.44-40 Inferior To .44 Magnum

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pig shot with lever action rifle

Q: I have a choice between buying a lever-action rifle in .44-40 or .44 Magnum. I’ll be using the rifle for pig hunting as well as Western Action Shooting. My mate is trying to convince me that the .44-40 is the best choice, claiming it is exceptionally accurate, adequately powerful for pigs and more pleasant to shoot, which he reckons cannot be said of the .44 Magnum. What do you think?

William Horton

A: I think your mate’s been smoking too much whacky-baccy. The .44-40 does not even approach offering the bullet weight, velocity or energy of the .44 Magnum. I do not consider a 200gn bullet at 1190fps to have the hitting power of the .44 Magnum which launches a 240gn bullet at 1780fps out of a 20-inch carbine barrel. The .44-40’s velocity can be boosted but losses with the thin, heavily tapered case are high. It’s hard to get more than two hot reloads out of a case. The ancient .44-40 was popularised in the Winchester Model 1873 rifle and its reputation was derived from rapidity of fire rather than effectiveness.

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