Skip to comments.The .44 Special is the best handgun caliber
Posted on 07/03/2010 11:11:27 AM PDT by calex59
I believe the .44 Special is the best handgun cartridge ever made. It is accurate and has enough energy in factory loadings to drop the bad guy. It can be handloaded to near .44 mag velocities if the revolver is of good quality.
Downside to whatever merits the .44 Special has is that there aren’t a whole lot of quality sidearms available for it — unless you buy a .44 Magnum sidearm to fire that round, in which case, what’s the point?
All of the above are true for a few calibers.
Please explain what makes the .44 better than say a .357 or .45?
The .357 will let you practice with cheap .38 loads that aren’t as loud and the .45 has a great rep for stopping power.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the .44 a whole lot, I just don’t see your argument.
My grandfather who died 40 years ago at 96 was a gunsmith. He made a 410 over under pistol that was pretty mean. Wish I had in now.
I agree the .44 special is a good one, especially if you are a handloader. I personally think the best one is the .41 magnum and I don’t even own a gun in that caliber right now.
The .41 can do anything the .44 mag can do with the possible exception of using very heavy bullets. In fact I think the .41 mag will actually beat the .44 mag in energy in a lot of loadings. Plus the smaller hole in the cylinders makes it stronger.
I could get by with no other gun than the .357 magnum and if absolutely forced to, I could use a .22 LR for nearly everything and it is better than most for a lot of things.
Some years ago I had a Ruger New Model Blackhawk converted from .357 Mag to .44 Special by Dave Clements. In that revolver, the .44 Special can be loaded to much higher velocities/pressures, but not quite to .44 mag specs. Still, it is an admirable performer using 200 grain Hornady XTP’s and Bue Dot powder. Win 296 and Alliant 2400 work also. This conversion using the Old Model Blackhawk was very popular in the “old days”. The Old Model had a somewhat smaller frame (and a smaller diameter cylinder) than the New Model. Consequently, some care had to be used when reloading for the Old Model conversions.
It’s big, it’s heavy, you can’t hide it even in baggy pants, it makes pants on the ground sound reasonable, weighs a whole lot, and just doesn’t work when carried concealed.
Yes, I have one, S&W 44 and Ruger Super Blackhawk, and yes I hand load them profusely — for hunting it has no equal. But at the end of the day, you wish it was lighter, even in a shoulder holster. Yep they make slightly smaller versions, in bear country probably a good thing.
With modern ammo a mini 9 is much more likable, and pockets rather nicely.
All in all, I agree with your assessment, butttt
Charter arms still makes a .44 special, their guns are reliable and accurate and easy to carry concealed. I happen to have an old S&W with 2.5 inch barrel, a 3 inch Taurus, which is great BTW and a 3 inch .45 long colt which sucks for accuracy.
If more people purchased the .44 special then more firearms would be made for it. The .44 mag ruined the .44 special market and it shouldn't have.
I use the .44 mag in my Ruger Deerfield carbine and S&W 29. Same lead, mo’ bang for the buck, so to speak...
And BTW, my hunting loads are a 240gr XTP w/ 24gr of H-110(slow burning); I get 1” drop at 100 yds vs. 50 yds shot. So much for the “It’s only a brush gun!” theory!
All off the shelf .44 mag ammo is loaded for pistols, w/ fast burning powders.
Off to the range w / wifey; she recently became interested in shooting.
"It's an .88 Magnum...It Shoots Through Schools."
While generally true, the ammo and brass is harder to find, and the 44 mag is so much more fun.
Wheel guns are fun and the .44 Special is no exception. It is in fact a nearly perfect revolver cartridge. The combination of controlability and terminal ballistics make a pleasure to shoot. Then comes the discussion about cartridge sources in a difficult environment. Reloading only goes so far. No military now uses the venerable .44 Special as a standard round. Weapon round capacity and interchangeably are both factors to be considered in today’s environment.
In fact I prefer the reliability of my revolvers to the occasionally malfunctioning autos that some carry. As for 9 mm, if you want to stop a cat or a dog they are fine, but give me a .44 for stopping a human perp.
Bond Arms makes a very solid version of that same ‘derringer’ style handgun.
I might point out that the military also went to 9mm over the .45 ACP, which was a very stupid move. Are you advocating that the .45 ACP was a terrible military round and a failure? The military makes mistakes, and not making a .44 special rimless round for autos was one of them, IMO.
Both the .44 Special and the .41 Mag are great, but I fear both are heading for obscurity except among afficianados. I have a Smith and Wesson Model 696 five-shot .44 Special; I don’t think its currently listed in the S and W catalog. Nice little gun; I wouldn’t shoot the loads made up for the Blackhawk in it, however. Even with only five rounds, the 696 chambers are a little thin.
really, I need to look it up and see if it looks like the one he made.
You can load your m29 soft, as in featherweight recoil like a 45acp, or full house stuff for longer ranges. It’s a good thing.
Well, Elmer Keith certainly thought a lot of the 44 Special also. Not only did he use it as the base for developing the 44 Magnum, if memory serves, he also developed the Keith Bullet for the 44 Special.
One of the finest revolvers I have ever owned was a Smith and Wesson, model 57 with a 6 inch barrel. Everyone says you can tell the .41 has less recoil but I could never tell any difference.
It was a slick gun tho. Barrel to cylinder gap was almost non-existent yet it never had any fouling build up to hinder rotation. Also, all six cylinders were in perfect range. It was about as accurate as it is possible to make one.
I ended up trading it for several guns worth quite a bit more and even tho I came out way ahead on the trade, I still wish I had kept that beauty.
Right. That's what I meant when I wrote:
"(there) arent a whole lot of quality sidearms available for it"
I'm sure that your elderly S&W is a nice .44 Special revolver, but I think I'll pass on Charter Arms bulldogs and Taurus anythings.
Charter Arms revolvers are klunky inexpensive guns typically geographically limited to the New England states and intended for use by either crazy women in shooting Andy Warhol and the Scarsdale Diet doctor, or by use of the 'Son Of Sam' killer in New York City.
Taurus... well, I haven't really liked anything they've ever made.
I have one, and with Remington factory loads it's more uncomfortable and louder than the M29. It may be because of the shorter barrel (6' to 8 and something). Thing about the 41, it seems now very difficult to get ammo for it.
In fact, Elmer used the .44 to push for the .44 mag cartridge.
Kinda expensive to shoot, but heap big fun!
Most of the police around here carry Kel-Tec mini 9s. It’s hot so you dress light. I doubt they shoot at animals that often. The trainers for the CCW classes also recommend the 9s with modern ammo as totally enough gun. Some of those who train people I know, say the .380 is fine with modern ammo.
After owning my first 44 mag for over 40 years, I have more than a passing experience with what different calibers and ammo type will do on animals .. never shot a human but shot towards more than one for reasons of purpose. I used to play with hunting handguns at long ranges, and the steel challenges that go with it.
I used to prefer revolvers, most of the handguns I have had over the years have been revolvers, but as my hunting has waned, mostly hogs, black bears and deer, I now prefer simple light weight self defense auto ‘appliance guns’ like Glocks and Kel-Tecs. But don’t let my 45s know.
The advantage with guns is their are lots of choices ... that you hope you never need making.
We had a little ruckus outside our house late last night, I doubt any knew my mini-9 Glock with night sights, was in my pocket. They left quietly.
You can load the cartridge so that you get almost the same ballistics as the .45 ACP is a smaller, lighter package.
There are more choices in revolvers for this cartridge these days, too. You can occasionally find the Bulldog on the used market. That's where I found mine. It was in really good shape and was less than $200.
If you're a handloader and own a .44 mag you've probably already got the die set so there's nothing holding you back.
I repeat. I(get the I)think the .44 Special is the best defensive handgun round ever made, and I will always think so, regardless of biased tools like your self.
The gunsmith I purchased it from told me to feel free to run +P ammo through it (even though it was manufactured before +P became popular).
I don't care much for the sights (I have an Armscor .38 Special in 4” barrel that is actually more accurate.) But overall, you can tell just by handling the gun that it is good quality construction.
While I was being humorous with the dog and cat remark, I really have nothing against the 9mm, in fact I have a .380 I am quite taken with( a semi auto S&W)and carry it on occasion. But, I carry my .44 special and my .45 long colt(rarely)more often than I do the .380. Any caliber is fine if you can shoot well, which is my point with the .44 special, it is extremely accurate and lends itself to head shots quite readily. Thanks for your comment.
It's never too late:
Bond Arms in Texas makes a series of these double-barreled derringers. The majority are in .45 Colt Long / .410 and all use the same frame and design with a top-hinged swing to reload. This is actually one of the larger models with a 4 inch barrel - most have 3 or 3 1/2 inch barrels, and are available in a variety of chamberings such as .22 Long Rifle, .357 Magnum, 10mm and more. A nice-looking chunk of stainless steel overall.
BTW, he(the perp)didn't have a CCW!
Shot metallic silhouette pistol with it for years, it's flat shooting and I find the recoil much more reasonable than the .44 (I wish I had a dollar for every .44 mag out there that somebody put 5 rounds through and then put it back in the box . . . awful lot of them like that!)
The old Bulldog was not a bad pistol, and was the favorite of one of our judicial lights, sadly no longer with us. The late Charles Worrell was nicknamed "Two Gun Charlie" because when he was an Early County superior court judge he presided with 2 loaded Bulldogs on the bench, using one for a gavel. The order in his courtroom was something wonderful to behold . . . .
. . . but I just don't trust Charter to make a decent pistol. I just don't.
According to the above chart, the .44 special is about the worst!
I also have .45 Long colt and love it, but the .44 is more accurate and I carry it frequently where as the .45 colt not so much. They are both sub 3” barrels. Thanks for the input.
Okay. You sure showed me.
I suppose that I can only blame myself for foolishly stating my opinion in your Saturday morning thread that should have been titled:
"I prefer to shoot expensive and uncommonly available antique ammo through inexpensive handguns of questionable quality."
Charts can be BS. I tell you what, stand out there at 25 Yards and I will shoot you with the .44 special and see if you survive. Deal?
One. .44 Special ammo isn’t that expensive, especially since I handload. It isn’t obsolete except to people like you. Two. I don’t care if you disagree but you didn’t just disagree you were very rude and full of sh**, so I was rude right back at ya. Want me to courteous with you? Use courtesy next time.
As for the military leaving the .45 to go to 9mm, they did so because the troops could carry more rounds for the same weight and volume. More rounds fired equals more enemy wounded or killed. This is the same reason they switched from .308 to 5.56mm.
I know the fake reason the military went to 9mm. Plus if your friend shot himself and didn’t blow his arm off, I would call that a good thing, not a bad thing. The .44 special will stop a criminal if you hit them where they live, heart, head lungs, etc. Arm shots are usually recommended for self defense. What did you expect? Your friend’s arm to fall off? What a friend you are.
I'll restate that although the old .44 Special has it's fans, any quality guns available to shoot it are uncommon these days. I'm sure that the old S&W .44 you have is a nice old gun made with good old craftsmanship.
However, Charter Arms are low-grade guns. Taurus makes guns built like a tank though they have a reputation for highly spotty quality and reliability. Neither of these points are in question in the shooting community.
I really like the 44 special, but I don’t see it ever coming back. The 44 Mag offers the chance to shoot both, so why not?
I would prefer a 44 special to a 357 since I think it would give you just as much penetration without needing a JHP to expand much, and my home defense gun is a Ruger Alaskan (40 oz & 2.5” barrel) loaded with 44 special ammo - 250/260 grain bullets at 900-1000 fps.
But if you go down to Bulldog sized guns, it becomes a bit much for most to handle. I like shooting full power magnum rounds in my Alaskan and 357 rounds in my Model 60 (a 23 oz 5 shot for those not familiar with it) - but I’m fairly recoil tolerant.
Further, for shooting people in self defense, it just isn’t needed. 30 years ago I would have said something different, but the bullets and ammo available now are outstanding. I don’t feel undergunned if I load my M60 with .38+P firing a 158 grain bullet at 1000 fps. All of the ammo from 9mm/38 sp on up is available in loadings that will provide very good penetration and similar sized wounds. A 357 is already a bit more punch than really required.
Sorry. I think it is one of the best rounds out there, but marketing reality is that it has lost. A pity, but I don’t expect it to change.
BTW, I also have S&W, Ruger and Colt firearms, not to mention Winchester long guns. My so called "cheap gun" have held up as well as all of them.
I will continue to buy Charter Arms and Taurus as well as the other brand names I mentioned.
Oh, I expect you are correct, the .44 mag killed off the .44 special but I still love it and will continue to carry it as my concealed weapon as long as I can handload ammo for it. This post wasn’t to change anyone’s mind it was to smoke out possible .44 Special lovers. Thanks.
This should be fun and educational and of course everyone has their favorite cartridge based on the type of shooting they're doing but you get to set the factors to be judged... ;)
I never said that. I said on two occasions that your S&W is probably a very nice gun.
Why don't you go back and read my post, you nearsighted combative old geriatric f'ing COOT with 'little tough guy syndrome'? You have a serious reading comprehension problem and are all onery to fight someone.
Now calm down before you blow a heart valve and die in the middle of this thread. I'm worried that California will consider that evidence enough to charge me with involuntary manslaughter, or something.
This thread is proof that choices in firearms are among the most intimately personal choices we make. Sometimes way too personal it would seem.