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Is 44 Special a good SASS caliber?


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I have a chance to get two Cimarron Model P 44 Special revolvers, and I need some advice! Is this 44 Special a good SASS caliber? I’ve never shot a 44 Special, and I need some input on this! Thanks for your help!!

Semper Fi Cowboy 

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Posted (edited)

It is an allowed SASS caliber, but you may find loaded ammunition, and components (like bullets and especially brass) difficult to find at present and pretty expensive when you do find it.

If you already are set up to reload it, it's a fine caliber to shoot; accurate, not much recoil (if loaded light), can do smokeless or BP and those shells look good on one's belt!

Edited by Sacramento Johnson #6873
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Posted (edited)

It's a great cartridge and very accurate, but I don't recommend it for this game. IMO 357 is far and away the best choice (38). If you need big bore, then 45 colt or 44 WCF is a better choice due to availability of guns, ammo, supplies. 44 WCF is one of the best cartridges available for BP use, and 45 Colt is one of the worse, IMO. 

Edited by Snakebite
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It is an excellent caliber.   As I was first starting out, I thought it would be my main caliber.   Didn't turn out that way, but it's still a good one.   I have a Buntline Special and a pair of Sheriff's models (All Colts) as well as a pair of clones in the caliber that I like to take out from time to time.

I also have 3 more revolver in 44 Magnum that I can run Specials in if I want to.

But that brings me to why it didn't become my main main match caliber.   Finding a rifle in .44 Special was, and remains, difficult.  I have a couple of 92's in .44 Magnum, and thought I'd run Specials in 'em.   Didn't work so well.   Lotsa stovepipes and other problems that don't exist when running Magnums in those rifles.   I did once see a 73 in .44 Special but the timing was bad, so I passed on it.   

All of that being said, I WILL soon have a Lightning in .44 Special, so I'll finally be using the caliber on a regular basis.  (Lotsa ammo loaded up for it.)

 

I have found the .44 Special to be very accurate cartridge at range, and it is very easy to reload for.

 

All that being said, it might be easier to go with something like .45 Colt or even .44-40, but once you are set up for the .44 Special, it is no hinderance to our game.   (And yes, you can use the same bullets that you'd use for .44 Magnum.)

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Used to be a 44 magnum guy for non SASS! Still love the authority of the boomers, but, there  are a few issues (none of which are insurmountable)

1. As said components can be tough to come by, for everybody not just the more unusual chamberings such as 44 special/magnum

2. Since relatively few use them load recipes for our game are few and you will need to spend more time tweaking/chronographing your loads to be usable (lower recoil) and SASS legal for you.

3. If you have any issues (forgotten ammo, brought wrong loads/guns, guns go down etc.) there will be less assistance available at a match.

4. If you are running "hotter" loads (which may still be SASS legal) because others could be unfamiliar with the characteristics of your chosen caliber, you might be asked to "not tear up our targets" and this could cause some friction.

5. Matching a rifle to your pistols (if you were so inclined) could be a challenge. There weren't a lot to begin with in either magnum or special, and they don't show up for sale very often. (at least around my part of the country).

All that said the 44 special/magnum is an excellent cartridge, inherently accurate, powerful, SASS legal, useful for purposes other than SASS, so if it floats your boat give it a whirl!! If you decide you don't like it they just became an excuse to go get more guns later!

Regards

:FlagAm:  :FlagAm:  :FlagAm:

Gateway Kid

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Go for it! The .44 Special is one of my favorites, but then again, I don't really have a least favorite, so... :lol:

 

For even lighter loads, you can load up some .44 Russians with 165 grainers instead. I've got a pair of .44 spl 1866's, eight .44 spl New Vaqueros, two USFA's, and two ASM's, plus a variety of .44 mags and Russians. :)

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3 hours ago, Semper Fi Cowboy said:

I have a chance to get two Cimarron Model P 44 Special revolvers, and I need some advice! Is this 44 Special a good SASS caliber? I’ve never shot a 44 Special, and I need some input on this! Thanks for your help!!

Semper Fi Cowboy 

Okay, you've read all the answers above, now here is unvarnished truth.  You haven't provided enough information to get a succinct answer.

 

Great cartridge, lousy choice in arms.  Whether it's  good choice for this game depends on a lot of factors, all in your court.  I.e., do you already reload for it... in fact, do you already reload?   THAT answer will probably change a bunch of the advice you may get.  I'd probably discount any answers you get until that is known.

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something you can do which a number of .38 Sp shooters do if their rifle is a .357 Mag is to load the Sp long

 

That means you use a 44 Sp case but load it to the OAL of a 44 Mag.  You can use the same bullet and powder amount.

 

It does mean you have to keep track of which is which.  I use a felt tip on the base of the case:  Red is Rifle, Black is Pistol.  

 

You could use the same set up in reloading other than having to adjust the crimp die lower

 

 

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1 hour ago, Griff said:

Okay, you've read all the answers above, now here is unvarnished truth.  You haven't provided enough information to get a succinct answer.

 

Great cartridge, lousy choice in arms.  Whether it's  good choice for this game depends on a lot of factors, all in your court.  I.e., do you already reload for it... in fact, do you already reload?   THAT answer will probably change a bunch of the advice you may get.  I'd probably discount any answers you get until that is known.

 

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If you have the ability to reload them there is nothing wrong with 44 Special.

As most modern 44-40 firearms are the same bore diameter as 44 special/magnum they will work and are not that hard to come by.Bullets for 44.

 

If you choose a rifle in 44 Special/Mag you are going to have to carefully inspect your brass to make sure that you don't get 45 colt and 44-40 mixed in with it.

 

Those that shoot 44-40 have this issue with 45 colt brass.

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I started out using the .44 spl as I carried a S&W 624 for CCW in the winter.  Could not find a rifle that would work 99.9% of the time.  I went to the .44 WCF and never looked back.  If my guns aren't 1851's they are Colt or USFA's in .44 WCF.

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Thanks for your feedback Griff! I have just started back reloading. I shoot 38 special, 357 Magnum, 32-20, 45 Colt, and 12 gauge lite loads. I’m in the process of getting all the components for reloading, including the Shotshells.

3 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

If you have the ability to reload them there is nothing wrong with 44 Special.

As most modern 44-40 firearms are the same bore diameter as 44 special/magnum they will work and are not that hard to come by.Bullets for 44.

 

If you choose a rifle in 44 Special/Mag you are going to have to carefully inspect your brass to make sure that you don't get 45 colt and 44-40 mixed in with it.

 

Those that shoot 44-40 have this issue with 45 colt brass.

 

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1 hour ago, Three Foot Johnson said:

Go for it! The .44 Special is one of my favorites, but then again, I don't really have a least favorite, so... :lol:

 

For even lighter loads, you can load up some .44 Russians with 165 grainers instead. I've got a pair of .44 spl 1866's, eight .44 spl New Vaqueros, two USFA's, and two ASM's, plus a variety of .44 mags and Russians. :)

 

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I shoot a 73 in .38 and .44 Special in my Blackhawks. Love the 44. 

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44spl and 44mag are good calibers.

But something I have not seen said, if you end up at a mach and did not bring enough ammo to finish, you will be hard pressed to find another shooter with 44s to barrow.

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Love the 44 special, have shot 44 special and 44 Russian almost as long as I have been in SASS. Currently looking for a 44 carbine but all I can find are 24" rifles 

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39 minutes ago, Cliff Hanger #3720LR said:

44spl and 44mag are good calibers.

But something I have not seen said, if you end up at a mach and did not bring enough ammo to finish, you will be hard pressed to find another shooter with 44s to barrow.

I've never not brought enough, but I HAVE showed up twice in the past thirty years with mismatched guns/ammo - .38/.357 guns and .45 ammo once, and a .38-40 rifle with .44-40 ammo the second time. :lol: Judge Injury shared his rifle and Colt .45's with me the first time, and I was able to share/borrow a .357 rifle AND ammo from Jughead and a couple others the second time.

 

Of course, the flip side of the .44 Special is nobody's going to bum ammo off you. :lol:

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Posted (edited)

44 Special would be legal for Classic Cowboy if that category appeals to you.  I will be shooting 44 Special blackpowder rounds in revolvers in July to compete in a special blackpowder category.  Once-fired 44 Special brass does not show up for sale often.  I've bought once-fired 44 mag brass quite often and used it in a rifle where it cycled better than 44 Specials.  Yes, I do get 45 Colt and 44-40 brass returned to me but I have friends I hand it to.  These days my 44s don't get much used because my arthritic hands prefer the lessor recoil from 38 specials.

 

If you like old Cowboy Classics, Gene Autry praised his old 44s in "Back in the Saddle Again."

Edited by Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971
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Posted (edited)

Let us get down to Brass Tacks.  You've gotten a load of Horse Pucky.  If you reload, ALL of the above mentioned calibers are really good for SASS/CAS.  If you don't reload, THEY ALL suck.  Right now ammunition is expensive.  Really expensive.  Ergo, reloading is a must for this Game.  

 

Since your already familiar with reloading 44 Special is a GREAT cartridge for SASS/CAS.   Components are plentiful with bullets available EVERYWHERE.  Also not mentioned, for some light loaded rounds, you can substitute 44 Russian cases.  44 Russian cases are perfect for reduced loads.

 

Since you already have TWO, that's a PAIR of Model ""Ps" lined up and available, GO FOR IT.  Nothing in the great book of ALL says your pistol cartridge and your rifle cartridge have to match.  Some folks just have a little trouble keeping 'em straight.  I load 6 different cartridges for CAS.  No problem at all.

 

My personal Fav, be 44 Russian Cases, 3fAPP to bullet base and a 160Gr RNFP.  Really superb pistol load.  Shot it all day and then some.  Did I already say GO FOR IT??  I meant too

 

Oh, almost forgot: GO FOR IT!! 

 

 

Edited by Colorado Coffinmaker
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Posted (edited)

I shoot 44-40 rifles with 44 special pistols. I load the pistols with 44 Russians. No worries with these 2 calibers together. They are very easy to see the difference but if a problem differentiating between them the simple solution is to always load the 44 Russians in the pistol first because 44-40 won’t fit! Not a chance of mixing them up.

 

GO FOR IT!

Edited by Bull Skinner
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Posted (edited)

Although not my first choice for cowboy action shooting, the .44 Special is a very capable cartridge.  However, as many have already mentioned you will probably need to roll your own for this game as factory loads are fairly stout and tough to find.  The .44 Special works great in the revolvers with reduced target type loads and even black powder (although there is some blow back, etc.).  However, most .44 rifles are setup for .44 Magnum and even though you can shoot the shorter .44 Special in them, many have length issues with them.  My .44 Marlin does not like .44 Specials even when loaded longer (out of the crimp groove.)  They go in/feed fine, but the shorter case doesn't always eject properly causing stovepipe jams, etc. 

 

In any case, I do have a backup set of .44 cowboy guns with old Ruger VQ's in .44 Mag. and the Marlin Rifle previously mentioned, but they are pretty much backups to my .357/.38's rather than main match guns.  They actually got used more for BP than anything when I was shooting cowboy regularly, but the Ruger VQ's do go to my local Sportsman's Club range on a regular basis now and I have several nice light target loads in .44 Special for them.  Frankly, the .44 VQ's are now my favorite revolvers to shoot and the .44 Specials get quite a workout in them.  Although quite capable, I have little use for full factory .44 magnum loads.  Good luck and good shooting to all.  

Edited by Bison Bud
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My '66 and my Open Tops are 44 Special. Great caliber, smokeless or BP. I usually shoot BP in these and have a hoot! If you reload 44 Special is a fine choice for CAS.

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Great Cartridge. Those pistols will shoot 44 Colt, 44 Russian.

Have shoot the 44 Russian for years. The Russian is a very accurate round, and very mild.

You can use the same bullet in all 3 of them, 44 special, 44colt, 44 Russian.

   

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6.0 grains of Unique under one of the Lee 240 grain SWCs is a very nice load, accurate in my 44 Specials.

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44 spl works fine.   I use it and load light.  Sub 200g loads.  Problem really is finding suitable guns chambered in 44 spl.  44mag is more common and you can shoot spl in mag chambers, but imho not ideal.  In revolvers, a 44spl is a shorter cylinder than a 44 mag.   Unfortunately there were few 44 spl vaqueros made.  Even the blackhawks with plow handles are not a catalog gun.   Uberti has done a few runs of 1871 open tops.  I shoot a Marlin 94 and it cycles spl rounds fine, but it did need some tweaking.  I have found a few 66’s in 44 spl, but no 73’s.  Doesn’t mean they don’t exist, just means I have never had one in my hands that was for sale. 

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23 minutes ago, Still hand Bill said:

I have found a few 66’s in 44 spl, but no 73’s.  Doesn’t mean they don’t exist, just means I have never had one in my hands that was for sale. 

I had a '73 round barrel carbine .44 spl for awhile, and sold it to @WOLFY in California about seven years ago. I still have a pair of 1866 RBC's in .44 spl.

 

I had ten stainless 4 5/8" Lipsey's Ruger New Vaquero .44 spls, and sold two of them just a little under a year ago for a slight premium over a .357 or .45, but looking at Gunbroker completed auctions lately, they're selling for another 50% over that now. :o About 500 were made in each of four configurations; 3 3/4" blue and stainless, and 4 5/8" blue and stainless.

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 The 44 spc.. Is an excellent caliber for sass, it took some searching but I found a mint 73 in 44 spc. and a pair of stainless ruger Vaquero’s in 44 mag. They are out there and pricy but hey, what isn’t! I use reduced loads with 180 gr. Bullets from Missouri bullets, very mild recoil, one thing I encountered though is the 44 spc. case is a very stiff case and doesn’t seal very well when fired with reduced loads. No problem with the pistols but with the 73 after 20 or 30 rounds the chamber gets a little dirty and needs a quick pass with a bore snake or chamber mop for smooth feeding, I did find using Tinstar powder solved that problem but tinstar is VERY hard to find right now,  I wouldn’t let that stop me from using the 44 spc if I had to go back to tite group powder, it takes less than a minute to clean the chamber! 

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9 hours ago, Three Foot Johnson said:

I had a '73 round barrel carbine .44 spl for awhile, and sold it to @WOLFY in California about seven years ago. I still have a pair of 1866 RBC's in .44 spl.

 

I had ten stainless 4 5/8" Lipsey's Ruger New Vaquero .44 spls, and sold two of them just a little under a year ago for a slight premium over a .357 or .45, but looking at Gunbroker completed auctions lately, they're selling for another 50% over that now. :o About 500 were made in each of four configurations; 3 3/4" blue and stainless, and 4 5/8" blue and stainless.

Yea, I really like those Rugers in 44 spl. Matched up with my ‘73 in 44 spl and I have a winning combo at any match. I now use 135 gr bullets in the pistols and 160 gr. in the rifle. Both shooting over 800 fps. Recoil is minimal and easily controlled. Recently picked up a Rossi Ranch Hand in 44 mag that feeds 44 spl as long as they are loaded with the proper oal. Nice addition to my 44 collections.
 

EA7DC6BA-D3AF-4F65-A85D-3D6514A2D2F3.jpeg

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On 5/21/2022 at 3:34 PM, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

It is an excellent caliber.   As I was first starting out, I thought it would be my main caliber.   Didn't turn out that way, but it's still a good one.   I have a Buntline Special and a pair of Sheriff's models (All Colts) as well as a pair of clones in the caliber that I like to take out from time to time.

I also have 3 more revolver in 44 Magnum that I can run Specials in if I want to.

But that brings me to why it didn't become my main main match caliber.   Finding a rifle in .44 Special was, and remains, difficult.  I have a couple of 92's in .44 Magnum, and thought I'd run Specials in 'em.   Didn't work so well.   Lotsa stovepipes and other problems that don't exist when running Magnums in those rifles.   I did once see a 73 in .44 Special but the timing was bad, so I passed on it.   

All of that being said, I WILL soon have a Lightning in .44 Special, so I'll finally be using the caliber on a regular basis.  (Lotsa ammo loaded up for it.)

 

I have found the .44 Special to be very accurate cartridge at range, and it is very easy to reload for.

 

All that being said, it might be easier to go with something like .45 Colt or even .44-40, but once you are set up for the .44 Special, it is no hinderance to our game.   (And yes, you can use the same bullets that you'd use for .44 Magnum.)

A minimum Trailboss load worked fine in 44 Magnum brass and my 44 Magnum Marlin 1894. One order of 500 cases would set you up more or less permanently. I could probably help with a starter quantity. I have used a loading strip to segregate 38/357 and 44 Spl/44 Magnum with no problems, always loading the rifle first.

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Here simply an opinion regarding ammo availability for .44 spl, apart from CAS use. My CAS guns are not .44 spl.

 

I love the .44spl and have a couple of double-action revolvers in .44spl only, plus a magnum that, of course, can shoot special.

 

It's always been tough to find on the shelves. I once lucked into an LGS that had a whole lot of boxes. I bought them two or three at a time (I don't believe in taking all or most of anything in ammo). Every time I came back, most were still there. I asked the guys if anybody but me bought them, and they said 'one other guy'. Eventually they were gone.

 

I'm glad I got the supply, because I have quite a bit-- and I've hardly ever seen any since. I've seen zero for a couple of years now. I've seen more .44 Russian over time than Special. 

 

I've always wondered why. There are a lot of .44 mag revolvers out there, and Special is fun to shoot in the magnum revolvers. Like shooting 38s in your 357. But it doesn't seem to work that way.

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