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Old June 21, 2001, 10:40 AM   #1
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.44 mag vs. .223 effectiveness in a carbine

I don't understand the criticism some people have for the .44 mag in a lever action carbine. I frequently hear it dismissed as "only" a pistol caliber. However, when I compare it to the energy of the .223 out to 100 yards, the .44 mag is superior. If you consider a momentum approach to effectiveness the results are even more in favor of the .44 mag.

.44 mag - muzzle energy of 240grain bullet = 1650ft/lbs, 100 yards = 1015ft/lbs

.223 - muzzle energy 55grain bullet = 1282, 100 yards = 929 ft/lbs

Why do people knock the .44 mag as only a pistol caliber? It seems more effective than a .223 within 100 yards.
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Old June 21, 2001, 11:06 AM   #2
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Other than the fact that the .44 mag loading drops about 4 inches in that 100 yard distance, your analysis is right on.

Different tools for different purposes. I like a .44 mag carbine for hog hunting in the brush, but would be hard pressed to take a shot longer than 150 yards or so.
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Old June 21, 2001, 11:17 AM   #3
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Energy isn't everything. The 223 creates a large, permanent stretch cavity from the high-velocity hydrostatic shock that the .44 does not.
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Old June 21, 2001, 11:42 AM   #4
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For 3 seasons I used a .44 mag carbine on southern whitetail, and cleanly killed deer withing 100 yards. My criticism of .44 in a carbine is it's high trajectory, I'm simply not good enough at range estimation to take shots at game beyond 150 yards with this combination. After passing up on one too many powerline shots I decided if that I'm going to lug around a rifle it's going to have more range. My 18.5" barreled 30-'06 carbine is not much more difficult to carry and better than doubles my effective range.

As far as .223 goes, it's an excellent varmit cartridge but I won't use it to hunt deer, even though it's a legal caliber in Alabama.
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Old June 21, 2001, 02:46 PM   #5
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.44 Mag = better bone buster (especially in hunting trim)
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Old June 22, 2001, 12:47 AM   #6
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"Energy isn't everything. The 223 creates a large, permanent stretch cavity from the high-velocity hydrostatic shock that the .44 does not."
I certainly don't buy that.
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Old June 22, 2001, 01:26 AM   #7
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This is a wound profile of the M193 55 grain .223 round. As you can see, it has a large temporary cavity (stretch cavity). This stretch cavity is decidedly smaller in a lower velocity round, such as 45ACP ball ( Make your own conclusions, but to me this looks to be the work of high velocity. I dunno about "hydro-static shock", though.
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Old June 22, 2001, 01:36 AM   #8
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The .223 seems to do a decent job on deer at longer range than the .44 does. You have to pick the shot but it works and does better than the .30 carbine which is a very good deer caliber out to 125 yards. The .44 lever gun is good for a brush gun but not a hit on the crosshair round due to the drop. Plus most do not have a scope but just real "poor" sights. Practice, practice and good sights tend to make the caliber used seem to be a non issue to a extent. Been there done that and the 25-35 even works better on elk at 150-200yds than a .44. A 55 grain SX in a deers neck at 150 yds will drop it every time, if it does not break the neck the deer will dround before it hits the ground almost.
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Old June 22, 2001, 01:36 AM   #9
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I wouldn't wanna get hit with either. I think that in the case of a war, the 223 would punch holes in kevlar hides better while the 44 mag would crush the bones that lie beneath. Other than 22's, I currently own one rifle. It is a Ruger Mini 14 in 223 Rem. My next planned rifle is gonna be the Ruger Deerfield Carbine in 44 Magnum. I might as well get the best of both worlds.
Old June 22, 2001, 03:55 PM   #10
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I have both calibers and would use the 44mag. out about 150 yrd, once you get that big bullet going it is already pre-expanded compared to the 223. The 44 has a lot of power with in its power range and distance restrictions. I have hunted with both and think the 44 is more effective , it punchesa bigger hole and they usually exit, 223 soft points don't.
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Old June 22, 2001, 05:51 PM   #11
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Big game hunters in Africa have long know that foot pounds of energy does not mean squat when taking large game. A much better rating scale is the Taylor Knock Out formula. The .223 has a TKO of 6, the 44 Mag has a TKO of 19. I have shot a lot of large wild hogs with calibers from .222 to .340 Weatherby Mag and in pistols from .45 ACP to .454 Casull and I have to agree with Mr. Taylor's formula. The little fast bullets can churn up the energy, but it isn't worth a damn when the animals get large.
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Old June 22, 2001, 10:51 PM   #12
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Can you tell me more about where to find info on the Taylor knock down formula?

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Old June 23, 2001, 01:59 PM   #13
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Tony will probalbly post more specifics, but in short form Taylor KO is a variation on Hatcher's formula of Mass x Velocity x Frontal Area for comparing the relative effectiveness of different cartridges. IMHO it's much better than comparing ft/lbs of energy or temporary wound cavities; and was (I think) based on real world big game hunting experience. Others will disagree, but I see two short comings of both Taylor & Hatcher - first they shouldn't be used to compare widely divergent cartridges (e.g. .45 acp & .300 Win Mag), second they do not accurately address the difference in bullet construction & type (a .30-06 FMJ looks better than a .257 Roberts SP, but the Roberts is really much better for shooting that pronghorn on the next hill).
Neither the .44 or the .223 is best for every situation, if you want the best compromise rifle, buy some sort of .308 scout.

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Old June 23, 2001, 05:23 PM   #14
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I used to beleive that high velocity crap, too. The more I yhought about it, the more reason took over, and the truth is that momentum wins every time folks. If I bounced a childs rubber playground ball off your head at 10 MPH, you would laugh, If I bounced a bowling ball (same general size, heavier.) off your head at 5 MPH, you may die.
Because the light weight of the .223 slug, its only a 200-300 yard cartridge anyway, (if your serious, and not just showing off or poaching, er, I mean eating). So you go with the .44 Mag and practice, practice, practice. 200 yards is not unheard of with a decent pistol and lots of practice.
When I'm out and about with my (sub-caliber) Mini-14, I carry a 7.5" redhawk to back it up. If I had a Mini-14 size carbine chambered in 44 Mag, I'd leave the .223 at home every time.
Lever actions never really appealed to me, and the Ruger Deerfield is gas operated they say, so I wouldn't be able to shoot my lead reloads in it.
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Old June 23, 2001, 11:15 PM   #15
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I've found that my Marlin 1894P shoots pretty flat out to 100 yards.

How about a .44 mag, 240 LSWC, with a muzzle velocity and energy of about 2,200 fps and 2440 ft. lbs. repectively? I did it in my Marlin using 22 grains of 2400.
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Old June 23, 2001, 11:56 PM   #16
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I see your point, and I agree that the .44 mag is a good round within 100 yards. But what about 300?

Besides the greater range you may want consider the fact that the Spitzer type bullet tends to tumble in a living organisims..this causes nasty wounds ( in 223 between 50 and 300 meteres), the Russians did us up one better with 5.45...they had a nice reliable heavy caliber (7.62X39)...immitation is flatery.

.44 mag really belongs in a carbine, as most folks can't handle it in a pistol. But why re-invent the 45-70 ( arguably better)?
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Old April 5, 2023, 08:21 PM   #17
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.44 mag

The .44 mag is 100 yard gun. It has it's purpose, i'd rather shoot a charging bear with a .44mag than a .223 at close range. Long range shooters have there place too though. I prefer .243 or larger for deer sized game though. My henry big boy .44 mag is a pleasure to carry and shoot though. Very efficient rifle for up to 100 yards. It all depends on where your hunting and how far you'll be shooting.
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Old April 5, 2023, 08:48 PM   #18
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Shawn2571, you do realize this thread is from 2001.
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Old April 5, 2023, 10:52 PM   #19
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.44 mag carbines

When Bill Ruger introduced his original .44 mag semiauto carbine in the early 60's, part of the marketing ploy was he took the little rifle to Africa. I cannot say what all he shot with the carbine, I know his ad with the gorilla brought some flack and he shot some warthogs and other critters too. He later went on record stating that the killing power of the .44 from the carbine amazed his pro hunters and he likened it to other popular centerfires like the 30-'06. Ruger choose his words carefully, I do not have the direct quote at my finger tips, and Bill R. DID NOT SAY the .44mag from a carbine was the equal of the '06, more like it killed out of proportion to it's size and was as effective inside it's range as other deer calibers.

I've hunted one of the original .44 tube feed carbines for years. My Dad hunted a Win '94 so chambered when first offered in the 1970's. One must be very careful about how and where he hunts, as noted by others, it is essentially a 100 yd gun. With 240 grain projectiles, the .44 carbine offers penetration that the .223 cannot match with expanding bullets. Any bullet weight from 200 grains up will cleanly take medium game , with no or little concern for quartering or raking shots, something I cannot say for the .223.
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Old April 6, 2023, 07:30 AM   #20
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I've successfully hunted with a 44 mag lever gun. I'd never shoot larger game beyond 100 yds with it and would make sure I knew the trajectory well for a quick snap shot; otherwise no problem IMO.
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Old April 6, 2023, 01:40 PM   #21
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Thread was dead for 22 years. Let it RIP.
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Old April 6, 2023, 08:20 PM   #22
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Philosophies and techniques change over time. I personally find the discussion interesting, especially since i have owned both a 44mag lever gun, and 223 rifles.

There are several key differences here imho. But i feel the over all concept comes down to fast and light vs slow and heavy.

44 mag should not be under estimated especially out of a carbine. It has lots of momentum and makes a big hole to hit hard. But it sacrifices trajectory to do it.

223 can hit hard as well. But it is much more dependent on velocity and bullet design to do it. It does however have a much better trajectory and loses velocity at a much slower rate.

I cant say as i have ever heard anyone reccomend 233 for large and or dangerous game. However 44 mag would be more than adequate imho, given a reasonable distance. And im talking a traditional heart/lung, not the 22lr to the eye philosophy. Thats a whole nother can of worms.
I don't believe in "range fodder" that is why I reload.
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Old April 6, 2023, 10:15 PM   #23
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I personally find the discussion interesting, especially since i have owned both a 44mag lever gun, and 223 rifles.
The preferred method of getting the discussion from an old old thread going again is to start a new thread asking the question and restarting the discussion with current members and more current information. Link to the old thread if you wish.

For consideration, the .223 hits "pretty hard"? I guess, but if energy is your standard, consider that a .55gr @ 3200fps is about 1250ft/lbs (muzzle) and a 240gr @ 1700fps (which can be done from a carbine) is about 300ft/lbs more.

Is 300ft/lbs significantly better? I guess that might depend on what you're doing, but I can't think of a situation where its worse....
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old May 25, 2023, 10:42 AM   #24
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Things have changed a bit. There was no 75gr loading commercially available back in 2001 for 5.56, now there are several. 75gr @2910 is going to get you 1410ft/lbs at the muzzle and have negligible drop at 300 yards. This makes it near ideal for short to medium range, small to medium size game+ hunting.

Also, .223 was more popular back then due to the AWB94. When that expired 5.56 became the new standard.
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Old March 21, 2024, 09:14 PM   #25
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TKO worked well when bullet design didnt make as much of a difference.

Now bullet design has made a HUGE IMPACT, pun aside.

Back when this thread was started, I was all about large calibers, .308, .44, .444, .45ACP.

Now two of my main goto rifles are .22WMR and .223/5.56. And my main sidearms: .22WMR and .38/.357. I even ran a 9mm for a few years before I went to mostly revolvers.

Why my switch bullet designs! The terminal ballistics with modern bullets is far superior to what we had even two and a half decades ago, let alone 40+ years years ago when I started shooting and hunting.

Its fun to see how things have evolved even during the lifespan of forums.
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