44-40 lever

Bolt action rifles, lever action, pump action, self loading rifles and other miscellaneous longarms.

44-40 lever

Post by Cal-ApeR » 13 May 2019, 8:46 am

Hi all,

I've got a bit of experience with bolt actions but very limited knowledge with levers. Back in the day when laws were not relaxed my old boy had a 44-40 pistol that we often used. I have inherited a ton of brass and projectiles as a result.

My question is two fold. Would this caliber be a good pig round for 50-100yards? It is an old cartridge and the power is definitely down on the 44mag. Is it enough for pigs in this range?

Secondly, what are the best/reliable lever actions for this caliber? I would definitely want a red dot sight on top.

Any advice/help is most appreciated.
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by bigrich » 13 May 2019, 9:15 am

Winchester 92 , uberti seems to be the best. Rather than a original 92 Winchester collector piece, they did make 94’s up till the late 1970’s. seen a few online for sale. I could be wrong, but a 44-40 might be more effective shooting lead projectile as their FPS isn’t really high
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by grandadbushy » 13 May 2019, 10:45 am

G'day Cal-ApeR mate I had a 44-40 many yrs ago yes it would be good for pigs that's what I bought mine for 50yds fine but 100yds well you'd have to put a few into the pig if it wasn't hit good the first shot that depends on size of the pig to I only had mine for back up with dogs it was a lot of fun but
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by marksman » 13 May 2019, 1:59 pm

I had a winchester little big horn that I used for close hunting shots in 44-40 with winchester 200gr bullets

I would own another if I were chasing pigs through lignum especially with dogs :drinks:
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by duncan61 » 13 May 2019, 5:37 pm

My mate had one and I thought my homemade solids in 12g were the business but his little lever pointed and shot well and at 50 metres packed some wallop
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by Cal-ApeR » 13 May 2019, 5:40 pm

Ok, so 44-40 works well on piggies close up.

Any idea how the Rossi r92 is? Seems more in my price range.
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by grandadbushy » 13 May 2019, 6:01 pm

Mate I think all that size caliber are ok. a farmers son down the road has a Rossi lever action and he has had it for years but I think it is 44mag but still that make he knocks his around a bit and it's still going so I think they're pretty tough i'd say
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by duncan61 » 13 May 2019, 6:29 pm

The only lever I ever had was a Ruger in.17HMR it cycled perfectly and held 9 shots and I never had a feed issue.I ordered it from the Ruger catalogue and the 44-40 holds 4 in the mag.In your shoes I would go to my LGS and have a play
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by gunnnie » 13 May 2019, 7:01 pm

I have a few 44-40's, two Mod 92 Winchesters and the most recent addition being a Rossi Puma Mod92 clone.

The cartridge is not that bad and to be honest any well placed shot on a pig with a 200-240gn lump of lead is going to hurt. Plus if you think about it, just how many shots are you going to take at pigs over 50-75 in the scrub??? Not bloody many I would guess! Different thing if you're chasing them out on the plains etc, in which case you won't be wanting a lever action 44-40 anyway!


The main issue that folks have with this cartridge will be when they begin reloading. It is not a cartridge that you can easily walk into a gun store and buy off the shelf. So reloading is the go and it is not really a cartridge for the novice reloader due to the relatively thin brass case necks. It is not hard to crumple necks during full length resizing, especially once the cases have been fired a few times.


Plus it would be adviseable to slug the bore of your rifle to confirm it's bore diameter to then ensure using projectiles of the right diameter. Both my of 92 Winchesters will not shoot jacketed pills worth a dam! At 50M you'd probably produce a tighter group by throwing the pills by hand. So I have to use .430" diameter cast pills. As I don't cast, yet, I buy Spartan 200gn cast pills at .430"


The loads aren't hot but should be trundling along at around the 1400fps mark. It isn't a 44Mag by any stretch of the imagination, but then again it is an old cartridge with a pretty fair heritage.


Make sure you have a good set of dies, RCBS for example, clean your brass and use a good lube, Simplex sizing lubricant. If you find that the case mouths are crinkling when you run them into the FLS die, try using just a universal de-priming die (doesn't size the case), then just seat the projectile & run the case up into the seating die to the correct depth. Then unscrew the seating stem and run the loaded case back up into the die to crimp the case.

If the fired case is a tad sticky coming out of the chamber or won't slide back into the chamber, then you'll need to FLS.
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by bigrich » 13 May 2019, 7:01 pm

Cal-ApeR wrote:Ok, so 44-40 works well on piggies close up.

Any idea how the Rossi r92 is? Seems more in my price range.


i think the rossi 92 only comes in 357 and 44 mag. i had one in stainless. very accurate, good trigger. crap hardwood timber in the stock that are prone to cracking around the tang , which is why i don't have mine anymore ;)
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by Cal-ApeR » 13 May 2019, 7:34 pm

Thanks folks for the feedback, especially Gunnie. From memory the old boy reloaded these for a good decade. I'll pick his brain as much as possible. He does have the casting gear too but to be honest, that isn't really my thing, no yet anyway. I have read about the thin brass and crumpling cases. I guess a lot of it will be practice. The universal depriming die sounds like a smart move and something I think I will invest in. Unsure what dies the old man already has. Hopefully something decent!
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by Bridgy » 13 May 2019, 8:52 pm

Winchester do hunting ammunition and Magtech do a cowboy load, both of which feed fine in my brother's Winchester 92. I think it's great fun to shoot, light recoil, slow, fat slug, it'd do damage to any pig out to 100m, surely enough to slow it down for you to follow it up quickly!
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by Cal-ApeR » 14 May 2019, 8:38 pm

Bridgy wrote:Winchester do hunting ammunition and Magtech do a cowboy load, both of which feed fine in my brother's Winchester 92. I think it's great fun to shoot, light recoil, slow, fat slug, it'd do damage to any pig out to 100m, surely enough to slow it down for you to follow it up quickly!

This is my thought. Surely would anchor them enough for a follow up if necessary. I've decided this is my next pet project. Finding a rifle and learning to reload well for it.
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by Bent Arrow » 14 May 2019, 8:42 pm

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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by gunnnie » 15 May 2019, 10:18 am

Cal, the Rossi levers have been around for a while now & have a pretty reasonable rep. They can be a tad rough from new, but that's the same with any new rifle.
The Puma saddle ring carbine does come in 44-40, not a common chambering but definitely available.
There are also some after market upgrades available also.
That 2nd hand Win Mod94 isn't a bad buy either. The main thing to consider is the bore diameter, as I've mentioned before.
The Rossi may be a better option, being relatively modern it should have a bore of .428-.429". So you will be right running jacketed pills with good accuracy. Then when you're ready, switch to cast at either .429"- .430" with continued accuracy. Point to note: give the bore a thorough cleaning to remove all copper fouling. Then scrub/lap/polish the bore with JB Bore Brite to remove any rough spots. This will lessen/remove the chance of lead fouling.
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by Cal-ApeR » 15 May 2019, 3:11 pm

Oh very tempting. Not a bad price either
Cheers for the advice Gunnie. Will be sure to hit you up sometime for more advice once I own one.
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by mickb » 15 May 2019, 10:39 pm

The 1892 was one of the strongest lever action designs. The Rossi version has been used up to 50,000PSI. The 44-40 is a slow old poker in factory loads but can be stepped up considerably in reloading. Keep in mind some designs are not as strong. The 1866, 1873 models are better left closer to orginal loads. Don't listen to any kids who have only shot things with a 270win saying a hardcast or non expanding bullet at 100 yards can't kill. No its won't produce electrocution type kills high powered rifles do but very few animals are running around for long with .429 calibre holes through both lungs.

Lever actions are generally not like bolt actions, in that you cant just pick a bullet out of a book and get your perfet 1-2moa( or 1-2" group at 100m). They aren't as accurate generally, getting 3-4 moa at 100m is more the aim. They can be more finicky finding loads they like and a big one is the paralell sided pistol cartridges can be a bit finicky to feed, they usually prefer a couple of set loaded cartridge lengths. The good news is the 44-40 isn't straight sided as you know, it was made that way to feed well in levers 130+ years ago, and is still one of the easiest feeding pistol sized cartridges in most configurations. You also don't necessarily have to cast your own, if you want to use cast they can be bought bulk. You can also buy coated cast and plated cast bullets.

In all I'd say find a gun your like pricewise and give it a go.Check the pressure ratings of the action and if it suits what you want to do you will have a good time. Some people like to make it sound harder than it is. If its a rifle that fires 44-40 it will fire 44-40 and you will find loads that make the gun work. And the fast loads will kill your game past 100m, and with less blast and natural disturbance than your mates 308win. If you want expert advice check out paco kellys lever action forums on the net. They have a good 44-40 thread running right now with action strengths, loads, accuracy reports, and some pictures of shot game with them.
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Re: 44-40 lever

Post by bigrich » 16 May 2019, 4:44 am

+1 on the paco Kelly lever gun website and forum. Lots of very useful information. Just makes ya wanna buy more lever guns ! Lol
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