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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi fellas.

I have a .444 Marlin that a buddy of mine bought in 1970. He was not a reloader(at the time) and used factory loads. He didn't talk much about his Marlin for a few years and never brought it to the range when we were together. About 1974 he brought me a target that he said was a 10 shot group. It was the 'Leupold' type with the squares. There were, as I remember, four (4) holes on the paper in about an eight inch 'pattern'. He said his rifle was for sale.

I cleaned the bore, checked the mounts, changed scopes, and checked for anything loose. When everything was solid as a rock we went to the range....

I shot up a new box of shells(four, five shot groups). The best I could do was four on the paper on one target. Of the other sixteen shots, only five hit paper(sixteen inch targets, I think).

We haggled. He had paid $135.00 for it and he knew I loved Marlins. I had five and had just bought two .44MAG, 1894s.
This was a slick looking rifle. It has a 24" barrel, half magazine, and a straight, fluted, Monte Carlo stock with a medallion in the side. Set a trap and use that for bait...Well, I payed $125.00 for it with five boxes of cases.

I stopped on the way home and bought dies, bullets and powder. Two days later I was out doing pressure and barrel time-vibration tests at two hundred yard targets with a Weaver K12. When I found a sweet spot, it was with 200 gr Hornadys and 225 gr Speer 1/2 jackets. When I returned home again I loaded up a half grain and down a half grain from the sweet spot for each bullet. Then I returned to the range with my hand loads and a box of Remington factory cartridges.

I found that either handload would shoot sub 1 1/2" groups at a hundred. The 225 half jacket was astounding. I was getting three shot cloverleafs, consistently. I then cleaned the rifle and shot the factory rounds. I actually got eight on the paper.

I have tried 240 grain, 265gr, 275 gr, and 300gr jacketed bullets in this rifle and it will not do it. I have a new box of Barnes(I think they are 275gr) that I would almost let someone shoot at me. They are worse than the Remingtons.

A question;

Does anyone have a clue what is happening with this reverse-stabilization? I can't imagine that this rifle was made for light bullets. I have it in front of me now and the rifling is definitely making a full turn in less than the 24" length.

I'm not griping. I like lighter, faster bullets. I just don't understand.

Thanks,

Bud
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Two things:

One, take the forend off & remove mag tube. All of it. Rest the front of the receiver on the sandbag and don't let anything touch the barrel. Load single-shot of course. That should tell you if you have binding in the forend/mag tube hangers.

My .35 Rem 336 will go from hideous to tack-driver with changes in the tightness of the front screws.

If that solves the problem, then you have to play with the fit of everything to see how to make it work when it's put back together.

If that doesn't work.... well, then it's a long shot, but I'd lap the barrel.

Oh and make sure that the buttstock is on tight.

Never heard of one doing what you describe.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Mike,

I tried what you suggest, twenty years ago. There was no improvement. As long as this thing shoots the light bullets accurately I'll keep it. It splatters deer at anything within rain-forest range.

One thing; Do you know who makes a cannelureing tool that does not eat the skin from your fingers or distort the bullet. I have an old C-H tool. It still does the job but gets painful after a box of bullets.

Thanks,

Bud
 

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Bud,

Dave Corbin make a tool for turning in cannalures that looks good, but I have not seen one up close and personal. Just pictures.

dclark
 

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I realize that this thread is 6 weeks old, but since the original poster did not get an answer to his question perhaps I can help. The original M1895s were given a very slow twist rate for the factory 240-grain load, and the factory used this 1:38" rate for many years along with the MicroGroove rifling. Quite recently Marlin has tightened the rate to 1:20", and this rate is plenty to stabilize the heaviest .429" bullets available. Lots of opinions and "facts" about the M1895/.444 combination are no longer valid with the modern versions. [ How the poster can have the fast twist barrel in a 33-year-old rifle escapes me. ]

The poster's problem is classic for a too-slow twist rate; just why it doesn't even stabilize the 240s is a bit of a mystery, but there may be an answer. If the bore is slightly oversize the shallow MicroGroove rifling may not provide enough grip with some bullets. The half-jacket bullet he found to be the most accurate has a soft jacket and core, and it would more easily 'slug up' to better fit an oversized bore.

The dismal accuracy with the Barnes bullets makes plenty of sense - it is very hard and will NOT upset at .444 pressures, and it is the longest bullet of its weight, further challenging the stabilization in the slow twist rate barrel. Short of having Marlin rebarrel the rifle with a modern tube of correct dimensions there is not a lot the shooter can do other than to use the lightweight bullets.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Hi 321,

I disagree that the slow original twist of the Marlin is entirely at fault. Check Marshall's Tech Notes articles on the .444; forget where exactly the 1-38" twist ran out of gas, but it was well over 300 grains. Also the current Speer manual reports that their 300gr Uni-Core bullet stablized just fine in a 1-38" twist barrel.

So.... hard to draw firm conclusions at this time. It would be interesting to slug the bore and see if that contributed (if so then some oversized cast bullets might make a difference).
 

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MikeG, I can't disagree with you. However, it is well documented that not all users could achieve proper accuracy with heavy bullets in the earlier-production .444s. Some could, some could not.

Perhaps the most definative testing was by Frank DeHaas in the January 1980 issue of Handloader. His test rifle, with good .430" non-MicroGroove bore and 38":1 twist, would not stabilize some 300-grain bullets, but in one case would stabilize a 340-grain lead "wadcutter". He concluded after cutting bullets to different lengths/weights that for any decent accuracy, his 38" twist rifle needed bullets with very short noses and they had to be driven very fast. A custom rifle he used with a 16":1 twist rate stabilized cast bullets up to 415 grains.

Brian Pearce stated in his August 2000 Handloader article that if he loaded the 300-grain bullets below maximum velocity in his 1964-vintage .444 their accuracy went away quickly, indicating marginal stability. There are several other references but you get the idea.

Why the differences in rifle performance? Certainly bore diameter vs bullet diameter could be a player. It seems that bullet length matters, as Greenhill predicts. Bullet velocity is clearly important too. One feature not often mentioned is that twist rates are "nominal" and may not reach the rate stamped on the blank....with broached or button rifled tubes the tool's rifling rate setting may have been incorrect for certain lots of barrels. One .45LC barrel I owned and which was listed as having a 38":1 rate actually measured closer to 36":1. One batch of .444 barrels could have been made with a 40":1 actual twist rate, and this would account for some of the spotty accuracy reports.

Bottom line - the new 20":1 twist barrels WILL provide ample stability to all commercial .430" bullets.
 

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I don't have any personal experience re: the .444, but Waters did one of his more elaborate tests which he wrote up as .444 Marlin - tested to determine if heavy bullets give best performance in March '71 Handloader (republished in Pet Loads) with a similar vintage .444 to yours.

Waters said he was "mightily impressed!" with the Hornady 265gr, getting sub-inch groups, occasionally under 3/4". He also mentions that he found the "1-38" rifling has proven adequate to stabilize bullets up to and including 310gr, quieting earlier fears on that point..." , which suggests that this is a mechanical problem.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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321, that's an interesting idea. I'd think it more likely if the gun was only having problems with 300gr. and up bullets. But to not shoot 240 or 265gr. bullets.... seems like the twist rate would have to be way off..... hmmm.....
 

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MikeG, it's probably a stretch, but who knows. The issue of bullet stability in the .444 is complex - has to be, otherwise everyone would have the same results....at least those who know how to reload would. I respect Marshal's experience, but what he did was far beyond what the average .444 reloader would ever do. Carefully-fitted bullets of superior design, loaded to high velocity with carefully selected loads, bore smoothed out substantially.....all these do tend to stack the deck in favor of success. Kinda like the old .244 Remington situation where some shooters were able to use certain 100-grain bullets in it's too slow 12" twist barrel, others were not.

The 240-grain bullets should be able to be stabilized in a 45" twist barrel....there must be something else going on. :confused:
 

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i own a .444 marlin. i like the fact that once you hit a bear or deer they dont go any where but down .since ive inherited this tool and have only had one box shells thru it my self i was wondering what the maximum range of this load wouls be i figgure one hundred yards but it must drop like a rock after that what do you guys think
 
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