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  #1  
Old 03-04-2008, 02:58 AM
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444 Marlin for dangerous game.


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Since I have gotten a 444 Marlin, I have been doing a lot of research on the capabilities of the cartridge. Some pundits swear by its ability to take large dangerous game, and usually use the phrase "will take anything on the North American continent.....and most species of African game". Other writers state that the cartridge is good for deer, black bear, and hog at modest ranges, but, limit its uses to that size of animal. I have also read that any cartridge that produces 3000 ft lbs of muzzle energy (which the 444 Marlin does), will take any animal on the planet (providing the distance is within the capability of the bullet/cartridge, and shot placement is accurate). Now that I am totally confused, I am looking for a response from hunters who have used this cartride (or any cartridge that produces 3000 ft lbs muzzle energy), on Browns, Grizzly, Polars, or large African game...............I realize that these animals have been taken with much less than the 444, and I also realize that the "bigger is better" rule applies here, but, I would like responses to this post to focus on the 444 Marlin only............So, if you have taken this type of game with the 444, or, were privy to the 444's use on this type of game, I would surely like to hear about its performance!
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  #2  
Old 03-04-2008, 03:38 AM
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Weapon

I have not killed squat, but Walter Dalrymple Maitland Bell, also known as 'Karamojo' Bell, probably killed more elephants (estimates run in the 100+ range) and collected more ivory than any man who ever lived. Going on memory here, but I believe he started with a .303 British, and moved DOWN in caliber. I seem to remember a 6.5 Rigby as being among his favorites. He studied the animals' anatomy, used solids, and was an exceptional shot. He retired to his native Scotland and died of old age.
Based on that, I believe caliber is not the most important factor in the equation. Only you can judge how good a shot you are under duress.
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  #3  
Old 03-04-2008, 08:18 AM
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It's not legal in many African countries for large dangerous game (elephant, cape buffalo, rhino, hippo, etc...). Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and many others all have minimum caliber and energy requirements of at least a 9.3mm and anywhere between 3900 ft-lbs to 4,000 ft-lbs (minimum). Whether or not you could kill large and dangerous animals in Africa is moot, if the cartridge isn't legal.

I'm not sure how handgunners get around these requirements.
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  #4  
Old 03-04-2008, 08:48 AM
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Sadsit, if you will research farther, you will find that Mr. Bell killed over 1100 elephants just with the 7x57 Mauser. I cannot remember the numbers for the other calibers. Research will also point up a few other things about Bell's record.

Bell used only solids in his work, first for momentum to gain penetration and stabilization after entering the game to restrain tumbling. For example: 215gr .303's, 175gr 7mm's, and 156gr 6.5mm. He also used the smaller bores since his treks lasted from months to years and every round had to be transported on foot. Bell obviously was an exceptional shooter but also an expert on elephant anatomy. Reading any of his work you will also find that a great many head traveled a long distance after the shot and a good number were never recovered. It is often joked that Mr. Bell's later cardiac problems were precipitated by all those miles he ran chasing wounded elephant in earlier years.

Flat Top, about the .444, almost anything can happen on occasion, but to be considered reliable on heavy African game you would need a faster twist barrel that would stabilize a longer, heavier 400gr bullet. Then you will need a case capacity that will drive that bullet to approximately 2200 to 2400 feet per second; ie, in effect you need to recreate the .404 Jeffery/.416 Rigby/.416 Remington.

If you remain determined to take your .444 after Cape Buffalo, after leaving your insurance broker, I'd also suggest some serious cross country training and the finest running shoes you can find. BOL to both of you.
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Old 03-04-2008, 09:35 AM
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Thanks all!!! Blackhawk44...I never intended to go to Africa (although it would be nice!), and if I did hunt the big ones there, I think the minimum caliber I would choose would be 375 H&H...more likely the .458 Win Mag (I would also take out a good life insurance policy, regardless.....LOL!!!!). My main interest is in Alaskan game, and the big bears especially. I have read so much info about the 444, and opinions on the suitability of that cartridge differs so widely that I dont know what to believe. Some folks swear by it, and others dismiss it. It seems that the cartridge (on paper... with heavy hardcast bullets, or solids) is up to the job...but, I would sure like to hear from someone who has had experience hunting the big bears with the 444..... It seems that I can find only opinions, with no real proof to back them up. It would be interesting to hear from a hunter with real life experience...............I have read articles about the 444 taking large Elk and Moose (I believe Marshall has done that), and that is impressive! I cannot find any info at all on the 444 cartridge being used to hunt/take the big bears. Thats why I brought this topic to the forum...somebody out there must know something, one way or the other.
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  #6  
Old 03-04-2008, 09:37 AM
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I have a similar question about the 444. I have an opportunity to pick up a used .444 and am interested in it's ability to defend against Black Bear specifically. Will a .444 break down an angry black bear? Is it enough cartridge to penetrate fur/hide/muscle/bone and vitals reliably, and stop a charge? It would also be my backup moose gun.
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  #7  
Old 03-04-2008, 10:01 AM
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Flat Top, one big problem with the .444 is its slow 1 in 38" barrel which makes it difficult (not impossible) to stabilize heavier bullets. Other than hard cast bullets, heavy jacketed bullets are also hard to come by once you pass 300 grains. Also, with its length limitations, its hard to come up with additional powder capacity to drive heavy bullets. Its simply easier to to get a strong .45-70 to perform than a .444 which also gives you about another 100 grains in bullet weight.

NWT338, a good 270-300 grain bullet at full speed should do what you need, provided you use softpoints for blackies and a hard cast for moose. Go to the top of the page and click on the Beartooth tab.
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  #8  
Old 03-04-2008, 10:31 AM
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Black bear...you betcha.

While guiding in Maine,my instructions were always "hit 'em square on the shoulder". I had lots of sports very cleanly take some of the bigger black bear with one well placed shot.

I have also done this with my .444 Marlin using hardcast. Several sports also took the bigger(in Maine) moose with this cartridge. On several occasions breaking BOTH shoulders.

The next best bullet for penetration was the 300gr Hornady XTP. I have never recovered a single bullet out of a black bear. Complete penetration,ALWAYS.

I have seen a hardcast(from 25yds)penetrate from just forward of the left rear hip, to breaking and exiting the front right shoulder. that's 6(or so) feet of moose.

My expierances with the .444 over the years(25 or so)have told me that the loading works great on moose,black bear,and the bigger Maine deer. This,given the right choice of bullet. -----pruhdlr
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  #9  
Old 03-04-2008, 11:09 AM
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Blackhawk44; I have been studying Marshalls work with the 444 (just excellent), and by using the Ballisticians info on Marshalls site, plus some printed info I have at hand, I have come up with a load that makes the 3000+ muzzle energy factor, with a 325 grn bullet....out of my 16.5" barrel to be!!!! I ran the numbers against some of the heavier bullets (330, 355, and 405), and they actually produced about the same, or less energy at the muzzle than some of the lighter bullets. Corbon also lists some loads for the 444 that they say will take all big game including the big bears, and the numbers show them to be a bit less than what I have come up with....also, thier "heavy" bullet is 305 grns, I believe. Craig Boddington in one of his articles said that the 444 (within its limited range) will take anything including the largest of bears on the North American continent, but, he also said that when you pay the big bucks for the hunt of a lifetime, and the trophy of a lifetime presents itself beyond the range of a 444, would it be worth going home empty handed, because you didnt have enough gun to get the job done? John Taffin (whom I have followed for years and who's word I respect) also said that within its range the 444 can get the job done. It seems to me that bullet selection (and there are plenty out there now for the 444), is what makes the 444 the modern day performer that it was not in the past..................I would just prefer to have someone tell me that they have taken one of the big bears with a 444, and give thier opinion on its performance. Believe me, I am not trying to be the first!!!!!..............By the way, my barrel has the 1-20 twist and will, according to Marshalls 444 data, do a good job of stabilizing bullets in the 355 grn weight range.
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  #10  
Old 03-04-2008, 11:10 AM
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Hawk makes a 300 grain x .035 FP that is one tough S.O.B.


Also the Beartooth 335g LFN works as advertised every time


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  #11  
Old 03-04-2008, 11:17 AM
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Thanks Pruhdir and Skipper...I am taking notes!
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  #12  
Old 03-04-2008, 12:36 PM
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I really don't think there is much difference at the terminal end between the 45/70 and the 444. As far as hurling heavier bullets, I think penetration will be similar given similar sectional density and bullet construction. The 45/70 is bigger, but they are both BIG and with a large meplat, they will both make a big hole. If one is to make the argument that the 444 is not enough gun for a given task, then they should likely step up higher than the 45/70 to achieve what is needed. Every cartridge out there will see a diminishing return on velocity as a heavier bullet is stuffed in due to powder capacity limitation. With either the 444 or 45/70 the sectional density will be plenty high by the time powder capacity is entering the equation. So if the 444 is not big enough to kill that big nasty, go get a big magnum.
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Old 03-04-2008, 02:32 PM
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Gringo Loco: My sentimants exactly, but, I wonder why there is all this hunting info out there for the 45-70, and I cant find anything on the 444? I guess, just to set my mind at ease, I would like somebody to tell me that this "has been done...here is the load I used....and, the performance I experienced."
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  #14  
Old 03-05-2008, 07:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gringo_loco
I really don't think there is much difference at the terminal end between the 45/70 and the 444.
This is like saying there isn't much difference at the terminal end between the 338 Winchester Magnum and the 30-06. How many of you would support that?

The 45-70 when loaded to its potential in the Marlin lever gun has 19.5% more kinetic energy and 14% greater cross-sectional area than the 444 Marlin. The 45-70 Taylor KO is 25% greater than that for the 444. When both are loaded to their potential in Marlin lever guns, given equal bullet sectional density, the 45-70 will drive a bullet of similar construction and configuration at least as fast as the 444 Marlin, and given equal bullet weight, the 45-70 will drive a bullet of similar construction and configuration significantly faster than the 444 Marlin. Hence, the 45-70 will shoot just as "flat" as the 444 Marlin, and will deliver more energy to the target and more recoil to the shooter. The fact is that the 45-70 is more powerful than the 444 Marlin. This is a simple function of case capacity and bullet diameter. I guess one cannot defy or deny physics.

The reason you don't see many reports of 444 Marlin use for North American dangerous game is that there are better choices for that application. It is not that the 444 Marlin with an appropriate bullet and load is not adequate for that purpose. The 444 Marlin would also be a fine African plains game rifle in some locales/terrain. If the 45-70 is marginal for African dangerous game (some would contend it is highly ill-suited for the purpose) then the 444 Marlin is likely to be inadequate. If you look at the load that African dangerous game 45-70 proponents cite, the 444 Marlin cannot easily accommodate a bullet with a comparable sectional density.
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Last edited by jackfish; 03-05-2008 at 08:14 AM.
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  #15  
Old 03-05-2008, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackfish View Post
The 45-70 when loaded to its potential in the Marlin lever gun has 19.5% more kinetic energy and 14% greater cross-sectional area than the 444 Marlin. The 45-70 Taylor KO is 25% greater than that for the 444. When both are loaded to their potential in Marlin lever guns, given equal bullet sectional density, the 45-70 will drive a bullet of similar construction and configuration at least as fast as the 444 Marlin, and given equal bullet weight, the 45-70 will drive a bullet of similar construction and configuration significantly faster than the 444 Marlin. Hence, the 45-70 will shoot just as "flat" as the 444 Marlin, and will deliver more energy to the target and more recoil to the shooter. The fact is that the 45-70 is more powerful than the 444 Marlin. This is a simple function of case capacity and bullet diameter. I guess one cannot defy or deny physics.
Think you misinterpreted my intent/post. Perhaps I could have worded it better, but yes, the 45/70 is bigger and I believe I stated that. But they are both big bore. Never made any comments about 444 shooting flatter or any of the other myriad arguments made between the 444 and 45/70 tiresome debate, and don't believe I tried to defy any laws of physics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackfish View Post
The reason you don't see many reports of 444 Marlin use for North American dangerous game is that there are better choices for that application. It is not that the 444 Marlin with an appropriate bullet and load is not adequate for that purpose. The 444 Marlin would also be a fine African plains game rifle in some locales/terrain. If the 45-70 is marginal for African dangerous game (some would contend it is highly ill-suited for the purpose) then the 444 Marlin is likely to be inadequate.
This was the main gist of my post ... that IF one contends that the (insert your favorite here, 444 or 45/70) is not adequate, then get a bigger MAGNUM.

The comment made about not being much different at the terminal end is in relation to that point. I did not try to quantify it. Rest easy, the 45/70 is bigger, bigger bullet, bigger KE, bigger TKO ... never stated otherwise.

On another note, Teddy Roosevelt put away alot of African game with the 405 WCF, which is not that different from the 444. Are there better choices? ... I'm sure many would say yes. Is the difference significant to the Target? I have not taken any dangerous game, and so will not make any claims about how effective either would be and I was careful not to do that in my first post. Flat Top is looking to hear about specific examples so this will be my last post to this thread.
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:50 AM
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Jackfish; In the course of my research on the 444 I came across a few articles...one by Boddington....that said that some Pro Hunters in Africa were utilizing Marlin lever guns in 444 and in 45-70 for back up guns to protect themselves and clients! One PH said, in one of those articles: " When things go bad and lives are on the line, and a powerful cartridge, and quick followup shots are necessary, in close, the Marlin 444 Lever Action is the way to go!"...or, something to that effect (its been some time since I have seen the article). It seems that both of these cartridges and the Marlin levergun are well respected on the dark continent! The articles went on to say that the use of the Marlin leverguns and these two cartridges are becoming accepted practice amongst many PH's! I am working on a 16.5 inch barrel custom XLR, and with the help of those in the know, have found that some good ballistics can be had from the 444...even with the short barrel. What we have come up with is a 325 grn bullet at a tad over 2000 fps, and a muzzle energy of 3000 ft lbs. At 100 yards the velocity is at 1600+ fps with a muzzle energy of a tad over 2000 ft lbs. This rifle is designed to be short, light, and handy, and the distances of shots taken will be short as well, so, the numbers work for me. Are there other cartridges out there that would work better.....sure...especially for the longer ranges, and, if I intended to hunt at the longer ranges, all that would be required is grabbing another rifle. I think that every caliber and every rifle has its place in the scheme of things, and as long as we dont try to over extend their capabilities everything will work out just fine.............
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Old 03-05-2008, 05:04 PM
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i got some 325lfp bullets on ebay and the guy i got them from said he was pushing them at 2479fps out of a 24" marlin 444 that is 4300flbs now weather is is safe is a diffrent question also read where a guy was shooting a 275gr hardcast out of a marlin cowboy 26" barrel at 2800fps almost 4800flbs wow. how big did you say that fish was.

Last edited by slowsuki1; 03-05-2008 at 05:09 PM.
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  #18  
Old 03-05-2008, 05:59 PM
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Sounds like he's full of something...................maybe fish............maybe not.
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Old 03-05-2008, 06:23 PM
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Beartooth has some heavy bullets (I'm working from memory now...) up to around 405 gr. for the .444. I think you'll have COL issues with that one though. I am using a Lee collet die to crimp the 300 gr. BTB's I load for my .444.
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Old 03-06-2008, 04:27 AM
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GSPKurt; I considered the heavier bullets from Marshall and the 355 WLNGC looked to be a good choice as well as the 325 I listed above. The muzzle energy figure of the 355 was just about the same as the 325...........It seemed that regardless of bullet weight (the higher the bullet weight the slower the velocity produced), that the muzzle energy figures really didnt change all that much. All things considered the 325 looked to be the best balance of accuracy, retained velocity, sustained energy, recoil, etc, for the short distances that my rifle would be used within......That is the bullet I will work with first.....and yes, I use the Lee Factory Crimper as well. I ran some tests years ago on my 44 Mag handguns, comparing the accuracy of my existing hunting and defense loads. The Lee Factory crimper improved accuracy of those loads when compared to the roll crimp of my loading dies. When I bought my reloading dies for the 444, I bought the Lee Factory crimper as well. Good product!
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