Post By LouisianaMan
August 22nd, 2012 11:34 PM
Modern .44 Special Loads.
My Dad has carried a Charter Arms Bulldog .44 Special for about 15 years now.
His only other gun is a SBH .44 Magnum.
I've shot his gun more than a few times and liked it,
but have been wondering if there is anything better than a 240 Semi-Wadcutter, or a 210 gr. handloaded JHP
for that gun or other .44 Specials these days.
I've also shot Silvertips and the Federal Lead hollow-point loads as well.
Factory level Cowboy loads seemed pretty tame in all of my guns.
My two favorite bullet these days for 9mm, 38+P, 357 SIG and even .357 Magnum are the Gold Dots
and newer on the market, BARNES X bullet.
Both designs have been proven on the street and hunting fields- with the most data going to the Speer
The 200 grain SPEER Gold Dot in .44 Special just looks plain wicked.
Deep and wide cavern for the hollow-point and it's also a bonded bullet that holds onto the jacket for the most part
in testing that I've seen with the larger caliber Gold Dots, or bonded Defense JHPs, ect.
Same bullet- but different names.
Advertised velocity for the SPEER load is 875 fps, with energy at 340 ft/lbs
You can also buy the 200 gr. BLAZER Gold Dot load that's identical in both muzzle velocity and energy.
Know for high-performance ammo:
DOUBLE TAP, steps up to the plate with an advertised velocity of 980 fps for the applicable 2.5 inch barrel, but no energy figures,
however - it should be near the Speer specs.
You can see some other .44 Special loads as well.
240 gr. BBWC and 210 gr. Remington JHP that are both handl-loads with less power than the Speer or DT loads.
These run about 800-820 fps have always shot nicely through my various .44 Mags and a S&W Model 624 back when I lived in Idaho,
and had both a room and time to reload.
Not too shabby through the Bulldog as well.
In looking at the more expensive but more advanced (according to some people ) TAC-XP load.
It is both longer than the SPEER Gold Dots and the DT Bonded Defense load, but also slower for the 2.5 inch
barrel mark at 900 fps.
Solid copper/lead free technology with a ICBM missile profile- and a deeper cavity than the Gold Dots.
No need to be bonded...it has 100% expansion and also full weight retention in most media/testing.
You can see it alongside the Bonded Defense 200 grain load a very old SPEER Lawman lead round nose .38 Special
bullet from my Dad's old police K-38 stash of ammo.
We have came a long ways in the past 25 years of ammo evolution and some think the X bullet to be the
zenith in both defensive and hunting ammunition.
Yes, it is more expensive than a traditional JHP, but the cost is coming down a bit..especially for hand loaders.
There seems to be a number of people who shoot and carry it from Double Tap in .380/9mm, .40, .357 SIG, the 38+P/357M
and of course- .44 Special!
Others like it in Cor-Bon DPX or even from Wilson, and love the very adequate/tactical penetration and perfect expansion it provides.
I don't know of any Double Tap defensive shootings with the TAC-XP other than in hunting situations, but the DPX
has performed very well on the streets in actual shootings.
Some savvy cops and ccw holders use DPX or nothing else!
Well, whether you decide Speer or Double Tap GOLD DOTS, you will be getting powerful ammo for your .44 SPECIAL that you can
Proven Gold Dots bullets that have been dropping bad guys and game for decades!
Or you can choose the BARNES TAC-XP bullet that is gaining steam across the country each day.
Me, I like them both!
I'm hoping to get out and shoot this ammo through the Bulldog, but it might be a while with this heat wave here in Washington state.
For more information:
Thanks for viewing!
August 22nd, 2012 11:59 PM
Yep, talk to me about that heat wave. 117 last week here in Phoenix.
Your next-to-last photo is the most impressive for me, with that gaping maw of a muzzle. It just speaks volumes more than, say, a .38.
You've covered a lot of bases with the ammo, so my principal comment is that I'd skip the round nose lead rounds in favor of anything with a sharp shoulder, like a semi-wadcutter or the flat-nosed, Keith-style bullets. We want to cut meat, not just push it aside when we're trying to do some damage.
Other than that, I'll just add the reminder that most expanding bullets have a velocity threshold below which they can't be counted on the expand reliably. .44 Special loads hover around that threshold unless they are amped up to Magnum velocities, but at least they have that big diameter working for them.
NRA Endowment Member
August 23rd, 2012 12:13 AM
Nice photos. Makes me want to dust off the .44 Special.
It's a great cartridge. I mostly handload for it. It'll do a lot when loaded from mild to wild. Wild isn't necessary when heavy lead is flung at moderate velocities.
I even like the old 246 grain loading which has been used to bust a few critters around these parts It does a perfectly workmanlike job.
Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society
“No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”
Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893
August 23rd, 2012 12:29 AM
Nice write-up of one of my favorite rounds.
I also have a 3" Bulldog, also with the Pachmayr grips! The finish isn't looking too spiffy these days, but I don't think a bad guy will notice that too much, with, as Gasmitty said, "that gaping maw of a muzzle" staring at him!
I don't feel under armed at all with my 215 hard cast SWC at approx. 750 fps. Accurate, with manageable recoil in the light weight Bulldog. Sometimes I also carry the Gold Dot or Critical Defense. I may have to look into the Double Tap TAC-XP, but I will probably stick mostly to my SWC load. But those TAC-XP rounds sure looked good in the cylinder!
August 23rd, 2012 01:48 AM
I like a the 240 gr SWC over a moderate load of Unique powder. Never felt a hollow point was needed.
August 24th, 2012 07:32 PM
Currently my Bulldog Pug is loaded with 44 Russian brass loaded to approx 700+ fps with a 225g as-cast wadcutter.
One speedloader has 238g as-cast SWC's at low 700s, and another has the same bullet & load "bumped/smushed" to a huge meplat with fairly sharp edges. Controllable in one-handed burst shooting, big hole, presumably effective wound channel and penetration, and 44R brass helps ensure full-length extraction & ejection.
Haven't measured anything yet, but bullet weight & vel approximate traditional factory loads, with much better bullet shape & adequate accuracy.
Had some apparent keyholing with Blazer/200g Gold Dot, judging purely by torn paper--unscientific, I realize. The nail in the coffin for me was a chrono'ed velocity in mid-700's IIRC, thus making expansion a bit dicey, I fear. Buffalo Bore power worries me in this platform, so my choice of a factory load, were I to use one, would likely be a flat-nosed 240g at low-to-mid 700s. Tried the 165g Critical Defense and no doubt it's good stuff, but I don't feel confident in putting all my eggs in the expansion basket with such a light-for-caliber bullet in a 2.5" snub-nosed gun. HDY 180g JHP's have the same shortfall, IMO.
Granted, anything offered in this caliber is far more effective than many SD rounds past and present, so no complaints about any of it, really :-)
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