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Appeal of the 444

21 Jan 2021
@ 11:22 am (GMT)

Fernando Cundin

I recently had an opportunity to handle and shoot a good sample of a Marlin in 444. The balance without optics was superb and the weight of the 4x sight added only a slight change in balance and form factor with the added benefit of better shot placement out to about 150 yards (longest distance tested). The impressive overall package was best realized with the recoil in action with a one-two quick follow up shot with the lever all so slicked up. Hmmm...

This kind of thinking leads to projects.

The matter of the recoil is interesting. The push is mitigated with rifle mass very well and the shove even initiates the lever cycle some not unlike fast shotgun pump cycling. The recoil sensation needs to be appreciated in the field. The 240 gr Rem factory loads were tried. All 444 factory ammunition today is an expensive choice and generally unobtanium. We also shot hot reloads with Sierra 210 and 240 grain bullets.

Firstly, why is the 444 not more popular? The Marlin package is excellent at the range and I expect fast in the woods and swamps. The simple Marlin design is a positive for field cleaning and maintenance. The hard hitting 240 grain appears deadly at least to 150 yards plus.

The follow up shot with 210 grain bullets is slightly faster overall. The 240 grain bullets are confidence building with a hard "smack" on the distant earth berm we were shooting into. As compared to 44 Rem carbines you have better power and reach and still field handling qualities that are attractive, excellent balanced package!

Today used JM Marlin 444 rifles are expensive and rare. The recent Ruger absorption of Marlin might offer some possibilities, but this will take time. I am eager to try single shot CVA Scout samples in 444 as a possible "primitive" season option.




21 Jan 2021
@ 08:36 pm (GMT)

Mike R

Re: Appeal of the 444
Nothing really wrong with a 444 except most of the available bullets were designed for pistols early on. Kind of limited appeal on large dangerous game, then you got the 45-70 right there which when reloading can be very effective with lots of bullets to choose from. My favourite load was 350gr @2,170 from a Marlin XLR JM stamped, about as much as I could handle recoil wise
Sold it to a mate last year for a good price though, kind of regret it.
24 Jan 2021
@ 06:31 pm (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Appeal of the 444
I havent heard of anyone re reaming a rossi single from .44 mag YET..... but as most fellas buying them are going other way and down loading them to go subsonic for over bailing dogs...or in sensitive areas (read into that what you will) going 444 would be leap in wrong direction. would certainly be a Thors hammer as bush rifle...whether or not you got huge beneficial gain over std 44mag will be debated...but then again the 44mag is one cartridge folks are seemingly always trying to overload so may be far safer option...
25 Jan 2021
@ 07:58 am (GMT)

Fernando Cundin

Re: Appeal of the 444
Mr. Mike

Rossi rifles are not especially popular in the SE United State, but the CVA Scout is becoming more common.

Using dogs to hold pigs for the hunters is getting some forced change by the pigs themselves. Tales of a more organized and experienced quarry is in keeping with their general feral lot, they are evolving to hunting pressure. Used to be the dogs had an easier time of holding an entire group with the pigs being more defensive. And now reports are that aggressive counters and reactions to the dogs are allowing the greater group to mostly escape. Tactics...

A lever 44 Rem was about all the gun that was needed, and now more running shots are the norm and longer shots are the rule. Some hunters are upping the power to 308/30-06 Rem auto carbines to bring more power. The second and third rapid shots are becoming essential. There is a point of diminished returns in alll of this. My thoughts are that the balance of a 444 is a sweet spot in power, field handling and rapid second and third shot capability.

Tailored tools to the job and application are always interesting. So it seems the animals are learning and so the hunter will needing to change.

25 Jan 2021
@ 06:02 pm (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Appeal of the 444
Fernando...see if you can find pig dog training books by Bill Westwood...he is a local fella and his way of thinking aligns with my own.... I ran sheep dogs on pigs..they have brains and stock balance in droves...a GOOD bailing dog ONLY puts enough pressure on pig/pigs to keep them in one more...just enough..... his analogy is one of the best Ive heard and goes somewhat like this..... you are sitting at bar having a beer and some jumped up little jerk starts needling you,mouthing size him up,and carry on drinking...alert but happy you can handle situation if needed......then one of his mates turn get more nervy but hold ground and keep drinking your beer...third mate turns up and all three move towards you all puffed up like bull gorrillas
now you have 3 choices....
#1 lay down and take a beating
#2 fight like hell and hope you come out on top
#3 run like hell

same with pig and dogs.....
too much pressure and pig/pigs have to make choice....

watching a good bailing dog at work is very enlightening,if pig breaks the best dogs will grab its nuts or nip its heels....they soon learn to stop running and back into bank.log/tree to cover up the tender artillery.
the old M1 carbine was popular here back when mobs of pigs were common.... mini 14 was too...the lever 30/30 or 44mag is the normal gun you see pighunters use/abuse.....sometimes the abuse is enough to make a man cry.
26 Jan 2021
@ 12:57 am (GMT)

Fernando Cundin

Re: Appeal of the 444
Mr Mike,

Good stuff... As with all things in this now moderne world there is just too much pressure. Once the old folks either passed on or dropped from the scene the institutional knowledge fell away as well. Dogs and dog training is certainly something not so common any more. Even packs of beagles for chasing rabbits is a rare-ish sound in the fields.

I believe the secret weapon is always in the application of the basics. Complex endeavors like a hunter to smart gang of hounds ratio is seemingly too much for our current sport minded krew to be too bothered with and comparatively primitive pursuits are now the norm. So, stalking pigs is now the routine either with modern arms or the bow. The bow is great sport on the ground. But teaming up with experienced and disciplined Catahoula curs raises things to glorious and sublime... Oooooh, I’m getting all itchy.

The way forward would be better with less complex anything and more basic hard work. Musing about another rifle and cartridge is admittedly just another distraction up for consideration. Real field intel only comes from muddy boots and briar torn britches.

I’m looking into Mr. Westwood and see what his technology is all about.


03 Mar 2021
@ 03:04 pm (GMT)

Joel Macha

Re: Appeal of the 444
try some Hornady Leverevolution. loaded with265 grain FTX I get great accuracy and expansion. Marlin was just about to revive the 444 before the bankruptcy sell off. Ruger has already moved all the tooling they bought and is supposed to have rifles hitting the market by Christmas. Since the equipment was updated and being prepared for producing the 444 rifles we can only hope at this point Ruger will finish what was started. At this time Ruger has only confirmed the production of the models 336 and 1894 in lever guns. Hopefully Ruger will bring Marlin back to it's former glory.


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