As some of you may remember, a while back I modified my 444 XLR by opening up the cycling spaces and retiming the action to accept a 2.665 COAL. My goal was to allow my 16.5" barreled levergun to produce the velocities of an 18.5" barreled 444 Marlin with Marshalls 325 LCMNGC. The velocity I needed to obtain to do that was around 2050 fps. After all the modifications were done, I set off first to obtain my second goal which was to push a 300 grain bullet at 2200 fps (405 Winchester factory load), and get a feel for how the gun was going to shoot. I attained that goal last year. This year I had concentrated on the 325 grain bullet, and this gun amazed me with the performance it produced with this modification. My last group through the chrono averaged 2263 fps! Keep in mind, that this IS out of a 16.5" barrel! Through the course of all this testing, I never encountered any high pressure signs, and the cases ejected from the chamber, with only a slight pressure on the lever...very smooth extraction! There were no flattened primers, and case expansion measurements showed no signs of undue expansion. I am now backing the 2263 fps load off to 2150 or so, and this load will have the power to take anything that walks the North American continent within its capabilities. This light (6.2 pound), short/handy gun has all the power and ease of carry that I could ask for! My next modification will be a full sized 444 XLR with 24" barrel, to a 2.700 COAL, and, I am hopeful that I can push Marshalls 405 grain bullet to 2150 to duplicate the 450/400 Nitro Express factory load....A Marlin 444 "Safari Grade" leveraction! More on that when the project is completed.
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