Considering a 41 mag, 44 mag, or 45 colt


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RJR
April 24, 2011, 11:57 AM
Hi all,
I'm considering the 41 mag, 44 mag, and 45 colt for my next handgun. I will be using it for punching holes in paper, a back up sidearm for pig hunting and in bear country, and, who knows, I may even try Cowboy Action shooting. I will be handloading so I would like a range of loads from lighter range loads to pig/bear stopping loads. I like the Ruger Blackhawks and Vaqueros and may save up for a Redhawk?
What are your thoughts?

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Kasinefect
April 24, 2011, 12:13 PM
I own all three. The .41 is a good round but unless you reload you may have trouble finding enough ammo to shoot in the loads you like. The .44 is a great all around hunting load and if you load it in .44 Spl you are good to go for cowboy action. the same is true for .45 Colt and is the caliber I used in cowboy action back when I was into it. Cowboy loads as a rule are somewhat downloaded anyway.

RJR
April 24, 2011, 01:08 PM
Can I shoot 44 special in a 44 mag revolver or do I need a different cylinder?

rikman
April 24, 2011, 01:13 PM
Yes, you can shoot 44Spl in a 44 Mag gun. Great accurate round...

Hunt480
April 24, 2011, 05:08 PM
If I had to make a choice it probably would be the 44mag, but I got all three.

murf
April 24, 2011, 05:20 PM
if you want to do the cowboy thing later on, you may want to stick with the 45 long colt. since you reload, it will do all you require.

murf

Water-Man
April 24, 2011, 05:27 PM
For your purposes I'd go with the .44mag..

hardluk1
April 24, 2011, 06:09 PM
If cowboy shooting you will want a SA revolver and caliber could depend on what you find a better buy in. Handloading would preffered for cowboy shooting but both the 45lc ruger only loads or the heavier 44 mags will do the job as a backup egualy as well. and yes the 44 sp loads shoot in the 44 mag. Just clean the powder out of the cylinder before going back to 44 mag. In a DA/SA the ruger SRH is hard to beat and prices can be found down around 700 dollars at a good dealer.

jimniowa
April 24, 2011, 07:16 PM
For a hunting carry gun I have a SBH 4.5" and load with 240g swc or jfp depending on the hunt in .44sp. I carry it in a "Doc Holiday" cross draw rig, and maybe be combined with a RH for pistol hunting in .44mag or shot gun or rifle of other cals.'s. It is my main carry gun in the field.
Jim

Walking Dead
April 24, 2011, 07:37 PM
Get the .44 mag. At least you can have some choices for ammo.

Manco
April 24, 2011, 07:55 PM
Given all of your requirements, I think that a Ruger Blackhawk chambered in .45 Colt would be the best fit. It's a single-action revolver in the most "classic" Old West caliber, which is good for Cowboy Action shooting I would think, and it's strong enough to handle handloads that rival or even surpass .44 Magnum for the other purposes you have in mind (if you didn't plan on handloading, then I would have suggested the Super Blackhawk in .44 Magnum).

41 Mag
April 24, 2011, 08:03 PM
Might as well be like the some of the rest of us and go get all three. Then your covered for any occasion.

TriTone
April 24, 2011, 08:08 PM
I've heard from a few different people that the New Vaqueros aren't built like the old ones and can't handle the real Hot 45 loads like the old ones. I haven't looked into it myself but thought I'd pass it on for you to look into since you're shopping. I know my grandpas old vaquero is built like a tank and he loaded the thing DARN hot.

Just did my first Cowboy match this weekend. Very relaxed and fun - definitely a recommendation if you can piece together all the equipment you need!

BCRider
April 24, 2011, 09:26 PM
While the Vaquero is a great gun I would not suggest shooting a steady diet of stout hunting loads from it. It's intended for cowboy shooting primarily and so it's a bit light for shooting the high power stuff. The gun won't blow up or be a safety concern but it's likely that a steady diet of big power loads will pound the cylinder out of timing sooner than on some other guns.

Also the fixed sights will prove less than ideal for a variety of different power loadings. The ability to adjust the elevation for the different power levels makes the Blackhawk a much more ideal gun for your various needs.

I'd personally stick with .44Mag or .45Colt since brass is just that much easier to come by. And there's a huge array of bullets and loading recipes for anything from cowboy action soft to serious wrist thumpers.

TGReaper
April 24, 2011, 09:47 PM
Not allowed in cowboy action but everyone should have a "Redhawk"

Mfg Nov.1980 . Wife bought it for me Feb.1981

http://i366.photobucket.com/albums/oo110/CeeFour573/Picture013.jpg

TGR

CraigC
April 25, 2011, 12:52 AM
While the Vaquero is a great gun I would not suggest shooting a steady diet of stout hunting loads from it.
The Vaquero is built on the same large, .44Mag sized frame as the Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk. It is not lacking in strength. John Linebaugh even likes to build them into .475 and .500 packin' pistols. It's the New Vaquero that is downsized to similar dimensions as the Colt SAA and should be loaded appropriately. Although they can handle much more th an just powderpuff cowboy loads. Most authorities consider them strong enough to handle handloads in the 21-22,000psi range. Think 250-260gr cast bullets at 1050-1100fps.

BCRider
April 25, 2011, 01:50 AM
You're right Craig, it's the New Vaquero I was thinking of.

StrawHat
April 25, 2011, 08:04 AM
CraigC ...Think 250-260gr cast bullets at 1050-1100fps...

In 45 caliber (or the smaller 44) that is enough to take any game on this continent. I use the 45 long Colt and with my black powder loads I get complete penetration on white tailed deer. 260 - 270 grain bullets at +/- 900 fps.

Smaug
April 25, 2011, 09:46 AM
I'd choose between 41 and 44 Mag, if it were me, depending on which had the better used gun available for it. Non-reloaders buy more 44s, so I bet there are some sweet deals out there in 41.

44 Mag is 0.429", and 41 Mag is 0.41", so there's not much of a difference, caliber-wise. Brass will be more plentiful for the 44, but it doesn't really matter, because you won't need to scavenge and chase it.

45 Colt has a pretty thin rim, that is not as durable for reloading as either the 41 or 44, both of which are modern cartridges. It is also more authentic for CAS, if that matters to you. (lots of CAS shooters use a lever action rifle in 45 Colt, even though they were not made back in the day) The only advantage it has to my way of thinking is the bigger bore. But I also feel like it isn't worth much.

In a single action revolver, you'll probably find the most variety of guns at the fairest price in 44. 45 Colt is in most demand, and I'm not sure how many 41s were made in SA guns.

CraigC
April 25, 2011, 10:44 AM
45 Colt has a pretty thin rim, that is not as durable for reloading...
Huh??? The .45 has a very narrow rim, relatively speaking and in instances causes extraction problems in leverguns and DA's. However, the brass is just as robust as any other "modern" cartridge. The only problem lies in the typically oversized chambers of most .45's that overworks the cases a little. Which is not really a big issue. I'm all about the .44Mag over the .45Colt but only for the right reasons. In practical terms, for the handloader, there is very little difference between the two.

RJR
April 25, 2011, 12:11 PM
Thanks for all the discussion. All good stuff to think about. What I'm gathering from the wide range of opinions is that any of those calibers will be just fine. It's going to be a tough decision. Probably will be a blackhawk or older model Vaquero, see which one feels better in my hand and has the sight picture that I like.
Rich

Manco
April 25, 2011, 12:14 PM
45 Colt has a pretty thin rim, that is not as durable for reloading as either the 41 or 44, both of which are modern cartridges.

Are you thinking of older "balloon head" .45 Colt brass? Newer brass (since WWII or so) in this caliber is far more durable and perfectly suitable for handloading and reloading.

RJR
April 25, 2011, 12:24 PM
Any good sources for used guns out there? The local gun shop is pretty limited.

zxcvbob
April 25, 2011, 12:30 PM
Considering a 41 mag, 44 mag, or 45 coltAs long as you either reload or make sure ahead of time that you have a supply of ammo, you can't make a bad choice.

If you have no intentions of ever reloading, get the .44 because ammo is much more readily available and a little cheaper than the other 2.

Smaug
April 25, 2011, 12:38 PM
CraigC, Manco: I was just quoting the comments from the Lyman manual there, having never reloaded 45 Colt before. I believe they're talking about modern brass. They said the thin rim is prone to rip off, leaving a case stuck in the die. I took their word for it.

CraigC
April 25, 2011, 12:48 PM
Never heard of anyone ripping the rim off a .45Colt case.

JohnD13
April 25, 2011, 12:57 PM
All are good rounds, and I like and shoot all of them, but if I could only have one it would be the .41. There are enough newly manufactured ammo out there to keep you shooting, but if you reload you will be way ahead of the game. I have not found any shortages of components for mine.

zxcvbob
April 25, 2011, 01:03 PM
I think the 45's thin rim is more of a problem with double-action revolvers (and maybe lever-action rifles?) than with reloading dies. It might slip past the extractor.

millertyme
April 25, 2011, 02:07 PM
I would say 44 Mag just for availability of a diversity of factory loadings as well as some straight up crazy stuff you can put together yourself. 45LC isn't so bad, but you're limited by factory loadings if you don't load your own or if you don't buy a Ruger or another that is built to handle it all. 41 Mag seems like a decent compromise if you don't like the potentially wrist snapping recoil of a 44 Mag.

RJR
April 25, 2011, 02:33 PM
JohnD13,
What do you like about the .41 mag? Why would that be your pick?
Rich

22-rimfire
April 25, 2011, 04:06 PM
I never really got interested in the 45LC. I used to shoot 44 mag revolvers, but when I got a 41 mag, I much preferred it to the 44. It had slightly less recoil and I seemed to be able to shoot them well. I have five 41 mag revolvers and no 44's any more. I generally do not have a problem finding ammo, but I don't shoot normally 100's of rounds of 41 mag per month either. I keep a supply on hand. But I tend to shoot 22LR a lot more than anything else.

I doubt anyone could have convinced me to buy a 41 over a 44 mag BEFORE I owned either. But once I started shooting them, I much preferred the 41 mag.

Owen Sparks
April 25, 2011, 07:33 PM
Do you reload?

If not get the .44 Magnum.

The .44 is a common "Wall Mart" caliber while the .41 is hard to find and can be expensive. The .45 Colt is loaded very light by the factories because they don't want you to blow up great-grandad's revolver and sue them. If you handload go with the .45 Colt as it can exceed the .44 Magnum by 11% in top end loads though it will shorten the life of the brass. I use StarLine brass exclusivly.

USSR
April 25, 2011, 08:51 PM
45 Colt has a pretty thin rim, that is not as durable for reloading as either the 41 or 44, both of which are modern cartridges.

That is a reference to balloon-head constructed .45 Colt cases, which were phased out of production in the 1950's. No problem with .45 Colt rims for the past 50+ years.

Don

CraigC
April 26, 2011, 08:42 AM
If you handload go with the .45 Colt as it can exceed the .44 Magnum by 11% in top end loads though it will shorten the life of the brass.
I would challenge you to prove it.

BCRider
April 26, 2011, 01:29 PM
...If you handload go with the .45 Colt as it can exceed the .44 Magnum by 11% in top end loads....

With a powerful powder either can be loaded to pressures that will instantly "pipe bomb" the cylinder and frame of any handgun. So case volume isn't an issue. And with the variety of bullets available you can match the loads for either.

So it comes down to which cylinder will hold the most pressure without fragging itself. Because the .44Mag is marginally smaller in diameter the chamber holes will have a little more steel around them for any given gun design compared to the same gun in .45Colt. So the nod to power would have to go to the .44Mag since they can be loaded to marginally higher pressures than can the same gun holding .45Colt.

The question from there is if there is enough area on the backside of a .45 bullet to accelerate to a higher speed even with the lower pressure than what a .44Mag bullet can achieve with the higher pressure if the bullet weights are the same.

zxcvbob
April 26, 2011, 02:02 PM
The question from there is if there is enough area on the backside of a .45 bullet to accelerate to a higher speed even with the lower pressure than what a .44Mag bullet can achieve with the higher pressure if the bullet weights are the same.
Yes there is. You can load a .45 Colt to higher muzzle energies than a standard .44Mag, especially with 300+ grain bullets, but you better be careful what gun you shoot it from. Notice I said "standard .44Mag". If you start hotrodding the .44 even just a little, I bet you could take it higher than a hot-loaded .45 Colt.

CraigC
April 26, 2011, 03:06 PM
With both cartridges running at their maximum, safe potential in comparable guns (six-shot Rugers), they are VERY comparable in performance. Which standard max pressure of 32,000psi for the "Ruger only" .45Colt and 40,000psi for the .44Mag. The .45's advantage in diameter is offset by the .44's velocity and sectional density advantage. It is pure myth that the .45 handles heavier bullets better.

BCRider
April 27, 2011, 03:54 PM
Yes there is. You can load a .45 Colt to higher muzzle energies than a standard .44Mag, especially with 300+ grain bullets, but you better be careful what gun you shoot it from. Notice I said "standard .44Mag". If you start hotrodding the .44 even just a little, I bet you could take it higher than a hot-loaded .45 Colt.


Well that's why I didn't mention anything other than the chamber pressures that could be tolerated by the cylinder. Too often I've seen folks say just what you said where they compare custom Ruger only loadings in the .45Colt to some factory .44Mag load. That isn't a fair comparison. If you're going to compare Ruger only loads they need to be Ruger only for both calibers. Then the allowable chamber pressure for the .44Mag will be higher due to the extra metal as mentioned.

Looking at the Hodgon powder reload center I see that even the Ruger and Contender only loads for .45Colt only go as high as just into the 30K CUP range for pressure with most of the rest of the higher pressures being in the 28K to 29K CUP range. Meanwhile a lot of the .44Mag pressures are up in the 37K to 39K range with a couple capping out at just over 40K CUP. So that's about 25 to 27% more pressure available and seen as safe for the .44Magnum. Meanwhile the bullet surface area is only 10% bigger for the .45Colt. So the nod would have to go to the .44Mag for having more velocity coming out the end of the barrel for any equal bullet weight. And with these two calibers there's a lot of equivalent bullet weights for comparison.

CraigC
April 27, 2011, 07:37 PM
I agree, although in a different way. The reason we got here is Linebaugh's destruction testing, where he found that the Ruger .45's were 80% as strong as the .44's. It is based on this assumption that we use 32,000psi as the maximum pressure for the .45Colt with a 100% safety margin, compared to the .44Mag's 40,000psi. So we can't turn around and say that the .45 performs "better" by comparing it (at 32,000psi) to the .44's updated (and hamstrung) SAAMI pressure standard of 36,000psi. In other words, if we're going to "assume" the .45's are good to 32,000psi, then we 'must' assume that the .44 is good to 40,000psi.

So if we accept Linebaugh's assertation that 1200fps is the "balance point", then the two cartridges are comparable in that they both push 355-360gr bullets to that speed. The .45 retains its slight advantage in diameter, the .44 retains its slight advantage in sectional density and velocity. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

BCRider
April 27, 2011, 07:48 PM
Craig, those numbers make sense. Looking at these heavier bullet options at the same site none of the loads go to either 32K or 40K in either case. But using a bit of creative extrapolation and given the velocities for the two it would appear that the .44 may still have a slight velocity advantage. But the difference would be so slight as to consider both to be "six of one and half a dozen the other" just as you're saying.

CraigC
April 27, 2011, 08:32 PM
That's pretty much where I come out on the whole thing and why. The main reason why I tend to favor the .44 is because it seems to be far less afflicted with those pesky chamber dimensions. Never heard of a .44Mag that needed its throats reamed. It's a good .45 that can be fixed that way. Two of mine are oversized by several thousandths. The .44's just seem to be easier to get to shoot well.

1911Tuner
April 28, 2011, 07:51 PM
Quote:

>Never heard of anyone ripping the rim off a .45Colt case.<

I have. Oddly enough...it was while trying to bring the case off the expander ball. It stuck solid, and I wound up heating it and twisting it off and out with a pair of channel locks.

I'm with JohnD. For my money, the .41 Magnum is the perfect revolver cartridge. The real drawback is cost and availability of ammunition. Not an issue for a reloader, and most especially for a home caster...but still a consideration if you're not into rolling your own. I have great hopes that Ruger will intorduce a New Vaquero chambered for the .41 Magnum...but I ain't gonna hold my breath. Guess I'll have to save my nickels and dimes and get Ham Bowen to cobble one up for me.

I like the .45 Colt a lot, too...but have no need whatsoever for the .44 Magnum. Good cartridge, no doubt, and I've owned several, but haven't really had a use for one in a good many years.

MCgunner
April 28, 2011, 09:01 PM
I really like my .45 Colt Blackhawk, very accurate and will do anything the .44 mag will do. There's nothing wrong with the .44 or .41, for that matter. Any will get anything done I'd ever need doing in my neck of the woods. I shoot mostly 255 cast flat nose at about 950 fps in my .45, though. Only have about a box of 300 grain hot XTP stuff loaded up for hogs when I go hog hunting.

RJR
April 29, 2011, 01:07 AM
Thanks for all the advice. I decided to go with a .44 mag Ruger SBH Stainless 5.5". I'm pretty sure a .41 mag will be in my future someday. So now I will start researching for a good .44 mag handload to get me started.
Rich

Leaky Waders
April 29, 2011, 01:24 AM
Ahhh, I'm posting too late to influence the OP...but I vet the 41 mag.

I have several firearms in 45 long colt and I enjoy the caliber. Some are made to take the heavy loads and some aren't. Therefore I don't load any over spec just in case they get mixed up.

So for a magnum...I'd get the 41 mag. People who have them rave about them.

Remember - the real bullet measurements:

41 mag = .41
44 mag = .429
45 Long Colt = .452

TheGrimReaper
April 29, 2011, 10:55 AM
Got all 3 of those calibers. The .41 Mag is my favorite out of those and the .45 Colt is 2nd. Yes, I do reload.

Cop Bob
April 29, 2011, 02:03 PM
I as well own and load for all three, given the choice to chose only one, it would be the 44Mag...

Why? you can load it up, you can load it down, metallurgy in all guns chambered for it are pretty good.. it is an inherently accurate cartridge, rolling cans at 100 yards with any of my Smiths or Rugers is not hard to do at all..

I love the 41 mag, it is just a good round, will stop anything you throw it at on this continent.. only drawback, not that easy to walk into Wally World and they always have a good selection for it.. If you hand load, your good, just finding a good startup stock of brass is your only slow down, but the internet is full of deals, so that one is not really an issue..

The 45LC, now if you are gonna go the Cowboy Action route, it would be the one to go with, as stated, in modern guns, it can be hotrodded to the point where it will meet or surpass factory 44 mag energies.. it can be loaded with BP or 777 to go play dress up.

As far as full house loads in modern 45LC, ahh.. you can do it, I do it.. never had an issue, well let me take that back, I have a Ruger Blackhawk in LC that sometimes the cylinder pin will not want to hold if I am shooting the hot stuff, it is more annoyance than anything else, I need to order a new one, or actually trim it a touch so that it rides a tad deeper in the notch.. just too lazy to pull it down and do it.. But that is a DAMN HOT load that does that.. 200 gr bullet moving about 1480...

But me, I don't shoot a steady diet of full house anything in pistol... Just not all that much fun.. One of the reasons that I reload is so that I can shoot milder stuff, as well as get more performance than the shelf stuff.. . save the heavy stuff for social endeavors and hunting..

murf
April 29, 2011, 10:42 PM
paper load: 200grain missouri bullet works lead bullet, 6.0gn w231, cci300 primer.

hunt load: 300gn wfngc lead (cast performance), 21.0gn (work up from 20.0gn) h110, cci350 primer.

the paper load goes 760fps out of my 7 1/2" rsbh, the hunt load goes 1400fps. the hunt load requires a heavy crimp.

you made the right choice with the sbh. let us know how you like it. post some pics. have a blast! (pun intended)

murf

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