.44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

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Scott Tschirhart
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.44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

On another thread we discussed the tendancy to increase the loads in more modern arms, and particularly loading the .45 Colt hot in a 92 Winchester clone.

I must admit that I have done it, but sometimes I wonder why.

The .44 Henry Flat featured, from what I have read, a 200 gr flat point lead bullet pushed by 26-28gr of black powder at a velocity of 1125 fps.

The cartridge came out in 1860 and was manufactured into the 1930s. Henry rifles, the Winchester 66 and even some revolvers were chambered for this cartridge.

Sounds pretty anemic and today I can equal or better those numbers in a .45 ACP (though it is pushing it) or a .44 Special in a handgun (easily).

But think about how useful this cartridge must have been. We will never know how many men and deer this cartridge killed. For around the farm, you were more likely to need a rifle to shoot a corn stealing coon or a chicken stealing coyote than anything bigger. It was certainly useful enough to be a popular cartrdge on the frontier long after the .44-40 (which is admittedly better) and the .30 WCF came on the scene.

Maybe that modern 1873 or 1866 Winchester clone chambered in .357/.38WCF/.44-40/.45 Colt is a lot more gun than we give it credit for and maybe we don't need to push it that hard to be useful.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Pisgah »

I am also of the big bullet/moderate velocity school. Stepping up a load like the .44 Special or .45 Colt undoubtedly makes it more useful as a big game or long-range cartridge; but for true, all-around usefulness, for anything from squirrels to moose, those amblin'-along loads will work just fine if properly employed.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Malamute »

Perspective is interesting. many think the 10mm auto pistol round with 200 gr bullet @ 1150 is bear medicine, yet in a carbine its weak, a bunny load or whatever.

Charlie Russell, when a kid first in Montana, hooked up with Jake Hoover, and older guy that had spent time trapping, meat hunting, ranching and other endeavors. Russell mentioned one time when they encountered several grizzlies on a trail, Hoover calmly killed them with head shots with his 1873 Winchester rifle, with its terrifically powerful load of 200 gr bullet @ around 1300 fps.

I wouldnt suggest a 44-40 is a good bear load, but it can do a lot of work when used well. Same with the 44 rimfire.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by JimT »

My great-uncle Wade had a BIG pistol and was known in his part of the country for carrying and using it. It was a Colt Single Action in .38 Long Colt. He killed 3 bears with that big gun. Now days no one would consider carrying a pistol in .38 Long Colt for much of anything except Cowboy Action games.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by 44shooter »

Those ballistics are about what a 10mm does in a pistol and about what standard 44 sp should do in a rifle. Certainly not a high powered rifle from the 1890s til now or even a buffalo rifle of its era, but pretty good to have on the farm or horse I would think.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

44shooter wrote:
Fri Sep 16, 2022 3:17 pm
Those ballistics are about what a 10mm does in a pistol and about what standard 44 sp should do in a rifle. Certainly not a high powered rifle from the 1890s til now or even a buffalo rifle of its era, but pretty good to have on the farm or horse I would think.
Good point. Some folks are saying that the 10mm is adequate for any hunting situation and some people say it is good for bear protection. So we don't consider a 10mm a weak sister cartridge........
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Grizz »

famous alaska bear tale. man went to the outhouse in a blizzard with his 38 in a shoulder holster.
.
and disappeared.
.
some years later, or months, IDK, a bear was killed or found dead with 4 or 5 38 cal bullets lodged in his face, or jaws, IDK.
.
it's a fact even if i can't remember the details. but it did serve as a cautionary tale that helped me get interested in the 43 cal stuff, and eventually to 46 cal.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by 44shooter »

Grizz wrote:
Fri Sep 16, 2022 6:04 pm
famous alaska bear tale. man went to the outhouse in a blizzard with his 38 in a shoulder holster.
.
and disappeared.
.
some years later, or months, IDK, a bear was killed or found dead with 4 or 5 38 cal bullets lodged in his face, or jaws, IDK.
.
it's a fact even if i can't remember the details. but it did serve as a cautionary tale that helped me get interested in the 43 cal stuff, and eventually to 46 cal.
Yikes! I think I would take a rifle chambered in a big rifle cartridge
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by RIDERED350r »

Very good perspective. I really enjoy the mild and the wild. It's nice to have options in this modern era.

Our ancestors definitely got it done with impliments many people today would deem inferior or even unsuitable for game hunting, survival, and defense. But in that time those were state of the art weapons.

I would love to just once fire an original 1860 Henry with it's original 44HRF cartridge, just to experience it. I wish one of the ammo makers who offer some of the old and more obscure cartridges would make some 44HRF so all those 1860s and 1866s out there could bark again.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Ysabel Kid »

Scott, were you shooting an 1866 in .44 Henry rimfire?
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by JimT »

C'mon guys! THE 480 ACHILLES! It's the perfect mild big bore handgun. Should take care of any zombies during the zombie apocalypse.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

Ysabel Kid wrote:
Fri Sep 16, 2022 8:43 pm
Scott, were you shooting an 1866 in .44 Henry rimfire?
No. My “66” is made in Japan and is chambered for.45 Colt.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

JimT wrote:
Fri Sep 16, 2022 9:15 pm
C'mon guys! THE 480 ACHILLES! It's the perfect mild big bore handgun. Should take care of any zombies during the zombie apocalypse.
Oh I like that one of yours very much. Especially those holie mesquite grips!

But I don’t know about making up a batch of shells to last me through the zombie pockolitz
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

I’ll stick with.45 Colt
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by AmBraCol »

Interesting you brought this up. Recently I read "The Memoirs Of Luther S. Kelly", also known as "Yellowstone Kelly" He picked up a Henry and a bunch of ammo for it and used it with complete satisfaction, even to the point of using it on a frontal shot on a bison bull or two. He noted that it was not noted as an appropriate round for such use - but it worked for him.

There's a lot to be said for modern "equivalents". The use of smokeless powder makes things a bit easier and a 240-260 grain bullet at around 1,000 fps is nothing to sneeze at. Yes it makes for a rainbow trajectory if you're reaching for the far horizon, but for most woodland farm/ranch shooting it'll get most things done quite well.

Personally, I'm intrigued by the 45 Cowboy round. I think it's Griff who recently swapped out the carrier in his rifle to take advantage of this shorter round. It makes a lot of sense in a modern rifle using smokeless powder. You don't have to worry as much about a double charge of fast powder, you can conserve a few grains per shot (thus stretching out scarce supplies) and you're still moving a heavy slug at a reasonable clip.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

I think a Henry or 66 set up for that shorter .45 Cowboy load would be pretty interesting. Of course you could use an outside lubricated heel type bullet around .475 diameter……wait a minute!!
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Griff »

Yea, my Henry holds 19 rounds in the magazine of the Cowboy45Special with a 160 grain bullet, I think it drops to 18 with the 200 grain bullet. I have a couple of 50 round boxes with the 240 grain jacketed FN loaded to 45ACP specs for social work. They have quite the bark out of my 18-½" 1873 Short Rifle!
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by AmBraCol »

Scott Tschirhart wrote:
Sat Sep 17, 2022 1:02 pm
I think a Henry or 66 set up for that shorter .45 Cowboy load would be pretty interesting. Of course you could use an outside lubricated heel type bullet around .475 diameter……wait a minute!!
That keeps coming up in cogitations as well... the downside being the need to rebore the barrel of an already expensive rifle. Still, if that lottery check ever arrives that'd be a good place to start spending. :lol:
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Ysabel Kid »

Scott Tschirhart wrote:
Sat Sep 17, 2022 3:03 am
Ysabel Kid wrote:
Fri Sep 16, 2022 8:43 pm
Scott, were you shooting an 1866 in .44 Henry rimfire?
No. My “66” is made in Japan and is chambered for.45 Colt.
I was going to ask "where the heck are you finding .44 Henry rimfire cheap enough to actually shoot?" :lol:
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by piller »

Freight train versus small car at speeds near the limit of tire grip. The freight train always wins the punch through and keep going fight. The small car wins at acceleration and getting there first.
Wait, were we talking about cars or bullets?
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Bill in Oregon »

Very interesting thread, Scott. While it has considerably more poop than the .44 Henry, another mild-mannered old timer is the .56-50 Spencer, with a 350-grain bullet at about 1100. I wonder if this one could be chambered in a five-shot configuration in a revolver. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting it in a Spencer copy.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by JimT »

Bill in Oregon wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 7:42 am
Very interesting thread, Scott. While it has considerably more poop than the .44 Henry, another mild-mannered old timer is the .56-50 Spencer, with a 350-grain bullet at about 1100. I wonder if this one could be chambered in a five-shot configuration in a revolver. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting it in a Spencer copy.
Hey Bill! That would make a neat 5-shot conversion on a Walker or Dragoon!
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Sarge »

I posted here awhile back about the Lyman 429667 running about 860 fps from a shortened 44 mag Uberti revolver. The reloads were in magnum cases but that velocity is within reach of the older 44 centerfires and most certainly from a '66 or '73. Without rehashing the whole thread, that load shot through four gallon jugs of water with a scrap of 3/8" plywood behind the first three and a scrap of 1/2" plywood behind the last one. The bullet bored straight and true through the center of all four jugs, the plywood scraps, the phone book and pert near broke through 1/2" plywood behind it.

https://www.levergunscommunity.org/view ... 43#p943743
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by JimT »

It was a .38 Special that ended Lee Oswald's life. That is certainly not a "hot" round, even if fired from a longer barrel than what was used.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by 1894cfan »

JimT wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 11:49 am
It was a .38 Special that ended Lee Oswald's life. That is certainly not a "hot" round, even if fired from a longer barrel than what was used.
Anybody know if it was a RN or SWC that got him?
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Sarge »

1894cfan wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 12:35 pm
JimT wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 11:49 am
It was a .38 Special that ended Lee Oswald's life. That is certainly not a "hot" round, even if fired from a longer barrel than what was used.
Anybody know if it was a RN or SWC that got him?
RN

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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by JimT »

Sarge wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 12:48 pm
1894cfan wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 12:35 pm
JimT wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 11:49 am
It was a .38 Special that ended Lee Oswald's life. That is certainly not a "hot" round, even if fired from a longer barrel than what was used.
Anybody know if it was a RN or SWC that got him?
RN

https://auction.universityarchives.com/ ... 5F4F549BB/
I have looked but I cannot find any description of which round was used. The previous owner of Ruby's pistol fired a bunch of ammo with it into water, recovered the bullets and sold them for a thousand bucks each.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Ysabel Kid »

JimT wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 8:43 am
Bill in Oregon wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 7:42 am
Very interesting thread, Scott. While it has considerably more poop than the .44 Henry, another mild-mannered old timer is the .56-50 Spencer, with a 350-grain bullet at about 1100. I wonder if this one could be chambered in a five-shot configuration in a revolver. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting it in a Spencer copy.
Hey Bill! That would make a neat 5-shot conversion on a Walker or Dragoon!
Oh, that is just an AWESOME idea!!!
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by 1894cfan »

JimT wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 1:04 pm
Sarge wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 12:48 pm
1894cfan wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 12:35 pm
JimT wrote:
Sun Sep 18, 2022 11:49 am
It was a .38 Special that ended Lee Oswald's life. That is certainly not a "hot" round, even if fired from a longer barrel than what was used.
Anybody know if it was a RN or SWC that got him?
RN

https://auction.universityarchives.com/ ... 5F4F549BB/
I have looked but I cannot find any description of which round was used. The previous owner of Ruby's pistol fired a bunch of ammo with it into water, recovered the bullets and sold them for a thousand bucks each.
So, the bottom line is nobody knows what type of projectile Oswald was shot with. Either that or whoever knows ain't talking. :? :roll:
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

That .38 Special, even in a round nose configuration, killed a lot of men over the years. Its more about where you put it. The human body doesn't tolerate holes being punched in it very well.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by piller »

The human body has been known to survive some amazing things, Hank Williams Jr survived a fall that really should have been fatal, Roy Benavides survived being shot to pieces, Emmet Dalton survived 23 bullet wounds, but others have died from wounds which should have been minor. It seems to be a combination of where the wounds are and the desire to live in the person.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by elmo123 »

During my career as a police officer I killed 4 large dogs two with a shotgun and two with a 40 S&W. I can tell you that the 12 ga stopped both in their tracks and only needed one round each the other two were a completely different story.

The first was a vicious Pit Bull that wanted to bite the first thing that got too close which happened to be me. I was issued the original 180 JHP loads by Winchester and the pit bull took two of these to the head before slowing down. We reached a standoff that lasted about five minutes before the dog fell over, I wasn't leaving.

The second was a large Akita that had been left outside in 100 degree heat without any water. We received a call for a vicious dog at large who was gone upon our arrival, he really wasn't but we didn't see him.
The complainant told us the dog lived in the next block so we started walking and as we rounded the corner of the corner house he was standing there and charged prompting a decent dose of pepper spray which caused him to retreat. Usually from my experience this was usually sufficient to thwart any further aggression. Not this time after walking about fifteen feet away he turned around and charged leaving me just enough time to draw and fire one 155 grain Silvertip as he tried to bite my groin area, literally inches away. The bullet struck the dog in the mouth traveled down his throat and exited on the left side of his rib cage. He let out a refreshing yelp and ran and hid behind a tool shed in the back of the yard. There was blood trail about three inches wide marking his path. He was finally coaxed out by offering him Vienna sausages. He was later euthanized.

For those of you that think a small caliber weapon is sufficient my advice is this. Don't count on it stopping your attacker two legged or four. If it's all you have with you that's one thing which I am sure was the case with the 44 Henry. And don't keep anything except your weapon in your gun hand. After shooting the Akita I turned around to see that the other officer had a night stick in one hand and pepper spray in the other, I mentioned it to him and he said that he would probably been bitten.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by 44shooter »

Never heard a 44 called a small caliber before. The point of the thread isn’t to use a marginal tool for a job, but recognizing that the often dismissed 44 rimfire had useful ballistics comparable or exceeding many current nonmagnum handgun rounds. Surely it is not a powerful rifle round even by single shot standards of its day. But I don’t think I would feel poorly armed against a dog or a man with a 1866 assuming the ammo will fire.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Bryan Austin »

Just to be clear, most 44-40 loads today, including factory hunting loads by Winchester, are neutered down to 44 Henry ballistics. Most 44-40 "acceptable" handloads are also below 44 Henry ballistics.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

Bryan Austin wrote:
Fri Sep 23, 2022 3:45 pm
Just to be clear, most 44-40 loads today, including factory hunting loads by Winchester, are neutered down to 44 Henry ballistics. Most 44-40 "acceptable" handloads are also below 44 Henry ballistics.
Good point, and one I have not thought about. I notice that .44 Magnum factory loads have been pretty neutered these days as well.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Grizz »

speaking of mild cartridges, I rediscovered notes about some of my .43 experimental loads. I have a redhawk and i can use longer rounds than the blackhawks can handle. Marshall gave me data for two 405Gr hard cast TC 44 loads, one at 36.4 k cup, and one 28k cup. [always wondered where k-cups came from].

out of his redhawk he got 1100 fps and 1000 fps. out of my redhawk his 1000 fps load ran 896 avg. that's a problem with my redhawk that i have still not addressed, tight chambers and throat. That bullet has massive penetration even at the slow bell result from my revolver.

there is a man who questioned my numbers. I sent him some bullets and Marshall's data. With two different powder charges he got 1020fps from a 5.5" redhawk and 1020fps from a 4" redhawk. he developed these loads talking to Marshall. This load penetrated 13 one gallon jugs of water. One more than my 525Gr 45/70 load!

in defense of the 45/70/525 it is a moderate load that's been shot in numerous rifles and pistols, but still delivers something like a double-locomotive at the intersection . . .

if someone needs more hp than this, it's time to work up 444 loads. or full power 45/70s. I wish the 405Gr ammo could stabilize in a M1894, that would be a fabulous carbine-revolver pair!

grizz

.
.
.this is why i load like this
.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by CaptainFinn »

For years I had a couple of .44 specials in rotation as my ‘EDC in the woods’ guns. S&W 696 and a Rossi 720.

Later I switched to either a Bisley Vaquero or a SAA in .45 Colt. A Rossi 92 in the same chambering sat on my ATV. Most often used load (because I had loaded a truckload of it) was a 200 gr LFP over 8 gr of Universal, hardly a ‘monster’ load. When I started getting more serious about hunting, I went for the Skelton load, a 255/270 SWC dele ding in the mould, over 9.0 gr of Unique or Universal. My 24” Rossi got a heavy load, a CBT 300 gr hard cast gas check over 23 gr of H110 (I think I read of this load here in one of Paco’s articles).

My other Rossi, a 20” carbine, wouldn’t feed the long 300 gr bullets (although the 24” rifle loved them). I kept the carbine with ten rounds of 200gr FP in it on my four wheeler, and used the 270 SWC load in my Bisleys (it was slightly uncomfortable in any of my SAA’s).

Now I’m lazy and it’s been about five years since I’ve cranked up the Dillon Press. I still have boxes and boxes of those reloads and I’m not running out anything soon. I did pick up a couple of boxes of the Buffalo Bore 250 gr GC HP at 1000 FPS. I really like this load, it shoots great in both my 92’s as well as my handguns. Of it wasn’t such a kick in the wallet I’d shoot it more.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Walt »

Heck, even John Linebaugh, the guru of monster loads in medium size revolvers says that his everyday working loads in .45 Colt are 8 to 8.5 grains of 231 behind a 250 grain cast bullet. Quite a contrast to his dinosaur loads.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by hfcable »

RIDERED350r wrote:
Fri Sep 16, 2022 7:36 pm
Very good perspective. I really enjoy the mild and the wild. It's nice to have options in this modern era.

Our ancestors definitely got it done with impliments many people today would deem inferior or even unsuitable for game hunting, survival, and defense. But in that time those were state of the art weapons.

I would love to just once fire an original 1860 Henry with it's original 44HRF cartridge, just to experience it. I wish one of the ammo makers who offer some of the old and more obscure cartridges would make some 44HRF so all those 1860s and 1866s out there could bark again.
navy arms made a fairly large run of 44 henry rimfire back in the early 80’s

probably some still around
Last edited by hfcable on Tue Sep 27, 2022 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Scott Tschirhart
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Scott Tschirhart »

Walt wrote:
Mon Sep 26, 2022 3:00 pm
Heck, even John Linebaugh, the guru of monster loads in medium size revolvers says that his everyday working loads in .45 Colt are 8 to 8.5 grains of 231 behind a 250 grain cast bullet. Quite a contrast to his dinosaur loads.
I spoke at length with John a few weeks ago. He doesn't even shoot the heavy loads in the .475 and .500 conversions he does anymore. He is suffering from some long term effects of shooting those big cartriges for so many years.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Bryan Austin »

Scott Tschirhart wrote:
Tue Sep 27, 2022 8:53 am
Walt wrote:
Mon Sep 26, 2022 3:00 pm
Heck, even John Linebaugh, the guru of monster loads in medium size revolvers says that his everyday working loads in .45 Colt are 8 to 8.5 grains of 231 behind a 250 grain cast bullet. Quite a contrast to his dinosaur loads.
I spoke at length with John a few weeks ago. He doesn't even shoot the heavy loads in the .475 and .500 conversions he does anymore. He is suffering from some long term effects of shooting those big cartriges for so many years.
Sounds like this was done more for fun, or some sort of "satisfaction" rather than as a "needed hunting tool", as so seems to be the case 99% of the time.
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by AJMD429 »

JimT wrote:
Fri Sep 16, 2022 9:15 pm
C'mon guys! THE 480 ACHILLES! It's the perfect mild big bore handgun. Should take care of any zombies during the zombie apocalypse.
That kind of cartridge has always seemed appealing...

I kind of like the large-caliber, slower velocity cartridges.

....and the medium-caliber, slower velocity ones, the smaller-caliber, slower velocity ones.

Oh yeah, and I like the high-velocity small-bores, medium bores....

...and of course who doesn't like the 50 BMG on at least some level....
:lol:

I think I like 'em ALL....!!!
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Re: .44 Henry Flat--Musings on the usefulness of mild cartridges

Post by Grizz »

Speaking of mild cartridges, these are the numbers of my 525Gr 45/70 shot from Blaine's scoped 10" BFR. It was very manageable for both of us. I could see scaling the charge back a bit if there is no scope. I don't think the net result would suffer much.
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