44 Magnum Ammunition Questions.?
I have a Marlin 1894SS lever action rifle. I'm looking at 3 different model rounds for my 44. We got the L44MG7 180 grain jacketed soft point, the R44MG2 240 grain soft point and the R44MG3 semi-jacketed hollow point. Now I have a few questions. First off, the L44MG7 is a UMC round and I was told was "cheaper". Is the UMC really an inferior round compared to the other 2 Remington Express rounds? Secondly, the L44MG7 is a 180 grain round but has a higher velocity and energy ballistic rating then the 240 grain R44MG2 and R44MG3, why is that? The L44MG7 is 1610 fps at the muzzle compared to 1180 for the other two. And the L44MG7 has 1036 ft-lbs at the muzzle compared to 741 for the other two. And the ballistic ratings stay superior throughout the range. These tests were on a 4" barrel, I have a 20" barrel rifle. Will I gain? Why is the L44MG7 more powerful? And by alot. Although it is not listed as a centerfire rifle round like the other two are, can I use it exclusively?
Question 1: No, it is not an inferior round. The UMC line of ammunition is just less expensive.
Question 2: The 180 gr bullet will have a higher velocity simply because it is a lighter bullet. This also depends on what kind of gunpowder is being used in the rounds as well. A fast burning gunpowder, with a heavy bullet, equals slower velocities. A slower burning powder, with a lighter bullet, equals faster velocity. Since the velocity of the 180 gr. round is much higher then the 240 gr rounds, it tends to produce higher energies as well. Think of it this way: You lay on the ground while someone drops a two pound brick onto your belly. Then someone throws a baseball as hard as he can into your belly. That lighter, but speedier, baseball is going to hurt a whole lot worse then the brick.
Question 3: You will gain some velocity and energy with your 20 inch barrel. Somewhere between an extra 200 to 400 fps.
Question 4: The power of the 180 gr bullet is there because of the velocity. It's moving faster, so it hits harder.
Question 5: I have one of the 1894 Marlins. I use 240 gr. soft point rounds almost exclusively. The 180 gr. round is at the top of the pressure range for the .44 mag. The lever action rifle is not the strongest of actions. That 180 gr round is better suited for a bolt action rifle and, even then, you are pushing the chamber pressure limit. It is designated a handgun round because the shorter barrel would release the pressure sooner than a rifle barrel would.
I believe if you shoot the 180 gr, high pressure round, in your lever action you will beat the gun up pretty quick. You may even manage to blow it apart, destroying a nice gun and injuring yourself in the bagain.
You might want to look at a reloading book for the .44 mag. There is rifle data in these books that will give you the high velocity you want without the danger of overpressure. The book discusses the danger of exceeding chamber pressures as well.
"The 180 gr. round is at the top of the pressure range for the .44 mag. "
That is an incorrect statement. It is well within the standard pressure limits established by SAAMI. (Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturers Institute)
Old Fuzz also commented that the lever-action was not the strongest action. Technically, he is correct, there are stronger actions. However it is plenty strong enough for any reasonable .44 RemMag load.
My personal bullet preference for the .44 RemMag is a hard cast Semi-Wadcutter weighing 240-250 grains.
You'll get considerably more velocity from the longer barrel, but the 44 still isn't going to be a long-range proposition. Punch some holes in paper with it and invest in a chronograph for a real education on the gun, and consider penetration tests shooting into stacks of wet newspapers or phone books.
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