1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Don't have a chronograph, need help with 44 loads

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Billy Jack, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. Billy Jack

    Billy Jack Well-Known Member

    I would like to hear from anyone that has actually chronographed there 44 mag loads using components as close as possible to what I am trying to workup.

    I am working up a load for my 5.5" Redhawk to use on wild hogs and would like the load to be around 1200 - 1400 ft/sec.

    I am using 2400 powder, CCI 300 primers, and a 260 gr WFN bullet ordered from Montana Bullet Works cast from an LBT .432" mould.

    The test loads I shot today went from 18 gr of 2400 up to 21 gr of 2400, in 1/2 gr increments, (only 2 of each weight). Although the recoil increased somewhat as the powder load increased, it wasn't too bad, and the primers actually looked about the same from 18-21 gr. The primers were flattened about the same as I see shooting WWB 240gr SP from Wallmart. They are not showing a flattened primer that completely fills the primer pocket. In other words to me they just looked like normal pressure. Fired case extraction was easy. They all seem to shoot good and with my limited ability at accuracy they all shot in about the same sized group as if the cartridges had all been loaded the same. (about 4" at 25 yds using a bipod to steady my hand, but no sandbags, etc.). (With practice I will get better!)

    I had hoped to see more defining differences in my test loads to lead me to the best, but that didn't happen.

    My next move is to load up several of just a couple of loads and go back out and shoot to see which is most accurate and then use that to sight in the pistol.

    To me it looks like I could easily be happy with anything from 18-21gr or maybe a tad more, BUT I really want to make sure I am at least 1200 fps and not over 1400 fps. Everything I read points to that velocity range in the heavy cast bullet being more deadly on hogs than faster or slower loads.

    So I am looking for any clues as to velocity so I will know where to start with the powder charge.

    I know it would be an easy task with a chonograph, but right now I just don't have the money to spend on it.
  2. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Well-Known Member

    I think you're fretting unnecessarily. Do you REALLY think that a hundred or two fps over or under your parameters are going to make that much of a difference? The good news for you is, it's quite unlikely you'll be much over 1,400 fps.

    If it makes you feel any better, I've killed dozens of animals including warthogs and large antelope without having any chronographic evidence of how fast my bullets were going. I also managed to kill them with other than the cast bullets that are allegedly so lethal.
  3. James2

    James2 Well-Known Member

    Hmmmm, I have only been loading for 56 years and never had a chrono.

    Just don't worry about it. Man if you load those 44 mag s with 20 gr of 2400 you will have a good load.

    I am loading a 255 gr bullet and 20 gr of 2400. Good load. No use pushing max loads. It ain't worth the risk for what little more velocity you might get out of it. My manual put this load at around 1200 FPS from the test gun. Actual velocity will vary from gun to gun with the same load.

    If you want more than that, you must get some H110.

    The important thing is to work up a load that repeats, sight in the gun, then learn to shoot!

    I have used a 44 Spl for 55 years. It is not as fast as a 44 Mag, but believe me that even at 800 to 900 fps that 44 slug has no trouble dispatching critters. I just recently got a 44 Mag. Having some fun myself playing with loads.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  4. Billy Jack

    Billy Jack Well-Known Member

    I had some H-110 and CCI 350 primers but took them back because it looked like from my reading that the velocity would be on the high side and that H-110 was not to be downloaded much at all.
    I am not trying to get more velocity, just keep it within that 200 fps range I mentioned.
    I loaded for a 44 Blackhawk years ago using a 250 gr Keith with 22 grains of 2400 and it worked great on metallic silhouettes.
    I would just like to hear from someone that had actually chronographed a load or 2 for comparison. The older loads were listed in the reloading manuals. These larger bullets aren't in any of my old manuals. (New manuals are on the same list as the chronograph..................in the future, maybe.)
  5. thomis

    thomis Well-Known Member

    Or you could get a chronograph and sleep easy if it means that much to you ;)


    I got a used one on ebay for a steal.
  6. kelbro

    kelbro Well-Known Member

    Don't trust the look of the primer condition on a Redhawk. The Redhawks have great cylinders and they don't tend to flatten primers until you are dangerously over the limit.
  7. Loc n Load

    Loc n Load Well-Known Member

    44 mag

    I have loaded, shot, competed with and hunted with the 44mag since the 70's. I shot a Ruger 7 1/2" Superblackhawk in metallic sil, shooting out to two hundred yards with the 240 gr. Hornady JHP over 20gr. of 2400. I played with the 22 gr. load, but simply did not need it. The targets at 200 yds were steel rams, that weighed 55lbs. In order to score on these you were required to knock the ram down, not simply "ring it". If I hit the ram with this load, it went down. This was from standing with iron sights...so this load is also very accurate.
    I have also harvested over a dozen white tails with this combo as well, keeping my shots within 50 yds.....every deer I shot has been a lung/heart shot....
    Over the years I have done a lot of chrono work on this rd, but IMO, the diff of 20 gr's vs 22 gr's on live game is not going to be noticeable....the 20 gr load has been plenty powerful and has yielded one shot definitive kills every time, provided I did my job with the shot placement. With the bullet you are working with, I think this will also work quite nicely.
  8. hueyville

    hueyville Well-Known Member

    A chronagraph is a great tool and I own two but that being said, unless you are trying to look for nuances such a deviation, etc. it is not necessary. There is enough print info in books and internet to find 2400 data with similar bullet and pistol you can dial in your velocity close enough based on existing data. Will try to pull my personal .44 mag file when get home tonight as have used that bullet/powder combo extensively.
  9. hueyville

    hueyville Well-Known Member

    Ran buy the house and pulled my .44 mag file. Most of my data has been obtained through these guns in .44 Magnum: 4" S&W 629, 7.5" Ruger Redhawk, 5.5" Ruger Super Blackhawk, Dan Wesson with 6", 8" and 10" Vent Heavy barrels and a Desert Eagle.

    Now for the kicker, I am not sure which of the 2400 loads were done with the older version which is a little slower than the current version which is definitely a bit hotter so I can't say which of these go with the old or new version. Since you asked about a specific bullet, all of the data I am supplying is for a 250 grain 429421 Keith bullet with a BHN of 15.

    Also, without going through tons of little receipt style pieces of paper stapled to targets with pistol used, I have not spent a the time necessary to build an easy to navigate database to see which load came out of which gun and which was more accurate. Once I find the two or three loads for each gun, I write down the bullet weight/style, powder and charge, primer and seating depth on a sheet for that gun. If I load for that one specific then I pull its chart. Most of the .44 loads I shoot are a 215 grain cast SWC gas check bullet with Unique. Mild recoil, economical, shoots fair in all of my .44's.

    FWI, Elmer Kieth's personal load for his "pet" load was 22.0 grains of 2400 behind a 429421 250 grain cast bullet. This was done under the older and slightly slower 2400 so your mileage may vary.

    With 2400 according to gun my working range that seems to give most consistent accuracy is the 19.5 to 20.5 grain range. I have load data for this powder in the 17.0 to 22.0 grain ranges. Less than 19.5 grains and accuracy drops off and same above 21.0. Most of my references average 21.6 grains as max charge for the "new" 2400 with a 250 grain cast bullet. Too light of a 2400 load is inconsistent and too heavy and lots of unburned powder create a fireball that is just wasted powder when it is still burning once the bullet has exited the barrel. Heavier loads are for longer barrels where the bullet is in the barrel long enough for the powder to burn. Once again, these look goofy because I am not matching them to the pistol they were shot with but all apply to the traditional 250 grain Keith Bullet.

    17.0 gr/1365 fps
    19.0 gr/1225 fps
    19.0 gr/1300 fps
    19.7 gr/1,289 fps
    20.5 gr/1365 fps
    20.6 gr/1,510 fps
    21.0 gr/1436 fps
    22.0 gr/1250 fps
    22.0 gr/1371 fps
    22.0 gr/1400 fps
    23.2 gr/1,595 fps Don't try this one without careful working up... Or not at all actually. That one is for educational purposes only.

    This being said, I have used quite a few powders in .44 Mag development and every pistol seems to have a favorite. While they all like certain powders, some are more finicky that others. My favorite powders lately seem to be (in no particular order) Blue Dot, WW 296, H-110, Power Pistol, Lil'Gun, 4227, TiteGroup.

    I do suggest you do some research and pick two other powders to play with. You might want to go get that H-110 back. You just never know what your gun is going to like best. If it doesn't like one of them, another in the stable probably will. But as to velocity, find a reloading manual where they provide data based on a test pistol as similar to yours. You can always Google search groups of words like "Ruger Redhawk" Unique powder loads or "44 mag velocity H-110". There are so many forums on the net where people talk about pet loads and manufacturers info you will find enough info to dial in your velocity close to what your looking for. But accuracy is more important. What if you dial in your magic velocity number and it won't group in a pie pan at 25 yards? Thus the entire point of handloading. If you really feel you need to be sure of your velocity, buy the most chronograph you can for the amount of disposable cash you can afford without missing the house payment. But don't get a PBL starting out as the logistics of function will be more frustrating than building your loads. The Ohler 35p with its little printer is my pick for the most bang for your buck.
  10. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Well-Known Member

    I have to admit that I haven't shot that particular bullet....yet. I have shot plenty of hogs through the years however and in several calibers, and can tell you right up front, if you put that slug into one it is going to put the hurt on it right now.

    As mentioned work on accuracy and the hogs will drop. My mainstay for over a decade was my 41mag shooting a 200gr Remington SJHP to only 1350fps from my 7.5" Redhawk. It reliably dropped hogs at distances measured in feet to out around a hundred yards. In fact it impressed my bud so much he went out and bought one and gave his 44 to his BIL. He shot the same load I did and couldn't believe how well it worked even after watching me hunt them with it all those years.

    The meplat on that bullet will do plenty for you, and with the loads your asking about you should be at or slightly above 1200fps or in that area easily anyway. If you can hold your groups your going to have bacon on the ground plain and simple.

    I have an old Lyman manual which list a 245gr 429244 @ 22.2grs(max load) of 2400 hitting 1165fpr from their 4" test barrel. Figuring your shooting 15grs more bullet with 1.5" more barrel you should be pretty well in the ball park. Even if not your well within the power needed to dump a feral hog on it's nose if you put the shot where it needs to be. Most of the toughness derived form hunters is mostly due to shots hitting too far back. Hit them right straight up their leg, instead of behind their shoulder, and they go down a LOT quicker.
  11. Billy Jack

    Billy Jack Well-Known Member

    Great information guys, THANKS!

    Today I loaded up a bunch of 20 gr loads of 2400 with the 260 gr WFN bullet.
    Clean shooting, stout recoil (but appropriate for my purposes), grouped better than I thought I could shoot (most within an inch or so at 20yds, 2 an inch apart at 40 yds with another about 2 inches from the first 2.

    This weekend there will be a full moon all night and I will be sitting in one of three bowstands on our lease waiting for a big boar to come to a "roly poly" feeder (a plastic barrel of corn and rocks, skewered with a piece of conduit attached to a stake, being pushed around and around by the hog trying to get corn to fall out of the holes in the barrel....a sight to see).

    Hopefully I'll have a hunting story to tell by Sunday evening.
  12. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Wow, what store allows you to return powder and primers? Thats very unusual and considered risky for all concerned.

  13. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Well-Known Member

    Billy Jack,

    Where bouts are you going to be huntin?

    We have a little place up in E. Texas thats been in the family for years. I FINALLY talked the wife into POSSIBLY shooting a hog last weekend. WE had clear skies and a half moon. Very easy to see the feeder from the pop up we set up 30yds from it. I had everything set up for her, rest, rifle with little recoil, and everything. Stupid cross hairs disappeared on the scope. She said she wasn't going to shoot one not being able to see the +. I told her to center it up in the scope and bust it. Didn't work out.

    I stuck with it until we had three come out. The first simply didn't like what was going on and left just before the hammer fell. The next one I centered up on and sent one, missed it completely (hate it when she is right), the last I hit with the red light and it didn't even look up before leaving a dust cloud.

    It was a hoot though, spending time out there with her always is though, even when we're working, the hog hunting just added to the list of fun.

    I gave some serious thought to hitting it again this weekend but I have other things to take care of. Possibly next weekend, and I'll take a different rifle with a red dot in the scope.

    Good luck and be sure to post up a report.
  14. Billy Jack

    Billy Jack Well-Known Member

    As for returning primers and powder, I was a little surprised myself. However, I have known the owner for years and he knew when I bought them and that my dies for the 44 had not even arrived yet. Everything was obviously unopened and still sealed. Besides...I live in West Texas where folks are still pretty trusting of one another!

    I will be hunting on a small 200 acre deer lease north of Dickens , TX, that we mainly bowhunt for deer. However, our deer lease has become more of a hog lease. They are out of control. Problem is they are twice as hard to hunt as deer (once they learn they are being hunted.)
    Just as you mentioned they will leave without hesitation at the drop of a pin or if they hear you swallow too hard. Their noses of course are phenomenal and they can come into a feeder from any direction so it is very difficult to get a shot.

    Night time has been the only predictable time to hunt them on our place. I use a green kill light velcroed to my Redhawk or bow. Even the green light usually spooks them because I am so close (20yds). Because they spook so easily it is hard not to rush the shot. I have made more bad shots than I care to admit.

    Will definitely bring you a report, just hope I don't have to report "no hog".
  15. Billy Jack

    Billy Jack Well-Known Member

    I promised a report on using my new 44 load you guys helped me with on wild hogs.
    I hunted 2 nights in a row during a full moon. I got 3 shots and hit all three. However, none fell on the spot. All three ran into the thick brush and I never found any of them.
    My problem seemed to be that once I turned on the green kill light I had very little time to carefully pick an aim spot. I plan to go to a pit and practice at night getting accurate shots off quickly.
    Being out at night on the ground by myself far from anyone in close proximity to 350 lb feral boars was the most exciting hunting I have ever done!
    It won't be long until I go again. Hopefully I can talk someone into going with me next time!
  16. Catshooter

    Catshooter Well-Known Member

    A 260 grain Keith semi-wadcutter over 22 grains of 2400 showed 1250 fps out of my three inch Smith 629.

  17. ljnowell

    ljnowell Well-Known Member

    After reading just your first post I have to say, I would never waste my time only loading 2 of a particular variant during development. My low magic number is 5. Nothing less, I would prefer to do 10. At the very least I would like to shoot one 5 shot group. Preferably two, with a break in between shooting something else. Then use them for comparison of loads.

Share This Page