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Thread: Using Unique in .44 special

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub Leadlum's Avatar
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    Using Unique in .44 special

    Why do people suggest using 7.5grs of Unique with the .44 special under a 250 gr cast bullet when my Manuals say 6.9 is MAX.? I know there is some guns that can handle that load; but what if they shoot those cartridges in other guns?.
    3rd Inf 2/15th 78-81

  2. #2
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    Some people push the limits, some load ammo that they feel is safe in their guns and some load 44 SP to use in guns designed for 44 MAG. The problem starts when these loads are used in the light weight revolvers or are left over when the estate is distributed and someone unknowingly uses them in the wrong gun.
    Robert

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    Collector of Ruger #1's & #3's

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Rocky Raab's Avatar
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    Because that was the load favored by Saint Skeeter, and anything ever written by him or Saint Elmer is considered dogma verging on commandments.

    In truth, while most guns can handle such loads, they probably also edge past what are now considered safe pressures for any and all guns in that chambering. In a Ruger Blackhawk, it's a fine and safe load. In something else -- no guarantees.
    Please visit my shooting articles at www.reloadingroom.com and my Vietnam novels at www.rockyraab.com (Do use Firefox, NOT Internet Exploder)

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I might add that that 6.9gr load is below 15,000 psi which would be condsidered safe in all .44 Special pistols, and thus would be listed in this manner to keep people out of trouble.

    7.5 gr of Unique with Lyman 429421 is indeed Skeeter Skeltons favorite .44 Special load, and yeilds about <1000 fps from a 7.5" barreled gun. It is considered safe in most newer manufactured guns such as Rugers, Freedom Arms, and S&W revolvers.

    I would highly recommend a copy of Handloader Mag #236 Aug 2005 which has the definative article by Brian Pearce on loading the .44 Special from plinking to nearly magnum loadings. This article has everything you need to know about this cartridge, and reading it a few times will increase your knowledge of the cartridge immensely. This guy actually knows what he is talking about, and you can depend on his advise..

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"

  5. #5
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    All true, but remember the reloading info is only a guied. YOUR GUN will tell you when to stop. I have shot starting loads that were too hot. As they corectly say start low and work up slow.
    You are right to question hot data. And just because the gun doesnt blow up , doesnt mean dammage cant still be done.
    NRA LIFER .. "THE CAST BULLET HANDLOADER IS THE ONLY ONE THAT REALLY MAKES ANY OF HIS AMMUNITION. OTHERS MEARLY ASSEMBLE IT". -E.H. HARRISON

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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Outside of a few turn of the century Smiths and some imported junk (some of which probably shouldn't be fired at all), I can't think of many guns so chambered that couldn't handle that load.
    N-Frame Smith's were chambered in .44 Magnum. Colt SAA's were chambered in .45 ACP (higher pressure and thinner walls!).
    If anybody else can think of some particular examples that are unsafe, please chime in.
    I don't shoot that load because my 624 hates it for some reason.
    So I continue to risk life and limb with 7.0 grains of H-Universal.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    If you want to baby your 44 Special revolver, or just want a decent plinking load, then 6.5 grains of unique or 4.7 grains of Red Dot is fine. But don't be misled. The sole reason for the low pressure limit on the 44 Special was the existence of those wonderful Spanish copies of N-frame S&W's. Unsafe at any speed, I'd hesitate to shoot them with black powder, but thousands were imported and sold in this country. Likewise, I'd be ill disposed at launching a warm load out of a 19 ounce Charter Arms Bulldog, though more for reasons of comfort than fear of exploding gun parts. But any modern (as in post-WWI) 44 Special Revolver will easily safely handle a 38 Special equivalent pressure Load (>18,000 cup, IIRC). In WWI, Colt and S&W made over 300,000 similar weapons chambered for the 45 ACP. That one runs at 17000 CUP. Why 3000 less for the thicker walled cylinders of the 44 Special? Now I will say that I draw the line at that pressure range. 7.2 grains of Unique works well for me, as does 5.5 grains of RedDot both yielding about 900 fps. Over the Book? well, not when I started using them.
    Those 25,000psi loads (17.5 grains 2400 and the like) are best served out of a 44 magnum. I won't even load them for that purpose, having plenty of 44 Magnum Brass.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Rocky Raab's Avatar
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    I think you are perzackly right, rintinglen.
    Please visit my shooting articles at www.reloadingroom.com and my Vietnam novels at www.rockyraab.com (Do use Firefox, NOT Internet Exploder)

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    My old NRA Handloading Guide lists their #17 load (.44 Special) of 7.5 gr Unique under a cast 250 SWC @928 fps with a measured pressure of 11,250 CUP. Typically, the NRA used H.P. White Laboratory in Bel Air, MD for all its pressure measurements. Even with changes in Unique formulations over the years, I find it hard to believe that the new formulations exceed 14,000 CUP. I could be wrong, but with the new Unique powders I've never had any hard extractions or blown primers when using this load behind WQWW 429421 bullets.

    Best regards,

    CJR

  10. #10
    Boolit Master 376Steyr's Avatar
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    I have an old Speer manual at home (#3? From 1965?) that lists 9.0 Unique as the maximum load with a 250 cast SWC. Life was simpler back then, I guess. I wish SAAMI would set a standard for ".44 Special +P" loads so we could change this question to "Is my xxxxx safe to use with +P loads?"

  11. #11
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    With winchester cases, my 44 Ruger Flattop likes 7.4 grains better. I did the load in 1/10th grain increments until it was the most accurate using a 200 grain RNFP. It doesn't shoot hard, my 12 year old nephew shot more than 50 rounds of them this weekend.
    In all, the .41 Magnum would be one of my top choices for an all-around handgun if I were allowed to have only one. - Bart Skelton

    "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master TCLouis's Avatar
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    canyon-ghost

    Do you have any chrony data for that 7.4 Unique and 200 gr. RNFP load.
    When one must, one can

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
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