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Old April 24, 2013, 06:49 PM   #1
Swampman1
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44 special vs 44 magnum

I haven't gotten into reloading yet(still waiting on supplies), but I will be reloading 9 mm and 45 acp. My Dad just bought a Ruger 44 magnum, but he buys 44 special ammo for lighter recoil. My questions is, are the bullets the same for either the special or magnum? 44 caliber is 44 caliber? I know the casings and powder loads will be different obviously. If I buy a set of 44 cal dies, would they cover both magnum and special? Not sure how that works. Any suggestions about which components to use in reloading 44special would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old April 24, 2013, 07:08 PM   #2
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Dimension wise, the .44 S&W Magnum is the same as the .44 Special with one exception, the case length. The same sized bullets, primers and most/some powders.

The .44 Special is an old black powder round and factory stuff is loaded to the same specs.

Mr. Elmer Keith changed the .44 world by 'over-loading' the short case and making it a magnum. After lots of campaigning with Remington and Smith & Wesson, the old .44 Special was lengthen by 1/8 of an inch (to keep the new longer cases for fitting into the older top break revolvers) and loaded much hotter.

As you dad is looking for 'softer loads', these can well be loaded.

I don't buy .44 Special brass and load back in .44 Mag length brass.

The Ruger is a dandy revolver and can handle some very stiff loads. But, don't jump into them, work up slowly.

My 'powder puff' load is 240 grain lead (same bullet as one of my warm Mag loads), Standard large Pistol primers (again for both [except sometimes powder in Mag loads] and 231 powder. My granddaughters and I like my 5.6 grains of 231.

There are many, many very good light to heavy loading for the .44s. I have yet to find one that sticks out as not being accurate.

Load with care and enjoy,

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Old April 24, 2013, 07:15 PM   #3
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The .44 special and .44 magnum both shoot the same diameter bullet - .429. As for powder/primer combinations, here is the link to the hogden/winchester data sie and thiswill take you to the accurate power site. Always start with the minimum and work up slowly - I never go more than.2 at a time in handguns. Watch for any signs of excess pressure - flattened primers, sticky extractions, excessive recoil... Above all, read you reloading manuals carefully and ALWAYS check handgun reound for a double powder charge!!! Double charged roundsd are - at best - very scary. At worst thay can cause terrible injury to both you and the gun - or kill. I'm not trying to be condesending, but you say you're new to this. I'm sure most of the experienced people here will agree that we've all made mistakes and learned to be more cautious. Enjoy and good luck with the reloads.
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Old April 24, 2013, 09:49 PM   #4
Swampman1
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Thanks for the info guys, appreciate it.
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Old April 25, 2013, 09:51 AM   #5
Swampman1
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Quote:
The .44 special and .44 magnum both shoot the same diameter bullet - .429.]
Wondering why some show as .429 and some at .430? Brand names? Shouldn't it be a standard size?
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Old April 25, 2013, 09:53 AM   #6
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I think RCBS used to supply a spacer with there 44Spl/44 Magnum dies. You did not have to adjust the sizing die but the expander and crimper needed the spacer.

I prefer loading reduced loads with 44 Magnum cases in the 44 Magnum because of the lead ring that gets left with cast bullets.
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Old April 25, 2013, 10:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swampman1
Wondering why some show as .429 and some at .430? Brand names? Shouldn't it be a standard size?
If you look at SAAMI specs, you'll see the bullet standard is 430" -0.003", so 0.427" to 0.430". In practice, bullet makers can control things more tightly than that. The default industry practice has come to be to make jacketed bullets at barrel groove diameter, 0.429", and lead bullets at 0.430" to get a better seal to help limit lead fouling. There are a few exceptions to that general default sizing, though.
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Last edited by Unclenick; April 26, 2013 at 07:18 AM. Reason: typo fix
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Old April 25, 2013, 09:36 PM   #8
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.44 special dies will work for reloading .44 magnum.

Don't buy .44mag dies as the seating die may be too tall to crimp .44 special.

Of course if the die set says .44spc/.44mag it will work for both. (And is probably the same set they sell for .44spc)
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Old April 26, 2013, 08:00 AM   #9
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Yeah, everything I've seen is 44spc/.44mag. Finding inventory is the problem. I really find it a bit puzzling, the shortage of reloading supplies right now. I understand the "panick", but surprised it has penetrated this deep into the reloading world.
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Old April 26, 2013, 09:02 AM   #10
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Anything directly gun-related, pretty much. I'm sure you can still buy a nice shooting jacket or some other item that can't be loaded or fired or be used to help load or fire a gun.
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Old April 27, 2013, 10:00 AM   #11
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Ironically, .44 Special ammo is a lot more expensive than .44 Mag, so you should save some serious money aside from getting the loads you want and feel comfortable with. Lots of great light target loads for .44 mag. .44 mag brass is much cheaper and easier to come by, though your Dad probably has a stockpile of SPL from the ammo he bought.

Since you are loading on the low end and may creep up the spectrum, and you probably won't be concentrating on heavy magnum loads, I'd stick with a powder with a broader use, such as Unique, which will do everything from light paper poppers to low-med mag loads, and will work well in your 9mm and .45 as well. There are other as well, and I'm only suggesting Unique because of my experience with it.
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Old April 28, 2013, 09:39 AM   #12
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Swampman1,

One other thing occurs to me to mention. As Oldpapps explained, the .44 Magnum started out as .44 Special loaded up by Elmer Keith to higher-than-normal pressures for shooting in a revolver heavy enough to withstand the extra pressure. For manufacturing the higher pressure round, Remington took the length of the Special case and added an eighth of an inch to make it a Magnum case, not because they needed more powder space, but rather just to prevent the hot loaded version from chambering in those .44 Specials that are too light to handle the pressure. But since the powder space was the same in Keith's development, what did not change is the cartridge overall length (COL). (Well, OK, the .44 Magnum is specified 0.005" shorter than the Special, but frankly that's not normally a significant difference in the world of COL.)

So, here's the thing: If you take a bullet with a crimp cannelure (jacketed) or a crimp groove (cast), and crimp into that same place using both the .44 Special and the .44 Magnum cases, you get the Magnum COL coming out an eighth of an inch longer because its case is an eighth of an inch longer. At that point you now have an eighth of an inch more powder space in the magnum round, which takes about 10% more powder to reach the same pressure it would have reached if the COL were an eighth of an inch shorter. But it's too long for some .44 Magnum cylinders. Some .429" or .430" bullets are actually made with two cannelures or are cast with two crimp grooves 0.130" apart for this reason. The lower groove gives 1.615" COL with .44 Special cases and the upper one gives 1.610" COL with .44 Magnum cases, so as to give you the correct SAAMI COL's for both rounds.

That said, some revolver manufacturers have made their .44 Magnum cylinders 0.130" longer so that if you crimp bullets in the .44 Magnum case at a cannelure or crimp groove intended for the shorter .44 Special case, it still fits in the longer cylinder. My Ruger Redhawk, for example, has a cylinder 1.760" long. Its chambers have rim recesses. One without rim recesses would be 0.060" shorter and would still accommodate .44 Special bullets crimped in the longer Magnum case. In theory, those are 0.015" longer than is strictly required, but I expect that's to allow for those who crimp low in the cannelure or crimp groove.

Bottom line, in the revolvers with cylinders made long enough, any .44 Special bullet may be loaded in any .44 Magnum case and crimped into any crimp groove on the bullet. Where there are two crimp grooves, the lower crimp groove may be used in the .44 Magnum case for them them if you add about 10% more powder for the extra space.

Also, in general, having the longer Ruger cylinder, you can simply copy .44 Special loads for use with .44 Magnum cases without any adjustment and get similar performance. Peak pressure may be a little lower, but many .44 Magnum cases (Starline, for example) are a little thicker at the head than their .44 Special counterparts, so that partly compensates. Use a chronograph to match velocities for similar recoil. The advantage to using the magnum cases with the light loads is it avoids extra lead build-up that can interfere with the extra eighth of an inch of a .44 Magnum case when you go to chamber one, or can raise pressure. If you use the shorter cases and lead bullets, you want to clean the cylinders carefully between uses.
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Last edited by Unclenick; April 28, 2013 at 09:45 AM.
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