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44 special +P? why or why not?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by jason41987, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. jason41987

    jason41987 member

    ive read other threads here and on other forums where someone has asked a question reguarding a specific purpose, whether it be defense, hunting, target shooting, or in reguard to accuracy, recoil, etc... and i know how these two cartridges stack up...

    357 has less recoil, excellent performance for defense, makes a very nice deer cartridge out of a lever action, and can fit in smaller, lighter, narrower framed pistols

    you might ask why not 357 or 44 magnum?.. and well, i see it this way.. when hunting, you can only kill a deer once... in self defence, dead is dead, the 357... 44 magnum in my opinion goes way over the top in practicality and to handle the extra power required thicker cylinders and beefier frames adding more to the weight of it

    looking at 44 special +P loads, im seeing loads like 250 grains at 1100fps... this would put the 44 special +P at about the energy level of 357 magnum (around 700ft/lbs) at lower pressure (roughly 27000 PSI)

    so in your opinion.. would you personally like a hot 44 special over a 357 magnum if you had the choice between the two in only a slightly larger frame, would you just prefer the ammo availability of a more common 357 mag, or would you step it all the way up to 44 mag for the best all around performance at a variety of tasks? and why?

    im just curious as to what you guys are most interest in, what you think works best, and what your opinions are about these?
  2. Kiln

    Kiln Well-Known Member

    Don't know what works best ballistically but I'm betting that a nice .44 special load with LRN bullets would make a pretty big dent in a bad guy.

    I've got my new Rossi .44 magnum sitting beside me right now but it is loaded with the .44 specials because they're much less difficult to control recoil wise and still put a nice big hole in your target.
  3. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Well-Known Member

    Long time fan of the .44 Special here. A nice +P such as described would be nice. .44 Special guns tend to be a bit trimmer and lighter than their .44 Magnum counterparts.
    While .357 can be had in even smaller, easier to carry frames, it does come at the cost of flash & recoil.
  4. snooperman

    snooperman Well-Known Member

    Elmer Keith used very hot 44 loads in his S&W guns with 250 gr bullet going 1200 ft/sec. He also blew up a few guns with his loads too. The 44 special was not designed for that. When S&W came out with the 44 magnum , Elmer went straight to it. That would be my advice to you too.
  5. snooperman

    snooperman Well-Known Member

    Buffalo Bore makes a 250 gr Keith bullet going about 1000 ft/sec with a low pressure powder. Depending on your gun, you may want to give that a try.
  6. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    I like the .44SPL and load it mostly with 240gr SWCs over moderate powder charges for my .44Mag Redhawk. I don't have a chrony, but by the manual I should be achieving about 750FPS.

    As I see it, a moderate .44SPL load would be more than plenty to make your point as an SD round, and its soft recoil (in a reasonably heavy gun) allows for rapid follow-up shots. Slamming an assailant with a faster-moving bullet, especially a non-expanding bullet, might make a discernible difference. But it might not. It will undoubtedly make a difference to the shooter. For me, pushing a .44cal bullet to 1100FPS is a job for a Magnum.
  7. powell&hyde

    powell&hyde Well-Known Member

    Take a look at the Aug/Sept 2005 Handloader magazine where Brian Pearce did an excellent 4 page write up on the 44 special.
  8. brnmw

    brnmw Well-Known Member

    .357 Mag. vs. .44 Spl. too me in terms of taking down a bad guy are, yes both will get the job done. The .357 Mag. does have a bigger signature recoil, flash, and noise. Owning both a .357 Mag., and .44 Rem. Mag. revolver is always an awsome thing having the advantage of being able to shoot both .38 Spl. and .44 Spl. insead of using the magnum loads. I do not really like .44 pl. / .38 Spl. "designated only" revolvers... too limiting. IMO.

    Buffalo Bore
    ANTI-PERSONNEL 44 Special Ammo - 200 gr. Hard Cast Wadcutter (1,000 fps)
    Heavy .44 Special Ammo - 180 gr. J.H.P. (1,150 fps/M.E. 543 ft.lbs.)
  9. CraigC

    CraigC Well-Known Member

    I'll take the .44Spl any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The .357 needs all that velocity and is very dependent upon bullet expansion to be effective. With that velocity, comes a terribly uncomfortable, concussive muzzle blast. The big bores, like the .44Spl, do not need high velocities or expansion to be effective and will get the job done without making your ears bleed.

    I've been reading Elmer Keith for some time and have most of his work. I have only ever read of ONE sixgun letting go and that was a blackpowder frame Colt SAA .45Colt. Never a .44Spl. In fact, I've never heard of anyone blowing a .44Spl. In reality, there is nothing wrong with the heavy Keith load in appropriate sixguns. In single actions, we have the lovely Colt SAA, its replicas, custom and factory mid-frame Rugers. All of which are much more svelte than their .44Mag brethren. Most the time, a 37oz .44Spl is all you need.

  10. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    I will simply repeat what I posted in another thread in regards to +P loads in .45 Colt, which applies equally to the .44 Special:

    "When you're talking about hunting with handgun rounds (whether in a handgun or rifle), forget about energy tables. It's all about bullet caliber, weight and construction, and the ability to completely penetrate the game animal. Game animals don't read energy charts and they only respond to either shutting down the CNS or loss of blood pressure".

  11. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Well-Known Member

    My decision on the issue was that .44 Special +P <= .45 Colt in a modern revolver. I can do just that bit more than .44 Special with my .45 Colt in a 625 to make a difference without getting into Magnums. I've shot more than a few .357 & .44 Magnums. I prefer .38 Special & .45 Colt instead (both somewhat hot, but still).
  12. jason41987

    jason41987 member

    as for single actions, hartford makes an 1875 remington they say can chamber and fire 44 magnum... i see some pretty close to accurate looking SAAs firing 44 mag as well... the uberti calahan i think is what im referring to, but im not sure if these are standard size frames...

    now, i like the idea of a 44 caliber cartridge, but i do think 44 magnum is way over the top of most practical uses... this is the basis of getting these, or perhaps a smith or ruger, whichever revolver i might like in the 44 special cartridge

    and these buffalo bore loads... are these within the standard SAAMI max pressure?.. these loads would top anything an automatic can offer under 10mm, not as excessively powerful as a 44 magnum, able to be chambered in lighter, slimmer frames... it has a lot of advantages and its a cartridge i think i could get behind, and would love to see more available in this load without the excessive "beef" needed for a full on 44 mag revolver

    i guess with these buffalo bore loads and the ones ive stated in the +P range it has the potential to be one of the better all-purpose rounds within reason... unfortunately it seems revolver manufacturers are more concerned with over the top power lately (enter the 500 magnum)
  13. jason41987

    jason41987 member

    also, im not such a fan of the blackhawks.. nothing wrong with them, but im so used to a single action revolver having fixed sights, and seeing an SAA with a more streamlined profile as opposed to the raised top of the blackhawk... it just doesnt look normal to me, because it looks so close to the SAA
  14. aarondhgraham

    aarondhgraham Well-Known Member

    Correct me if I am wrong,,,

    Correct me if I am wrong,,,
    I don't think Elmer Keith "went straight to it",,,
    Didn't Elmer Keith help develop the .44 magnum with S&W?


  15. jason41987

    jason41987 member

    this also makes me wonder.... why was there never a .41 special?... as popular as the 40S&W is, id be willing to buy into a more sensible 41 caliber loading in a revolver.... i guess im not as enamored with over-the-top magnum rounds i guess... i guess some people need a handgun that puts out as much power as a military rifle
  16. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Well-Known Member

    My opinion is that if you would be concerned that the 44 Spl standard loading is not enough, then go to a 44 Magnum gun.

    For SD and other uses I am pleased with the 44 Spl's performance with standard pressure loads. I have shot a lot of 357 magnum rounds and have no issue with that caliber either. Either would serve well for most any situation of SD . The 44 Spl is more pleasant to shoot .
  17. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Well-Known Member

    Jason, there is a .41 Special. It is a wildcat cartridge made from cut down .41 Magnum brass. It is most commonly found in rechambered S&W L frames.
  18. jason41987

    jason41987 member

    i like 44 special, in the buffalo bore loads they seem to have a ton of performance while remaining under saami pressures as theyre not listed as +P... so i think 44 special is fine in the hotter loads... but 44 magnum is just way over the top for anything practical outside of hunting
  19. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    I'm a big fan of the .44 Special as well, but

    a relative newcomer to all of its loadings. I have chased reloading data for it, however, and have numerous loads ready for testing (which was set aside for this year because of health issues).

    So, to make a good decision on this, you really should look at what Powell&Hyde said: Get the Handloader 236 (and 260) issues for a comprehensive examination of loading modern .44 S&W Spl. guns to three pressure levels.

    They have successfully identified a number of powders that work well at, IIRC 15,000 (SAAMI) 22,000 their "Level II" and Level III (>=25,000) and the guns that handle them well.

    If for no other reason than the fact that I found out Power Pistol is nominally a functional equivalent to the ubiquitous Unique loads for .44 Spl the articles are worth their weight in--well, in Power Pistol (flash be damned, but it meters so much better).

    Also, go over to reloading and search for Float Pilot--he's got relaoding research underway for the alloy / 3" barrel guns. Personally, I shoot mine from a 624-4" and a 396, and I am happy with the Level II loads. But, I am not really loading for hunting, either.

    I got mine a couple seasons ago--but they may well still have some. Check it out.

    Jim H.
  20. 56hawk

    56hawk Well-Known Member

    As far as I know there is no SAAMI specifications for 44 Special +P which makes it a little difficult to compare. For self defense I like to use factory ammo from well known large manufactures. There are lots of good choices for 357 Magnum and even a few for 44 Magnum. However in 44 Special there aren't very many. And all of the factory ammo I could find was less powerful than even 45 ACP.

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