.44Mag Self-Defense Loads (Factory)


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roo_ster
June 29, 2010, 11:41 PM
Howdy:

Any suggestions for mild-medium .44mag JHP self defense loads in a .44mag case?

I recently bought a nice Galco VHS shoulder holster for my 4" bbl SW629-1. The only way I know to properly fit a shoulder holster is to wear it about a lot, adjust it, wear it some more, adjust it, wear it again, adjust it...you get the picture. A lot of wearing & adjusting before it can be considered ready-to-roll.

So, instead of taking my old standby, a SW1911 stoked with Rem .45ACP 230gr Golden Sabers, I am going about town with my SW629 stoked with my mild handloads (.44mag case, 240gr LSWC, 7.3gr Trail Boss). These make in the neighborhood of 1000fps, tops.

I feel fine loaded with these. They are low-pressure, like I prefer my self-defense load to be, and have a larger diameter than most 9mm/.357" JHP cartridges end up with. The are accurate as heck and have squat for flash, to boot.(1) I'd just like to find a factory load kinda like the aforementioned Rem .45ACP 230gr Golden Sabers (performance-wise), which give me a warm & fuzzy feeling.

Not wishing to waste y'all's time, I already searched THR and found the following:
Fed Premium Personal Defense .44mag
http://www.federalpremium.com/products/details/handgun.aspx?id=348
240gr jhp @ 1210fps
Hydra-Shok

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel Personal Protection .44mag
http://www.speer-ammo.com/ballistics/ammo.aspx
200gr jhp @ 1075fps
Gold Dot

Corbon Self-Defense .44mag
http://www.dakotaammo.net/Self-Defense-JHP/44-Rem-Mag-165gr-CORBON-Self-Defense-JHP/SD44M165-20/100/Product
165gr @ 1300fps
Unknown JHP

Corbon Self-Defense DPX .44mag
http://www.dakotaammo.net/Self-Defense-DPX/44-Rem-Mag-225gr-Self-Defense-DPX/DPX44M225-20/200/Product
225gr @ 1350fps
DPX all-copper

These came closest, but none are ideal. The Corbons are too peppy and likely more pressure than I'd like. The Speer is in the right neighborhood, but too light. The Federal is hefty enough, but a little too peppy.

Buffalo Bore has some "low recoil" .44mag, but they are also too fast.

If I was forced to choose between the four, I'd run with the Federal.

Again, any suggestions for mild-medium .44mag JHP self defense loads in a .44mag case?




(1) Some enterprising company ought to make some SD loads with near-max loads of Trail Boss and an appropriate premium JHP.

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Lucky Derby
June 30, 2010, 12:48 AM
I would suggest the Buffalo Bore .44 Special loads. Not what you asked about, but more controlable than any .44 mag load and a good load.

lwknight
June 30, 2010, 04:45 AM
Well, at least your wise enough to realize that full house 44 mag loads are not more effective on human sized targets than something half that power.
The 44spl ammo might actually be more effective as a fight stopper and definately safer than a known through shooter.
However I have seen some people that that look scary enough to make you want for a 454 casull.

CraigC
June 30, 2010, 05:03 AM
I'm partial to Gold Dots but the .44Spl 200gr Silvertip load is also a good one. Or you can substitute the 240gr Gold Dot in your Trail Boss loading. Or 7.5 to 8.0gr Unique in .44Spl brass, or 9.0gr Unique in Magnum brass.

Sam1911
June 30, 2010, 08:36 PM
but the .44Spl 200gr Silvertip load is also a good one.

No. No it is not. I bought a box of those when I first bought my 629. Swallowed the $1+ per shot price because I figured they'd be GREAT self-defense rounds.

Imagine my dismay when I chrono'd them and discovered they barely broke 700 fps from my 4" 629! A 200 gr. JHP moving at 709 fps (I remember distinctly) wouldn't come close to the .45 ACPs I normally carried -- and I had three fewer in the gun!

Can't UN-recommend the Silvertips enough!


...


The Speer loading (if their numbers are true) is just a couple hundred fps slower than my preferred carry load with that gun. I'm sure it would serve you well.

CraigC
June 30, 2010, 09:02 PM
So you disregard them based on velocity alone??? How do they do on flesh???

Sam1911
June 30, 2010, 09:58 PM
So you disregard them based on velocity alone???
Wholly disregard them? No. Compare them to others and reject them on poor relative performance in a measurable criterion? Yes.

How do they do on flesh???
Off-hand, I'd guess about 200 fps and 30 gr. worse than my standard .45ACP load. That might be wholly irrelevant. Or, that might be critical. Which bad guy do you intend to shoot where? Tell me which self-defense shooting you plan to have and I'll predict accurately whether you need a faster/heavier round or not. ;)

"On flesh" type measurements have proved to be mighty difficult to obtain, though many have tried and/or have claimed to be able to provide "conclusive" results. Lots of folks and critters have died after being shot with just about every cartridge ever made. Comparison data that is actually useful to a citizen in a self-defense scenario is available only as broad generalizations.

One of those broad generalizations might be that 700 fps with a light, cavernous JHP bullet is pretty darned anemic, especially from "premium" big-bore self-defense ammo.

CraigC
June 30, 2010, 10:15 PM
Another broad generalization may be that we tend to get hung up on the numbers.

I stole this from another forum but apparently this is what a .44Spl Silvertip looks like after firing into wet newsprint. This from a short little Charter Arms Bulldog Pug. This load is too often recommend by folks who know a lot more than I do about sixguns to be "anemic".
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v257/knitepoet/Bullet%20Tests/100_0674.jpg

Sam1911
June 30, 2010, 10:22 PM
Expansion is impressive. But that picture isn't terribly useful, though, without penetration numbers. If it opens up like that and stops in 3-5", I'd rather take a wadcutter that penetrates instead. If it makes the recommended 12", I could be swayed.

As I said, lots of folks & critters have died from lots of cartridges -- even those. If you like them, use them. There do seem to be many more persuasive choices, though.

We do occasionally chase the numbers to absurd extremes. But the numbers do mean things. Ignoring the numbers just because you "don't want to get hung up on" them -- or because the old timers swore by the Silvertip -- is at least as absurd.

sonier
June 30, 2010, 10:27 PM
Agreed Penetration is important just because it mushrooms up dosnt mean its a good self defense load. a slow moving 200 grain bullet compared too a faster 200 grain bullet, well the faster one is going to have more of a punch. 700-800 fps is really slow, the 44 mag should be a one stop punch, why make it weaker?

CraigC
June 30, 2010, 10:35 PM
What is absurd is arbitrarily dismissing a long serving self defense load because it doesn't meet your velocity requirements and nothing else. Especially when there's a little data right here.
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=290628
http://www.stoppingpower.net/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6115

I do not ignore the numbers because I don't wanna get hung up on them, which I would equate to laziness, quite the contrary. I just understand that they do not always tell the whole story, can sometimes be meaningless and sometimes the real world just doesn't cooperate with our perceived reality based on math. And by "those who know a lot more than I do", I wasn't referring to the opinionated old man that lives around the corner.

CraigC
June 30, 2010, 10:39 PM
...well the faster one is going to have more of a punch.
It is never quite so simple. You have to match your bullet to your quarry and your velocity to your bullet. That same 200gr bullet that does so well at 700-800fps might come completely apart at 1400fps and that is entirely plausible. The published muzzle energy that folks rely upon so much will obviously favor the faster version but the bullet's construction might make it a far better prairie dog vaporizer than self defense load when driven to such velocities. Same holds true for cast bullets. A heavyweight LBT may punch through six feet of heavy critter when driven to 1200fps but drive that same bullet 1000fps faster and it very well may shatter on impact. Which makes my point about getting hung up on the numbers. It's better to understand what a given projectile will do to a given target at a given velocity. Something not encountered in ballistics tables.

Sam1911
June 30, 2010, 11:03 PM
Certainly true -- but -- it still doesn't take into account that a light bullet (well, light relative to the cartridge), moving very slowly (pretty undeniable), and expanding voluminously (per your picture), doesn't penetrate very far. With certain caveats, that's just the physics of it.

Unless you're talking about very high velocity "Varmint Grenade" type bullets which are designed to explode on impact, pushing a bullet faster will generally make it penetrate farther. Now it might expand well, or not at all, or may break up, depending on where in the range of normal handgun velocities that cartridge fell, and those details will affect penetration as well -- but the goal is most always to expand "some" AND penetrate LOTS.

You do have to match your bullet to the velocity and to the "quarry" as you said. In this case, the "quarry" being self-defense targets, the goal has been generally set at something approaching 12" of penetration in ballistic gelatin. Might be overkill on some targets, might be insufficient on some harder (or hardened) targets, but a reasonable goal for our common shooting scenario. If the charge in the Silvertip cartridge isn't strong enough to push that bullet fast enough to make it penetrate to something approaching the goal, AND the bullet won't hold up if it were pushed that fast, then that would seem to be TWO strikes against the Silvertip. Not two "wrongs" becoming a "right."

Now, some old timers (and not-so-old timers) place abiding faith in various old standby loads -- believing beyond the numbers, so to speak. That's fine, and the chances of them being proven "wrong" are slim.

Further, there may be some situations -- for example, the little Charter pug you mentioned -- where a slow, light round might really be optimal for that gun (or even for that shooter).

But the OP was asking about a serious defensive load for his S&W .44 Magnum. Dropping down to a load that's going half as fast as "normal" (and thus, produces a bit less than 1/4 the energy) seems odd.

Manco
July 1, 2010, 11:33 AM
Another broad generalization may be that we tend to get hung up on the numbers.

Perhaps, but even more frequently we're seduced by expansion, which isn't nearly enough on its own to determine whether a load is good for defensive purposes. Penetration is actually far more important, and there's generally a tradeoff between the two.

If it makes the recommended 12", I could be swayed.

I'd be more impressed if it could make the FBI-recommended 18" (12" is just the minimum acceptable).

What is absurd is arbitrarily dismissing a long serving self defense load because it doesn't meet your velocity requirements and nothing else. Especially when there's a little data right here.
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=290628
http://www.stoppingpower.net/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6115

That's not too bad, but it could easily be even better, I think, within the constraints of the caliber.

You do have to match your bullet to the velocity and to the "quarry" as you said. In this case, the "quarry" being self-defense targets, the goal has been generally set at something approaching 12" of penetration in ballistic gelatin.

I think that 12" is the bare minimum and that exceeding it, within reason, is better. By "within reason" I think that 18" is considered by some authorities to be the goal. Personally, I think it would be useful for a round to have enough penetration margin that, for example, in a side shot it could penetrate both lungs (and the heart if you're lucky) of a large bad guy after penetrating the bones of his ribcage. Being able to do that after penetrating an arm would be useful in some cases, too. Ballistic gelatin only represents flesh (rather imperfectly), and living bone is an exceedingly tough barrier for bullets.

batmann
July 1, 2010, 03:03 PM
You seem to have ruled out the 165 gr Cor-Bon, but that is my carry load, I like the C-B because it has less muzzle flash than most other brands plus you can also get it in .44 Spl. Both are pretty good SD rounds. Double Tap has a 200 gr HP load in .44 Spl that is a pretty good load as well.
I have some Buffalo Bore 255 gr SWC that I shoot in my Ruger .44 Spl Flattop and it is a pretty stout load and is more of a hunting load. I have not tried their 180 gr HP, but I'm guessing that it is good for SD.
A SD load has so many variables in it that you might want to try a couple of different brands before you settle on one. I guess I'm an old school guy in that I change my SD loads depending on the time of year. I use a heavier load(BB 255 SWC) in the winter and my Cor-Bon 165 gr HP in the summer months.

bsms
July 1, 2010, 04:06 PM
I use Buffalo Bore 44 Special 255 Grain Lead Semi-Wadcutters at around 1000 fps. Haven't shot anyone with it, so I don't know what will happen...but I like my odds.

sonier
July 1, 2010, 09:22 PM
in all reality it is a 44 mag lol its gona have stopping power regardless, i would just recomend the fastest medium weight bullet that is designed for self defense, this would be perfect.

Grey Morel
July 1, 2010, 09:32 PM
I would look to push a 240 at about 1,200 fps. This will give you about 750ft-lbs at the muzzle, instead of the 1,200ft-lbs you see in many hunting loads.

The 240 @ 1200 load is easily controled out of most .44 mag revolvers, while still delivering a LOT of power and frontal area. You COULD fork over serious $$$ for Buffalo Bore 44 special +P... but most cheap factory .44 loads, like S&B or American Eagle, aren't much hotter.

I use S&B soft points as defence ammo in my gun for this very reason: good power, moderate recoil, less $$$.

sonier
July 2, 2010, 01:33 AM
open soft points seem to have a lot of penetration capabilities, wouldnt a open soft point HP be much better to prevent serious over penetration?

Manco
July 2, 2010, 07:21 AM
I guess I'm an old school guy in that I change my SD loads depending on the time of year. I use a heavier load(BB 255 SWC) in the winter and my Cor-Bon 165 gr HP in the summer months.

Well, to each their own, I always say, but I never could figure out the rationale myself because with hollow-points, generally the more clothing is encountered, the less they will expand and the deeper they will penetrate. To me this doesn't exactly call for a heavier, more penetrating load for carry during winter months. Now, if instead you figure that the hollow-point will not expand and that a SWC round would therefore do more damage, then that's something I can understand, albeit I bet that a good hollow-point would expand at least some.

Meeteetse
July 2, 2010, 06:21 PM
Personally there isn't a .44 special load out there I would want to be shot with including the anemic cowboy loads. I have carried Silvertips, Buffalo Bore and Cor-bon and trust them all. The same applies to the various 45colt loads I've carried ranging from 750 to 1100 fps. Statistics are fine, but I will always believe in bigger slow bullets. Hope I never really have to find out.
p.s. my typical carry guns are a .44mag or .45 Colt S&W Mtn. gun. If I'm in the woods or hunting, a Ruger SBH goes with me with some type of hardcast load @ 1200fps +.

dogngun
July 2, 2010, 08:13 PM
I carried it loaded with .44 Mag Blazer .240 grain JHP's. they were very reliable and consistant, good accuracy and medium power, with a GREAT hollowpoint bullet. They were also under $20 a box of 50 back then, so I practiced with the same round I carried, which is a great thing. I had two loades HKS speedloaders, too.

mark

Dr.Rob
July 2, 2010, 08:20 PM
Older can be better, meaning a soft lead load. Several 'cowboy' loads for 44 mag are under 1000 fps with a 240 gr flat point lead bullet. While it's not 'ideal' by today's wonder bullet standards, soft lead deforms and makes a mess of whatever it hits.

Buck Snort
July 3, 2010, 01:25 AM
Batman wrote: "You seem to have ruled out the 165 gr Cor-Bon, but that is my carry load..."

Mine too and it launches from my 4" 629 @ 1300 fps. I'm no ballistics expert nor an expert on "stopping power" but that strikes me as being a pretty solid load for a handgun.

ArchAngelCD
July 3, 2010, 01:37 AM
The Remington Express .44 Magnum ammo will do what you're looking for. It's a 240gr bullet doing ~1180 fps from what I read.

lloveless
July 3, 2010, 04:42 AM
I use Corbon .44 spcl 165 gr hp in my maggie.
ll

batmann
July 6, 2010, 12:09 PM
Manco, I use a heavier solid in winter months for penetration. Most hollow points will clog with clothing and fail to expand. I change loads because most HP's are lighter and lose penetration as you add layers of clothing.
This is my opinion only and I have no real tests to confirm my thoughts other than shooting into phone books that I kept adding clothing to, not very scientific I know, but the best I can do.

Grey Morel
July 6, 2010, 12:33 PM
I'm confused...

Most hollow points will clog with clothing and fail to expand. I change loads because most HP's are lighter and lose penetration as you add layers of clothing.

These statements seem mutually exclusive: In one sentence you say the HP will clog with fabric and not expand, yet in the very next one you say clothing will reduce its penetration?

I think you have that backwards: failure to expand virtually always results in DEEPER penetration in every caliber known to man.

Look at the actual data: even a light weight 180gr hollow point will still average 13" of penetration after expanding to 3/4". If this bullet were to "clog with clothing" as you say, the penetration would be even deeper. The 240 grain factory loads expand just as big (3/4") and penetrate 20+ inches of tissue.

I seriously doubt the puffy jacket from local thrift stores will provide your attacker any protection from a 44 magnum; every properly placed shot is going to penetrate to vitals, regardless of bullet weight; anyone attacking a man with a 44 magnum had better be 100+ yards away wielding a RIFLE.

Why are so many people worried about 'penetration' with a .44 magnum? This seems like a non issue to me.

tex929rr
July 6, 2010, 12:46 PM
roo ster I have been shooting a load very much like you describe for years in my 629 - 44 mag case with a 240 SWC loaded to 44 spl specs. It's pleasant to shoot and will seriously tear stuff up (armadillos in particular). I also loaded the same bullets for a S/W Nightguard in 44 spl, although it feels a lot more stout in that lightweight revolver.

44 spl is so hard to find (and expensive) I just figured I'd stay with this load and not worry about factory ammo. I bought a huge box of those bullets about 15 years ago and have not used them up yet.

roo_ster
July 7, 2010, 01:09 AM
I thought about hand-loading one of the low/med power .44mag bullets (Gold Dot, Hydra-Shok, etc.), but I could not find that the manufacturers sold them as components. I found plenty of tough hunting .44mag pills, though.

I think I will try out these two, with no guarantee that I will convert to factory fodder:

Fed Premium Personal Defense .44mag
240gr jhp @ 1210fps
Hydra-Shok

Corbon Self-Defense DPX .44mag
225gr @ 1350fps
DPX all-copper

I bought a box of 20 of the Corbon DPX retail at a local gun shop and about had a coronary at $51.xx + tax. :eek:

For the love of all that is holy, $2.50/round is tough to swallow.

I am seriously considering just switching out the hard-cast 240gr LSWC for the Hornady swaged 240gr LSWC-HP and seeing if it has a similar POI to the 240gr LSWC I currently use


http://www.hornady.com/store/44-Cal-.430-240-gr-SWC-HP/

roo_ster
July 10, 2010, 02:06 AM
Couldn't find the Federal cartridges or the Hornady swaged LWSCHP bullets to save my life.

The solid gold--er--copper 225gr Corbons hit dead-on (POI=POA) at 7 yards with my sights adjusted for my handload and 6" high at 25 yards. Also, they gave a teeny-tiny group. Recoil was more zippy than my handload, but not bad.

I still want to try the Feds and the Hornady swaged LSWCHP. I think a .44mag / .44spl+P "FBI Load" would be just the ticket.

roo_ster
July 10, 2010, 02:08 AM
---

Taurus 617 CCW
July 10, 2010, 10:46 AM
You may want to take a look at the Nosler 250 gr Partition handgun rounds. I have seen some pretty impressive results from those rounds on medium game. They are loaded by Winchester and are called Partition Gold. They may be a little too hot for your intended purpose but I thought I'd throw another rock in the pond for you. Here's a link to some more info:

http://www.handgunsmag.com/ammunition/partition_0611/index.html

roo_ster
July 10, 2010, 12:47 PM
Taurus 617 CCW:

Oddly enough, I use the .357mag version of that in my titanium Taurus snubby 651 and it makes an honest 1000fps over my chrony 10' from the muzzle. The Win Partition Gold was the only .357mag where POI was anywhere near POA. It is also crazy accurate/consistent. Your article claims 17" though gelatin at 1200fps, which is right in the 12"-18" zone. I have a review/test of the Win Part Gold here on THR.

As for the Win Part Gold .44mag, Win claims 1230fps out of a 6.5" bbl. I bet it would be a little over 1000fps out of my 4" 629. That is the neighborhood I'm looking for.

I'll give the .44mag a try, since the .357mag has served me well.

RugRev
July 10, 2010, 02:06 PM
"You seem to have ruled out the 165 gr Cor-Bon, but that is my carry load, I like the C-B because it has less muzzle flash than most other brands plus you can also get it in .44 Spl. " Batman

Also, out of a 629 Mtn. Gun I find the recoil and recovery about the same as shooting a 125 gr JHP out of a 4" medium frame gun.

NMGonzo
July 10, 2010, 10:29 PM
Has anyone chronographed a any load moving over 1200 fps from a 4" barrel?

Sam1911
July 10, 2010, 11:14 PM
Yes. The load I usually carry is a .429" Hornady XTP over some quantity of Herco in a .44 Spc. case @ 1,250 fps.

That's from my 4" 629.

The_Pretender
July 10, 2010, 11:39 PM
^ I'm glad Sam mentioned the XTP. That thing is scary. I load it in .44 mag and .357 mag. Sometimes there is jacket separation, but most of the slugs we dug up were still whole. And the expansion was easily 2x. Granted it was my loadings and my guns.

That being said, I still wouldn't probably carry a .44 mag load. It would be a .44 special load. Matter of fact, that is what I have had at the ready in the past. 180gn Hornady XTP .44 specials. They are very controllable, and I'm most certain would be a deterrent to most people. (Hell just hearing it go off oughtta be enough to end it :rolleyes:)

I know we all get caught up in numbers and performance - it's what we do in what I call the "down time". That is, we aren't in a battle situation so we have the opportunity to discuss issues such as this. We seldom if ever have to prove it, so we go nuts with this as it is our outlet. I've recently been pouring over stats for 9mm loadings. And I always arrive at my same conclusion that appears at the bottom of this post.

I am more than certain, and unashamed to announce to you all that ANY .44 mag slug that hits me in the chest will convince me I should have been elsewhere. I would go one step further to say that no matter what we all opine to be the "best" load, no one here would want to be shot by any of them.

scottishclaymore
July 11, 2010, 01:44 AM
I have a 4" bbl Taurus Tracker that I am doing some work on for a friend. I like the gun a lot and I'm seriously thinking about making him an offer on it. If/when I do, I'll be using it as a carry gun, so this is of interest to me as well. Sounds like the Remington Express .44 Magnum ammo might just be my best bet.

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