I am soon to buy a Cabela's (Uberti) 1866 rifle, 24.25" barrel. I need advice as to which caliber to use, .44-40 or .45LC? I may or may not try handloading. I may also try cowboy action shooting but am undecided. Please give advice and thanks in advance.
The .44-40 is a great traditional cartridge but....(1)they may by harder to find on the dealer's shelf,(2)their thin brass makes them harder to load and doesn't stand up as well as .45 LC,(3)the .45 LC has a much wider range of bullet weights available and (4) there are many more handguns available for .45 LC ( for combination handgun and rifle)
Taking everything in consideration, the .45 LC might br your best bet!
Best Regards, James
I agree with everything James Gates said. After all I'm a .45 Colt junkie!
However, if your goal is for your rifle to be historically correct, the originals were only made with a .44 caliber bore. It fired the .44 Henry rimfire cartridge, however, not the .44 W.C.F., otherwise known as the .44-40.
Fortunately, I have an 1873 Winchester in .44 W.C.F. which was made in 1882. As James said, the brass is thinner at the neck but I have found that if you watch your handloading p's & q's, it is an easy cartridge to reload.
I have to agree with you on the .45. As an avid SASS shooter, I go through quite a few rounds each month, and the straight walled 45 Colt is THE way to go. unless,.........you will be handloading, and using black powder or a similar product. It seems the 44-40 shoulder/neck area seals a bit better and helps keep black crud out of the lifter area on 66/73 actions. If you are shooting smokeless powder though, by all means, go with the 45. Bullets that will work in this action range from 165 to 255 grains. My advice when you get it, would be to upgrade the sights, lighten the springs, especially the hammer and trigger/sear, do a bit of polishing and smoothing on the internals, and shoot the daylights of the thing! <!--emo&--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=''><!--endemo--> Let me know if I can be of any help.
I think Juan made a good point to remember...thin necks do seal better with black powder. Strange as it may seem...I prefer brass cases, instead of nickle plate, in my .357 mag loads. They seal better when using WW296/H110 and don't smoke up as bad. I have seem burnt powder particles back under the nickle plate, but never under brass.
Best regards, James
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