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The change to the fore end cap and lack of barrel bands was some time in 1975, a few years into 444S production.
The change to cross-bolt safety and the addition of another 'S' (for 444SS) was in 1983.
Ballard barrels with 1:20" twist rates were introduced in 1998 (August, I believe).
444Ps ran from about 1999-2002.
444Ts were only officially produced in 1971, according to most people that have researched it, but there are several floating around with 1972 serial numbers.
In 2002 the 'SS' was dropped and the model reverted to plain old "444".

Most of that information is available in the "One Humongous Sticky", listing production years as the first full year of production for each change. (So the change to the new magazine style for the 444S, for example, is listed as 1976, even though the change occurred in 1975.)


There have also been internal changes, over the years, but they can be much more difficult to nail down.
The "flipper" (cartridge leveler) on the follower, for example, is something I had researched enough to attribute to just 4 years of production, with a run of about 3,000 rifles in between that did not have the flipper. However.... I keep running across exceptions to the 'rule', with receivers that have the flippers at times when standard production did not. -And it's not something you can just drop in the rifle. The receiver has to be milled for it from the factory. It's almost as if Marlin kept running across old parts, and would kick them out the door with their current production runs.
 
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