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Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619

.44 Special ruminations

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I now and then ponder the .44 Special. I have a Charter Arms Bulldog in the caliber, a .44 mag Marlin 1894 among my cowboy guns, and a .44 mag Redhawk.

 

.44 spl seems to be sort of an orphan caliber. It's not 'rare', of course; and it's not 'hard to find' compared to some calibers, but at the same time it is often not found on the shelves of many stores, or only in small quantities. In ordinary times, you may have to go to a few stores to get it. And yet, everybody carries .44 magnum.

 

Cowboy Action shooters like us'n seem to use it a fair amount, because quite often the only .44 spl on the shelves are cowboy loads.

 

What makes me most curious is why .44 spl has never played the role with .44 mag owners that .38 spl does with .357 mag shooters. Innumerable .357 users shoot .38 spl all the day long, and .357 mag on 'special occasions' (so to speak).

 

What got me thinking again about it is that over last few months and weeks I've been able to buy .44 spl at ordinary retail prices three different places. Today I went to Sportco, a regional 'big box'. The shelves continue virtually bare like most everywhere. Yet there was a 25-box stack of .44 special. I went to another, much smaller store, where I've been buying .44 spl all along. He still has lots of boxes at ordinary retail, whereas he's selling other standard calibers (of which he has a lot) at very high, even exorbitant, prices.

 

I shoot .44 spl all the time in the Marlin and the Redhawk, and, of course, in the Bulldog. Why don't .44 mag owners, of which there are a lot, buy up .44 special? It puts holes in paper at the range as well as anything else!

 

Edited by Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619

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I shoot Specials quite a bit. But when I first bought my mag pistol I never would have considered shooting a "lesser" load. I bought a magnum and, by God, I'm shooting magnums!! I'm older now, hopefully some smarter, but certainly tired of beating myself up with full house loads!

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Well, thanks to Elmer Keith, and Skeeter Skelton, the .44 special became my favorite cartridge, back in the day. When I owned my model 29 Smith & Wesson, that is about all I used. If you have found a source of .44 specials, at a reasonable price, I suggest you get a loan, and buy them all.

It may be overlooked, and it may be one of the real sleeper cartridges of our day...along with a few others...but Keith and Skelton, and many other gun writers, were sold on it. Of course, back in the early 1970's, the .44 magnum was considered the world's most powerful handgun...and that meant the .44 special was popular as well, since the recoil was less, as was the price of a box of ammunition. With the rise of popularity of the semi-automatic pistol, the revolver, once king of the hill, seems to have taken a back seat, in sales and thus popularity. Thus perhaps the .44 special, as well as the .44 magnum, and .357 magnum, which are mostly revolver cartridges, have declined in sales, somewhat.   

Thanks to Skeeter, I purchased a new Colt, in .44 special, in 1979. His high praise of the cartridge, made the demand so great that Colt reintroduced that caliber. Skeeter even had a Smith & Wesson .38-44 refitted to shoot .44 specials, and wrote about it in the magazine he was writing for. Really interesting for those of us that liked the shooting sports. Of course, this was before S.A.S.S. was a gleam in anyone's eye. I have long since traded my 1979 Colt for one made in 1963, in the same caliber. Won't hurt my feelings if it is considered a sleeper cartridge. That may keep the prices down, somewhat, on the ammunition.

Anyway, I have no idea why more folks, that own .44 magnums, don't shoot more .44 specials in them. I dang sure did, and do.

W.K.

 

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And also interesting is that, while there are countless models of .38 spl-only revolvers in current production, as they have been forever, as far as I know (without checking lately), the Bulldog has been the only one in .44 spl-only for a long time.

 

As for buying the ammo these days, I've got quite a bit, a couple boxes at a time. Enough even under current circumstances I'm pretty content with the inventory.

Edited by Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619

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Ruger came out with it in their GP100 a couple years ago, Uberti has some single actions, Taurus still makes one, and S&W may still...?

 

 

I shoot .44 spl a lot for CAS -

 

Two Uberti 1866 round barrel carbines

Two 4 5/8" USFA's

Two 4 5/8" ASM's

Nine 4 5/8" Ruger/Lipsey's stainless New Vaqueros

:)

Edited by Three Foot Johnson

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49 minutes ago, Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619 said:

I shoot .44 spl all the time in the Marlin and the Redhawk, and, of course, in the Bulldog. Why don't .44 mag owners, of which there are a lot, buy up .44 special? It puts holes in paper at the range as well as anything else!

 

 

I suspect it is because almost anyone who shoots .44 Magnum on a regular basis reloads and it is easier to just down load the .44 Magnum case to .44 Special levels rather have two different size cases in the reloading room. 

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7 minutes ago, Chantry said:

 

I suspect it is because almost anyone who shoots .44 Magnum on a regular basis reloads and it is easier to just down load the .44 Magnum case to .44 Special levels rather have two different size cases in the reloading room. 

I started with 44 magnum, 23 years ago, but soon changed to 44 special. It's a great caliber I found magnum to be the worst and most inaccurate to load down.

Most of the time I shoot 38 spl, now but shoot 44 spl and 44 russian for CC and BP.

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I shoot .44 Specials in my virtual Marlin 1894. I find it is more accurate than thre .44 Maginum ammunition I load and buy. 

I have often thought of a .44 virtual pistol. I do not notice much difference between both calibers in the recoil department. 

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ShmmBd1.png

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I started out shooting 44 special.  Now I shoot 44 Russian in those 44 special revolvers.  There's also a '66 and '73 in 44 special in the safe.  

I've never looked for factory rounds.  I  did shoot some of my reloads in my mdl 29 8 3/8" barrel.  Tight group and sweet to shoot. 

 

BS

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I am loading some 44 specials currently. I have one of the Ruger flattops and just got the extended Texas grips for it. I loaded some 44spl 240 gr swc with the Skeeter Skelton load and some 165 gr 44 Russian loads for my Taurus 445. My daughter loves shooting the Taurus. Also recently loaded 44 mag with the same 240 swc for my Marlin 44 mag.

20201023_162500.jpg

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Queen Foraday shoots her NM Vaqueros in 44 Spec and one of my favorite revolvers is my 396 S&W TI in 44 Spec

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1 hour ago, Chantry said:

 

I suspect it is because almost anyone who shoots .44 Magnum on a regular basis reloads and it is easier to just down load the .44 Magnum case to .44 Special levels rather have two different size cases in the reloading room. 

I did this for quite a few years. Then a friend asked if I wanted his special cases. Why not? I reset my dies and made some up. A full grain less powder required. Wow! What a difference for me. 

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I asked my wife for .44 special cases for Christmas. She got me a thousand. Can't have too many I guess........

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My Marlin (2006) will not chamber a .44 mag after ten rounds of .44 special unless I wipe out the chamber.

I like the .44 special and a Taurus 445 or S&W 296 would be a hoot.

I have two sets of .44 mag dies, one set for mag and one for special.

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My Uberti Open- Tops are chambered for .44 Russian, .44 Colt .44 Special ...

And I stuff them full of Goex 3F under either a 220-245 Grain bullet ...

I also use this load in my 94 Marlin on occasion , but mostly I use .38 WCF in My 66 ....

 

Jabez Cowboy 

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3 hours ago, Jabez Cowboy,SASS # 50129 said:

My Uberti Open- Tops are chambered for .44 Russian, .44 Colt .44 Special ...

And I stuff them full of Goex 3F under either a 220-245 Grain bullet ...

 

Exactly DITTO here. I make some pretty funtastic fireworks with FFFg in 44 Special through open tops. LOVE 'EM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

My other 44 Special. Elmer Keith and Skeeter would approve.

44s.jpg

44s2.jpg

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12 hours ago, Chantry said:

 

I suspect it is because almost anyone who shoots .44 Magnum on a regular basis reloads and it is easier to just down load the .44 Magnum case to .44 Special levels rather have two different size cases in the reloading room. 

Nailed it.  

 

I love the 44mag, and have dabbled with the 44 Special and the 44 Russian.  I can download the 44 mag to replicate the other two, but can’t take the other two in the opposite direction. 

 

Eventually sold all the shorter cases.

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Redding does not offer any dies in 44 Russian.

RCBS makes their #18651 carbide 3-die set for 44 Russian.
LEE has their #90293 3-die set, also in carbide.

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It's true that you can download the 44 mag to the lower levels. But the 44 special guns are usually built on a mid sized frame and cylinder and some shooters like the way they handle better then the 44 mag guns. If you need the full house 44 mag loads then you need the 44 mag guns. But the 44 special guns will handle a heavy enough load for a lot of shooters. The Skeeter load of a 240-250 gr swc with 7.5 grns of Unique giving you about 950-1000fps is as much as I need. 

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Well . . . . I have a swell pair of Uberti Open Tops.  Several Lustrum ago, I added ALL the cartridge choices by fitting Barrel and Cylinder sets.  One of which was, of course .44 Special.  Oddly enough, the barrels are roll-stamped "44-40" which has never been factory chambered.  Any way, My .44 Open Tops have never seen a .44 Special case.  Nope.  None.  Nada.  Strictly 44 Russian cases.  Loaded with APP and 160 or 165Gr RNFP.  SWEET!!

 

Now, my contribution doesn't exactly contribute to the OP's discussion.  I am aware of that.  Should probably be ignored.  I won't be offended if ignored.  Not at all. But, It's Saturday.  It's Rainy and Cold and Grey out there and I'm bored.  If you've gotten to this disclaimer, it's already too late.  Nanny Nanny Poo Poo :rolleyes:

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Howdy,

If anyone was paying attention Dirty Harry clearly states that he shoots

44 special lights in his 44 magnum.

See Magnum Force when they are at the shooting range.

Best

CR

 

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Dang, I need another model 29 to replace the one I foolishly sold. Then I can shoot .44 specials in it again. That would make nine, toys I own, in .44 special, and I reckon I really need that number rounded off to an even ten. I wonder if my wife will see it that way?   

 

Yep...yer right Chili, I noticed that Ole Harry said that exact thing, and I would have high fived him, but when I saw the movie, when it

first came out, no one knew to do that. I just grinned like a jacka$$ eating briars.

I think that was also when the rainbow had a different connotation.

More's the pity.

 

 

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Interesting replies. I too really like the round. I'm not suprised that a lot of CAS shooters like the .44 special; in fact, the piles of boxes of the caliber that I saw in two stores yesterday were Cowboy loads.

 

I can understand the issue with reloaders with .44 mags just downloading those cases.

 

The smaller of the two stores I go to had non-cowboy Magtech .44 spls for a long time after the panic buying started; I bought lots of them (two at a time, which is how I like to do it). Those were finally gone a couple of weeks ago. But even those took a long time to sell. And that was at his old standard retail price in the store of $31.95. At the same time, he is selling Magtech .38 spl for $59 per box!

 

What strikes me is that the shelves have been swept clean of most everything but those piles of .44 spl boxes were still there. Just sort of surprised that .44 mag shooters wouldn't grab them; there are a lot of those guys out there.  Got me thinking about the cartridge.

Edited by Red Gauntlet , SASS 60619

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When I found SASS I hadn't shot much as an adult, shot a lot when I was a kid and teenager. The number 1 thing that excited me about SASS was the idea of shooting 44 or 45 caliber single actions. Not that you were required to but it for sure wasn't plinking with 22s.

 

The Taurus 445 44 special I pictured previously was the first gun I bought after deciding I wanted something for personal protection. Now I've got cowboy guns and modern guns in various calibers. Still enjoy 22s occasionally.

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Got a pair of Fixed Sighted Single Action .22 cal. Revolvers just waiting for my Grandkids to grow into them ....

 

Jabez Cowboy

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2 hours ago, Jabez Cowboy,SASS # 50129 said:

Got a pair of Fixed Sighted Single Action .22 cal. Revolvers just waiting for my Grandkids to grow into them ....

 

Jabez Cowboy

I've got a couple of Colt 22s for my grandsons. At some point I'll have to find another for number 3. He's 1 1/2. I haven't been able to get my son in law or daughter to the range other then a couple of times because they're busy with work and kids. But that will change when the boys can come to the range too instead of dad having to leave them home to come with me. And grandpas got targets and ammo ready for them.

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'S'funny, I've never shot a full-power .44 Mangle-em load. The hottest was 18 gr. 2400 behind a 240gr. Speer JSP from a 6-1/2" bbl Ruger Flattop. MV was 1230 ft/sec, and it was strictly for a backup.  Used it once to finish a moose in Montana that a companion hunter had shot with a .300 Weatherby Magnum. Everything since then has been 7.5 gr. Universal behind a commercially cast 213 gr. bullet for SASS, and that through an OM Vaquero with 7-1/2" bbl at about 950 ft/sec.

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2 hours ago, Smokin Gator SASS #29736 said:

I've got a couple of Colt 22s for my grandsons. At some point I'll have to find another for number 3. He's 1 1/2.

I just listed one in the SASS Wire Classifieds! 

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I have a Smith & Wesson Model 624 in .44 Special that I bought back in the '80s when they first came out.  I was out over the weekend and when I went into a big box sporting good store the only handgun ammunition on the shelf was a stack of cowboy load .44 Specials., so I bought 2 boxes.  I'm going to go back and see how much of the stack is left.

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On 10/24/2020 at 7:03 PM, Three Foot Johnson said:

I just listed one in the SASS Wire Classifieds! 

Thanks for the heads up on the listing but not ready at this time.

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I shoot 44 Russian , 44 spl and 44 mag. Right now I am shooting 44 Russian in my Blue Colt 5 1/2 in New Frontiers. I have shoot Colts in 44spl for a long time and my next pair of Colt will be 5 1/2 Nickle in 44 spl. My Goal is to have a pair of Colt SAA"s  44spl in blue and Nickle 5 1/2 and 4 3/4 and maybe a set of blue New Frontiers in 4 3/4. I will have to check if there any nickle New Frontiers out there. I shoot 44 mag in my Marlin as it does not like 44spl, and I have a 73 in 44spl.

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2 hours ago, punxsutawneypete said:

I have a Smith & Wesson Model 624 in .44 Special that I bought back in the '80s when they first came out.  I was out over the weekend and when I went into a big box sporting good store the only handgun ammunition on the shelf was a stack of cowboy load .44 Specials., so I bought 2 boxes.  I'm going to go back and see how much of the stack is left.

 

This parallels my own experience, as I set out in my original post. Stacks of .44 spl when everything else is gone....yet the .44 spl is not a 'specialized' or oddball caliber at all. .44 mag owners, of whom there are many (.44 mag is nowhere to be found) could shoot it all the day long.

 

 I find it most interesting!

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I have a couple of dedicated 44 specials.  The first below is a S&W 44 Hand Ejector, 3rd Model.  Made in 1940, production was halted for WWII.  This is a hard to find version, with a 4" barrel and a nickel finish.  I've lettered it, and it was quite certainly originally a cop gun.  The second is a S&W 624 3".  It's a catalog item that was originally a creation for Lew Horton.  Smith saw these were very popular, and cataloged them for a few years.  

 

I shoot 44 specials through a Marlin 1894 in 44 mag/44 spl, and through a pair of Ruger Vaqueros in 44 mag.  Sometime, I want to pick up a Colt or clone in 44 special, just because.

44 hand ejector.jpg

624 cc.jpg

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