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Thread: The .444 Marlin guide gun

  1. #1
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    Default The .444 Marlin guide gun

    Just for discussion sake, has anyone cut a Marlin .444 barrel to 16.5" or there abouts? What kind of velocity did you get? Besides a lot of noise, did you think it was worthwhile? If you did cut the barrel 6" or more do you just end up with a loud, HOT 44 Mag?

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    Never cut a 444 down.
    Quick check w/reloading manual.
    300gr 444 = 2050fps - 180fps for the 6" chop = 1870fps
    300gr 44mag = 1470fps

    240gr 444 = 2500fps - 180fps for the 6" chop = 2320fps
    240gr 44mag =1800fps

    Looks like it'll beat the 44mag. Just rough numbers from Hodgdon.
    "The older I get, the better I was."

  3. #3

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    Many years ago Weatherby made the Vanguard in carbine version with an 18" barrel, including the 7mm Rem Mag. A buddy had to have one and it was his proudest possession, and he shot a lot of game with it. Pure magic to have something so powerful and flat in such a handy package. He kept bugging me to shoot it and I kept hiding.

    He showed up one day while I was chronoing and insisted on shooting it over the screens. Average for three shots with Remington factory 150's was 2705fps. Like to broke his heart. He never shot it much after that, and got rid of it within a year.

    That chronograph session robbed him of a whole lot of joy, and I wish he'd never done it. He was just soooo happy.

    Lop the barrel and love the gun.

    But stay away from chronographs.

  4. #4

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    I've got a 444P Outfitter, which is the 444 version of the GG. Mine came with the ported barrel, too. I'm as happy with it as I am with my GG. The claim to fame of these type of leverguns isn't that their bullets go out at Warp 9...it's that they are handy rifles throwing out moderately big heavy chunks of lead at a pretty modest velocity. For what it's worth, I've also got an 1894 in .44 Magnum, and I consider the 444P to be significantly more than just a 44 Magnum. If you wanna cut the barrel, cut the barrel. You'll gain a little (handling convenience) and lose a little (velocity). It's all about opportunity cost and application.

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    Thanks Guys!!!

    The more I think about this the less I think I can make the 444 into a light, easy to carry, short gun. I have a GG in .45-70 and .450 Marlin so I don't need to cut the 444. I also have a 1894 in 44 mag so I really don't NEED anything. I have a 2x Leupold Scout scope on the 444 and it shoots pretty well as is with 310gr hard cast so I can't ask for more. I'm thinking about going back to 265gr FP and see how that will shoot. I haven't played with the 444 for awhile and when I picked it up this morning it seemed so heavy and long compared to the GG's....that's what made start to think about cutting to 17" and attack the stock with the belt sander to cut some weight. I think I'll leave well enough alone and grab the 1894 when I want an easy to carry gun.

    Thanks again for the comments!!

  6. #6

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    Why not just leave the 444 the way it is, and consider it to be what it is...a rifle, not a carbine? And there's nothing wrong with Hornady 265 FP's. They've been the go-to bullet for the 444 since Hornady introduced them. Sometimes it's nice to carry a rifle for a change, instead of the GG. It makes you feel like you're carrying the Original 444.

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    That's my plan....just the older I get the less I want to carry a full size rifle.

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    Check out Hawk Bullets too. They have bullets for the 444 up through 300 grains and with a .035 jacket. I've used their 300's for years in a wildcat that pumps out an extra 100-200 fps over the 444, and they hold weight and penetrate well, while always giving decent expansion. I'd expect the same from a 444. In my firsthand experience they retain lots more weight than Hornady, Speer, Sierra or Nosler, yet don't sacrifice expansion to do it.

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    Those sound like good bullets. I think Barnes used to make the old copper cup 300 gr bullets with an 0.035 jacket and a big exposed lead round nose that stayed together and turned into a double caliber chunk of lead that seldom stayed in the animal. I used to load them for a friend who was a salmon biologist who carried a 6.5" model 29.

    I have an NEI 310 gr Keith style mold that throws linotype mix at 290gr and make a great bullet for the 444....just can't fine linotype metal anymore.

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    Yes Sir...had to go check the log book...Barnes 43020, 300 gr Flat nose soft point over 19.7 gr of 2400, Winchester large pistol. Guy's name was Nick.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowrider View Post
    Those sound like good bullets. I think Barnes used to make the old copper cup 300 gr bullets with an 0.035 jacket and a big exposed lead round nose that stayed together and turned into a double caliber chunk of lead that seldom stayed in the animal.
    Yeah, good comparison. I used the original Barnes from the 1960's up until they quit making them, and the Hawks are the same. Guys who think "jacketed" are thinking gilding metal, and the thick, pure copper jackets of the Barnes and Hawk are a different deal entirely. Lotsa weight retention along with good expansion.

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    Steve at Alaska Custom Firearms cut my XLR 444 down to 18" and I had a big lever loop installed. I've been working on developing handloads using Beartooth bullets, but haven't had them over the chronograph yet.

    Last Christmas GNG had a 444P Outfitter go out the door for $475 at their sale, if I remember correctly it was new w/box; wish I would have bought it.

    Tim

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    Tim,

    I'm interested in velocity you are getting out of the 18" barrel, especially compared to the stock 22". I'm guessing you loose 200 FPS for 4" cut off but it may not be that much. That velocity would not bother me too much which leads back to my original question....do you get a couple hundred FPS over the 44 Mag with a cut down 444?

    This whole thing may just come down to personal preferance....except for big bear the 1894 in 44 mag will do it for you under 150 yds with a hard 300 gr flat nose and it is a lot lighter to carry than the 444. Maybe I've come full circle.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowrider View Post
    I'm guessing you loose 200 FPS for 4" cut off but it may not be that much. That velocity would not bother me too much which leads back to my original question....do you get a couple hundred FPS over the 44 Mag with a cut down 444?
    Actually I'm willing to bet it's closer to 100-125 fps, considering the relatively fast powders used in a 444.

    BTW- Unless yours is different, both of the 444's I owned actually had 24" barrels rather than 22". You might doublecheck.

    I had my wildcat barreled at 20", and that is plenty short. If you're determined to cut the barrel, have you considered that?

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    BrownBear,

    No Sir, it is a 22" barrel on my 444...not much different from the 1894 44mag length wise but it certainly is heavier. If I took the 444 down to 17" it would be about 2" beyond the mag tube and get a lot noisier. 20" wouldn't buy me much. I built a 358 Win on a short action Savage with a 20" barrel and it is a nice length.

    You are probably correct on the velocity loss. I use RL7 most of the time for 444, 45-70 and 450 Marlin so it is a pretty fast powder and would not loose as much velocity.



  16. #16

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    I'll be darned. Both of mine were early models, so I wonder if they changed the specs recently.

    I bet you'll notice more of an improvement over 44mag ballistics with heavier bullets than with light ones. That's what I've seen comparing my wildcat to the 444- more gains with heavy bullets than with light ones. Knocking 100-125 off 2k (Hornady max) with a 300 leaves you 1850-1900 fps, compared to 1400 (same source) from an 18" 44 mag. That's definitely a worthwhile difference.

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    Mine is a bout 4 years old. I had the older ones in both gun and I sold them and got new ones with the Ballard rifling even though they have the darn safety on them. Marlin may have changed barrel length when they did the safety upgrade....don't know. I do like the Ballard better with cast bullets.

    I think I may just leave the 444 as a 22" since I have the other Guide Guns which are shorter and weight about the same. That way I will have a solid 250 yd gun with the 444 and 300 gr hard cast.

    Now, do I cut the 1894 to 16 1/2" and pick up a nice short 44 mag? I also loose 2 rounds of mag capacity...but then...if you can't do it with 8 rounds of 44 Mag then it probably can't be done with 10 either. Hmmm...cut the barrel and mag tub, polish the guts, clean up all the rough edges and DuraCoat in matte black...maybe new sights while I'm at it....that could work!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowrider View Post
    Mine is a bout 4 years old. I had the older ones in both gun and I sold them and got new ones with the Ballard rifling even though they have the darn safety on them. Marlin may have changed barrel length when they did the safety upgrade....don't know. I do like the Ballard better with cast bullets.

    I think I may just leave the 444 as a 22" since I have the other Guide Guns which are shorter and weight about the same. That way I will have a solid 250 yd gun with the 444 and 300 gr hard cast.

    Now, do I cut the 1894 to 16 1/2" and pick up a nice short 44 mag? I also loose 2 rounds of mag capacity...but then...if you can't do it with 8 rounds of 44 Mag then it probably can't be done with 10 either. Hmmm...cut the barrel and mag tub, polish the guts, clean up all the rough edges and DuraCoat in matte black...maybe new sights while I'm at it....that could work!!
    If you do the work yourself it will be a great little gun and I doubt you will lose much (if any) FPS from a 44 Mag out of a 16.5 barrel. If you are paying to do the work it may be just as cost effective to sell the 1894 and buy one of the short Winchester Levers in 44Mag. By the time you have paid for; cut/crown, new mag tube dovetail, re-fit sights and re-finish you are looking at a lot of $$. Those little Winnies and even the little Puma/Rossi 92 are sweet little guns.

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    You aren't going crazy Brownbear, the original 444s produced in the 60s up till about the mid 70s had a 24" tube. I had one and although the load books warned against cutting it I lopped it of at 20". I don't know what speeds I'm getting as I haven't chronoed it yet but I'd be willing to bet that game won't know the difference and I don't have to cart a club around the woods. I'm getting caught up on having taken game with every rifle I own and the 444 is next on the list, if I go back to Kodiak this month it will go with me. I've been getting good accuracy with the 300gr XTP but need to try some Hawks as the Hornady didn't fair well in the bullet box, though I'm sure it would do fine for deer or blackbear.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Kid View Post
    I've been getting good accuracy with the 300gr XTP but need to try some Hawks as the Hornady didn't fair well in the bullet box, though I'm sure it would do fine for deer or blackbear.
    You're not getting 2200 fps unless you're way over book max, but I can tell you for sure they're rough on deer at 50 yards launched at that speed from my wildcat. In fact, they're the biggest reason I slapped plastic with Hawk. Ick.

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