.44 Special loads - Shooting Sports Forum

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Old 06-19-2011, 07:16   #1
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.44 Special loads

So what is everyones favorite .44 Special loads? I currently load an Oregon Trail 240gr. SWC ahead of 12 grains of 2400 with CCI large pistol primers in Winchester brass. Can't tell you the velocity as I don't have a chronograph yet. This makes for a accurate and controlable load out of my 5 1/2" Colt SAA. When I do my part I can put 5 shots into a 2" group at 30' one handed with the old Colt's fixed sights.
What are your pet loads and what do you shoot them out of?
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Old 06-19-2011, 11:26   #2
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Hi larryp;

Good thread! Glad you started it and hope it receives some interest. Now you're talking about a really outstanding handgun cartridge. Despite the advent of the .44 Magnum, the .44 Special is uniquely useful among revolver cartridges. It is one of my very favorite handgun cartridges.

The .44 Special has always come in some nicely configured handguns. That Colt Single Action Army just has to be one of the very best ways to do .44 Special in single action revolvers. I've never personally been much of a fan of Ruger products but I'd make an exception for that keen looking .44 Special Sheriff's Vaquero they introduced a while back. It's look, along with the barrel length configuration makes it quite appealing. Cimarron Arms has some good lookin' and fine handling revolvers in .44 Special including a replica of the 1872 open-top that would be fun to own.

I love old guns and any Smith & Wesson N-Frame .44 Special is appealing to me. I like the look and balance of the tapered barrels typically found on their classic revolvers from bygone times and a .44 Special Triple Lock is one of my "grail guns." The run of Smith & Wesson Model 24-3s that was produced in the early 1980s are great as are the later stainless steel Model 624s.

I love the gargantuan Colt New Service and .44 Special was one of the factory chamberings for that very fine revolver. I'd sure take one if I "snuck up" on it for the right price.

That lightweight Smith & Wesson Model 296 looked like such a nice way to do a real .44 Special self-defense revolver. I got to play with another fellow's Model 296 a year or so ago and it was great. It's a shame the Model 296 was discontinued.

The Charter Arms Bulldog looks like another good idea for a practical .44 Special revolver concealed carry piece. I never had a really good opinion about Charter Arms until I first tried one of the .44 Special Bulldogs some years ago. This one was the stainless steel version and was surprisingly nice with a crisp, positive action and good practical accuracy. Since that time my brother-in-law has acquired two of the regular blued steel models. They were used and I don't know when they were made but both shoot just fine and seem to be reliable so far. I don't think I'd want to stoke the Charter Arms Bulldog up with any .44 Special handloads cranked up to "Elmer Keith" levels but there's some good factory loads out there (the Federal 200 grain lead SWC-hollow point comes to mind) and any good handloader could do a great job making equivalent moderate yet capable .44 Special ammunition.

My own .44 Special revolver is a 5-inch Smith & Wesson Model of 1926, otherwise known as the 3rd model in collectors' reference books. A factory letter shows it was shipped to Wolf & Klar in Fort Worth, Texas in March of 1932. Here's a not-so-great photo of it (bottom revolver) taken some years ago along with a long-barreled Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum. Sort of a grandfather/grandson posing of revolvers.

Over the years I've played with it by handloading all sorts of both jacketed and cast lead bullets in it up to and including the famous old Keith load using 2400 and a 245-250 grain cast lead semi-wadcutter bullet. That load will rattle the fillings in one's teeth but might have some application if he wanted to use the .44 Special for deer hunting.

My favorite handload for use with this revolver uses a 245 grain lead semi-wadcutter over 7.5 grains of Unique. This load is very accurate in this particular revolver and shoots to its sights' point of aim. Muzzle velocity is 817 fps and muzzle energy calculates to 362 ft./lbs.

For comparison purposes, the Winchester 246 grain lead round nose factory load clocks all of 681 fps from this revolver. A bit of a plodder, the load is very accurate though. A really great factory load that this revolver likes is the Federal 200 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point. It gives a muzzle velocity of 851 fps and yields good accuracy. It is easily controllable as well.

Yep, the .44 Special is one classy and elegant way to do handgun shooting of all kinds.
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Old 06-22-2011, 17:46   #3
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I use lyman's 429421 ahead of about 5.5 of 231 in a 6in. Ruger Blackhawk at about 750fps. It is a nice load in that gun. The bullets are cast out of wheel weights.
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Old 06-24-2011, 14:58   #4
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I will add he Taurus 441 in 44 special to the list of guns, dont care if you dont like taurus but it does shoot good.
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Old 07-04-2011, 18:34   #5
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The Charter Bulldog is a nice carry piece. I don't like the loads too heavy or they whack a little on the hard side. Mine's from the mid 1970's and it's been a good gun. I understand there were problems with later production units and after changing hands in the company over the years.

Using .44 Spl's in a .44 Mag rifle, Smith 629 or Vaquero is a pleasant experience even with heavy loads. I generally use 240 LSWC's with 6 gr of Unique in all of the above. That makes for a decent load that can be comfortable even in the Bulldog. If a need arises for serious power in a handgun I would go with the magnums anyhow. That way I don't wear out the cases on the specials.
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Old 07-17-2011, 18:49   #6
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Hmm, .44 Special loads.

I'm afraid that I'm old fashioned and keep to the old loads.

7.0gr Unique, 250gr K-LSWC, Large pistol primer.

5.0 Bullseye, 246gr LRN, Large pistol primer.
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:27   #7
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Thumbs up .44 Special Loads

I just purchased my first .44 special, a Ruger Blackhawk flat top with 4 5/8 barrel. It is now my favorite gun. Favorite load was suggested by Brian Pearce in the Handloader magazine issue #260 (June 2009).

A 240 grain Lead Semi-Wadcutter over 8 grains of Power Pistol and a CCI primer. Very accurate and averages 987 fps out of my gun, (temperature 90). It also has a standard deviation of 6 with a 6 shot group. This is about the max load I would want to shoot at the range for an extended session.

There are more powerful loads, which I shoot occasionally, but they are too much for extended shooting sessions. The above load should do about anything needing done with a handgun.

Any lover of the .44 special should have both the Handloader issue #260 mentioned above and Handloader issue #236 (August 2005). This issue also has an article by Brian Pearce on the .44 Special, with loads at various pressure levels.

Gotta love the .44 Special!
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Old 11-17-2011, 08:57   #8
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I have a Dan Wesson 44mag that I like very well I have 4-6-8 in barrel that I can change to what Leigh I want at that time. I use the 44sp in it most of the time It is a good deer gun with the 8in on it.I use the 240 SWC that I make out of wheel weights. When target shooting I use 180 gr. Love that 44 round I have 5 SW in the 44M and one 44 SP they are in the wood box that they came in.Traded the D W for a S&W 44

Last edited by AABEAR; 09-12-2012 at 13:58.
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:27   #9
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Originally Posted by whtsmoke View Post
I will add he Taurus 441 in 44 special to the list of guns, dont care if you dont like taurus but it does shoot good.
i too have a taurus. mine is the 431 special. i bought it years ago it hasa 4 inch tube and i love this revolver.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:08   #10
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44 Spl

I cc a Rossi 5 shot 3 inch barrel in 44 Special. I own 14 handguns and this is the most accurate of the group. This Rossi is a very well built handgun. I like 240gr. XTPs in front of Hodgens Universal. I've read several times that the .44 Spl is considered the most accurate of handgun / loads.
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Old 07-18-2012, 07:56   #11
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Originally Posted by Rifleman55 View Post
I use lyman's 429421 ahead of about 5.5 of 231 in a 6in. Ruger Blackhawk at about 750fps. It is a nice load in that gun. The bullets are cast out of wheel weights.
Thank you...I will try that, since 231 is one of only 2 powders I own at this point.
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Old 07-19-2012, 12:02   #12
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I used to load a 200 grain full wad cutter over a charge of Unique for a very accurate load that would print cloverleafs at 25 yards out of a 6" 629 and a 5" Redhawk.
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Old 09-12-2012, 14:00   #13
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My favorite loads out of a .44 Lipsey Special tend to be either 240gr or 250gr LSWC pushed by 7.5gr of Unique. Pretty good field load for bumming around the woods.
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