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Old February 26, 2024, 09:58 AM   #1
lwestatbus
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Lead, Jacketed, or Plated .44 Bullets

I'm running into an unexpected issue trying to load .44 special cartridges. The issue is that I am not easily finding data for loading jacketed or plated bullets for the .44 special using Hodgdon TiteGroup powder. The Hodgdon Annual Manual 2024 doesn't list any .44 Special loads and their online data center only gives data for lead bullets.

I used to shoot at a very nice indoor range that prided itself on its inside environmental conditions. They advertised that the entire inside volume of air was replaced every seven seconds. But this range only allowed total metal jacketed ammo. Now my two closest ranges don't have this restriction but I've preferred to at least choose FMJ in case I run into this restriction in the future. I have a supply of Speer .44 Cal 240 GR bullets that are listed as FMJ flat point even though the back end of the bullet is copper colored as well.

So, two questions:
  1. Do you shoot at ranges that don't allow lead bullets?
  2. What bullet + propellant combinations do you recommend if you want to load both .44 special and .44 magnum using the same components. Ideally I'd like to be able to load bear loads in the magnums so loading practice cartridges with the same specs would be nice and I like semi-jacketed soft points for this (though am not wedded to this idea).

BTW: One of my local ranges doesn't allow any hand loads at all, though they do allow commercially loaded lead bullets.
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Old February 26, 2024, 12:29 PM   #2
HiBC
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You are trying to intersect quite a few criteria. I don't think I can help much.
I've shot a lot of .44 Magnum and I now have a 44 Spl.

For myself,functionally I have ordinarily get everything done with hard cast (wheel weight) cast semi wadcutters. My revolvers are single action , so I don't carry them for SD.

I've never used Tite-Group. It might be a fine powder but I prefer a powder that takes up more space. Its very hard to visually see a double charge at the 3.5 gr you mention.

For loading 44 Spl its not wrong to go with the "Skeeter Skelton" load . I don't give charge weights from memory,but its about 900 fps with a 240 gr cast SWC. The powder is Unique. Thats a good powder for your needs.

Do you have a reloading manual or two? IMO,those are an important reloading tool.They cover a lot of details.

The Hodgon Powder Website is another good resource.

The lead bullet range restrictions? Not much you can do. Its their range,

Ask what is OK. If copper plated lead is acceptable, read the bullet website.

See if maybe they tell you cast bullet load data can be used. But avoid assumptions.

You MIGHT get your needs met with copper plated Skeeter loads. Ask at your range.

If I were loading "Bear Loads" for myself, for the 44 Magnum ONLY I'd load 240 to 300 gr hard cast with book loads of H-110 or WW 296 powder, HOWEVER!!! Those powders ARE NOT versatile/flexible ! They are for full power loads only. Don't try to "Download" with them.

Last edited by HiBC; February 26, 2024 at 12:38 PM.
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Old February 26, 2024, 05:06 PM   #3
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In the 44 Special you may use load data for cast lead bullets to load the plated bullets .

Plated bullets do not have a thick heavy jacket , the plating is thin and soft ... so data used for cast bullets is a safe and proper starting point . Start low and work up to higher velocities of course ... Makers of plated bullets usually have a velocity limit for them but the 44 Special is usually loaded to velocities below the limits .

Good Luck and Load Safe ,
Gary
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Old February 26, 2024, 08:42 PM   #4
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For plated or coated bullets I’ve been generally starting at mid lead levels and ending at mid jacketed levels while carefully monitoring any signs of pressure. I’ve found most of the time my best loads are right at the lead max or jacketed starting level. I really prefer plated over coated but loading wise they seem to perform about the same.
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Old February 26, 2024, 11:48 PM   #5
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Iwestatbus,

Plated bullets tend to be a bit misunderstood; which is ironic, given their simplicity.

It doesn't help that manufacturers often put a velocity maximum on their packaging, when velocity is not really the issue - it's pressure. So ignore the velocity max on their packaging. Seriously. Ignore it. It's dumb. Plating breakdown is the result of a series of dynamic and complex factors. So just listing a velocity is an oversimplification on the highest order. Let me assure you, you shouldn't get near whatever their listed max velocity is.

A common thing you'll read is to "just use lead data." Well that's an oversimplification too - especially in revolvers. A plated bullet has more friction traveling down the barrel than a straight lead bullet. So starting at the bottom of lead data can result in a stuck bullet in a revolver. I always recommended starting at the minimum load of jacketed data, but not exceeding the maximum load of lead data. Even that may oversimplify things a tad.

The next thing that had muddied the plated bullet's waters is that from the day bullet manufacturers started selling them, handloaders started driving them has hard as jacketed bullets. They're not jacketed. They are a clean alternative to lead bullets - period.

I love plated bullets. I shoot a lot of plated bullets. A lot. And I shoot a lot of revolver. So if you could tell us what plated bullet you intend on using - and what propellant (TiteGroup by chance ), maybe I can see if I've loaded anything similar and share my experience. And also to point you to some pertinent reference data - and how it can be interpreted for plated bullets. Sevens has a good handle on plated bullets too.

I've never shot at a range that doesn't allow lead bullets. I assume you mean "exposed" lead bullets. Meaning, the slug can be lead, but it must be completely coated with copper. Either way, never shot at such a range. And I'd never shoot at at range that doesn't allow handloads. In fact, I'd be tempted to stage a boycott of such a place

As for loading 44 Special and Magnum with the same components, as already mentioned, that's a tall order. They are very different animals. 44 Magnum typically runs at twice the operating pressure than Special; and thus, necessitates the use of slower propellants. And seriously, don't use TiteGroup in 44 Magnum - especially with your mentioned 240 grain slugs. Maybe a light 180gn bullet, loaded by an extensively experience loader, but even then . . . I wouldn't recommend it. I know we've talked about it in your other post, but I can't stress this enough: TiteGroup is really spunky (energetic) stuff. It is likely the most unforgiving propellant on the market. It can go from running fine to abruptly dismantling your gun in just a few 1/10ths of a grain.
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Old February 27, 2024, 05:58 AM   #6
jetinteriorguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick_C_S View Post
Iwestatbus,

Plated bullets tend to be a bit misunderstood; which is ironic, given their simplicity.

It doesn't help that manufacturers often put a velocity maximum on their packaging, when velocity is not really the issue - it's pressure. So ignore the velocity max on their packaging. Seriously. Ignore it. It's dumb. Plating breakdown is the result of a series of dynamic and complex factors. So just listing a velocity is an oversimplification on the highest order. Let me assure you, you shouldn't get near whatever their listed max velocity is.

A common thing you'll read is to "just use lead data." Well that's an oversimplification too - especially in revolvers. A plated bullet has more friction traveling down the barrel than a straight lead bullet. So starting at the bottom of lead data can result in a stuck bullet in a revolver. I always recommended starting at the minimum load of jacketed data, but not exceeding the maximum load of lead data. Even that may oversimplify things a tad.

The next thing that had muddied the plated bullet's waters is that from the day bullet manufacturers started selling them, handloaders started driving them has hard as jacketed bullets. They're not jacketed. They are a clean alternative to lead bullets - period.

I love plated bullets. I shoot a lot of plated bullets. A lot. And I shoot a lot of revolver. So if you could tell us what plated bullet you intend on using - and what propellant (TiteGroup by chance ), maybe I can see if I've loaded anything similar and share my experience. And also to point you to some pertinent reference data - and how it can be interpreted for plated bullets. Sevens has a good handle on plated bullets too.

I've never shot at a range that doesn't allow lead bullets. I assume you mean "exposed" lead bullets. Meaning, the slug can be lead, but it must be completely coated with copper. Either way, never shot at such a range. And I'd never shoot at at range that doesn't allow handloads. In fact, I'd be tempted to stage a boycott of such a place

As for loading 44 Special and Magnum with the same components, as already mentioned, that's a tall order. They are very different animals. 44 Magnum typically runs at twice the operating pressure than Special; and thus, necessitates the use of slower propellants. And seriously, don't use TiteGroup in 44 Magnum - especially with your mentioned 240 grain slugs. Maybe a light 180gn bullet, loaded by an extensively experience loader, but even then . . . I wouldn't recommend it. I know we've talked about it in your other post, but I can't stress this enough: TiteGroup is really spunky (energetic) stuff. It is likely the most unforgiving propellant on the market. It can go from running fine to abruptly dismantling your gun in just a few 1/10ths of a grain.
Very well put.
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Old February 27, 2024, 11:50 AM   #7
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You can do 44spl with those 240gr and TiteGroup. 6.5gr behind a 240gr will yield 900fps from a 4" barrel (any primer).
Be very careful as TiteGroup is the color of soot and hides in the case. A double charge of 13gr will not blow up a 44mag revolver. However, if you pursue a real 44mag "bear" load using Titegroup, a double charge will fit in the case and tear the gun apart.
I don't know your reloading setup, so I'm being a bit anal in my response. I'm also assuming you are loading for a 44mag revolver.
TiteGroup is a good propellant, it behaves well, but it is quite dense and the biggest source of KABOOM stories.

Last edited by totaldla; February 27, 2024 at 12:03 PM.
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Old February 27, 2024, 01:55 PM   #8
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What sort of gun or guns are you shooting? From your OP, it sounds as though you're loading .44 Specials as a light practice load to shoot in a .44 Magnum gun, but this isn't specifically stated. Whether or not this is the case will make a great deal of difference in what sort of ammunition you can safely load.

.44 Special can be confusing because a lot of people load it with charges in excess of the book maximums depending on what sort of gun they're shooting it out of. For example, the well-known "Skeeter Skelton" load of 7.5 gr of Unique under a 250 gr Keith SWC is over the maximums in most, if not all, current reloading manuals but has been fired in many revolvers for decades with no ill effect. This is because .44 Special has a rather low SAAMI MAP of 15,500 psi and, unlike .38 Special, there is no official +P designation for it. SAAMI keeps the pressure of this cartridge so low out of deference to very old revolvers and small-frame revolvers like the Charter Arms Bulldog or five-shot snubs from Taurus and Rossi which cannot handle the same sorts of ammunition as larger guns like S&W N-Frames or various Single-Actions (or guns chambered for .44 Magnum obviously). As such, what can safely be loaded in .44 Special depends greatly on what type of gun you're shooting it from.

If, as I suspect, you're shooting .44 Special as a sub-load in a .44 Magnum revolver, you should be perfectly safe to simply use the cast bullet Titegroup data with your jacketed bullets as Hodgdon's max load of 4.8 gr is still well below their starting load of 9.0 gr of Titegroup for a .44 Magnum with a 240 gr Nosler JHP. In such a case, I would simply advise you to take care to ensure that such ammunition doesn't find it's way into a gun specifically chambered for .44 Specail, particularly if it's a very old and/or small-framed one. Of course, one way of ensuring this would be to simply load the .44 Special load data in .44 Magnum cases (this is an accepted safe practice so long as you're not using a very slow powder like H110 or Winchester 296).

If, however, you're shooting a gun specifically-chambered for .44 Magnum, things are a bit more complicated as I cannot find any .44 Special load data for Titegroup with 240 gr jacketed bullets in any of my load manuals (Lee, Hornady, and Lyman). If you have a sufficiently strong gun like a S&W N-Frame or Ruger Blackhawk, you might be able to get away with reducing the starting load from the cast bullet data and carefully working up, but if you've got an old or small-frame gun you're probably better off just using a different powder as you don't have as much a safety margin.

As to the two questions you asked, no I've never shot at a range that doesn't allow cast bullets (nor would I unless I had no other option). As to the second question, probably the "best" dual-purpose .44 Special/.44 Magnum powder I can think of would be either Unique or Universal, but in this case "best" means "least unsatisfactory". The problem is that, due to it's relatively low pressure ceiling, .44 Special is really better suited to faster burning powders like Bullseye or Winchester 231 while .44 Magnum needs slower burning powders like 2400 or H110 to get the velocities that people usually want for "bear loads". A medium burning powder like Unique or Universal can work for both, but it's a compromise that means you won't get top velocities from either if you stay within the SAAMI pressure limits.

You say that you want to load .44 Magnum "bear loads" and also load practice ammo "to the same specs," that, to me, sounds like you're wanting your practice ammo to shoot to the same POI and have similar recoil to your "bear loads" but with less expensive bullets and/or ones which you can shoot at your indoor range. If this is what you want to do, then I really don't understand the point of fooling with .44 Special at all as nothing that you can safely load in a .44 Special is going to be comparable to what most would consider a suitable "bear load" as those are typically heavy cast bullets at relatively high velocity.

If I'm understanding what you're trying to do correctly, then I'd say work up the "bear load" that you want with a suitable slow-burning powder like 2400, H110, Winchester 296, or Accurate No. 9 and then find a similar weight jacketed bullet and work up a load with the same powder to similar velocity. If, however, you're wanting a light-recoiling practice load in .44 Special, you'd be best served to accept the fact that you'll have to use two different powders and find one that will allow you to work up a suitable .44 Special sub-load.
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Old February 27, 2024, 02:35 PM   #9
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Many Thanks

Many thanks to all of the replies coming in and especially to those who spent quite a bit of time constructing in-depth responses. I am getting quite a bit of specific data information but also, and more importantly, insights into principles I hadn't even known were issues.

Here are some responses to recent posts, but first I need to say that my range options are limited without hours of travel. I have three close enough indoor ranges but any work up of loads would require multiple trips and my schedule dictates that these would be days if not weeks apart. One range allows NO outside ammo, one doesn't allow reloads, and the third allows reloads. None prohibit exposed lead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HiBC
Do you have a reloading manual or two? IMO,those are an important reloading tool.They cover a lot of details.

The Hodgon Powder Website is another good resource.
Yes, the latest Lyman manual, the Hodgdkins 2024 Annual manual, and an introduction to reloading book that has no data. Have been all over the Hodgdkins web site as well and also to the sites for the bullet manufacturers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gwpercle
Plated bullets do not have a thick heavy jacket , the plating is thin and soft ... so data used for cast bullets is a safe and proper starting point . Start low and work up to higher velocities of course ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by jetinteriorguy
For plated or coated bullets I’ve been generally starting at mid lead levels and ending at mid jacketed levels while carefully monitoring any signs of pressure. I’ve found most of the time my best loads are right at the lead max or jacketed starting level.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick_C_S
A common thing you'll read is to "just use lead data." Well that's an oversimplification too - especially in revolvers. A plated bullet has more friction traveling down the barrel than a straight lead bullet. So starting at the bottom of lead data can result in a stuck bullet in a revolver. I always recommended starting at the minimum load of jacketed data, but not exceeding the maximum load of lead data. Even that may oversimplify things a tad.
Starting at the high end of the cast bullets shows up consistently in advice so that's what I'll try to start with going forward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Webleymkv
What sort of gun or guns are you shooting? From your OP, it sounds as though you're loading .44 Specials as a light practice load to shoot in a .44 Magnum gun, but this isn't specifically stated.

If, as I suspect, you're shooting .44 Special as a sub-load in a .44 Magnum revolver, you should be perfectly safe to simply use the cast bullet Titegroup data with your jacketed bullets as Hodgdon's max load of 4.8 gr is still well below their starting load of 9.0 gr of Titegroup for a .44 Magnum with a 240 gr Nosler JHP.
Correct. S&W Model 69 L-frame .44 magnum with 4.25" barrel. Definitely wanting to just target shoot with the .44 special. Also, when traveling far from home I'll probably want to load with .44 special when carrying around people instead of bears. I also need a lot of practice with a lighter load as this revolver is large for my hands and I need quite a bit of practice with the mechanics of handling and shooting the gun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Webleymkv
You say that you want to load .44 Magnum "bear loads" and also load practice ammo "to the same specs," that, to me, sounds like you're wanting your practice ammo to shoot to the same POI and have similar recoil to your "bear loads" but with less expensive bullets and/or ones which you can shoot at your indoor range. If this is what you want to do, then I really don't understand the point of fooling with .44 Special at all as nothing that you can safely load in a .44 Special is going to be comparable to what most would consider a suitable "bear load" as those are typically heavy cast bullets at relatively high velocity.
Actually, this statement caused me to step back and rethink my statement about loading to the same specs. I did say that and the idea was derived from the 9mm ammo I use which comes in less expensive practice and more expensive defensive rounds with common ballistics. Sounds like a good idea and I stated the desire to have the same production here. But, that isn't going to matter. If I am shooting at a bear it will be 1) Close, 2) Fast, and 3) under stress and that is if whoever in my party has the bear spray bobbled it or it didn't work. POI will be a bear-sized target up close and, if lucky, maybe with the time and presence of mind to have a head or shoulder to focus on. I've been shot at before (though never in a position to shoot back) and know what the stress is like (and am pleased that I kept my cool and reacted appropriately). Also, not expecting recoil to be a factor as a charging bear will command all of my attention. So want to have shooting practice to develop muscle memory for managing the gun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Webleymkv
If I'm understanding what you're trying to do correctly, then I'd say work up the "bear load" that you want with a suitable slow-burning powder like 2400, H110, Winchester 296, or Accurate No. 9 and then find a similar weight jacketed bullet and work up a load with the same powder to similar velocity. If, however, you're wanting a light-recoiling practice load in .44 Special, you'd be best served to accept the fact that you'll have to use two different powders and find one that will allow you to work up a suitable .44 Special sub-load.
Have already come around to needing two different powders. Had wanted to avoid it but the guy who sold me the TiteGroup was just wrong for my situation and I'll have to adapt.

Again, thanks to all who have really chimed in to help with my education.

Larry
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Old February 27, 2024, 03:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Do you shoot at ranges that don't allow lead bullets?
No.

Quote:
What bullet + propellant combinations do you recommend if you want to load both .44 special and .44 magnum using the same components.
because I don't have any .44 Special guns, I don't load .44 Special ammo. (I think I have one box of fired brass somewhere...). I have several guns in .44 Mag, and all my ammo is loaded in .44 Mag brass, and I load from "moderate" to "full house" loads using various 240gr bullets and medium to slow burning powders.

If you want components common to each and efficient in both, choose a 240gr slug that suits your needs and I would recommend Unique or 2400 for the powder.

Both powders operate well in the 700-900fps range of the .44Special and will take you to the 1100-1200fps (or perhaps a bit more) range in the .44 Mag, with the same bullets.

There are lots of powders that will do the same job, I recommend Unique and 2400 because they are versatile, and stable throughout their range of applications. DO NOT use H110/W 296 in .44 Special level loads! First off, you won't find any data for those powders at that level. The reason you won't find data is that those powders, while excellent for heavy .44 Mag loads become erratic when loaded "too light", and every .44 Special load is too light for those powders.

Do be aware that some 240gr SWCs are swaged, not cast, and swaged bullets are generally pretty soft, and not suitable to higher speeds.
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Old February 27, 2024, 03:11 PM   #11
Webleymkv
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Quote:
Originally posted by lwestatbus
Correct. S&W Model 69 L-frame .44 magnum with 4.25" barrel. Definitely wanting to just target shoot with the .44 special. Also, when traveling far from home I'll probably want to load with .44 special when carrying around people instead of bears. I also need a lot of practice with a lighter load as this revolver is large for my hands and I need quite a bit of practice with the mechanics of handling and shooting the gun.
OK, that clears things up a lot. Since your gun is chambered for .44 Magnum, it really opens up the possibilities of what you can do with .44 Special loads as you needn't worry about loading too hot for a "weak" revolver like a Charter Arms. Also, are you using the factory grips? The Model 69 is a round-butt L-Frame revolver and comes with oversized rubber grips. If the gun is too large for your hands, there are a variety of aftermarket grips available in various sizes and perhaps a smaller set of grips might make the gun fit you better.

Quote:
Actually, this statement caused me to step back and rethink my statement about loading to the same specs. I did say that and the idea was derived from the 9mm ammo I use which comes in less expensive practice and more expensive defensive rounds with common ballistics. Sounds like a good idea and I stated the desire to have the same production here. But, that isn't going to matter. If I am shooting at a bear it will be 1) Close, 2) Fast, and 3) under stress and that is if whoever in my party has the bear spray bobbled it or it didn't work. POI will be a bear-sized target up close and, if lucky, maybe with the time and presence of mind to have a head or shoulder to focus on. I've been shot at before (though never in a position to shoot back) and know what the stress is like (and am pleased that I kept my cool and reacted appropriately). Also, not expecting recoil to be a factor as a charging bear will command all of my attention. So want to have shooting practice to develop muscle memory for managing the gun.
Is this your first foray into magnum revolvers? It is often surprising to people who are accustomed to semi-auto pistols in calibers like 9mm just how drastic the difference in recoil and POI can be when switching between different types of ammunition in a magnum revolver. In my experience, while the difference in recoil between a lightly-loaded 9mm target round and a warm +P or +P+ defensive round is noticeable, it's not nearly as stark as the difference between .44 Special and .44 Magnum (or .38 Special and .357 Magnum for that matter). Similarly, in my experience the difference in POI between 9mm ammo of varying weights like 115 gr, 124 gr, and 147 gr is often minimal while the difference between say 180 gr and 240 gr .44 Magnum can be a foot or more at relatively short ranges like 10-25 yards. I suspect this is part of the reason that adjustable sights are more common on revolvers than semi-autos.

Quote:
Have already come around to needing two different powders. Had wanted to avoid it but the guy who sold me the TiteGroup was just wrong for my situation and I'll have to adapt.
Since we now know what type of gun you're using, I think you could probably make the Titegroup work for your .44 Special ammunition (or .44 Magnum cases loaded with .44 Special powder charges). While lead and jacketed data generally shouldn't be used interchangeably, your revolver is made to handle .44 Magnum pressures which max out at over double that of .44 Special. Hodgdon lists the max load of 4.8 gr of Titegroup under a 240 gr LSWC in .44 Special at 13,100 CUP. Even if substituting a jacketed bullet for the cast one doubled the pressure to 26,200 CUP (and it's highly unlikely it would increase that much), you're still well below the 33,500 CUP pressure of the starting load of 9 gr of Titegroup with a 240 gr Nosler JHP in .44 Magnum.

Last edited by Webleymkv; February 28, 2024 at 01:03 PM.
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Old February 27, 2024, 06:02 PM   #12
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For loading cast lead bullets , coated lead bullets and plated lead bullets the " Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook 4th edition" is your best friend ... it not only shows data with velocities but also the pressures the load develops ... and with some loads / bullets / powders ... the pressure is most important information .
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Old February 27, 2024, 09:03 PM   #13
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I only load lead. My common bullet is the simple 240gr SWC for both .44 Special and .44 Magnum. Unique/Universal powder is 'common' denominator for me. 7.5gr in .44 Special and 8.5gr in .44 Mag makes for aprox. 'same' velocity load. I do load 10gr in .44 Mag normally as it doesn't feel like a .44 Special . It's a 1100fps load. I shoot ~99% .44 Special anymore (in .44 Special revolvers). Suits me down to the ground.

Never been to an 'inside' range in my life. So can't help you there. As said above plated bullets can be treated as lead bullets. My .44 Specials have never ever digested plated or jacketed bullets, so can't really be of help.

Quote:
lso, not expecting recoil to be a factor as a charging bear will command all of my attention.
At work years back we had a class on bear spray and bears. They brought a trailer down that had a bear on a track that would charge out of the trailer down a track at 'bear speed'. You had to turn, pull your bear spray, pop the pin, and spray before bear reached end of track (you). VERY enlightening to say the least. Took me two tries to at least spray the bear just before end of track. Yikes. What I thought was easy was not!
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Last edited by rclark; February 27, 2024 at 09:10 PM.
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Old February 28, 2024, 10:32 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwpercle
For loading cast lead bullets , coated lead bullets and plated lead bullets the " Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook 4th edition" is your best friend ... it not only shows data with velocities but also the pressures the load develops ... and with some loads / bullets / powders ... the pressure is most important information.
I just received the Lyman 51st Edition of the reloading manual and it has lots of loads for lead bullets. I don't ever expect to be casting my own bullets so am not sure there will be any load data in this book that isn't already in the one I have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Webleymkv
OK, that clears things up a lot. Since your gun is chambered for .44 Magnum, it really opens up the possibilities of what you can do with .44 Special loads as you needn't worry about loading too hot for a "weak" revolver like a Charter Arms. Also, are you using the factory grips? The Model 69 is a round-butt L-Frame revolver and comes with oversized rubber grips. If the gun is too large for your hands, there are a variety of aftermarket grips available in various sizes and perhaps a smaller set of grips might make the gun fit you better.

Is this your first foray into magnum revolvers? It is often surprising to people who are accustomed to semi-auto pistols in calibers like 9mm just how drastic the difference in recoil and POI can be when switching between different types of ammunition in a magnum revolver. In my experience, while the difference in recoil between a lightly-loaded 9mm target round and a warm +P or +P+ defensive round is noticeable, it's not nearly as stark as the difference between .44 Special and .44 Magnum (or .38 Special and .357 Magnum for that matter).
Thanks for the info. I own two S&W Model 60s (J-frame .357 magnum) and definitely know what you mean about the contrast between +P and magnum, especially in the J-frame. I have fired my 69 with factory loaded magnum cartridges with the factory grips. The recoil was ok but ten rounds tore up the webbing between my thumb and index finger. I suspect that the revolver was rotating in my hand so the next time I shoot it I'll ask someone to watch me. I did replace the factory grips with Hogue recoil tamers and need to try these at the range plus experiment with my hold. I'm definitely willing to downsize the grips if necessary but want to see if I can get used to shooting it as is. Spent 28 years in the Army and the 1911s when I started fit my hand perfectly while the Beretta M9 double stack was uncomfortably large. However I was able to adapt my grip to shoot it competently and want to find out if I can do this with my 69. Really interested in the .44 special so I can do more practicing, develop muscle memory, and decide if I need to change grips, grip, etc. Thanks also for the info on loading the .44 special with TiteGroup.

I've been doing a lot of research in the different sources of published load data and continue to struggle with holes in the data. In retrospect it is clear that buying components and expecting to find a recipe to match was a noobie mistake. I think I've got enough info going forward to at least use my current components to make .38 special for practice and maybe .44 special but plan on getting different powder and bullets for .44 loads of all types. I'll be relying a lot on Webleymkv's observation that my magnum revolvers give me a lot of room at the top end when loading special cartridges in either caliber. Plus, I'll be using factory loads when carrying any handgun in a real situation.

rclark, thanks for the info and also the story about the bear reaction.

Many thanks to all.

Larry
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Old February 28, 2024, 08:49 PM   #15
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They (almost) All Went BOOM!!!

I went to the range and have returned with all appendages, digits, and eyeballs intact!!!! This post is by way of THANKS to all who have been participating in my education in this process and especially to those who really went out of their way to teach me principles over and above 'mere' facts. I want to report on what I did and what worked.

I had previously (prior to the education in this thread) loaded ten rounds each of .38 special and .44 special using recipes that turned out to be lighter than what I eventually ended up with because I didn't understand how jacketed, coated, and lead might differ. After this thread I was uncomfortable that these loads would clear the barrel and decided to abandon these and even ordered an RCBS bullet puller, a Lee turret for it to live in, and appropriate collets. More on these preliminary cartridges later.

I loaded ten rounds each of .38 special with 125 gr coated bullets from Accura, .38 special with 148 gr coated wad cutters from X-Treme, and ten rounds each of .44 special with 240 gr Speer jacketed FMJ solid bullets. I was using my supply of Hodgdin's TiteGroup. None of these loads had exact matches to any 'recipe' for loading, especially with the plated bullets.

I didn't use any specific load anyone here suggested but derived my own based on principles you all suggested and triangulated with the Lyman's 51st Edition suggestion to treat coated bullets as hybreds and to work up the load. I mostly used specs for the high end of the lead bullets (as suggested here). Because the .44 special bullets were jacketed I used published ranges and started in the middle.

Here are the loads I developed and shot:
  • .38 125 gr hollow point: 4.0 gr of TiteGroup <<<Edited
  • .38 special 148 gr plated wadcutter: 3.3 gr of TiteGroup
  • .44 special 240 gr jacketed FMJ: 4.5 gr TiteGroup

The all worked fine. The wadcutters seemed a little lite but the rest felt really, really good. I brought some factory loads (finally found some .44 special) and loaded a partial cylinder with reload - factory -reload and shot them off slowly to compare recoil and sound. In the .38 125 gr and .44 special loads I could not tell the difference. It was a small range and the range safety officer also reported that these sounded 'right'. There was nothing 'wrong' with the wadcutters but I think I'll goose the propellant charge just a bit the next time.

The "Almost" factor. I had one .38 and one .44 where there was just no primer in the cartridge when I opened the box and one .44's primer didn't seat deeply enough and it wouldn't let the cylinder rotate. I had visually inspected each primer after seating but missed the protruding primer and have no idea what happened to the missing primers. I did find that I had to really bear down seating the large pistol primers in my Lee Classic Turret press. I will be more meticulous in my inspections going forward.

I learned a LOT doing the reloading. First, I am confident that I managed my process appropriately (though the missing primers raise a question). I weighed every charge by trickling directly into the pan on a Lyman beam scale and I checked the scale and adjusted it with check weights before starting. I also checked 30% of the loads by dumping from the beam scale to a digital scale. I had removed my press' rotating rod and rotated by hand but I think I'll reinstall the rod and let the turret work the way it is supposed to as I am comfortable with my powder measuring.

The trickle dispensing was the most time consuming part of the process. But, I'd ordered a Lyman Brass Smith powder measure and stand which were delivered while I was at the range today. I will set this up to dispense directly onto one of my scales as pouring into the cartridge (into the hole in the expander die) wasn't hard.

I am very pleased with what I've learned how to do and extremely grateful for everything I learned from the generous advice everyone had to offer. Many thanks.

One final note is that shooting my Model 69 with .44 special was incredibly satisfying and fun in a way I hadn't really expected. Hickok45 had reported this in a YouTube review and he was absolutely correct. I did shoot 10 rounds of factory .44 magnum also and that was not fun but that's what I'll load in Montana and the woods in North Carolina.

The Lite Loads: I did my testing with my new loads in each caliber and decided to see if the lite loads I was going to abandon would make it out of the barrel. They actually all did, though they weren't as satisfying as the final loads I'd developed.

I am posting this same thanks in a different thread What VOLUME of Powder (TiteGroup) where I also received some amazing advice.

Thanks again.

Larry

Last edited by lwestatbus; February 29, 2024 at 04:47 AM.
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Old February 28, 2024, 11:02 PM   #16
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Yowza, that 40 grains of Titegroup is a stout load I bet!

Hey, if nothing else it’s a funny reminder to always double-triple check the numbers.

Glad your first ones went well. We have had many discussions over the years where we reminisce and I still remember mine. 158 grain Speer swaged LSWC over a dipperful of (then) Hercules Green Dot in Federal .38 Special brass with a CCI-500 small pistol primer.

I held my 6-inch S&W Model 686-3 in my right hand, arm fully extended in a bullseye kind of position, figuring I would risk the least amount of personal injury if things went sideways. This would have been summer, 1989. These rounds were my first ever metallic, having started my loading adventure on 20 gauge skeet loads and a Mec-650 the previous fall.

Oh yes, this was a roaring success and I was hooked.
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Old February 29, 2024, 04:59 AM   #17
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Yowza Indeed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens
Yowza, that 40 grains of Titegroup is a stout load I bet!

Hey, if nothing else it’s a funny reminder to always double-triple check the numbers.

I held my 6-inch S&W Model 686-3 in my right hand, arm fully extended in a bullseye kind of position, figuring I would risk the least amount of personal injury if things went sideways.
Ooops. As you suspected I used 4.0 grains. I live 14 seconds from Cape Canaveral* and I think that 40 grains of TiteGroup is what SpaceX uses to get their Falcon rockets off the pad. I edited the post and I hope that nobody is out there using my recipe.

And, yes, I wore safety glasses over my polycarbonate regular glasses, gloves, and fired my first rounds one-handed like Aaron Burr dueling Alexander Hamilton. I also shot with the target at 10' so I could definitely see a hole in it with each round.

* If I go to the 8th floor of my building I can see the SpaceX rockets lift off and 14 seconds later the rumble reaches me.
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Old February 29, 2024, 05:27 PM   #18
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using the standard value for the speed of sound in air at sea level, that puts you just about 3 miles away.
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Old March 1, 2024, 02:52 AM   #19
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I love the quip about 40 grains of Titegroup being the charge weight for the Tesla rocket. I laughed!

However, it makes for an interesting side discussion. Knowing what we know about Titegroup… WHERE could we rationally, safely and properly use a 40 grain charge of Titegroup? Any cartridge (that I can imagine…?) that could fit 40 grains of Titegroup will destruct, for certain, with 40 grains of Titegroup.

What if we had a .50 BMG and a very, very light-for-caliber bullet in it.

Could a full 40 grains of Titegroup work there without grenading things?
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Old March 1, 2024, 11:54 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens View Post
I love the quip about 40 grains of Titegroup being the charge weight for the Tesla rocket. I laughed!

However, it makes for an interesting side discussion. Knowing what we know about Titegroup… WHERE could we rationally, safely and properly use a 40 grain charge of Titegroup? Any cartridge (that I can imagine…?) that could fit 40 grains of Titegroup will destruct, for certain, with 40 grains of Titegroup.

What if we had a .50 BMG and a very, very light-for-caliber bullet in it.

Could a full 40 grains of Titegroup work there without grenading things?
Use one of the .30 caliber in .50 Sabot bullets.
For extreme light weight use a .22 bullet in a .30 sabot in .50 sabot...

I suspect a bore full of melted plastic from the sabots but might be interesting...
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Old March 1, 2024, 06:30 PM   #21
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That’s a pretty good answer I suspect. Probably the second best answer yet, slotted right behind the SpaceX rocket!
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