.41 or .44 Special Blackhawk?


David E
April 11, 2010, 03:11 AM
I don't know why, but I've become intrigued with a .41 magnum, altho I have no brass or bullets for it. (I have often seen that only .41 bullets were available, tho, as no one seems to shoot it, which might come in handy...)

I saw in another thread that Ruger allegedly has an Anniversary model Blackhawk in .41 I like that the cylinder clicks when the chamber is aligned with the ejector rod. I have a .357 Anniversary and like it quite a bit. I think the 4 5/8th's" barrel would be ideal for a woodsgun.

But I've never been a great fan of the .357, but I do recognize that it's cheaper to shoot than the larger calibers.

Intended purpose would be a woodsgun. I would anticipate the loads to be a 210/240 in the 1000 - 1100 fps range. There are black bears in the woods I frequent, but I've not seen one yet. Also, mountain lion are said to be on the increase, but again, I've not seen any. Still, I want something that'll be able to stop either one. I figure the above loads would do that just fine.

I have a .44 magnum and components along with 100 cases of .44 Special brass, so that's a big point in the .44 Special's favor. I would expect another 500 cases from Starline would last me as long as I'd need them to. I'd reload for both, so factory loads/availability doesn't really factor in.

So, which caliber and why?

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April 11, 2010, 07:21 AM
I'm a fan of both cartridges, and own several revolvers chambered for both. For my money, the .41 Magnum is the apex revolver cartridge. None better. Although I love the old .44 Special, the .41 is more versatile. It can be loaded down to .44 Special levels, or bumped up to nearly match the .44 Magnum.

The recent .44 Special Blackhawk is a fine revolver, but it's built on Ruger's medium frame, and can't handle the hot-rod handloads like the larger Blackhawk chambered for .45 Colt, though I suspect that it will handle more than the standard .44 Special offerings.

The .41 Blackhawk is built on the larger, more robust frame, so it'll take the heavy stuff in stride...but don't believe the rumors that you can't blow one up. There are limits.

Bullet casting and single-action revolvers go together like pancakes and maple syrup. I use the RCBS 210 grain SWC mould for the .41, and it's a great bullet. With 7.5 grains of Unique, it's nice to shoot, and as accurate as anything I've found in all my revolvers.
Jump to 17.5-18 grains of 2400, and it'll cause you to understand just how powerful the .41 Magnum really is.

If it sounds like I'm biased...I am. I like the .41 Magnum. The .44 Special has its place in my battery and always will...but the .41 is just...superb!

The Lone Haranguer
April 11, 2010, 07:30 AM
If you're getting a new gun anyway, it isn't much more $$$ to get brass, bullets and reloading dies for the .41 Mag. If there is a realistic possibility of having to shoot a bear - or if you are hunting them - I would rather have a full power .41 Mag. than even a "hotrock" .44 Special. You can still download the .41 to any power level you wish; it seems easier to download a .41 than to "upload" a .44 Special. Assuming the same diameter cylinder, a .41 caliber will have thicker chamber walls than a .44 caliber.

Johnny Guest
April 11, 2010, 08:19 AM
Originally posted in Handguns: Autoloaders forum, this thread is moved over to Handguns: Revolvers.

Yes, there are a few autoloaders which can fire these classic revolver cartridges, but none of 'em are named Ruger Blackhawk. :D

April 11, 2010, 09:41 AM
I'd vote for the .41 Mag. It's a pleasure to shoot and easy enough to find components to reload for. I'm using 2400 powder pushing a 210 grain Nosler JHP. My current .41 Mag platform is a 657 PC S&W that I deer hunt with. It's a big heavy gun and recoil is very manageable.

April 11, 2010, 09:52 AM
7.5 grains of Unique and a 210 g. lead bullet make this a great plinker and a near perfect self-defense combo. I have this caliber in both a Blackhawk and a S&W M57.

April 11, 2010, 09:58 AM
Sounds like you should give the 41 mag a try. It will provide you with the sufficient power to suit your needs. I'm not a big "There are black bears here, I need a gun person." , but I understand. The Blackhawk is a less expensive choice and I doubt you will regret the purchase if you shoot it much. You'll learn why folks like the caliber.

Jim Watson
April 11, 2010, 10:17 AM
I would go with the .41 because it weighs less. Although on the magnum frame (I have not heard of an Anniversary 41 on the Special frame) it is lighter than the .44 Special because it retains the aluminum grip frame. I would not want to hump 45 oz of .44 special.

David E
April 11, 2010, 01:21 PM
Sorry about the posting placement, I thought I had the Revolver forum up ! :o

I just found out about the Anniversary .41 yesterday. I like the fact that it's on the smaller frame. If I have cause or desire to go out on purpose with a big, powerful gun, I have several to choose from. If I go with a .41, it would cost another $90 for 500 cases of brass, $60 for dies and $36 for another 650 shellplate. The brass cost would off-set, as I'd need more .44 Special cases, so the .41 would cost about $100 more than the Special.

If I didn't load up the .41 to the upper levels, am I still gaining anything over the .44 Special? Or would they be virtually identical in the medium loadings?

This gun would be intended for the woodsgun role, which to me, means having a gun that's powerful enough to handle anything I might reasonably come across. It also means I wouldn't be looking for anything on purpose. I may not fire a single shot afield.

While black bear are on the increase, as I've said, I've yet to see one. But there are wild hogs and they are definitely on the increase. I just want something capable of handling any of them. As it stands, I had previously landed on the Glock 20 as my woodsgun, but some frame cracking has given me pause.

I've come back around to appreciating the .357, but.........

I have a S&W 5" Model 25-5 which is pretty cool, too, among others, so it's not like I'm lacking a gun for this role. In fact, it seems like there really is no role to fill with a new/different gun from what I already have. Still........

Deaf Smith
April 11, 2010, 09:59 PM
Yea, get the .41. Everybody and his dog has a .44, so I'd get the .41 just to be different. And I bet, being a smaller round, the gun is a bit heavier, kicks a bit less, and still is miles ahead of the .357 magnum.


April 12, 2010, 12:09 AM
Of the two choices, I'd recommend the 38 oz Blackhawk in .41 Magnum (aluminum grip frame) over the 45 oz model in .44 Special (which is amazing to me considering how much I like the .44 Special...). You can also trim your .41 Magnum brass down to 1.150" and load ".41 Specials" to get efficient reduced loads.

However, if you really want a woods gun, here's what I wear when woods bummin':


S&W M396 Mountain Lite: 18 oz, 3-3/8" barrel, and 5 rounds of .44 Special handloads. Out of production, but still available on GunBroker and GunsAmerica on occasion.

David E
April 12, 2010, 12:17 AM
What kind of handloads do you run out of that ? Velocity ?

April 12, 2010, 10:58 AM
For my M396, I load lead bullets at moderate velocities (165gr LRNFP at 950fps, 185gr DBBWC at 800 fps, and 200gr LRNFP at 900 fps). Good powders for accomplishing this efficiently have proven to be Power Pistol, 3N37, and N340. I don't use much Unique, but assume it would work well too, as well as any of the medium burners (#5, #7, True Blue, etc).

David E
April 12, 2010, 01:41 PM
Nice light loads. But for me, a woodsgun needs a bit more power. My standard comparision is a 1911 loaded with 230 JHP @ 950fps.

If a revolver load doesn't exceed that, then why not carry the 1911? It holds more rounds, easier to carry, reload, etc.

That's why I said my anticipated load would be a 210-240 at 1100 fps or so.

A .357 with certain loads could work and I may carry one afield again, but there's just something about bigger bullets!

April 12, 2010, 07:47 PM
Don't forget he's shooting an 18 oz. revolver. With the Blackhawk you'd be able to load a bit stouter. Always liked the idea of the .44 special, especially the latest Blackhawk version, but in the end it is just too similar to a standard load in .45 Colt (which I have a Mountain Gun for:D), so I can't make myself buy one.

The .41 Mag. is one I've taken a recent interest in while shooting a Model 57. For that reason I'll probably lean toward the .41 when I get to that fork in the road.

April 12, 2010, 09:56 PM
I'd go 44 magnum and load it with specials except for special situations. That's not a knock against the 41. My thought is that if you want magnum power, the 44 is a mighty force. When you don't want that power, you can shoot light special loads. More choices = more fun, at least in this case.

April 13, 2010, 03:31 PM
I do like the 41 Special too.



Jim Watson
April 13, 2010, 04:00 PM
That is the first thing I have ever seen that would make me remotely consider a .41 caliber revolver. Wonder if he will do the same in .38-44 HD?

Dr. A
April 13, 2010, 04:31 PM
I'd have to recommend the 44 special. The smaller frame coupled with the ability of the gun to take the heavier loads (Brian Pearce's loads) give that 250 Keith speeds of 1000 to 1200fps. That is a lead Keith 250gr. with 16.5gr. of 2400. That is a great load, and a smaller frame. I'm biased in that I don't have a 41 cal. mold, and am loaded down with Keith and LBT molds that can make the most of powder space.

That load of course was in Handloader and was for the Blackhawk. My buddies 396 was no where up to that sort of load.

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