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44 magnum vs. 44 special - recoil

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by C/O, Nov 18, 2007.

  1. C/O

    C/O Well-Known Member

    My dad ordered a new Ruger Blackhawk to replace his stolen Vaquero. He is contenplating putting some Hogue rubber or wood grips on it to help with the recoil.

    He was wondering if there is alot of difference in recoil between 44 magnum and 44 special. I told him I am not sure and that we would have to shoot both and find out. What are your opinions of the recoil of the two rounds? What about stopping power?

    All opinions welcome.
  2. P. Plainsman

    P. Plainsman Well-Known Member

    Yeah, if we're talking run-of-the-mill factory .44 Special (240 gr bullet @ 700 fps or so) vs. run-of-the-mill factory .44 Magnum (240 gr bullet @ 1250 fps or so) -- there will be a large difference in recoil.

    I don't find the downloaded factory .44 Specials any harder to shoot than a warmish 9mm -- in short, for most healthy adults, very easy shooting.

    (A few factory .44 Special rounds, such as the CCI Blazer JHP defense load, have more juice, and I prefer them, but even they top out at standard .45 ACP recoil levels -- 200 gr @ 900 fps -- no problem)

    The .44 Magnum, on the other hand, can be challenging. Don't get me wrong, it's a superb cartridge, powerful, accurate and versatile. I can shoot about half of a 50-round box of factory Magnums in my S&W 629 (41 oz weight) with enjoyment and accuracy; after that, the kick starts to get rough and impedes my shooting.

    If your dad plans to shoot magnums, then upgrading the factory Blackhawk grips to improve recoil control might be an excellent idea. The rubber Hogue grips get good word of mouth.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2007
  3. Jeff F

    Jeff F Well-Known Member

    Shooting .44 special in a .44 magnum is like shooting .38 special in a .357 magnum times two. Two completely different power levels. The .44 specials will be pleasant to shoot.
  4. MartinBrody

    MartinBrody Well-Known Member

    I don't know about stopping power but recoil is night and day. If he is interested in managing recoil 44 special is the way to go. Unfortunately it is not as readily available as one would think, I handload 44 spcl & Mag. because of cost and lack of availability.
  5. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    +1 for the .44 Special being a sweetheart that would win a lot of followers if more people thought to try it. It's actually quite accurate as a target round and reloading it up to even 80% of it's potential makes it a serious tool against discourteous muggers.

    The .44 Mag. is, as the others point out, an entirely different cat. It takes some getting used to but it's worth it.
  6. PzGren

    PzGren Well-Known Member

    .44 Special is a whole lot milder recoiling than .44 Magnums. Saturday I took a fewS&W 629 .44 Magnums to the range and my son did not enjoy them for more than 7 cylinders full. The Hogue rubber and wooden grips look nice but when I got home I changed the grips on one of the guns to a Pachmayr Gripper for him to enjoy those fine guns more. The rubber on the Grippers covering the back strap is taking a lot of pain out of shooting.

    With 100 rounds of .44 Magnum costing almost $50 now, a basic reloading set up will be paying for itself within a few hundred rounds and the ammo can be loaded up or down to personal tastes.
  7. stan in sc

    stan in sc Well-Known Member

    I shot some .44special rounds in my Ruger when I first got it and then shot some .44Magnum rounds.There is a very noticeable difference in the perceived recoil of the two.As previously stated the .44special is quite pleasureable to shoot.
    After you accustom yourself to the pistol and get your zero for the .44Magnum and become used to the recoil you will no longer wish to shoot .44specials.It's just a matter of progression in getting used to the revolver and to the round.
    I was never much of a pistol shooter until getting my .44Magnum and now I really like shooting it.
  8. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    Keep in mind if you double the velocity (say 700 fps to 1400fps) of the same weight bullet you will get 4 times the recoil.
  9. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Huge difference. While the .44 Spl. is no slouch. The .44 Mag is a boy dog. ;)
  10. Deanimator

    Deanimator Well-Known Member

    I've got a 4" S&W 29-2. With .44 Specials, I can comfortably shoot it with the grips from a S&W M1917 on it. With Winchester White Box .44 Magnums, it's VERY unpleasant to shoot even with Pachmayr Signatures on it. I've shot it with both Federal and CCI Blazer .44 Special self-defense loads (200gr. LSWC-HP and 200gr. JHPs respectively). Both are VERY pleasant to shoot with the Pachmayrs.
  11. Deanimator

    Deanimator Well-Known Member

    Try a box of Winchester White Box 240gr. magnums through a 4" S&W 29-2, and see if you don't rethink that...
  12. foghornl

    foghornl Well-Known Member

    If you are talking about the standard "off-the-shelf-factory" loads, then yes, there will be a considerable difference in recoil/muzzle blast.

    Now, this is loading data that I used back in the late 1970's, so I make NO warranty, expressed or implied, about suitability with current bullets & powders...

    For my Super Blackhawk, I loaded a 200-Gr Speer "Jacketed Magnum Hollow Point" over 11.8 Grains of Unique lit with a CCI 350 Pistol Primer. A bit more ooomph than the .44Spl, but a lot less than the 240-gr SJHP or Sof-point factory loads.
  13. SWMAN

    SWMAN Well-Known Member

    In any situation both rounds will kill. However, the 44 magnum will kill your hands long before the 44 special does, unless you handload the magnum to 44 special levels.
  14. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Well-Known Member

    Just remember that if you get into reloading, you can load the .44 Magnum cartridge to ridiculously light levels, or ridiculously heavy, or anywhere in between. It can also be fairly inexpensive to load, using cast bullets and Red Dot (etc) powder.

    I shoot a .45LC that can handle .44 Magnum load data. But I find that the mid-range loads are the most fun to shoot (like 230 grain bullet at 1000 to 1100 fps) 255 grain bullets at 1300+ fps from a handgun are fun for about 6 or 12 shots and that's about it.
  15. Brasso

    Brasso Well-Known Member

    I seriously doubt that your dad will enjoy .44mags in a Blackhawk. Even people who like to shoot .44mag don't enjoy doing it with a Blackhawk. recoil for that small plowshare grip. On the other hand, the .44 specials will feel like a 9mm.

    The difference between the two would probably be equivalent to going from .38specials in a 6" 686 to .357mags in a snubby K frame. Two entirely different levels of recoil. Not even comparable.
  16. 1911austin

    1911austin Well-Known Member

  17. P. Plainsman

    P. Plainsman Well-Known Member

    Nice visual aid; very apt. :cool:
  18. Oohrah

    Oohrah Well-Known Member

    The mag isn't too bad due to the single action grip.
    The 44 Special is tame and probably more fun to shoot.
    Compares to the difference between the 38 Special and
    357 Mag.
  19. Baba Louie

    Baba Louie Well-Known Member

    As to the first query, as others have noted, I must concur. The special is a healthy little amount of energy, the magnum wakes you right up to pay attention.
    As to the latter, one could ask to define "stopping power" or quibble, but when one sticks strictly to a math equation of mass time velocity squared as a definition of energy... you certainly have a larger number on the right side of the equal sign with the latter, doncha? When properly placed on target, either one could "stop" most thin skinned living things approaching 250 lbs I suppose.

    As to replacing the SBH grips with rubber or wood, the design of the grip frame should let the firearm roll upwards a bit and rubber grips (if sticky) might tend to negate that "roll" to some degree. Maybe. I've shot a few "warmish" .45 Colt handloads through my SBH Bisley and old model Vaq and lean towards the Bisley shape that Ruger used to have (between those two grip frames) as being a better grip (for my hands) with hotter loads as it does not roll up as much as the old plowhandle shape. Probably just my perception of the two shapes. Grips were/are stock from the factory.

    With that flat rear triggerguard that some of the older SBH sports, some protection might be in order for the middle finger. If it's a new model with the rounded TG that protection may not be needed unless you're shooting for prolonged periods.
  20. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Well-Known Member

    Everything said is accurate as far as I know. I think the answer goes straight back to what you said in your original post. He is just going to have to shoot some of them and make up his own mind. I will venture a guess, I suspect your Dad will not like the normal 44 magnum loads if he's used to 45LC in the Vaquero. Of course, you didn't say, but he may have other big bores that he shoots, so the 44 mag recoil may be nothing new to him.

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