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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
NIB 444 Mod 94 Carbine $838. Took it out to shoot it afterwards, didn't get to do much as we were in a shadeless pasture(hot sumbitch) . I did learn that my original loads I loaded 4 years ago when I first started the search for this gun were failures. The Lyman 350 gr FNGC (429649)won't even feed into the magazine with R-P brass. Nor will they chamber in the breach. This gun's got a very short leade into the rifling. The one round I tried in the chamber wouldn't come close to going in all the way, then when I went to remove it, the bullet stayed in the barrel. I loaded some 290 gr FNGC cast from an older Lyman 429640 mold (same profile as the current devastator HP but sans the HP) And they worked loaded in Hornady brass, but OAL is too much in R-P brass. Also shot a few 240 gr JFN's and JHP's in front of 50 grains of Winchester 748. No signs of problems there. I'll have to wait to see how they group later, they did hit where aimed though. I don't care for the crossbolt safety at all, it looks like crap, but that will be removed when time and money permit. The forearm to receiver fit is crap too, there's a 1/32 gap that shouldn't be there. The fold-down rear sight, folds down under heavy recoil too. Gonna have to replace that with either a std 94 ramp sight or a receiver sight. Recoil reminds me of the Mod 1886 carbine I had for a short time. Overall, I think it would have been better for Winchester to have chambered this round in an 1886 rifle, as recoil would be lessened and heavier bullets would be better accomodated. Not sure this gun was worth the wait.
 

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When I load the Lyman 429640HP, I use a COAL of 2.535”. In my Timber carbine, this bullet is quite accurate. A load I generally use is 40.0 grains of IMR 4198, which gives me 1,965 fps from the 17.5” barrel. While listed as a 250-grain bullet I cast mine soft and they weigh 270-grains ready to seat.

Try the 310-grain Lee bullet seated to a COAL of 2.490” or even 2.500” if your rifle will handle the length.
I can push the Lee bullet to 2,000 fps+ from my short barrel and they are both accurate and effective on deer and pigs.
For shooting at the bench use a PAST pa and for hunting you will never notice the recoil, at least I don’t. Be thankful you don’t have the ports, I wear double hearing protection when hunting with this rifle and none of my family will hunt with me. It does kill deer quite well though and when using a ground blind this rifle is quite handy.

When I am testing loads from the bench, I pull the recoil pad and put a wedge under it to kick the toe of the stock out. This has the effect of reducing the stock drop and makes the rifle more controllable at the bench, remove it before hunting as it slows the shouldering of the rifle. Brownells sells the wedge or you can make your own from balsa.

This is a good rifle and when the few loading idiosyncrasies are learned it is easy to load accurate ammunition for it.
 

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Sorry to hear of the disappointments in the new Winchester.

My Marlin seems to really like the 265 Hornady JFP and Marshall's 300 grain WFNGC. I do have to seat the 300 a little deeper to work with my gun's short leade and small loading port.

I too have disdain for the cross bolt safety, but it doesn't bother me enough to remove it. If I hunted dangerous game with this gun, I would be more inclined to remove it or deactivate it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I also bought the 350 gr Lee mold from Ranchdog to try, these too are a disapointment. They may work with Hornady brass, but they don't feed into the magazine with remington brass. I've had **** trying to get decent bulllits to drop from it. Tried all the tricks, but it just doesn't seem to want to work. As with other aluminum molds, you're walking a fine line between too cold and too hot when trying to cast with it. The fact that it's a 6 bullit mold doesn't help either. Out of about 400 bullits cast, about 30% came out acceptable. If someone wants it, I've got it and a couple other molds for sale in the trading post section.
 

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I have a Timber Carbine that I really like. Get a Lee factory crimp die. I load the Lee 310 gr FNGC bullets and crimp them so they feed. With this die any reasonable lenght is possible.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Not much advantage shooting a 310 gr over the 290. The nose of the Lee 310 looks pretty much identical to the Lyman 350. I'll stick with the 290 gr for cast bullits.
 

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The Winchester 1894 was agreat concept on paper, but, not so great as a real gun. I had a traditional model with the 20" barrel with the 1-38 twist, first off handloading
was limited to the unforgiving COL, it may be rated to 50K pressure, but with normal powders for the 444 you will be lucky to max at SAAMI pressures, the Cross Bolt safety, fell out twice on me, all the screws would loosen up during bench work, the rebounding hammer made the trigger pull, very hard, and the recoil would flat loosen teeth.

I know they made that same rifle in 450Marlin, you would have to pay me to shoot it!
Great concept rifles, no so great for practical use, they would be a very good self defense rifle, very lightweight,compact and easy to tote along.
 

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We have different experiences with the Winchester rifles and the 444 Marlin. I suppose most of the dissatisfaction should be aimed at USRA-Winchester. Winchester quality control declined in the last years of production. Winchester did not know who the customer was, what he wanted, nor how he would use the rifle.
My Timber carbine has suffered no failures and I have shot it a lot. I have a faster twist than you had with your rifle. This may have helped with the excellent accuracy I receive out of my rifle.

The Angle Eject rifles equipped with rebounding hammers can have a crisp let off after careful use of a stone. There is nothing you can do about the long take-up trigger except replace the lower tang, the trigger and hammer. I don’t notice the long take-up trigger while hunting, it does upset my sensibilities when shooting from the bench.
I have complained about the cross bolt safety on this board and I will let it go for now. There were several long discussions about COAL and the Winchester Model 94AE in 444 Marlin on the Beartooth forum. The legwork on COAL for the Winchester rifles has been done and the only thing a new hand loader has to do is search for the information. The restricted COAL is caused by the turn the cartridge makes from the loading gate into the magazine tube and there are several ways around it if you want a longer COAL. It is easier to use a Lee factory crimp die.
The Marlin rifle for the 444 cartridge accepts a longer COAL due to the bulge in the left receiver wall. Marlins chambered for the 45-70 have suffered a few magazine tube detonations due to the resulting cocked cartridge combined with heavy recoil. There are compromises in the design of all rifles and we work around them. No excuse for the Quality issues with USRA-Winchester.
The short barrel 444 rifles and the 240-grain bulk Remington bullets have given me the quickest kills on deer than the heavier bullets. I can relate the same results from other bullet maker’s bullets of 240-grain weight. You can easily push a 240-grain jacketed bullet above 2,250 fps using Hodgdon or IMR 4198, Hodgdon Benchmark or H322 or even Alliant Reloder 7. Hodgdon 335 will nudge this velocity most days. My experience is that deer hit in the heart lung area inside 100-yards with 240-grain bullets driven above 2,230 fps drop in their tracks or hump up, take a few faltering steps and fall.


Load development for the Winchester Model 94AE depends on what kind of game we are shooting and what sort of bullets we use. There has been a tendency to lean toward heavy bullets in the 444 Marlin. For our West Texas deer and pigs, we have no need for this level of penetration. The 310-grain Lee bullet, cast soft for expansion, is as heavy a bullet as I want to shoot at deer. I have experienced quicker kills on deer with bullets lighter than 300-grains.
My 17.5” barrel is able to push the 310-grain Lee bullet between 1,975 and 2,000 fps on any given day using loads between 39.0 and 39.5 grains of IMR or Hodgdon 4198. These loads are delivering a 3” tongue of flame out the end of the barrel with equally impressive little spouts of orange flame up through the ports. Recoil is heavy and I wear a PAST pad when shooting at the bench. Hunting, I don’t notice the recoil.
Noise is my worst complaint about the Winchester Timber rifle. I wear double hearing protection regardless of where I shoot the rifle and none of my family will shoot with me or hunt with me when I am using it.

Some use heavier bullets in the 444 Marlin I am not certain why. Many of us have pushed the 405-grain LBT bullets to 1,790 fps using Alliant Reloder 7 and Hodgdon 4198. I am not certain what we proved.
The short barrel 444 rifles and the 240-grain bulk Remington bullets have given me the quickest kills on deer than the heavier bullets. I can relate the same results from other bullet maker’s bullets of 240-grain weight. You can easily push a 240-grain jacketed bullet above 2,250 fps using Hodgdon or IMR 4198, Hodgdon Benchmark or H322 or even Alliant Reloder 7. Hodgdon 335 will nudge this velocity most days. My experience is that deer hit in the heart lung area inside 100-yards with 240-grain bullets driven above 2,230 fps drop in their tracks or hump up, take a few faltering steps and fall.
 

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Me and the internal servor error are having an interesting discussion.
For heavier jacketed bullets I would not select the 265-grain Remington. The 270-grain Speer Gold Dot flat nose bullet.ahead of 48.0 grains of Alliant Reloder 7 is the load in my rifle. I get 2,000 fps+ with this load and excellent accuracy.
 

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I've not shot 270gr Gold Dots in my .444, but have in my 1894/.44. The velocity from it was not quite what I needed for penetration. I had figured seeing the fine bullet recovered (perfect mushroom) it would do well at 300-400 FPS faster. I have read however, elsewhere, that the Hornady 265gr FN bullet is better, penetration-wise. Have you had the opportunity to compare penetration qualities of both these bullets?

Thanks.
 

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“Have you had the opportunity to compare penetration qualities of both these bullets?”

I have not recovered very many bullets from the 444 Marlin in deer.
I believe I have enough experience with the 265-grain bullets to say without doubt they are NOT expanding very much by the time they exit a white tail - this is at least true for our little deer. A mature buck will generally weigh between 130- to 160-pounds on the hoof with tales of bigger deer coming in every once in awhile. On average, we see bucks that average between 110- and 130-pounds on the hoof.

The 270-grain Speer Gold Dot bullet opens up quicker, yet appears to retain a good amount of weight - I have never recovered one. There are no lead trails left in the body cavity with this bullet, which indicates to me we are not overdriving it. The 270-grain bullet holds together well on close in shots and punches a good exit hole on shots in the 100-yard range. I believe it is a good bullet for deer and pigs for the 444 Marlin.

I have had the quickest kills overall with the 240-grain jacketed bullets. I know this is not the popular opinion but the 240-grain bullets put our white tails on the ground quickly. It doesn’t seem to matter which brand of 240-grain bullet you use, the bulk Remington bullets performing just as well as those from the other bullet makers. Close range shots taken with high velocity loads will leave a trail of lead from entrance wound to exit hole. In my experience, the 240-grain flat nose bullets will exit from a shoulder shot at less then 50-yards after crossing the body, punching both lungs and sometimes breaking a rib on exit. These close in shots are hard on shoulder meat.

If you are using the 310-grain Lee bullet, I suggest you cast them soft; I am talking about 10 to 12 bhn. You need to work up your loads with this soft alloy, as they do seem to raise pressure a bit. The Lee 310-grain Lee bullet cast harder than 18 bhn will punch a big hole but does not seem to put deer on the ground as fast as the softer bullets. I have not tried this bullet with a drilled hollow point but I believe it would help.

In my Winchester, the 270-grain Speer bullet ahead of 48.0 grains of Alliant Reloder 7 will get between 2,020 and 2,040 fps on any given day from the 17.5” barrel.
This load is supposed to gain another 200-fps in the 24” barrel Marlin rifles.
Hodgdon 4198 and H322 with give about the same result.

Townsend Whelen told us no one hunter could gain enough experience in a lifetime of hunting to make absolute statements about bullets and calibers for hunting rifles. If you have enough time to examine your deer and the bullet wounds you can often see a difference in the wound channel as it progress through the body. Not every time but it is fun to try. My problem is I often shoot deer late in the day and I am out with lights trying to figure things out. One good thing is I can often bring deer and pigs up to the back porch and turn on the big light to have a look.
I am not a well-rounded 444 Marlin hunter but I have taken quite a few cull deer with the Winchester Timber rifle and a variety of bullets. Therefore, while my experience is not complete I have formed an opinion and it is that for deer and pigs of less than 300-pounds the jacketed 240-grain flat nose bullets driven fast will put critters down quickly.
For cast bullet hunting, I prefer a softer bullet, even if I have to slow the bullet down a little.
I am very interested in other experiences, especially those who have shot heavier bodied deer at 100-yards and further.
 

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That is exactly the type answer I needed. I do appreciate you taking the time to give me that great information. My experience with the 270gr/.44mag (in a carbine) was with a huge boar and the bullet didn't even fully penetrate the shield. It did, however stay together and mushroom like an advertisement! This at a figured muzzle velocity of about 1700-1750 FPS and a target (animal) range of about 50 yds.

Your explanation was just what I was looking for reference penetration needed on game. I'd figure the added velocity of the .444 would work fine with the animal the .44 didn't quite master.

Thanks Again!
 

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For what it's worth, I know Ranch Dog has spent quite a bit of time in the hunting stand with both .44 mag and .444 Marlins. With his cast 265gr. bullet, the .44 mag will put it through SEVERAL pigs. I think he told me the "record" was his dad getting 4? Can't say for sure. A bullet that stops on the shoulder was surely too soft. I had this happen to a friend but by great fortune the pig ran off and died somewhere else down in the bottom of a canyon where he could not find it. He was using 180gr. soft points, a combination that I never would have endorsed.

Bullets surely do matter, and I wouldn't be afraid to use the .44 mag in a rifle on the biggest pig around, if I got to pick the bullet. The .444 extends the range a bit.
 

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I too would use a 44 Magnum rifle for most anything, with the right bullets.
Our biggest hunting concern is over penetration and ricochets around domestic animals and farm equipment.
By balancing cast bullet hardness, we can control the tendency to over penetrate.
In our experience hard cast bullets do not put deer or pigs on the ground as fast as softer bullets which penetrate and expand.
TN sent pictures of his Speer bullets and they mushroomed beautifully. The picture of his pig is indicative of a 300-pounder and it does appear he needed a tougher bullet which would penetrate deeper.
Our 200-pound and lighter pigs are easily taken with softer bullets and it does not seem to matter which angle the bullet enters. I have heard of a few exceptions with regard to shoulder shots.
I once loaded some small game hunting ammunition for a friends Winchester Model 94 30-30.
The loads were low velocity with very soft cast bullets and were intended to remain in raccoon or porcupine. In a moment of exuberance, my friend shot a meat doe at close range. The bullet entered right behind the right leg, just above the heart and traveled across the body, stopping just under the hide on the offside. The doe humped up, took a step or two and died.
My friend then shot a less than 200-pound pig on the point of the shoulder with one of these low velocity loads and the pig went wild, running in a small circle and raising quite a fuss. A follow up shot put the pig down and inspection revealed the first bullet simply blew up on the surface clearing the hair off the hide in a one-inch circle and causing redness of the skin and slight bleeding through the pores.
Proper bullet hardness is certainly a balancing act. Our ground is hard and rocky and while I am a believer in exit wounds the hard cast and jacketed bullets sure ricochet across the pasture, and not always in the direction you think they will.
 

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For what it's worth, I know Ranch Dog has spent quite a bit of time in the hunting stand with both .44 mag and .444 Marlins. With his cast 265gr. bullet, the .44 mag will put it through SEVERAL pigs. I think he told me the "record" was his dad getting 4? Can't say for sure. A bullet that stops on the shoulder was surely too soft. I had this happen to a friend but by great fortune the pig ran off and died somewhere else down in the bottom of a canyon where he could not find it. He was using 180gr. soft points, a combination that I never would have endorsed.

Bullets surely do matter, and I wouldn't be afraid to use the .44 mag in a rifle on the biggest pig around, if I got to pick the bullet. The .444 extends the range a bit.
Well, I'd not argue a thing you've said, but I shot this big hog in the middle of the shoulder with a .44 Carbine and 270gr loads and that wound did not so much as bleed. I did harvest the boar, but it took a total of five shots, all hits, to finally kill it. For the record, the first shot was 3" behind the ear, because when I saw the hog I figured that would be better than the shoulder.

(for the record the estimated weight was 450+)
 

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That's one whopping big pig. Those 270gr. bullets jacketed, or cast? How far did they penetrate?
 
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