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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just got an email from John Taylor that my Bowen cylinder blank has arrived and to ship my Super Blackhawk!

It is a 5-1/2" .44 Magnum with Bowen Rough Country sights, which was refitted with a steel XR3 grip frame off a Ruger Old Army.

I knew a guy with an Old Army who wanted a squared dragoon-style grip frame, a swap was made, both of us ended up happy.

44RugerSBH 004.JPG


44RugerSBH 006.JPG
He's going to make a dummy barrel to guide the reamer and line bore the chambers to my gun.

Won't affect being able to use my original .44 Magnum cylinder, but the new .44-40 one is probably going to be more accurate!

The custom reamer cuts a chamber that accepts .431 bullets in Starline brass, cylinder throats cut to .4305" which is exactly what I want, because I'll shoot .430" bullets seated out and loaded up to 1.70" overall length, the exact same loads that I use in my Marlin 1894S.

After all, the whole idea of a .44-40 is for the rifle and revolver to use the same ammo. Right?

I want two strong, modern guns which can exploit optimized bullets designed to properly fit modern .44 Magnum dimensioned barrels.

These guns will never see a factory .44-40 round with undersized bullet. Might try holy black, though....just for fun!

In case you haven't figured it out yet, the Accurate 43-225D was designed by Tom and I with this exact combo in mind.

View attachment 118965
 

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:hmmmm: Guys are gonna call ya crazy, but then they have been calling me crazy too.
I absolutely love it!!! Do you think he can make me a custom cylinder for my Uberti? I am curious just how accurate it really could be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
UPDATE:

My .44-40 cylinder which John Taylor line-bored, fitted to my Ruger and chambered from the Hamilton Bowen blank arrived today.

Fast turnaround! I think he was really interested in this project.... Cost of the work was $300, added to that is the $295 from Bowen for the cylinder blank, a custom reamer, return shipping and insurance. Much cheaper to get a custom Ruger cylinder which is done right by a skilled machinist than to find, buy and fix a Vaquero which is dimensioned all WRONG!

Cylinder gap is 0.003". Cylinder throats are .4305" Chambers accept Starline brass loaded with a .431" bullet, I will be sizing to .430"

Range day tomorrow, weather permitting!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Cylinder as received was headspaced too tight. The .44-40 rim is 0.005" thicker than .44 Magnum, so it went back to John for a tweak, and is back now all OK and ready to go. Waiting on weather to improve to do a comparison shoot of .44 Mag and .44-40 cylinders with 7.2 grains of Bullseye and 43-200Q and both Remington 200-grain JSP factory .427" bullets and Hornady 200-grain XTPs in .430" diameter with 8.4 grains of Bullseye, which gives 1300 fps in the Marlin, my full charge "blackpowder velocity with smokeless and jacketed bullets" load.

As a caution I will repeat here for the passing parade of newer readers, that quite obviously, these loads are too "hot" for Colt Single-Actions or Winchester '73 clones. Factory loads do not exceed 13,700 cup, in deference to the weaker "Group 1" black powder rifle actions such as the Whitney-Kennedy, Colt Burgess, Colt Lightning, Winchester '73, etc.

My objective was to have "hell for strong" combination of modern rifle and revolver in this classic caliber able to exploit its potential with smokeless powder loads suitable for stronger "Group 2 Rifles" such as the 1892 Winchester and 1894 Marlin in which factory high velocity loads once were in a pressure range ~22,000 cup max., analogous to our modern-era .45 ACP +P law enforcement loads.


Below is the Remington factory 200-gr. JSP .427" bullet, with as-cast Accurate 43-200Q, my favorite for the .44-40, now also available in Accurate's "Big Lube" version, the 43-200QL as requested by our black powder purists. Rem200JSPvsAccurate43-200Q.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Preliminary accuracy test results with the .44-40 cylinder in my 5-1/2" Ruger Super Blackhawk, firing 6-shot groups with iron sights off sandbags at 25 yards.

Remington 200-grain JSP .44-40 (.427"), Starline cases, CCI 300, 8.4 grains Bullseye
Five consecutive 6-shot groups Largest 4.5*, Smallest 1.7", Average 3.3" *group contained a visibly tipped shot which was counted

43-200Q, wheelweights, Lee Liquid Alox, sized .430, Starline cases, CCI300, 15.4 grs., #2400 measured with CVA blackpowder flask with "20-grain" tube
Five consecutive 6-shot groups Largest 2.9", Smallest 1.6", Average 2.2"

43-200Q, wheelweights, Lee Liquid Alox, sized .430, Starline cases, CCI300, 7.8 grs. Red Dot measured with CVA blackpowder flask with "20-grain" tube
TEN consecutive 6-shot groups Largest 3.3", Smallest 0.7", Average 2.5"

ErikOhlen432-250HP, Lee Liquid Alox, sized .430, Starline cases, 22.5 grains RL7, NO WAD,
Five consecutive 6-shot groups at 25 yards Largest 3.4", Smallest 1.6", Average 2.6"

The results were mostly a result of shooting up leftover ammo from previous rifle chronograph tests to get empties. I'll be assembling more test loads to shoot in the revolver and will report further results when weather permits. I'm out of practice shooting the wheelgun and need to work on bench technique more.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I am now in possession of a 1994 production year .44-40 Ruger Vaquero 5-1/2" which I found on GunBroker in Utah.

There will never be any more .44 Vaqueros because they are all now built on the small frame.

The first thing I did was pull out the cylinder and slug the barrel, chamber necks and throats. Factory loads with .427 bullets will chamber, but no handloads I have will. Chamber necks are .445, cylinder throats .428 and barrel groove diameter .429 with bore diameter of .416, approximately equal width lands and grooves. Cylinder gap is 0.003"!

I'm going to briefly shoot the gun with jacketed .44-40 loads with undersized bullets to see how (badly?) they group in the oversized barrel, and to take some velocities. I'm not going to shoot any lead bullets in it until after the cylinder is reamed. I will send it to John Taylor to have the chambers and throats done with the same reamer he used on my Super Blackhawk cylinder
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Briefly shot the Vaquero today with jacketed loads to determine sights are "on" and barrel doesn't need to be tweaked. So sending cylinder off to John Taylor for reaming.

Some velocity data FYI:

Marlin 20"Ruger 5-1/2"
.44-40.44-40
Avg.SdESAvg.SdES
RCBS LD Rotor #13, 7.2 grs. Old Herc. BE, Rem. 2-1/2 LP, Starline cases
200 Rem. JSP .427"114032719191334
Accurate 43-200Q*12732276*9731540
*Fired in 5-1/2" Ruger Super BH with Taylor-Bowen cylinder
 

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Congrats,
that’s a fine lookin’ revolver
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Velocity firings with the 5-1/2" Ruger .44-40 cylinder:

43-200Q 7.2 grains Bullseye 973 fps, 15 Sd, 40ES
43-200Q 7.8 grains Red Dot 1023 fps, 25 Sd, 71 ES
43-200Q 24.5 grains RL7 891 fps, 23 Sd, 72 ES
43-230G 24.5 grains RL7 957 fps, 21 Sdf, 56 ES
Rem. .427" 200-grain JSP 7.2 Bullseye 919 fps, 13 Sd, 34 ES
Rem. .429" 240-grain JHP 7.2 Bullseye 861 fps, 9 Sd, 21 ES

A typical 25-yard target fired off sandbags while chronographing:

44-40RL7 003.JPG

This is how much unburned powder you get firing six rounds of 43-200Q with 24.5 grs. of RL7 in the revolver:
44-40UnburnedRL7Revolver.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Got the Vaquero cylinder back from John Taylor today after re-reaming the necks and throats and dunking in the blue tank.

Tapping soft swaged lead .45 Colt slugs into the chamber necks and then tapping them back out, the reamed necks are now .4465,"
as the cylinder originally came from the factory chamber necks were waaay too tight at .443." None of my cast loads chambered at all.

Similarly tapping soft swaged .433 roundballs from the rear end clear out the front of each of the six chambers, the ball seats are now a uniform .4305" all the way around, whereas they were originally .425". Ruger barrel groove diameter is .429", I am loading .430 bullets.

Time to go to the range! Substantial improvement is expected....
 
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Maybe its just me but I will never buy a Ruger New model Vaquero. Since they make them on frame that are too small in my opinion to shoot anything greater than .38 specail fine for those weaklings that only want to play the cowboy game. Personally love the sights on the Vaquero and would love to seem them make a super Vaquero where true .45 colt(Ruger only) loads, or even offer a .454 in it then I may buy one or for that matter .460 s&W would be nice. I used to lots of .44-40 Rugers when i played the cowboy game then everyone wanted cheaper. heck when I left people were using the .32 h&r magnums. Good luck on evrything and eager to see more pictures and details.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My Vaquero is the Original on the larger frame, which will handle full up Winchester 92 .44-40 loads!
 

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Outpost75,Thanks for the reports on your 44-40 projects.Interesting read.I have an older SBH that I may consider getting a 44-40 cyl on.(time/dollars permitting)It already prefers a 200 gr lead bullet and I shoot mainly specials in it.I cant seem to get anything heavier to shoot well in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
A Tale of Two Vaqueros

I recently picked off GunBroker up a 7-1/2” Ruger .44 Magnum Vaquero today which was “as new in box.” Its serial number range 56-153XX, places its manufacture date in 1996. Cylinder throats slug .431”, barrel groove diameter is .429, cylinder gap with the .44 Mag. cylinder which came with the gun is pass 0.008”, hold 0.009” which is acceptable but at the maximum assembly tolerance of factory specs. I understand from conversations with Roy Melcher at Ruger that early Vaqueros were shipped with looser gaps because the marketing folks expected people would shoot black powder in them. That proved not to be the case and after about 1997 they tightened the gaps up to ward off complaints from the nitpickers….

I tried in the 7-1/2" gun for fit and timing the .44-40 cylinder out of my 5-1/2” Vaquero serial number range 55-482XX which places its manufacture date in 1994. Installing the .44-40 cylinder in the .44 Mag. frame with 7-1/2” barrel fits right at the minimum factory assembly specs., of pass 0.002” and hold 0.003” and should give some really impressive velocities!!!

If my new 7-1/2" Swap-Cylinder Vaquero .44 Mag./.44-40 proves as accurate as I hope it will, I will tweak its fixed sights to hit the 12” gong at 100 yards with a center-mass hold with whatever turns out to be my most accurate load. I’m figuring 1000 fps+ with the 230-grain flat-nosed, soft lead cast bullet from the .44-40 cylinder and 7-1/2” barrel. It will also be interesting to see if the increased pressure resulting from the 8% smaller case capacity of .44 Magnum brass compared to .44-40 brass will boost the velocity enough to compensate for the loss due to effect of increased cylinder gap with that cylinder.

When I was at Ruger, our observation firing .38 Special lead bullet +P service loads such as the Winchester X38SPD, Federal 38G and Remington R38S12 "FBI Loads" expected that the Delta-V was about 10 fps for each 0.001” change in cylinder gap from the Mean Assembly Tolerance of 0.006.” That meant that it was possible for a tight 2-3/4” gun with minimum 0.003 gap to give velocities equal to or somewhat greater than a sloppy 4” gun with max. 0.008” gap. Using Bullseye powder in the .44-40 and firing the same bullets and charges in “medium” velocity .44 Magnum loads, about 1000 fps from a revolver, I would expect similar results.

I then tried for fit the .44 Mag. cylinder from the 7-1/2” gun in my 5-1/2” .44-40 Vaquero. It times and indexes fine, but like its big brother, it presents a max. cylinder gap of pass 0.008”, hold 0.009” compared to the near minimum pass 0.003”, hold 0.004” with its original .44-40 cylinder, which John Taylor reamed for me, so that I can load fatter bullets which fit its .44 Magnum-dimensioned barrel. Its original factory chambers were too tight in both the neck and the throats, being cut for factory loads with .427" diameter jacketed bullets. Having cylinder throats tighter than barrel groove diameter is a recipe for poor shooting with lead bullets, so that had to be fixed, and was. $100 very well spent!

My plan is to shoot identical .430” soft cast bullets, the Accurate 43-230EB heavy black powder design, and modern 43-230G, each with 7.2 grains of Bullseye, firing both frames and barrel lengths, with both cylinders. This full charge .44-40 load gives 997 fps in the 5-1/2” Vaquero with tight 0.003” cylinder gap, 957 fps. In the Ruger Super Blackhawk with its .44-40 Bowen cylinder and 0.005” cylinder gap, 947 fps in the factory .44 Magnum cylinder with 0.006” gap, and 1200 fps out of my Marlin carbines in either caliber. It is my basic general-purpose .44 load load which gives me 970 rounds from a pound of powder!

What's not to like about that? Stay tuned! TwoVaqueros 005.JPG



Testing over the summer should make an interesting study showing the effects of case capacity, seating depth (of two similar weight bullets of different designs) cylinder gap and barrel length. I might also do a repeat with my “rifle” load, compressed charge 24.5 grs. of RL7 with Accurate 43-230G. This load in .44-40 gave 891 fps in the 5-1/2” Super Blackhawk with Bowen cylinder, in .44 Magnum 1058 fps in the same Super Blackhawk with its factory .44 Magnum cylinder, 1359 fps in my .44-40 carbine, and 1418 fps in my similar .44 Magnum chambered Marlin 1894S.

Stay tuned, more to follow in a few months. Gotta get ready for deer season!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Range day today, and took both Vaqueros out to play. The 5-1/2 incher needed a hammer whack on the front sight to correct windage, and a bit filed off the front sight to zero, but now is. Trigger pull is useable, 4-1/2 pounds with perceptible creep and a slight roll-off as it lets go, like a good rack .45 hardball gun. I can live with that.

The 7-1/2 incher had a great trigger out of the box, and its sights were also "on" at 25 yards and needed no tweaking.

With my right eye which won't correct to any better than 20/30, both guns shoot 2-1/2 to 3 inch groups at 25 yards, which is as good as I'll be able to do until I get the eye lasered to clean up some scar tissue from surgery 5 years ago.

Side-by-Side comparisons fired the same day with representative .44-40 (Group 2 +P) loads fired in the two revolvers and my 19.5" H&R Single Shot:

.44-40 Ammunition all assembled in Starline brass with Remington 2-1/2 primers. Same .44-40 cylinder from 5-1/2" Vaquero, rechambered by John Taylor to enlarge necks and throats shot with both guns. H&R .44-40 Carbine chambered with same reamer, using set back Marlin 1894S Microgroove barrel, rebreeched with threads cut off:

Load Description_______________________Ruger 5-1/2"_____Ruger 7-1/2"________H&RCarbine 19.5"__Remarks

------------------------------------------------Cyl.Gap 0.003"------Cyl.Gap 0.002"--------Solid barrel

Accurate 43-230G 1:30 Sn/Pb 7.2 Bullseye__997, 10 Sd______1052, 9 Sd__________1199, 6 Sd____Crimped in top groove at 1.60" OAL

MissouriBullet 200-gr.LFN .430" 18.0#2400__1215, 57Sd_____1373, 41Sd_________1577, 22Sd

Accurate 43-230EB 1:30 Sn/Pb 24.5 RL7____1127, 28Sd______1252, 32 Sd________1439, 25Sd____Powder compressed 1/8"

ColMeanV (gain) FPS---------------------------1113-(0)------1226 (+113 over 5-1/2")-1405 (+292 over 5-1/2"; +179 over 7-1/2")
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Here is a comparison of .44-40 vs. .44 Magnum with similar loads and different barrel lengths.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Table 1

Side-by-Side comparisons fired the same day with representative .44-40 Factory and *Group 2 (+P) loads fired in two Vaqueros using the same .44-40 cylinder, with 19.5" H&R Single Shot rifle for comparison:

Ammunition all assembled in fireformed and resized Starline brass with Remington 2-1/2 primers.

Load Description_________Ruger 5-1/2"______Ruger 7-1/2"____H&R 19.5"Backpack Bunny Gun”

-------------------------------------Cyl.Gap 0.003"-------Cyl.Gap 0.002"---------Solid barrel

Rem-UMC 200 JSP___________n/f___________1017, 16 Sd______1231, 19 Sd___Pre WW2 factory Balloon Head

R-P 200-gr. JSP____________872, 24 Sd_______942, 21 Sd_______1159, 29 Sd___1960s, Bridgeport, CT production

R-P 200-gr. JSP____________867, 13 Sd_______920, 19 Sd_______1106, 32 Sd___Current Lonoke, AR production

W-W 200-gr. JSP___________856, 19 Sd_______886, 29 Sd_______1105, 25 Sd___Current East Alton, IL production

Rem .427” 200 JSP 24.5 RL7__902, 31 Sd_______1044, 24 Sd______1232, 30 Sd___Safe in Winchester 1873s

*43-230G 1:30Sn/Pb 7.2 BE__997, 10 Sd_______1052, 9 Sd_______1199, 6 Sd____ +P, 1.60" OAL crimped top groove

*200LFN WW .430" 18#2400_1215, 57Sd______1373, 41Sd_______1577, 22Sd___+P Magma Engineering design.

*43-230EB 1:30 24.5 RL7____1127, 28Sd______1252, 32 Sd_______1439, 25Sd___+P Modified John Kort Design

ColMeanV (gain) FPS-----------977-(REF)-----1061 (+84 over 5-1/2")-1256 ( +195 over 7-1/2")


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 2

Side-by-Side comparisons fired same day with .44 Magnum “Medium Velocity” loads
fired in two Vaqueros using the same .44 Magnum cylinder, 20" Marlin 1894S for comparison:

Ammunition all assembled in Remington New Factory Primed brass with Remington 2-1/2 primers.

Load Description_________Ruger 5-1/2"______Ruger 7-1/2"____Marlin 20”__Remarks

-------------------------------------Cyl.Gap 0.008"-------Cyl.Gap 0.008"------Solid barrel


43-230G 1:30Sn/Pb 7.2BE___978, 18Sd________1044, 21Sd_____1178, 7Sd___1.59” OAL crimped top groove

43-230G 1:30Sn/Pb 24.5RL7_1022, 18Sd_______1151, 21Sd_____1432, 26Sd__1.59”OAL

Saeco#441-WW 16#2400__1137, 40Sd________1243, 20Sd_____1363, 24Sd__1.66” OAL 265-gr. Keith style

ColMeanV (gain) FPS--------1046-(REF)-----1146 (+100 over 5-1/2")-1324 ( +178 over 7-1/2”)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
As FYI for the group or anyone interested, my friend Lloyd over on Boolits has a stainless Ruger Vaquero CYLINDER ONLY in .44-40 with throats already reamed to .430" listed over there at:

hard to find 4440 ruger cylinder

This cylinder fits the original Vaquero large frame and will drop into a Super Blackhawk to make your .44 Magnum/.44-40 convertible.

MUCH less expensive doing this than trying to find a suitable cylinder and then having it rechambered.
 
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