.44 SPL vs. .41 Mag


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336A
July 16, 2010, 05:25 PM
I'm torn between purchasing a new Ruger black hawk SA revolver in these two calibers. I do reload so that will help with keeping myself supplied with ammunition. I find that I keep leaning more toward the .44 SPL as it is more efficient in that it don't consume as much powder as the .41 mag. However the .44 SPl will still be able to push a 250gr Keith bullet to 1200 fps safely. That load has put down a lot of animals in the past with out any problems either. I also like the fact that there is a much better assortment of bullets in .44 caliber.

On the other hand I really like the .41 magnum. My S&W M58 is very accurate but it sucks when all that is available is full power hunting loads. The other thing I don't like is that while the .41 mag is one of my favorite cartridges, the lack of bullet selection sucks as well. However it too has put down a lot of big animals. There are no flies on either of these cartridges they're both great but I'm just stuck. So lets have a discussion what would you all get between these two and why.

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devildog66
July 16, 2010, 05:28 PM
Well, heck, ya talked me out of either of those;). Go the distance and buy the .44M and get all that you want and even more power on the top end. Not to mention, factory ammo is about a third of the cost compared to either of the aforementioned.

fireside44
July 16, 2010, 06:10 PM
The other thing I don't like is that while the .41 mag is one of my favorite cartridges, the lack of bullet selection sucks as well.

Sounds like the lament of a man who needs to start casting his own shoots.:)

1911Tuner
July 16, 2010, 06:45 PM
If I were to be given a choice of one revolver caliber to do me for the rest of my life...come what may...I'd pick the .41 without blinking. I'm a fan of the .44 Special, but it lacks the versatility of the .41 Magnum.

The .41 pretty much begs to be handloaded. With a 210 grain cast SWC and 7.5 grains of Unique, it makes for a pleasant day of bangin' away at falling plates...or it can be loaded up to stomper level at whim.

While Elmer Keith did have a lot of success at loading the .44 Special up to 1200 fps, he also wrecked a few guns in the process. That's precisely why he worried the hell out of Smith & Wesson and Remington for a .44 Magnum. Not to detract from Elmer's contributions to handgunning, but frankly...he's lucky to have kept all his fingers and eyes his whole life.

There's a pretty good selection of .41 caliber jacketed bullets available, from 170 grain to 220. Being a handloader and bullet caster, I haven't kept up closely with the more recent selections, so there may be some heavier slugs on the market. Many years ago, I pretty much settled down with 210 cast bullets and two powders. Unique and 2400. I have some jacketed soft and hollowpoint bullets around here for it, but they've been waitin' for about 20 years for the call.

For my intended uses, the .41 Magnum is the perfect revolver cartridge, but that's just my opinion.

Guillermo
July 16, 2010, 06:51 PM
Don't you hate it when you put a choice and some jerk goes to a third choice?

Guess I am that jerk.

I would buy the BH in 44 Magnum. That way you have your 44 Special AND the versatility to go faster if you ever find the need.

That said, I LOVE the 41 magnum.

Lucky Derby
July 16, 2010, 06:54 PM
Both good cartridges no doubt about that.
I would go .44 special. It is on the smaller frame Ruger and the gun just feels right. I really don't like the larger Blackhawk frame nearly as much.
Either cartridge is a reloader's cartridge although I think that .44 special is slightly easier to find factory loads for, should the need come up, thanks in part to CAS.

calaverasslim
July 16, 2010, 07:12 PM
Then, you can stir in the 41 special. Contact Starline and see about getting some brass. I got 400+ pieces and really love the 41 special. Almost as much as I love the 44 special.

Don't like any magnum loads

Oyeboten
July 16, 2010, 07:17 PM
What's wrong with .45 Colt???


( Sorry, could not resist...)

Nasty
July 16, 2010, 07:17 PM
I've always thought the 41 Mag was sort of an answer to a problem that doesn't exist.

Seems to me that between the .357 Magnum (and .38 Special) and the .44 Magnum (and .44 Special), you pretty well cover all bases.

Cosmoline
July 16, 2010, 07:21 PM
The biggest problem I had with the .41 was not bullet selection but getting the spent cases mixed up with the .44 mag batches. Even loaded rounds look really similar at quick glance. Just something to consider if you already have a .41 Mag.

Beyond that, in the big Ruger frame with handloads they're very similar. The .41 mag is I believe more potent and probably a better choice for longer range hunting than the .44 special, but you can turn the special into a magnum too.

I've always thought the 41 Mag was sort of an answer to a problem that doesn't exist.

I believe back in the day EK viewed it as an improved police sidearm round over the .357. In a way he was right, since the .40 cal did end up as the dominant law enforcement round albeit in a different and less potent form. But the .41 never caught on as a police round.

336A
July 16, 2010, 07:29 PM
1911 Turner Elmer sure did wreck a lot of those old colts but the Ruger is not a Colt and will digest 17gr of 2400 under a 250gr bullet no problems. This load was tested in whites labratory at 25,000 PSI. You also stated the very reasons why I like the .41 magnum so much yet why it makes this decision so difficult for me . I like both cartridges but can only afford one.

Lucky Derby I too like the fact that the .44 SPL is on the smaller frame making for a more packable side arm.

Guillermo and others I would not buy a magnum revolver to shoot special cartridges from as I hate cleaning the carbon ring from the chambers that builds up from doing so. Also as I stated from the begining the whole reason for me thinking about the .44 Special is that it is more efficient with powder consumption. At the same time it can be loaded up safely to 1200 fps with a 250gr bullet were I so inclined to do so. Also a .44 magnum will be heavier than a .44 Special due to the longer cylinder. And lastly I don't want or need a .44 magnum revolver as I already have a S&W M58 .41 magnum.

MMCSRET
July 16, 2010, 07:41 PM
Why place yourself in this predicament? Buy one of each and enjoy, I did and never looked back.

Walkalong
July 16, 2010, 08:07 PM
As much as I love the .44 Spl, if I just had to pick one first, I might go with the .41 Mag, maybe. Nah....44 Spl. Hmm....I see your dilemma.

Redhawk & 696

orionengnr
July 16, 2010, 08:40 PM
I had three .44 Spls several years back. Sold them all.

I'm with Tuner on this one. The .41 Mag is an incredibly versatile cartridge, and a slam dunk for a handloader.

I use about 7.0 gr of 231 or Green Dot for plinking rounds and 18.0 of 296 for boomer rounds.

1911Tuner
July 16, 2010, 08:46 PM
Just so happens that a local shop has a mid-framed, flattop Blackhawk .44 Special in the showcase. It's not a Lipsey Blackhawk, either. Word is that it's going to be a catalog item soon. I'm tryin' to justify another single-action this very minute. It's callin' to me. I can hear it. The Blackhawk...even though it's not a large-frame New Model...may be a little more robust than a Smith.

Walkalong
July 16, 2010, 09:49 PM
Here tuner, tuner, tuner.....


Yea, I can hear it too. :D

Magnumite
July 16, 2010, 10:11 PM
I see the 44 Special and 41 Mag as two different cartridges. Discussion has indicated both merits and detractors for each. The 44 Mag is out of the question to the poster. So I'd look to the battery of firearms in the safe.

OP, you stated you already own the M58, plus you don't want the weight of the a magnum revolver. I'd get the 44 Special Ruger for the reasons you indicate, plus it puts a 44 Special there along with the the single action mechanism. More variety in your stable.

Drail
July 16, 2010, 10:28 PM
.41 Remington Mag. Have been loading for it since the 80s and it will do anything you need. I also really like the whole idea of boring small holes in a large cylinder and bbl. which leaves you with more steel and weight. A .41 Blackhawk will take some serious handloads with ease. There actually are a very wide range of bullet weights and styles available to the handloader, they're just not sold in most stores. LBT Technologies makes some nice heavy .41 bullets. Shoot a Bisley Blackhawk in .41 Rem Mag and you'll be a believer. But I am also a HUGE fan of the old .44 Spl. My daily carry is a S&W 696 L frame. What a great idea that one was. But off the shelf ammo selection killed it. A 200 gr. .44 bullet at 900 fps is really about all anyone should ever need. And I have LOTS of those.

CraigC
July 17, 2010, 01:25 AM
While Elmer Keith did have a lot of success at loading the .44 Special up to 1200 fps, he also wrecked a few guns in the process.
Elmer Keith never destroyed a .44Spl. Actually the only sixgun I remember reading about him destroying was a first generation Colt SAA .45. Which is why he abandoned it in favor of the .44 in the first place. Nothing wrong with the Keith load in the new flat-tops.

Walkalong
July 17, 2010, 09:15 AM
I had three .44 Spls several years back. Sold them all.Blasphemy! :D

batmann
July 17, 2010, 04:11 PM
The mid frame Ruger BH Flattop is a great platform for the .44 Special and it is now a catalog item. I have one of the Lipsey's and it is an outstanding handgun.
The .44 Spl and the .41M are different cartridges for different purposes as all ready pointed out and ammo for both can be a problem at times. If you are getting one to hunt, go with the .41M.

fireside44
July 17, 2010, 06:10 PM
I figured in a carry size snub gun that .44 special and .41 mag would more or less run about even as a defense piece. Still, about the most difficult decision a person could make in life.:)

1911Tuner
July 17, 2010, 06:26 PM
Craig, I remember reading about Keith blowing the loading gate off of a .44 Special SA Colt, and off a couple in .45 Caliber.

Also...Keith's 18 grains of 2400/250 LSWC .44 Special load was developed with older lots of 2400. Alliant's 2400 is a little quicker. Observe all due caution, and believe that it's hotter than it once was.

As far as the Blackhawk being amply strong for Keith's data, adjusted for Alliant powder...It probably is, but I wouldn't push it too far.

As the wise old man said: (Paraphrased)

"The pressures involved in driving a 250 grain bullet to 1200 fps in 5 inches of barrel is more than enough to blow your eyes through the back of your head."

I'd limit it to 1,000 fps or so in a mid-framed Ruger.

RidgwayCO
July 17, 2010, 07:23 PM
IMO you should get the .44 Special. Since you reload, you'll be able to take the .44 Special in the Ruger from mild to wild (efficiently). Plus you've already got a .41 Magnum...

Additionally with the .44 Special, quality handguns are available from 18oz (S&W M396 Mtn Lite) to 47oz (Ruger 5-1/2" Bisley Flattop) and probably heavier. I'm pretty sure there aren't any 18oz handguns in .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, or .45 Colt...

45crittergitter
July 17, 2010, 07:30 PM
I've always thought the 41 Mag was sort of an answer to a problem that doesn't exist.

Seems to me that between the .357 Magnum (and .38 Special) and the .44 Magnum (and .44 Special), you pretty well cover all bases.

If you have a .41 Mag, you don't need any of the other four! OTOH, any self-respecting gun nut would have examples of all five.

JoelSteinbach
July 17, 2010, 07:36 PM
What you really need is both

Taildragger-J3
July 17, 2010, 08:08 PM
Never had a .41, but just got a .44 Special and LOVE it. It gets my vote every time

CraigC
July 18, 2010, 01:48 AM
Also...Keith's 18 grains of 2400/250 LSWC .44 Special load was developed with older lots of 2400. Alliant's 2400 is a little quicker. Observe all due caution, and believe that it's hotter than it once was.
Actually it was 18.5gr 2400 but that was in balloonhead brass. Reduced to 17.5gr in solid head brass and most recommend no more than 17.0gr with modern Alliant powder. Read up on the new Ruger .44Spl's in an article by Brian Pearce in Handloader last June.


I'd limit it to 1,000 fps or so in a mid-framed Ruger.
Hell, the .45Colt New Vaquero (same frame size) can be pushed to over 1000fps with 250-260gr cast bullets. Dave Scovill likes to load his Colt .45 SAA's to 1100fps with the RCBS 270SAA (his design) and copious amounts of 2400.

Gryffydd
July 18, 2010, 02:06 AM
Hell, the .45Colt New Vaquero (same frame size) can be pushed to over 1000fps with 250-260gr cast bullets.
Don't forget that if the .45 Colt uses about 30% less pressure for any given gr@fps combo than the .44 Mag the difference will be even bigger when it's the .44 Special.

CraigC
July 18, 2010, 03:11 PM
Don't forget that if the .45 Colt uses about 30% less pressure for any given gr@fps combo than the .44 Mag the difference will be even bigger when it's the .44 Special.
I'm sorry but the .45Colt vs. .44Mag logic cannot be applied to the mid-frame .44Spl's. The .44Spl holds the strength and safety advantage in these guns. The guns don't have the strength to meet, let alone exceed, .44Spl performance levels when chambered in .45Colt. The .44Spl is a much more efficient cartridge in these particular platforms.

floridaboy
July 18, 2010, 03:59 PM
I once had a Ruger Blackhawk in .41 Mag., it was nice. I still have the S&W .44 Special. I always will. There really isn't that much difference in the real world. The .44 throws fatter, heavier slugs. The .41 is faster. Both will do about any reasonable thing you ask. If you shoot it well, it will serve you well.

captain awesome
July 18, 2010, 04:25 PM
I would not buy a magnum revolver to shoot special cartridges from as I hate cleaning the carbon ring from the chambers that builds up from doing so. Also as I stated from the begining the whole reason for me thinking about the .44 Special is that it is more efficient with powder consumption.

You know, I don't get it. When every body starts talking about the carbon ring, that's where I am lost. Why may I ask would anyone who hand loads shoot cal "x" special through a magnum? you can down load the magnum and make it the same OAL as the special round and have essentially the exact same round only through a magnum case. No carbon ring to deal with, no more accuracy issues than you would have with the special round....and it's the same powder charge so it's just as "efficient" if I am wrong at all about that, please someone correct me, but that's what make sense to me.

RidgwayCO
July 18, 2010, 05:41 PM
Capt'n, to get the same velocity in the "X" Special using the same bullet in the magnum brass, you're going to have to up the powder load some. No, it won't be a lot, and it certainly isn't going to break the bank, but it also isn't as efficient as using the Special brass. You'll also probably have more unfilled space in the magnum case, which doesn't contribute anything to accuracy. Now if you're using Trail Boss, you can still fill the magnum case to the bottom of the bullet and get a nice soft load, but again at a cost of a few more tenths of a grain of powder.

For those of us who love the .44 Special, no explanation is needed. For those who don't, no explanation will be sufficient...

JShirley
July 18, 2010, 06:06 PM
re .41: pretty sure Silvertips are available, and I know you can get 210 SWC @ 800 fps from GA Arms.

420Stainless
July 18, 2010, 07:10 PM
I had saved up to order a .44 Special Blackhawk when my local dealer put out a 6" Model 57 no-dash which overwhelmed me by its beauty. I really enjoy shooting it, although I haven't put any Magnum loads through it yet. Since I bought it I haven't found any jacketed bullets for it. Rather than go on backorder, I got some 215 grain "Trooper" semi-wadcutters from Missouri Bullet and been loading with Unique.

Now I think if I buy a Blackhawk, it may be the .41 Mag. instead of the .44 Special.

Oceans
July 19, 2010, 09:12 AM
A big benefit of the .41 magnum that is often overlooked, is the fact that in most Smith&Wesson examples at least, the bore diameter matches the cylinder throats .410. That is very conducive to really good accuracy. My 44. Magnum original model 29 6 1/2 barrel has a bore diameter of .429 and cylinder throats of .431. My New 629-6 has a bore of .429 and throats of .428. The 45 colt caliber revolvers seem to be the worst offenders, especially the Ruger variants, they have bore diameters and throats differing considerably. If you have a bore diameter of .452 and a cylinder throat of .457, you will in all probability have to get a new cylinder. For this reason, I am a big believer in the Smith & Wesson model 57 in 41 magnum those throats match the bore, I bet Tuner will back me up on that: I had a beautiful one, but a shop traded me a Browning Citiori 20 gauge for it, and I had a safe full of .44s, 357s, and .45 Colts. I would like to get one again, one of these days, but the my money is not what it once was lol.

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