Shooters Forum banner

.444 based wildcats ?

13537 Views 20 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Tiny
Hello from Scotland

Can some one tell me if their are wildcats that can be made in a Marlin .444 lever rifle ?

Would their be any point ? Just wondering ?

Regards Englander
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
check out SSK industries. I think that J.D.Jones uses the .444 as the base for about 1/2 of his cartridges.( the .225 win for the other 1/2)
The SSK rounds are of reduced capacity and optimized for single shot pistols, but at least one full size .444 wildcat exists a .35/.444. This .35 should about equal a .358 Winchester, I would guess, and be very useful. Maybe others are out there too.

The 358 JDJ and 35/444 are virtually the same cartridge dimension-wise.

The JDJ's are held down somewhat pressure-wise due to the strength of the Contender pistol which is what they were intended for, but if any of them were chambered in a strong single-shot pistol/rifle or bolt gun, loads with higher pressures could be used. The ultimate limiting factor would then be that of the 444 case itself.

The max pressure of the original 444 Marlin is 44,000 CUP so that could be used as a guide.

One could simply go with a 307 or 356 Winchester to get the rimmed case for use in a Levergun loaded to higher pressures.

I have a Contender bbl in 358 Bellm which is basically a JDJ but with a longer neck and somewhat reduced velocity over the JDJ. 358 Winchester dies are used to form it. Neck length is about .5" which would be nice in a levergun with cast bullets I would imagine


<!--EDIT|Contender|May 03 2002,21:41-->
See less See more
Several years ago I contacted SSK about chambering a Marlin in .358JDJ.  Mr. Jones told me that the .358JDJ is too long for the Marlin action.  When .35 jacketed FP bullets are seated in their cannelure, OAL is too long to function in a Marlin levergun.  .35 bullets seated in their cannelure make the cartridge longer than .44 bullets seated in the .444 cartridge.

If this is in error I would love to know.  I have long wanted a .35 caliber lever gun that had more thump than .356win.  Ideally, I would like muzzle performance more in line with .35 Whelan (don't know if existing JFP's are up to it however, guess that means BTB will get the business instead).  I am patiently waiting for Gary James' .416x2" Beartooth to become a reality and necked down for .35 cal.
I would say you are correct, weave.

The 444 is just there with cartridge OAL length and a 35 cal version with heavier and as a consequence, longer bullets would increase OAL over the 444.

The 356 is a 2" case vs. the 444 case being about 1/4" longer.

Possibly the Browning/Winchester gun on a necked down 405 Winchester case would open up some possibilities for Whelen performance. The Krag case is 2.3" as you know was used in this gun also.

The Winchester 1895 in the '06 or 270 flavor can be rebored for the 35 Whelen or the Whelen Improved or Hawk.  All it would take is a competent gunsmith with the right tools.  The '95 has the added luxury of using spitzer bullets.  Although, scopes seem a little out of place on this rifle, a good peep sight can make good use of the flatter trajectory.

"The Winchester 1895 in the '06 or 270 flavor can be rebored for the 35 Whelen or the Whelen Improved or Hawk."  

Kindly, refrain from making such good and tempting suggestions as I have little willpower and too many rifle projects now.

Actually to add something useful myself, the Howell cartridges should also work well in the '95 and American Hunting Rifles is making some good offers on conversions to help promote the cartridge line.

I guess I was already aware that a Win 1895 would be the easy way to get better .35 cal performance but........  I really am a Marlin kind of guy.  I like their balance, handling, looks, etc.  

Not only that, here in western New York Win 1895's and Browning 71's can be rarer than hens' teeth.  When you do find them they command a premium.  Base cost of the gun plus gunsmith charges will quickly put this project out of my $ range.  

On the other hand, I would gladly hand over one of my Marlins to someone who could convert it to a cartridge with .35 Whelan punch.  I am hoping Marlin will offer a family of cartridges based on their .450, then I could just show up at my dealer with $$'s in hand.  Otherwise, I will keep watching this forum to see if the .416x2" BTB comes to pass.
Hey folks,
There are just so many choices out there aren't there?  Great fun.  Weave, I can understand your preferences.  I too, would like to see Marlin come out with that class of cartridge.  Lots of interested 35 shooters out there, but there may be a long wait.  I'm sure folks are necking down the 450 Marlin in all sorts of ways right now.  It would be real interesting to hear the results.

If you are having a hard time finding a '95 Winchester and really want one, check some the auction houses on the internet, I found a NIB '95 in 270 for $500!!!  That included shipping to the lower 48.  I think my cost to have it shipped to Alaska was a $25 additional.  Mine came with some really nice wood.  I think I found mine on Gun Broker.  The '71's are pretty rare seems to me and the ones out there are commanding some pretty high prices, they are probably worth it in collector or resale value though.  Seems a few forum members have been finding readily available 348's lately though.  Just keep an eye out for them.

Good luck.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.
See less See more
Did some nosing around some of those auction sites.  Good call! I don't normally get on them.  There does seem to be quite a bit out there.  

Just what I need, further temptation. (I think you now have been admonished twice on this posting for tempting us weak souls).

The only thing stopping me from jumping on an 1895 right now is the almost 9lbs weight of the gun.  Wanted something lighter/handier.  I am quickly warming up to it though.

I've been trying to decide on a new toy for the past couple months.  Wasn't really sure what I wanted (hate it when that happens). You might have helped me make up my mind.  There are several 1895 .270's online for reasonable $$'s.  I am going to watch these sites for a short while and get a feel for the going prices.  I won't be suprised if a 1895 in 35 Whelan improved is in my near future.
I just bought one off of GunBroker, I have no complaints with service or delivery.  Mine has some incredible wood on the forearm.  These rifles don't seem quite as heavy as they are.  I think it's because the weight of the gun falls center through the center.  Or at least it seems to me that the weight of the gun is equally supported by each hand, not barrel heavy, not butt heavy.  That's kind of a strange sensation to me, I'm used to the No. 1's and they are just a tad bit on the barrel heavy side.  I think I prefer that, helps to track better, but it may be because I've gotten so used to it.  I'm having my '95 rebarreled with a shorter barrel, but I don't think the balance will change.  These rifles are such a treat.  It's going to take a while to get mine worked on, but I'll post some results when I do.  It leaves home tomorrow.

I don't know think mine weighs nine pounds.  I don't have a scale with which to weigh it, but doesn't seem any heavier than any other rifle I have other than the shortbarreled No. 1 RSI.  I would not hesistate to buy this rifle based on weight.  If it is 9 lbs, it feels more like 7 1/2.  It might not be the perfect mountain rifle, but I doubt it's weight would bother you.  It is very well balanced.

<!--EDIT|alyeska338|May 05 2002,16:43-->
See less See more
Thanks for the insight.  I think I read somewhere that 1895's are over 8-1/2 lbs.  Don't know for sure but the number kinda sticks in my head.  I suppose that would be helpful with a big bore.  Like I said, we don't see them too often around western NY so I can't really touch one.  I'm kind of put off by that too.  I bet that if I saw one in the flesh I would fall in love and get one ASAP.  

Gunbroker had several to choose from, so did GunsAmerica. There is also a local guy (for me anyway) at GunsOnSale with one.  He's strictly online sales though.  You definitely have me looking now.  

There is a show coming to town soon, I'll stop in and see if any of the vendors are displaying one.  I'll give you a post if I nab one.
They are a little different, no doubt about it.  I just hefted mine to my shoulder and while picking it up, it did seem a tad bit on the heavy side, however when bringing it to your shoulder or sighting, or cycling the lever, it is pure grace in fluid motion.  I don't care for the sights too much, but have never liked buckhorn sights.  If you get your hands on one, bring it to shoulder before discounting it.  It comes up and tracks very nice, much more so than some other levers I've handled.  Besides, you can shoot the pointed bullets and take advantage of that.  The 35 Whelen out to be a hoss in one of these rifles.

Getting back to the 444 wildcats, the JDJ cartridges seem interesting, but I'd check the overall length to make sure they would function in the Marlin and still get the performance you desire.  Let us know what the outcome is.
Just to add a little fuel to the fire on the JDJ cartridges in a Marlin Lever Action:

Last year I stumbled across the .375 JDJ in a load manual and began wondering how this would perform in a rechambered Levergun.  I contacted SSK by e-mail and asked if this would be possible.  JD Jones wrote me back and quoted a price of $650.00 to convert a Marlin .444 to .375 JDJ.  He cautioned that if the project was done that nothing lighter than 220 grn bullets be used as most of the 200 grn F/N's on the market would not hold together on game when shot through most of his Hand Cannons.  I wasn't able to afford the project, but every now and then it comes to mind and I wonder if it would have been worthwhile.

Any opinions, comments?
I am interested in 444 wildcats too. The modern ones from Dennis Bellum and JD Jones are great.
When I was a kid I remember reading about the '50's vintage "Benchrest Series" of cartridges that were blown out .30-40 Krag's, necked every which-a-way.
Then in the June 1964 issue of Guns magazine (I still have it) John Prescott wrote about Fred Wade and E. B. Van Houten and the "Lever Power" cartridges. These were the .30-40 blown out straight with Ackley Improved shoulders. They were trimmed to 2".
In the October 1964 issue of Guns & Ammo Robert Hutton wrote about wildcating the new .444 Marlin. Hutton pictured the .35-444, .30-444, 7mm-444 and the 6.5mm-444. Hutton compared them to the Lever Powers. These were trimmed to 2.750" and were straight walled and sharp shouldered. They were tested in a 26" barreled Model '98 Mauser. He held them to an estimated 41,000PSI.
6.5=2404 fps with 42.8gr of IMR 4831 & 160 PN Hornady blt.
7mm=2556 fps with 48.0gr of IMR 4831 & 154 RN Hornady blt.
30=2640 fps with 47.0gr of IMR 4320 & 150 Speer RN blt.
30=2387 fps with 41.0gr of IMR 4320 & 170 Speer FN Blt.
35=2400 fps with 48.0gr of IMR 4320 & 200 Remington RN Blt.
Hutton said these figures may be a little to good to be true because of the bolt action and long barrel. These figures are very close to what we get today from the .307 and .356 Winchester!
In the American Reloading Association Bullitan from July 1968 H. A. McCallum (Does anyone know him?) accuratly predicted the current .307 and .356 Winchester preformance figures. McCallum stumped for a .375-444 wildcat.
The "big breakthrough" came in the 1979 issue of Guns Digest. Myron Rockett (a Canadian?) wrote about his 308/444 wildcat and the conversion of a Winchester Model 94. Rockett's performance of 2410fps from 40.0gr of IMR 4064 with a 170gr Hornady FN bullet just slightly exceeds what I get today with the same combination in the .307! Remember this was with a regular reciever! I was working in Germany at the time and really wanted to come home and build a 308/444!
I am sure that someone was wildcatting the .303 British at the same time but I have read very little about it. Can you shed any light on that?
See less See more

A most excellent post, chock full of historical info.


William's mention of the .303 British brought to mind an interesting and fun approach to a very useful levergun wildcat.

Key here is that both .303 rifles and ammo are available surplus at very low prices. You could buy a .303 surplus or from Gibbs and 500 or 1000 rounds of ammo very cheaply. You would have a very tough knock around gun in the .303, and good fun and practice in converting the ammo to cases.

The .303 rim is right between the .444 and .45/70 in diameter, and the case length is short enough thus it sould fit many of the Marlins and Wnchesters. With the body taper blown out and a steep shoulder a .375/.303 should be able to improve on .375 Winchester numbers for instance, but you could basically pick a bore diameter. RCBS lists a 22/303 Improved, 25/303, 6.5/303, if you want to go smallbore.

Could be FUN!
If you make a wildcat 35 on a 444 case that is the right length for the Marlin action, you have a 356 Win. What you might do is make a 35 on the 45-70 case, which I'm sure has been done.
this might give a little more power in a 35.

IF you can live with the Winchester Mod 88, then you can use the 35 or 375 bullet with the 284 case. This gives about the same capacity as a 35 Whelan.
With wildcats, you may find that you are reinventing the wheel. I once built an M1 carbine in 357 Automag. When I was done i realized I now had a 351WSL.
The .35/.45-70 is called the .35 Greevy.
Ken Waters did an interesting write up on it in Handloader and it is in the Wildcats book from Wolfe.
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.