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.44 SPL vs. .41 Mag

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by 336A, Jul 16, 2010.

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  1. 336A

    336A Member

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    I'm torn between purchasing a new Ruger black hawk SA revolver in these two calibers. I do reload so that will help with keeping myself supplied with ammunition. I find that I keep leaning more toward the .44 SPL as it is more efficient in that it don't consume as much powder as the .41 mag. However the .44 SPl will still be able to push a 250gr Keith bullet to 1200 fps safely. That load has put down a lot of animals in the past with out any problems either. I also like the fact that there is a much better assortment of bullets in .44 caliber.

    On the other hand I really like the .41 magnum. My S&W M58 is very accurate but it sucks when all that is available is full power hunting loads. The other thing I don't like is that while the .41 mag is one of my favorite cartridges, the lack of bullet selection sucks as well. However it too has put down a lot of big animals. There are no flies on either of these cartridges they're both great but I'm just stuck. So lets have a discussion what would you all get between these two and why.
     
  2. devildog66

    devildog66 Member

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    Well, heck, ya talked me out of either of those;). Go the distance and buy the .44M and get all that you want and even more power on the top end. Not to mention, factory ammo is about a third of the cost compared to either of the aforementioned.
     
  3. fireside44

    fireside44 Member

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    Sounds like the lament of a man who needs to start casting his own shoots.:)
     
  4. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    If I were to be given a choice of one revolver caliber to do me for the rest of my life...come what may...I'd pick the .41 without blinking. I'm a fan of the .44 Special, but it lacks the versatility of the .41 Magnum.

    The .41 pretty much begs to be handloaded. With a 210 grain cast SWC and 7.5 grains of Unique, it makes for a pleasant day of bangin' away at falling plates...or it can be loaded up to stomper level at whim.

    While Elmer Keith did have a lot of success at loading the .44 Special up to 1200 fps, he also wrecked a few guns in the process. That's precisely why he worried the hell out of Smith & Wesson and Remington for a .44 Magnum. Not to detract from Elmer's contributions to handgunning, but frankly...he's lucky to have kept all his fingers and eyes his whole life.

    There's a pretty good selection of .41 caliber jacketed bullets available, from 170 grain to 220. Being a handloader and bullet caster, I haven't kept up closely with the more recent selections, so there may be some heavier slugs on the market. Many years ago, I pretty much settled down with 210 cast bullets and two powders. Unique and 2400. I have some jacketed soft and hollowpoint bullets around here for it, but they've been waitin' for about 20 years for the call.

    For my intended uses, the .41 Magnum is the perfect revolver cartridge, but that's just my opinion.
     
  5. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    Don't you hate it when you put a choice and some jerk goes to a third choice?

    Guess I am that jerk.

    I would buy the BH in 44 Magnum. That way you have your 44 Special AND the versatility to go faster if you ever find the need.

    That said, I LOVE the 41 magnum.
     
  6. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

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    Both good cartridges no doubt about that.
    I would go .44 special. It is on the smaller frame Ruger and the gun just feels right. I really don't like the larger Blackhawk frame nearly as much.
    Either cartridge is a reloader's cartridge although I think that .44 special is slightly easier to find factory loads for, should the need come up, thanks in part to CAS.
     
  7. calaverasslim

    calaverasslim Member

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    Then, you can stir in the 41 special. Contact Starline and see about getting some brass. I got 400+ pieces and really love the 41 special. Almost as much as I love the 44 special.

    Don't like any magnum loads
     
  8. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    What's wrong with .45 Colt???


    ( Sorry, could not resist...)
     
  9. Nasty

    Nasty Member

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    I've always thought the 41 Mag was sort of an answer to a problem that doesn't exist.

    Seems to me that between the .357 Magnum (and .38 Special) and the .44 Magnum (and .44 Special), you pretty well cover all bases.
     
  10. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    The biggest problem I had with the .41 was not bullet selection but getting the spent cases mixed up with the .44 mag batches. Even loaded rounds look really similar at quick glance. Just something to consider if you already have a .41 Mag.

    Beyond that, in the big Ruger frame with handloads they're very similar. The .41 mag is I believe more potent and probably a better choice for longer range hunting than the .44 special, but you can turn the special into a magnum too.

    I believe back in the day EK viewed it as an improved police sidearm round over the .357. In a way he was right, since the .40 cal did end up as the dominant law enforcement round albeit in a different and less potent form. But the .41 never caught on as a police round.
     
  11. 336A

    336A Member

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    1911 Turner Elmer sure did wreck a lot of those old colts but the Ruger is not a Colt and will digest 17gr of 2400 under a 250gr bullet no problems. This load was tested in whites labratory at 25,000 PSI. You also stated the very reasons why I like the .41 magnum so much yet why it makes this decision so difficult for me . I like both cartridges but can only afford one.

    Lucky Derby I too like the fact that the .44 SPL is on the smaller frame making for a more packable side arm.

    Guillermo and others I would not buy a magnum revolver to shoot special cartridges from as I hate cleaning the carbon ring from the chambers that builds up from doing so. Also as I stated from the begining the whole reason for me thinking about the .44 Special is that it is more efficient with powder consumption. At the same time it can be loaded up safely to 1200 fps with a 250gr bullet were I so inclined to do so. Also a .44 magnum will be heavier than a .44 Special due to the longer cylinder. And lastly I don't want or need a .44 magnum revolver as I already have a S&W M58 .41 magnum.
     
  12. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    Why place yourself in this predicament? Buy one of each and enjoy, I did and never looked back.
     
  13. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    As much as I love the .44 Spl, if I just had to pick one first, I might go with the .41 Mag, maybe. Nah....44 Spl. Hmm....I see your dilemma.

    Redhawk & 696
     

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  14. orionengnr

    orionengnr Member

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    I had three .44 Spls several years back. Sold them all.

    I'm with Tuner on this one. The .41 Mag is an incredibly versatile cartridge, and a slam dunk for a handloader.

    I use about 7.0 gr of 231 or Green Dot for plinking rounds and 18.0 of 296 for boomer rounds.
     
  15. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Just so happens that a local shop has a mid-framed, flattop Blackhawk .44 Special in the showcase. It's not a Lipsey Blackhawk, either. Word is that it's going to be a catalog item soon. I'm tryin' to justify another single-action this very minute. It's callin' to me. I can hear it. The Blackhawk...even though it's not a large-frame New Model...may be a little more robust than a Smith.
     
  16. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Here tuner, tuner, tuner.....


    Yea, I can hear it too. :D
     
  17. Magnumite

    Magnumite Member

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    I see the 44 Special and 41 Mag as two different cartridges. Discussion has indicated both merits and detractors for each. The 44 Mag is out of the question to the poster. So I'd look to the battery of firearms in the safe.

    OP, you stated you already own the M58, plus you don't want the weight of the a magnum revolver. I'd get the 44 Special Ruger for the reasons you indicate, plus it puts a 44 Special there along with the the single action mechanism. More variety in your stable.
     
  18. Drail

    Drail Member

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    .41 Remington Mag. Have been loading for it since the 80s and it will do anything you need. I also really like the whole idea of boring small holes in a large cylinder and bbl. which leaves you with more steel and weight. A .41 Blackhawk will take some serious handloads with ease. There actually are a very wide range of bullet weights and styles available to the handloader, they're just not sold in most stores. LBT Technologies makes some nice heavy .41 bullets. Shoot a Bisley Blackhawk in .41 Rem Mag and you'll be a believer. But I am also a HUGE fan of the old .44 Spl. My daily carry is a S&W 696 L frame. What a great idea that one was. But off the shelf ammo selection killed it. A 200 gr. .44 bullet at 900 fps is really about all anyone should ever need. And I have LOTS of those.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
  19. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Elmer Keith never destroyed a .44Spl. Actually the only sixgun I remember reading about him destroying was a first generation Colt SAA .45. Which is why he abandoned it in favor of the .44 in the first place. Nothing wrong with the Keith load in the new flat-tops.
     
  20. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Blasphemy! :D
     
  21. batmann

    batmann Member

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    The mid frame Ruger BH Flattop is a great platform for the .44 Special and it is now a catalog item. I have one of the Lipsey's and it is an outstanding handgun.
    The .44 Spl and the .41M are different cartridges for different purposes as all ready pointed out and ammo for both can be a problem at times. If you are getting one to hunt, go with the .41M.
     
  22. fireside44

    fireside44 Member

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    I figured in a carry size snub gun that .44 special and .41 mag would more or less run about even as a defense piece. Still, about the most difficult decision a person could make in life.:)
     
  23. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Craig, I remember reading about Keith blowing the loading gate off of a .44 Special SA Colt, and off a couple in .45 Caliber.

    Also...Keith's 18 grains of 2400/250 LSWC .44 Special load was developed with older lots of 2400. Alliant's 2400 is a little quicker. Observe all due caution, and believe that it's hotter than it once was.

    As far as the Blackhawk being amply strong for Keith's data, adjusted for Alliant powder...It probably is, but I wouldn't push it too far.

    As the wise old man said: (Paraphrased)

    "The pressures involved in driving a 250 grain bullet to 1200 fps in 5 inches of barrel is more than enough to blow your eyes through the back of your head."

    I'd limit it to 1,000 fps or so in a mid-framed Ruger.
     
  24. RidgwayCO

    RidgwayCO Member

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    IMO you should get the .44 Special. Since you reload, you'll be able to take the .44 Special in the Ruger from mild to wild (efficiently). Plus you've already got a .41 Magnum...

    Additionally with the .44 Special, quality handguns are available from 18oz (S&W M396 Mtn Lite) to 47oz (Ruger 5-1/2" Bisley Flattop) and probably heavier. I'm pretty sure there aren't any 18oz handguns in .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, or .45 Colt...
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2010
  25. 45crittergitter

    45crittergitter Member

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    If you have a .41 Mag, you don't need any of the other four! OTOH, any self-respecting gun nut would have examples of all five.
     
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