Glad to see that you purchased your first(?) lever gun. I see that you chose the .44 Magnum over the .357. It's a powerhouse with the right loads in a rifle.
I see Winchester finally put a faster 1/26" twist in their .44 Magnum. For years 1/38" was the industry standard, for whatever reason(?), and did not perform very well at all with low velocity loads and heavy bullets. Marlin still uses the 1/38. I had a Marlin 1894 in .44 Magnum a number of years back and the 1/38" twist would just about stabilize a 300 gr. bullet with a max. dose of 296. It shot 250 gr. bullets fine......as long as velocity was above 1,300 f.p.s.
The .44 W.C.F. Model 1873 Winchester, fired a 200 gr. bullet at 1,200-1,300 f.p.s. and the twist Winchester used was 1/36". My 1873 will shoot 200 gr. bullets just fine at 1,000 f.p.s. as well.
For a load that would be in the 900 - 1000 f.p.s. range in your 16" barrel with a 240 gr. bullet, I would suggest you might try 6.5-7.5 grs. of Unique, or 6-7 of 231. For Red Dot, Bullseye or American Select try 5-6 grs. to start.
With regards to a 300 gr. bullet, I would try .5 grs. more of any of the above powders to begin with. It would be interesting to see if a 300 gr. bullet would stabilize in a 1/26" twist at that velocity. In a 1/38, they would definitely keyhole.
Revolvers have faster twists and a 300 gr. bullet @ 1,000 f.p.s. works fine in them.
w30wcf: Not really my first lever gun. Have had experiences with Marlin 336 and M-94 30-30's and Marlin .22 LR Mountie Actions. Problem with lever actions is that the stocks have too much drop to use scopes very comfortably. Still got the Win .44 Trapper. Love the short barrel. Haven't shot it yet. Put a Redfield 2 & 3/4 power post & crosshair scope on it and it's feeling pretty good so far. Like the looks of the Ashley Ghost Ring though. I'll play with a number of different combinations until I find one I really like.
I liked the flexibility of the .44 mag. Can use low end plinking loads or really go all the way and have serious power w/ 300 grainers at max loads. For defense I kind of like the idea of .44 specials. Less recoil but will still handle two legged varmints. I always thought my 18" 12 guage pump guns were the ultimate in short and compact, but the Trapper is 3-4" shorter OAL than any of my pump guns. I haven't even shot it yet and I'm really in love with it. It really isn't that much harder to point and manuever in close quarters than a handgun, yet far more accurate. I used to shoot combat competition with the .45 ACP and like the idea of big, slow moving bullet. The noise level of the .357 without ear plugs in close quarters is just too painful to contemplate. .45 ACP or .44 special loads are more like it. I would like a slightly heavier barrel on the Trapper though. I like the muzzle heavy feel but will adjust to the standard item.
I specifically opted for the M-94 after determinging it has the fastest twist (26") in a lever action that appeals to me. In researching this issue, I found that it's kind of an open secret that the 38" twist is too slow for heavier bullets. Guys with .444 marlins and .44 marlins report key holing with heavier bullets. "Professional" gun writers never seem to mention the subject except parenthetically, if at all. They apparently don't want to bite the hand that feeds them. I am so sick of that kind of pimping for the advertisers.
I looked at some of the web sites for the custom lever action smiths and they invariably mention the need for re-barreling with faster twist. Why do the manufacturers keep going on this way? Is it really that difficult to re-tool and do it right the first time? If the pistol makers can make pistol barrels with 20" twists it can't be that much tougher to do it with rifles. I notice Marlin uses the 16" twist in its 357 mag so it is obviously within their capability to utilize the proper rate of twist.
Nice hearing from you 30wcf. It's always a treat to read your posts.
STW: Looked up the customer lever action gunsmith web sites for you. I have not used any of them and have no personal knowledge of the quality or competence. Onc, Coyote Cap Gunworks, was recommended to me by a poster on this board who said Coyote Cap did a great action job on his Marlin. I have talked to these guys on the phone and am planning to send my new m-94 Trapper up there for a trigger job.
Wild West Guns' products have been widely written up in the gun press and are apparently of the highest quality.
I don't have a clue as to why lever gun manufacturers keep producing barrels for some pistol cartridges with slower twists. They have been doing it for many, many years. But...... at least there have been some changes for the better in the past several years. As you mentioned, Marlin offers the .357 with the faster 16" twist as does Winchester. My Rossi Carbine (1992) has a much slower twist which will not stabilize bullets much over 185 grs.
.45 Colt Leverguns from Marlin & Winchester have been given the faster twist treatment as well. My .45 Colt Marlin Cowboy (1997) has the original 38" twist but the within the last year or so, Marlin changed to a 16" twist and Winchester to a 1/26" rate.
So that leaves the .44's. Winchester has taken the first step by changing to the 26" twist. Hopefully, Marlin will follow suit in the near future with their .44 Mag. and .444.
We just have to have patience ................................
Thank you for the kind words. I will be out of town this week on a business trip so I'll be going through a little withdrawl, so to speak, until I return on Friday.
In case you may not be aware of it, there's always a lot of lever action talk over on the Marlin site. www.marlinfirearms.com
Once there, click on "talk".
Also, there is a lever action forum over on the Beartooth Bullet website. Not as much activity as here, but still a nice place to stop by once in awhile. www.beartoothbullets.com
Once there, click on Shooters Forum and the "Leverguns and Their Cartridges" forum is about the 13th forum from the top.
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