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Old May 17, 2008, 09:28 PM   #1
Leadbelcher
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.44 Russian?

Can you safely shoot .44 Russian in a .44 mag revolver, like a Smith M29? What about reloading the .44 Russian using .44 spl/mag dies?
Any ideas?
thanks!
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Old May 17, 2008, 09:58 PM   #2
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LB
Of course you can shoot a shorter round in the same caliber. 44 russian, 44 special, 44mag all work in a 44 mag chambered revolver.

Loading the 44 russian may need a new die or two. The short round probably will not go into the loading die far enough to crimp the bullet in place. Possibly the bullet seater will also be too long. Time to look for a new set of dies - OR have a machinst cut the bottom of those 2 dies off to accomidate the shorter round.
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Old May 17, 2008, 09:59 PM   #3
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You can safely shoot .44 Russian ammunition in any .44 Magnum or .44 Special revolver. As to your reloading question, I don't know if most .44 Magnum/Special dies will work as the .44 russian cartridge is quite a bit shorter.
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Old May 17, 2008, 10:11 PM   #4
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You can size and expand, but you can't seat/crimp with the same die. You have to get a shorter .44 Russian one.
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Old May 17, 2008, 10:54 PM   #5
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The others are correct in that you need a new set of dies for the 44 Russian. I found that out trying to use my 44 mag dies. I never bought Lee dies before, but their 44 Russian dies work well.
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Old May 17, 2008, 11:18 PM   #6
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Thanks folks! I appreiciate the comments!
LB
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Old May 18, 2008, 01:29 AM   #7
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The 44 Russian is the basis for the 44 Special. It was developed by S&W to fit their Model 3 top break revolver. While they sold some of the revolvers in the US, they shipped most of their production to Russia for military use. Just after the turn of the 20th Century, S&W lengthened the cartridge to the 44 Special.

I really like the 44 Russian round. It is almost the same size as the 45 acp. (I use the same load in both cartridges) I have a Uberti copy of the model 3 & I also shoot it in my Model 21. A 200 gr JHP at 800 fps is a very accurate & handy round to have.
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Old May 19, 2008, 04:47 PM   #8
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Considering how plentiful .44 Mag and .44 Special brass and ammo is, and how scarce .44 Russian brass and ammo is, I don't see any logical reason to shoot .44 Russian out of a .44 Magnum revolver. But sure, you can do safely do it.
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Old May 20, 2008, 07:04 AM   #9
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I load 3.5gr Titegroup under a 240gr LSWC/LRNFP - for 692 fps from my 3" 696. Really a ferret flatulance load - but it makes 'major' power factor! The .44 Russian is a fun sized round - I'd love a new DA revolver in that chamber... with modern propellants, it would be a great plinker - without the Keith-level .44 Special +P temptations. I do shoot them - and Specials - in my 629s - but I also clean carefully with a chamber brush, to remove the carbon & lead residue, before I ever try to load longer cases - especially .44 Magnums.

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Old May 20, 2008, 10:44 AM   #10
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Actually, the .44 Russian sold quite well in the United States. It was generally conceded to be the most accurate handgun cartridge available for many years, and most US and many international records belonged to shooters who were using the .44 Russian, often from an S&W No. 3 New Model Target.

The cartridge was sufficiently popular in the United States that S&W chambered the New Century (Triple Lock) for the .44 Russian for a number of years.
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Old May 20, 2008, 01:19 PM   #11
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While the .44 Special was a lengthened version of the .44 Russian, it was not a strengthened version, as the factory loads for the two cartridges were identical for the entire production life of the .44 Russian.

Apparently, S&W just wanted a cartridge for their new hand ejector .44 that could not be used in the old break tops and could be advertised as something new. There probably was some idea of making the new cartridge stronger, but as far as factory loads went, that never happened. Now when a certain gun writer, whose initials were EK, decided to fill some of that extra space with powder, things took off for the .44 Special.

Jim
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Old May 20, 2008, 03:35 PM   #12
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Actually, it was caused largely by the switch to smokeless powder.

The first smokeless powders truly suitable for use with the .44 Special were bulky... REALLY bulky, and apparently even with the case fully loaded with powder ballistics fell short of the black powder specs.

I have several boxes of Winchester .44 Special shells from around 1915-1916. I cut one open a few months ago and it was stuffed to the gills with a very bulky powder.

Given that the primers are undoubtedly corrosive, I've not secumbed to the temtation to pop a few off in my Model 24.

Yet.
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Old May 21, 2008, 08:04 PM   #13
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I've been reading my copy of John Taffin's Gun Digest Book of the 44. In one section he talks about the .44 Russian and its history of inception.

I'm really interested in acquiring this caliber's reloading dies some day, and a firearm to shoot it in...but kind of doubt its going to happen for me.

I've got too many big bore guns now that keep me busy reloading for them...44 and .45 Colt are the primary interest. But the .44 Russian could easily fit right in.

Really enjoy the older guns and their big bore counter parts. Reloading for them is a trip into fantasy land of finding what works best in them.

The Uberti break-top would be a fun revolver to shoot in the .44 Russian.

Jim
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Old May 9, 2010, 01:48 AM   #14
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I had to buy .44 Special/Russian dies for reloading my Russian cases. They work great. I'm shooting them out of my Model 29 at 670 fps using 4.0 grains of Unique. Very clean load and has potential.

I'm playing with sizing right now. At .432 with LEE LA I'm getting 1 1/2 inch groups at 25 yards from the bench. With my new .430 sizing die it opens up to 2 1/2 inches so I ordered a .433 sizer to try to bring the groups tighter. Then I'll play with different powder.

It's a great round to experiment with.
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Old May 9, 2010, 02:36 AM   #15
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Was the .44 Russian developed independently of the of the orders for the Czars army, or were they developed as a condition of that order?
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Old May 9, 2010, 02:54 AM   #16
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It was a Russian ballistics expert who figured out that you could have the shell be fatter than the projectile, and back the projectile into the shell so as to protect the bullet lube by having it live under the shell until firing. That spec (and design) was given to S&W by the Russians for their order. S&W (and very quickly everybody else!) used it for domestic production.

This is also why it wasn't patent-protected, and you saw a sudden surge of modern type bullets by Colt, S&W, Winchester and many others right at the same time.

We take fatter shells for granted now, but the 44Spl was the first to do it. These days, the only common rounds left that use bullets the same width as the shell with a "heel" backed into the shell is the .22Short and .22LR. The .44Henry for example used a shell the same width as the "heeled" bullet as did everything else before the 44Russian.
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Old May 9, 2010, 08:23 AM   #17
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I have a Smith Model #3 in 44 Russian that belonged to my GreatGrandfather, its been passed down to me and will go to my oldest son, and his son.

When I first started loading for it, Cowboy Action Shooting hadn't got popular and dies were hard to find. I had an extra 44 spec. sizing die so I just chucked it into a lathe and cut it down making a 44 rus. size die. Also, then I couldnt find any brass so I cut down 44 spl brass. I use the same 240 grn cast SWCs I use in my Model 29,

Its a good shooter, plenty accuracte for a gun made in late 1870s.

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Old May 9, 2010, 08:27 AM   #18
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I don't know about the reloading part, but the 44 Russian is (IMO) a great round to shoot. I have a 4" Model 29-2 and have found it to be a very accurate round.

A lot of times you can find it a whole cheaper than 44 special.
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Old May 9, 2010, 09:21 AM   #19
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Quote:
Considering how plentiful .44 Mag and .44 Special brass and ammo is, and how scarce .44 Russian brass and ammo is, I don't see any logical reason to shoot .44 Russian out of a .44 Magnum revolver.
That may or may not be true now but it wasn't true about a year ago. I got totally frustrated hitting Midway and Graf's virtually every day and no .44 Special brass. Over and over again for months. Then I noticed they had Starline .44 Russian brass in stock and for a good price. And RCBS Cowboy dies to reload it. So I bought the brass and the dies and my several .44 Specials were able to start shooting instead of just being admired!

Cute little round when you load some up. You do end up with a bit of a jump to the forcing cone out of a .44 Special so I wouldn't expect Camp Perry accuracy. And that would be even worse in a .44 Magnum although I haven't tried that in any of mine.

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Old May 9, 2010, 10:37 AM   #20
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Kraig, do you mean the seat/crimp die, instead of the size die?

I've used 44 mag/spl dies to load Russian, all I did was shorten the seat/crimp die. The size die sized as close to the shell holder as could be, the crimp wouldn't work tho, without shortening.
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Old May 9, 2010, 11:48 AM   #21
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Quote:
Kraig, do you mean the seat/crimp die, instead of the size die?
Yeah, MY BAD, its the crimp die, I load on a progressive (the old Dillon RL 1000) and crimp at a seperate station then seat. You can use the 44 spl for sizing and seating, (belling the case is also a seperate action on this press, not using dies).

I had to cut down a spl "crimping" die to load the Russian.
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Old May 9, 2010, 01:34 PM   #22
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What an interesting thread! I have no 44 rus gun but I am saving up my 44 Spec brass that has split mouth so one day when I get a supply I will trim them to .97 and keep going. I have two so far, that Special brass lasts a long time

On a more serious note, someone mentioned that the Special and the Russian are loaded identical? How much less powder are you using for the russian loads? Post some loads!

Drop a grain? Drop two grains?
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Old May 9, 2010, 04:29 PM   #23
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"On a more serious note, someone mentioned that the Special and the Russian are loaded identical?"

Well, they were loaded to identical ballistics 100 years ago when the .44 Special was introduced.

These days? Who knows.
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Old May 9, 2010, 06:17 PM   #24
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Buy the RCBS Cowboy three die set in .44 Russian/Special and you won't need to modify the dies. Plus they're designed to work great with lead bullets (and they do). Also, Speer has pressure-tested data for the .44 Russian using 200gr LRNFP bullets in their Reloading Manual #14.
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Old May 9, 2010, 06:47 PM   #25
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The last tables I could find which showed regular factory loads for both the .44 Russian and the .44 Special has them loaded with the same weight bullet (246 gr), the same MV (770 fps) and ME (324 fp). If they had to load the .44 Special full up to achieve those figures, the smokeless powder must have been much less efficient than black powder.

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