Is there a place to go for load data for 44 Special loads. I am not casting, but order cast bullets on line. I am not able to find data for various bullet weights. Is there a preferred source of data? Thanks, Olddesertrat
Load data for 44 Special
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- Last Post 15 September 2020
I like to use Lyman reloading manuals for verified data. Much also depends on the particular model, age, and condition of the .44 spl. we are talking about. Then there is the question of what do you expect to use it for.
The original loading was a 246 grain round nose lead bullet at about 700 fps. That should provide a good baseline. I replicate that load with a Lyman 246 grain round nose or a Magma 240 grain round nose and 5.0 grains of Bullseye in my Ruger Bisley Flat Top. I am using it to knock down steel targets from 20 to 50 yards.
Lyman "Cast Bullet Handbook" #4. Available online most anywhere.
My favorite load for my Ruger Blackhawk 44 Special is something I got from an article by Skeeter Skelton.
Keith 429244 and 7.5 Unique. It gives about 950 f/s.Not a top load but a good usable one.
What bullet weights? What kind of gun? The Hodgdon site on-line has loading data for ~15,500 PSI loads. 15,500 PSI is the maximum SAAMI pressure. If you have an older revolver this is a good limit. Post WWII revolvers are stronger.
Since you are buying bullets, they will probably be too hard. Most casting companies use hard alloy, it casts better and ships better. Hard bullets may shoot OK with target or standard loads. Make sure they are a snug slip fit in your cylinder throats. A LEE size die can reduce them if they are too large.
If you have a fixed sight revolver 250-260 grain bullets will probably shoot close to the sights.
The following are for 5 or 6 inch revolvers.
For light loads with 250-260 grain bullets, 5.3 grains Vhitavouri 320 or 4.8 grains Tight Group will deliver 700 fps and good accuracy. At 700 fps we are equaling the soft shooting of factory ammunition.
200 – 210 grain bullets will hit 800 fps with 5.2 grains of Tight Group or Bullseye. You can reduce the charge for still lighter recoil depending on the individual revolver.
In my experience 300 grain bullets shoot high and achievable velocity in the Special too low. Bullets under 200 grains have never given me anything but short-range accuracy.
For Cowboy Shooting, I used a lite load right out of the Hodgdon Cowboy Action Data pamphlet.
3.8grs of Titegroup under a 210gr RNFP.
For a "Knockdown" Load, I used 5.0grs of Titegroup under a 240-250gr RN.
Paper punching, 4.5grs Bullseye under a 240-250gr SWC
For "Full Power" 7.5grs Unique under a 245gr SWC. The "Skeeter"load.
Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.
The Skeeter Load (7.5 grains Unique and a 250 -260 grain cast bullet) is widely used because Skeeter Skelton promoted it in many articles. It is safe in any good post WWII Special, and dependably accurate if you use soft alloy bullets, ~BHN 9, correctly sized for the revolver.
However, it is a +P 44 Special load at 20,000 psi. A Colt Model P will probably not blow up, but it will loosen up pretty quick. If you shoot the Skeeter Load with hard bullets you can crack the barrel extension on your revolver.
As Beagle6 says, the Skeeter Load is not a top load, but at 950 -1000 fps it has enough power to down anything short of Bison and Bears. You can follow the Elmer Keith trail up to 1200 fps with 250 grain bullets, but the pressure is 22,000 - 25,000 psi and bullet diameter, seating depth and alloy are critical. I think you are also going to shorten the life of your revolver with Keith Loads. I am not about to test this because the recoil at 1200 fps is decidedly unpleasant in a light-weight Special, and I am a wimp.
Bullet fit is key for accuracy. If you drop a bullet into each chamber in your cylinder, if it falls through any/all of them, it is too small and will probably lead the barrel and not shoot all that well. You want a light push fit through the cylinder throats. An oversized bullet will shoot OK, but any undersized in my experience won't.
I second the motion to buy that new Lyman Cast Bullet handbook.
The 7.5/Unique/240-250 REALLY IS a very nice "general purpose" load for the .44 Special, but I agree that it's too warm for older pieces and GOD HELP YOUR HAND if you shoot it in a Charter Arms ANYTHING! It was obstreperous enough in my 5-shot Taurus M431, which is a heavier piece than the CAs.
I loaded some for a friend's 6" S&W 624. He remarked that he liked it generally, but that it was too warm for falling plate competition. I reduced it to 6.8/Unique/240 SWC, then to 6.5/Unique/240 SWC, The lighter loads were not as clean-burning, but an intentionally heavy crimp remedied most of that.
It's just a personal thing with me, but I'm very VERY hesitant to put light charges of fast-burning powder into large capacity cases, like the .44 Special, for fear of double-charging a case and missing it. I DO always double check the charged cases before the projectile goes on, but I stick with bulkier powders as a "belt and suspenders" measure.
No doubt, several long trainloads of .44 Special, loaded with Bullseye, 700-X, and other fast-burning powders have been safely shot, probably before I was born! But I'll trade a little sootiness & extra recoil for the added assurance. Just saying.
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