.40 Caliber

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smoothshooter

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Have never had a .40, and am fighting the urge go get one again.
I have read many accounts about how accurate and useful they can be, but are they really any better than a .45?
I have had 2 .45's, and have one now. Pretty happy with it. Shoots well with loads from 25 grains of FFFg to 75 grains of the same powder.
Big game hunting is not really much of an issue because I have a .54 and a .62 smoothbore for that.
I mostly target shoot, but would be shooting the occaisional coyote, squirrel, rabbit, pigeon, etc.
some people talk like the .40 is some sort of magic caliber, but can't that be said of almost any rifle?
 

Zonie

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I don't think there is anything magic about a .40 caliber muzzleloader.

I know the caliber is popular with some of the target shooters but I suspect that is because they burn a little less powder and use a little less lead than the .45 or .50 so for the guy who's shooting hundreds of shots, it's a little less expensive.

Also, because the ball is a little bigger than a .36 caliber gun would use, the .40 can buck the wind a little better than the .36 which uses even less powder and lead.

As for hunting, many states won't allow a .40 caliber to be used for deer.
 

smoothshooter

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I don't think there is anything magic about a .40 caliber muzzleloader.

I know the caliber is popular with some of the target shooters but I suspect that is because they burn a little less powder and use a little less lead than the .45 or .50 so for the guy who's shooting hundreds of shots, it's a little less expensive.

Also, because the ball is a little bigger than a .36 caliber gun would use, the .40 can buck the wind a little better than the .36 which uses even less powder and lead.

As for hunting, many states won't allow a .40 caliber to be used for deer.
The smaller .32's and .36's are useful, but I like the idea of being able to use a 3/8" or larger ramrod, which the .40's and up allow.
 

sawyer04

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40 caliber sounds good, doesn't it? Maybe because it isn't produced by the replica makers. I have a rifle that is a 38 caliber, I have asked about it. .375 ball and .005 patch, shoots good, and have made a custom mold.
 

Col. Batguano

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There is something of a "special" nature or "cool factor" to calibers you don't see all the time as general factory calibers. I have both a 38 and a 40. You can get balls for both as factory balls pretty widely, but not as commonly as 45's and 50's, and you only have 1 choice of diameter in both; .375's and ,395's. And yes, I like the 38 better. Mostly because it was MY build, rather than a purchased build done by someone else.

I like having 5/16" rods on both, because it makes for a slimmer profile. It's seldom I ever use a field rod for anything other than looks. Range rods are much stouter anyway.
 

Darkhorse

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In Georgia we can use a muzzleloading rifle to hunt spring turkeys. So I wanted to build a turkey rifle and .40 caliber seemed just about right to me. We have some big hogs down in our woods and thinking about running up on one who was in illtemper was the deciding factor in choosing a .40 caliber flintlock.
The .40 has no recoil to speak of. It will also shoot one hole groups at least to 50 yards. The rifle is a little smaller and lighter and carries well in the field.
Of course most of this could be said about the .45 too. I already had a .54 I'd built a few years earlier so having a caliber that was illegal for deer was not a problem for me. I also like a 3/8" ramrod for hunting. I guess the bottom line is this; As long as the law allows use of the cartidge for your intended use then get the .40. If not just keep on shooting a .45, they are both very close to the same size.

 

Gene L

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I've got on I've had for several (many) years. It was a kit gun, the LOP too long and it was heavy. I sent the lock to Dixie who put a new sear on it among other stuff. It shoots well, clearly a copy of a half-stock Mountain rifle. Heavy with a Douglass barrel, one inch across the flats. It shoots really well. Good for deer. Some here know more about his and I defer to his knowledge.My first deer size ML rifle.
 

AlanG

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If you don't have to fit some specific niche for big game hunting etc, a .40 is very nice indeed. A .40 with a nice swamped barrel is just about one of the nicest rifle to shoot/handle, especially for fun shooting. A .40 is the largest caliber available in the various "A" weight barrels- so it can be made a little lighter if that matters. I really like it for offhand shooting.

Magic? Well, my .40 is unaffected by gravity, sighted dead on at 25yds, it shoots to the same point of aim at 50, 100, and 125 yds. I know that is impossible, and I'm not ruling out Sorcery just yet, but targets don't lie. I'll leave it to you if that qualifies as magic.
 

ghostdncr

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A .40 is the largest caliber available in the various "A" weight barrels- so it can be made a little lighter if that matters. I really like it for offhand shooting.
A good friend of mine, long passed, shot one of these A-weight .40's for as long as I knew him. When John showed up at one of our informal target shoots there was no wonder about who would "win" that day, but which of us would come in second. He was quite skilled at making it look like magic.
 

olskool

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forgive me for posting mine again, but I do love it. it really dose shoot good. the group on the right is off hand at 50yds. the center is off the bench at 50 with 6 shots I think. I have been taking it hunting last week, our deer season opened Aug.15, up 75 yds. I have no problem shooting a deer with a well placed shot. what's not to like about a 40? light recoil, less powder and lead,,,,,,,,,,,
 

olskool

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In Georgia we can use a muzzleloading rifle to hunt spring turkeys. So I wanted to build a turkey rifle and .40 caliber seemed just about right to me. We have some big hogs down in our woods and thinking about running up on one who was in illtemper was the deciding factor in choosing a .40 caliber flintlock.
The .40 has no recoil to speak of. It will also shoot one hole groups at least to 50 yards. The rifle is a little smaller and lighter and carries well in the field.
Of course most of this could be said about the .45 too. I already had a .54 I'd built a few years earlier so having a caliber that was illegal for deer was not a problem for me. I also like a 3/8" ramrod for hunting. I guess the bottom line is this; As long as the law allows use of the cartidge for your intended use then get the .40. If not just keep on shooting a .45, they are both very close to the same size.

darkhorse that is a nice photo and a great looking rifle,,,,,,,,,,,,
 

MSW

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I like my .40 … it looks cool ( a SMR ) and shoots straight … one of my first builds … as regards shooting Bambi, I have other bigger rifles for this function.

having said that, I can assure you that no soda can within 50 meters is safe.

i'm sure that a .45 would do as well, but I like my .40 better.

just sayin'
 

Loyalist Dave

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The Magic of the .40 caliber rifle is...,

The forty was known in some parts of the country in the late 19th and into the early 20th century as a very good and inexpensive shooting rifle for putting meat on the table....it's reported as being popular in regions of the Appalachian Mountains when cartridge guns were the norm for the rest of the nation, and on into period of The Great Depression. Is that better than the .440 ball...well when pennies count, then yes....

It's small bullet is very flat shooting as it delivers a high muzzle velocity. This gives very good accuracy over a large variation in distances, with little recoil.

So the target shooter is happy (especially when one won a ham etc) and the hunter is happy as a mis-estimation of the distance to the animal often doesn't cause a miss.

The the bullet has just enough mass that it is less affected by a cross wind than a .36. It also has enough mass to harvest a whitetail deer when aiming at common target areas such as the broadside chest or the quartering-toward-you-shoulder. So it was not only inexpensive to shoot, but worked for everything found in Appalachia, the home of the Tennessee Mountain Rifle and the famous Sgt. Alvin York. ;)

One can also contact LEE and have a mold made for a conical bullet that boosts it's projectile mass above the mass of a .440 round ball. Sorta defeats the advantages of the .390 patched round ball, but does give the deer hunter more wallup IF the hunter decides it is needed.

And yes there is a "cool factor" in shooting an "odd caliber". Some folks like a .52 plains rifle for the cool factor too..

LD
 

F.G. Ford

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Another feature of the .40 cal. is the size of the ball.??
It is easier for fat fingers to hold, also easier to hold on cold days.
It is also easier to load than a .32 or .36 with the slightly larger and stiffer ram rod.
Anyone that has loaded a .32 is always uncomfortable with the narrow ram rod.
As mentioned before, minor recoil.
I have a Bucks county .45 that I built about forty years ago, it is accurate and points well, but with the shape of the stock( Roman nose stock), the very light barrel ( a third of the barrel is octagon and the balance round and tapered) makes for a very light rifle that feels like a fly rod, BUT! it slaps your cheek hard with each shot of a .451 ball and sixty grains of 3F powder.
The ball size is very close to a forty, but it does make a difference.
My half stock forty seems twice as heavy as my Bucks county .45..........go figure?
Most of us who shoot .54, .58, .60, .62 don't really complain about recoil. If you do shoot one of these calibers, just try a .40 cal. and you will marvel at the rifle and no felt smack, or buck to the rifle. And anxiously wait for the next shot to see if you were mistaken. Even more so when you look at the target with two or three holes touching.
Your first response is: I got to get me one of these!
Fred
 
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Darkhorse

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darkhorse that is a nice photo and a great looking rifle,,,,,,,,,,,,
That rifle is 15 years old now, it is my main turkey weapon, and has been on many hunts but still looks good. I didn't post the particulars but I'll do it now. It has a Lancaster type stock. I have a .54 and I made both of them to feel almost like the same rifle. It has a "B" profile .40 caliber Rice barrel. Davis set triggers, White lightning liner, and is trimmed in Browned iron mounts. I load a .395 round ball with .018 pillow ticking patch. For the first shot the patch is lubed with Canola oil. It also has a .375 hickory ramrod just in case the fouling makes the ball hard to seat.
I made a small peep site for the rear but the front site is a post with bright orange paint. The stock has a decent amount of curl but nothing like that rifle of olschool.
Attached is a photo of the first "shot for group" group at 25 yards (still working on those flyers). And another one of my peep.


 

Darkhorse

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I shoot Goex 3fg. 30 grains for squirrels and both 25 and 50 yard targets. My turkey load is 60 grains 3fg. I tried 2fg back when I was just starting to shoot it and break in the barrel but it made too much fouling and was difficult to load. So I changed to 3fg and LeHigh Valley lube and it worked good after that.
I now use Mr. Flintlock's lube as it is almost identical to LHV. Neither one of these wet lubes are really good for hunting, they dry out pretty quick. If the rifle is left loaded they will cause a rust ring where the ball was sitting in your bore. So I only use it for practice.
 

hanshi

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Some very nice looking rifles posted. I like the .40 okay but would not miss having one. Here it is legal for deer and would make a great turkey rifle if it was allowed. Accurate? Absolutely. But I hesitate saying it's any more accurate than other calibers.

I have a very nice .40 in the stable. It is my heaviest rifle. The barrel is a Green Mountain "B" wgt, or maybe "C"; it's hard to tell since GM no longer makes swamped tubes so there's nothing to compare & see. I'll just call it a "B+". It's a Late Lancaster style flintlock and the balance belies the actual weight. Velocities with 40 grains of 3F are near 1700 fps, 60 grains gives right at 2150 fps. A fine small game load is 30 grains of 3F for close to 1400 fps; this target was fired at 25 yards with this load and has been posted, I think, previously. This rifle has fired my smallest 100 yard group to date, 3-3/4".
I much prefer the .45 and still have 3 of them.


 
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