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Old June 6, 2009, 02:39 PM   #1
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.45 Colt vs. .44 Special

If you had the choice of either .45 Colt or .44 Special (not a 44M) in a revolver strong enough to load either one hot if you wanted to, which would you choose, and why?
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Old June 6, 2009, 03:00 PM   #2
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.45 Colt, hands down. Way more versatility for a handloader and can also choose from a wide selection of commercially made ammunition.
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Old June 6, 2009, 03:07 PM   #3
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If you want to hot load a .44 special....

... why not just buy a .44 mag in the first place?

I'd go with the .45 Colt.

Or I'd go with a .454 Casull, and have the option of using .45 Colt.
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Old June 6, 2009, 03:16 PM   #4
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45 long colt hands down everything being equil, meaning bullet weiight lets say 250gr. I will just about always go with the larger bullet?!
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Old June 6, 2009, 03:17 PM   #5
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45 colt
more versatility
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Old June 6, 2009, 03:57 PM   #6
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.45 Colt. even over the .44 mag.
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Old June 6, 2009, 04:11 PM   #7
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It depends if your talking ruger or not. Most adjustable sighted 45's today come from ruger which often have undersized throats resulting in accuracy adequate only for partime shooters and beginers. Their 44's however have always been superb so for that reason I vote 44.
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Old June 6, 2009, 05:39 PM   #8
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.45 Colt, in a large frame Ruger. Bigger bullet, more options and easy to reload for. You can use the very common .452 bullets from 185 grain SWC on though 300 grain large lead lumps. Something for everyone.

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Last edited by velocette; June 7, 2009 at 09:24 AM.
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Old June 6, 2009, 06:17 PM   #9
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I love both. Factory .45 Colt is less powerful than factory .44 mag but better than factory .44 special. Make sense ?

I think if you don't reload, get a .357 magnum. :-)
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Old June 6, 2009, 08:14 PM   #10
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I'm with Publius and Velocette. I've been using 275s for a while in my Ruger Bisley and love them. I'm at 1100fps, the primers look like squibs and the cases fall out of the cylinder.
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Old June 6, 2009, 08:35 PM   #11
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It's about even money...

Elmer Keith recommended .45 Colt for one who didn't reload and .44 Special for one who did. His thinking was the factory loaded .45 Colt round was far stronger - for general purposes - than the factory loaded .44 Special. However, the .44 Special could be reloaded to higher pressures without blowing up the revolver. (He admitted to blowing up a couple Colt SAA revolvers in his testing.)

That information was correct and the advice was sound, for that time period. From about 1920 to the late 1960s, the factories only loaded .45 Colt ammunition in 255 grain lead, flattened round nose configuration at about 900-950 fps; and .44 Special in a 245 grain round nose lead bullet at between 700 and 750 fps. And the only guns available for .45 Colt were Colt SAA revolvers and very few clones of the same gun. The .44 Special was available in S&W revolvers which were much stronger in the cylinder.

All that has changed. One can find all sorts of revolvers in .45 Colt that will withstand much more pressure than the old, genuine Colt SAA, and ammunition is available from the factory in various loadings.

So, in terms of the choice of only .45 Colt or .44 Special, there's not much difference these days. Personally, I think the .44 Special cases are longer lived, but I'm not sure I could prove it.
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Old June 6, 2009, 08:57 PM   #12
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Charter Arms has got a nice 44S
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Old June 6, 2009, 10:40 PM   #13
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Depends entirely on the sixgun in which it's chambered. For the .44Spl can be loaded over 1200fps with 240-250gr cast or jacketed bullets in lighter weight, more packable guns like the Colt SAA, replicas, custom Ruger Old Model conversions and the new factory Ruger .44Spl. In those same guns, the .45Colt is limited to 1050-1100fps at the very most. The .44Spl is more efficient and covers a broader spectrum with a great margin of safety. It has a decided advantage and that's exactly why so many convert Old Model .357's to .44Spl and NOT .45Colt. Unfortunately, many belong to the .45Colt Cult and refuse to accept that the .44Spl may be a better choice. Blindly following the boringly repetitve ".44Mag vs .45Colt" argument.

In large frame guns more appropriate to the .44Mag, the .45 obviously has the advantage.
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Old June 6, 2009, 11:10 PM   #14
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As Craig Said, It's Totally Gun Dependant

I have a FA Model 97 in .45 Colt -- it will do anything (more actually than) a hot loaded .44 Spcial will do in a Ruger Small frame or Colt SAA sized gun. It will take all "Ruger Only" loads with OAL of 1.600". It won't do what a Ruger Large Frame can do with heavier bullets at longer OALs. This is a 5 shot revolver that weighs in at 35 oz. Mine has a 4 3/4" BBL and will do 1,100 fps with a 335gr Cast bullet. I don't do many of those 335s, mostly RCBS 270 SAA (actually weight a little over 280gr) at 900 fps.

I really like this little gun -- compact, lightweight, accurate, powerful, versatile -- it is truely a "special" .45 Colt.

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Old June 7, 2009, 12:21 AM   #15
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.44 Special since I'm already set up to reload for it.
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Old June 7, 2009, 01:31 AM   #16
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OK, I may be a little fickle...

After looking around, I'm finding myself drawn to SAA clones. I'm having a hard time thinking of anything that a 45 Colt loaded to original specs (except with a better bullet) can't do that I would need done. If a bear comes onto the property, I'm getting my butt inside...and grabbing the 12 ga. with slugs while I call animal control or the sheriff

That FA is awesome...if I ever inherit some money I'll consider one. In the meantime maybe I'll think about a Beretta Stampede, or a Blackhawk (boring the cylinders doesn't seem too expensive).
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Old June 7, 2009, 07:04 PM   #17
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I have for a long time carried a 2" 44sp loaded with 200 sthp. It is a truck gun that can be slipped in the rear pocket of your jeans. I recently bought a Kimber 3" in 45acp that is awsome, and loaded with 225 swc, it will be a on the hip gun. I feel ok with either. I carry a 4 5/8" 44 sp when hunting as a side arm, loaded with 240g swc on the warm side.
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Old June 7, 2009, 07:15 PM   #18
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I am sorry I read the post wrong as 45 colt to a 45 acp. This cheap whiskey has got to go.
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Old June 7, 2009, 09:24 PM   #19
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Having a small herd of 45 LC and a bigger herd of 44 specials. For me it will always be the 44.
I am talking 44 special hand guns not 44 mag that I have the most of.
Is one that much better than the other, not really, with the guns that I have I feel that the 44 is the more accurate of the two and that is with Smith N frame revolvers of the same barrel length.
The 44 is an easy round to reload and there are some good factory rounds loaded for it. The other is that there are no 45 LC guns that are small like the Charter Arms Bulldog or the Taurus 445 and the small Smiths that have been made in the past.
I shoot more 44 specials each year than I do 223 or 22 LR and I shoot a lot of those.
And to answer your question before you ask,,, Yes I am biased.
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Old June 7, 2009, 09:39 PM   #20
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45 colt shoots like a cadillac so definately picking that one
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Old June 7, 2009, 09:46 PM   #21
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  • Single action: .45 Colt
  • Double action: .44 Special
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Old June 7, 2009, 10:49 PM   #22
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zxcvbob's answer works for me.
they are both very versatile and powerfull.
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Old June 8, 2009, 03:26 PM   #23
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I have a pair of lite-weights in the .44 Special world - a 296 & a 696 - and a pair of Keith-level .44 Special ready revolvers - a 4" & 6" 629. But, for .45 Colt, I said goodbye to Rugers - my 7.5" (.454) SRH & 5.5" RH, as well as a mix of SAs. This is what I have now in .45 Colt:

My first-ever S&W was the 625 MG at the top, the bottom one, actually, an older model, coming later. They will handle a bit more than the 14 kpsi of the .45 Colt - as the frame, cylinder, barrel, etc, were made for the 21+ kpsi .45 ACP rounds, etc. Love the .45 Colt! a 255gr LSWC or 250gr Speer Gold Dot at ~900 fps from that 4" tube is nothing to sneeze at. Now, if I can cheat... and bring the .44 Magnums for that 4" 629, it'll be there instead.

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Old June 8, 2009, 05:34 PM   #24
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I asked the same question a few months ago and then decided on a 4" .45 Colt Ruger Redhawk.

The Redhawk can handle >25,000 psi and can be loaded to produce .44 Mag muzzle energies, if desired. I have not done it, but the fact that I can makes it more useful for me than a .44 special. This is not an easily concealable weapon but I guess I could conceal it if I tried really hard.

I've taken it out twice now and find it incredibly accurate, despite the recoil. It does need to have the throats reamed but aside from that, I am very happy with it.
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Old June 8, 2009, 06:00 PM   #25
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The Redhawk .45 is not really a fair, apples to apples comparison. For guns appropriate to the .44Spl are much smaller and lighter. The big Redhawk can digest loads up to 45,000psi, approaching custom five-shot levels. Way beyond normal .44Mag levels, much less hot rodded .44Specials.
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