History of .44-40 Winchester Ammunition
Shooters know the .44-40 Winchester by a few different names. Originally released by Winchester, it was called the .44 Winchester Center Fire (WCF), or .44 Winchester for short. Some called it the .44 Largo. Winchester introduced the cartridge in 1873 with their new lever action rifle, the Model 1873. This new rifle and cartridge swaggered boldly into the shooting community, being carried to the peak of gun culture in the late 1800's by Colt's introduction of their Frontier Six-Shooter. This revolver was based on the immensely popular Single Action Army and was chambered in the .44-40 Winchester. The travelers and adventurers moving West during that time were able to carry ammunition of only one type for both their rifles and handguns. This simplified the logistics of supplying for their firearms, a feature valuable enough both then and now, that Winchester has chambered their Model 1873 rifle in .357 Magnum.
Union Metallic Cartridge started producing the .44 WCF cartridge, but when they released it, it was with the designation .44-40. This new name followed the convention of listing first the caliber of the bullet - .44, and listing second the powder charge - 40 grains. The result was ".44-40." UMC refused to include Winchester's name in their product descriptions, but Winchester refused to accept another company's name for a cartridge that they had developed. The .44-40 descriptor eventually became better known and more used, so Winchester compromised. They now refer to the cartridge as the .44-40 Winchester.
The .44-40 Winchester performs respectably by today's standards for pistols as a LRN bullet weighing 200 grains has a muzzle energy of 688 foot pounds, and a muzzle velocity of 1,245 feet per second. Many deer and game of a similar sized have been taken by this cartridge in the last 140 plus years, and there's no reason to think that will change anytime soon. Generally speaking, however, the .44-40 cartridge sees most action today in the hands of a cowboy action shooter. The .44-40 has recently surged again in popularity as a loading made specifically for cowboy action shooting with the heavy 225 grain LFN bullet easily makes the minimum power factor.
The .44-40 Winchester, whether used to recreate the times of the Old West, or bring home a deer with a short range shot, the cartridge is still serving its shooters well.