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Thread: 44 Special - cast loads

  1. #1
    Boolit Man dakota's Avatar
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    44 Special - cast loads

    I have a Colt Model "P" clone. Of course that means non-adjustable sights. I'm hesitant to modify the sights to get in "on-target". I have three or four molds for .429. Lyman 429421, and 429244, another similar to the 429421 mold and a 320 grain mold. I can get pretty good groups, best with 2400 and next Unique. I'm probably not going to use this rvolver on anything bigger than White tail.

    I have been looking through old Handloader articles...

    Please, let me know, "what's your favorite 44 Special cast load?"

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I use the Skeeter load, 7.5 grains of Unique under a 429-421 mostly, but 6.9 grains is very accurate, with that boolit and powder. 8.2 grains of Power Pistol is reputed to give excellent groups with maximum standard pressure loads, again with the 429-421. I have no use for the 429-244 in 44Special loads, though it is very good in the Magnum.
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  3. #3
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    Might try the 429421 over 5 gr Bullseye. Or a 240 SWC over the same. That pretty much duplicates the factory 246 gr RN load.
    Larry Gibson

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  4. #4
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    8.3 grains of Power Pistol with a 250 grain SWC give me 960 FPS in a Ruger Bisley 44 Special with a 4 5/8 inch barrel. It's a pretty stout but accurate load

  5. #5
    Boolit Master


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    I use the #429421 over 4.0-5.0grs of Titegroup. My Colts will match P.O.A. with P.O.I. at 4.6grs at 50ft.
    But then the front sights were filed down a bit over 40yrs ago.
    Ya just gotta adjust powder charge and/or powder to find what works.

    The Lyman #429478 - 210gr RN is a Big favorite of mine. But it's discontinued. You can always try a Lee 200gr RF.

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  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I just don't think you can go wrong with the "Skeeter" load in a strong 44 Special.

    The 44 Special shines with a moderately soft 240-250 grain Keith style SWC bullet driven to the 900-1000 fps range.

    The classic Skeeter load of a 240-250 grain LSWC over 7.5 grains of Unique in a 44 Special casing is where I would start. In all likelihood, it would be where I finished as well.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master


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    OP says; "I'm hesitant to modify the sights to get in "on-target"

    While Skeeter's load is an excellent one many times it does not hit to aim with fixed sighted revolvers. The sights of fixed sighted revolvers are usually regulated to the most common factory load. Many times duplicating the factory load by bullet weight and velocity will get the best results zero wise.
    Larry Gibson

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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I've also found the #429421 and 5 grs. Bullseye is a good accurate load but it shoots a little high in my S&W .44s even with the rear sight bottomed out. I began using the SAECO 200 grain flat point design (#420) but had to have it opened up to where it would cast a .432" bullet. I can use a variety of powders with this bullet and point of impact is considerably lower than with the heavy bullets. Best powder to date has been Herco and this bullet has been more accurate at 25 yards than either the #429421 or the HP version of the same.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    OP says; "I'm hesitant to modify the sights to get in "on-target"

    While Skeeter's load is an excellent one many times it does not hit to aim with fixed sighted revolvers. The sights of fixed sighted revolvers are usually regulated to the most common factory load. Many times duplicating the factory load by bullet weight and velocity will get the best results zero wise.
    I totally agree but I would still start with the Skeeter load and determine where the load impacts in contrast to the Point of Aim [P.O.A.].

    If it's close, you tweak the load a little. if it requires modifying the sights, then you move on to a completely different load.

    The SAAMI specs for 44 Special loadings are held pathetically low.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master


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    "The SAAMI specs for 44 Special loadings are held pathetically low."

    That is certainly true. My experience with Skeeter's load (I have shot it a lot for many years but in handguns with adjustable sights) is that it hits considerably lower than the factory load. I've found the Bullseye load duplicating the factory load hits at or very close to the factory load which is probably what the sights on his revolver are regulated for.

    Like you I would also recommend Skeeter's load for the OP as he say he might hunt whitetail deer with it. However, to do so I would bet the OP will have to tweak the front sight to get a zero at 25 yards. Maybe not as it depends on variables associated with his hold and sight picture. Only he can find out. He ask for favorite loads and I gave him one of mine as I have 700+ rounds of that load loaded now...….

    Larry Gibson

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  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lotech View Post
    I've also found the #429421 and 5 grs. Bullseye is a good accurate load but it shoots a little high in my S&W .44s even with the rear sight bottomed out. I began using the SAECO 200 grain flat point design (#420) but had to have it opened up to where it would cast a .432" bullet. I can use a variety of powders with this bullet and point of impact is considerably lower than with the heavy bullets. Best powder to date has been Herco and this bullet has been more accurate at 25 yards than either the #429421 or the HP version of the same.
    You might try the Accurate 43-206H. When ordering you have specify the desired diameter and alloy you want to use. I use this semi-wadcutter with 6 grains of Bullseye in the .44-40. I am confident that it would also be a winner in the .44 Special. The Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook, 4th Edition (2010) has loads on p.271 for the 210-grain #429215 which should be suitable with this bullet. In particular, 7.7 grains of Unique is bolded as an "accuracy load" giving 884 fps at 13,600 cup. or 14.5 grs. of #2400 for 905 fps at 14,000.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I need to cast some of these to send to Larry for pressure testing, as I'm sure that this bullet would have promise in all of the .44s for those who prefer a lighter bullet.
    Last edited by Outpost75; 12-07-2019 at 12:07 PM.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    "The SAAMI specs for 44 Special loadings are held pathetically low."

    That is certainly true. My experience with Skeeter's load (I have shot it a lot for many years but in handguns with adjustable sights) is that it hits considerably lower than the factory load. I've found the Bullseye load duplicating the factory load hits at or very close to the factory load which is probably what the sights on his revolver are regulated for.

    Like you I would also recommend Skeeter's load for the OP as he say he might hunt whitetail deer with it. However, to do so I would bet the OP will have to tweak the front sight to get a zero at 25 yards. Maybe not as it depends on variables associated with his hold and sight picture. Only he can find out. He ask for favorite loads and I gave him one of mine as I have 700+ rounds of that load loaded now...….

    We're on the same page.

    I have argued for years that we need a SAAMI sanctioned 44 Special load that is above the current limits for 44 Special and below (probably way below) the limits for 44 magnum. I envision that hypothetical standard as some sort of 44 Special +P.

    The "Skeeter" load is just outside the upper pressure limits for SAAMI approved 44 Special loadings. Most modern guns chambered for 44 Special are more than strong enough to handle the Skeeter load. Factory 44 Special loads are held ridiculously low in terms of pressures. I'm sure that is done in an abundance of caution due to some older 44 Special designs that are still floating around out there and are not as strong as modern guns chambered in 44 Special. A +P rating would sanction the loads that are already in common use in modern guns.

    If I was going to hunt deer with a handgun chambered in 44 Special, I would desire a cartridge with a little more performance than most of the factory 44 Special loadings. Perhaps something along the lines of ........the "Skeeter Load.

    The SAAMI 44 Special max pressure of 15,500 psi is a joke. Even the 45 ACP has a higher rating (21,000) and that's generally considered a low pressure cartridge.

  13. #13
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    Yup, same page....good discussion...…

    I have pressure tested R-P factory 44 SPL with 246 gr RNL, my factory duplication Bullseye load with the Lee TL 240 SWC, along with several different cast bullets over Skeeter's 7.5 gr Unique load.

    The BE load was in W-W cases, the R-P in R-p cases and the Skeeter loads in Starline cases. I used WLP primers in my loads and assume R-P used Remington primers. Pressures measured via Oehler M43 PBL using a Contender 44 magnum barrel. Ten shot tests were conducted with each load as per SAAMI procedure.

    R-P factory 246 RN; 12,000 psi

    My BE factory duplication load with the Lee TL 430-240-SWC seated to 1st lube groove; 14,600 psi

    Skeeter's 7.5 gr Unique (Alliant) loads:
    RCBS 44-250-K (255 gr); 23,000 psi
    Commercial hard cast (Laser Cast) cast 240 gr SWCBB; 19,000 psi
    Lyman 429360 240 gr (COWWs + 2% tin); 22,500 psi
    Lee TL430-240-SWC 240 gr (COWWs + 2% tin); 24,700 psi
    Lyman 429421 258 gr (COWWs + 2% tin); 21,000 psi

    As we see the psi can vary greatly depending on the seating depth of the bullet regardless of the weight or the OAL.

    I also loaded up Elmer's old favorite load (in solid head cases) using the RCBS 44-250-K (255 gr fully dressed) in Starline cases primed with WLPs over 16 gr Alliant 2400. I've used that load in several S&W 44 SPLs including a M28 I had converted to 44 SPL years ago. I killed a nice mule deer buck and a couple does with that revolver and load. Out of that M28 4" barrel it gave 860 fps with Skeeter's load and 1010 fps with Elmer's load which was just as accurate as Skeeter"s.
    Larry Gibson

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  14. #14
    Boolit Man dakota's Avatar
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    Thanks for the answers!!!

    I don't have any factory loads to try. All the loads I've tried so far are shooting very very low. Even the 10 grains of 2400 behind the 320 grain bullet shoots low. I was hoping to stay with the Keith bullet as I don't see the advantage of the 320 grain bullet in these parts (no grizzlies here & if there were then I might carry something else).

    I have a few powders on-hand that seem to be in the ball park, Red, Bullseye, Unique, 2400, and a couple powders may be a little out of the desirable burn rate - H110, 5744, 1680. I may settle on the Skeeter load and I'll try others mentioned. The tgrouble is they all hit so low that they are off the paper.

    I too wish there was a plus-p category.

    I like that "P" Colt clone as far as how it fits the hand and I'd like to carry it more often - after I settle on a load.

    I see that a local gunstore in Sioux Falls (Gary's) is running a special on a "P" clone in 45 colt. I'll probably have to go to pick one of those up.

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by dakota View Post
    Thanks for the answers!!!

    I don't have any factory loads to try. All the loads I've tried so far are shooting very very low. Even the 10 grains of 2400 behind the 320 grain bullet shoots low. I was hoping to stay with the Keith bullet as I don't see the advantage of the 320 grain bullet in these parts (no grizzlies here & if there were then I might carry something else).

    I have a few powders on-hand that seem to be in the ball park, Red, Bullseye, Unique, 2400, and a couple powders may be a little out of the desirable burn rate - H110, 5744, 1680. I may settle on the Skeeter load and I'll try others mentioned. The tgrouble is they all hit so low that they are off the paper.

    I too wish there was a plus-p category.

    I like that "P" Colt clone as far as how it fits the hand and I'd like to carry it more often - after I settle on a load.

    I see that a local gunstore in Sioux Falls (Gary's) is running a special on a "P" clone in 45 colt. I'll probably have to go to pick one of those up.
    You're probably not there yet but you may eventually find that you have no choice other than to shorten that front sight.

  16. #16
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    At least you're hitting low and not high. Much easier to remove metal than add it....

    Brownells sells very good cold blue everyday and they cover bare metal nicely. I suspect you don't want to file the front sight, but what good is it looking for "that load" and not being able to find it because of the too tall sight.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for posting those pressure numbers Larry very informative .

  18. #18
    The main issue here is velocity. Take your best grouping load and adjust powder charge until it hits to point of aim. Lower velocities will hit HIGHER than high velocities. Sounds counterintuitive, but it relates to the amount of time the bullet stays in the barrel. As the gun recoils upward, the longer the bullet is in the barrel, the higher the bullet will strike.

  19. #19
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    oldsalt444, you're absolutely correct but within that theme, bullet weight is bigger factor than bullet speed.

    Changing the bullet weight will have a bigger impact on POI than changing the velocity of a bullet of constant weight. The heavier bullet will stay in the barrel longer than the lighter bullet, just as you stated, but the maximum velocity is only part of that equation. The rate of acceleration within the barrel is a more significant factor.
    You can set up a situation where a heavy bullet and a light bullet will both exit the same barrel at the same velocity by reducing the pressure in the light bullet cartridge and increasing the pressure in the heavy bullet load. Lets say both loads achieve a hypothetical 800 fps muzzle velocity from the same gun; the heavier bullet will still strike higher than the lighter bullet even though they both exited the barrel at 800 fps.
    There is more inertia to overcome with the heavier bullet and it will take longer for that bullet to accelerate and exit the barrel even though it exits at the same speed as the lighter bullet. Hatcher wrote about this in his experiments from the early 1900's

    Think of two runners in a 50 yard sprint. Lets say they both can achieve the same maximum speed but runner A reaches his top speed in the first 10 yards and then maintains that speed to the finish line. Runner B takes 30 yards to get up to the same speed and he maintains that speed to the finish line. Both runners cross the finish line at the same speed but runner A will reach the finish line first.

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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