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.44Mag Self-Defense Loads (Factory)

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by roo_ster, Jun 29, 2010.

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  1. roo_ster

    roo_ster Member

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    Howdy:

    Any suggestions for mild-medium .44mag JHP self defense loads in a .44mag case?

    I recently bought a nice Galco VHS shoulder holster for my 4" bbl SW629-1. The only way I know to properly fit a shoulder holster is to wear it about a lot, adjust it, wear it some more, adjust it, wear it again, adjust it...you get the picture. A lot of wearing & adjusting before it can be considered ready-to-roll.

    So, instead of taking my old standby, a SW1911 stoked with Rem .45ACP 230gr Golden Sabers, I am going about town with my SW629 stoked with my mild handloads (.44mag case, 240gr LSWC, 7.3gr Trail Boss). These make in the neighborhood of 1000fps, tops.

    I feel fine loaded with these. They are low-pressure, like I prefer my self-defense load to be, and have a larger diameter than most 9mm/.357" JHP cartridges end up with. The are accurate as heck and have squat for flash, to boot.(1) I'd just like to find a factory load kinda like the aforementioned Rem .45ACP 230gr Golden Sabers (performance-wise), which give me a warm & fuzzy feeling.

    Not wishing to waste y'all's time, I already searched THR and found the following:
    Code:
    Fed Premium Personal Defense .44mag
    [url]http://www.federalpremium.com/products/details/handgun.aspx?id=348[/url]
    240gr jhp @ 1210fps
    Hydra-Shok
    
    Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel Personal Protection .44mag
    [url]http://www.speer-ammo.com/ballistics/ammo.aspx[/url]
    200gr jhp @ 1075fps
    Gold Dot
    
    Corbon Self-Defense .44mag
    [url]http://www.dakotaammo.net/Self-Defense-JHP/44-Rem-Mag-165gr-CORBON-Self-Defense-JHP/SD44M165-20/100/Product[/url]
    165gr @ 1300fps
    Unknown JHP
    
    Corbon Self-Defense DPX .44mag
    [url]http://www.dakotaammo.net/Self-Defense-DPX/44-Rem-Mag-225gr-Self-Defense-DPX/DPX44M225-20/200/Product[/url]
    225gr @ 1350fps
    DPX all-copper
    These came closest, but none are ideal. The Corbons are too peppy and likely more pressure than I'd like. The Speer is in the right neighborhood, but too light. The Federal is hefty enough, but a little too peppy.

    Buffalo Bore has some "low recoil" .44mag, but they are also too fast.

    If I was forced to choose between the four, I'd run with the Federal.

    Again, any suggestions for mild-medium .44mag JHP self defense loads in a .44mag case?




    (1) Some enterprising company ought to make some SD loads with near-max loads of Trail Boss and an appropriate premium JHP.
     
  2. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

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    I would suggest the Buffalo Bore .44 Special loads. Not what you asked about, but more controlable than any .44 mag load and a good load.
     
  3. lwknight

    lwknight Member

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    Well, at least your wise enough to realize that full house 44 mag loads are not more effective on human sized targets than something half that power.
    The 44spl ammo might actually be more effective as a fight stopper and definately safer than a known through shooter.
    However I have seen some people that that look scary enough to make you want for a 454 casull.
     
  4. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    I'm partial to Gold Dots but the .44Spl 200gr Silvertip load is also a good one. Or you can substitute the 240gr Gold Dot in your Trail Boss loading. Or 7.5 to 8.0gr Unique in .44Spl brass, or 9.0gr Unique in Magnum brass.
     
  5. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    No. No it is not. I bought a box of those when I first bought my 629. Swallowed the $1+ per shot price because I figured they'd be GREAT self-defense rounds.

    Imagine my dismay when I chrono'd them and discovered they barely broke 700 fps from my 4" 629! A 200 gr. JHP moving at 709 fps (I remember distinctly) wouldn't come close to the .45 ACPs I normally carried -- and I had three fewer in the gun!

    Can't UN-recommend the Silvertips enough!


    ...


    The Speer loading (if their numbers are true) is just a couple hundred fps slower than my preferred carry load with that gun. I'm sure it would serve you well.
     
  6. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    So you disregard them based on velocity alone??? How do they do on flesh???
     
  7. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Wholly disregard them? No. Compare them to others and reject them on poor relative performance in a measurable criterion? Yes.

    Off-hand, I'd guess about 200 fps and 30 gr. worse than my standard .45ACP load. That might be wholly irrelevant. Or, that might be critical. Which bad guy do you intend to shoot where? Tell me which self-defense shooting you plan to have and I'll predict accurately whether you need a faster/heavier round or not. ;)

    "On flesh" type measurements have proved to be mighty difficult to obtain, though many have tried and/or have claimed to be able to provide "conclusive" results. Lots of folks and critters have died after being shot with just about every cartridge ever made. Comparison data that is actually useful to a citizen in a self-defense scenario is available only as broad generalizations.

    One of those broad generalizations might be that 700 fps with a light, cavernous JHP bullet is pretty darned anemic, especially from "premium" big-bore self-defense ammo.
     
  8. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Another broad generalization may be that we tend to get hung up on the numbers.

    I stole this from another forum but apparently this is what a .44Spl Silvertip looks like after firing into wet newsprint. This from a short little Charter Arms Bulldog Pug. This load is too often recommend by folks who know a lot more than I do about sixguns to be "anemic".
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Expansion is impressive. But that picture isn't terribly useful, though, without penetration numbers. If it opens up like that and stops in 3-5", I'd rather take a wadcutter that penetrates instead. If it makes the recommended 12", I could be swayed.

    As I said, lots of folks & critters have died from lots of cartridges -- even those. If you like them, use them. There do seem to be many more persuasive choices, though.

    We do occasionally chase the numbers to absurd extremes. But the numbers do mean things. Ignoring the numbers just because you "don't want to get hung up on" them -- or because the old timers swore by the Silvertip -- is at least as absurd.
     
  10. sonier

    sonier Member

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    Agreed Penetration is important just because it mushrooms up dosnt mean its a good self defense load. a slow moving 200 grain bullet compared too a faster 200 grain bullet, well the faster one is going to have more of a punch. 700-800 fps is really slow, the 44 mag should be a one stop punch, why make it weaker?
     
  11. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    What is absurd is arbitrarily dismissing a long serving self defense load because it doesn't meet your velocity requirements and nothing else. Especially when there's a little data right here.
    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=290628
    http://www.stoppingpower.net/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=6115

    I do not ignore the numbers because I don't wanna get hung up on them, which I would equate to laziness, quite the contrary. I just understand that they do not always tell the whole story, can sometimes be meaningless and sometimes the real world just doesn't cooperate with our perceived reality based on math. And by "those who know a lot more than I do", I wasn't referring to the opinionated old man that lives around the corner.
     
  12. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    It is never quite so simple. You have to match your bullet to your quarry and your velocity to your bullet. That same 200gr bullet that does so well at 700-800fps might come completely apart at 1400fps and that is entirely plausible. The published muzzle energy that folks rely upon so much will obviously favor the faster version but the bullet's construction might make it a far better prairie dog vaporizer than self defense load when driven to such velocities. Same holds true for cast bullets. A heavyweight LBT may punch through six feet of heavy critter when driven to 1200fps but drive that same bullet 1000fps faster and it very well may shatter on impact. Which makes my point about getting hung up on the numbers. It's better to understand what a given projectile will do to a given target at a given velocity. Something not encountered in ballistics tables.
     
  13. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Certainly true -- but -- it still doesn't take into account that a light bullet (well, light relative to the cartridge), moving very slowly (pretty undeniable), and expanding voluminously (per your picture), doesn't penetrate very far. With certain caveats, that's just the physics of it.

    Unless you're talking about very high velocity "Varmint Grenade" type bullets which are designed to explode on impact, pushing a bullet faster will generally make it penetrate farther. Now it might expand well, or not at all, or may break up, depending on where in the range of normal handgun velocities that cartridge fell, and those details will affect penetration as well -- but the goal is most always to expand "some" AND penetrate LOTS.

    You do have to match your bullet to the velocity and to the "quarry" as you said. In this case, the "quarry" being self-defense targets, the goal has been generally set at something approaching 12" of penetration in ballistic gelatin. Might be overkill on some targets, might be insufficient on some harder (or hardened) targets, but a reasonable goal for our common shooting scenario. If the charge in the Silvertip cartridge isn't strong enough to push that bullet fast enough to make it penetrate to something approaching the goal, AND the bullet won't hold up if it were pushed that fast, then that would seem to be TWO strikes against the Silvertip. Not two "wrongs" becoming a "right."

    Now, some old timers (and not-so-old timers) place abiding faith in various old standby loads -- believing beyond the numbers, so to speak. That's fine, and the chances of them being proven "wrong" are slim.

    Further, there may be some situations -- for example, the little Charter pug you mentioned -- where a slow, light round might really be optimal for that gun (or even for that shooter).

    But the OP was asking about a serious defensive load for his S&W .44 Magnum. Dropping down to a load that's going half as fast as "normal" (and thus, produces a bit less than 1/4 the energy) seems odd.
     
  14. Manco

    Manco Member

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    Perhaps, but even more frequently we're seduced by expansion, which isn't nearly enough on its own to determine whether a load is good for defensive purposes. Penetration is actually far more important, and there's generally a tradeoff between the two.

    I'd be more impressed if it could make the FBI-recommended 18" (12" is just the minimum acceptable).

    That's not too bad, but it could easily be even better, I think, within the constraints of the caliber.

    I think that 12" is the bare minimum and that exceeding it, within reason, is better. By "within reason" I think that 18" is considered by some authorities to be the goal. Personally, I think it would be useful for a round to have enough penetration margin that, for example, in a side shot it could penetrate both lungs (and the heart if you're lucky) of a large bad guy after penetrating the bones of his ribcage. Being able to do that after penetrating an arm would be useful in some cases, too. Ballistic gelatin only represents flesh (rather imperfectly), and living bone is an exceedingly tough barrier for bullets.
     
  15. batmann

    batmann Member

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    You seem to have ruled out the 165 gr Cor-Bon, but that is my carry load, I like the C-B because it has less muzzle flash than most other brands plus you can also get it in .44 Spl. Both are pretty good SD rounds. Double Tap has a 200 gr HP load in .44 Spl that is a pretty good load as well.
    I have some Buffalo Bore 255 gr SWC that I shoot in my Ruger .44 Spl Flattop and it is a pretty stout load and is more of a hunting load. I have not tried their 180 gr HP, but I'm guessing that it is good for SD.
    A SD load has so many variables in it that you might want to try a couple of different brands before you settle on one. I guess I'm an old school guy in that I change my SD loads depending on the time of year. I use a heavier load(BB 255 SWC) in the winter and my Cor-Bon 165 gr HP in the summer months.
     
  16. bsms

    bsms Member

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    I use Buffalo Bore 44 Special 255 Grain Lead Semi-Wadcutters at around 1000 fps. Haven't shot anyone with it, so I don't know what will happen...but I like my odds.
     
  17. sonier

    sonier Member

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    in all reality it is a 44 mag lol its gona have stopping power regardless, i would just recomend the fastest medium weight bullet that is designed for self defense, this would be perfect.
     
  18. Grey Morel

    Grey Morel Member

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    I would look to push a 240 at about 1,200 fps. This will give you about 750ft-lbs at the muzzle, instead of the 1,200ft-lbs you see in many hunting loads.

    The 240 @ 1200 load is easily controled out of most .44 mag revolvers, while still delivering a LOT of power and frontal area. You COULD fork over serious $$$ for Buffalo Bore 44 special +P... but most cheap factory .44 loads, like S&B or American Eagle, aren't much hotter.

    I use S&B soft points as defence ammo in my gun for this very reason: good power, moderate recoil, less $$$.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2010
  19. sonier

    sonier Member

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    open soft points seem to have a lot of penetration capabilities, wouldnt a open soft point HP be much better to prevent serious over penetration?
     
  20. Manco

    Manco Member

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    Well, to each their own, I always say, but I never could figure out the rationale myself because with hollow-points, generally the more clothing is encountered, the less they will expand and the deeper they will penetrate. To me this doesn't exactly call for a heavier, more penetrating load for carry during winter months. Now, if instead you figure that the hollow-point will not expand and that a SWC round would therefore do more damage, then that's something I can understand, albeit I bet that a good hollow-point would expand at least some.
     
  21. Meeteetse

    Meeteetse Member

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    Personally there isn't a .44 special load out there I would want to be shot with including the anemic cowboy loads. I have carried Silvertips, Buffalo Bore and Cor-bon and trust them all. The same applies to the various 45colt loads I've carried ranging from 750 to 1100 fps. Statistics are fine, but I will always believe in bigger slow bullets. Hope I never really have to find out.
    p.s. my typical carry guns are a .44mag or .45 Colt S&W Mtn. gun. If I'm in the woods or hunting, a Ruger SBH goes with me with some type of hardcast load @ 1200fps +.
     
  22. dogngun

    dogngun Member

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    I used to carry a 4" Smith 29-2 years ago.

    I carried it loaded with .44 Mag Blazer .240 grain JHP's. they were very reliable and consistant, good accuracy and medium power, with a GREAT hollowpoint bullet. They were also under $20 a box of 50 back then, so I practiced with the same round I carried, which is a great thing. I had two loades HKS speedloaders, too.

    mark
     
  23. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Older can be better, meaning a soft lead load. Several 'cowboy' loads for 44 mag are under 1000 fps with a 240 gr flat point lead bullet. While it's not 'ideal' by today's wonder bullet standards, soft lead deforms and makes a mess of whatever it hits.
     
  24. Buck Snort

    Buck Snort Member

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    Batman wrote: "You seem to have ruled out the 165 gr Cor-Bon, but that is my carry load..."

    Mine too and it launches from my 4" 629 @ 1300 fps. I'm no ballistics expert nor an expert on "stopping power" but that strikes me as being a pretty solid load for a handgun.
     
  25. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    The Remington Express .44 Magnum ammo will do what you're looking for. It's a 240gr bullet doing ~1180 fps from what I read.
     
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