.44 Special, Revisited


August 16, 2004, 12:16 PM
Hello, Friends! :)

I've been enjoying my .44 Specials a lot this last week. But for some reason I don't have a load that's quite as good as I think it should be. My standard recipe is:

250 Grain Lyman Keith Bullet over 5.3 Grains of 231

This is the power range I like and the load is 'ok'. Mike Ventura suggests this one. He also recommends 5.3 of HP38 over with any bullet. (Are 231 and HP38 *really* the same?)

Anyway, since 6.0 of Red Dot is my VERY favorite load for cast 250's in .45 Colt, I thought I'd try this powder in the .44 Spl. I used 4.5 Grains of the stuff. Man... that was BAD! :P

I shoot 24 shot groups, and normally get say... half of them touching in one ragged hole, a few outside that hole and a few flyers... from funky cast bullets, or bad shooting or whatever. :)

But with 4.5 of Red Dot I get... well, a shotgun pattern. With no ragged hole. Just a nice even dispersion all around the bullseye. This happens with every .44 I have: Model 29, Ruger RH, Colt SAA and Charter Bulldog (heh).

Is Red Dot REALLY that bad in .44 Spl with that bullet??

Does anyone have any really good pet loads for the round in that power range? 800ish?

I'm wide open to suggestions! :)

many thanks,

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Norm Lee
August 16, 2004, 01:12 PM
I spent some quality time with a model 624 and a variable power pistol scope a few years ago. Was able to find a sweet spot, sometimes more than one with several powders. None did any better in terms of accuracy than 6.9 gr. of Unique. It's an old Lyman accuracy load recommendation. Should be just under 800 fps IIRC.



August 16, 2004, 01:42 PM
I've never tried Red Dot. I like HP38 a lot for 44spcl. I've been using 6grs of it under a 240gr hardcast SWC. I haven't chrono'd that load, but when I first tried the 5.3grs you mentioned it only went 680fps out of a 6" barrel. I've been getting good accuracy, and the HP38 flows real well in my powder measure.

I also use Unique a lot, and with the 240gr bullet I use 6.6grs and have had good accuracy. That load was giving me about 780fps.

Good luck with it, as those 44's sure are a lot of fun when you find a load they like.

Harve Curry
August 16, 2004, 07:38 PM
44 special is my favorite. I can do just about anythung I need to do with it.

Kids can shoot it with my plinkin load which is a 160gr to 200gr bullets with 4gr of Bullseye powder. Depending on the bullet weight, velocity is 750 fps to 800fps. It is an accurate load.

My carry load is a 180JHP or a 200gr lead bullet with 8.5gr of Unique for about 1050fps from my 4.75 in Colt SAA. 5 shots into 1.5 inch groups at 25 yards.

Both loads shoot well in a copy of a 1873 Winchester in 44 special. Even the ladder sight increments are pretty close with the hotter load.

I don't feel I need heavier bullets because I use to use the 250 - 275 grain Keith bullets at lower velocity and go right through a deer hit hard in the chest and the deer fell and ran off. With the lighter bullets it gets used up in the animal at the ranges I shoot. Plus it shoots so much flatter then the heavier bullets.

August 16, 2004, 09:06 PM
I use Red Dot in my Ruger Carbine 44 Special... but never tested its accuracy, it never seemed to have a problem punching out the center... maybe Red Dot needs the extra barrel length to work well? :confused:

August 16, 2004, 10:22 PM
You might try the 6 to 7 grn range with Green Dot if you have any around. Both 429421 and the Lee 214 swc will shoot approx 3" 50 yd groups out of my Super "B" with a dot sight off bags. Nick

August 17, 2004, 09:07 AM
Unique and 700X are my favorites for accuracy. Never tried Red Dot. Quantrill

August 18, 2004, 09:20 AM
Winchester has redesigned their 44Silvertip ammo. It will now reliably expand at those low velocity [ ~750fps]

August 18, 2004, 09:43 AM
Ah! The .44 Special...What a grand old cartridge.:cool:

I use a lot of Red Dot in .45 ACP for hardball equivalent loads with cast bullets, and it does a good job. Accuracy is on a par with various
"Entry Level" factory hardball, and quite a bit better than some lots.

Red Dot doesn't do too well with reduced loads or low loading densities,
such as what you'd encounter in the big .44 case. You might try bumping
up the charge a little. If you've got a modern revolver, it should be fine
with going over the SAAMI specs for the cartridge a little. Those
standard pressure levels are set with older revolvers in mind that may not
be in the best condition, so all bases are covered with the "Weakest Link"
theory. What would damage an old gun would likely be perfectly safe in a
newer one. Proceed with all due caution, of course.

August 18, 2004, 09:51 AM
My wife and I both like 5.5 gr of Tight Group behind a 180 PFP Berry's Bullet. This is max load according to the manuals.

I run them through a Taurus 445 2" ported snubby and they run about 675-725 fps.

She gets somewhere between 750-800 fps out of a Rossi M720 3" barrel.

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