The .44-40 Winchester

By Chuck Hawks

.44-40 Win.
Illustration courtesy of Hornady Mfg. Co.

The .44-40 Winchester, also known as the .44 WCF (for Winchester Center Fire), was introduced in 1873 in the famous Winchester Model '73 lever action rifle that is often called "The Gun That Won the West." It became the most popular law enforcement and hunting cartridge in North America in that rifle, and later retained that title in the highly regarded Winchester Model 1892 lever action.

The Winchester High Velocity .44-40 factory load drove a 200 grain bullet at a MV in excess of 1800 fps from a 24" rifle barrel. This High Velocity load developed too much pressure for safe use in a revolver. I have a feeling, though, that in a pinch this rule may have been intentionally violated more than once. For sure it was inadvertently violated by the ignorent and the careless any number of times, which ultimately resulted in the withdrawl of the High Velocity load from the market sometime after WW II.

Reloaders can do better than the attenuated factory loads for both rifles and pistols. The Hodgdon Data Manual #26 lists rifle loads with MV's ranging from 1140 fps using 6.5 grains of HP38 powder to 1552 fps using 18.0 grains of H4227 powder with the traditional 200 grain bullets. These loads were developed in a Winchester Model 92 with a 20" barrel.

Note: A complete article about the .44-40 Winchester can be found on the Rifle Cartridge Page.

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Copyright 2004, 2013 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.