THERE ARE NO .32, .38 OR .44 CALIBERS
Handloader|October - November 2020
THERE ARE NO .32, .38 OR .44 CALIBERS
RELOADER’S PRESS
Dave Scovill

For those who are just beginning to experience psychotic withdrawal from being “alone together” for the last few months, not that it hasn’t become obvious that there will be no immediate relief from watching reruns of old reruns of even older movies, the following is an offering to folks who are suffering from what is akin to watching paint dry. For veterans who served in the armed services, we have experience to draw from. Such duties were often posted on the midwatch, which in many instances really was watching paint dry.

To continue with the subject at hand, the most interesting fact regarding the modern crop of .44-caliber handguns is that none of them are .44s. Moreover, way back in the beginning, those Colt and Remington .44 percussion revolvers were actually .45s. It’s enough to make you wonder about the words to that old Gene Autry song, “Back in the Saddle Again,” “. . . ridin’ the range once more, totin’ my old 44 . . .” What .44 was he singing about?

Research indicates there was only one .44, the .44 Colt, that was manufactured by Frankford Arsenal in the early 1870s, in which the heel bullet measured on aver age .444 inch at the rearmost edge of the nose immediately ahead of the case mouth. According to Charles Suydam’s U.S. Cartridges and Their Handguns, the powder charge and bullet weight in the commercial versions of the .44 Colt varied a bit, but the diameter was fairly consistent. The heel of the bullet seated inside the case neck was closer to .429 inch.

The Colt revolver was a Richards Model 1871 conversion and the Richards-Mason 1872 improvement of the Colt percussion 1860 .44 Colt with a .45-caliber barrel. The Remington Model 1863 .44 sixgun was also a throwback to the Civil War configuration with the .45-caliber barrel.

The Uberti Model 1871/1872 replica appears to be an amalgamation of the two 1860 conversions with a .429-inch barrel groove diameter and a cylinder chambered for a .44 Colt case made by Starline that is little more than a shortened .44 Special case, or slightly longer .44 Russian, albeit with a slightly smaller rim diameter.

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October - November 2020