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44-77 and the Buffalo Runners
02-12-2020, 08:43 AM
Post: #1
44-77 and the Buffalo Runners
Guys,
I have been doing a lot of reading recently about the Buffalo runners, and like many am interested in a "period correct" rifle. I have read a lot of posts suggesting that the 44-77 was one of the most popular. But in my reading of Mr. Gilbert's "Getting a Stand", I see on page 81 where they quote Sharps sales records. If I understand it correctly, they are saying that the 44-77 was one of the most popular only in 1870-1871. From 1872-1877 they quote that the 44-90-450 and the 50-90-473 were the most sold. Then if you read further along on page 145, they are listing the biggest kills by caliber. The 50-90 and 40-90 clearly stand out. So I'm just wondering what i'm missing? From that limited data it would seem the bigger 44-90 was much more used than the 44-77? Educate me. Thanks
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02-12-2020, 10:47 AM
Post: #2
RE: 44-77 and the Buffalo Runners
I would guess that the 44-77’s were used all through the period and supplanted with the heavier cartridges as they became available. I Have always wondered about the supply chain need to get stuff out west back then, thinking that it would take weeks for stuff to be shipped and arrive at its destination.

The would be Buffalo hunter would likely have had to take the caliber available in order to get hunting and order his preferred rifle/caliber.

As the hunting pressure built the shots became longer and the extra power the bigger rounds provided was needed.
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02-12-2020, 12:01 PM
Post: #3
RE: 44-77 and the Buffalo Runners
Keep in mind that money was extremely tight at that time, so it's pretty likely that if someone entered the hide trade with a 44-77, he likely didn't buy another rifle during his time on the prairie.
When you look at Sharps sales records, over their course of years in business,they made 800 or less rifles in 50 caliber anything. That number doesn't include the reman of the percussion carbines retrofitted to cartridge guns. The 44-77 was by the end of Sharps the second most chambered rifle, only superseded by the 45-70, which likely the numbers of the 45 2.1 were bolstered by the amount of "military" rifles and carbines and "hunter" in both 74 and 78 models.
There are rifles chambered in most of the Sharps cartridges in various local museums that are are accredited to pioneers of the community who shot buffalo.
So what it boils down to is pick your rifle, pick your barrel contour, and most likely someone somewhere used it to shoot buffalo.
Wyatt Earp said he used a 12 ga. shotgun..

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02-12-2020, 12:56 PM
Post: #4
RE: 44-77 and the Buffalo Runners
Coolhand, you're overlooking the thousands of 50-70 Sharps, Rollers, and trapdoors used throughout.
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02-12-2020, 02:18 PM
Post: #5
RE: 44-77 and the Buffalo Runners
I think the flatter trajectory had something to do with it also.
I have only taken three Bisons. Two using the .44-77 and one with the .44-90 BN and all three I used the same bullet a 485 gr with the original profile and all three the shot hit very close at the blond spot behind the elbow with the same lung shots. You could probably cover all with your hand. The .44-77 did it's job but the .44-90 put him down with one shot very fast were he only staggered less than 100 yards. The .44-77 took 2 and 3 for the last one with one behind the ear.
think the added velocity of the 90 might have a bearing on it but I can't say for sure.

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02-12-2020, 02:28 PM
Post: #6
RE: 44-77 and the Buffalo Runners
This was the last one. You can see three holes about two hands to high for a heart shot. [Image: 30157851006_09748fad0f_k.jpg]
IMG_2498 by Kurt, on Flickr

The reason a dog has so many friends is because he wags his tail instead of his tongue.
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02-13-2020, 01:04 AM (This post was last modified: 02-13-2020 01:06 AM by Fogman01.)
Post: #7
RE: 44-77 and the Buffalo Runners
If you go back through the Julia past auctions (it's now on the Murphy's auction page: https://www.morphyauctions.com/auctions/past-auctions/ )you will see some actual buffalo rifles that auctioned in the last ten years. I made a picture book by cutting and pasting the auction announcements so I could look at what they actually had in use then. Longer than a 30" barrel cost more money so a lot were 30" barrels. After Hartford, the Bridgeports only had a silver forearm tip if you requested it. So rifles sent West from Bridgeport probably did not have that. I saw both military stock and shotgun stock; most of the big calibers, but not 45-120 or 50-140. Early ones looked like Sharps; later ones were seriously plain jane. I ordered a Shiloh 30" bull barrel, shotgun butt, plain straight wood stock, no silver forearm tip, 50-90 and killed my second buffalo with it.
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02-13-2020, 10:55 AM
Post: #8
RE: 44-77 and the Buffalo Runners
Fogman,
I see your gun is 30" bull barrel. Is that the 14#, and if so do you think it is necessary? Would you have been fine with the regular heavy Oct.? I ordered mine with the hvy. Oct. because I haven't been able to find out if Shiloh will run any bull barrels this year. I will have the slower twist to shoot the 473-500 bullets for hunting.
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02-13-2020, 11:10 AM
Post: #9
RE: 44-77 and the Buffalo Runners
Kurt, thanks for the photo, man I'm thinking hard about taking my 44-77 to Africa this fall, tough Waterbuck, Warthog, Hartebeest, Zebra and Wildebeest will be part of the menu, I hope like hell my 475gr paper patch at 16 to 1 alloy with a 280 thou flat meplat wont leave me lacking, I have hit no animal with that bullet except a coyote pup.

I dang sure like 458 cal and 500+ grains and 50 cal/750 grains.
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