Best factory defense loads in .44 magnum?


August 6, 2004, 05:44 AM
Looking for recommendations on top defense loads (against nasty two-legged vermin) for rifle use (current production Marlin 1894SS in .44 magnum). Not sure whether JHP or JSP would be better, but at rifle velocities, would there be concern for explosive expansion on impact and insufficient penetration with the JHP's? I understand that the energy of .44 mag from a 20" carbine can be easily double that from a pistol... in the neighborhood of 1100 to 1600 ft. lbs. muzzle energy. WOW. Thanks...

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August 6, 2004, 08:57 AM
First, find something that functions PERFECTLY in YOUR levergun.

I would personally go with a light weight JHP of some type. Hornady makes a good 180 gr HP/XTP that I believe would be close to optimum. I can't imagine any thin skinned vermin absorbing one of those and still wanting to continue the 'social' encounter.

You WANT expansion so that overpenetration is not so bad which would be likely with the .44 mag from a rifle. A 300 gr hard cast lead, for instance, will penetrate nearly forever!

Just my two cents worth.

August 6, 2004, 09:00 AM
The 240gr HydraShok seems to have violent expansion at carbine velocities.

August 6, 2004, 03:06 PM
Thanks... I'll check out the Hornady 180.

Tamara... do you recommend that... I mean are you saying it will expand so violently than it may not give deep enough penetration, or merely that it expands very well and will still penetrate sufficiently?

August 6, 2004, 03:17 PM
I don't know the BEST loads for DEFENSE. But I will throw in a quick tangent that it sure seems like a great VALUE load for HUNTING in .44mag is the el cheapo Win white box at WM. Soft points, 240 gr, should expand nicely. Good price. Sorry for the drift; back to originally scheduled programming.

August 6, 2004, 03:55 PM
Although not any kind of expert by any stretch of the imagination. I would think almost any 44 magnum round fired from a 16+ inch barrel, regardless of its bullet wait or whether it was a Hydrashok, JHP, JSP, etc.. would ruin just about any would be criminals day if they take a hit from it.

August 6, 2004, 06:34 PM
Yep, a 240 gr Hydrashock is one big expanding load. Out of a rifle... yikes it might expand too much, shed its jacket but with that much wieght you'd get a lot of penetration.

I don't think I'd hunt with it, but as a defensive load, yeah.

My hunting load would be a Winchester 240 gr soft point, lots of penetration and slower expansion.

August 7, 2004, 09:37 AM
I'd agree with critter and test the XTP lightweight, 180 grains. Excellent reputation for holding together under duress, those XTP's.

That's IF, however--and it's a big if--they shot as accurately as a standard load. They might not. In my 357 Marlin, 125's are not as accurate as 158's. If I were picking a SD load for that gun, I'd take the more acccurate 158's, and pay the price of increased risk of overpenetration. You gotta hit what you aim at as precisely as possible, and when you're shooting, you gotta KNOW you're gonna hit it. Accuracy is definitely the first requirement in a SD load. Particularly when you've got as much overkill to play with as you do in a magnum carbine.

August 7, 2004, 12:44 PM
IMO, XTP's jacketing is too tough here and I'm doubtful about their expansion on soft targets. I've always considered the XTP a hunting bullet.

I recently did some penetration/expansion testing shooting 240gr XTPs through my 1894 at 1 gallon water jugs from 50 yards: the bullet kept going after 3 jugs in a row. Impact was explosive with exit hole on the last jug showing minimal if any expansion (hard to tell for sure because of the shreded plastic, but putting it back together gave me the impression of little/no expansion and I found no jacket/lead in the jug carcasses or surrounding mud). Due to poor planning and underestimating the power of this combo, I ran out of jugs that day and never did find any of the bullets in the backstop 50 yards behind where I had the jugs set up.

My son is drinking lots of milk so we can have more fun with this test. :D

Perhaps a bullet with a lighter jacket would work better, say a HydraShock or GoldDot. Georgia Arms makes very nice ammo with a GoldDot bullet, and they don't charge an arm and leg for it.

August 8, 2004, 09:30 AM
The HDY 180 gn xtp factory load is loaded hot. The 180 xtp appears to be designed to expand at wide range of velocity's, including 44 special velocity's from a pistol. If memory serves, it is probably cooking right along at approximately 2000 fps (depending on length) from a carbine. If anything, would be worrying about over expansion.

Don't know if Remington has factory loads using thier 180 sjhp, but if it is loaded hot, would be very wary of bullet holding together at carbine velocitys.

Depending on what your looking for, would also be wary of full bore hunting loads using the heavier bullets. Especially over penetration in heavily populated area. If your looking for a combined hunting/animal protection/self defense load, then the heavier full power loads may serve ya.

Maybe some of the loading company's have mid-range loads with the lighter bullets and mid range powders? Recoil and muzzle blast reduced, while sending the bullets at velocity's they were designed for.

Have tried Speer 200 gdhp's with mid range loads in a Marlin lever, ya may need to be careful about feeding reliabilty because it is a long bullet with huge hp.

This may be why alot of us handload, much more options.

August 8, 2004, 10:47 AM
I bought some 44 mag super combat ammo from Garrett about a year ago, but can't find it on their website any more....255 gr. hard cast at 1000fps...

August 8, 2004, 12:14 PM
CorBon 165 grain JHP. These work fine out of my Marlin 1894S, giving close to 2000fps velocity.

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