I have a Marlin 1894 Cowboy in 45 Colt, and a iron framed Uberti Henry in 44-40. Both are accurate and pleasant to shoot, the Henry will easily cut playing cards edgewise offhand at 25 yards. I have in fact killed two crows at 200 yards with the Henry.
On the other hand, if I were to hunt deer and had to choose between the two rifles, I would take the Marlin in 45 colt. Loaded with a 250 grain Keith style bullet and 8.5 grains of Unique, it is a really reliable killer, and will shoot through and through the shoulders of a deer at 100 yards. The other side of the coin is that I once shot a coyote on the shoulder with the 44-40 Henry, and it didn't go all the way through. I just think the 45 Colt is a much more effective cartridge.
Your .44-40 didnt go all the way through a coyote? What kind of load do you use?
This month I shot two red deer hinds with my .44-40 at 75 yards with pure lead bullets over black powder, and didnt get either of the bullets back.
The first thing to solve with a .44-40 is the crimp, and that is best done with a Lee Factory crimp die.
One of the main issues I have had with reloading the .44-40 is regarding the crimp in a levergun. With smokeless loads I couldnt gaurantee that I could keep jacketed or lead bullets from telescoping int he magazine in a Rossi 92, and in a Winchester 73, the lead bullets will do it straight away, as the bullet sI use in that are pure lead soft.
I fixed that by loading bulk load of H4198, and I recommend this load to anyone having the same issues, as it is accruate in both my .44 WCF rifles too, and acheives an appropriate velocity (1350fps)while being safe in a '73 action also.
The other problem I had was bullet seating - for rifles with .429 - .430 size bores (most modern rifles) it is better to use the expander die from a .44 Magnum in order to seat bullets straight.
Also, the thin case mouths of the .44-40 brass can get work hardened and get small splits over time, from the expanding and the Lee factory crimp die. (and especially if your case mouths get dinted on ejection sometimes) Annealing them helps somewhat.
After solving these issues which are particular to the cartridge, loading it is straight forward as any other. Solving the problems was a labour of love really, but I find the .44-40 very rewarding expecially with black powder.
As for cleaning up black powder with a .44-40 - no residue at all in the action. None. Thats with both a '92 action and a '73.
I would like to have a .45 Colt levergun also. I would load it with heavy bullets and push them hard, and turn it into a short version of a .45-75.