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Thread: New 444 owner & Elk



  1. #1
    Tenderfoot
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    New 444 owner & Elk

    I posted this on a different forum and they pointed me over here. I realize you are all Marlin lovers here, as am I, but my question is more relevant to the caliber than anything else. So, here goes.

    Sadly, I sold off all my guns 5 years ago. I have been rebuilding my rifle stable for a couple years now. I came across a great deal on a near-new 2006 minted 1895 Marlin 444 with fantastic wood. I figured it would be great for timber hunting Elk.

    I'm fairly savvy on rifles/ballistics and I certainly have my personal preferences. I knew that the 444 was not the same as my previous 45-70 when I bought it. However, this is my first 444. I've "Googled" around a bit to find out about safe 270-300gr. max loads. It seems there is still debate on what a generally accepted safe max load for the 444 is, individual rifles vary I know. Some people swear the Marlin action is weak sauce and must not be trusted and others claim some ridiculously high velocities. Considering this gun is a <150yd shooter for my applications, I have decided not to run "crazy hot" loads at all.

    So, to my question: How many of you here have actual experience with this caliber from a 22" barrel on Elk using "typical and acceptable" pressure loads? I am very interested in hearing from people with hands on experience with this caliber/bullet combo on Elk. I know it is plenty for Deer and arguably not enough for Browns, but is it formidable on quartering shots within 150 yards on Elk? All the evidence suggests yes but I am really hunting for opinions from people that have personally used it on Elk.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Site Contributor Extraordinaire & Team 444 Captain Super Moderator
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    Re: New 444 owner & Elk

    I use the 444 Marlin® elk hunting each fall and it will do the job out to 250yds easily (1:38" Microgroove® barrel). A newer gun (like yours), is a 300yd gun with Hornady® 265gr LEVERevolution® ammunition. For me, I use the Hornady® 265gr JFP bullet behind 47.0gr of H4198 - It does a tremendous job on elk! For bear I use a Beartooth® 290gr LFNGC powered by 45.0gr of the same powder. That 444 of yours will put elk in the freezer! Ask all your questions here and we will help in in any way we can; and I further wish to add.............


    Welcome from Olympia, WA; in the great Pacific Northwest -
    THE "ORIGINAL (North Haven, CT Rifles) MARLIN®" COUNTRY!


    David (
    "Feo, Fuerte y Formal")
    CW3, US Army (Ret)
    09/26/1968-05/31/1990
    Vietnam Veteran - 2 Tours

    Only two defining forces have ever died for you:
    1. Jesus Christ.
    2. The American Soldier, Sailor, Airman, & Marine.
    One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.
    1Cross+3Nails=4Given


    Founder (Member# 1) of Team 444 Marlin®

  3. #3
    Tenderfoot
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    Re: New 444 owner & Elk

    Dawei: Fantastic! Thank you for the welcome. I never really considered a lever gun much past 150 yards. Your 300 yard capable comment leaves me pondering. The BC is so bad on the flat points. Is the Leveroution bullet built well for penetration? On your Elk hunts did you ever have any non-broadside shots? If so, how did the 444 do on those angles? Also, are you talking black bear or brown bear on your bear hunts? I have a lot of hunting experience with the 45-70 but this will be my first hunt with 444. Thanks much for your input.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator
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    Re: New 444 owner & Elk

    I've shot two Elk with the 444, one with the Speer 300gr and the other with a 330gr hardcast. Either Elk didn't go more then 75 yards after the shot.

    I plan on killing several more once I'm back living in Colorado.
    I have no need to be able to shoot past 150 yards were I hunt.
    Lots of folks like the gummybear bullets, I have not seen enough proof of bullet integrity yet with Elk size critters, I doubt that I will ever use them anyway as I have a lifetime supply of loaded ammo and components for the 444.
    Their are only two kinds of people, those who own a 444 and those who wish they owned one,
    and yes folks, denial is bliss!

    Mckmain80 says: Don't forget, a 444Marlin means a little less Government in your life! I couldn't Agree More!!!

    Not much has really changed in the world in 2000 years, Christians are still being thrown to the Lions! and
    Satans tool of Deception is still working like a charm, from the time of Adam and Eve, to today!

  5. #5
    Wrangler
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    Re: New 444 owner & Elk

    Welcome. I've used my 444 since the 70s in Alberta's hunting fields. It is an outstanding caliber. My hunting experience is with the 265 gr Hornady JFP bullet and I was happy. This group contains a number of very experienced 444 hunters from Europe to Alaska.

    I now consider the 300 gr options as the best medium option for penetration and velocity. Here is an outstanding bullet test thread, a must read.

    http://www.marlinowners.com/forums/i...c,81274.0.html
    Canadian Member
    444 Club #302
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    Royal Canadian Artillery
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  6. #6
    Site Contributor Extraordinaire & Team 444 Captain Super Moderator
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    Re: New 444 owner & Elk

    Quote Originally Posted by Fifthand
    Dawei: Fantastic! Thank you for the welcome. I never really considered a lever gun much past 150 yards. Your 300 yard capable comment leaves me pondering. The BC is so bad on the flat points. Is the Leveroution bullet built well for penetration? On your Elk hunts did you ever have any non-broadside shots? If so, how did the 444 do on those angles? Also, are you talking black bear or brown bear on your bear hunts? I have a lot of hunting experience with the 45-70 but this will be my first hunt with 444. Thanks much for your input.
    My two 444's are older guns (1966 & 198, with 1:38" Microgroove® rifling. Consequently they DO NOT shoot the 265gr LEVERevolution® well at all. There are some older guns like mine that do shoot this round OK; but they are few & far between. As your gun has the faster 1:20" Ballard this isn't a problem. You could step up to 400gr and shoot it well. In Hornady® factory ammo there have been three iterations of factory loads for the 444 Marlin®, all with a 265gr bullet. First was the Light Magnum® 265gr JFP at 2325fps; this load however is no longer made. (I have enough to last for the rest of my lifetime even if I live to be 100!). In 2007 Hornady® brought LEVERevolution® to market in 30/30 Win, 35 Rem, 444 Marlin®, 45/70 Govt, & 450 Marlin®. In 444 Marlin® with the FTX (Flex Tip Expanding) spitzer bullet, you have a flatter trajectory than the older Light Magnum®; velocity is the same. Because the newer bullet was so much longer than the 265gr JFP; the case had to be shortened to maintain a COL of 2.570". Standard 444 Marlin® brass (Hornady® & Remington®) is 2.225" long & trimmed to 2.215" if reloading. LEVERevolution® brass (Hornady® only) is 2.075" & trimmed to 2.065" if reloading. This load was SPECIFICALLY designed for faster twist 1:20" Ballard barreled 444's. After this new load was on the market for a year the Light Magnum® was discontinued. Thousands upon thousands of people called, wrote, & emailed Hornady® to bring the Light Magnum™ back. Hornady® answered the call by stepping up and developing a newer load, with the same 265gr JFP bullet. This "Improved Light Magnum" is called SUPERFORMANCE® and has 75fps more muzzle velocity = 2400fps. Click Here and you can compare the differences in the two loads from Hornady®.

    Others will have to answer your question about penetration of the 265gr FTX® bullet as I don't hunt with it. If you are looking for factory ammo for your 444, I can tell you that the 265gr JFP is a "Deep Penetrator" on Elk!

    As for bear I am referring to Black Bear, and WA state is full of them. When I am in NE Washington however, near the Idaho Panhandle; I carry my 444 with 325gr Hard Cast Boolits. I also carry a 44 Magnum handgun as that is Grizzly country!


    David (
    "Feo, Fuerte y Formal")
    CW3, US Army (Ret)
    09/26/1968-05/31/1990
    Vietnam Veteran - 2 Tours

    Only two defining forces have ever died for you:
    1. Jesus Christ.
    2. The American Soldier, Sailor, Airman, & Marine.
    One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.
    1Cross+3Nails=4Given


    Founder (Member# 1) of Team 444 Marlin®

  7. #7
    Gun Wizard
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    Re: New 444 owner & Elk

    The 444 works just fine when the hunting is good...

    2006 cow shot with 265 gr Hdy FN Interlock bullet


    2006 mule deer buck shot with 265 gr Hdy FN Interlock bullet

    2007 spike shot with 265 gr Hdy FN Interlock bullet


    and in 2008 when no elk were to be found, the 444 was a comfortable friend for time in field.

    inpursuit likes this.
    "Hunt close, then get closer."
    Team .444 -- Member #22

  8. #8
    Super Moderator
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    Re: New 444 owner & Elk

    Yep, Elk huntens all fun and games till ya kill one :P
    Bob Shultz likes this.
    Their are only two kinds of people, those who own a 444 and those who wish they owned one,
    and yes folks, denial is bliss!

    Mckmain80 says: Don't forget, a 444Marlin means a little less Government in your life! I couldn't Agree More!!!

    Not much has really changed in the world in 2000 years, Christians are still being thrown to the Lions! and
    Satans tool of Deception is still working like a charm, from the time of Adam and Eve, to today!

  9. #9
    Team 35 Remington Co-Capt'n Contributing Member
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    Re: New 444 owner & Elk

    So nice to see you again, Mr. Stillhunter!
    The Older I Get...The Better I was...
    Team 444 Member #175
    Team 35 Member #2
    Team 39 Member #10
    Marlin League #26
    338 MX...It's not your father's lever action!

  10. #10
    Gun Wizard
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    Re: New 444 owner & Elk

    Thanks for the "Howdy," Halwg.

    I actually took my '77 444S to the range on Tuesday for a little practice with the Foolproof and gold bead. After the first 3 or 4 shots I got over "fussing" the shot and just started letting them fly from offhand at 75 yards. I got some minute-of-dinner plate groups that weren't bad for being rusty. Then I fired a couple of groups with my behind in the dirt and a post against my back (sorta like sitting at the base of a tree in the woods) and got a nice 3 1/2" group at 100 yds.

    I know the 444 can produce some tight groups off the bench with careful handloads. As I get older its the offhand and sitting groups of dessert plate and coffee cup size that really boost my confidence about drawing down on an elk in the timber.

    Now it's time to load up a bunch of ammo to lead into the hunting season.
    "Hunt close, then get closer."
    Team .444 -- Member #22


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