Modern .44 Special Loads.


August 22, 2012, 11:56 PM
My Dad has carried a Charter Arms Bulldog .44 Special for about 15 years now.

His only other gun is a SBH .44 Magnum.

I've shot his gun more than a few times and liked it,
but have been wondering if there is anything better than a 240 Semi-Wadcutter, or a 210 gr. handloaded JHP
for that gun or other .44 Specials these days.
I've also shot Silvertips and the Federal Lead hollow-point loads as well.

Factory level Cowboy loads seemed pretty tame in all of my guns.

Thats said.

My two favorite bullet these days for 9mm, 38+P, 357 SIG and even .357 Magnum are the Gold Dots
and newer on the market, BARNES X bullet.

Both designs have been proven on the street and hunting fields- with the most data going to the Speer
The 200 grain SPEER Gold Dot in .44 Special just looks plain wicked.
Deep and wide cavern for the hollow-point and it's also a bonded bullet that holds onto the jacket for the most part
in testing that I've seen with the larger caliber Gold Dots, or bonded Defense JHPs, ect.
Same bullet- but different names.

Advertised velocity for the SPEER load is 875 fps, with energy at 340 ft/lbs

You can also buy the 200 gr. BLAZER Gold Dot load that's identical in both muzzle velocity and energy.

Know for high-performance ammo:

DOUBLE TAP, steps up to the plate with an advertised velocity of 980 fps for the applicable 2.5 inch barrel, but no energy figures,
however - it should be near the Speer specs.

You can see some other .44 Special loads as well.

240 gr. BBWC and 210 gr. Remington JHP that are both handl-loads with less power than the Speer or DT loads.
These run about 800-820 fps have always shot nicely through my various .44 Mags and a S&W Model 624 back when I lived in Idaho,
and had both a room and time to reload.

Not too shabby through the Bulldog as well.

In looking at the more expensive but more advanced (according to some people ) TAC-XP load.

It is both longer than the SPEER Gold Dots and the DT Bonded Defense load, but also slower for the 2.5 inch
barrel mark at 900 fps.

Solid copper/lead free technology with a ICBM missile profile- and a deeper cavity than the Gold Dots.
No need to be has 100% expansion and also full weight retention in most media/testing.

You can see it alongside the Bonded Defense 200 grain load a very old SPEER Lawman lead round nose .38 Special
bullet from my Dad's old police K-38 stash of ammo.
We have came a long ways in the past 25 years of ammo evolution and some think the X bullet to be the
zenith in both defensive and hunting ammunition.

Yes, it is more expensive than a traditional JHP, but the cost is coming down a bit..especially for hand loaders.

There seems to be a number of people who shoot and carry it from Double Tap in .380/9mm, .40, .357 SIG, the 38+P/357M

and of course- .44 Special!
Others like it in Cor-Bon DPX or even from Wilson, and love the very adequate/tactical penetration and perfect expansion it provides.

I don't know of any Double Tap defensive shootings with the TAC-XP other than in hunting situations, but the DPX
has performed very well on the streets in actual shootings.

Some savvy cops and ccw holders use DPX or nothing else!

Well, whether you decide Speer or Double Tap GOLD DOTS, you will be getting powerful ammo for your .44 SPECIAL that you can
count on.

Proven Gold Dots bullets that have been dropping bad guys and game for decades!

Or you can choose the BARNES TAC-XP bullet that is gaining steam across the country each day.

Me, I like them both!

I'm hoping to get out and shoot this ammo through the Bulldog, but it might be a while with this heat wave here in Washington state.

For more information:

DoubleTap Ammunition (

DoubleTap Ammunition (

I think I'll save up for a 396 Night Guard now.

Thanks for viewing!


If you enjoyed reading about "Modern .44 Special Loads." here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
August 23, 2012, 05:47 AM

August 23, 2012, 04:06 PM
Save those BB loads you have for the 44 mag for play time. Those 2 loads are not for the charterarms.

August 23, 2012, 04:20 PM
I have some hand loaded 200 grain XTP for my .44 SPC that perform pretty well, and move around 850 fps.
Right now it is loaded with Hornady CD 165 grain .44 SPC. Which is about equal to a .40 caliber S&W.

Thanks for the info.

Tennessee Jed
August 23, 2012, 04:34 PM
The 200 grain Speer Gold Dot 44 mag short barrel load has a muzzle velocity (around 1075 fps) very close to that Double Tap load with the same bullet.

I recently read some test results where that load (the Speer 44 mag short barrel load) was fired into gelatin, through 4 layers of denim. Penetrated 16 inches, expanding to 0.740". Impressive.

Underwood Ammo has a similar load for 44 Special (200 gr GDHP @ 1100 fps), and I bought a couple of boxes for my S&W 629 after reading that report. Haven't fired them yet, but I have high hopes. It's good to see some life put back in this old caliber.

August 23, 2012, 07:47 PM
"This load was developed to be used in ALL/ANY 44 SPL firearms including Charter Arms."

August 23, 2012, 08:37 PM
$40 for 20 lead bullets?

That is a little steep. Don't you think?

One thing is for sure though, that is a .430 hole straight through anything it hits. Not going to be any closer from the entrance with that cutter.

August 23, 2012, 08:50 PM
A 240 Gr SWC or 200ish Gr full WC will cut a big hole all the way through. I would feel well protected by either, and have carried both before.

August 23, 2012, 09:25 PM
Just because an ammo manufacturer claims their load can be used in Charter Arms revolvers doesn't mean it is a good idea. While a Charter may handle the pressure and not blow a chamber doesn't not mean it won't seriously shorten the service life of the gun. Charters are very lightly built guns and I am a huge fan of them and have carried a Bulldog since the 80s but you really don't want to push one with hot loads. I have seen quite a few that people hot rodded with handloads and Corbon and Buffalo Bore, etc. and it beat the little guns to death. Unless you consider it to be a disposable item shoot standard .44 Spl loads in it. A 200 gr. bullet at 800 to 900 fps. is plenty of oomph and anyone that tells you that you "need" more performance doesn't know what they are talking about. If you want a .44 Magnum then buy one. Trying to hot rod a Charter is simply abusive.

August 23, 2012, 09:58 PM
Speer reports the velocity for their .44 special Gold Hot hollowpoint from a 6" barrel.

As another citizen of the High Road mentioned, Underwood loads the same 200 grain gold dot round to 1100 ft/s. I'm not sure what barrel length they tested it from, but I reckon its 6" or under.

Assuming it was a 6" barrel, you could expect the Underwood load to reach a comparable velocity to the speer load, but out of a much shorter barrel. I've personally tested the Underwood Gold Dot round out of a S&W 296. I liked them.

However, a lady friend of mine carries the 296, and is around children at times, so does not allow lead in her purse. Lead is out, as are jacketed lead hollowpoints with a wide cavity like the Gold Dot. You can see lead dust accumulate in the Speer and Underwood ammo boxes with this round. I have a few boxes sealed with ziplock in the safe.

The Corbon DPX round that you mentioned is an excellent round, and Stephen Camp (may he rest in peace) published an in-depth review of it on hipowerandhandguns. The load reaches about 950 ft/s velocity out of Corbons 4" test firearm. Once again we can expect decreased performance from a snub.

Most recently, Buffalo Bore published impressive results using the same Barnes all-copper X bullet that Corbon uses. Much like Underwood does with the Speer load, Buffalo Bore pushes the Barnes bullet to around 1100 ft/s velocity.

Lately, I've been impressed with the Buffalo-Barnes line of ammunition, since they push the X bullet a good deal faster than Corbon, which can give a snubnose .44 special like the 296 the power of a fullsize revolver. Unfortunately, that particular firearm is limited to 200 grain rounds. That said, I'd feel alright with a .44 special snub by my side.

September 19, 2012, 07:47 PM
New load is hotter than Factory Speer but not near the 1100 fps of the first batch.

Labeled Charter Arms 44 Special
975 FPS- I think out of 6 inch. I believe he is trying to achieve 100fps faster than Factory Gold Dot.

September 19, 2012, 10:47 PM
I'm carrying my 70s Bulldog into the deep Sierras above 7000 ft for 4 days starting tomorrow. The black bear weigh up to 350 pounds or so there and represent the biggest threat. I have an old Bianchi clip on IWB holster for it and two speed loaders plus 5 loose rounds (+ gun loaded of course!) of the Speer Gold Dot 200 grain. I would imagine it will punch a bears face if it had to close in, I would rather have a 255 grain hard cast wide flat nose at 800 fps out the 3" barrel, but my hand would not like it, and I can't find any thing like it around to buy.

September 20, 2012, 10:22 AM
Meh. I'll stick with cowboy loads for play and continue to carry my handloaded Remington 210 gr. SJHP loads that average 985 FPS from my 2011 2.5" Bulldog Pug.

September 20, 2012, 12:44 PM
Gordon, if you know anyone who reloads a 250 gr/800 fps load is pretty easy to achieve. But in a Charter Bulldog the best load I have found over the years is a 200 gr. Gold Dot @ 850 to 900 fps or a 200 gr. full wadcutter @ 900 fps. If you go heavier in a Bulldog you need to keep it slow. 250 @ 800 would be a devastating defense load, it's exactly like the black powder loads used in the 1800s when metallurgy was still a new science to gun makers. A 240 would also work very well. Running the lighter bullets at high velocity in a Charter can seriously damage the forcing cone after a while. While the Corbon and Buffalo Bore loads are impressive they will be hard on a Bulldog. And as Cooper said, carry a lot shoot it a little. If you plan on lots of range time with it then buy 2 or 3.

September 20, 2012, 01:02 PM
Just because an ammo manufacturer claims their load can be used in Charter Arms revolvers doesn't mean it is a good idea. While a Charter may handle the pressure and not blow a chamber doesn't not mean it won't seriously shorten the service life of the gun.
Actually, that's exactly what it means. You're assuming that they are overpressure but they are not. The loads you're referring to are standard pressure. Not +P and not pseudo Keith loads.

September 20, 2012, 10:10 PM
I'm not worried about the pressure, I'm worried about a bullet lighter than 200 grains hitting that forcing cone at the velocities they advertising. Especially if the chamber isn't perfectly aligned with the barrel. You're asking a lot from a very light thin gun. It was never intended to be hotrodded like a 125 gr. .357 snub.

If you enjoyed reading about "Modern .44 Special Loads." here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!