The .444 Marlin
is a rifle cartridge
designed in 1964 by Marlin Firearms
and Remington Arms
. It was designed to fill in a gap for the older .45-70
at a time when that cartridge was not currently available in any lever action, making it the largest at the time available lever-action
cartridge. The .444 looks like a lengthened .44 Magnum
and provides a significant increase in velocity.
In the mid 1960s the .45-70
had all but disappeared from the American marketplace. There was no big-bore cartridge available in a lever-action rifle, so Marlin decided to create a new cartridge to fill this empty niche. They choose to create essentially an elongated version of a .44 Magnum
by making it nearly an inch longer to give it power similar to the .45-70. The case Marlin created is very similar to a rimmed version of a .30-06
that was trimmed and necked-up to work with .429 bullets.
Hunters initially had some troubles because the .444 was frequently loaded using existing .429 bullets that were designed for use at handgun velocities. Nevertheless the rifle did gain in popularity as more suitable bullets were designed for its higher velocity.
In 1972 Marlin re-introduced the .45-70 to their lever-action line, expanding their big-bore offerings. Sales of the .444 are now overshadowed by .45-70 cartridge which has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity.
can push a 240 grain bullet
over generating 3,070 ft·lbf
of energy (730 m/s and 4,160 J
) making it well suited for all large game. SAAMI
has rated this cartridge at 44,000 CUP
. It functions most efficiently when used with cast lead bullets. Hand-casted bullets allows the shooter to optimize the alloy for strength and expansion at the higher velocities generated by the Marlin
over the traditional 44 caliber bullets. There are several commercial moulds available for the hand-caster: The SAEC #433 mould which casts a 300 grain (19.4 g) gas-checked bullet, the Lyman 429640 at 280 grains (18.1 g) are two of the more potent bullets for this caliber. Proper cartridge length is maintained by seating the bullet to the correct depth and using a Lee Factory Crimp Die to put a firm crimp on the seated bullet to prevent slippage in the magazine tube.
3 years after the introduction of the 444 Marlin, Hornady introduced a new heavier 265 grain .430" bullet created specifically for use in this new 44 caliber cartridge. Since then Hornady has also made a 265 grain (17.2 g) interlock "light magnum" that boosts velocity to nearly and 3140 foot-pounds force of energy at the muzzle. Hornady's latest offering for this caliber is its new LEVERevolution ammunition that has a soft polymer spire point that can be safely loaded in tubular magazines. Because of an increased ballistic coefficient, Hornady boasts of increase velocity over , and velocity and energy at the muzzle of 1,971 ft/s, 2,285 ft·lbf (601 m/s and 3,098 J) and at , and 1,606 ft·lbf (504 m/s and 2,178 J) versus and 1,400 ft·lbf (470 m/s and 1,900 J) for its interlock ammo.
Other specialized companies such as Buffalo Bore, Cor-bon, and Grizzly Cartridge offer loadings for the 444 Marlin in bullet weights up to 320 grains.
The newer .450 Marlin
is also frequently compared with it. While it does not have the power of the .450 Marlin, it is very similar ballistically to the .45-70, the almost extinct .348 Winchester
, and the .405 Winchester
. A bullet in .429 has the same sectional density as a bullet in .458 and can provide good penetration on large game. According to M.L. McPherson (Editor, Cartridges of the World
), "the 444 is fully capable against any species in North America." and he describes its useful range as being out to about .
- .444 Marlin. Hodgdon Powder Company Rifle Data. Retrieved on 2006-05-22..
- .444 Marlin. Remington Ballistics Data. Retrieved on 2007-03-07..
- Cartridge Dimensions: Designing and Forming Custom Cartridges, Book by Ken Howell, Precision Shooting, 1995, ISBN 0-9643623-0-9 p. 359