I have been using 2400 and WW231 for my .44-40s. I have been happy with them, but WW231 was better in the revolvers (5 1/2" 1873 Colt clones) and Alliant 2400 was better in the 1894 Marlin .44-40 Century Limited. After some research, I think I have settled on 9 grains of Unique. After I shoot up the last of my WW231 loads at the River City Regulators match tomorrow, I start loading the Unique with the 200 grain Bear Creek moly coated bullets.
From what I have seen in Taffin's articles, it seems to do equally well in both revolvers and rifle. I know the usual CAS load with Unique is 7 to 8 grains, but I want one load for CAS, long range plinking, and occasional coyote busting. According to Taffin, 9 grains of Unique approximates the original 40 grain BP load (in balloon head cases) of 1350 fps in the rifle and about 950-1000 fps in the revolvers. It would be max for toggle-link steel frame rifles, but is a non-issue with the 1894.
At 1350 fps, it will be 1.8" high at 25 yards, 2.8" high at 50 yards, 2.2" high at 75, zero at 100, and -4" at 125 yards. That makes for a good 100 yard coyote gun.
Let us know how you make out with the Unique loads.
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I found a max load of 10 grains unique in 44-40 with a 200 grain bullet. I think it was on the sheet that came with the Lee die set if I remember. Anyway-- that load shoots very well out of my winchester 92 reissue in 44-40. I use 6 grains for SASS in unique for 44-40 in smokeless.
7.2 Grains of IMR "PB". Been using it for SASS for over 30 years. In Fact I use PB for all my mid range target loads in all handgun calibers.
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Yeah, PB, it works great in pistol calibers.
IARM (OP), That 9 gr. Unique load has worked great in my rifle for years. 10 gr. loads shoot OK but the 9 gr. loads are more accurate in my rifle.
Here's a re-post of some Longshot data w/Unique and 2400 comparisons from an earlier thread.
After a weeks-long search to find some Hodgdon Longshot, I found a couple of pounds in Alamogordo, so I thought I share with you all some loading and shooting results.
I've yet to find any 44-40 data anywhere for Longshot, but the burn rate suggests it should be good - slower than Unique, slightly faster tha AA#9, 2400, and IMR 4227. What to do?
Two methods helped out - the first was to look at the last Handloader where Brian Pearce used Longshot for a few loads in the new small-frame Ruger in 45 Colt. The 200 grain .429 Noslers I use have a sectional density slightly less than the Sierra 240 grain .451 bullets Pearce used in one load, and the 45 Colt and 44-40 have similar case capacities; I also see Pearce publishes a lot of loads hotter than I'll use in my guns, so it was easy to find what I believed to be a maximum load.
The next method was to compare 44-40 and 44 mag loads with 200 grain JHPs in the newest Lyman manual. With 2400 and AA#9, start loads for the 44-40 were 72% of the starting powder charge in the 44 mag, and 69% of IMR 4227 & H4227 (these two powders are NOT identical, however). I then checked the 2010 Hogdon manual for a starting 44 mag load using Longshot and Nosler 200 grain JHPs, multiplied by .7, and came up with a starting load of 9.0 grains. This worked out well, as the results will show. Incidentally, the low-end loads weren't great, but got much better as charges increased.
I used two firearms for this part of my load testing - an 1894S with 20" Micro-Groove barrel, and a S&W 544 revolver with a 5" barrel. Brass was once-fired Starline; primers were CCI 300; bullets were .429" Nosler 200 grain JHP. All data is from 5 shot groups. The wind was about 20-25 mph and gusty; temperature was 53 degrees; the chronograph was a Chrony Master set up 12' from the muzzles. No primer flattening or measurable differences in case head expansion with any load, but I have no pressure equipment, so these loads could be either safe as grandma's lap or horrifyingly destructive grenades. Use with caution!
Longshot 44-40 Data:
Charge Weight S&W Mean Velocity Extreme Spread Marlin Mean Vel Extreme Spread 9.0 grains 731 fps 140 fps 1135 fps 111 fps 9.5 grains 799 fps 185 fps 1186 fps 90 fps 10.0 grains 844 fps 177 fps 1191 fps 131 fps 10.5 grains 901 fps 58 fps 1240 fps 64 fps
For comparison, here are data from 18.0 grains of 2400 with no other changes:
18.0 2400 S&W 1082 fps MV; ES 212 fps - Marlin 1489 fps MV; ES 199 fps.
My plan is to load samples tonight to test tomorrow with 11.0, 11.5, and 12.0 grains of Longshot; I want 1000 fps from the Smith and 1300-1400 fps from the Marlin with good accuracy and low extreme spreads - it looks like I'm on my way with the better ES of the warmer loads. The 2400 loads shoot well, but not spectacularly, and tend to string vertically, as you would expect from the size of the ES.
Longshot burns clean, hardly smokes at all, and meters smoothly; once I have settled on my load, I'll try some revolver rounds at dusk to check flash. Muzzle blast is far, far less than 2400 (for what it's worth).
Today I finished up my search for the upper end of Longshot 44-40 data; at 12.0 grains, extreme spreads grew quickly. Also, 12.5 grains was what Pearce showed as a 23,000 cup load with the 45 Colt, 240 grain JHP, so the combination of suddenly growing ES and Pearce's +P load designation for nearly the same charge in cases of similar capacity using bullets of similar sectional density helped me decide I'd gone far enough. There was still no primer flattening nor unusual case expansion, but if I want a magnum, I'll buy one.
The 'sweet spot' for consistent velocities with this caliber/powder/bullet combination lies between 10.5 and 11.5 grains, with the very lowest extreme spread (ES) at 11.0 grains, which provides 976 fps mean velocity in the Smith and 1344 fps in the Marlin. I think I'll edge upward at 0.1 grain increments to find the best accuracy between 10.5 and 11.5 grains.
Today's weather was much better - it was 70 degrees with about 10-15 mph winds. The new data is also for 5-shot groups.
Charge Weight S&W Mean Velocity Extreme Spread Marlin Mean Vel Extreme Spread 11.0 grains 976 fps 63 fps 1344 fps 48 fps 11.5 grains 1018 fps 72 fps 1414 fps 121 fps 12.0 grains 1101 fps 298 fps 1499 fps 290 fps
Have I mentioned that I LOVE my chronograph?
37JohnDeere - at the velocities I'm getting at 12.0 I'm a little reluctant to push harder in the Smith, and plan to use one load in both firearms. You're dead on with your pressure obsevation; my loads didn't seem to get any consistency at all until 10.5 grains, which is definitely higher pressure. I've heard you should be able to use more Longshot (or other powders) in your 45 Colts than smaller calibers in similar cases with similar pressure because of the larger bore and bullet base, as I understand it, but that may be gunwriter hallucination for all I know. This chronograph has utterly destroyed my faith in a lot of reloading stuff I 'knew' before!
The good news is that I've found 'the' load. It's 11.2 grains of Longshot behind the 200 grain Nosler. It gives me 1005 fps mean velocity with the Smith, 1421 fps with the Marlin; ES is 68 fps revolver, 81 fps rifle, and the groups reflect the consistency. I tried 10.8 to 11.8 grains in .2 grain increments; 11.2 was the 2nd best for ES, but far and away the most accurate. Groups were round, symmetric with no stringing; at 25 yards I chewed the center out of my homemade targets with 20 rounds from the Smith after sight adjustment, and the nearly same at 75 yards with the Marlin, which also required sight adjustment (no fun with the Williams 5D, by the way). Second best was 11.4 grains with slightly larger groups and an extra 23 fps revolver and 34 fps rifle, but I'll stick with best groups and caution on pressures.
This load makes me throw rocks at my 2400 load of choice, 18.0 grains (1139 fps revolver, 1389 fps rifle with very large ES), while providing slightly better revolver accuracy than my 8.5 grains of Unique (897 fps) and 300 fps more velocity than the Unique load with the rifle (1095 fps).
Stick a fork in me, brothers - I'm done (with load development). Off to the press to load a few hundred rounds for proficiency-building!
Last edited by biku324; 05-12-2012 at 06:27 PM.
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I tried the 9.0 grains of Unique under a 205 Meister .428 moly coated bullet at the River City Regulators match last Sunday: I absolutely loved it!
Both .44-40 pistols (one a newer EMF Californian, blue with smokeless frame 5 1/2" barrel, and the other an older EMF Hartford (Armi San Marco) nickel with BP frame and 4 5/8" barrel) shot to POA at 7-10 yards. While I did not group on paper, they seemed ti hit exactly where I pointed it, with little deviation (I shoot Duelist, so there would be some deviation).
The 1894 Marlin Century Limited .44-40 really liked the load, too. Fed smoothly, and seemed to hit from about POA to one inch above POA at 15 yards. I plan on taking the Century Ltd. out to BLM land and doing some long range plinking with the 9.0 grain Unique loads to check it out.
Taffin lists 10 grains of Unique as max for SAA revolvers, though these 9.0 grain Unique loads were definitely the hottest load I would use in CAS. I do believe Taffin's assertion that this load duplicates the original load of 40 grains of BP in velocity and performance, as they seemed almost identical to the felt recoil of some 38+ grains of FFFG under a 200-205 bullet .44-40 loads that I have used.