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Old October 23, 2020, 06:27 PM   #1
Ceapea
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Loading an oddball 240 gr 44 bullet

I’ve got some OLD 44 caliber half jacket bullets that are in a Hornady box. I’ve been told that they most likely are Speer bullets...that at some time in the distant past, Hornady and Speer were together, or at least did some business together. I was told (all this info came from forum questions/answers many years ago and a call to Hornady!) that they were short lived and discontinued because the copper (half) jacket was seated below the case mouth and firing the round sometimes stripped the jacket off the bullet...the crimp would dislodge the jacket...sometimes. I don’t know.

But that just sets the stage for my real question. Can it be assumed that a 44 spl round, loaded to the same COAL as a 44 magnum, using the same bullet, would have (nearly) the same resulting internal case volume in both cases? I found that these bullets, if loaded to 1.610” in a 44 spl case, leaves the jacket just outside of the case mouth...maybe .030”
I want to load it to the lightest 44 magnum in my books, in spl cases. Actually, just a bit lower, even. The manuals list 18.3 and 18.4 gr of 2400 in magnum cases. I am looking at 18.0 gr 2400 in the spl case, loaded to the magnum coal.
Am I wrong in saying that the resulting case volume would be nearly identical? The brass is the same, other than the length, no? Again, I only want to do this to use up 200 otherwise (supposedly) unusable bullets.
Thanks.
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Old October 23, 2020, 08:35 PM   #2
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They aren't unusable and I've never heard of the jackets being strpped off because they were inside the case (or the case crimped over them).

They could very well be Speer bullets just in a Hornady box. Speer made "half jacket" swc /hp for a long time. They were actually closer to 3/4 than 1/2 but close enough.

I can find NO Hornady pistol bullet like that. Including way back in the 60s. The only half jacket Hornady I can find is the 100gr .30 cal. Speer did the same bullet called it "the plinker" The Speer was a RN, the Hornady was more pointed.

I can not find anywhere that Speer and Hornady "were one". or "worked together", ever. Vernon Speer and Joyce Hornady were both very proud of their bullets and were (friendly) fierce competitors.

So, I'd say its almost certain the SWC short jacket bullets you have are Speer made and just wound up in a Hornady box because that's where a previous owner put them.

Now, about your idea for using them in light loads, DON'T!!!!

The problem with jackets separating on these bullets is something Speer knew and constantly warned against. Jacket separation could happen with TOO LIGHT a load. Speer specifically stated those bullets were made for high velocity loads and the jacket was there to prevent leading in the bore.

I shot a lot of those bullets in .357s in the 70s (146 & 160gr) at full power loads and never once had any problem, they were damn good bullets. (didn't have a .44 in those days or I would have shot the 1/2 jackets in them, too)

BUT NEVER shoot them at low velocity & pressure levels. Doing so risks the jacket coming apart from the core in the barrel, with the core exiting but the jacket might not. You can clearly see the potential problem if that happens.

Simply put, if you gave the bullet a firm boot in the ass they always stayed together and performed well. If you didn't, they might not, and sometimes, didn't.

You are essentially correct about the case volume when loaded to .44 Mag length, the shorter special case just doesn't reach as far up on the bullet as the longer magnum case.

However, that is immaterial to shooting the half jacketed bullets, as far as powder volume is concerned. Case length, and being able to crimp over the forward edge of the jacket is what matters.

Those bullets need to be fired at full speed. They need to be crimped. The only place to crimp them is over the leading edge of the jacket, there is no other crimp groove or cannelure. Its what they were made to do.

Don't shoot them at low speeds, its a BAD idea.

If that doesn't work for you sell or trade them, there's still quite a few folks who remember them and would use them today if they can get them.
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Old October 23, 2020, 09:01 PM   #3
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If that doesn't work for you sell or trade them, there's still quite a few folks who remember them and would use them today if they can get them.
44 AMP is spot on. I loaded many hundreds of those in 44 mag back in the 90's. Love them, but only full power loads. I used 2400, of course that was before Alliant had it. If you were close, I would come buy them from you.
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Old October 23, 2020, 09:23 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
They aren't unusable and I've never heard of the jackets being strpped off because they were inside the case (or the case crimped over them).

They could very well be Speer bullets just in a Hornady box. Speer made "half jacket" swc /hp for a long time. They were actually closer to 3/4 than 1/2 but close enough.

I can find NO Hornady pistol bullet like that. Including way back in the 60s. The only half jacket Hornady I can find is the 100gr .30 cal. Speer did the same bullet called it "the plinker" The Speer was a RN, the Hornady was more pointed.

I can not find anywhere that Speer and Hornady "were one". or "worked together", ever. Vernon Speer and Joyce Hornady were both very proud of their bullets and were (friendly) fierce competitors.

So, I'd say its almost certain the SWC short jacket bullets you have are Speer made and just wound up in a Hornady box because that's where a previous owner put them.

Now, about your idea for using them in light loads, DON'T!!!!

The problem with jackets separating on these bullets is something Speer knew and constantly warned against. Jacket separation could happen with TOO LIGHT a load. Speer specifically stated those bullets were made for high velocity loads and the jacket was there to prevent leading in the bore.

I shot a lot of those bullets in .357s in the 70s (146 & 160gr) at full power loads and never once had any problem, they were damn good bullets. (didn't have a .44 in those days or I would have shot the 1/2 jackets in them, too)

BUT NEVER shoot them at low velocity & pressure levels. Doing so risks the jacket coming apart from the core in the barrel, with the core exiting but the jacket might not. You can clearly see the potential problem if that happens.

Simply put, if you gave the bullet a firm boot in the ass they always stayed together and performed well. If you didn't, they might not, and sometimes, didn't.

You are essentially correct about the case volume when loaded to .44 Mag length, the shorter special case just doesn't reach as far up on the bullet as the longer magnum case.

However, that is immaterial to shooting the half jacketed bullets, as far as powder volume is concerned. Case length, and being able to crimp over the forward edge of the jacket is what matters.

Those bullets need to be fired at full speed. They need to be crimped. The only place to crimp them is over the leading edge of the jacket, there is no other crimp groove or cannelure. Its what they were made to do.

Don't shoot them at low speeds, its a BAD idea.

If that doesn't work for you sell or trade them, there's still quite a few folks who remember them and would use them today if they can get them.
Thanks for that info. So maybe loading them a bit shorter (.030”, or enough to crimp over the jacket) and going to some mid level or slightly higher loading, it could work. Well then there is loading them in 44 mag cases too.
But as far as Hornady and Speer being together goes, I’ve found one or two articles in the past that states that they did indeed work together in the 40s. I even called Hornady back when I got the bullets...10 yrs ago, or so. They confirmed that at one time, there was a collaboration between the two. And yes, mine are the swc 240s. And I was planning to crimp them. Just below the leading edge of the jacket. I want to make these loads for a Henry single shot 44 mag rifle. Supposedly the same heavy barrel contour as the 45-70.
Thanks again.
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Old October 23, 2020, 09:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by big al hunter View Post
44 AMP is spot on. I loaded many hundreds of those in 44 mag back in the 90's. Love them, but only full power loads. I used 2400, of course that was before Alliant had it. If you were close, I would come buy them from you.
I’m in Michigan. A bit of a drive for these bullets...
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Old October 23, 2020, 11:52 PM   #6
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I’ve posted this question on a few different sites. For the most part, it is said that these bullets do not separate from the jackets and, they need a stout load to send them down range efficiently. So, I will just load them in 44 mag brass, with a good middle weight charge. It was a thought is all. I’ve had great success loading 38 spl cases loaded as mentioned above.
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Old October 24, 2020, 02:11 AM   #7
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And I was planning to crimp them. Just below the leading edge of the jacket. I want to make these loads for a Henry single shot 44 mag rifle.
In .357 I roll crimped over the leading edge of the jacket. I would do the same with the .44s.

Crimping behind/below the top of the jacket is a poor idea, there's no place for the case mouth to go, and while the brass springs back a little the lead doesn't. IN an extreme case, crimping the case into the bullet can buckle the case, resulting in a bulge that may not chamber and a poor crimp as well.

There is no need to crimp ammo for a single shot, because of feeding (tube mag repeater) or recoil (revolver bullet pull) however crimp is needed for many .44 Mag loads with slow powders in order to ensure uniform consistent ignition.

If you've got articles saying Speer and Hornady worked together in the 40s I won't dispute that. The first half of the 1940s was WWII and both companies were founded shortly after the war.
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Old October 24, 2020, 07:51 AM   #8
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Some background about Hornady/Speer. Doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the half-jacket bullets. What does it say on the “Hornady” box?
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Old October 24, 2020, 08:30 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post

I can not find anywhere that Speer and Hornady "were one". or "worked together", ever. Vernon Speer and Joyce Hornady were both very proud of their bullets and were (friendly) fierce competitors.
Found some info that you may find interesting. Hornady and Speer were partners.

https://sportingclassicsdaily.com/a-...rented-garage/

And,
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hornady
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Old October 24, 2020, 08:33 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by TX Nimrod View Post
Some background about Hornady/Speer. Doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the half-jacket bullets. What does it say on the “Hornady” box?
I didn’t see your post till after I wrote mine.
Thanks for the info.
The label on the box is well worn. I’ll try to get info in better lighting. I’ve checked it before, about 10 years ago.
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Old October 24, 2020, 02:55 PM   #11
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A couple of things:

Are you sure the bullets are half-jackets? I ask because some folks mistake a wide soft nose bullet for a half-jacket bullet. The half-jacket is easy to identify because it is cylindrical, so the mouth of the jacket that the lead sticks out of is just as wide as the other end. There is no curvature to it. Hornady did make jacketed soft-nose bullets at one time.

On the other hand, if they are actually half-jackets, I would guess they were moved into that box from another, and you should weigh them to be sure they are 240-grain.

If you look at the SAAMI spec for 44 Special and 44 Magnum, you will see the maximum lengths are very close. The Special, at 1.615" maximum, is actually slightly longer than the magnum at 1.610", despite the shorter case. As I am sure you are aware, the 44 Magnum was originally developed by working up to magnum level loads in heavy-frame 44 Special revolvers. The case was lengthened when the load became commercialized to prevent the high-pressure load from being chambered in a light frame 44 Special it could damage. But otherwise, they were essentially the same load. The case difference is why you find a few bullets in .429" or .430" that have two crimp cannelures or crimp grooves 1/8" apart. The upper one is for the magnum case and the lower one for the Special case. If you use the wrong groove, you will either get a Special that is too short and has too little powder space, or you will get a magnum that is over SAAMI length at 1.725", and that needs more powder and can only be fired in a gun with a cylinder that long, like the Ruger Redhawks, for example.

Then comes your question about having the same space when you load a 44 Special to magnum length. The best answer I can give is maybe. It certainly would have been the case in the 1950's when Elmer Keith was working on that round. But today, with all the outsourcing that goes on, I wouldn't be too surprised if some maker thinned the lower pressure case to save on brass cost. Your best bet is to work your load up slowly to be sure the cases don't start sticking and becoming hard to extract from the cylinder or they don't show signs of the head expanding as measured with a micrometer. If you use brass like Starline's, you can call them and ask if the cases are the same except for their length and they will tell you.
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Old October 24, 2020, 07:36 PM   #12
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Another thought just occurred to me, and that is, are you sure they are actually Speer or Hornady bullets??

The Speer bullets are called half-jackets but are actually about 3/4 jackets, with the jacket coming nearly all the way up the cylindrical portion of the bullet body.

At one time, people did swage their own "half jackets" which were usually true half jackets with the jacket reaching up only about half way on the bullet body.

These homemade bullets would wind up in any suitable box the handloader had around, which could be anybody's empty box.

SO, take a look and weigh some. Speer 3/4 jacketed .44 slugs were made in two weights 225gr and 240gr. IF your bullets don't have the "full length" jacket and are some other weight they likely aren't Speer bullets.
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Old October 25, 2020, 05:13 PM   #13
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If you want to know if for your brass, the only difference between special and magnum is the length, cut a magnum to match the length of a 38 case that was freshly trimmed, and measure the H2O capacity.


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Old October 25, 2020, 08:03 PM   #14
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.... and measure the H2O capacity.
All that will tell you is the water capacity, nothing more.
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Old October 26, 2020, 06:37 PM   #15
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They are all 240 grain. No crimp groove. Someone on another forum posted pictures of the Speer bullets. They are 3/4 jacket. I believe mine are Hornady.
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Old October 26, 2020, 06:58 PM   #16
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From how it was explained to me, it wasn't the crimp that stripped the jacket from those bullets when fired, it was when they were fired with too low of a powder charge. The copper jacket having the most drag would get torn away in the barrel from friction whereas the more slippery lead portion would continue on it's way. With full power loads this did not happen. It basically was a type of gas check and not really a jacket.
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Old October 26, 2020, 07:33 PM   #17
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I can't say if the 1/2 jacketed bullets in the pic are Hornady or not, but they definitely are NOT the Speer 3/4 jacket slugs I am familiar with.

So, strike all my comments about the Speer bullets, you have something else.

I would crimp those into the lead about where the visible line is, where the SWC "shoulder" seems to reduce diameter from the lead shank. I still think a full load is in order, not a light plinker load, for them.
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Old October 26, 2020, 07:36 PM   #18
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Wondering if your bullets are these, only in .44 cal.? My work/hunting buddy and I shot lots of these bullets back in the 80s in our .41 mag, Ruger NMBs. Really good, accurate bullets. Hated to see them discontinued. Never had any problems with them, and we loaded them up on the warmish side. Crimped them real good right on the edge of the jacket. I still have about 30 of them in the old yellow speer plastic box. The last of many...

http://www.powdervalleyinc.com/produ...gr-swc-jsp-100
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Old October 26, 2020, 08:29 PM   #19
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Wondering if your bullets are these, only in .44 cal.? My work/hunting buddy and I shot lots of these bullets back in the 80s in our .41 mag, Ruger NMBs. Really good, accurate bullets. Hated to see them discontinued. Never had any problems with them, and we loaded them up on the warmish side. Crimped them real good right on the edge of the jacket. I still have about 30 of them in the old yellow speer plastic box. The last of many...

http://www.powdervalleyinc.com/produ...gr-swc-jsp-100
Those look like the Speer 3/4 jacketed bullets I’ve seen on other sites. And those that
44 AMP is referring to, I believe. Not that same as mine.
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Old October 26, 2020, 08:33 PM   #20
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I can't say if the 1/2 jacketed bullets in the pic are Hornady or not, but they definitely are NOT the Speer 3/4 jacket slugs I am familiar with.

So, strike all my comments about the Speer bullets, you have something else.

I would crimp those into the lead about where the visible line is, where the SWC "shoulder" seems to reduce diameter from the lead shank. I still think a full load is in order, not a light plinker load, for them.
Some of those pictured appear to have a slight crimp groove. There are a few that I actually loaded in my early days. After reading of potential problems with jacket separation, I pulled them. There is an X visible on one of the bullet’s bases, near the top of the picture. Those are the bullets that I pulled waaaay back when. I marked them for some reason...
But you are correct, the body of the bullet just starts transitioning to a taper at the point where you’d expect a crimp groove. Here is the full frame picture. On that one near the top center, you can see that I did indeed put a good crimp on them when originally loaded.
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Old October 26, 2020, 09:12 PM   #21
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Those look like homemade, probably with a swaging die for a reloading press. People forget that RCBS stands for Rock Chuck Bullet Swage, and the Rock Chucker press got its name for being a tool to help you make bullets for shooting Rock Chucks.

The base separation doesn't seem any more likely than gas checks falling off cast bullets, but if the lead is loose in the cups, they can be pulled and a drop of Loctite put into the half-jacket before putting it back in.
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Old October 27, 2020, 08:28 AM   #22
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The base separation doesn't seem any more likely than gas checks falling off cast bullets, but if the lead is loose in the cups, they can be pulled and a drop of Loctite put into the half-jacket before putting it back in.
They are not loose by any stretch. They look like one continuous body with different materials. Very uniform and smooth. Cups/checks are not coming off at all! If someone made these in their home shop, they’re bass a$$!
No, I think these are factory, 100%
I’m just gonna load them in 44 mag brass to a mid to upper level.
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Old October 27, 2020, 01:56 PM   #23
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I’m just gonna load them in 44 mag brass to a mid to upper level.
That ought to work fine. LOW speed is the risk with those kind of bullets. Anything in the 1000fps range or more should be fine.

Do pay attention to each shot and if there is anything unusual about report, recoil or impact on the target, STOP and make sure the bore is clear. SHOULD work ok, isn't a guarantee, just a likelihood. Be safe, not sorry.

Good Luck, have fun!
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Old October 27, 2020, 10:56 PM   #24
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This is a picture showing why I thought this idea would work. The case volume in both cases appears to be the same. In theory, one could load the spl case up to any normal magnum level, with the bullet out to magnum coal. But like I said, not gonna happen at this point.
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Old October 28, 2020, 12:24 AM   #25
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In theory, one could load the spl case up to any normal magnum level, with the bullet out to magnum coal.
Your "theory" is correct, it is a fact that with both cases the space under the bullet is the same. The commonly held idea that magnum cases are longer so they provide "more room for more powder" is not, and never was correct.

The longer magnum case is longer to prevent chambering is the shorter Special chamber, thus keeping the high pressure magnum load out of Special guns that might not handle the higher pressure safely.

As a handloader, and loading only for your personal guns, you certainly could load Special brass the way you mentioned. I don't see any point to doing so, and as your pic clearly shows, the shorter case mouth will not be in the right place on the bullet for crimping when loaded to magnum COL.
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