The Joys of .44 Mag Reloading


PDA






DaisyCutter
March 9, 2012, 06:21 PM
I've been reloading for my Super Blackhawk for a couple weeks now.



This has totally opened up a new world for me. When I was a teenager, I'd buy lots of ammo, shoot anything anywhere. I did that for years. I became a very proficient rifle shooter. I even built my own FAL. Then ammo prices started getting really expensive. In fact, most of my ammo was bought at half the price it costs today. I just kinda quit shooting. It wasn't that I couldn't afford it. I just didn't want to pay 50-cents a pop or more for ammo. I still loved my guns, but most I haven't shot in years, aside from my duty firearms and my .22s.

So a few months back my hunting buddy bequeathed upon me, his single stage press and .44 Mag dies.


A couple months later I bought the Super Blackhawk. I've wanted one for years.


Then I spend a couple weeks setting up my reloading bench and goodies. Basically I made a man nest in the spare bedroom.


This is my functional, yet meager set-up:

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7207/6816526416_5483c0aebc_z.jpg


I've been shooting this big revolver, and I gotta say... it's amazing. Just totally thrilling. Firstly, it's the only firearm in a long time that's really challenged me. I was weaned on .22s and shotguns. Then I got old enough to buy my own firearms, and I went through a bunch of .30 cal rifles, defensive pistols, etc. Some worked well, others were poorly designed. But few really spoke to me, and back then I was always primarily concerned with the volume of firepower, which is why I didn't like the expense associated with large capacity magazines.


This Super Blackhawk really speaks to me. It's intense. It has a awe-inspiring potential for accuracy and power. The flip-side is that proficiency with the SBH doesn't come instantly for me. I really have to practice to the fundamentals of marksmanship. When I first shot it. I had no success getting good groups, mostly because I psyched myself out. I loosened up, and I started making decent pulls on the trigger, and my groups got better. I've been to the range 3 times now, and I can manage to cloverleaf 3 rounds dead center, and the rest are somewhere in teh lower-right quadrant of the 4-ring. Far from perfect, not even really that good, but I get better every time. I get a better glimpse of the SBH's potential each time I shoot it.

I hum a song, start applying trigger pressure, have the bang surprise you... and a 210gr JHP will split a hair at 1500 fps. IF I crank off rounds fast and determined, the groups open up a bit but still remain decent. It's when I get sloppy that she really spanks me. When I see a good sight picture and yank the trigger too much... the impacts go right down on the paper.


My biggest complaint is that after 24 or so rounds, the SBH gets pretty hot to the touch. Yeah, that's almost funny, I know. That's the worst complaint I've got.


I see the potential, with practice, to cloverleaf 6 rounds at 75 feet, legitimately. It'll make one ragged hole if I can work myself up to that level of consistency. That amazes me.


I've only bought one box of factory ammo, "Mag-tech". From that box I had 2 bad primers. I ran those rounds a few times, and they wouldn't pop. I was afriad it was my SBH that had a problem, initially. However, my reloads have worked perfectly. My reloads actually offer better performance than the factory ammo, and I'm still very green at reloading. There is something very therapeutic about hand finishing each cartridge. Sure, it takes me a couple hours to make 50 rounds, but for that time I'm in my own little happy place and everything is working perfectly. It's fairly simple to get a high level of consistency. I hit each finished round with my dial calipers and measure finished case diameter and overall length. Then I test fit them in the cylinder. They always go bang. I'm tending to get a lot of muzzle flash, LOL.

According to charted data, I'm popping a .429 diameter, 210gr JHP from my 7.5 inch barrel at about ~1550 fps. I'll have to get a chrony to know for sure. But, assuming the charts are close, that's amazing performance.

This is so addicting, and now that I have supplies, it's cheap to maintain. I'm just over 20-cents a pop. I get 50 big bangs for about $10.


I tried some one-handed video yesterday. My accuracy wasn't great, in fact it was pretty bad one-handed. The camera did manage to capture some of the muzzle flashes, which are just manly as hell. That was my whole purpose, just to capture some of my own babies leaving the nest.

Here's the vid: http://youtu.be/6tZaG8MrA1c


Yeah, fire, he-he....

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7178/6816653630_6c2d0f4cc6_z.jpg



:evil:

If you enjoyed reading about "The Joys of .44 Mag Reloading" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
BYJO4
March 9, 2012, 08:35 PM
Nice job setting up your reloading room. It's a great hobby and will definitely reduce your cost of ammo on virtually any caliber. You also can produce ammo that is more accurate than factory.

SHR970
March 9, 2012, 08:46 PM
Now that you have the feel of something with some juice, I offer you the following to help you become a better shooter.

Get some fast powder like Red / Green Dot or W231 / HP38.

Load some light loads (ie 7.0 gr. Red Dot under a 240 gr. bullet). At the range, mix your cylinder with one or two light loads and the rest full house.

If you are not flinching the light load will group a little high but near the group. If you are anticipating the kick and pulling your shots, it will be way outside of the group.

The light loads also offer you another option: if you let a novice first fire the gun with the light loads, add one full house to the second or third cylinder to let them know what a 44 mag. is all about. That helps them not fear the infamous magnum as they wont be fearing the gun when they light it off.

Edit to add: Typical 2400 flash. The nice thing about reloading is that you can and will find other powders that don't blind you as much at the indoor range.

DaisyCutter
March 9, 2012, 09:27 PM
I plan to work up some light plink loads. The problem is there is limited data for light loads, and I wasn't brave enough to stray from oublished stuff. Right now I've just been switching off between my MK2 .22 and the Blackhawk. I'm confident with the 22 and it lets the Blackhawk cool off.

The mixed rounds is an even better idea. My pop used to do that with the 12ga to desensitize me.

Lost Sheep
March 9, 2012, 11:03 PM
Yours is a true success story. Congratulations. It looks like you have a really nice setup and well laid out, too.

Is that the press in the picture? It sure looks like a turret press to me.

Note: With a turret, you can batch process (20 or 50 or 100 at a time) or continous process (one round at a time, but never removing the case from the press between processes). Continous is a lot faster than batch.

Good luck

Lost Sheep

john wall
March 9, 2012, 11:14 PM
http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh175/ShootingCoach/ruger44mag.jpg

I have loaded the 44 since the late 1950's. The versatility of this round is possibly unmatched.

Try the 180 gr HP and several tablespoons of Blue Dot for fun and less recoil.

6 gr Titegroup and a 200 gr lead Cowboy bullet will make the big gun purr. The first load will make it ROAR.

I like the 180 in the 44 revolver. Less recoil, very flat trajectory to about 75 yards, and mucho gusto when the round hits.

I have a Super Blackhawk and a Desert Eagle. The Eagle likes 240 gr bullets at full throttle. The Ruger does not care, it shoots anything well.

The best thing about the Eagle is lack of recoil.

SHR970
March 9, 2012, 11:14 PM
I plan to work up some light plink loads. The problem is there is limited data for light loads, and I wasn't brave enough to stray from oublished stuff.

Back in the early days (pre Y2K) the powder makers / distibutors published this data. As an example some of us still have the Hercules data guides published in the early 90's that list load data for R.D, G.D., Un., Her., and B.D. We might even have Win. guides, Hodgdon guides, and even Accurate guides. These were available annually and covered most if not all of their products. Just because the powders are not currently listed on line or in a book does not mean that suddenly they are totally unsafe to use in certain applications.

zxcvbob
March 9, 2012, 11:21 PM
I plan to work up some light plink loads. The problem is there is limited data for light loads, and I wasn't brave enough to stray from oublished stuff. Right now I've just been switching off between my MK2 .22 and the Blackhawk. I'm confident with the 22 and it lets the Blackhawk cool off.

The mixed rounds is an even better idea. My pop used to do that with the 12ga to desensitize me.

Get you a thousand 240 grain SWC cast bullets and a pound of Herco and a pound of Red Dot.

I don't load .44 Magnum, but I load .45 Colt for a Blackhawk and it's about the same thing. Use 12 grains of Herco with those cast bullet for a cheap 1300 fps load. Start at 8 grains of Red Dot and work your way *down* to find a soft-shooting but still satisfying plinking load.

Download this: http://glarp.atk.com/2004/2004Catalogs/2004AlliantPowderSM.pdf

Ky Larry
March 9, 2012, 11:45 PM
I load .44 Spl for my S&W Model 29. They are a hoot to shoot and should give you a good plinking load.

DaisyCutter
March 10, 2012, 12:03 AM
To answer the question above, reference proceesing. My first batch was 12 rounds and I processed them through each step as a group. I wound up with a pip. Apparently one cartridge missed a powder charge. It's embarrasing to say and hard to admit. At any rate, now I do each round from start to finish. This way none can be overlooked.

It is a turret press. I mis-stated single stage because I assumed anything other than progressive was single stage. I have 4 turret stops, a decapper, case sizer, one that flares out the case mouth, and one that seats and crimps. I was nervous about getting a good crimp, so I started gently running the finished cartridges part way through the resizer to ensure a good crimp. The diameter is. 455-.456 when I do this. So they fall right in spec. The overall length doesn't change either. I reckon it can't hurt??

zxcvbob
March 10, 2012, 12:09 AM
Using the sizing die again will *reduce* the crimp. Don't do that.

Lost Sheep
March 10, 2012, 12:36 AM
Using the sizing die again will *reduce* the crimp. Don't do that.
True. Here's how it works, as I understand it.

When you size the loaded round, the brass and the lead get sized down.

Lead is a soft metal that has pretty much no elasticity or spring to it. Brass has more springiness. When the cartridge comes out of the sizing die, the brass springs back more than the lead, reducing the amount of "neck tension" (reloading term of art - look it up).

Lack of neck tension means less friction holding the bullet, therefore less "bullet pull" (another term of art) to guarantee proper bullet retention and pressure.

The crimp into the cannelure is only part of the bullet pull story.

Some powders need a LOT of bullet pull to ensure proper powder burning rate, some powders are more flexible.

Lost Sheep

P.S. Yeah, I hear you about the care needed to check each and every powder charge before sealing the cartridge shut with the bullet. I use two loading blocks when batch processing. An empty block on one side of the press and a full one on the other.

When all the bullets are sized, primed and belled, they are in the block upside down to guarantee they are PROPERLY primed and EMPTY. I lood at all their little bottoms in one 50-round sweep.

Then they get charged with powder one at a time and placed right-side up in the block on the other side of the press. When all 50 have made the transit they get inspected again in a 50-round sweep with a strong light and each powder level is matched against all its brethren. None higher or lower than the others.

I devise a loading procedure, write it down, vett it thoroughly and even go so far as to develop a mantra to chant so NOTHING gets left out. (That's why I gave up on my progressive press. Too complex for my simple mind.)

The great thing about turret presses is that you can use them to batch process (as a single stage) with equal facility as you can use it to continuous process (almost like a progressive). Your choice to do what works best for you. It is largely a matter of personal style.

Stay careful. Be safe, always, all ways.

Lost Sheep

FROGO207
March 10, 2012, 07:29 AM
I do the Batch process as Lost Sheep describes and have done it that way for 35+ years with no problem loads. I feel you get a better idea of propellant levels when inspecting a full loading block than hoping that all the propellant fell from the measure without bridging. This is especially important when loading at max to keep you safe. The 44 MAG is one of my favorite revolvers to shoot. Oh yeah welcome to reloding.:D

evan price
March 10, 2012, 12:13 PM
Now you need to start casting your own! 240 gr lswc and 8.0 gr of red dot is a nice target load!

41 Mag
March 10, 2012, 03:57 PM
Great to see another convert to rolling your own.

As for your groups, well the picture shows it all, your shooting with the wrong hand...:D

Seriously, I have wrung my Redhawk out with loads running from wild to mild and am now into casting for it as well as a couple of others. If you think the 210's are a hoot get you some of the Remington bulk 240's. They are simply devastating on drr and hogs loaded over around 23grs of 296.

If you decide to start pouring your own, pick up the Lee 310gr RF. I shot some weekend before last and they were a hoot.

Yep the 44 is a hoot to play with and as mentioned you can go from one extreme to the other with loads.

Good luck and play safe.

Master Blaster
March 10, 2012, 04:31 PM
I plan to work up some light plink loads. The problem is there is limited data for light loads, and I wasn't brave enough to stray from published stuff

Lyman 49th edition reloading manual, has lots of light loads. The hodgdon website has cowboy action loads (light lead) for .44 magnum as well.

Salmoneye
March 11, 2012, 10:15 AM
I got my first SBH 20 some years ago when I got stuck 4-wheeling about 2 miles back in the bush...Pre-cellphones, and nowhere near a real road, I had to walk the two miles back to the dirt road, and then 5 miles to town before dark...

Just before dark, a bear stepped out in front of me on the logging trail, and stopped...

I looked at the Colt Government Model .380 in my hand and thought, "I need a bigger gun"...

Long story short, I had an SBH two days later, and have been in love since...

Congrats on your gun, and congrats on your writing lol

If you enjoyed reading about "The Joys of .44 Mag Reloading" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!