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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am going to be putting together a video of the Safari Grade 444. As part of the video, I am wanting to do comparisons of the SG 444's performance in contrast to other big bore lever gun cartridges...both OEM and wildcat. I have already developed a list of cartridges that produce about the same power as the SG 444, or, are in about the same class as the SG 444, and if anybody knows of other wildcats or factory cartridges that meet the "big bore" criteria for OEM or modified lever guns I would sure like some input. I would like to keep the criteria limited to .400 through .458 bore diameters, but, if a 50 cal comes up I wont turn it down. This is what I have found so far:

50 Alaskan
450 Alaskan
475 GNR
475 Turnbull
457 Wild West
470 Turnbull

The SG 444 modification was designed to mimic the power of the .404 Jefferey and the 450-400 Nitro Express with a 400 grain bullet, and with a 300 grain bullet the 375 H&H Magnum, so, I will include those in the list as well.

Any help in adding to this list would be appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks bikerbean. Although that is a monumental effort by MacPherson, that rifle is way out of the context of the cartridges I have listed.....not only in power, but in weight (portability), complexity of the modification, and cost to the consumer. I have heard (dont know if this is true or not) that the modification runs around 5000.00 on the customers supplied rifle! Also, I have only heard of two of these being built.....one by Mic for Mic, and one for a customer. The cartridges I have listed have been around for some time, all have been proven, and the costs are within reason for custom gun work of that type. The 510 is in a class all by itself...for sure....and none of the above listed cartridges (although each produces the power to take anything on earth).... can come close to it!!!!!
 

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It isn't quite in the same class as the other cartridges, but I've seen several gunsmiths mention .460 S&W conversions they've done with Marlin 1895s and/or Browning M71s.
Some say they warned the client to stick with .454 Casull load data in the .460 S&W case; while others just sent the rifle on its way, content that it could handle the 65k psi chamber pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks mt! Dave Clay (DRC) does a 45-90 modification to the Marlin 1895 which supposedly produces around 4000 ft lbs. I know of one fella that bought one from Dave, and, has been working with that rifle, but I dont know if he ever finalized his load development. I do know he was keeping his pressures around the 40,000 mark, and was running 110% powder capacity with some powders to achieve the 4000 ft lb power level. I am sure that as he works towards his goal, that he will develop a "standard" for load data for the conversion, and keep it within safe pressure levels. I was going to list it, but, because minimal rounds have been fired and no concrete load data is available, I decided to wait to list it with the proven cartridges above. If I find some info on that, I will list it with the rest of the cartridges before I make my video. As I see it, that old BP cartridge burning smokeless in a Marlin lever gun, I would think that about 4000 ft lbs, or the power of the 450 Alaskan would be about tops for the 45-90 modification, while keeping everything on the safe side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, I know its not what the others are, but sort of an "entry level" for that relm. Possibly throw a regular 444 in for comparison sake as well? Bullet selection is where I see this getting interesting.
Most of the cartridges I listed (all for Large and Large Dangerous game use at top loadings) use bullets in the 400 grain class, and most perform best with something around 400 grains. I found that the ideal "all around" bullet for the SG 444 was 400 grains (Marshall up at BTB designed the Safari 410 grain bullet specifically for the SG 444 modification). Each of these wildcats produce near the same power and the best balanced performance is gained from a "medium weight" big bore bullet. My heavyweight entry is the Safari 445 (to 455 depending on alloy) designed by our own mt_sourdough for the SG 444. The 445 produces BIG power at max loading and as a LDG close range stopper it would be ideal. I would use the Safari 410 for general large game hunting. Although the SG 444 was designed as a large game rifle, it will shoot a 310 grain bullet (Safari 310) for the longer shots on medium game....such as Elk, Black Bear, Deer, hogs, etc. All of the above cartridges have proven to be very good, and of course can be loaded down to suit just about any type of hunting........
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
How bout the 457 from wild west guns?
I have listed that above.....the 457 Wild West. It was designed to shoot a 350 grain bullet at 2300 fps. The Safari Grade "All-American (the MG-38 variation of the SG modification), that Starrbow has can shoot a 350 grain bullet at 2350+ fps or so....not much difference in performance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Here is an interesting old thread:

.444 wildcats - Shooters Forum
Just got through that....it is a very interesting thread!!! It is unfortunate that most that modify or wildcat dont appreciate the 444 as a real big bore "power player" as a lever gun cartridge. Most choose to neck the cartridge down to increase the velocity of smaller bore bullets, rather than holding on to the big bore/big game mantra, which I feel the 444 is ideally suited to, especially with the SG modification.....but to each his own...thats what makes life interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
FT... Just re read and saw that ole FT used the "p" word!
I should know but... How many rounds do you have down range with your
444 sg?
.............over 2000 rounds I believe it is (or, was that the SG 35).....I lost count...a lot!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Oops, overlooked it. My reference to bullet selection was more that if a particular cartridge doesn't do as well as expected, its bound to have its faithful claiming "wrong bullet", or something. We see all the time from the 45/70 guys! :eek:
Very rarely do I ever go to the 45-70 forum, so, what they do over there is anybodies guess.

I do know that when mt_sourdough tested the BTB 400 grain bullet at 2125 fps (that is my North American large game load) that it penetrated over 3" of seasoned oak block and then penetrated the 7 water filled jugs behind the oak block, while destroying the jugs that were set adjacent to the center row of jugs that the bullet penetrated (if memory serves me). It was sure an awesome display of brute power and the total penetration through the block and jugs was 59 inches...almost 5 feet!!!......The damage is way out of proportion to what one would think that 1000+ ft lbs of extra energy would make. In other words, it seemed that 25 to 30% more power (over a hot loaded OEM 444) created 50% more damage. That is about the best way I could explain it! I did realize a few things by witnessing mt's testing. 4000 ft lbs is the world standard for a LDG rifle, and, I can really understand why....that is one heck of a lot of power! Secondly the oak block jug test led me to believe that even my North American load would fully penetrate an elephants skull from any angle, and make it to the brain...the toughest shot in all of hunting, and thirdly a hardcast bullet should never be underestimated....short of a monometal solid or a steel jacketed full patch bullet, I do not believe there is any bullet out there that could withstand the type of abuse that mt put those bullets through that day....and they still performed beyond what they would have had to endure on any game animal!
 
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