Reloading for long barrel pistols


October 11, 2013, 06:06 AM
I have been looking for a resource on this topic but can't find anything with good technical data. Any resources you may know of would be great. Haven't found any published reloading data for my barrel.

I am trying to figure out what powder would best suit me for a .44 magnum contender, 14".

Goals: high velocity with heavy hunting projectiles with acceptable hunting accuracy (boars at 75 yards). Also plinking with massive recoil.

My thought is that I would need a slower powder to get the most velocity out of my long barrel without hitting pressure limits. But from what I am reading a crimp is required for consistent velocities. Why is this different than rifle reloading?

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October 11, 2013, 06:25 AM
Lyman 49th edition has TC Contender loads. Gives velocity's for 10" & 14" barrels and goes up to 300 gr bullets.

October 11, 2013, 07:20 AM
Generally speaking, there are specific powders that work best with a certain case volume and shape. The .44 Mag is a straight-walled case with a total volume of about 39 grains of water. That size and shape of case has been tested extensively and found to give most powerful results with pistol powders on the slow end. That means H110, W296 (same thing), and IMR 4227. 2400, and Lil'Gun.

The powders and loads that will give you the most velocity out of a 2" barrel will give you the most velocity out of a 14" barrel.

October 11, 2013, 07:26 AM
I bought a reloading book specifically for the Contender which has loads for the 10 " and
14 " models. I do not know if it is still available but it is a nice book and worth the money.

October 11, 2013, 07:31 AM
Oh, the crimp issue: Seems to help with hard to start slower powders. Same with using magnum powders. It also keeps bullets from jumping their crimp under recoil in revolvers and has long been standard practice for loading heavy magnum pistol rounds.

You certainly could/should play with that if you're looking for best accuracy out of a single shot. If "minute-of-hog" at 75 yards is your goal, though, probably just crimp it and don't worry about it.

October 11, 2013, 09:45 AM

In general slower burn rate powders do seam to give greater velocities when moving from short/er to long/er barrels length. But, a faster powder may give greater velocity to begin with. Testing, with your weapon and selected components is the only way to know for sure.

Slower powders, when loaded up, will give greater 'fire balls' and my experiments with this play time, the bigger the 'fire ball' the lower the velocity. Just not as efficient.

To the crimping question. I normally don't 'crimp' any thing. Except.. always an exception or two.
I was working up a stout loading for the .44 Mag, revolver, and was getting some bullet walking. Off on a tangent I go.
First test samples at XX.0 grains with only ironing out the belling of the case. Part 'B', same load but with a medium crimp into the crimp grove. Results, an increase in velocity of 37.2 fps.
Second test samples with XX.1 grains. Same crimping pattern. An increase in velocity of 38.8 FPS.
Third and last tests with XX.2 grains. Increase of just 1.8 FPS.

Note: these are not valid numbers as I don't consider a sampling of less than 15 as valid. They do show a trend. Also the last loading was a bit more than I wanted and I backed off (it only got 5 test shots).

My conclusion is with some powders a crimp is beneficial. Even with a single, I would use a crimp. Now the problem, what I see as a 'medium crimp' may well not be what someone else views as 'medium'. The only thing I can say it, try all types and find the one that works best for you.

October 11, 2013, 09:50 AM
Actually, the idea of "efficiency" in short barrel loads is a bit of a myth.

The max charge of slow powder WILL give you the fastest velocities even in the shortest barrel.

There's a common misconception that slow powders need more barrel length to burn completely. That's not actually true. Even slow powders burn fully almost immediately. The fireball is merely superheated gasses escaping before they've had a chance to cool and slow and drop in pressure while traveling down a longer barrel.

You may build a "nicer to shoot" short barrel load that works just fine in a snubby, but you won't build your fastest, most potent load without using the slow magnum powders, even in that 2" barrel gun.

October 11, 2013, 11:28 AM

Just a note to say thanks for answering a question that I hadnt got around to asking yet. So even the slower burn rate pistol powders are actually all consumed by the time the bullet even goes 2 inches. Great stuff.

Hondo 60
October 11, 2013, 12:02 PM
Gives velocity's for 10' & 14' barrels

Just so you know, the single tick mark ' = feet
The double tick mark " = inches.

so the respondent said the barrel is 10 feet & 14 feet.

I doubt that was the intent.

October 11, 2013, 12:15 PM

Perhaps the word 'efficient', isn't the correct one. I will accept what you say.

Back in the early/mid 70's I had a TC Contender in 30.30 with a 10 inch barrel. I was working nights and when out making my rounds on patrol, I would often do some shooting. I started playing with very slow burning powders in that 30.30. On a dark night the blue turning gold donut was a good 6 foot around and rolled out from the muzzle slowly. They would light up the area quite well. What ever 'it' was, 'it' was. And a lot of fun, broke up a quiet Sunday night graveyard shift well. I was using Olin W-760 powder and 111 grain carbine (rejects) bullets from Lake City.

October 11, 2013, 04:31 PM
Just so you know, the single tick mark ' = feet
The double tick mark " = inches.

so the respondent said the barrel is 10 feet & 14 feet.

I doubt that was the intent.

:o you don't have a 14 foot .44 mag?? lol

missed the shift key

October 11, 2013, 05:27 PM
In terms of best performers for full tilt magnum performance, no doubt H110 or 296 would be the first choice for me. I load nearly exclusively with those two powders, which are one of the same. And although there are several others that will get pretty close to matching their results, I don't personally think there is a magnum powder that will out perform H110 / 296 without having to push the pressures to the very limits.

I've worked with IMR4227 and 2400, and they will most definitely get your attention, but if what you want is the absolute maximum obtainable velocity, it's best sought with H110 / 296. I've not ever worked with Lil Gun, so I can't provide you any first hand experience with it.

So if it were me, I would grab some H110 or 296, locate some Contender specific data, and let er rip. You'll most definitely not be disappointed. Expect to see some flames, and I do mean flames and lots of felt recoil. The great thing about these two powders is they function best when taken to their published limits, or beyond.


October 11, 2013, 05:58 PM
Check your chamber to see if it can accommodate the 300gr xtp seated to the lower cannelure. If it can I have had great success doing this in ruger revolvers and case capacity is maximized. I have a few starting loads one of which with 4227 you may find to your liking. PM me if you want some starting data. But understand none of this data is printed and I can in no way guarantee what is safe in my firearms will be safe in yours and neither myself nor this site or any of it's affiliates assume any responsibility for the loading practices of others. Always take data given on the internet with a HUGE grain of salt.

October 13, 2013, 04:56 AM
Loads of good info to get me started. I found a manual with contender data to get me going for the time being.

I still need to sift through all these comments more closely but at least my powder options are sorted.

Is there a massively technical reloading book anyone could recommend? I read through "hand loading for competition" a while back but it was very centered on rifle reloading.

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