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Old May 2, 2005, 04:00 PM   #1
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Loads for 3" barreled .44 Mag

Hi Guys,

Can you suggest some loads for the 3" barreled Magnum .44 ?
I just want to share your experience of tailoring loads for this short barreled gun.
I live in Brazil, and I donĀ“t have access to all brands of powders. In the moment, I have some 2400, H110 and win231 (besides the Brazilian ones: CBC 220 and 210)...

And, using factory loads, can you point me the ballistics of the 3" ?

Thanks in advance,

Andre Tiba - Brazil
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Old May 2, 2005, 08:11 PM   #2
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almtiba, a lot of shooters use magnum powders in short barreled magnums, I'm not one of them. First off, a short barrel .357, .41, or .44 mag implies to me, that this gun may also serve in a defensive role, so I'm gonna try to eliminate flash as much as possible here. If you think of things proportionally you find that magnum powders deliver higher velocity in barrels 6" and over. As you decrease barrel length you also find that there is greater velocity loss with magnum powders proprtionate to the shorter barrel length, along with higher amounts of unburned powder and the still greater muzzle flash. What I do is to use powders just slightly faster than the magnums, that when loaded to full pressure also come closer to complete combustion in the shorter length barrel. I am evidently in a minority of magnum reloaders that have found this to be the case. I will tell you that there are some very technically capable reloaders that understand it.

Look at it from this perspective. the slower the powder is, the more gradual its' pressure peak is. There are some who believe that pressure peak occurs in the cylinder of a magnum revolver. The technical studies I have read make it clear to me that this is damn near impossible unless you are shooting very low pressure cartridges. I don't mean to overcomplicate this, just trying to give you some rationale for the logic.

Unfortunately, in the U.S. we get little or no data on powders outside of the country unless they have at least had distribution in the U.S. i.e. NORMA, Vihta Vuori, Scot and to a lesser extent, Nobelsport/Vectan which I like a great deal. SP-2 in particular. If SP-2 is available in Brazil I would recommend it without hesitation. Same applies to VV 3N37 and N-350 if it is available. I don't know how much data you get on our powders, but any I select for this role would all be considerably slower than W-231 and slightly faster than H-110 or W-296. The only magnum powders I would even consider would be Accurate #9 or Ramshot Enforcer, which may not be available to you Accurate #7 is a better choice than #9 for a 3" magnum handload.

If CBC210 and 220 are numerated to indicate burn rate as most of our powders are, I would guess that they are both slightly faster than, or near to, 231. I would certainly be interested to find out! If you go to you will find the most up to date burn rate chart that I am aware of, that seems pretty consistent to others in the past. Look at the pistol powders located in the burn rate chart ranging from Hodgdon HS-6 (specifically ball powders), to Vihta Vuori 3N38, or Blue Dot (which is extruded flake) though it will flash a bit more than the slower ball powders. If you have a CBC (ball) powder that you have experience with that is in this burn rate range, I would try it. If you don't, the majority of powders in this range will serve your purposes. Since I'm sure they're not all available to you, that will narrow the list down. If all you can locate is HS-6 or AA#7, they will work fine with bullets ranging from 180-300 grains!
Hope this will help you and let us know. Feel free to send me a PM!

Last edited by Sturm; May 3, 2005 at 12:54 AM.
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Old May 2, 2005, 09:40 PM   #3
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You got 2400, use it. Worked fine for me in a couple of .44 Special Charter Bulldogs w/3" barrels. Your short barrel is going to limit velocity, anyway, so I would not bother with full magnum loads. A 240 grain LSWC at about 1000 fps will do anything I am going to try to do with a 3" barrel. It's also about all I can handle in fast double action. Try something in the 16-18 grains of 2400 range and see how you like it.

Your Brazilian powder numbers mean nothing to me, but if one or both fall between Unique and 2400, it's worth a try.
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Old May 3, 2005, 08:01 AM   #4
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Loads for a 3 inch .44 Magnum

You need to DOWN LOAD the thing. If it is made like the one I had, full charge loads will STRESS THE FRAME.
I would use loads for the .41 Magnum. Instead of 19.0 grains of 2400 behind a 240 gr. bullet, drop it back to 17.5 grains of 2400.
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Old May 3, 2005, 12:18 PM   #5
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Do not reduce H110 !!

Which 3" .44 mag is it?
I have a 3" .44 mag ported trail boss performance center 629.
It's a large, heavy, stout wheelie that could be used as a hammer if need be.
I use it for a 'walking in the woods' type gun for killing pests like raccoons, etc.
I use 24.0 grains of H110, with 240 grain XTP hollow points and they are max loads, and because it's ported, the recoil is actually less than a starting load.
If you have a revolver that's old, or light in weight, or it's not ported, or you don't happen to like loudenboomer noises then I wouldn't recommend it.
Try a different powder if you want less power, just don't reduce H110, everybody I know advises against it.
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I'm YOUR gun.
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Old May 4, 2005, 10:23 PM   #6
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Loads for a 3" .44 MAGNUM

I don't have ballistic data for the 3" barrel, but data from the Lyman 46th edition used a 4" vented test barrel and your velocity loss will not be as great if you use a faster service type powder vs. a magnum powder. These are start charges in an older manual that does not show the other powders I mentioned because most of them weren't around. HS-6 was, but with the limited number of powders shown, it was not used, so I'll list Blue Dot, Unique and W-231 even though I don't like it. You have it and I can't disagree with advice to use what you have. BTW, these would be excellent defense loads with the Sierra bullet that has the thinnest jacket of most .44 JHP bullets

Sierra 180 gr. JHC, OAL 1.610" CCI 300 Primer
Blue Dot, 17.8 grains. Velocity, 1126 FPS @ 25,800 CUP
Unique, 12.0 grains. Velocity, 1061 FPS @ 25,100 CUP
W-231, 10.2 grains. Velocity, 1077 FPS @ 22,000 CUP
Points of interest. Unique was listed as potentially most accurate. But, you can see, the best load density and highest velocity comes with Blue Dot.

Hornady 200 gr. JHP, since replaced by the XTP, OAL 1.610" CCI 300 Primer
Blue Dot, 15.7 grains, Velocity, 942 FPS @ 19,600 CUP
Unique, 10.5 grains. Velocity, 905 FPS @ 21,100 CUP
W-231 Not Listed in any of the jacketed bullet weights above 180 grs.
Unique again was listed as potentially most accurate and again load density and velocity are better with Blue Dot.

These loads would fall ballistically and performance wise between the .40 S&W and 10mm Auto and if I found them hard to control in a large (Taurus?) frame .44 Magnum, I would go to something lighter, like say, the .38 Special!

Last edited by Sturm; May 4, 2005 at 11:09 PM.
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