Questions From A New Reloader


December 9, 2009, 03:54 PM
I want to load a "plinking" round for my 4" Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum. I have very limited components and need some advice.

I received an RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading kit last Christmas. So far, all the dies and components I have are for .44 Remington Magnum. I figured I should try to master the reloading process of 1 single caliber before I move on to others. I haven't used it much in the last year due to lack of space, but now have a great bench setup in the garage, and want to get back into it.

Here are the components I am using:
Powder - Accurate Arms No. 7
Primers - Winchester Magnum Pistol
Bullet - Hornady 240-grain jacketed flat point (with crimp groove)
Brass - Once-fired American Eagle, Remington, Winchester, etc.

The Speer reloading manual states that the start load for this combo should be 15.5 grains of powder. The Accurate Powders guide states 14.5 grains for 1,145 fps from an 8.275" barrel. So far, I have loaded and fired about 30 rounds, and the recoil still feels right up there with factory full-power loads. I really want something enjoyable to shoot without having to buy different components.

Here is my stupid newbie question: Can I load a .44 Special Cowboy type load into my .44 Magnum brass? In other words, can I simply just use 12 or 13 grains of No. 7 instead of the start loads of 14.5-15.5? Or will I get a squib round or excessive pressures or something catastrophic? I don't want to have to trim brass, start loading pure .44 Special, buy a chronograph, or blow up my gun.

Any advice?

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December 9, 2009, 04:30 PM
You can load very light "cowboy" style plinking loads in your .44 Mag cases.

But not with jacketed bullets, and not with AA #7.

What you need is a faster burning powder that will burn clean at lower pressure.
And cast lead bullets that won't get stuck in the barrel at low velocity.

I would probably suggest something like WW231 or Unique at the slow end, and Bullseye or Titegroup at the fast end.


December 9, 2009, 04:36 PM
If you wish to shoot .44 Special Loads my advice is to purchase hard cast bullets from a reputible source like Missouri Bullets, obtain a quanity of .44 Special brass and have at it.
My .44 is a Ruger Super Blackhawk that I enjoy shooting "Special" loads in.
My two Grandsons have a ball and they are now pulling the lever on the re-loader (under Poppie's watchfull eye of course).
Big bore jacketed bullets ain't cheap and with the lead , in spite of cleaning chores, you can really spend more time at the range

Mad Chemist
December 9, 2009, 04:59 PM
Missouri Bullets "Elmer Keith .44 LSWC"
6.5-7.5gr Unique depending on how soft or how stout you want the load to be.
A little hotter than current production .44spl loads. I would not use this in an old .44spl gun, but for a gun chambered in .44mag this would be fine. At around 7-7.5gr of Unique you are basically splitting the difference between .44spl and .44mag. 6.5gr should be very gentle from your Redhawk and would be a fun plinker and a good load for more recoil sensitive shooters.

The Missouri bullets are quality but they are not gas checked, resist the urge to load hot magnum charges with them unless you enjoy scrubbing lead from your bore.

I don't see why you would need .44spl brass. People dwnload .357cases to .38spl pressures all the time with no problems. This avoids fouling the end of the cylinder. I have load data from Speer #11 in front of me right now that lists a light target load for .44mag: 240gr SWC, w/ Unique b/t 6.5-7.0 gr., primer is CCI 300 large pistol, V=767-923 from 6" bbl. You are not falling below recommended minimum charges for this load and are nowhere near max pressure. (Speer #11 pp427)

December 9, 2009, 05:31 PM
Thanks for the replies so far. I have looked into powders and it seems like W231 is a good versatile powder that can cover a lot of different calibers. I guess I'll try and pick up some of that and some 200-250 grain lead bullets. That ought to give me a good place to start loading some "Specials".

Is there anything I'll need to do differently in the basic reloading process from what I've been doing with the 240-grain jacketed bullets? I'm assuming cartridge OAL will be different, and I'll have to scrub my gun a little more after shooting.

What about crimping? At this point, I'm just trying to get a nice little taper on the crimp groove of the bullet, while maintaining a good OAL with my digital calipers. Should crimping be an exact science? So far my reloads have all fired and feel pretty consistent, but I worry I'm just "eyeballing" things, and not doing things precisely enough.

December 9, 2009, 05:39 PM
Any lead bullets you buy will have a crimp groove molded into the bullet.
Seat and crimp to that. Don't stress out about OAL measurements.
The crimp groove is the proper length with revolver bullets.

Not a lot of crimp will be needed to hold the bullet from pulling from recoil in your heavy gun with light loads.

A heavy roll crimp is necessary with full power .44 Mag loads for that reason, and to help get complete powder burn with slower magnum class powders.

You will probably need to bell your case mouths more then with jacketed bullets to prevent lead "shaving" off the sides of the bullets when seating.

Leading should not be any problem at all with light loads.
The bullet lube will create more of a smoky mess on the gun, but it cleans off easily.


December 10, 2009, 09:12 PM
I have looked into powders and it seems like W231 is a good versatile powder that can cover a lot of different calibers.

Lately Win 231 has been hard to get in some areas of the country. It is generally considered that Hodgdon HP-38 is the exact same powder in a different package. Quite often HP-38 is more plentiful or sometimes even cheaper !!

Don't want you to spend too much !!

December 11, 2009, 01:58 PM

Thank you. I have noticed W231 is hard to find. I'll try looking for HP-38.

I think I'm going to order some Oregon Trail 200-grain lead bullets from Midway, but I noticed they're not only out of W231, but HP-38 as well. Too bad there aren't any places around the Portland area I know of that carry a lot of reloading supplies.

December 11, 2009, 02:53 PM
Try Missouri Bullets for bullets.

No better service anywhere, and he is a member here..


December 11, 2009, 05:32 PM
If you can't find any W-231 or HP-38, 700X works great for light loaded lead slugs in .44 Cases, same as it does in .44 Spl.

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