44 Special Pet Loads???

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Float Pilot

Jul 27, 2007
Kachemak Bay Alaska
I am collecting 44 Special load info for use in a smaller frame ( Taurus) Model 445 UL. Stainless barrel and cylinder but an alloy frame.

It is exactly the same size as a K frame S&W or a Python, but only has 5 chambers.

So toss me your thoughts...
Heh, I used to load everything from the Lyman 180gr wadcutter to the Lee 320gr SWC in my Bulldog. Depends on what you want to do.
I mostly load W-231 or AA#5 for 44spl under 200gr jacketed bullets for my 696, I had a Taurus 431 with a 2.5" barreled round butt configuration and both guns seem to agree on similar loads.
I feel that 240gr bullets may pass the point of diminishing returns with these short barreled 5 shots, but I maybe wrong.
I checked what is left of my pistol powder supply.
I have

Red Dot
HP-38 (same thing as WW231)
AA #7
Blue Dot
Trail Boss
and a couple other high bulk odd-balls.

PS: Lil Gun and a couple cans of HS-6 as well
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Your best bet is Unique. I was loading 5.7 grains of Unique with a 240 grain SWC (very mild mid range load) until my Taurus 445 UL locked up tight. Apparently the extractor rod is bent causing the cylinder to contact the barrel?? I put about 1500 rounds (again, mostly mild mid-range load data - 750 fps or so) through this pistol and am quite displeased with the Taurus quality. I always have been and this is my first Taurus and it will be my last. Other than that, it is quite accurate with that Unique load.

You may want to stay with 180 grain or 200 grain bullets tops. Perhaps the 240 grain bullets have too much recoil for the inherently weak piece of crap. This one is going back to Taurus for repair.

2400 left too much unburnt powder "skeletons" when working up loads. (not my first choice)

231 works well, but I had better accuracy with Unique

Blue Dot works well, but the recoil is just a bit more intense than Unique

I may have tried other powders but can't recall at this time.

This is the first load I have become fond of with Unique, so I chose that one.
Get Handloader Issues 236 and 260.

Handloader has two extensive articles on loading the .44 Special, and they identify three PSI levels of loads. They should be in every .44 Special reloader's references.

Since loading Unique drives me nuts (I don't get reliable weight variance), I use Power Pistol, and that provides the kind of 22,000 psi (level II) load I prefer with a 240-gr lead bullet. Other reloaders can't abide PP because of its flash, so I would look into AA#5. 2400 also has a lot of recipes in the articles, but I typically don't work with it in any caliber.

In sum, a medium-speed powder will probably work best for your performance level, IF you want to subject your alloy frame to higher-pressure loads. My guns happen to be SS and Scandium, so I worry less about the pressure levels.

I just checked my recipe database and confirmed that to get the performance you want, you will be working with Level II pressures--e.g., <=22,000 PSI, not the 15,500 PSI SAAMI / Level I loads.

But, whatever pressure level you want to work at, get the Handloader issues--they simply are priceless for work in this caliber.

Jim H.
I can get that with a 6.? gr. load of Trail Boss under a 200 gr. lead bullet. That's from a 4" 629, but you'd be real close with your gun, I'd bet. Nice load, fills the case just right. Pleasant to shoot.
850 with a 240 might be stretching the limit on a Bulldog. I have an original and stay around 775 with the Keith bullet. 6.5 Unique is a nice snappy load that doesn't seem to strain things. I go up to 7.5 in my 624.
Handloader has two extensive articles on loading the .44 Special

That is what I thought... I never throw out a copy, but my wife tends to hide my books and magazines... And I'll bet she throws them out after a year or so... We have a very small house and she flies off on cleaning binges.... It is all I can do to keep her out of my shop building...
Since a hollow point will not reliably open at 800 fps... I figure I will stay with either a full wadcutter or a semi-wad-cutter.

I love the old Speer half jacketed semi-wad-cutters... But they do not make them anymore in .429 caliber...


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HS-6 may suite your needs best, I would use WLP primers. Start low and work up. I'm sorry it is not in your list of powders on hand :(

Ps, don't forget the 215gr cast SWC
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I shoot a lot of 44 Special in Model 24s. My favorite load is 6.5 gr of Unique with a 240 gr Laser Cast bullet. I have gone up to Skeeter's load with the same bullet, but found no real benefit and I suppose it's tougher on the guns.
HS-6 may suite your needs best, I would use WLP primers. Start low and work up. I'm sorry it is not in your list of powders on hand

Ps, don't forget the 215gr cast SWC

I found a can of HS-6 behind some of the cans in my Rifle Powder cabinet. Plus two cans of Lil-Gun.

I wanted to drive 75 miles north today and look for some Powder and bullets up in Kenai... But it looks like my wife wants me to finish a fence I started before the last few rain storms... the Anti Fun Police....

Too bad Berry's does not offer a plated 200gr .429 caliber full wad-cutter.

All I have for projectiles are one box of 200 grain XTPs,,,, and then a bunch of various types of 240 grain bullets and 310 grain bullets. I really need a too locate a few of each type of 200 and 210 grain bullet so I can see which ones work...
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starline brass, fed 150 primer, speer 200 gr gold dot, 7.7 grains unique = 850 fps from taurus 445. 6.2-6.4 grains hp-38 under 200 lrnfp makes practice load for close to same poi at 800 fps from 3in 696 (have not chrono'eed it from 445)

Blazer factory 200 gdhp gets 810 fps from taurus 445, while the nickeled case version gets 750 fps.

Also have the Taurus ul version, but removed replaced the grips with the smaller hard rubbers. 50 rounds will remove a patch of skin from hand, but it is nice and compact.

9.0 grains uniqe under a 180 xtp or rem sjhp gets about 1000 fps from 3 in 696.
Today's experiments:
44 Special Loads for Taurus Model 445 Ultra Light. 2 inch BBL

Target at 15 yards, temp 39 F, light rain. Chronograph at 10 feet.

Factory Hornady 180gr XTP-JHP = 738 fps and a 3.5 inch group (Big muzzle flash)
Factory Federal, 200gr LSCW-HP = 680 fps and a 1.1 inch group
( the shoulder of the lead SWC had to be shaved a little to chamber)

Hand loads

200 grain Hornady XTP-HP, Star Line brass, Winchester Large Pistol Primer,
heavy crimp at cannelure. 1.500 inch COL

7.0 grains Universal……… = 698 fps and a 2.5 inch group
6.9 grains HP-38 (ww231.) = 775 fps and a 1.5 inch group (clean brass)
9.3 grains HS-6…………..= 700 fps and a 1.3 inch group
7.0 grains IMR-800X……..= 620 fps and a 1.0 inch group (dirty)
6.3 grains Trail Boss……..= 700 fps and a 5.0 inch group (clean brass)

240 grain old Speer jacketed semi-wad-cutter solid. Star Line brass
Winchester Large Pistol Primer, heavy crimp over jacket edge. 1.457 inch col

6.5 grains IMR 800X…= 650 fps and a 1.0 inch group at point of aim.
Noticeable recoil increase over 200 grain bullets.
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Forgot to mention, Speer makes a GOLD DOT bullet (200 grain) that is designed to open at .44 special velocities. I shot 3 different bullets through a gallon of water and captured in water soaked phone book. They all expanded well from start loads to finish loads with Unique. The top end load penetrated about 3" of the wet phone book. I was going to try a few loads with power pistol as it gives top velocity and those Unique loads needed a bit more speed for maximum expansion. Either way, the bullets gave picture perfect expansion and retained all of the original mass. They are kinda spendy, but if you are looking for an expansion round, I would look into those.

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I have an older charter bulldog. so far a 6.8 gr load of bluedot with a lee 310 gr gas checked bullet of #2 alloy is getting good accuracy at 10-12 yds. easy recoil. shoots a little high though.
11 gr of 2400 and a lee 200 gr cast bullet shows good promise as well and shoots to sights.

I hear lilgun is a high end powder and is extremely hot and can burn out barrels quickly.
Well for the 200gr jacked W-231 looks like a good choice.
For 240gr that may change.
Give AA#7 a try. It's becoming my go to powder for 357 mag, 40 sw, 44 spl, and 45 acp. My Redhawk was very accurate with the 250gr swc, AA#7 8.1gr starting load. Since I shoot with friend with severe rheumatoid arthritis I didn't go any further. The recoil is light enough that he only needs one day to recover the use of his hands after shooting.



I use a 210 gr. Remington SJHP over 8.5 grs. Unique and CCI 350s to get 985 FPS from my 2.5" Bulldog. That's my defense load. Plinking ammo is usually 200 gr. lead at a more sedate 800-ish FPS.
3006mv just provided the Handloader 236 article as a PDF,

so those of you looking for exhaustive testing can read it at your leisure.

FYI, IMO the recipe provided by MachIVshooter is at least a "Level III" category load--i.e., >=25,000 PSI...might be hard on guns.

added on edit: error on my part--I read the 210 gr. weight as 240 gr. when I made that comment, and stand corrected--see post 39.

However, even at 210 gr., I am having a hard time seeing a 210-gr. jacketed bullet running at nearly 1000 fps from a 2.5" barrel is not exceeding SAAMI--i.e., 15,500 PSI.

Jim H.
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