Here's an article I'm sure you'll find interesting.
Levergun loads: the .444 Marlin
Guns Magazine, June, 2004 by John Taffin
As I picked up the telephone my, "Hello" was greeted by, "How in the world did you do that?" and I immediately knew who it was. Several weeks earlier my Texas gunsmith, friend and fellow Shootist Bob Baer and I were discussing the relative merits of Marlin leverguns. Bob specializes in custom versions of both Ruger single actions and Marlin leverguns with some of the slickest examples anyone is ever likely to encounter.
As with so many other shooters, Baer repeated the same old refrain, namely, "Marlin Micro-Groove barrels will not shoot cast bullets well." At the time I said nothing, simply waiting for the opportunity to shoot a target with one of my cast bullets loads and send it down to Texas. A week had passed since that target was sent and I had been expecting his call at any time.
The problem with the Marlin Model 444 and all other Marlin Micro-Groove leverguns, and particularly the .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum, is not that they will not shoot cast bullets but rather they will not shoot all cast bullet loads.
Three things are usually necessary to make these barrels shoot, really shoot, with cast bullets. From my experience I have found cast bullets will shoot if the bearing surface on the bullet is of the right size, if the bullet is a gas check design, and if the muzzle velocity is in the right range. A 300-grain gas check bullet at 2,000 fps made the one-hole, three-shot group on the target I sent to Baer.
It was not long after sending this target to Bob Baer that he, Brian Pearce and myself met with executives of Marlin at the SHOT Show. We talked for an hour with the three of us sharing what direction we thought Marlin should go. Some of things we mentioned were octagonal barrels; short, easy handling carbines; Ballard, of cut rifle barrels; and a return to some of the older calibers such as the .38-55.
I will certainly not say what we see coming out of Marlin today is a direct result of that meeting, but obviously they did listen to us as since that time we have seen shorter barreled versions such as the .45-70 Guide Gun, the .444 Marlin Outfitter, and the .44 Magnum Prospector, as well as octagonal barrels and the return of the .38-55. And most importantly, Marlin barrels are no longer Micro-Groove rifled but rather are cut-rifled. This means they will handle cast bullet loads as well as jacketed bulleted rounds.
Neither Fish Nor Fowl
The .444 Marlin cartridge and companion levergun go back to 1965. Marlin had not offered a levergun chambered in a true big-bore rifle cartridge since the .45-70 had been dropped in 1917. Marlin and Remington had the chance to offer a perfect levergun/big bore cartridge combination, however the only thing that was perfect was the extent of the imperfection in both rifle and ammunition.
It is obvious the powers to be at Marlin visualized the Model 444 as a long-range rifle instead of a woods rifle. The barrel length was overly long at 24"; it was too heavy with a weight of 7 1/2 pounds; and the stock, consisting of a semi-beavertail forend and Monte Carlo cheek piece on the butt stock, was far from what one would expect on an easy handling lever action rifle.
Too Light Bullets
The rifle itself was not the only problem. Apparently the .444 cartridge was looked upon as sort of a ".220 Swift-ization" of the .44 Magnum by using the same 240-grain jacketed bullet of the .44 Magnum but driven at much higher speeds. In addition to this, the 336 action is too short to use the .444 cartridge with bullets seated out to any length. The one bright spot was the fact Remington also offered the .444 Marlin loaded with a 265-grain JSP bullet. However this should have been the lightest bullet offered, not the heaviest.
Several of these problems have since been addressed. The Monte Carlo cheek piece was dropped and the barrel was cut back to 22 inches in 1971, and finally in 1999, a much easier handling 18 1/2" Outfitter Model 444 was offered. Most of us could do without the ported barrel and the lack of a full magazine tube on the Outfitter, however it is a much easier handling brush gun than the original.
About Brush Guns
I have used the term "'brush gun" and we might as well nail down that terminology right here and now. From the Taffin Unabridged Dictionary of Sixguns and Leverguns we have the following definition: "Brush Gun: (brush-gun) n., a large caliber rifle, usually of the lever activating type, with a short barrel. Used primarily for easy carrying in brushy country of wooded areas."
In spite of this easy to understand definition, we still encounter some (including certain writers), who believe a brush gun is for shooting through brush. There is no way any hand held firearm can be made powerful enough to perform the feat of shooting through brush or twigs or saplings and guarantee the bullet won't be deflected on the way to its target.
Brush guns are simply compact, easy to carry, fast into action carbines. They are most often found fitted with either the standard factory iron sights or a receiver sight mated up with a bead front sight. A relatively recent innovation that works very well with brush guns is the ghost ring style rear sight. If scoped, brush guns will usually carry a small scope of low power or a red dot scope, neither of which will distract drastically from their fast handling characteristics.