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Thread: Most popular revolver cartridges of latter 19th century US?

  1. #1
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    Most popular revolver cartridges of latter 19th century US?

    I know about .45 colt, .44-40, .44 American, .45 Schofield, and a few others.

    Were they equally popular or what?

    And what of the medium-bore cartridges? I doubt everyone who loved their .36 percussion revolver wanted a bigger and heavier .44 or .45. What was the popular medium-bore caliber in this time period?

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    They're two different cartridges. The .44 Special is a much older cartridge and is the parent of the .44 Magnum. The .44 Special was introduced by S&W in 1908 for their then-new First Model Hand Ejector New Century revolver which is affectionately known by collectors as the "Triple Lock" as a lengthened version of the older .44 Russian cartridge. The .44 Special uses an inside lubricated bullet of .429" diameter in a straight-walled, rimmed cartridge case that is 1.16" long. .44 Special has a maximum SAAMI pressure of 15,500psi and the standard loading is a 246grn bullet at 750-800fps from a 6-6 1/2" barrel though the cartridge is often loaded to higher pressures and velocities for use in certain stronger guns.

    .44 Magnum, on the other hand, was introduced in 1956 in both the S&W .44 Magnum revolver (re-designated the Model 29 in 1958) and the Ruger Blackhawk the same year. The .44 Magnum can be attributed greatly to the handloading experiments of Elmer Kieth throughout the early 20th century. Using strong guns like S&W N-Frames and Colt SAA's which could handle the increased pressure, Kieth was able to achieve much higher velocity and energy than available from any factory loaded .44 Special cartridge at the time. Kieth eventually convinced S&W and Remington to collaborate and bring out a factory-produced gun and ammunition version of his handloads. In order to prevent the newer, higher pressure ammunition from being fired in guns that could not handle it, the cartridge case was lengthened to 1.285". The .44 Magnum has a maximum SAAMI pressure of 36,000psi and a standard loading will drive a 240grn bullet at 1150-1200fps from a 4" barrel.

    .44 Special cartridges can be safely fired from any .44 Magnum revolver, but the reverse is not true. It is fairly common and popular practice to use .44 Special ammunition in a .44 Magnum revolver for purposes such as target practice and self-defense because the .44 Special has a great deal less recoil than the .44 Magnum does but still retains good ballistics which compare favorably to the .45 ACP. .44 Special is also chambered in smaller, five-shot revolvers such as the Charter Arms Bulldog, Taurus 431, 441, and 445 and the S&W 696, 296, and 396 which are too small to be able to handle the pressures associated with the .44 Magnum cartridge.

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    Thank for that, but I'm asking about latter 19th century as in 1850-1899.

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    The most popular chambering for the Colt's SSA was 45 Colt, @ approx 50%, the next most popular was 44-40 and third was 38-40. While the 45 Colt was most popular the latter two rounds were available in the Winchester 1873 unlke the 45 for pistol/carbine comb..
    E pluribus unum

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    Yea that .38-40 looks appealing to me but I see little talk about it.

    It also looks (on paper) that the S&w 3 Schofield in .44 Russian or .45 Schofield would have been a good one, too.

    I wonder if they ever made the Schofield in .38-40?

    How available was the Schofield in .44 Russian? Did they all go to Russia or was it and the caliber popular in the States?

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    Yeah, the Schofield was available in .38-40, which BTW was the first 10mm, Ruger made a dual cylinder Blackhawk in 10mm/.38-40. The .44 Russian was used in this country and was superior to the .44 American, but most did go to Russia and some also going to other European countries, so it was never as popular as the other rounds. It's real claim to fame in the US is it is the parent cartridge to .44 Special which in return is the parent to 44 mag.

    https://www.chuckhawks.com/s-w_schofield.htm
    E pluribus unum

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    Thanks.

    Sounds to me like .38-40 would have been the way to go for a handgun / rifle combo.

    There was quite a lot of change from percussion revolvers (1870) to double-action revolvers (1890?) with metallic cartridges to semi autos (1900) in a pretty short period of time.

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