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.44 magnum vs .454 Casull: Which is more popular for bear defense?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Alaska444, Oct 10, 2012.

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Which is a better bear defense weapon?

Poll closed Nov 9, 2012.
  1. .44 Magnum

    44 vote(s)
    60.3%
  2. .454 Casull

    29 vote(s)
    39.7%
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  1. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    Think I'd rather have the 8" barreled model for the 460 though.
    Like to shoot it with a 5 inch barrel, but I don't know where I'd ever find one to try out.
     
  2. Scipio Africanus

    Scipio Africanus Member

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    I have a 629 .44 mag, Ruger SRA .454, and a .500 X frame. In my opinion, far and away, the .454 is a better than the .44 as a stopper. Heavier bullets, more frontal area, a little more velocity, all good things.
    Ths .44 is more controllable, and the SRA .454 is the most uncomfortable handgun I have shot. My .500 is easier on the hands, even with 500 grain barn burners. But if I had to pick between the .44 and .454 for bear defense, I'd still choose the
    .454.

    I pretty much keep my . 44 to 240-265 grain loads. I have a 300 grain load that goes exactly 1100fps from my 4' 629. That is all I care to shoot out of it. I keep the .454 to 300-335 grain bullets. If I want more, I carry the .500 or a rifle.
     
  3. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I looked at the 8" bbl vesion and it did not handle naturally for me. Since it has a full underlug it is extremely nose heavy. It certainly would have the advantage of accuracy and velocity, but not for handling speed or follow up shots.

    I would reserve anything over a 6" bbl length for hunting personally. That's JMO though. I'm sure there are people out there who can use a gun with that long of a bbl for defense in an efficient way, but I'm sure not one of them. The carry weight is pushing it too on that large of a gun.
     
  4. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    All the .460 will net you is greater range. I think there are better options than a 4lb beast with an 8" barrel.


    Heavier bullets, how do you figure that? Either cartridge is at its peak with 355-360gr bullets and the 355gr .44 will have a sectional density equal to 395gr .454's.


    I wouldn't even bother.
     
  5. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    How do you figure? Higher velocity with the same weight bullet would certainly get you better range, I agree, but wouldn't it also enhance your penetration and ability to break bone?

    I think there is more to be gained from a 460 than just range.

    I do agree with you there. A high powered rifle, brush gun, or a 12 gauge is a better option IMO to any handgun.
     
  6. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Not really. Sometimes quite the contrary.
     
  7. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Member

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    Turns out Alaska did a poll on the most popular bear defense weapons.

    28 percent of the bears said .454s.
    18 percent of the bears said the .44 magnum was more popular.
    only 12 percent felt the .41 was adequate.
    but the most popular bear defense was the pepper spray. 41 percent felt it best to use pepper spray.

    and one percent was undecided.

    So there you are. The bears in Alaska want you to pack pepper spray and leave the old roscoe back home.

    Deaf
     
  8. Coal Dragger

    Coal Dragger Member

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    ^ Probably good advice. Bear goes away, you go about your business (of changing your shorts), and no one gets permanently hurt.
     
  9. 1slow01Z71

    1slow01Z71 Member

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    If youre looking for a bear defense why not consider the 500? While mine is the bone collector edition which has a 10" barrel, the shorter barrel version arent that bad kick wise. Its definitely not something I plink with at the range but I can empty a cylinder without too much trouble. When Im shooting an animal I dont really notice the recoil of the gun anyway, maybe it would be the same in a defensive situation with your blood and adrenaline pumping? Ive never had to shoot a beer but have had to shoot a wounded whitetail buck that charged, I honestly dont remember even shooting(was with a rifle though).

    I think if I wanted a small, lightweight, beer defense gun it would be a glock or XD with a 460 rowland conversion IF you hand load. With handloading they can become quite reliable and youre packing atleast 13 rounds of it in a small(relatively) package with a lot of firepower.

    The 500 is just brutal with the ability to pack close to 3000ftlbs at the muzzle, thats what Id carry since you may only get one shot.
     
  10. Coal Dragger

    Coal Dragger Member

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    I personally wouldn't bother with any of the X-frame S&W. I am sure they are well made and functional, but they are in my estimation too heavy to lug around. Might as well take a light carbine.

    Just my opinion.
     
  11. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

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    Beyond my recoil tolerance for sure, but if you can handle it, the more the better.
     
  12. Scipio Africanus

    Scipio Africanus Member

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    CraigC,

    You are 100% correct. Let me restate, I shoot Smiths in .44 and I won't load them much over three hundred grains. No Buffalo Bore, Garrett heavy stuff, or +P handloads in those. In a Ruger or Freedom Arms, I would, but not in my purdy lil' 629. So I guess, the .44 and .454 probably boil down to personal preferance if you stoke the .44 to its full potential in guns that will handle it.
     
  13. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Ah! CraigC please explain. I'm looking to learn here.

    Why would greater velocity not enhance penetration and bone breaking ability with the same bullet? Ok, lets qualify that. I load 325 gr. hard cast HSM bear loads. If the the same hard cast bullet were shot out of a 454 at lower velocities would the 460 not trump the 454? If we are talking hollow points I see your point, but the same bullet?

    Please clarify as I must be missing something and am looking for education here.

    Thanks
     
  14. saturno_v

    saturno_v Member

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    What he meant to say is that if the bullet deform, as result of higher velocity, it could reduce penetration.

    All things being equal (no bullet deformation) a faster identical bullet will penetrate more.
     
  15. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Nope. One would assume that higher velocities produce deeper penetration but extensive testing has shown that going much above 1200-1300fps (relative handgun velocities) does not produce significantly better results. Add 100-200fps and you're gaining a lot of recoil and muzzle blast but not a measurably better result, if any.
     
  16. 1slow01Z71

    1slow01Z71 Member

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    That REALLY depends on the actual bullet used. Most of those studies are done with HP bullets, truncated cone and ball react totally different. While Ive never tested loads in the real big calibers, FMJ works much better in my 45ACP on hogs than HP ammo. While the wound channel isnt as big, its much deeper in those tough animals and has much higher weight retention. Id imagine a big beer would be comparable.
     
  17. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    All of your many opinions have been noted.
     
  18. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Test results are not a matter of opinion. Interpretation and application is a different story.

    Of course, energy worshipers (and by default, velocity worshipers) may 'think' differently, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.
     
  19. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    IMHO the 44 is more popular and better. I've seen way to many "dead" animals run 50+ yards to have any faith that anything other than a head shot is going to keep Yogi from getting to me so again IMHO you really don't need 454 power and the recoil that comes with. Besides I've chronoed the BB +p+ load out of my 4" custom Redhawk and my brother's 454 Alaskan doesn't beat it.
     
  20. 1slow01Z71

    1slow01Z71 Member

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    Craig C can you post these results you're talking about that aren't using HP ammo? I've never seen any, and HP ammo wouldn't be used in this application so that argument wouldn't be valid.
     
  21. codefour

    codefour Member

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    I voted for the .44 Magnum. It is probably one of the most versatile handgun rounds, especially if you reload. I have a 4 inch Redhawk. The 4 inch is very versatile for carry. The .44 is pretty stout. Polar bears have been harvested with them. And it is easier to carry than my .460 X-frame with 8 3/8 BBL.

    The .460 recoil is not at as bad as most make it out to be. Shooting 300 grain XTP mags I am getting 1950 fps using 39.0 grains of H110. The recoil is similar to a heavy .44 mag load. I basicly fold the crimp into the cannelure per the Speer instructions. It is hard on the brass and shortens brass life but I have had no bullet jump.

    I have not harvested any game with either yet but plan to in the future. Deer season here was a bust this year.

    FWIW, All the horsepower in the world is not going to make a bit of difference if your shot placement is bad.
     
  22. Coal Dragger

    Coal Dragger Member

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    We all know that CraigC doesn't like the .454 Casull or the .45 Colt very much, and that he worships at the altar of .429 Magnum and that is fine. I'll take the slightly larger frontal area, and heavier bullet offered by the .45 caliber. We can argue about sectional density until we are all blue in the face, and that is also fine. Sectional densities being equal, and assuming the revolvers in question will run a bullet that long in the cylinder, and the rifling twist rate will stabilize it, I'll still take the heavier wider bullet every time.

    Aside from that the .454 in a single action offers me some added versatility in being able to use a cylinder in .45 ACP for inexpensive high volume shooting to get really proficient with the gun without spending a small fortune on reloading for it.
     
  23. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Test your loads

    When a bullet's brethren are fired, the gun recoils back, taking the rims of the cartridges with it. Pulling the rims back, of course pulls the whole cartridge case back. But the powder inside is not attached to anything. The bullet stuck in the front of the case is only attached to the cartridge case by friction and the crimp.

    The heavier the bullets (and not because of bullet length, but bullet inertia) and the lighter the gun, the worse it is, too, so the Ruger Alaskan is worse than the longer-barreled guns and the Smith & Wesson and Taurus Titanium lightweights (large bore as well as their light J-frames) are similarly notorious for jumping crimp.

    This is exactly how a kinetic bullet puller works. So, if you are not at a range, you get an idea of how resistant to crimp jump your cartridges are by using a kinetic bullet puller. Of course, it is hard to get quantitative measurements.

    You never know when you have more crimp than you need. Lighter guns (less inertia & more recoil), heavier bullets (more inertia), higher velocities (more recoil) require more crimp.

    You know when you have too little bullet retention (case grip by friction as well as the crimp) when you find bullets pulling out of their cases.

    Do this:

    Make up 11 rounds (assuming you have a six-shot revolver). Measure the overall length of at least one cartridge. Theoretically they should all be the same, but you need to measure just the one.

    Load up with six rounds and fire five, making sure you do not fire the one you measured.

    Load up with five more and fire those, not firing the measured one.

    Take the unfired cartridge (which has now been subjected to 10 inertial impacts trying to pull the bullet out of the case) and measure its overall length. If it is the longer than it was before, you have too little bullet retention force (what we have been referring to as crimp).

    If the same length, you have enough crimp or too much. Can't tell.

    If you took the time to measure the length after every shot, you have more data to think about. For instance, if the cartridge overall length (COAL) increased after the first and second shots, but not at all for the next eight, you probably have enough crimp, but the location of the crimp in the cannelure could be better fit.

    If it is shorter, you have a mystery.

    Lost Sheep
     
  24. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    My friend's 4" 500 S&W is more comfortable at full power to shoot than my Ruger Super Redhawk 7.5" 454 Casull or my 4 5/8" Freedom Arms 454 Casull at full power. But either of mine is more comfortable to carry, thus more likely to be at hand if the need arises.

    But I got my SRH for half of the Smith's cost and can afford to practice putting lead on target a lot more with it. I reload, but even so, it is cheaper.

    Between the O.P.'s two candidates, the 454 Casull has nearly 1,800 ft lbs of energy available and bullet weights over 400 grains. The 44 Magnum around 1,500 ft lbs and bullet weights up to around 340 grains or so.

    The 44 Magnum 7.5" Super Redhawk is significantly more comfortable to shoot than the 454 Casull, but downloaded to 44 Magnum power levels, the larger bullet of the 454 gives it the advantage in my opinion.

    Which is more popular? The 44 Mag. More effective? 454 Casull. Each depend on the shooter's ability to control it.

    Lost Sheep
     
  25. Coal Dragger

    Coal Dragger Member

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    When in doubt too much crimp is better than not enough.
     
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