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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A while back I acquired two boxes of these 44-40 cartridges. Both boxes were in the same group, both dated 1914 but I doubt they were from the same batch.

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The cartridges in these two boxes contain Lead bullets (and advertised as such on the label), rather than the soft point bullets that were also offered (first offered in 1895). These cartridges also contained 15gr of Dupont No. 2 “Bulk” smokeless rifle powder. Winchester used this powder in the 44-40 from it’s first offering in 1895 (with soft point bullets) and was used until the powder was replaced by Sharpshooter smokeless powder in 1926 (31 years). Although it has been said that Winchester used 17gr of this powder, the dissected cartridges only contained 15gr. Winchester advertised this offering at 1,300fps. It has also been said that this early smokeless rifle powder produced less pressures than the black powder being used at the time. More on this later.
dupontNo2

This is a copy of the Dupont Powder Can "Wrapper", but found in Ideal's (1906?) Handbook No. 17 Details here: Powder Can Wrapper
Font Material property Paper Paper product Publication


I decided to test ten cartridges for chamber pressures using RSI’s Pressuretrace II strain gage testing hardware and software. I used a standard production 44-40 barrel from MGM barrels. This barrel remained at 1 1/4" diameter and 20" long. It has a .429 bore with a 1:20 twist. I made a platform and clamped the barrel to it, as well as manufactured a blast plate. The firing pin is also custom made and fires through a 1/4" plate that slides between the breech and blast plate. The gap is adjusted to be about the same as a revolver, or just enough to be able to remove the firing pin plate after each round is fired. The platform was then mounted to a Hyskore rifle recoil rest and a scope also added to aid in accurate test shots, although it took a bit between each shot to aim the scope.

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I dissected 13 cartridges in order to be able to fill ten of them with 17gr. I wanted to test the max rather than a reduced load. It is safer to estimate a reduced load rather than a max load. I did not resize the cases which could have led to the slower than expected velocities. I removed and replaced the lead bullets, which I think were .426", with .4255" Win soft points. I replaced the 1W primers with modern primers. The canular remained in the case and the bullets crimped with the Redding 44-40 Profile die. A very nice snug tight crimp.

To avoid the heat, but test in hot weather, I shot these loads in early 7am in S.C. @ 74 degrees at 81% humidity with an altimeter setting of 30.17…pretty warm for 74 degrees.

The results were promising,

1,282fps @ 12,045cup/10,190psi
Not bad for 100 year old powder

As compared to early black powder tests that produced which proves the early Dupont No. 2 loads produced lower pressures.
1,373fps @ 16,550cup/14,000psi

1930's Western headstamped case
Cylinder Tin Metal Rectangle Gun accessory



Eventually as the balloon pockets resided, so did the pressures when used with black powder loads...see details here:Details

Considering Winchester advertised their loads at 1,300fps, we can only speculate as to why, since they were only loaded with 15gr., and 16gr achieved a lower velocity. If the velocity has to be higher, then the pressures would also have to be higher. This was also accomplished using .4255" JSP bullets in a .429" bore with the MGM barrel.
This (aside from not taking precise aim), also produced a 3.4" 10 shot group @ 50 yards

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I also did the same thing with some Sharpshooter loads to replicate 1926 thru 1950 15gr cartridges as well as 1903 to 1942 19.6gr 44 WHV cartridges with great results.

15gr 44 WCF Sharpshooter - 1,300fps advertised, 1,222fps achieved @ 10,846cup/9,176psi
19.6gr 44 WHV Sharpshooter - 1,564fps advertised, 1,568 achieved @ 18,450cup/15,583psi


Data from the WRA Cartridge Engineering Office dated Feb 14, 1917 shows the following
44 Winchester 73 loads - 13,000cup service pressures
44 WHV 92 loads - 18,000cup service pressures


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This also indicated that some of Lyman’s “Group II” 44-40 loads exceed Winchester’s 44 WHV load max service pressures.
All of this information, as well as the pressure curve charts can be found here:
44-40 Pressure Testing 4

Once again, putting bad 44-40 Myths to rest, one at a time.
 

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Interesting. When I got my Ohler chronograph it was a must for me to chrono shot strings from my various rifles. In doing so with a 30-06 and both IMR 4895 & IMR 4064 with 150 grain spitzers. Kept getting two distinct groups with the IMR 4064 and was bugging me. Only thing I could figure out, was that in chambering some rounds I used more force to chamber some of the 4064 rounds. Powder would lie along the bottom of the lengthwise case which affected the accuracy and velocity. Discontinued the 4064 altogether. One thing you did have to watch for was some fool sitting at your bench shooting his rounds through your expensive chronograph. I would set up the targets and on the way back there would always be one or two shooters wanting to test out their loads. I would shoot their rifles so if I shot my chrono I'd only have myself to blame. Frank
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, it is always best to test individual firearms when it is possible, both chronograph and pressure testing. This way, as you mentioned, you get the best out of that particular firearm. I always did want the Ohler pressure testing equipment, to include the chronograph (like the one you have), but I never could find one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Here are all of the targets for the Dupont No. 2, Sharpshooter and the 1963 Winchester High Pressure Proof Set. I was not trying to be precise with the aim, just trying to get them on paper. Wish now I had taken better aim. Not east to do with the monster of a platform.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Here are the animated gifs and charts to compare black powder pressure curves with smokeless powder pressure curves with this cartridge.
The gifs are slow to load so give them a little time


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Savy Jack, Thank you for a very interesting post. So much so; I have to go back and re-read it. I see you are a new member and I hope to read more in the future.

One little comment which is no way critical. The old 44/40 was more like 1:40 or high 30's twist. That should result in lower pressure and in theory favor the bullet weights used at the time and softer too. Modern guns allow for shooting heavier bullets and the sweet spot for best accuracy 'should' depend on matching the twist to the bullet. A point often lost on those shooting 223 varmint rifles with 50 grain bullets and too fast barrels. Not to mention faster wear out (aka higher pressure). But for comparison purpose, no complaint here. Just adding a foot note to your excellent post.
 

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I am having a problem reading the graphs. I dont know which lines are for which sample. Can you add some lines from the text to the curve? Check marks and color circles not getting it done for me.
 

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Google searching "RSI’s Pressuretrace II strain gauge", I found this:


The strain gauge is a wire mesh taped around the circumference of the barrel. So simple! I had no idea this was possible. No holes drilled. Not cheap but very cool, very fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The strain gage is not really a wire "mesh tape", it is a sensor that is glued to the barrel....still very simple!!!! The "tape" that you see is what holds all of it together (gage and wires) so it makes it a little easier to glue to the barrel....a royal pain!
 

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There is the claim that using modern factory loaded .38 S&W with smokeless powder will stretch the frame of guns proofed for black power and yet black powder loads in 44-40 rifle were right up there with smokeless powder pressures or even more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
There is the claim that using modern factory loaded .38 S&W with smokeless powder will stretch the frame of guns proofed for black power and yet black powder loads in 44-40 rifle were right up there with smokeless powder pressures or even more.
The main difference is the burn of fast burning pistol powders vs "slower" burning rifle powders. While the 44-40 used Dupont No. 2 rifle powder, the 45 Colt was using Bullseye. Apples and Oranges.
What we have is a difference in ignition, burn rate to peak and burn after peak. Some folks call this the pressure curve. Hot loads can cause problems but a double charge can ruin your day.

Back around 1909, the US Government's loading machines kept dropping an occasional "double charge" of Bullseye in their M1909 45 Colt loads. Most of the time they would blow the gun with the first shot. DuPont came up with a replacement powder called RSQ. One could fire six consecutive double charged 38 caliber loads before it got ugly. Being "rescued" by DuPont, Major K. K. V. Casey requested it be called "RSQ"......Resque! I have seen box examples as early as 1910. The powder was reported dropped two years later with the Model 1911 but I have seen boxes dated as late as 1913.
More on this here
 

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The main difference is the burn of fast burning pistol powders vs "slower" burning rifle powders. While the 44-40 used Dupont No. 2 rifle powder, the 45 Colt was using Bullseye. Apples and Oranges.
What we have is a difference in ignition, burn rate to peak and burn after peak. Some folks call this the pressure curve. Hot loads can cause problems but a double charge can ruin your day.

Back around 1909, the US Government's loading machines kept dropping an occasional "double charge" of Bullseye in their M1909 45 Colt loads. Most of the time they would blow the gun with the first shot. DuPont came up with a replacement powder called RSQ. One could fire six consecutive double charged 38 caliber loads before it got ugly. Being "rescued" by DuPont, Major K. K. V. Casey requested it be called "RSQ"......Resque! I have seen box examples as early as 1910. The powder was reported dropped two years later with the Model 1911 but I have seen boxes dated as late as 1913.
More on this here
So it would seem that maybe using a slower rifle powder in such old guns would stress them less than using bullseye or red dot powder for example. But black powder if you can find it seems to be the safest way for the older guns.
 

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My grandfather had a Iver Johnson break top 38sw in the Alaskan Gold rush. As a result I collected many IJ break tops 20 years ago when they were $35 at gun shows.

The latch on Iver Johnson break top revolvers has a small piece metal with two holes in it.
Early black powder versions will stretch the holes into egg shape, giving the break top action sloppiness.
The 32sw revolver will stretch with one shot a 32acp factory ammo.

Here is a later thicker latch link that has been stretched 0.030" with super hot smokeless loads.
Wood Tool Metal Household hardware Auto part
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Guys don't forget we are talking 44-40 and or Dupont No. 2 type loads as noted in Dupont's No. 2 loading chart, not anything else. The 38SW is listed but further discussion about powders other than Dupont No. 2 in the 32SW is getting a bit off topic
 

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I have the strain gauges for measuring chamber pressure.
I designed a lot better instrument amplifier than Dr. Ken Oehler.
Anyone with a op amp application notes could.

The problems are layered:
1) Terribly complicated stress vs strain calculations for barrel shape and an open ended tube stress. These involve Roark's formulas.
2) Strain gauge exact location not known and error of placement not known.
3) If you knew the exact peak pressure of a chamber, what can you do with that info? Reference to SAAMI registered max av pressure? What good would that do for an individual? Pressure measurement is necessary for mass production and sales, but a red herring for the individual.
4) Per all my experiments, 1 millisecond of stress on steel at beyond the static yield threshold, nets no yield.

As a result the strain gauges are useless....and after 15 years of it, I am too old and tired to debate with Denton Bramwell on gun forums, another EE, who tries to make money off the strain gauge idea.

For non engineers. that means unknown error bars produce useless data.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have the strain gauges for measuring chamber pressure.
I designed a lot better instrument amplifier than Dr. Ken Oehler.
Anyone with a op amp application notes could.

The problems are layered:
1) Terribly complicated stress vs strain calculations for barrel shape and an open ended tube stress. These involve Roark's formulas.
2) Strain gauge exact location not known and error of placement not known.
3) If you knew the exact peak pressure of a chamber, what can you do with that info? Reference to SAAMI registered max av pressure? What good would that do for an individual? Pressure measurement is necessary for mass production and sales, but a red herring for the individual.
4) Per all my experiments, 1 millisecond of stress on steel at beyond the static yield threshold, nets no yield.

As a result the strain gauges are useless....and after 15 years of it, I am too old and tired to debate with Denton Bramwell on gun forums, another EE, who tries to make money off the strain gauge idea.

For non engineers. that means unknown error bars produce useless data.

You are taking this down an unnecessary bunny hole. We are not talking development here, just an approximant comparison, of which has been proven accurate.
 
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