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I recently picked up a very nice 1891 44/40. Locks up nicely and is mechanically very sound.

Was considering working up a black powder load, so I slugged the gun. Cylinder came out .424 but the barrel was .430.

Is this normal? What size bullets should I consider using?


John
 

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There were no SAAMI specs in the 19th century. :) Many a 44-40 revolver had a bad reputation for poor accuracy. Many Remington '75 models in 44-40 were worse as they merely used old .44 Rem. cylinders with no chamber step. :rolleyes:
 

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One of the problems is the use or practice of using Metford or Polygonal rifling. This style used by Colt and others was not as deep and it would wear or deteriorate due to use. It use was seen in to the early 1900's. But the manufactures learned that it was not very durable with smokeless powder and marginal with Black; But it was the technology at the time.

Thus, your barrel could have different measurements from what it was originally cut at. Your use of bullys will determine what Brass you use and your cylinder measurements. Mild loads with a softer alloy bullet will allow it to expand in the barrel for reasonable accuracy. BUT don't try to use .429 or larger bullets without using W-W cases. You need the thinner walls of the Winchester Brass, if your cylinder will accept, which sounds like it won't.
 

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I'm a great fan of the .44/40 cartridge, and if this revolver was mine, I'd investigate the possibility of having someone of proven competence (Tom Sargis, Peacemaker Specialists?) open the cylinder throats to .428. That would probably get you close enough agreement between chamber throat and bore to produce decent accuracy. Cylinder throat and bore diameter mismatches were quite common in 19th Century Colt single action revolvers. The .44/40s were particular offenders in this respect, and when a mismatch is found in this chambering the cylinder throats were usually significantly smaller than the bore, which will produce abysmal accuracy. .45 Colts, on the other hand, are very often found with oversized cylinder throats compared to the bore, and while this isn't ideal at all, that type of mismatch seems to give decent accuracy.
 
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