50 44-40 Vs 45 Long Colt

.4440 vs 45 Long Colt Bangers and Mash
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Welcome to our in-depth comparison of two iconic cartridges in the world of firearms: the .44-40 and the .45 Long Colt. Both of these rounds have played significant roles in American history and continue to be widely used today. In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between these two calibers, discussing their origins, ballistics, applications, and more. Whether you are a seasoned shooter or a novice enthusiast, this guide will provide you with valuable insights into the unique characteristics of the .44-40 and the .45 Long Colt.

Origins and History

The .44-40

The .44-40, also known as the .44 Winchester Center Fire or .44 WCF, was introduced in 1873 by Winchester Repeating Arms Company for their famous Model 1873 lever-action rifle. It was one of the first cartridges to feature a centerfire design, which allowed for easy reloading and increased reliability compared to the rimfire cartridges of the time. The .44-40 quickly gained popularity as a versatile round that could be used for both hunting and self-defense.

The .45 Long Colt

The .45 Long Colt, often simply referred to as the .45 Colt, was developed by Colt's Manufacturing Company in 1872 for their Single Action Army revolver, also known as the Colt Peacemaker. Like the .44-40, the .45 Colt was a centerfire cartridge, but it had a larger bullet diameter and a longer case. This round was specifically designed to provide the power and accuracy needed for military and law enforcement purposes.


The .44-40

The .44-40 cartridge typically fires a .429 caliber bullet weighing between 200 and 225 grains. It has a muzzle velocity of around 1,200 feet per second (fps) and a muzzle energy of approximately 550 foot-pounds (ft-lbs). The flat-nosed design of the bullet enhances its stopping power and makes it effective for hunting medium-sized game at moderate distances.

The .45 Long Colt

The .45 Long Colt fires a .452 caliber bullet weighing between 200 and 250 grains. Its muzzle velocity ranges from 750 to 1,000 fps, depending on the specific load. The muzzle energy can vary between 350 and 550 ft-lbs. The heavier bullet and slower velocity of the .45 Colt make it well-suited for taking down larger game or for self-defense purposes where deep penetration is desired.


The .44-40

The .44-40 has a wide range of applications, making it a versatile choice for shooters. Its moderate recoil and effective stopping power make it popular among hunters for taking down deer, hogs, and other medium-sized game. It is also a popular choice for cowboy action shooting competitions due to its historical significance and availability of firearms chambered in this caliber.

The .45 Long Colt

The .45 Long Colt is equally versatile, if not more so, than the .44-40. It is commonly used for hunting large game, such as bear and elk, where the ability to deliver deep, hard-hitting shots is crucial. The .45 Colt is also a favorite among cowboy action shooters and enthusiasts who appreciate its historical association with the Old West.

Ammunition Availability

The .44-40

While the .44-40 is not as widely available as some other popular handgun and rifle calibers, it can still be found in most well-stocked gun stores and online retailers. Winchester, Hornady, and other reputable ammunition manufacturers produce a variety of loads for this cartridge, including both traditional and modern options.

The .45 Long Colt

The .45 Long Colt enjoys a broader availability compared to the .44-40. It is a popular caliber for revolvers, and many ammunition manufacturers produce a wide range of loads tailored to various applications. This availability makes it easier for shooters to find suitable ammunition for their firearms.

Firearms Chambered in .44-40 and .45 Long Colt

.44-40 Firearms

The .44-40 is primarily associated with Winchester lever-action rifles, particularly the Model 1873. However, it is also chambered in certain revolvers, such as the Colt Single Action Army and some variants of the Smith & Wesson Model 3. Today, there are also modern reproductions of these firearms available from companies like Uberti and Cimarron Firearms.

.45 Long Colt Firearms

The .45 Long Colt is most famously associated with the Colt Single Action Army revolver, which has become an icon of the American West. This caliber is also chambered in various modern revolvers, including those produced by Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Taurus. Additionally, lever-action rifles chambered in .45 Colt, such as the Henry Big Boy, are popular choices among shooters.

Recoil and Shootability

The .44-40

Due to its moderate recoil, the .44-40 is generally considered to be pleasant to shoot. This makes it a suitable choice for shooters of all experience levels, including those who may be sensitive to heavier recoiling rounds. The combination of manageable recoil and effective stopping power makes the .44-40 a reliable option for self-defense and hunting purposes.

The .45 Long Colt

The .45 Colt generates more recoil compared to the .44-40, particularly when fired from lightweight revolvers. This can make it more challenging to shoot accurately, especially for inexperienced shooters. However, with proper technique and practice, most shooters can become comfortable and proficient with the .45 Colt.

Reloading Considerations

The .44-40

Reloading the .44-40 cartridge requires specific attention to detail due to its unique construction. The case design incorporates a thin neck and a large rim, making it necessary to use proper techniques to ensure reliable feeding and extraction. Additionally, finding suitable .44-40 brass can be more challenging compared to other more popular calibers.

The .45 Long Colt

Reloading the .45 Colt is relatively straightforward, and there is a wide selection of quality reloading components available for this caliber. The straight-walled case design is forgiving, and the large bullet diameter allows for easy bullet seating and crimping. As with any reloading endeavor, proper safety precautions must be followed.


Both the .44-40 and the .45 Long Colt are historically significant and versatile cartridges that continue to be relevant in the modern shooting world. While the .44-40 offers a balance between power and shootability, the .45 Colt provides a larger bullet and deeper penetration. Ultimately, the choice between these two calibers comes down to personal preference and intended application. Whether you are a fan of cowboy action shooting or a big game hunter, both the .44-40 and the .45 Long Colt have much to offer.