Big-Bore Carbines

Powder-coated Powerhouses

Here’s the “hole” story on the “Fearsome Foursome.” Big bores mean
big bullets! Left to right: The .444 Marlin Outfitter, .45-70 Marlin Guide Gun,
Ruger .475 Linebaugh #1 and lastly, a T/C Encore with .500 S&W Katahdin carbine barrel.

I like big holes, especially at the end of my barrel! Big holes mean big bullets. Big bullets make big holes in things, so there’s no need to rely on expansion to get the results we want. Big holes make things bleed faster and deflate lungs quicker, too. Two holes are better than one at incapacitating the creature we’ve perforated with a sucking chest wound.

Big, heavy, cast bullets have been doing these things for years … just ask any buffalo (actually American Bison). The bullets have a tendency to plow long, deep and straight due to something called momentum. It’s this simple concept that was so effective on Bison with such a

Big Bore, Heavyweight Blunt

Sounds like a motor cop, right? But these are traits we want for our hunk of lead, to be just as, or more effective than the latest controlled expansion, jacketed-bonded wonder bullet. There’s no question these bullets are good, but what fun is it buying them when we can make our own?

Powder-coated cast bullets next to their respective cartridge cases.
As crude as chucking a big hunk of lead is, it’s still very effective.
Big bullets make big holes.

Powder Coat Isn’t Powder Puff

Powder Coating is simply putting a polymer coating on our bare bullets instead of the “greasy kid stuff” we call bullet lube. By simply tumbling your bullets until covered with powder coat powder, you shake off the excess powder and bake your bullets. What you get is a coating sealing the lead projectile in polymer as it scoots down the barrel. I believe Powder Coating to be the best innovation since the humble gas check.

Cast Of Characters

I’m going to define Big Bore as anything over .40 caliber. My cast of characters are a Marlin .444 Marlin Outfitter, Marlin .45-70 Guide Gun, Ruger #1 .475 Linebaugh and lastly, a T/C Encore with a .500 S&W Katahdin carbine barrel. For simplicity and space sake, I’m going to cut to the chase and just list my pet loads I’ve used for years in some of these guns. So sit back, relax and take in the hole story of Big Bore carbines.

Typical group of Tank’s .444 Marlin at 100 yards.

.444 Outfitter

I started shooting the .444 Marlin about 25 years ago. Basically, it’s just a stretched out .44 magnum. What’s not to like? My favorite bullet is of LBT design and is listed as a 330-grain LFNDCGC design. Let me ’splain. LBT stands for Lead Bullet Technology, the LFN means long, flat nose, DC is dual crimp and GC is gas check. Piece of cake, eh?

These bullets are capable of shooting 0.75″ groups of 3 at 100 yards and I’ve done it regularly with many different Marlins in this caliber. For some reason, .444 Marlins are intrinsically accurate. When 330 grains of lead exits at 2,200 FPS, with this kind of accuracy, things drop when hit. Several deer have been pole-axed when hit by this combo. The 56 grains of Hodgdon H335 is my pet load.

.45-70 Marlin Guide Gun

When it comes to lever guns, the old war-horse .45-70 is one of my favorites. Draped in history, modern loadings give the .45 Government a whole new dimension. Pushing 400+ grain cast slugs over 2,100 FPS is pretty impressive for such an ancient cartridge. My favorite cast bullet is dropped from a cherished Rob Applegate brass mold throwing a 425-grain LWFNGC, or Long Wide Flat Nose Gas Check design.

The meplat is between an LFN and WFN. It is accurate and punches 0.460″ holes with each shot. The 50 grains of Alliant Reloder 7 is my pet load. Its 3-shot groups average around 1.5″ at 100 yards.

Ruger #1 .475 Linebaugh

The .475 Linebaugh gained legitimacy a few years back when factory ammo companies like Buffalo Bore and Hornady started loading for it. Lipsey’s, a large Ruger distributor, had a limited run of these rifles built.

Nothing’s better than carrying a classic single-shot rifle in the woods, the mere act makes a bold statement. It speaks of confidence and the ability to get it done with one shot, as it should be …

My favorite load consists of a 400-grain, powder-coated bullet dropped from a Lee 2 cavity mold retailing for under $20. How’s that for a bargain? I stuff the case with 24 grains of H110 sparked with a Large Rifle primer. From the Ruger, I get just under 1,500 FPS with all the accuracy I could wish for.

T/C Encore Katahdin .500 S&W

While the Ruger #1 is a classic beauty, the T/C Encore is beautiful in its own utilitarian way. The 20″ barrel break-open single-shot makes for a handy package perfect for thick woods hunting. Issued with a dandy peep sight and fiber optic front sight, the T/C Encore is fast pointing and accurate.

My favorite load consisted of a powder-coated, gas-checked cast bullet dropped from a Lee 2 cavity mold. Loaded over 37 grains of Hodgdon H110, velocity was around 1,700 FPS. The 5-shot groups at 50 yards with the factory peeps were around 1″.

‘Holesome’ And Handy

I enjoy shooting and hunting with this “Holesome” bunch of carbines. It’s fun shooting and I like not needing a spotting scope to see where your bullet impacts. There’s also a feeling of satisfaction shooting bullets you’ve cast, powder-coated and loaded yourself.

Your chest will swell and you’ll have to knock the smug look off your face with a grinder after shooting your own big-bore carbines with ammunition of your own making.

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