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ok, I've read th first two parts of "444--america's most versatile.."   Not a hand loader so some of that stuff goes right over my head.  let's start with jacketed vs. cast bullets.   What are we talking about here.  I take it the factory loads are jacketed?   Are cast better or what?  Why?   Iam beginning to think I got in over my head with this gun.  I had no idea I would have to fire lap my gun to get it to shoot straight.  The performance with the std. factory loads is not satisfactory for my liking.  Groups are 3-4 inches at 100 yards with a scope.  It doesn't sound to me that a person like me should be fire lapping a gun without expert oversight, which I do not know of anyone with that expertise.   Now what do I do.   I like the gun but I am having trouble taking afield because I've never used a gun that was that inconsistent (had been using a 30-06, 760 gamemaster).   HELP
 

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Cochran: Don't sweat it if you don't get a reply right away. Probably means no one who's using a .444 has caught your post and /or has anything to offer.  I personally don't believe it's necessary to fire lap every barrel. But if it turns out you do I'm sure the kits supplied by Beartooth will have competent instructions. You will have to handload to do it or find a handloader who can help you.

Cast versus lead: cast bullets generally cost less for practice than jacketed.  Hardened cast bullets penetrate like crazy and leave the soft point jacketed  behind.  Cast bullets usually cause less damage to game meat  (some of the hollow point cast also cause pretty good amounts of bloodshot meat).

I'm a 45-70 fan not a .444 kind of guy.  Most of the principals are the same.

If you are an infrequent shooter it is hard to emphasize how much bench shooting technique can affect groups.  Try and sit in the same position for each shot, use the same amount of cheek pressure, same pullback into the shoulder. Some rifles like to be shot sitting on the front sandbag, some like to be held by the forward hand which is resting on the bag.  SQUEEZE that trigger rather than pull at it which I'm sure you know. Some rifles need to be tinkered with to remove pressure points that are inappropriate

Experiment a bit and if you're not happy use something that does suit you and/or your level of involvement. Regards. BCstocker
 

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If you're not a handloader what is your intended purpose for the .444?

My 444P (one of the first ones available on the west coast) has not been lapped and shoots like a varmint rifle with select handloads using .4325" to .4330" cast bullets. Unless I'm overlooking something, the selection of factory ammo from the large manufacturers is VERY limited in .444. It is my opinion this is a handloaders cartridge unless you purchase ammo from Buffalo Bore or perhaps some other small outfit. Unfortunately, I don't think Garrett offers .444 ammo at this time.  Yes, the .444 is very flexible but only for someone who's been handloading for a number of years.  Perhaps Marshall Stanton should re-title his articles... "America's Most Versatile Esoteric Cartridge". ;)

In all reality, if you're not considering handloading or have a friend who is a handloader, you're better off with a scope sighted 30-06 or .308, and a metallic sighted 30-30 or .44magnum carbine.

If you want to get started in handloading for the .444, Hornady makes an excellent 265 grain jacketed bullet and I've heard good things about Speer's 300 grain bullets as well.  This doesn't mean you can't be successful with the lighter jacketed bullet offerings, but they won't hold together at top end .444 velocities.  I haven't shot jacketed bullets through my 444P but cannot imagine them shooting any better than my cast bullets because of the rather generous barrel dimensions supplied by Marlin; i.e., almost .432" in the grooves near the chamber and an honest .431" at the muzzle.

Forty Four
 

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Hi, Guys:
 Hornady has a new Light Magnum .444 loaded with the 265 gr. bullet.
<a href="https://gateway.hornady.com/web_store.cg

Bye" target="_blank">https://gateway.hornady.com/web_store.cg

Bye</a>
Jack
 

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Hey Cochran,
 Don't sweat it, you have a fine gun and cailber. Factory ammo is available thru some small companys. If you go to the Marlin web sight,go to marlin talk,then big bore, you'll find the info you need. I have a 444p thats had nothing done to it and it shoots jacketed and cast both very well. I reload for mine simply because I enjoy it and like to save money. My favorite bullet is Marshalls 290lfngc. If you reload. you can make any load you like. Target loads, mild loads, hunting loads,... plus it's very enjoyable. If you look on loadswap, you see the versitilty of reloading. Hope this eases your mind.
                                              yours truly,
                                                  Walt
 

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Cochran, intersting questions.
Jacketed vs cast bullets. The question was well put; what are you trying to do with your rifle? for stictly Whitetails, black bear and hogs, one of the factory loads will suit your needs. The new Hornady Light Magnum is where I would start. For larger game, it's Buffalo Bore or handloads.
If you like your rifle and want to shoot it for fun year round, the .444 is certainly a fine round for you to get started reloading ammunition. You do not have to spend a lot of money to begin. Take a serious look at the LEE handpress.
You can use commercial cast lead pistol bullets at moderate velocities for plinking fun, and varmint/small game hunting. The Lyman manual will get you started with light loads.
The emphasis placed on heavy for the caliber lead bullets at modest velocities indicates that for most of us penetration is the most sought after quality of our ammunition. If your shots are mostly at moving game, as mine are, you need that penetration to ensure a quick killing shot. The added benifit of cast bullets is that you can "eat right up to the bullet hole." Cast bullets are not better for every application, but with thoughtful use, they can suit your every need.
As you gain experiance with your rifle, you will know if you need to firelap your rifle. Run a tight fitting patch through your bore. If there is a tight spot at the rear sight dovetail, front sight, or where the word Marlin is stamped in the barrel, firelapping will help. So will a lot of shooting, and that's more fun. (There are other reasons to firelap but lets not complicate things at this point)

Group shooting is what I wanted to discuss. First off, what power scope? Low power scopes require different targets from high power scopes. For 4X or less scope you need a big target. The cross hair covers up too much of the standard size aiming points. Start at 50 yards, use a big (4" X 4" or larger) black square on white paper. Aim for the corners and use the sides and bottom of the square to align your cross hairs. Try resting the action on your sand bag rest, shove the lever up to the bag, hold the forend and pull the gun into your shoulder lightly. USE A RECOIL PAD! After you gain experiance with your rifle you can shoot in your shirtsleeves, until then, a recoil pad or Past type pad provides a real advantage at the bench. Canting is the most likely problem with your groups. Lever action rifles are difficult to shoot from the bench. It takes some very good shooting to get under 1 1/2" at 100 yards with a lever rifle loaded to full power. It is easy to get under two inches from the bench; this equates to about four inches from field positions.

Everyone has advice so here is mine: Investigate your entry level reloading options. Purchase bulk cast or jacketed bullets. Initial results in the three-inch range at one hundred yards from the bench is good shooting, you can do better, with practice. Reloading is the only way you can afford to practice. When tuned, an experianced shooter can expect results from his or her big bore lever gun which equal the average bolt action sporter weight hunting rifle out to 150 yards, provided the sights are of equal quality.

Don't give up before you get started and post some updates on your progress.
 
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