Marlin’s Triple-Four

A Story of Lead, Love and Lever Guns
; .

The last two Marlin levers Tank bought after he was seduced by their impeccable
factory wood. The Model 444 “Outfitter” (top) pairs with a standard Model 444 (bottom).

The lure of the lever gun is a contagious one. Once bitten, the symptoms rapidly progress. Cures include names like Marlin, Winchester, or Rossi. Today’s anecdotal remedy focuses on the most accurate lever gun, caliber-wise, I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting. There are a few tricks to getting them to shoot to their potential, but I’m happy to share them with you.


Here’s Tank’s simple “fixins” for an accurate .444 Marlin handload.


Marlin brought out their Model 444 in 1964 in hopes of capturing riflemen’s enthusiasm with a powerful lever gun in the new .444 Marlin cartridge. In a partnership move, Remington Arms and Marlin joined forces, designing the new cartridge. Designed to fill the gap the .45-70 left in newer rifles, the .444 Marlin is basically a lengthened .44 Magnum, with bullet diameter being the same.

The .444 Marlin is nearly identical to the .405 Winchester ballistically, but the Marlin model 444 is slimmer and lighter, compared to the bulkier and heavier Winchester model 1895.


A Near-Fatal Case

During the early ’90s, I contracted a severe case of Marlinitis. According to the proprietor of my local gun shop, it was one of the worst cases he’d ever seen. Fortunately, he kept a steady flow of new and used Marlins trickling into his shop. The staff started stashing every Marlin entering the shop for me, my case was so severe.

Seems the more Marlins I bought, the better the shop owner and I both felt, compassionate guy he is. The guns perking me up the most were pre-safety Marlins. Configuration or caliber didn’t matter at first. After developing a resistance to 336s in .30-30 and .35 Remington, I went for the heavier stuff. I can’t remember the order, but I know there were .356 and .375 Winchesters, along with 1895s in .45-70 and the .444 Marlin mixed in.

The LEE APP press is a fast, easy, fun way of sizing and crimping gas checks
onto your cast slugs. Remember, 0.432" is the way to go for top accuracy.

A Shooter For Sure

When you have the fever, order or semblance doesn’t matter. I remember the Triple-Four being the last of my quests, but boy, what a doozy it is for power and accuracy. Marlin model 444s are innately accurate and not just mine. Every recovering Marlin addict I’ve talked with agrees, .444 Marlins are the most accurate lever guns they ever shot! Many shoot as well as their bolt-action brethren! I know mine do.



Around 2000-2001, Marlin did a dastardly deed. They started putting out lever guns in the most gorgeous wood you ever saw from a factory rifle. I guess Marlin was sitting on this figured walnut and decided to finally use it. I know it snagged the likes of me and several others! In a year’s time, two more .444s joined the family — an Outfitter Carbine (444P) and another Model 444. They are the two pictured here. Can you blame me for my weakness?

Tank’s favorite molds for the .444 Marlin — LBT 330-grain LFNDCGC at left
and MP Molds 300-grain HP on right. Both molds work wonderfully in .44 Mag too!

The Load

Triple-fours aren’t finicky so I never really did much load development. All my .444s like the following, with all shooting it very well. I never deviate from it because I never saw the need. Sure, I shoot different cast bullets, anything from 300 to 330 grains but I always use H335 as my propellant and I always size my cast bullets 0.432″ for utmost accuracy. I always use a LEE Factory Crimp — I think it makes a difference.

When using Remington brass, I use 56 grains of H335. For Starline brass, which they started making a few years ago, I use 55 grains of H335, due to the brass being thicker.

Velocity runs around 2,150 FPS, depending on barrel length and has all the smackdown power you need for anything in the U.S. Large Standard Rifle primers are used, usually Winchester. My two favorite molds are an LBT 330-grain LFNGC (long flat-nose gas check) design and an MP Molds 300-grain HP GC (hollow point gas check) design.

The LBT solid is great when deep penetration is needed, while the HP GC from MP Molds is great for soft-skinned game like whitetail, or mule deer. I’ve used both on whitetail, and deer don’t travel far after being struck with either one.


The Last Word

While I’d never wish an illness on anyone but if you are going to get a virus, let’s hope its Marlinitis, or Lever Gun Madness, or something along those lines. While the symptoms can last a lifetime, it’s a great road to travel and a fulfilling one at that.

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