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Thread: Load development for my .44 Bulldog

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Load development for my .44 Bulldog

    I procured an early Bridgeport awhile back after looking for a nice one for the last year. SN 248,xxx dates it in the area of 1974. This one was ANIB, with a faint drag line from the front frame pin backing out slightly to abrade the cylinder. Single action pull is about 4 lbs, double action 10-11 lbs. The double action is smooth without stacking, single action has a nearly imperceptible "tic" at the point of release only noticeable when shooting over a rest. The cylinder gap is .004 left and right. The barrel is a very smooth and bright .429" without any roughness; the charge holes run .432" and are uniformly smooth. One of the chamber extractors was a little high, dragging on extraction. A little smoothing of the leading edge of the extractor fixed that issue.

    100 rounds of .44 Special were taken to the range for accuracy and velocity testing; clearly, the .429 Gold Dots were a little unstable due to being undersized, and shot 6" low at 7 yards, whereas .431 LWSCs shot to the point of aim, 6 o'clock. Preliminary results with conservative handloads and two factory loads follow. All were fired over a rest at 7 yards.
    1. .431 240 gr. LSWC over 5.0 700x Ave. 740 fps, ME of 291 FP.
    2. .431 185 gr. Full WC over 5.0 700x Ave. 740 fps, ME of 291 FP
    3. .431 240 gr. LSWC over 6.0 Unique Ave. 734 fps, ME of 287 FP
    4. .431 240 gr. LSWC over 5.0 Trail Boss, Ave 701 fps, ME of 287 FP
    5. 429 210 gr. GDHP over 6.5 Unique, Ave 714 fps, ME of 237 FP
    6. .431 240 gr. LSWC over 4.5 Bullseye, Ave. 704 fps, ME of 261 FP (The RSO was looking over my shoulder for this one.....
    7. .431 240 gr. LSWC over 5.0 231, Ave. 637 fps, ME of 216 FP
    8. .429 Blazer 210 GDHP factory load, Ave. 868 fps, ME of 351 FP
    9. .429 Hornaday 165 gr. FTX Critical Defense, Ave. 958, ME of 336 FP

    The energy level was calculated E=(MxV sq)/K [450,435]. 45 ACP hardball runs about 368 FP. For comparison, the usual carry load in a 38 Special from a 2" barrel runs 221 FP for the 158 gr. "FBI" load, and 202 FP for the short barrel Speer GDHP 135 gr load. I'm not inclined to get into an internet debate over the merits of the .44 special for defense, but all of the above, with the exception of the wimpy 5.0 231 load, clearly exceed the 38 special loading commonly carried. Further testing by increasing the above accurate benchmark loadings will pursue getting into the 45 ACP hardball energy territory. But 240 gr. of LSWC at 740 FPS is nothing to stand in front of!
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    I have one with a 3 digit serial number. Cylinder looks like it was cut with a dull rock and runs about .434. Shoots a bit left but is fairly accurate. 429421 over 6.0 of Unique is best in it so far.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    I tried so hard to like my bulldog. Unfortunately it was just not possible. It sounds like you have a nice one though. As others have said before me, I wish smith or Ruger would build them. Even for more money I would be all over a smooth action, quality finish, well built bulldog.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    The 44 special is about 80 percent of the 45 acp power. The 44 special can be reloaded to higher power in a larger frame pistol. I once try a hotter load in my Bulldog the hammer hit my web of my hand. I really like the 44 Special caliber but i really do not care too much for Charter Arms. I had problem in other Charter Arm products they made.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    Treetop's Avatar
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    I love mine, it is well made. I bought it the same year and month that Son of Sam bought his! I didn't do much load development with mine. I just started at about 4.5 or 5 gr. of Unique behind a 429421 and kept increasing it until the recoil became uncomfortable. Wound up at the same charge as Thumbcocker, 6.0 grains of Unique. Treetop
    Last edited by Treetop; 09-18-2017 at 09:09 PM.
    "Treetop"
    Sgt. USMC
    1968-71

    "Accuracy has a suppressive power all by itself."
    Lt. Gen. George Flynn, USMC

    “The Second Amendment was not written to protect your right to shoot deer.
    It was written to protect your right to shoot tyrants…”
    Judge Andrew Napolitano

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
    9.3X62AL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CIC View Post
    I tried so hard to like my bulldog. Unfortunately it was just not possible. It sounds like you have a nice one though. As others have said before me, I wish smith or Ruger would build them. Even for more money I would be all over a smooth action, quality finish, well built bulldog.
    It is not Bulldog-sized, but Ruger does put their GP-100 up in 44 Special flavor. 3" barrel and some "Skeeter's Loads" on board would do to ride the river with.
    I don't paint bullets. I like Black Rifle Coffee. Sacred cows are always fair game. California is to the United States what Syria is to Russia and North Korea is to China/South Korea/Japan--a Hermit Kingdom detached from the real world and led by delusional maniacs, an economic and social basket case sustained by "foreign" aid so as to not lose military bases.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9.3X62AL View Post
    It is not Bulldog-sized, but Ruger does put their GP-100 up in 44 Special flavor. 3" barrel and some "Skeeter's Loads" on board would do to ride the river with.
    As soon as they came out I had one. Yes defiantly not the same size as a bulldog but a nice gun. Actually one of my favorite guns to shoot.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Forrest r's Avatar
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    I've carried bulldogs since the 80's, they flat out thumb anything they hit.

    Bulldogs are at their best with bullets in the 180gr to 220gr range. The h&g #142 (220gr thompson design/358156's big brother) flat out shoots in these bulldogs. H&G put out a bunch of 2-cavity #142 molds with 1 side being a 200gr gc swc hp and the other side a 220gr gc swc.

    Some test loads I did last year with a 2 1/2" bbl'd bulldog. Was interested in a hb hp swc (hollow base/hollow point/swc) in the 44spl. The FBI had the treasury load using a 158gr hb hp swc for the 38spl. Buffalo bore has a 1000fps 158gr gc swc hp load for snubnosed 38spl's.

    Worked up a 210gr hb swc hp (matching the fbi bullet) that does 1000fps+ (matching the bb/snubnose load) in the snubnosed 44spl.
    158gr doing 1000fps vs 210gr doing 1000fps.
    [IMG][/IMG]

    Run lighter bullets in the bulldogs, the h&g #142 or the lyman 429215 are excellent choices for the ca bulldogs.

    I like the light weight of the bulldogs. If I was to step up in weight I'd rather go with a s&w 69 then the ruger. The s&w is a heck of a lot better revolver and the 44mag (s&w 44mag or 44spl) vs 44spl (ruger) only is a huge plus.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    I have 190 grain full wadcutter mold but it will not shoot to sights.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

  10. #10
    I carried the blues Bulldog 3" as a back up while a peace officer for many years with RCBS 44-250-K over 5.2 grains of Bullseye. The holster was a Greg Kramer horsehide for a Ruger SP 101. It was a perfect combination.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I loved the Bulldog back in the 70s. If I find one like yours it would be hard to resist for sure!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  12. #12
    Boolit Mold
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    I agree with Forrest r, I do not cast but 215 gr. Bayou SWC are about as heavy as my Shelton Bulldog likes. I do have some Penn 185 gr. WC to work up.
    If delivered, will do paper work on Ruger GP today.

    Take care,

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
    cabezaverde's Avatar
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    I have a group buy Lee 6 cavity from a buy we did here years ago. It casts a 210 grain PB RNFP about .433 diameter. The original intent of the group buy was for Marlin and Winchester lever guns in 44 magnum. I sold the rifle a while back but kept the mold as it works superbly well in my Stratford Bulldog. Using a custom .433" Lyman sizer on them, I might have to get one made for my Star.
    Founder of the Single Shot section.

    A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.


    8 in the 10 ring, then I get a PING. Love my Garand.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I've got a older 3 incher that I picked up used in the late 80s. I cast using a Lee 240 gr LSWC Tumble Lubed projo and reload Speer shot capsuals. Its my prefered woods roaming gun here along the NC swamps/coastline. First two rounds shot then hard cast for the cottonmouths, gators and bears. All my loads also use Unique.

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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
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check