
Also, does anyone know if it is possible to mount a scope on these rifles?

BTW, I've heard that 777 doesn't corrode barrels as badly as Pyrodex and other BPs.
Is this true?
 

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44-40, 44 Mag or 45 Colt in a Rossi Puma le

I like the Rossi '92s being imported by EMF. They stay truer to the originals, and don't have the ugly bolt safety on top. There's no good way to scope one, although it'll work fine with a peep sight on the tang. The Marlin '94 is your best choice if you desire a scope on your lever gun. The Marlin is also easier to take apart for cleaning, and it's pretty affordable.

That being said, my latest lever gun for black powder is an EMF/Rossi Hartford in .44 mag. I ordered it from Steve Young, who also handles warrantee work for EMF. He slicked it up, and it's much smoother than factory original Rossi '92s I've owned. Although I shoot black powder for CAS, I plan to load my 44 mag cowboy guns with full power smokeless loads during the hunting season. My revolvers are stainless Ruger Vaqueros, so they make nice trail guns. The lack of adjustable sights keeps me from using them as primary hunting arms.

I think that a factory stock EMF/Rossi would work just fine for hunting, plinking, and most cowboy action shooting. They start at around $320 or $330 USD on gunbroker.com. For a bit more, Steve will sell you one already slicked up. Of course, shipping may be way too much for you to consider doing it that way.

As for the most flexible round, the .44 mag wins, although it's nearly tied with the .45 Colt, especially for experienced reloaders. The .44-40, due to case design, can't really approach the same performance as the other two rounds. Rabid fans of the .45 Colt and .44 WCF may pop in here and explain in great detail why they feel their pet rounds are better than the .44 mag.

777 leaves less fouling, but it still draws moisture, and it's still supposed to be cleaned up with water, so I don't bother with it. I've found Pyrodex to be worse than real black powder when it comes to causing corrosion. I'm ordering in a case of Swiss, since by all accounts it has higher energies, less fouling, and more consistent performance than other brands of black powder available in my area. The Goex that I shoot all the time cleans up pretty easily, and I've had no rusting problems, even though I live in a rain forest. Cleaning up after black has been easier than cleaning after some jacketed rounds and smokeless powder, and you don't really have to do it within just a couple of hours. Black powder takes a while for the salts to cause a problem, sometimes up to a couple of weeks, depending on where you're at.

Just to give myself a warm, fuzzy feeling, I ordered some of the Kleen Bore Inhibitor anti-corrosion gun storage bags. They emit a rust preventing vapor, draw moisture away from the gun, and they're supposed to last for up to 3 years. My guns all sit in these bags when not in use, on top of being in a safe with a golden rod dehumidifier.
 

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44-40, 44 Mag or 45 Colt in a Rossi Puma le

The thin case walls of the bottlenecked .44-40 cartridge will seal the chamber better than the straight walled cases like the .44 Magnum and .45 Colt. So you don't get as much fouling coming back into the action.

The .44-40 was called the .44 Winchester Center Fire cartridge as it was originally designed for the lever action rifles. The designers knew what they were doing.
 

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44-40, 44 Mag or 45 Colt in a Rossi Puma le

I would opt for the 44-40 too for the very reason that Sixgun Symphony does. that the cartridge seals really well and prevents blowback of the BP. Plus I really like the sound of BP 44-40 cartridges. Sounds like a shotgun almost. :)
 

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.44-40, .44 Mag, .45 Colt

I shoot all three, but only have carbines in .44 Mag and .44-40.

I think the .45 Colt offers the greatest potential for power and the Rossi now chambers a lever gun in .454 Casul, so shooting .45 Colts to higher power levels shouldn't be a problem in that particular gun. It should easily eclipse the .44 Mag in power.

I love the .44-40 and shoot it almost exclusively with 777. Yes, it has to be cleaned up with water, but for the life of me, I cannot see this as a failing! When we clean our guns, we always use a solvent for brushing and a metal protectant for storage. With 777, I use wet patches for brushing and a metal protectant for storage. I cannot see the intimidation factor for letting our rifles touch water. Do we not shoot and hunt in the rain? It does not rain solvent, thank God.

30 Grains of 777 loose powder, topped by a 200 grain bullet designed for the .44-40 gins up over 1300 fps in my Iron Henry and it's an accurate shooting load. It would be a great deer round at 50 to 75 yards. There is no need for special lubes or cookies. A hard cast, factory lubed bullet loaded right on top of the powder is perfect.

The only drawback to the .44-40 is the difficulty the beginning reloader can experience when crimping. It takes a little practice to avoid crumpling cases and you will probably lose 2 or 3 the first time you do it.

Dan C
 

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Re: .44-40, .44 Mag, .45 Colt

Dan Chamberlain said:
I love the .44-40 and shoot it almost exclusively with 777. Yes, it has to be cleaned up with water, but for the life of me, I cannot see this as a failing!
Dan C
It's not a failing. It's just a fact that illustrates that clean up wise, 777 doesn't really offer that much of an advantage over regular old black powder. Especially since 777 fouling draws moisture, same as black powder fouling, so why not just use real black powder?

Straight walled cases work fine for black powder, when properly loaded. The .45 Colt, .44 Russian, and a host of other pistol and rifle rounds like the .45-70 have been proving that for well over a century. Use a bullet that's properly sized for the firearm, with a bhn of no more than 12 or so, and a case sized to allow plenty of neck tension, then fill it with a mildly compressed load of black powder. A good crimp gives the final bit of insurance. Annealing case necks also works well, making the brass soft enough to fully obturate and seal the chamber off. I don't bother to anneal my brass, but I've experienced zero problems with blow back in the straight walled cases I load with black powder. As an added bonus, real black powder seems to be far gentler on cases than many of the substitute powders on the market.

As was pointed out, if you don't want to bother casting or lubing your own bullets, substitute powders other than Pyrodex are fine with store bought hard lubed bullets.
 
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