Ready to reload .44 mag. Suggestions?


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ricebasher302
September 28, 2011, 11:21 PM
I'm pretty new to reloading and am starting with the .44 mag. The gun is a S&W Perf. Center 629 with a 2 5/8" barrel. Obviously I don't expect to propel anything too quickly out of that short of barrel, but I've got a batch of Magtech 240 gr. JSP's and a can of H110. I'm happy to shoot full power loads through the gun, and while it's very lively, I'm not too recoil sensitive. I'd like to maximize performance out of that barrel without burning unnecessarily large amounts of powder or stressing the gun.

Any tips before I get started? Favorite loads? Thanks.

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Snowbandit
September 28, 2011, 11:47 PM
Were I you I would put those bullets and powder aside for a while. Get some much cheaper 240 grain lead semi-wadcutters and 2400 (or even Unique) powder. That H-110 is great for max loads in longer barrels but is going to turn that snub into a fire-breathing dragon with blast to match. Save a few bucks and get proficient making quality ammo with the SWC bullets. That H-110 has to be loaded fairly hot to be safe and isn't the best choice for a novice to be fooling with.

Asherdan
September 28, 2011, 11:50 PM
I've had good success with that bullet, accuracy wise, so I think you're fine for starting off there. With that short a barrel I might consider a mid-rate pistol powder instead of the slow burning stuff. Honestly, I'd start with something in Unique's range, but I might be full of it there.

CraigC
September 28, 2011, 11:55 PM
Were I you I would put those bullets and powder aside for a while. Get some much cheaper 240 grain lead semi-wadcutters and 2400 (or even Unique) powder. That H-110 is great for max loads in longer barrels but is going to turn that snub into a fire-breathing dragon with blast to match. Save a few bucks and get proficient making quality ammo with the SWC bullets. That H-110 has to be loaded fairly hot to be safe and isn't the best choice for a novice to be fooling with.
This is excellent advice.

ricebasher302
September 29, 2011, 12:11 AM
Faster burning powder makes sense now that you guys mention it. Not sure on the bullets though. I know lots of guys like cast lead, but in small boxes, they don't seem to be much cheaper than the Magtechs I already have. Besides saving a buck or two, what advantage is there to using Lead SWC's over a jacketed bullet?

Master Blaster
September 29, 2011, 12:12 AM
240 grain LSWC and try a Cowboy load at about 800 FPS, Trailboss powder, and a magnum LP primer. Trailboss will give you great and enjoyable to shoot plinking load with no smoke or lead fouling. You can also use Unique for a higher velocity but you will have more smoke and fouling. As other have pointed out H110 is a fire breathing max load powder and it performs poorly at much less than a max load. Unique will also work for the jacketed bullets you have already .

JMHO YMMV

sourdough44
September 29, 2011, 12:13 AM
I too would back off the H-110 max loads for starters. Some mid level(or lower) charges with a medium handgun powder is where I'd start. I'd use H Universal or Unique. When you need a few higher end loads I'd load some WFN gas checked 'hardcast'.

CraigC
September 29, 2011, 10:11 AM
Faster burning powder makes sense now that you guys mention it. Not sure on the bullets though. I know lots of guys like cast lead, but in small boxes, they don't seem to be much cheaper than the Magtechs I already have. Besides saving a buck or two, what advantage is there to using Lead SWC's over a jacketed bullet?
I usually buy cast bullets 1000-2000 at a time at less than half the price you're paying for those Magtechs. Cast bullets are very effective and consistent killers on game. Simply put, there is no good reason NOT to use them.

ssyoumans
September 29, 2011, 10:21 AM
10gr of Unique is pretty much standard for 44 Mag with 240gr bullets (lead or jacketed) with large pistol primer.

Work up, you may find milder loads around 8-9gr much more pleasant. 10gr is approaching max with a jacketed bullet.

OldmanFCSA
September 29, 2011, 10:35 AM
Were I you I would put those bullets and powder aside for a while. Get some much cheaper 240 grain lead semi-wadcutters and 2400 (or even Unique) powder. That H-110 is great for max loads in longer barrels but is going to turn that snub into a fire-breathing dragon with blast to match. Save a few bucks and get proficient making quality ammo with the SWC bullets. That H-110 has to be loaded fairly hot to be safe and isn't the best choice for a novice to be fooling with.
I TOTALLY AGEE WITH THIS !!
Others too have stated the same !
I too love my 296 Win ball powder (same as H110), BUT DO NOT USE IT WITH REDUCED LOADINGS.
Yes - I'm yelling at you - we are giving you good advice learned by some of by the school of hard knocks, and by damaging guns in the process.

Switch to 180 or 200 grain bullets, or use lead semiwadcutters with Unique or BlueDot.

Get a Hornady reloading manual - start with minimum loads - get practice shooting and reloading while being safe.

Then when you are ready start moving up.

I like a 300 grain hardcast semi-wadcutter, or Nosler, Sierra, or Hornady XTP, for hunting or severe backup with a max loading of 296 - but ITS GONNA HURT ON BOTH ENDS.

BE SAFE - start slowly - learn your and your guns capabilities.
Have FUN.
Be SAFE.

Funshooter45
September 29, 2011, 11:04 AM
For my shorter barreled 44 mags, I have found that 9.0 gr of Hodgdon Universal Clays with a standard large pistol primer and a Missouri Bullet hard cast 240 gr bullet gives good accuracy, minimal flash, pleasant recoil, but still packs a very nice punch.

Asherdan
September 29, 2011, 02:46 PM
Another powder that has worked well for me with 240g cast is HP-38. It has a flexible load range from almost 44 spl levels to mid-range. In a Ruger 7.5" SBH 9.5g for 1180 fps just plain works for me.

[but working up Unique from 8.5 to 10g with those Magtech 240g JSP you already have is a really really easy way to get started while you wait for some SWC's to show up on the brown truck]

SlamFire1
September 29, 2011, 03:39 PM
I would not start off using H110. You cannot cut loads it is either full power of nothing.

Firing full house loads in a short barrel 44 Mag will produce big fireballs and a lot of muzzle blast.

Still, if you are looking for a load, this one worked in my 5" S&W.


S&W M629-4 5" Barrel

240JHP R-P 24.0 grs H110 Midway cases WLP
9-Oct-05 T = 66 F
Ave Vel =1228
Std Dev =21.47
ES =70.16
Low =1268
High =1197
N=22

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Smith%20and%20Wesson%20Pistols/HogueXgriponM629-4sideviewDSCN6334.jpg

jack44
September 29, 2011, 05:07 PM
use alliant 2400 for you magnum,and get hard cast bullets.

zxcvbob
September 29, 2011, 05:17 PM
240 grain cast bullets and a heavy charge of Herco (about 12 grains)

In .45 Colt, I like RNFP bullets better than SWC's (they load easier) and both bullet profiles ought to be available in .430

gamestalker
September 29, 2011, 05:47 PM
Ricebasher302, you've got everything you need for what you are wanting from that big boy toy! H110 will do anything that can be done at the upper end for magnum wheel guns and is actually the only powder I load my big boys with.

Some people are a little affraid of full house magnums, you don't fit that profile, so just load em up about mid range piublished data and you'll be fine. And no worries about hurting your gun, it's made to run full house through. I have several S&W's and have been loading with H110 and 296 for about 30 yrs. and they are still as tight as the day I bought them.

Talk to S&W about the risks associated with shooting those loads, and lead bullets as well. They'll set he record straight as to what does, and does not stress the gun. I'll say one thing, you won't ever catch me shooting lead through any gun I own, it's dirty and about as far from a straight forward loading process as you can get. Ask or read some of S&W's evaluations about what is the likely cause of fractured forcing cones, it ain't high velocity H110/296 loads I can tell you that much!

gamestalker
September 29, 2011, 05:52 PM
Oh, FYI, fast burning powder is the worst possible place for a new guy to start. A double charge is the most common mistake a reloader makes, especially a new reloader. If your loading with a slow burning powder it will make double charges impossible. And fast buring powder requires very precise increments and will spike if a new guy accidentally drops a heavy charge, a .2 or .3 grains is enough to get bad things to happen with fast burner's, not gonna happen with slow stuff, you won't even notice a .5 gr. heavier charge with slow stuff.

OregonJohnny
September 29, 2011, 06:07 PM
If you're buying bullets in batches of 100 or less, you can find Hornady XTP bullets for about the same price as cast lead, and you don't have to worry about fouling and lead exposure. Buying in bulk of 500 or more is where cast bullets will start saving you enough money to be worth the effort.

I learned pretty quickly that slower burning powders like Winchester 296 are fantastic .44 Magnum powders for rifles and full-power loads out of longer (4"+) barreled revolvers, but a lot of that slow burning powder gets wasted as a fireball out the end of a snubby. It wasn't until I got a chronograph that I realized how much velocity REALLY suffers when shooting these types of loads out of a short barrel.

Unique is my choice for my 4" barrel Ruger Redhawk. It burns completely in this barrel length and still gives pretty decent velocity at the top of the load range. But as others have said, fast burning powders bring their own risks, especially with a new reloader. Start very slow, triple-check every step of the process, read a ton, ask a ton of questions, invest in a chronograph, and be prepared to get hooked!

gamestalker
September 29, 2011, 06:17 PM
+++ Oregon Johnny. I couldn't have said it better!

Clark
September 29, 2011, 06:22 PM
"Hodgdon 22" 1974

44 special 240 gr 14.5 gr H110 14,600 c.u.p.

44 mag 240 gr 24 gr H110 39,300 c.u.p.

They can publish anything they want, with little relation to reality, but I know if that if you shoot wimpy loads of H110, you need a good roll crimp.

ricebasher302
September 29, 2011, 09:33 PM
You guys are a wealth of information, and while some of the opinions differ on powders, you all explain your reasoning and concerns so that I can formulate my own ideas and understand the pros and cons. I bought a can of Universal today, so I have that base covered.

As Gamestalker noted, I'm not recoil sensitive and have been shooting all kinds of full-power factory loads already up to the 300 gr. Hornadys. This gun is a compromise (like everything) as it is an easily carried, reasonably powerful, exceptionally beautiful (IMO) revolver that rides with me when I'm backpacking in Griz country. I do shoot it a lot and am proficient with it, and milder loads do help with higher volume practice, but eventually, I do want to work toward as reasonably powerful of load that I can given the less than ideal circumstances.

Thanks for all the input.

CraigC
September 29, 2011, 10:59 PM
A double charge is the most common mistake a reloader makes, especially a new reloader.
And the most easily avoided.

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