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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. 56hawk

    56hawk Member

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    Thanks, but mine jump crimp no mater how heavy a crimp I put on them. It is a FA 83 with a 4 3/4 inch barrel, so it is on the light side.
     
  2. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    In that case, I would cut down on the case mouth belling a bit. Only bell the mouth enough to get the bullet started into the case. The bullet will bulge the brass a bit, but that just means the brass is gripping the bullet REALLY HARD, which is good.

    I don't have figures, but I have been told that the friction with the the brass (if the case-mouth belling did not expand the brass too much) contributes more to bullet retention than even the most vigorous crimp.

    Some loaders even put their case-mouth belling mandrel in a drill or lathe and reduce the diameter (keeping the part that touches the very end of the case mouth).

    Good luck.

    Lost Sheep
     
  3. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

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    Dear Lost Sheep,

    What is the prevailing choice up in your neck of the woods in AK. Here in northern ID, it seems most of the of the folks I know carry .357. We don't have as many griz as you folks.
     
  4. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    I don't have the statistics. A thread on Alaska Outdoors would probably give you a better answer than this one:

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/forum.php


    I am partial to a high-potency bear spray Oleoresin Capsicum or UDAP. You don't have to report to the State (though it is a good idea) and are not responsible for preserving the hide and skull. Spray is easier to aim. But I think we have had this discussion before. You also leave behind you a bear less inclined to approach humans rather than a wounded, more dangerous animal.

    Marlin 45-70 lever gun is right handy and quite popular.

    12 Gauge with Brenneke or other hard-cast slugs has a good following, affordable and capable of multiple other tasks like home defense, bird hunting, etc.

    A friend who worked for the Parks Service was given a 300 Winchester Magnum. But that shows how smart the Feds are. A bolt action for (by definition, close-up) bear defense?

    But I think, among handguns, the 44 Mag and 454 Casull are the most popular.

    Seriously, start a thread on http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/forum.php or just do a search there.

    The task of STOPPING a dangerous animal is totally different from hunting the same animal. Speed of presentation and speed of effect is paramount. It does no good to deliver a fatal shot to a bear if it does not die before he kills you. And the tool has to be at hand when you need it and able to deliver accurate, instinctively aimed force (lead or chemical) RIGHT NOW.

    I know you know this, but others are reading and I want to be clear.

    Handguns (despite Greg Brush's experience) are often not accurate or powerful enough to do the job. Greg himself was not sure at the time where the first shot went, nor how many were fired and admitted to feeling blessed, as I recall, to have come out unscathed.

    Good woodscraft, knowledge of bears (and wolves, and moose, etc) will keep you out of more trouble than you will ever have to shoot or skedaddle your way out of.

    Lost Sheep
     
  5. 56hawk

    56hawk Member

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    I think I might give that a try. I've done it with some of the other cartridges I reload.
     
  6. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I don't worship anything or anybody. I obviously don't hate the .45Colt or I wouldn't own five of them. I just don't drink the .45Colt Kool Aid because I don't like the fact that you have to have one built or buy an FA to get a good one. I prefer the .44Mag because I can buy one off the shelf that will shoot 2"@50yds. Same for the .357 or .41Mag's. The .45Colt suffers from 140yr old ambiguous chamber/cartridge dimensions and Colt, the inventors of the cartridge, still can't get theirs right. I challenge anyone to show me a critter that knew the difference between the two.

    I completely disregard the .454 because it does nothing I need. Velocity is overrated and folks are slowly figuring this out. It's a lot of pressure, noise and recoil for no good reason. A .454 launching a 360gr at 1500fps doesn't kill anything any deader than a .45Colt pushing one to 1100fps.


    Accuracy and power are not an issue. The shooter's ability to properly place a bullet through a moving bear's shoulder, skull or spine while the angry critter rages towards them is the shortcoming. Long guns are just easier to hit with.
     
  7. silvermane_1

    silvermane_1 Member

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    there is 44, 454, 460, 500 S&W but no 480 ruger?, that would be my choice if confonted by a bear.
     
  8. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    Don't forget the 475 Linebaugh.
    There's been a lot of hard core opinions stated here, when it comes to the big bore handguns it's what ever turns your crank.
    I happen to like them all, but think the S&W 460 is a really good one because of the versatility it offers for cartridge choices.
    Wish I could afford one of each! :D
     
  9. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    The .480 is a wonderful cartridge and capable of launching a massive 425gr LBT at 1200fps. This is a stomper of a load that is not overly punishing to the shooter. Vastly easier to shoot than your average full steam 250-300gr .454 load.


    I see this repeated often because the .460 can chamber three different cartridges but what does this really yield you? What need does it really fill that can't be satisfied with a .45Colt that weighs half as much? Do people really buy a massive 5lb .460 to shoot mousefart .45Colt loads in?

    PS, the fact that I own a 4lb Dragoon converted to .45Colt is immaterial. :p ;)
     
  10. JohnM

    JohnM Member

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    What else?
     
  11. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    The 454 Casull does not seem to suffer from the ambiguous chamber dimensions of bore, chamber and throat dimensions the 45 Colt inherited.

    The 454 can be downloaded to 1100 fps, or 1150 or 1200 or 1300. You don't have to take it to 1500 or 1600. And while the 45 Colt can do 1100 or 1200, the extra strength of the 454 is comforting.

    I am not saying that the 45 Colt or 454 Casull is better than the 44 Magnum for any given purpose. I am saying that there may be valid reasoning behind some people's choices to NOT disregard the 454.

    Lost Sheep.
     
  12. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

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    For folks that can handle the extra recoil of the .454, more power to them. The more the better when it comes to bear defense.

    However, the most important issues are penetration and shot placement. Of course, reaction time and distance from point of attack are paramount. The data on how close the bear was before the person noticed is not encouraging. If I recall, I believe it was on the order of about 10 yards. I will have to see if I can find that reference. Just not a bunch of time to react at all for either a gun or pepper spray.

    That is why one of the rules is to have more than one person equipped to repel bears as best they can if you should go down.

    For those that can handle a .500 S&W, better yet.
     
  13. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    It yields you cheaper practice and a lot of fun with a 45 cal revolver that has the capability to do some really long range (for a handgun) (at least longer than just the 45 colt) work if you choose to do so. I agree that if you are carrying a particular load for defense, you need to practice with it a great deal, but

    It also allows you to range your energy deposit into a target from 300 ftlbs all the way up to 2900 ftlbs. I know....... dead is dead and you don't need to explode your target, just stop it, but with a large angry animal coming at me, I want speed on that flying bullet, because it WILL penetrate deeper with a solid hard cast bullet.

    Now...... you said that this is not always the case and made mention of some studies. Would you please post a link so we could all do a little reading if you know of a good study. What you said earlier is contrary to what you would expect when just thinking about the physics of the situation, so if we are all thinking about it wrong, then some group education would be a good thing right? Please share....... You may want to start a new thread though, because this will veer us of topic from the OP.

    You know I drove through a park on Saturday on the way to go do my grocery shopping at the nearest large city, and I drove within 5 feet of a bull bison. It's shoulder was as tall as my full size pickup, and it was about 2/3 as long as my truck. I also happened to remember my facts that a large, full grown bull bison weighs in at about 1 ton. Fortunately they are used to walking around cars in that park, so it was no biggie at all. Then I thought about my friend who is a wildlife biologist, and how she has been treed twice by bull bison in the rut. If a bison were comming at me, I want the heaviest, fastest, hard cast bullet I can handle, hitting that thing with as much penetration as possible. Same for a bear.
     
  14. Coal Dragger

    Coal Dragger Member

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    So what we should take away from this argument is to use common sense and situational awareness to avoid bears if possible. Don't muck around in the bush where bears are by yourself if you are hunting or doing anything else. Make sure you and your hunting/ fishing partner have bear spray so you can cover one another. Carry the most powerful weapon that you can control and that is practical enough to actually get toted along, encourage your buddies to do the same.

    Seems simple enough.
     
  15. 109Hammer

    109Hammer Member

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    FYI,

    I have a 5" 460 that I backpack with in AK. Awesome gun, I Love the 5" barrel. But i also just got the Ruger Alaskan 454. I hand load and can put together a nice load that will definitely put down something big.
     
  16. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    I respectfully disagree about the power levels.

    Not quite so, grasshopper. The 44 Magnum is short of the 454 Casull, even the +P+ loads of 44. The 454's slug is heavier by 16% (for the same length/diameter ratio) and 10.5% greater frontal area. Pressure levels are a quantum leap up.

    Even, so the 44 is no slouch.

    If Greg had adequate bullet tension on those slugs, they would not have crept out to bind up his revolver. Or, if he had a heavier gun (but possibly would not have brought it up to the bear in time to deliver a stopping shot.

    Hindsight is 20/20. Speculation is something else. Testing your ammunition before carrying is advisable. I have no evidence that Greg tested his ammo for bullet creep from recoil, but I suspect he didn't.

    I practice with 454 Casull, loaded light. When it comes time to draw down on an attaching bear, recoil is NOT going to be a concern.

    Lost Sheep
     
  17. farm23

    farm23 Member

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    I have both. The 454 is a 7.5" Freedom Arms and I have taken virtually all North American large aminals with it but I only carry it when I am speciffically hunting. Most of the time carry one of my 44 mag. I have more then one 44 but only one 454.
     
  18. Manny

    Manny Member

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    John Linebaugh has done more work with guns and loads of this type than probably anyone, first in a lot of pioneering work with heavy bullet .45 Colt loads & guns and then with the .500 & .475 cartridges that bear his name. He held several "Linebaugh Seminars" several years back with numerous other experts & aficianados that generated a wealth of information on penetration & performance of a lot of stout handgun and rifle loads with the results listed here:

    http://www.handloads.com/misc/linebaugh.penetration.tests.asp

    As you read through one of the things that jumps out at me is that bullet construction and bullet weight more than increased velocity contribute the penetration needed to get to the vitals of tough game. For myself, I'll take a heavy bullet at moderate velocity over a lighter bullet at warp speed.

    Another article he wrote is in regards to performance & pressure differences between the .44 mag & .45 Colt with heavy bullets:

    http://www.customsixguns.com/writings/heavyweight_bullets.htm

    A lot of good info from a man who knows what's what on the subject from actual experiance.
     
  19. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Linebaugh definitely knows what he is talking about and is a well-respected pioneer in this sport. I refer to his penetration test results often but some of the things he says in that article just don't add up for me. I hate to make this indictment but I think it is skewed against the .44Mag so he can sell more .45's. One has to only look at Hodgdon's heavy bullet data for the truth. Which runs right up to 355gr for the .44 and 395gr for the .45. Across the board, the .44Mag maintains at least 100fps lead on the .45Colt for comparable bullet weights. For comparable sectional densities, the gap widens to as much as 200fps (355gr .44 at 1250fps vs. 395gr .45 at 1050fps). As far as the pressures involved, to quote John himself, "so what?". We're talking about large frame Rugers and they have no problem whatsoever running full steam .44Mag. Given comparable bullets at comparable velocities, recoil is indistinguishable between the two.

    For example, in the .44Mag, John lists a 318gr at 1354fps at 44,000psi from a 10" test barrel. Hodgdon lists a 330gr LBT at 1350fps at 38,800CUP and that will happen in a 7½" Ruger. I know, I've tested them.

    IMHO, Linebaugh's articles were written in the `80's and might be a bit outdated. I think most of what folks believe is magical about the .45Colt is based on those articles and I just don't think it holds true anymore.....if it ever did.
     
  20. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

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    Dear Lost Sheep,

    For folks that can handle the high powered .454 Casull loads which as you state do exceed the max .44 magnum loads, more power to them. I shot the .454 one time and it made my right hand numb for 5 minutes. I shoot one handed because of my dialysis access in my left arm. I didn't want to compound that with median nerve damage from a .454.

    In addition, the availability of the BB +p+ 340 gr bullets that are within the power range of their BB .454 loads makes me feel reasonably confident that I have the max gun I can comfortably handle and shoot well. In fact, since I got my Ruger Super Redhawk a couple of years ago, I have become quite comfortable with this gun even with high powered loads. I find the recoil on my SP101 with full power .357 just a notch below my Ruger SRH.

    I like what Tim states about his medium loads for .454. It is one of the calibers that he does not max out.

    454 Casull Ammo - 360 gr. L.B.T. - L.W.N. (1,425 fps/M.E. 1,623 ft. lbs.) - 20 Round Box (Big Game up to 2000 lbs.)

    The .454 Casull is one cartridge that Buffalo Bore Ammunition does not load to it's full pressure limit. When loaded to it's full pressure potential the .454 Casull can become unreliable and unpleasant to shoot. At upper pressure levels, heavy bullets tend to jump crimp - tying up the cylinder. (wouldn't this be great in an emergency) Also, fired brass can stick in the chambers.

    Buffalo Bore Ammunition feels that a 360 gr. bullet (or 325 gr. bullet at 1525 fps) at 1425 fps is still very powerful, comfortable to shoot, and TOTALLY RELIABLE. At these levels, these bullets give up nothing in killing performance.


    https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=60
     
  21. jim8115

    jim8115 Member

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    I have loaded a lot of the beartooth 340 grain with a max load of either H-110 or Lil gun, and I have never had one jump crimp. Shooting from a Ruger Super Redhawk.
    I seat them till the case mouth is even with the very top of the crimp groove, then I give my crimp die 1 full turn. Using Lee 45 colt dies.

    JIM
     
  22. 56hawk

    56hawk Member

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    That's what I have been doing, but they just don't hold.
     
  23. eldon519

    eldon519 Member

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    56hawk,

    Are you using .45 Colt dies or .454 Casull dies? Freedom Arms claims the die dimensions are different and that only .454 Casull dies should be used. You might to best to call FA and ask them or some tips. I've got an FA and have called before and found them pretty helpful.
     
  24. 56hawk

    56hawk Member

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    I'm using LEE 454 dies. I even got the factory crimp die. Probably just need to do some more experimenting. I will say that the 454 has been the most difficult round to reload by far.
     
  25. SaneLoads

    SaneLoads Member

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    Use a Heavy Roll Crimp.....

    I did some crimp jump testing before settling on a load for the .460 Smith and Wesson for Bear Defense. Took a load set for about 5% under maximum power charge (32 gr WW 296, 395gr Cast Precision Lead Gas Check Slug) using NEW Star Line BRASS cases (no nickle - have found that nickle cases are "harder" than brass and do not crimp as well with repeated loading -- cracking problem.

    Used a HEAVY roll crimp right in the TOP (front of bullet) crimp groove -- years of heavy .44mag loads have shown that this is better than a taper crimp for heavy recoiling loads. Loaded up 50 rounds and marked the rear of ONE round with a tiny bit of masking tape.

    Loaded 5 rounds including the tape marked round (tape marked under the hammer) into a Smith 460V 5" revolver. Fired 4, emptied the cylinder and checked the marked round for length against the un-fired remaining rounds. No creep visible. Repeated this process 4 more times. Measured again, no creep. Repeated the process 5 more times -- measured again -- creep of 0.005" (from center of crimp groove to bottom of same groove but still in groove).

    Load is now a "Safe to bet your life on" load.

    This load is a handfull -- not a rude muzzle blast like the 200 gr Hornaday "lipstick" rounds -- but recoil is really significant. It makes a .454 Casull feel like a 45ACP compared to a .44 magnum. Bullet velocity is probably over 1500 fps in the revolver; Hodgdon's data puts it at about 1600 fps in their test barrel. Pressure is below 56,000 psi (.460 is SAAMI rated at 65,000psi) so it doesn't give any real chance for over pressure problems. This velocity was selected as a target to keep the bullet from self-destructing on bones and to give maximum penetration of the cranium and shoulders of a charging brownie in its most adverse presentation (head on).

    I practice with this round once a month, to date I've fired in excess of 200 rounds of this load with NO crimp issues whatsoever.

    Dies are RCBS .460 -- item 24212 -- primers are Large Rifle Magnum.

    There should be no issues with crimp jumping in the .454 Casull Super Redhawk with 360gr loads at 1200 fps (max load) as this is precisely the same recoil as the (much heavier) 460V has with my 1500+ fps handloads and 395gr projectiles.
     
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