Starline Does It Again

Experts | Think Tank |


By Tank Hoover

Wow! I just gotta’ tell you about this! Starline is the designated hitter of the year as they step-up to bat again for us hungry handloaders who need brass in — thank goodness — the more obsolete calibers. Not to be outdone with the release of .357 Maxi brass, they are now making brass in the triple “4” — the .444 Marlin.

In 1964 Marlin and Remington introduced this great caliber in what else, the .444 Marlin. It’s a true big-bore caliber and packs a punch like the original “good medicine” of Teddy Roosevelt, the .405 Winchester, chambered in the Winchester 1895, but in a more economical package in both gun and ammo.

But Tank! This is American Handgunner! Why would we care about a levergun cartridge? Well dear friends, the Magnum Research long-cylindered revolver chambered in .444 Marlin, comes to mind. But, Thompson Center fans are rejoicing as well. The .444 Marlin is the parent case for such outstanding off-spring as the .309 and .375 JDJ cartridges, designed by J.D. Jones. Simply necking down the original brass through the sizing die will form these cases to proper dimensions. The rimmed cases are perfect for positive extraction for those having the confidence and coolness of hunting with a single-shot TC handgun. Can you say, “Mark Hampton” our own Handgun Hunting editor!

I’ll also let you in on a little secret. Our Publisher and Editor in Chief is a closet rifle loony. No, seriously! He’s been spotted incognito at local gun shows wearing one of John Barsness’s “Rifle Loony” hats and Ray-Ban Aviators perusing the rifle racks of vintage goodness. I know the Huntington Armory has a secret room where hoards of clandestine long guns are hidden, but shhhh on all that. He’s a lunatic for leverguns, too, especially accurate ones. So he, um … er … “allows” us to expand our coverage into the rifle arena at times.


Here are half of Tank’s Marlin .444’s and the TC contender in .375 JDJ.

Too Many To Count

I’m almost ashamed to admit how many .444 Marlin leverguns reside in my gunroom. Prone to clinging, they seem to follow me home, especially after picking one up and working that lever. I will tell you this, they all shoot itty-bitty big-bore groups. The .444 is just one of those cartridges which is a perfect balance of caliber, powder capacity and gun and it make them intrinsically accurate. Everyone I know who shoots them tells me the same story. All my guns will shoot three shots better than MOA, with my handloads at 100 yards. So sneaking in such a worthy shell-shucking shooter is okay every now and again. Honest!

My pet load of 56 grains of H335 stuffed under a LBT Long Flat-Nose Dual Crimp Gas Checked cast slug, or simply a LFN DC GC slug has taken a pile of deer for me. Once introduced to this particular 330 grain bullet going between 2,000-2,100 fps, Mr. Buck wasn’t in much of a mood to travel. It’s a bone-crushing meat-making marvel for sure!

I gotta admit, I have a scoped 14″ barreled TC contender chambered in the .375 JDJ, in honor of Larry Kelly, of Mag-Na-port fame, which was getting kinda dusty in my safe from lack of use. Like all of us, I had moved onto other interests in the handgunner world (sorry Larry) and with brass being pretty tough to come by, it simply sat there, neglected. A recent trip to Mag-Na-port revised my enthusiasm for the gun, caliber and Larry, as I saw picture after picture of him holding the same caliber gun with huge heads of monstrous game.

Some quick punching of the keys and my Starline brass was headed my way. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I heard this news. Ever the experimenter, I tried planting .44 Magnum brass in potting soil and feeding it with generous amounts of Miracle Grow to no avail in trying to harvest some .444 brass. Thank God for Starline Brass!


Here it is! Starline-marked .444 Marlin brass! Woo-Hoo!


Again, calipers in hand, the measuring began when the magic brown truck showed up with treats for the pooches (courtesy of their buddy, my regular route driver) and treats for old Tank in a box from Starline.

I have to tell ya, Starline brass is pretty darn consistent. Five cases were measured for OAL with calipers and had a variance of only +/- .001″ from the advertised 2.210″. Weight for the five was an average of 198.2 grains, with a high of 198.4 and a low of 198.0. I had some Remington brass on hand averaging three grains less than the Starline brass.


I’m feeling some much needed relief. I now have a reliable source to feed my .444 Marlins and .375 JDJ. In fact, I’m gonna load some up for the next deer season. It’s great to get together with some old friends on a hunt. It’s what makes the shooting sports go round. Thank you Starline for bailing out us big bore boys. We really appreciate it. Go getcha’ some!

For more info: www.americanhandgunner/index

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