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Old April 11, 2008, 11:09 PM   #1
asdec33
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41 special

I was checking Midway getting ideas for a reloading setup for a DW 41 magnum I don't have yet, and came accross cases for a 41 special. Didn't know there was such an animal. Does anyone have any information? Thanks. asdec33
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Old April 11, 2008, 11:31 PM   #2
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Me neither. Let's see what others may say.

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Old April 11, 2008, 11:59 PM   #3
asdec33
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Re. 41 special

Jim; I just went back and checked Midway again. They do list brass for a 41 Special. Wonder if it would be usable in a 41 magnum? Hmmmm...
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Old April 12, 2008, 12:36 AM   #4
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I believe it's Hamilton Bowen's creation. It was originally intended as an alternative for the Colt SAA and for a simple rechambering/reboring job on S&W L-frame .357's. Virtually any .357 with a cylinder bigger than the K-frame can be converted to .41Spl. Also nifty in Old Model .357 Blackhawks. A few Old Model Single Sixes have also been built in .41Spl. The largest cartridge that can safely be fitted into the platform. I believe the first time it appeared in print was in an article John Taffin did in around 1989 on Bowen's first custom Colt SAA's. One an 8½" .32-20 with S&W adjustable sights, the other an unfluted 5½" .41Spl. Both with unfluted cylinders. As I recall, handloads pushed a 215gr SWC up to 1200fps with no trouble although it's typically loaded more moderately. To date there are no factory chambered .41Special guns, it is strictly a custom prospect.

It is simply the .41Mag trimmed to .44Spl length so it is usable in .41Mag's but I don't really see any reason to.
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Old April 12, 2008, 01:00 AM   #5
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The .41 Special is the result of some wildcat development based on the .41 Remington Magnum cartridge.

Bear with me here, as I'm working from memory and haven't been keeping up with the latest info on this wildcat.

There were a number of people who liked the .41 caliber cartridge but wanted accurate, reduced loads. As I recall reading in the late 70's, experiments with light loads were less than accurate. Once muzzle velocity fell below about 925 fps, the accuracy fell off markedly. Then some enterprising fellows trimmed the case about 1/10th of an inch (the difference between .38 special and .357 Mag) and tried again. Accuracy improved with the shorter case and was very good down below 850fps.

At the same time, there were those who wanted a modestly charged .41 cartridge in a smaller package. More specifically, they wanted to put these reduced loads into smaller or older designs, like a SAA or L-Frame S&W. The main problem was you could accidentally chamber a true Magnum load which might destroy the gun. Somewhere along the line in the early 1980's I recall seeing published specifications for trimming .41 Remington Mag cases down to create a ".41 Special" and several loadings for the wildcat.

Enough of these loads and trimmed brass were created by .41 enthusiasts that at least two brass makers offered properly headstamped .41 Special brass in small production runs. Much of this was quickly gobbled up by the wildcatters and other enthusiasts. Gunsmith Hamilton Bowen did some conversions of Rugers and/or Colts to the .41 Special in the 80's as I recall and these were well received.

Typical .41 Special loads consisted of a 170 to 215 grain projectile meandering out of the muzzle from about 900 fps up to 1,200 fps.

By comparison, the .41 Remington Magnum "Police" load sent a 210 grain LSWC downrange at a nominal 1200 fps from a 6" barrel or about 1100-1125 fps from a 4" barrel. I personally liked this load, having described it as feeling like shooting fence-posts downrange. Some target loads I once concocted pushed a 210 FMJ-TC bullet downrange at a mere 905 fps (chronographed) from a 4" Model 58 and I described them as "mouse-farts" for their soft recoil.

The .41 Remington Magnum specs call for a 36,000 psi cartridge (the same as the .44 mag or .357 Mag). A .41 Special load can be developed at much lower pressures that are suitable for K/L-Frame revolvers made for .38 Special to .38 Special +P loads (17,000 to 20,000 psi). This would permit conversions to 5-shot .41 Special revolvers in many cases and the use of the older SAA frames for the 14,000 psi .45 Colt without serious damage.

For self defense, a 170 to 200 grain bullet trundling along at between 900-1050 fps would be on a par with the .45 ACP. Couple that with it being wedged into a 5-shot K-Frame, like a converted Model 65 M&P and you'd have one very capable personal defense gun.
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Old April 12, 2008, 06:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
At the same time, there were those who wanted a modestly charged .41 cartridge in a smaller package. More specifically, they wanted to put these reduced loads into smaller or older designs, like a SAA or L-Frame S&W.
In my case, that's the main attraction of the cartridge. For instance, I bought a Ruger OM in .357 Magnum. Bought it totally to use as the base of a custom conversion. Some day it will happen. I will either have it made into a .44 Special or a .41 Special. I'll end up with a smaller and lighter gun than if I went with a larger Blackhawk in .41 or .44 Magnum. And yet it will be able to handle 90% of the types of loads that I typically shoot. Why carry extra steel around for those rare occasions when you actually need or want the full bore cartridge?

Some of us just like efficient cartridges in appropriately sized guns. If you like the .32 Magnum and .44 Special, you are probably going to like the .41 Special as well!

http://www.sixguns.com/tests/tt41spec.htm

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m..._n6081529/pg_1

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Old April 12, 2008, 08:48 PM   #7
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Ya gotta love it here

Thank you all for the information. I figured this was just another burp on the ballistic scale. Was I ever wrong!

As a retired teacher it's great fun to explore the "what an' whys" behind a thing or event, not just the mere fact of it's existance.

Sounds like the 41 Special may have a future. My original interest in the Special was to wonder if it might play the same role for the 41 Magnum as the 38 Special did for the 357 Magnum. Think that's worth pursuing?
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Old April 12, 2008, 08:49 PM   #8
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.44 mag -> .44 special
.357 mag-> .38 special
.41 mag -> .41 special

Same basic idea. On the right platform it's a very intriguing cartidge. Contemplating a conversion on a mid-framed Ruger myself just for chuckles.
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Old April 12, 2008, 09:01 PM   #9
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Blkhawk73: When you've finished your conversion, and still chuckling (or not), please post your findings.
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Old April 12, 2008, 10:21 PM   #10
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Won't be for a while even if I do dicide to go with it. Got another conversion going in quite soon. If/when it matrializes, I'd of course post the results like a proud papa would.
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Old April 13, 2008, 04:05 AM   #11
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Asdec33,

The .41 special has been floating around, more or less, since the very late 70's or early 80's. Thus, it's a 20 year old concept that has yet to find anyone to nurse it along. I'm afraid it'll remain just a niche cartridge until something else happens.

About the only way to get gun makers interested is if Federal or Speer (same company - ATK) designed the load to be a 20,000-21,000 psi cartridge throwing a 200 grain slug around 950-1000 fps (4") or a 170gr at 1100 (3") and could show excellent penetration and expansion results.

As long as it was accurate enough, you could get a number of people interested in an L-frame fixed sight 3" .41 Special as a serious CCW revolver.
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Old April 13, 2008, 09:27 AM   #12
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Producing it as a CCW cartridge is one way to go. The majority of the public only looks at autos though. They would sell _some_ but I can't see them really getting a lot of excitement.

I've been arguing for at least a couple years that there is a logical alternative. Approach the governing body of SASS. Show them the cartridge and your proposed specs. Get them to give you prior approval for it to be used in Cowboy competition. Then go to Ruger and get them to chamber the new smaller size Vaquero in the new caliber. Call it the .41 RCS. (Ruger Cowboy Special.) Make the Vaquero first since you need the cowboy shooters. But then also make the .357 size Flat Top in the caliber. Get Uberti to chamber some M92's for it.

If the intro was handled right, it could be a big splash. I get tired of .45 Colt in everything. Nice to be different. But shooting .38 Special never seems right to me. I'm not willing to go 38-40 or 44-40. The original cowboy .41 has big problems as a design so this would allow people to be different but with an easy to reload round. The fact that it could also be used in .41 Magnums would just be a bonus.

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Old April 13, 2008, 09:51 AM   #13
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Ohhh, a real unicorn.

That's the bee's knees. I bet that would make for one dandy all purpose revolver if it makes best use of cylinder length. How long is a .41 Special vs a .357 Mag? I bet it's not cheap to get a .357 bored out to accommodate the .41 S.
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Old April 13, 2008, 04:40 PM   #14
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.41 Special Loads

Go in on Google [www.google.com]and type:
.41 Special
You will find loads and information that should be useful.
I have two Model 657 S&W in .41 Magnum. One of them I shoot only:
8.0 grains of UNIQUE with either 210 or 220 grain bullets
5.0 grains of UNIQUE with either 210 or 220 grain bullets
I do not trim cases to the "special" length.
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Old April 13, 2008, 08:01 PM   #15
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Re. .41 Special

Anyone interested in pursuing this?
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Old April 14, 2008, 09:30 AM   #16
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How about a Ruger Single Six in .41 Special?

http://www.gunsandammomag.com/gun_co...411/index.html
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Old April 14, 2008, 02:09 PM   #17
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A gentleman by the name of Lloyd Small on the Graybeard Outdoors site had a 5 shot 41 special built on a single six frame. I couln't find the pics but it is a sweet gun. I bought an anniversary flattop with hopes of doing something similar when I have enough money. Lloyd also had a .32 done on a bearcat frame. I actually cut down some cases and have loaded them with 230gr cast bullets for use in my 425. They are extremely accurate, pleasant to shoot and eject like a dream. I have not clocked them but have taken a couple of deer under 30 yards without a problem.

I have to believe this is one of the major reasons the .41 never gained popular acceptance. It (.41 mag) was developed for police use and had it come out as a "special" instead of a magnum it would have been a more controlable round, one of the reasons in did not gain acceptance. It also would have been functional for a smaller framed gun and especially a reasonably concealable 5 shot. Instead it lost out to the .357 mag, 44 special ad .44 mag. I suspect it is very similar in performance to the 40 S&W which is very popular in law enforcement circles.

I am reluctant to pay what they ask for the "custom" special brass so I cut down my own. Especially those that have split necks.

Last edited by dakotashooter2; April 14, 2008 at 02:54 PM.
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Old April 14, 2008, 03:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
I have to believe this is one of the major reasons the .41 never gained popular acceptance. It (.41 mag) was developed for police use and had it come out as a "special" instead of a magnum it would have been a more controlable round, one of the reasons in did not gain acceptance.
Exactly. On the day they introduced the caliber, they should have been two separate cartridges. They should have introduced the .41 Special as a police load and the .41 Magnum as a hunting load. It could have very well changed everything. Too many officers and departments couldn't resist trying the M57/58 with full magnum ammo and were dissatisfied. As another benefit, the revolvers produced especially for police use and in .41 Special could have been built lighter. Maybe Smith and Wesson would have even found a way to use the K frame with a five shot cylinder. Certainly it could be done with the later L frame. Could have been the .41 Police Special and the .41 Magnum.

Definitely a missed opportunity. Doesn't mean a .41 Special marketed to the cowboy shooters today couldn't be successful though!

Gregg
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Old April 14, 2008, 06:38 PM   #19
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The reason the .41 Magnum never made a big impression was that the .44 mag had a 10 year head start. I carried a 4 inch M57 for 10 years stuffed with an RCBS 41-210-KT over 10.0 of DuPont SR 4756; a load that an old Montana cowboy recommended years ago. It shot 1 hole groups at 25 feet, and 1 inch groups at 25 yards. I shot the head off more than a few rabbits and squirrels at close range. The .41 special is OK for short light revolvers with a short cylinder and frame. I personally favor the magnum case because of the ability to load hot stuff with 2400, WW 296, and H110. If your gun has a nice smooth bore and you handload, you can wring the utmost in accuracy from it. Some bullets won't fit in the Ruger S/A because the forcing cone in the chamber is too close to the case head, and the front driving band will not allow you to load all 6 chambers. The RCBS bullet won't fit the Ruger chambers, and you have to use a Lyman 410032 or 410459. The gaschecked 410610 will chamber in any magnum, and works great if you need big bear penetration. Water quenched wheelweights will darn near penetrate a railroad rail.
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Old April 14, 2008, 08:03 PM   #20
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Back when Peterson's Handguns was a new magazine and the best on the stands (its toilet paper now) they had an article on the .41 special. A gunsmith, I think it was Cylinder and Slide shop had come up with a cut down "specialized" version of the .41 magnum for use on a modified L frame.
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Old April 14, 2008, 08:35 PM   #21
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I've seen a custom L frame six shot in .41 Special. The cylinder walls were thin enough that the cartridge rims protruded past the outside of the cylinder. Yet pressure was low enough that it worked just fine.

Why not a five shot .41 Magnum in a five shot L frame??? The five shot cylinder would be up to it, is it not a strong enough frame or a too thin forcing cone issue? Would be a fantastic carry gun, I'm sure it would also make the S&W bean counters cringe.
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Old April 16, 2008, 12:47 AM   #22
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20nickles,

You answered your own question. I asked this of S&W about a year ago. According to them, even the L-Frame doesn't have the structural strength for a 36,000 PSI .41 caliber round. There is simply just not enough "meat" around the barrel opening. The forcing cone would be too thin for the high pressure round too.

Before someone reminds us of the .44 caliber 696, that cartridge operates at about half the .41 Mag's pressure.

I asked about a .41 special load, but the issue S&W has is that there is no clearly defined pressure standard. Is it the same as the 14,000 PSI .45 Colt? 17,000 psi .38 Special? Or the 20,000 psi .38 special +P Before they could commit to making a prototype, they need to understand the working pressures. So, for now, the .41 Mag will be an N-Frame gun from S&W and if you want a smaller frame, you'll have to visit Taurus.
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Old April 16, 2008, 06:32 PM   #23
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I read an article years ago of a Ruger Speed Six converted to a five shot. I think it was a 44S or it may have been a .41S. That size/frame would be ideal for a .41Special. I have been downloading swaged lead 210 gr. .41 mags for years to get good carry loads for Smith 58s.
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Old April 16, 2008, 10:53 PM   #24
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Bill,
I thought for sure if a 696 in .44 would work, a higher pressured .410 would be okay.
I'm all about promoting the .40/41's. There is something "magical" about them that only further development will prove. I still preach that a 646 Scandium/steel snubby would make an excellent carry gun. Positive ejection being a strong point.
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Old April 17, 2008, 09:09 AM   #25
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There were lots of old Colts in .41 Colt. In fact, the Python-sized frame is often called the .41 frame among aficionados, even though you know the Python was 357 Magnum.

The 41 Colt was a dud around like a standard .38 Special and nobody wants to bring it back.

Elmer Keith's original design for the 41 Magnum was a 210 gr bullet at 900 fps which he decided was what police officers needed. Remington hopped it up to the super ballistics. Thus, the police officers who got the cheepy fixed sight Model 58, got their hands stung when they shot it to qualify. They didn't want that or they would have already adopted the .44 Magnum. The 41 Magnum was about as popular as a case of clap at at seminary, and remains the same today, except among a small but vociferous following.

The .41 Special would only appeal to a subset of the .41 Magnum fan club who can already load anemic target loads with .41 Magnum brass if they want it.
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