.44 Special as a Defensive Load?


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mesinge2
August 6, 2009, 08:50 PM
I bought a used Night Guard .44 Magnum with a 2 1/2" barrel from a friend who hated the recoil and he was right, it is punishing with the .44 Mag rounds. The short barrel and the scandium frame are a bad combo for this round. I have a 3 inch model 29 so I thought I could handle it. I had a ego trip, "I can control any recoil," he, and I, probably should have bought the same gun in .45 ACP.

Anyway, I have never seriously considered the .44 special for self-defense. I would like some advise on ammo brand, design (LRN, LWC, JHP, etc), or if I should just try and trade it for the .45 ACP.

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Matrix187
August 6, 2009, 08:57 PM
I think you should go for a .45 ACP. While 44 special is a good manstopper, it doesn't offer any advantage over 45 acp, and ammo costs more.

TexasRifleman
August 6, 2009, 09:00 PM
.44 Special is one of my favorite handloads.

In commercial rounds, like you'd want for carry, the Winchester Silvertip is a good choice.

Very nice ammo, extremely expensive. But it's an absolutely fine choice for a defensive round, you just have to have a pain tolerance for the $$$

CSA 357
August 6, 2009, 09:00 PM
you will be well served with the 44 special, i carry cast hand loads in my 624, someone should chime in with a good factory load

mesinge2
August 6, 2009, 09:08 PM
TexasRifleman, Thanks. I ordered some silvertip on Midway, around $23 a box of 20. Now, let me hold my breath until it arrives. Ha, it's on back order until 9-26-09.

Roadkill
August 6, 2009, 09:13 PM
I have an old Western Marshall .44 magnum and I hand load .44 special for it. Very accurate, easy to shoot. 230g cast bullet with 5g of red dot.

Sam1911
August 6, 2009, 11:00 PM
.44 Spc. can be a very good self-defense round. Just make sure you buy decent ammo. By "decent" I mean Cor-Bon, Double-Tap or similar loadings that actually produce good energy.

What ever you do, don't waste good money on Winchester's 200 gr Silver Tip loading! I bought a box of those at $1 a shot. When I chrono'd them through my 4" 629 they were barely breaking 700 fps! So now I had a gun that was several oz. heavier than my 1911, held 3 fewer rounds, and not only were the bullets 30 gr. lighter than my .45ACP carry loads, but they were moving more than 200 fps SLOWER.

Very disappointing.

Double-Tap sells a .44 Spc. load that pushes a 200 gr. bullet at 1150 fps.

And, seeing as your gun is rated for .44 Mags, you can build loads that make pretty much any power level in between light target Specials and the heavy mags.

My personal favorite load is pretty mild for a magnum but hot for a Special. 200 gr. XTP at 1250 fps. Great shooter, doesn't produce much recoil (in my all steel 629), and should make quite an impression.

There are plenty of reasons to choose a higher-capacity and faster-reloading autoloader, and .45 ACP is a great choice. But if you shoot the revolver well and have comfortable carry options worked out for it, there's no reason you can't take advantage of the wheelgun's greater power capacity.

-Sam

S&W 25-2
August 6, 2009, 11:20 PM
An old crusty Idaho cowboy named Elmer Keith knocked down a lot of stuff with hot 44 Special loads. If it was good enough for him... well...

KenWP
August 6, 2009, 11:24 PM
Years ago the old Bulldog 44 was suggested as a good defensive weapon becasue just looking down that big hole made it scarey. The point was that it could cool things down just from the look of the gun with out haveing to resort to shooting it. Same idea as for using a 12 gauge.

BLACKHAWKNJ
August 6, 2009, 11:42 PM
In the Old West the 44-44-40, in their case-ranked right up there with the
45. I'm sure wherever he is, Jeff Cooper is smiling down on you knowing you at least rely on a big bore for self defense.

.455_Hunter
August 6, 2009, 11:47 PM
I am still working on finding my ideal .44 Special loading for my 4" 624. The current production 200 gr. Winchester Silvertip is pathetic- less than 700 fps with absolutely minimal expansion into straight water jugs, even though bullet is custom fabricated for that loading only. The Hornady 180 gr. XTP was better in the velocity/energy department, but shared the poor expansion characteristics with the Silvertip. At least the XTP has an excuse, since the bullet is primarily used in the .44 Magnum. The Speer Gold Dot does fairly well in the velocity/expansion departments and is probably the best on the "traditional" pressure load on the market right now. I have yet to test the Federal LHP or the CCI Blazer Gold Dot (supposedly a bit faster than its Speer sibling).

I tested some Corbon 165 JHP's and they exceeded their velocity expectations but fragmented badly into the water jugs. Of course, throw some clothing into the mix, along with a non-homogeneous medium, and their expansion characteristics might become more controlled. I kinda wish Corbon had kept using the 180 gr. XTP for their loading, as it appears to perform very well at the higher velocities (from Mr. Camps website).

I really want to test Buffalo Bore's two loadings as well as the Double Tap loading in the near future.

Oro
August 6, 2009, 11:50 PM
While 44 special is a good manstopper, it doesn't offer any advantage over 45 acp,

Why it sure does! I haven't seen a standard pressure .45acp that can throw a 240gr HP out at near 1100 fps. The .44 special has been, for more than a century, many big-bore revolver guy's first choice cartridge. It's exceedingly versatile, and is worth reloading for so you can get everything out of it.

I prefer tossing mine out of a 3" 629 and not a lightweight, though.

DasFriek
August 7, 2009, 12:41 AM
Oddly enough my 1911 in .45acp does my HD duty,and honestly id prefer the .44
I love the .45 but it lacks some power and penetration i prefer.Im the type who wants a .460 Rowland conversion just for this reason.

Ive always thought if i have to defend myself at home it will be against a 350lb 6'6" guy wearing multiple layers of cloths under a parka while strung out on drugs.

But reality says it will be a 150lb 5'8" guy in jeans and a tshirt.

rfurtkamp
August 7, 2009, 01:30 AM
I don't feel undergunned if I have to carry a revolver with my S&W 296, which is the very definition of pain at 18 ounces if loaded with magnum or near magnum rounds (some cylinders were shipped with mag dimensions, not specials, and the factory didn't recall them). I'm using 200gr JHPs generally, although I've shot the 240s without issue if I make sure they're excessively crimped.

I've shot the 396 and its cousins in titanium guns, the key is working your way up, don't start with abusive. However, for two-legged problems, I'd still load it with hot specials rather than mags.

Learn to master the gun with light loads before hitting magnums or even giving up on them.

This isn't your 29 (and I love my 29 too) and demands a different level of respect.

Personally I'd keep it over one in 45 ACP, if nothing else to stay away from the abominable moon clips.'

Oro
August 7, 2009, 04:17 AM
Personally I'd keep it over one in 45 ACP, if nothing else to stay away from the abominable moon clips.'

Exactly. I love me my 1911's, and usually keep at least one in the nightstand with the .357s and .44s. But when it comes to revolvers, the .44 Special has it all over the .45acp. My only .45 revolver is a .45 Long Colt, not an ACP, despite the ammo compatibility with the autos. Moon clips blow - don't let them tell you differently. Misery loves company, and they won't give you the whole story.

Sam1911
August 7, 2009, 07:22 AM
The Hornady 180 gr. XTP was better in the velocity/energy department, but shared the poor expansion characteristics with the Silvertip. At least the XTP has an excuse, since the bullet is primarily used in the .44 Magnum.

I've read that XTPs were designed to expand best at around 1,200 fps. And that's a bit above any commercial loading for .44 Spc. But, if you roll your own... :)

-Sam

wnycollector
August 7, 2009, 08:55 AM
My step dad used to carry a first generation Charter Arms Bulldog loaded with the federal 200gr LSWCHP. IIRC the recoil of that load was stout but managable. Here is a link for the load in question http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/federal-champion-44-s-w-special-200-gr-semi-wadcutter-hp-20-rds.aspx?a=344606

Taurus 617 CCW
August 7, 2009, 09:24 AM
As far as defensive ammo goes, have a look at the blazer .44 special. It has a 200 grain Gold Dot hollowpoint. It's the meanest hollowpoint I've ever seen! I have carried those in my S&W 629 for urban loads.

krs
August 7, 2009, 10:05 AM
I reload 240 grain lead and 260 grain jacketed soft points in .44 Special for one of my favorite wintertime pocket pistols - a 3" Lew Horton S&W Model 24 that I bought for the purpose.

There's no real need to load it hot - it's a nice and easy way to simply wallop someone without the need to carry a ball bat around :)

In the big N frame it's a very comfortable setup to shoot - better than a .380 from a 3PaT, and I don't think that there'll be any need to go tell some jerk that he's been shot...... He'll just know.

.455_Hunter
August 7, 2009, 12:34 PM
The load I forgot to mention that is also on my tryout list is Corbon's 200 gr. DPX. Mr. Camp reviewed it very favorably here:

http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/Corbon%2044%20Special%20DPX%20Report.htm

tipoc
August 7, 2009, 12:40 PM
On quality defensive ammo for the .44 Spl.: Folks have already mentioned a number of candidates, the CCI Blazer with the Gold Dot, Cor Bon, Buffalo Bore, The Win. etc. While these may be a bit pricier (by a buck or so) then quality defensive ammo for the .45 acp I for one don't use the good stuff for practice and drills. I use the quality stuff sparingly, enough to know what works best out of which guns.

Range fodder can be had reasonably at gun shows and by ordering online etc. You can also reload.

The .44 Spl. is a very good defensive and hunting load. In hunting it will take anything in the lower 48 and is more effective in handgun hunting then the .357 Magnum in my experience (at least for me).

If you can scrounge up a copy of John Taffin's book on the .44 fun and useful reading.

tipoc

jglcolosprgs
August 7, 2009, 12:48 PM
Here is what I use:

http://www.ableammo.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=75001

I know nothing about "ableammo.com" it is just a link to the 200 gr Gold Dots I like.

I carry a five shot 2" Taurus and love these rounds.

Cosmoline
August 7, 2009, 12:48 PM
I would take .44 Special loaded with LSWCHP's over any .45 ACP, any day of the week. That big lead HP moving at a reasonable velocity is probably the most effective man-stopper ever created for a non-magnum load. It doesn't need to be going fast to work, in fact it's better if it isn't going too fast if you're not hunting game.

mbt2001
August 7, 2009, 01:01 PM
+1 Cosmoline

The .44 special is a terrific defensive round. It has a proven track record, not as extensive, but much like the .45. It is my understanding that the .44 special was an analogue of the .44-40 round, which has as long a record as any cartridge for getting the job done.

Despite the opinion of same, in my experience the .44 special is not ammo sensitive. It is a large bullet, moving at average speeds that allows for good penetration on man sized targets. The .44 special has quite a rep as a hunting cartridge for deer sized game... When you stop and think about it, deer sized game are about the same size as people...

Anyway, my $0.02.

krs
August 7, 2009, 01:47 PM
"If you can scrounge up a copy of John Taffin's book on the .44 fun and useful reading."

tipoc


Not too difficult a scrounge......http://www.amazon.com/Gun-Digest-Book-John-Taffin/dp/0896894169/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1249667122&sr=1-1

kmrcstintn
August 7, 2009, 01:50 PM
Hornady 180gr XTP, Blazer (aluminum case) 200gr Gold Dot

mesinge2
August 7, 2009, 05:22 PM
I just ordered some Buffalo Bore 255gr Lead Keith-Type SWC from midway, it was actually available today. I also ordered some DoubleTap 200gr Bonded Defense JHP should be available on the 22nd. I going to Chrono them with the Silvertips. The winner will be carried. Thanks for the help!

Drgong
August 7, 2009, 05:47 PM
I do not mind spending $$$ on self defense ammo, but how much does "Range" ammo go for in .44 special, compared to say, .327 mag? (Thinking about getting a .44 special or a .327 mag)

.455_Hunter
August 7, 2009, 05:51 PM
The last time I saw .44 Special (Winchester Cowboy 240 gr LFN) at WalMart it was $30 or so per box of 50.

I am not sure what the current price would be, since .44 Special is pretty far down on the ammo companies production lists, and none exists in retail form at the present time.

Sam1911
August 7, 2009, 06:00 PM
I am not sure what the current price would be, since .44 Special is pretty far down on the ammo companies production lists, and none exists in retail form at the present time.

Not sure, as I haven't seen any, either, but he did ask us to compare the cost to the new .327 Mag. rounds. That's a new cartridge that is (was, really) being pushed by Ruger, and that might mean there are a few on the shelves, but there are so few guns chambered in it, compared to the millions of .44 Special & Mag guns in the country, that real demand would seem to be pretty scant.

I'd imagine that it's a lot easier to find .44 Spc. (even at $30 a box :eek:) than .327 Mag.

I reload my .44 Spcs for about $0.10 or $0.15 a shot. It pays to shoot lead and buy in bulk! :-)

-Sam

mesinge2
August 7, 2009, 06:29 PM
Well, the Speer Gold Dot 327 Federal Magnum 115 Grain JHP's are $21.49 for 20 on Midway
http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=172468

Vern Humphrey
August 7, 2009, 06:44 PM
An old crusty Idaho cowboy named Elmer Keith knocked down a lot of stuff with hot 44 Special loads. If it was good enough for him... well...
But Elmer's handloads were dancing on the heels of the .44 Magnum. If controllability and shootability in this lightweight revolver are key issues, Elmer's loads wouldn't be much of a reduction in recoil and pain.

Dr_2_B
August 7, 2009, 10:37 PM
I'd definitely feel well-armed with a 44 spl.

Archie
August 7, 2009, 10:41 PM
I'm not sure about the weight of the scandium revolver herein, but .44 Special is just fine for self defense.

I'm a reloader, so ammo is fairly inexpensive. I've got a lot of confidence in a flat fronted heavy bullet at moderate velocities. A .429" 200 grain SWC or WC at close to 800 f/s should be adequate for general purposes. If that's too much recoil for the revolver under discussion, a 180 grain bullet generates less recoil.

mrheythere
August 8, 2009, 02:51 AM
the Corbon DPX is a GREAT round

wnycollector
August 8, 2009, 10:41 AM
how much does "Range" ammo go for in .44 special

www.mastercast.net sells new 240gr SWC range ammo for $27.25/50 and if you ship them your brass they sell you 240gr SWC reloads for $8.50/50. They make the .44 reasonable to shoot for the non-reloaders out there.

tipoc
August 8, 2009, 11:35 AM
On ammo prices poke around here...

http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/BrowseProducts.aspx?pageNum=1&tabId=3&categoryId=7552&categoryString=653***691***


And try www.cheaperthandirt.com as well.

tipoc

tju1973
August 8, 2009, 11:59 AM
The last time I saw .44 Special (Winchester Cowboy 240 gr LFN) at WalMart it was $30 or so per box of 50.

I am not sure what the current price would be, since .44 Special is pretty far down on the ammo companies production lists, and none exists in retail form at the present time.
That's about what I remember-- one of our 3 Wal Marts got some 44spl in some time back-- it was the only pistol ammo on the shelf for about two weeks-- well except the sam old box of .357 Sig...I think it was marked at like $28.86 or something..
I love the .44 Spl, but I am money short most days and have not sprung to reload-- it is on my short-ish list though...

Good luck!

B BRI
August 8, 2009, 03:34 PM
An old crusty Idaho cowboy named Elmer Keith knocked down a lot of stuff with hot 44 Special loads. If it was good enough for him... well...

+1

That 44 special is a mighty effective round, that is plenty versatile. Honestly, I don't feel undergunned even with moderate fps rounds. Most moderate velocity 44 spl rounds nearly equate the 45acp ball round. If it's a manstopper in 45acp (which I carry on duty), it's just as effective in 44 spl (which I carry into the woods). When you load it up to Elmer's hot loads, well then, you have a real powerhouse on your hands.

Logos
August 8, 2009, 03:41 PM
The Winchester Silvertip sounds perfect for home defense.

Low velocity, low recoil, low blast, but still packing a formidable punch. I suspect anyone getting hit squarely with one would cease and desist and die rather expeditiously.

Seven hundred feet per second might be a little slow, but how fast do you think Elmer Keith's rounds were going when they hit the mule deer at 600 yards?

;)

B BRI
August 8, 2009, 03:44 PM
Seven hundred feet per second might be a little slow, but how fast do you think Elmer Keith's rounds were going when they hit the mule deer at 600 yards?

Fast enough !

clown714
August 8, 2009, 03:54 PM
used to carry a 44 bulldog about 20+ yrs.ago.

had it stoked w\ 200gr.silvertips.not much of a choice back then.

was also used as my backpackin' pistol.

never once did I feel under-gunned.

not many grizzly round here:p

clown

dmazur
August 8, 2009, 06:53 PM
If you reload for .44 Mag, you might consider some "light .44 Mag" loads for defense, rather than the .44 Special.

That way, if you ever want to carry it with the stiffer loads (like for bear), you won't be fighting the accumulation issues that can occur with sustained use of the shorter brass in the longer chambers.

On the other hand, if you will always use it as a .44 Special, you can ignore this concern and just get decent self-defense loads in .44 Special.

Drail
August 8, 2009, 09:51 PM
The .44 spl. has become a handloader's cartridge, if you want to use it to full advantage. The Corbon loads are OK if you subscribe to the light bullet traveling at the speed of light theory. If you want a heavy bullet at moderate velocity you don't have a lot of reasonably priced choices. The CCI 200 gr. Gold Dot is a very good compromise in a snub carry gun. I like the .44 spl. well enough that it has been my choice for carry for over twenty years. It is a great cartidge, just not very popularly marketed for the masses.

RandyB
August 8, 2009, 10:06 PM
I have used the 200 grain .44 special LHP from federal on deer and it has worked. The tissue damage was awesome, but failed to bust thru the shoulder joint. I would use it for self defense in a heartbeat.

Sam1911
August 9, 2009, 08:48 AM
If you reload for .44 Mag, you might consider some "light .44 Mag" loads for defense, rather than the .44 Special.

That way, if you ever want to carry it with the stiffer loads (like for bear), you won't be fighting the accumulation issues that can occur with sustained use of the shorter brass in the longer chambers.

On the other hand, if you will always use it as a .44 Special, you can ignore this concern and just get decent self-defense loads in .44 Special.

I just did some quick counting of empty primer boxes while cleaning out my reloading area last night. 5,300 .44 Specials through my 629 this year.

I still don't have these carbon accumulation issues that I keep hearing about. I clean that gun religiously, though. At least once every 500 rounds probably. More or less. A brush takes out the carbon and I'm good to throw some Magnums.

Having shot a bunch of .44 SPC. and a bit of .44 Mag as well in competition, I can say definitively that the Special cases load and unload a LOT faster than the Mags. Line up better coming out of the speedloader and clear the cylinder faster on the way out.

So that's a pretty good reason to use the Special brass when you can.

-Sam

RDak
August 9, 2009, 09:26 AM
From all I've read the .44 Special round is an excellent self-defense cartridge.

I have three revolvers in that caliber and, in no uncertain terms, would I EVER want to get shot by that caliber.

I don't know from actual experience but anyone who got shot by that caliber would be in DEEP, DEEP trouble IMHO.

mesinge2
August 10, 2009, 04:58 PM
I'm going shooting as soon as they arrive, I'll report back with the results (accuracy, recoil, and velocity) when I do. Again, thanks for the help. This thread effectively made me very anxious to test the three brands (CCI, Buffalo Bore, and the DoubleTap) and I will definitely be keeping the 44 SPL.

shooter429
August 10, 2009, 07:15 PM
I love the 200 grain GDHP, BB Heavy .44 Special Ammo - 180 gr. J.H.P. (1,150 fps/M.E. 543 ft.lbs. BB 255 Keith or CB DPX@950.

These all equal the .45ACP in performance. Any should serve you well.

Shooter429

Deanimator
August 10, 2009, 07:24 PM
I use the 200gr. Blazer Gold Dots and the Federal 200gr. LSWC-HPs in my 4" 29-2. The Blazers are extremely accurate.

sokygunner
August 10, 2009, 08:19 PM
Pretty much anything from a .44 special will hurt worse than any human would care to stand.

smee781
August 10, 2009, 09:04 PM
+1 Hornady 180gr XTP, Blazer (aluminum case) 200gr Gold Dot, my Smith 296 loves both these. Why give up the ability to shoot 44SPL/44mag out of one gun for a gun that can only shoot one caliber. Plus you already own the 44 so keep it and enjoy.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 11, 2009, 01:10 AM
I think you should go for a .45 ACP. While 44 special is a good manstopper, it doesn't offer any advantage over 45 acp,

Au contraire, mon frere.

It's the:
-Same SIZE bullet (diameter & weight - essentially)
-Going at the same SPEED as .45 acp
-But with a wider meplat and partially exposed lead HP tip than a .45 acp

Being in a revolver has a definite advantage over the .45 acp - the .44 spl has a much better and faster expansion capability with the wide meplat and exposed lead, over a semi-auto, fully-jacketed round like the .45 acp.

.44 spl or a lightly loaded .45 colt is THE perfect self defense round (vs. human predators). In my opinion. And this from a big fan of the .45 acp.

Logos
August 11, 2009, 10:26 AM
A diameter of .454 vs. .429 is not essentially the same.

And the .45 Auto can certainly be used with JHP, or SWC just as the .44 can. There may be reliability issues, but the .45 can be throated to improve that.

However, the .44 Special can do some things the .45 just cannot do, for example, it can be loaded to close to .44 Magnum power.

SharpsDressedMan
August 11, 2009, 06:45 PM
One of my reasons for always having a .44 Special in the stable is the ability to easily EXCEED the .45 auto with Skeeter's 7.5gr Unique under a 250gr SWC. This is a warm load and EASILY safe in any modern N-frame revolver (the common platform), and runs about 900fps in a 4 inch barrel. WAY better than a .45ACP with any comparable bullet/loading.

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