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Thread: Marlin 40-60 Black Powder Loads



  1. #1
    Tenderfoot
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    Marlin 40-60 Black Powder Loads

    I have a Marlin Model 1881 Levergun in 40-60 caliber that was made in 1882 or 1883. I have the dies from Lee, new brass, cast lead bullets, primers and FFg black powder. It is in extremely good shape for a 130 year old gun and I will only shoot black powder loads in it. I have searched for loading data on this caliber and have found nothing. Does anyone know where I can find black powder loading data for this caliber for various bullet weights? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

  2. #2
    Gun Wizard
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    60 grains of F Goex with a 210 or 300 grain bullet. Here is the chart;http://goexpowder.com/images/LoadCha...idge-Rifle.pdf
    "That wasn't shootin, that was killin" -- Rafe Covington

  3. #3
    Deadeye
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    The good part about blackpowder cartridges is you don't need much information to reload them. The key ingredients are the FFg powder, an overpowder card to protect the bullet base, a bullet of proper dimension coated with a good amount of blackpowder lubricant filling the deeply grooved bullet. There must be no space between the powder and the projectile so an amount of powder which gives you an overall length that functions in your rifle is the correct amount. (Most find best accuracy with a little compression of the powder). A good reference for reloading such cartridges is SPG Lubricants BP Cartridge Reloading Primer by Mike Venturino and Steve Garbe. I would first determine what the rifle's overall length requirement is bu using dummy cartridges until I got that right. Then working backward from that subtract the length of the bullet which must be inside the case (including you wad thickness) to learn how far below the mouth the powder must be when loaded. File off an empty case to that length and use it to measure your powder by volume. Remember to leave that measure longer by about the thickness of a cardboard wad made from a tablet backer so you get about that much compression when seating your wad and projectile. Waxed cardboard milk or juice cartons make good wad material. Apparently the projectiles for the lever action guns were about 210 grains in this cartridge so you will have to see what Lyman may have for molds. The single shot rifles tended to use heavier bullets and longer OAL. Slug your barrel to get the correct diameters. Hope this helps, it isn't as complex as it may sound at first and you can actually do it with fewer tools than modern cartridge tools. You will probably find that the most powder you can get into the cartridge is less than 60 grains - more like 52grains or so. Don't worry about weighing that, the measure method is safe and accurate. Besides powder varies in weight by brand for equal volumes. If the powder is not in contact with the projectile it is possible to have a blown barrel. This is a safety issue with black powder. In a repeater you will need a decent crimp on the bullet.

  4. #4
    Marlin Marksman
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    My Brother used to shoot a lot of BP ctg rifles & he'd compress the powder charge about 1/8" & seat a "cookie" of lube also about 1/8" thickness over the card wad to help lubricate the bore & keep fouling soft. I've used SPG bullet lube with very good results in the .45 Colt, a lot of BP ctg shooters use SPG for their BP lube.

    That sounds like a nice old rifle & I applaud your use of BP only in it. I'd use lead bullets too as some of the older rifle bbls were softer than modern bbls & jacketed bullets would wear them more quickly.
    Let us know how you come along & a range report when you get time.

    I'm sorry, I forgot my manners,,,, WELCOME TO THE FORUM!
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  5. #5
    Contributing Member
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    Hey GG,

    Welcome to MO.

    Later, Mark
    Duty is the sublimest word in the English language. Every man should desire to do his duty, no man should desire to do less. Robert E Lee.

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    Active rescuer of Marlin Rifles, S&W revolvers, 1911's, Mil/Surplus rifles, shotguns.............

  6. #6
    Marlin Marksman
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    welcome to the MO from the motor city. sounds like you got yourself a great classic rifle.best of luck shooting it.
    There is a fine line twixt genius and insanity....and i love to jump back and forth!

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  7. #7
    Gunfighter
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    Call the guys at Buffalo Arms and ask them about smokeless loads. I suspect that SR4759 will work for you as a propellant. It does a fine job for me in my trapdoors and reproduces BP ballistics. 5744 works well too but I found it to leave a lot of unburned powder in the bore. AA2015 is also a possibility.
    I have tried BP several times and keep going back to SR4759. The BP is real hard on cases. I don't mind cleaning the gun but hate cleaning the cases.
    If you are going to shoot BP, look at GOEX Cartridge grade. A bit courser than FFg, but a lot less dust and tends to be a bit more consistent in a cartridge gun.
    Always better to carry too much gun and too many cartridges...
    If TARGET doesn't like guns, why is their logo a Bulls Eye?

  8. #8
    Tenderfoot
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    Thanks everyone for your input. I will take everything that was said and come to some sort of consensus on what I think will be a good starting load. After a few shots at the range, I will get back to you with how things went. I am not new to reloading as I have been reloading handgun ammo for several years with modern powder from .38 Special to .50 Cal Magnum but BP is a whole new realm for me to venture into and I wanted to get some good sound advise from people like you so I don't end up blowing out the barrel and ruining a quality rifle. I will keep in touch and thanks again. Gary

  9. #9
    Marlin Marksman
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    Good for you just don't leave any airspace between the base of the bullet & the powder charge.
    That could lead to buldged chambers. Black Powder likes to be compressed.
    Good shooting, we are all probably interested in your results with that nice old rifle.
    It'll be good to get it shooting again.
    "U.S.A. RIDE FOR THE BRAND OR LEAVE!"


    Team .45-70 #803
    Team .44-40 #19

  10. #10
    Gunfighter
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    BP needs to be compressed slightly for best velocity and cleanest burn. You can use Ox-Yoke Wonder wads under the bullets as well. Get the ones for the 44 cap and ball revolvers.
    You can easily make your own over powder wads as well. They help to keep lube off of the BP. Bell the mouth on a case and then chamfer it so that it is sharp. Turn the case onto a paper milk carton and it will cut out the wads for you. You can also buy them already stamped out from Buffalo Arms but for the amount you will likely be shooting, the milk carton and belled case do a good job.
    Always better to carry too much gun and too many cartridges...
    If TARGET doesn't like guns, why is their logo a Bulls Eye?


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