Marlin Firearms and Remington Arms joined forces in 1964 to develop a cartridge that filled the gap created by the lack of lever action rifles chambered in .45-70 - the result was the .444 Marlin. Marlin chambered the new cartridge in their acclaimed Model 336 lever action rifle. To develop the cartridge, the designers from Marlin and Remington started with a .44 Magnum case and lengthened it by nearly an inch and capped it with a jacketed soft point bullet weighing 240 grains. The bullet actually has a diameter of 0.429 inches, the same as a .44 Magnum bullet. Similarities to the .44 Magnum end there, as the performance of the .444 Marlin is on another level entirely.
The .444 Marlin is currently sold with bullets weighing between 240 grains and 300 grains. The design of these bullets are soft points, flat noses or hollow points. Muzzle velocities range between 2,000 and 2,350 foot pounds, making the .444 Marlin a cartridge more than adequate to harvest most game in all of North America. Hornady recently released some .444 Marlin ammo in their new LEVERevolution line. Hornady reports a muzzle velocity more than 1,650 feet per second, and energy levels at 200 yards of more than 1,600 foot pounds. This cartridge has excellent reach and power for most hunters seeking all game but the most dangerous.
Cowboy action shooting has recently grown in popularity, and along with it, a demand for rifles chambered in .45-70. Several manufacturers have responded to the increased demand and are now making lever action rifles in .45-70. As a result, the sales of .444 Marlin rifles dropped sharply. Demand has fallen off for the .444, yet hunters still respect the cartridge for being a heavy, hard hitting bullet that works great for hunting in dense brush, and making longer shots across a clearing in the woods.