In search of a hotter 44spl carry loading.

In search of a hotter 44spl carry loading.

This is a discussion on In search of a hotter 44spl carry loading. within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; A major disappointment today from my prized big bad carry loading for my 44 snubbie. It would appear as though the 200grain speer gold dot ...

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Thread: In search of a hotter 44spl carry loading.

  1. #1
    Member Array R.W.Dale's Avatar
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    In search of a hotter 44spl carry loading.

    A major disappointment today from my prized big bad carry loading for my 44 snubbie. It would appear as though the 200grain speer gold dot load suffers from "low T"

    From a 2" Taurus titanium five shots averaged a massively underwhelming 687 fps :what: which calculates out to a mere 200 ft lbs.

    There's no way the gold dots would even attempt to expand at these velocities, and not all of this problem can be blamed on a short bbl. Cases ejected covered in soot an obvious underpressure sign. Even my 200 cast TRAIL BOSS practice load had more spunk averaging 700 fps.

    So here I am looking for a sufficiently powerful carry loading before I resort to handloads possibly with full wadcutters. What other good SD loads are there to look into that have VERIFICATION of the velocities achieved ?

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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Superhouse 15's Avatar
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    I don't know about verification, but there are premium loads available from Cor Bon (including the expensive DPX), Buffalo Bore, and Hornady (a new loading with the interesting FTX) that promise more power. Cor Bon and BB are well known for having a reputation for powerful loadings for any given caliber. I'd start with those companies and see what they offer that you like.
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    Let's just get it over with - .44 Mag

    Ya' know somebody was gonna say it.

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    Not a clue here, just giving it a bump to see if bmcgilvray, gasmitty, or wmhawth will get a glimpse.
    ^^^Superhouse might be on to something with the Buffalo Bore.^^^Good luck.
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    DPX Ammo 44 Special 200 Grain Barnes XPB Hollow Point Lead-Free Box of 20

    C Dixon of Allen, OK
    5.00 stars
    Date Posted: 1/8/2008
    Wow these are hot loads! I shot them in my 7.5" barrel S&W pistol and they were flying at 1200FPS through the Chrony! I knew they would gain a little speed with the longer barrel but 250FPS more is a lot more than the factory listed 950FPS from a 4" barrel. Recoil and noise is a little sharper than my normal 44sp loads but still no where near the full power 44mag loads. Accuracy seemed very good I have not shot any game yet with the DPX but plan to soon.
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    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    I use the 180 gr. Hornady XTP/HP Custom load in my 2.5" S&W and they are accurate and seem fairly stiff. Hornady claims 1,000 fps. and I believe it's from a 3" barrel. I have also used the WW 200 gr. Silvertip rated at 900 fps.
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    VIP Member Array Superhouse 15's Avatar
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    The only problem is those DPXs are big $$$$$$$. I have an old Charter Bulldog and it is picky with what it shoots. I tried the older Gold Dots in them and it looked like a shotgun pattern. It only shot Federal LSWCHP, Silvertip, Mag Safe, amd Glaser well. I have considered upgrading the ammo supply for it (I honestly hardly shoot it with anything but cowboy LFP anyway) and I imagine I will try the Hornady. As a newer load I believe they will get it right due to learning from the mistakes of the past FTX loads, and I don't want the old gun to break shooting "near-magnum" stuff. If I owned a newer .44spl or wanted something to shoot in my .44mag I would try the Cor Bon JHP or the Buffalo Bore wadcuter first.
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    The issue you have is the snubbie. A 44 special is not made for the same pressure as a magnum: so you either need an upgrade or reload using data to maximize your gun------without over loading it.

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    Member Array R.W.Dale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swmft View Post
    The issue you have is the snubbie. A 44 special is not made for the same pressure as a magnum: so you either need an upgrade or reload using data to maximize your gun------without over loading it.
    Not all of the problem is the snubby. A CASS cat sneeze trail boss load for cowboy action straight out of hodgdon's data has more spunk than this factory "defense load". A load that at 5.8g is still half a grain below Max.

    Honestly I'd be not be surprised if this load failed hit its advertised 875 fps in a 7.5" blackhawk. 44spl or not factory ammunition loaded anywhere near the saami rating should seal the cases against the chamber walls and not allow nickled brass to come out sooty and black.

    It may be time to call BB or break out the Elmer Keith loads

    posted via tapatalk using android.

  10. #10
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    Love the .44 Special cartridge! Part of the .44 Special goodness is it's accuracy in good revolvers along with the fact that it is a genuine big bore/heavy bullet "thumper" that doesn't tear one's hand off at the wrist. It's easy to round up a whole stable of fine .44 Special handloads from mild to wild that lend great flexibility to the revolver shooter. It ought to be much more popular!

    The trouble with some .44 Special revolver currently produced is that they are promoted for the concealed carry market and thus are pretty light in weight, especially the 5-shot models. Frankly, they are also lightly built and fairly flimsy in my opinion. This is a bit limiting for the handloader who desires more performance from the .44 Special. My brother-in-law has a couple of blued Charter Arms .44 Bull Dogs, from different incarnations of that company, that I've shot on several occasions and I have also fired a stainless steel version owned by another shooting acquaintance. One of my B-I-L's revolvers has a habit of allowing it's barrel shroud (yes the barrel proper is housed inside an external shroud) to slip forward under recoil. This annoyance occurs no matter what sort of .44 Special load is fired. He may have fixed this issue by actually just super-gluing the shroud in place. Neither gun is suitable for really heavy loadings anyway as the cylinder wall thickness around the chambers is mighty thin. Recoil, even when using my favorite target/plinking .44 Special handload, is heavier than standard factory loads. The lock-up on these revolvers seems acceptable if a bit rickety. The action feel of all the Charter Arms .44 Bull Dog revolvers I've fired seems crisp and smooth. I was impressed with this aspect of the Bull Dog revolvers. I'd be ok with owning and using a Charter Arms Bull Dog .44 Special with factory equivalent loads, considering such a combination to be a really effective choice, even if high-performance loads can't be used.

    For greatest flexibility in use, the .44 Special is best housed in an N-Frame Smith & Wesson revolver of traditional design, Colt Single Action Army, or Colt New Service. The problem we have these days is that all of these are more difficult to come by and spendy when found, being discontinued, or in the case of the Colt Single Action Army just plain expensive.

    The Smith & Wesson Model 24 .44 Special is still listed in their catalog and those Thunder Ranch .44 Special models are still available reasonably on the used market. The 1983 run of Model 24s, found in 3, 4, and 6 1/2-inch lengths are sometimes seen on internet auctions or at gun shows and, with some dickering, could be bought right. Any Smith & Wesson .44 Special that predates the 1966 discontinuance of the cartridge from their line-up is expensive now days. The Colt New Service was discontinued when World War II focused Colt's attention on producing solely for Government contracts. A .44 Special chambered New Service is an oddity anyway as Colt didn't much care for chambering for the competitor's round, the .45 Colt chambering being much more predominant. New Service .44 Specials in almost any condition will set a fellow back for more large green than the purchase of a new Colt Single Action Army, which is currently available in .44 Special.

    At the suggestion of a good friend who pointed out that I'd likely lose the .44 Special to the police evidence locker in the event an in-home self-defense shooting occurred, I retired my Smith & Wesson Model of 1926 (also known as the Third Model by collectors) .44 Special from bedside home defense duty. Before that it was kept loaded with a handload using a charge of Unique under a 245-250 grain lead semi-wadcutter that yields 921 fps and 470 ft./lbs of energy. It just occurred to me that it will be 80 years old next month, being shipped from Smith & Wesson in March of 1932.

    Another really great load that would be suitable for those who can't, or won't use handloads for self-defense purposes is the Federal 200 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point loading. They quote a muzzle velocity of 870 fps with 336 ft./lbs. of muzzle energy and are suitable to be fired in any .44 Special revolver. In actual chronograph tests, using my 5-inch Smith & Wesson .44 Special, the load produced 851 fps with 321 ft./lbs. of energy. This load swats small game with great authority. Whether or not the hollow point is opening up I can't say but the bullet weighs 200 grains and has pleasingly large diameter so what more can be said. Recoil in the big 5-inch N-Frame S&W is mild. From a Charter Arms Bull Dog or Smith & Wesson Model 296 it's still easily manageable and I've shot it in both revolvers. It really is a great load and I keep some on hand at all times even though I handload for the .44 Special.
    Link to Federal .44 Special factory load:Federal Premium - Handgun Details

    For the handloader with a lightweight .44 Special revolver, 7.0 grains of Unique under a 245-250 grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet provides 790 fps with 340 ft./lbs of energy. That's about the heaviest load using Unique that should be fired in such revolvers. I've used Unique in heavier charge weights but would only shoot them in heavier built .44 Special revolvers. Truth be told, anything fairly struck with this handload could be said to be having a bad day. It equals .45 ACP performance with a slightly heavier bullet that has sharp shoulders for coring holes. It offers great penetration as well.

    Judicious handloading can turn a .44 Special into a powerhouse that would be respectable in any circles. I've carefully worked up to Elmer Keith's famous load using 2400 powder and 250 grain lead semi-wadcutter bullets. It was a bit slower out of my revolver than the 1200 fps + claims that are made for it, actually doing 1152 fps and generating 737 ft./lbs of energy. When shot using the original equipment small stock panels and tapered barrel of the pre-war 5-inch Smith & Wesson revolver it was fairly frisky, being much the same as firing a full-bore .41 Magnum. Yeah, if I needed to use that .44 Special on boar hogs or as a bear stopper this load would be just the ticket. It would undoubtedly be effective on our Texas whitetail deer as well. After testing the load as a stunt I don't expect to assemble any more.

    H110, IMR 4227, and Unique can also be used to create some really nice heavy loads that would be a mite less stressful than the old Elmer Keith Load. The 180 grain .429 bullet such as Sierra supplies can be used to give velocities equal to anything the .357 Magnum can do with a bullet that heavy. They shoot a little low for my tastes from my fixed sight revolver.

    Link to article discussing taking the .44 Special up to "Elmer Keith" levels.
    44 Special Heavy Loads

    Here's a link to Buffalo Bore's .44 Special ammunition products. Unfortunately each style of ammunition they offer carries a proviso about use in the Charter Arms .44 Special revolvers, advising not to use it.
    Heavy 44 Special Pistol & Handgun Ammunition
    I would be very leery of using them in a Taurus Titanium revolver as well. My B-I-L got a 5-shot Taurus Model 431 .44 Special built with the stainless steel frame. It was troublesome with internal parts that weren't properly heat treated. I've had opportunity to examine and shoot it and I think it'd come unhinged in short order if used with heavy .44 Special loads. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be interesting in carrying a Smith & Wesson L-Frame .44 Special stoked with really heavy loads. The Smith & Wesson Models 296, 396, and 696 were all built as 5-shot L-frame guns. The 296 has the titanium cylinder, the 396 was the Night Guard with aluminum frame, and the 696 has a stainless steel frame. I think Smith & Wesson dropped all L-Frame .44 Special models from their line-up. Seems the .44 Special L-Frame was known for cracking forcing cones, supposedly having forcing cones that were paper thin. These L-Frame Smith & Wesson .44s have a cult following so are expensive but they really aren't for souped-up loadings either. It's sort of a case of giving the customers what they want but is a stretch of prudence to cram cartridges as large in diameter as the .44 Special into revolvers not having the reserve of strength to provide long-term satisfaction in using them.

    Over the years I've shot several boxes of the old traditional 246 grain round nose lead factory load. It is very mild, exiting the muzzle of my revolver at 681 fps with 253 ft./lbs. of energy. This was the Winchester rendition of that loading. For close range defense though, one would still be better served with such a plodder than he would with a number of other popular cartridges considered ok for self-defense use. The round nose lead bullet kills small game and varmints great.

    I need to make a new photo of the Smith & Wesson Model of 1926, shown here (top) on a visit with a friend's Smith & Wesson New Century Hand Ejector .44 Special (bottom). Otherwise known as the famous "Triple Lock," this unique variation which was manufactured for only a few years from 1908 to 1915 and represents the apex in the development of all Smith & Wesson swing-out cylinder models ever created in my opinion. The third locking point was said to be very labor intensive to manufacture and fit. The craftsmanship that went into any pre-war Colt or Smith & Wesson guns is astounding, even on worn examples. The Triple Lock shown was manufactured around 1909 if I recall correctly.



    For those interested, here is the special third locking point, unique to the Triple Lock revolver.



    The Model of 1926 or Third Model reintroduced the ejector rod shroud but is without the third lock. The 2nd Model remained in regular production and the Third Model, introduced in 1926, was available as special order simultaneously. Both were temporarily discontinued when Smith & Wesson participated in the War effort after 1940.


    For an example of the appearance of the Second Model this Model of 1917 .45 ACP will serve. The Second Model began replacing the Triple Lock in 1915, though a few Triple Locks were sent out of the factory as late as 1918. This one, manufactured to Second Model specifications, was made in early 1918. Notice the deletion of the ejector rod shroud and of course the third locking point. All three variations were built on the N-frame design which is still manufactured today.


    Most probably don't much care about such dusty old gun lore but it can be fascinating to trace the development of gun designs.
    Last edited by bmcgilvray; February 27th, 2012 at 09:20 PM. Reason: Adjust computer glitch on a photo
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    I'm actually eying Buffalo bores 200 g anti personnel wadcutter loads.

    A bullet shape that will do the job without relying on expansion from a low velocity cartridge that's loaded to a nice controllable not quite thermonuclear pressure

    http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php...t_detail&p=282

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    KoB
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    I debated this same ammo question for my CA .44 spl: either use the Corbon DPX, Speer 200gr, Critical Defense, or Buffalo Bore Anti-personel and went with the BB anti-personnel wadcutter. Went to the range and shot all four types of ammo in my .44spl and realized that I liked the feel of the BB wadcutter over all the rest.

    I keep the BB wadcutters loaded and the DPX as a reload!

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    bmcgilvray is spot on. That the following load from his post is what I have used in my Bulldog for over thirty years.
    For the handloader with a lightweight .44 Special revolver, 7.0 grains of Unique under a 245-250 grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet provides 790 fps with 340 ft./lbs of energy. That's about the heaviest load using Unique that should be fired in such revolvers
    I have a question. Why beat yourself and your handgun up with hot loads this caliber was never intended to shoot? Why the need for speed and expansion? The load bmcgilvray supplied has plenty of penetration. It's already as large as a fully expanded .357 while retaining twice the weight of the expanded .357.

    I might be a bit prejudiced as I have had a long love affair with the old large caliber slow moving pumkin rollers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by R.W.Dale View Post
    I'm actually eying Buffalo bores 200 g anti personnel wadcutter loads.

    A bullet shape that will do the job without relying on expansion from a low velocity cartridge that's loaded to a nice controllable not quite thermonuclear pressure
    That would be my choice for sure.

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