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Discussion Starter #1
I just picked up an early 444 marlin. late 70s early 80s modle. I just got the dies and am ready to start reloading for it. I have H335,IMR 4064 and IMR 4895, any better powders? I have Hornandy 265fp and Speer 240fp. Anyone got any pet loads with them? Also are there any tricks I need to know about loading for the lever actions and straight wall cases. I have been reloading sense the early 80s, for bolt actions and single shots in several cal. This is my first lever action. I know the over all length has to be right or it want chamber, and the bullets have to be crimped, I have a lee factory crimp die, anything elce I should know. Thanks in advance. Tn. Whip :D
 

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Whip,

I am new to reloading for sure but do love my two 444s. One is a '78 444S microgroove and the other is a '02 444SS ballard.

My very first attempt at reloading for the 444S was H-322, 47 gr, CCI Large Magnum rifle primers, OAL 2.559 and case length 2.220. These loads are approx 1800 fps. The first group was ok and 1 3/4" at 100yd. scoped at 4X and front rest only. The next group (5 shot) was 48 gr and the group was witnessed and measures .720". I still need to shoot up the rest of the loads of H322 up to the 52 gr max to see what will happen. This particular rifle is just a shooter. I have never shot sub MOA before but have come within a few thousandths many times with Hornady Light Magnum 265 gr factory stuff.

I have also begun tinkering with a load for the 444SS. Last weekend we went out and I had loaded up some IMR 4198 starting at 40 gr (about 1800 fps) and worked up thru 42 gr. These all shot great 5 shot groups with open sights and my trifocal eyes at 50 yd. I still need to shoot the rest of the reloads up that I have loaded and they go up to 44.5 gr max. Same OAL, case length and primers. I am installing a Burris Speed Dot on this rifle this week so I can prove my loads at 50 yd. There is always fuzz on my front sight nowadays. :lol:

Keep us posted on your progress. I also used a medium crimp with the Lee Factory Crimp Die. All bullets were the Hornady 265 gr and once fired Remington brass.

I do love my 444 rifles!!

Dave
 

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I don't know how this rifle will shoot. It belonged to a friend of mine whos house caught fire and the stock and fore arm was chared. He kept it for 15 years and didn't do anything to it. He gave it to me and I had it checked out and it was ok but it did have a few pits in the barrel. I lapped the barrel and I restocked it in curly ash that I cut back in 1994. I sighted it in with Remington 240g loads and I got about 2" groups at 50 yards with the open sights. I have loaded some 240g Speers and with 56g of IMR 4895. Maybe try it out tomorrow.
 

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Marlin Lever Action Centerfire Rifles

Whip

Welcome to graybeard outdoors, Quite a story about your 444 it ought to be tempered pretty well, I hope it works out for you. I don't have much experience with loading this caliber but there will be some one come on board that can help you. Good luck to ya......Joe.........
 

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Whip Ol Buddy - if you have lapped the barrel of that Marlin, don't bother with jacketed bullets any more, shoot up whatcha have and get some hard-cast gas-check heavy weights from Beartooth Bullets. The groups you shot with the jacketed bullets can now easily be duplicated with 300, 330 and 350 gn cast slugs. Funny part is that with the Beartooth loading data the recoil with some of those heavy weight bullets is less than with full loads under the 240 or 265 gn slugs.

That being said, from my Speer Manual - 55.5 gn of H335 under the Speer .429 300 gn jacketed bullet gets you to 2211'/sec. The cannister of H4198 I have shows 49 gns of that powder under the 240 gn jacketed bullet gets you to 2400'/sec but again, since you have firelapped the barrel I wouldn't bother with the expensive jacketed slugs any more. I would get myself right over to the Beartooth Bullets site for loading data for their cast slugs. It is phenomenal stuff and you will be amazed what your Marlin will do with cast bullets since the barrel has been lapped. HTH and Good Luck. Mikey.
 

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I shot it today with a 5 shots group of 54g and a 5 shot group of 56g IMR 4895. both shot good. The tightest was the 56g. It measured 1 1/4. I was shooting at 50 yards. I wish I had a scope on it. just to work up a load with. It is doing good enough for what I am going to use it for. Shooting hogs with and maybe a deer or two. I have thought about the cast bullets and may try them later. I wish I had a picture of my stock I made for it, so I could post it. I told a friend that it was like putting mag wheels on a dump truck. That curly ash is just beautiful, too good for this gun. It was my first stock work on a moden gun but I have been building Flintlock Muzzloaders, 1 to 2 a year for 20 years. I have not shot a deer with a cartridge gun in 20 years either. I guess I will have to try it out this year, I did shoot a hog in the head with the 444 this spring. Right after I got it and checked it out, before I hand lapped the barrel and restocked it. The hog did not like it. LOL Anyway I may play with some more loads but I like what I see so far. Thanks for the replies
 

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Whip - that sounds like pretty good shooting to me. I find that most factory sights on lever guns aren't really quality match sights and I am sure that once scoped that Marlin will perform beyond your expectations.

Does your Marlin carry a 22 or 24" bbl?? Just curious. Mine had the 24" bbl and I thought it was one sweet rifle.

On your handloads with 4985 - there are listings in my manuals for that powder, but IMR4198 or H4198 seem to be better powders if you get the chance to try them out. You don't need as much and won't have to deal with compressed loads, you get better velocities and in my 444s jacketed bullets shoot better (more accurately) with the H4198.

So you think the curly ash is too good for the gun - sounds like some beautiful stock wood. Ya know Whip, if that rifle shoots the way you want it to, you can always dress it a bit and get it out of the 'dump truck' category. Your stock work is the first step. A full length magazine tube might be the second step. Maybe a re-blue or black chrome with a little personalized engraving and a bit of gold or silver trim, and you would have a rifle that is both a beautiful woods gun as well as a proud display piece. You can do a lot with a dump truck ya know.........Just my opinion though. Mikey.
 

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Mine does have the 24" barrel. I like dump trucks and the aged look. I am not really into pretty guns. Not that I don't like them, I do, but I don't like for people seeing me cry everytime I get a scrach or ding in it. I drag my guns throught some ruff stuff sometime. I made a fancy silver mounted flint lock one time that I had a beautiful curly maple stock, raised carving, a mother of pearl half moon in the cheek piece and silver wire inlay all over it. I had to baby it too much. My fancy guns stay on the wall more than I shoot them. I like working guns. I really did not know how curly this ash was till I started working it. I will try not to cry over this one getting scrached.
I did make a peep sight for it. I took 3/16 thick steel and mounted it on top of the reciever and dove tailed it for and old leaf sight that I had. I mounted another piece that I drilled and tapped for the aperture on the old v blade. I had to install a taller front sight. it works great.
I can see it has potential. I will run my loads on the crono next time I go out and see what I am getting. I may try other powders later. The 4198 does look better. I have a box of Hornandy 265g that I have not tried yet.
 

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Whip - I've owned a couple of older firearms, one a revolutionary war musket and the other a 1874 Springfield - both had beautiful stocks, made more gracious and lovely by the passing of time, the perspiration marks of those who carried them, the darkening by gun oils and the dings, dents and scratches imparted by long and hard use. And they were still gorgeous. Just using a lightweight oil to clean the stocks brought out grains and beauty marks (boles, I think) that really made these common-place stocks of yesteryear look better than anything I have seen short of a custom stockmaker's dreampiece.

I think that curly ash stock on your Marlin is going to age the same, if you give it a chance. I really like that particular Marlin - the barrel length is the same as the one I had. If I were to find another one I would do to it what I mentioned in the last post, and then I would add an eye-catching stock. Sure it is going to get used, and that is the beauty of it.

On a tangeant, my Hornaday Handbook shows a range of IMR4198 charges from 35.8 at 1700'/sec to 45.3 at 2200'/sec with a 265 gn bullet from your rifle. The VithaVuoryOy boys use 48.1 gn of their N120 and 51.3 gns of their N130 for 2320'/sec with that bullet. I've used the VV powders and they meter very nicely and are consistent in performance - very accurate loads.

I hope you use that Marlin for many years to come. I hope that stock wears into your style of carrying and shooting and ages so gracefully that when you (hopefully) pass it on to another, that stock and all the effort you have put into that rifle carries your huntin' spirit with it down through the future generations that will use it. Mikey.
 

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I just got back from my range with the old 444. I had 5 loads with the 240g speer and 56g IMR4895 and 5 loads with 47g of Reloader 7and 265 Hornandys. I have mounted a scope to work up my loads and I took the cronograph. I sighted it in with the 240 loads at 50 yards. They were just about like the loading book said they would be. Avg around 2100 fps. To my surprise the 265g and Reloader 7 shot a .730 five shot group. Now, if I can do that with the peep sights? I will try it at 100yds. when I get my range cut, the weeds have taken over. Can't see the target frames. It will be a few weeks before I can shoot again. I have lots to do and not enought time to do it. Thanks for all the help and info. Whip
 

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WHIP,

I use 47.5 grains of RL7 & the 265 grain hornady for 2150 or so out of a 18 in ported 444 ballard riffeling & get 0.8 in groups with a williams peep & fire sight if I can hold still. Realistically 1.5 +/- on most days all at 100 yrds. I used a scope to work up my loads 6or 7 diff powders & the 240,265 hornady & 330 hard cast all shot best with this load of rl7. The 330 hard cast gave me the highest velosity no by much 30fps or so & 1.25 in group. The 265 best group was 0.5 one ragged hole with 5 shots so I stuck with it. give it a try but work up to it & watch for pressure signs. Don't like the ports but it shoots too good to get rid of & handles quickly with a straight stock & hits like the hammer of THOR
 

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ONE HOLE 4570 - If the 330s gave you an increasse of about 30'/sec, it may not be much until you consider that it is a 330 grain bullet, not the 265 and it is travelling faster - you bet that monster would hit like the hammer of Thor. I love those heavy weights for my 444s. I have one of the Winchester Timber Carbines with the 18" ported barrel and a 1:12 twist and she just loves those 330s. Those ported barrels really light up the night sky when shooting right around dusk, don't they - they really draw a crowd (lol). Mikey.
 

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MIKEY
Yep a whole new meaning of fire breatin dragon :eek: , LOL, with a roar of a cannon. I keep some of the 330's loaded up for hogs & larger game. The 265's are just easy to come by hear & the 330's need to be ordered. when I get down to 1/2 a box I order more & load them up. The good thing is they shoot to the same point of aim at 50 & about a 1/2 inch difference at a 100 so I can use either. I have been known to put a 265 in the chamber & follow up with 330's They sure do penatrate!!
 

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ONE HOLE 4570 - Oh Yeah, I'm in total agreement with you. You can really light up the night with those ported barrels, and those heavy slugs really do penetrate. The 265s are nice slugs for the 444, but I really do like those heavy weight cast slugs. Mikey.
 
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