Loading the 44 Special


February 22, 2011, 04:12 PM
I would like to hear from all you reloaders out there that roll thier own in 44 Special. I have a Taurus 431 and Rossi 720. Both have 3in tubes. For my defense loads I go with the Blazed Gold Dots in 200grn.
As for target, I load 200 grn flat points behinde 6 to 7 grn Unique.:)

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February 22, 2011, 05:32 PM
6.2 grains of Red Dot and a 240 grain lead SWC works for me. Not a powderpuff load, but still mild enough for all day shooting.

February 22, 2011, 06:44 PM
In the snub revolvers I prefer 200 gr. bullets using 2400, Unique, Red Dot, Green Dot and WSF and WST powders. Green dot is a great medium speed powder for .44 Spl.

Dave T
February 23, 2011, 12:07 AM
I duplicate the original 44 Special loading with a cast RN weighing 245g over 4.8g of Red Dot. Surprisingly accurate in a couple old 44s. Average velocity in 4"-5" barrels runs around 750 fps.

For an everyday, general purpose round I use Berry's 240g FPs over 6.2g of HP-38. I goes about 850 fps in a 5" barrel and 825 fps in a 3.4" I have.


February 23, 2011, 12:24 AM
I shoot an Oregon Trail 200 grain laser cast round nose flat point over 14.5 grains of imr 4227 with a cci-350 primer in starline brass.

February 23, 2011, 09:51 AM
For an excellent target load from my S&W 4" barreled 624 I load 4.3 gr of VihtaVuori N-320 behind a .429-size, copper-plated, hollow base full wadcutter bullet (loaded a trifle longer than flush with the case mouth, just like ordinary .38 Spl wadcutters)

February 23, 2011, 09:56 AM
My primary .44 Spc. load is 6.9 gr. of Trail Boss under a 200 gr. LRN.

Gets up over the IDPA ESR power floor at a bit more than 850 fps from my 4" 629.

TB fills the case perfectly at that load.

Saint Dennis
February 23, 2011, 07:09 PM
I been loading 185gr DBBWC. I use my rossi as a trail gun mostly wacking porcipines. That bullet over trailboss works well. Pretty accurate too. I have some Hornady XTP hollowpoints loaded for serious zombie work.

February 23, 2011, 08:00 PM
I cast my own bullets with the Keith design semi wadcutter mold. They come out about 250 grains. Unique is the powder I use.

February 23, 2011, 09:08 PM
Just chronographed a new box of factory Speer 200gr gold dot at 625fps out of a 2.5 inch gun. They are so slow I load my own. I tried a lot of powders and settled on Power Pistol. It is low flash and velocity is constant.
7.2 gr of PP moves a 215 lead swchp out of my 2.5" barrel at about 825 fps.
7.8 gr of PP will push the 200 Gold Dot bullets to around 800 fps in my snub.

February 23, 2011, 09:08 PM
I have a Lipsy's Blackhawk Flatop Bisley and stoke it with Lyman 429421 250 gr Keith and 15 gr 2400. Shoots clover leaves at 25 yds and velocity is around 1100.

February 25, 2011, 04:17 PM
I got erratic velocities using 2400 in a three incher...get much better results with a faster powder like Unique or Universal Clays.

I still like the Lyman 429421 hollow point, cast relatively soft over six and a half grains of Unique. Manageable recoil, some traces of leading, and expansion you won't believe.

the Black Spot
February 25, 2011, 04:41 PM
Anyone tried blue dot?

P5 Guy
February 25, 2011, 08:43 PM
I haven't shot them yet, but I just put some 240gr SWCs over 6grs of 231 in Star Line brass with WIN LP.

February 25, 2011, 09:49 PM
700X and most any lead bullet from 180 to 240 Gr.

February 25, 2011, 09:59 PM
I found that 2400 is a bad powder for anything less than maximum loads - when I tried 14.5 grains under a cast 429244 I got scads of unburned powder. I had to move up to 18 grains before I got good results, but that's low-end .44 Mag territory - I only load that in Mag brass for my M-29, so it's no help to you.

SR4756 worked well - just as versatile as Unique (don't interchange data!) but a LOT cleaner burning.

700-X is good for light loads, but the pressure curve is too steep if you're looking for more power.

March 6, 2011, 08:36 AM
From Taurus 445 2 in snubbie.

factory Blazer 200 grain gdhp = 805 fps
factory CCI nickel cased 200 gdhp = 745 fps

Reloads using Speer 200 grain gdhp, Starline 44 special cases, fed 150 primer, strong LFC

8.8 grains V V -N350 = 870 fps (940 fps from 3 in 696)
7.7 grains Unique = 840 fps (905 fps from 3 in 696)

Need to work up loads, they may be max loads listed in Speer's manual.

To replicate POI, 6.2-6.4 grains hp-38 under 200 lrnfp.

March 6, 2011, 09:40 AM
14.5 2400 240 gr SWC WLP. It's a pretty stout load. No problem with a SW 624 or Ruger Blackhawk.

March 6, 2011, 02:52 PM
For target I like W-231, for more power HS-6 worked well in a 2.5" Taurus 431 and a 3" S&W 696. I tried AA #7 but it seemed a bit to slow for me, 700x and Unique are excellent for the 44spl but they don't meter well in my powder throw :( Now I mostly use W-231 and AA#5, I want to try Universal or VV N-340 next

March 6, 2011, 04:53 PM
I reload for a S&W 1950 .44spl with 6" barrel. 7.5 grains of Unique gives me close to 1000fps which is as hot as I like with this round. Good accuracy, too.

March 7, 2011, 03:31 AM
Unique is my powder of choice for 44spl. I've done a lot of research and found that the Hornady 200gr XTP will perform very well at 44spl velocities as far as accuracy and expansion. Around 8-8.5gr of Unique under those bullets makes a fine, accurate load. That's above standard 44spl pressure, but in a 44mag or a modern 44spl you should be fine.


March 7, 2011, 10:30 PM
I have a 696 no dash and have been loading a 200gr LRNFP over 8.0 grains of Unique in Starline cases with a CCI large pistol primer. Good stout general purpose load that is very accurate. I find practising with this load first helps me shoot lighter recoiling pistols better...go figure.

I've also been experimenting with the 200gr Gold Dot bullet in Starline cases with a CCI large pistol primer using Power Pistol. I just loaded up a batch but haven't tested them yet, but am expecting good results for a defensive load.

What I need to do now is work up a lighter recoiling general purpose load...so, glad you asked the question, as there are a lot of options listed here already.

I love the 44 special...

March 7, 2011, 11:32 PM
Paladin, I have the same gun and that is a GREAT load for it. I have pretty much settled on only 200 gr. bullets for it and 7.0 to 7.5 Unique is a very nice accurate load. Mine seems to like everything as far as accuracy goes though. I've run Red Dot, WST, Bullseye, 2400 and lately Unique seems to be the best all around powder for .44 Spl. The 200 gr. Gold Dot is the most reliable bullet I have found in my tests. They will expand at 800 fps when fired into water jugs every time.

March 8, 2011, 10:26 AM
Drail, yes, I have very high hopes for the 200gr Gold Dot in this caliber... Reliable expansion at over 800 fps is what I'm after and its good to hear that you have found this to be the case. I'm also finding that PowerPistol gives some impressive velocity while keeping pressure well within SAAMI spec. PowerPistol also meters extremely accurately which is a big plus.

I also like the versatility of Unique, and use it for both 44 and 38 special but not too happy with the cleanliness of this powder. I'm going to switch to Penn Bullets Hardcast and W231 to work up some plinking and general purpose loads and see how that goes. I'm thinking of trying their 200 gr and 240 gr bullets for this application.

March 8, 2011, 10:36 PM
I shoot a lot of 44 spl.loads but nothing from bbls as short as you use.
My favorite for plinking out to 100 yds., with my Redhawk is a 245 gr. Kieth type semi wad cutter ahead of 4.1 gr. of Bullseye. Chrono's at 745 fps.

May 10, 2011, 08:02 PM
I load 4.1 grains of Titegroup with a 240 grain LSWC for easy shooting at the range with my 44 special Lipsey Ruger Bisley. Dennis

May 11, 2011, 11:12 AM
In .44 Special I load bullets that range from 165gr LRNFP to 290gr LSWC. What I load the most, however, is 200gr LRNFP bullets over 6.2gr of Trail Boss (1.36cc). Very accurate out of my 4" S&W "M691", and still good for my lightweight S&W M396 and the heavyweight Ruger Bisley Flattop. Shoot all day in comfort.

May 12, 2011, 03:13 PM
Is a 691 from a S&W 681 ? Where does the cylinder come from :confused:

May 12, 2011, 04:42 PM
Jibjab, my "M691" has a 5-shot cylinder in .44 Special purchased directly from S&W (along with a 5-shot hand). Same cylinder as was on the M696. Conversion work on a S&W M681-3 was done by David Clements. If the M686 became a M696, then I figured a M681 should be a M691. This scratched my itch for a 4" fixed-sight L-frame in .44 Special...

(Thank you... I always like posting this photo, although I imagine others might be getting tired of it...)


May 12, 2011, 06:07 PM
The guns the poster is talking about are smaller and not N frame S&W's. I have a Taurus 445 5 shot .44 that I like. I will not shoot anything over 200 gr in it. That weight is perfect for a small .44.

For my N frames I like either 15.0 gr of 2400 or 7.5 gr of Unique with a 250 gr LSWC. Am I the only one that has not had a problem with 2400 in the Spl?

May 12, 2011, 07:00 PM
I am an exclusive jacketed only reloader and also a big fan of Gold Dot and XTP. this having been established I'll provide you with the only diet I feed mine.
For a 200 grain Speer GSHP I go with 9.1 grains of Power pistol, CCI-300 with an OAL of 1.490". this load is a work up and is above the listed data. I've been gettign consistent velcoity of around 1025 fps, slightly higher than the listed maximum. This is being fired from a my M-29 without any indications of high pressure. In fact, I'm still intending to work up in .1 increments until I've reached the maximum without pressure problems.
I was able to get some pretty good velocity with 2400 but the pressures were unstable at the upper end, and I was also not satisfied with the dirty burn I got.
In addition to those loads I have also loaded with H4227 15.3 grains with a 200 grain Speer GSHP. Again, this load is a work up to above listed data. I stopped at 15.3 grains even though pressures were still capable of further wrok up, because it was doing so well regarding my expectations. I think the minimum or starting charge is 13.0 grians, check that with Hogdon's reloading pages. That load was very good for velocity and chronographed to just above 1050 fps.. I still load this one because it does keep pressures stable and very managable.
But make no mistake, the loads above are work ups and above the listed maximums, and therefore, should be only used if properely working up to these charges while paying close attention to undesired high pressure signs. Additionally of importance is the fact that these powders and loads utilize a higher working pressure for this cartridge, and shouldn't be considered if what your desiring is a lower recoil, lower velocity load. They are anything but plinking performance for the 44 Special.
I found the H4227 and Power Pistol both provide good acuracy, but H4227 may have been a little better in this respect. 2400 simply didn't perform well for me in any manner and has been deleted from my options.
I haven't tried HS6 as yet, but since I have a good supply of it I'll soon be doing a work up with it.

May 12, 2011, 10:54 PM
Thanks for sharing Ridgeway,
it's new to me.

S&W could have a made 691 with a 2.5" barreled round butt much like the Taurus 431 I had, but that is not what the market wanted :confused: I guess.

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