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Thread: 44 special standard loads for hunting

  1. #21
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    I shot a couple of nuisance raccoons recently using my new vaquero. I used 5.2 grains of trailboss and a lee 255 grain boolit. The velocity is really low. Head shot for head shot, my 22lr Ruger wrangler seems to knock them ďinstantlyĒ dead better than the big 255 grain lee at 575 fps.

  2. #22
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have a load in 44 mag using 6 or 7 grains of red dot under a 210 grain swc. It can't be doing much over 700fps. One year I shot a big doe at just over 100 yards with that load. Hit her in the hart. She made one leap and it was all over. So yes a standard pressure load in a 44 special will kill a deer at 100 yards with correct bullet placement.
    Steve

  3. #23
    Boolit Grand Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunseller View Post
    I have a load in 44 mag using 6 or 7 grains of red dot under a 210 grain swc. It can't be doing much over 700fps. One year I shot a big doe at just over 100 yards with that load. Hit her in the hart. She made one leap and it was all over. So yes a standard pressure load in a 44 special will kill a deer at 100 yards with correct bullet placement.
    Steve

    I appreciate you sharing that. I’d like to hear more stories like that.

  4. #24
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Me too!

  5. #25
    Boolit Grand Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    In pierces article on 44 special, he lists 5 grains bullseye and the Keith bullet at 800+ FPS with a 4 1/4” barrel. So with my 4 5/8, possible if pushing 850fps. That’s a touch more powerful than a 45 acp, which has been used on deer. So I’ve been researching that. And it seems many a folk has taken deer broadside with the 45 auto.

  6. #26
    Boolit Master
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    I was recently shooting a 275 gr. boolit over 6.9 of Unique out of my 24-3. Was maybe a touch warm with breech imprinting on the primers and full case expansion. Very accurate and not unpleasant to shoot. Loaded some at 6.6 yesterday and these I will chronograph. I use that same boolit over 9.2 of Unique in my Super Blackhawk.

    Edit; Well the 6.6 .44 special load is going about 875 fps. The 9.2 .44 mag load is 1165.
    Last edited by Cosmic_Charlie; 09-10-2021 at 01:47 PM.

  7. #27
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazoo View Post
    In pierces article on 44 special, he lists 5 grains bullseye and the Keith bullet at 800+ FPS with a 4 1/4” barrel. So with my 4 5/8, possible if pushing 850fps. That’s a touch more powerful than a 45 acp, which has been used on deer. So I’ve been researching that. And it seems many a folk has taken deer broadside with the 45 auto.
    If anything, I think you are better off with a 44 special, than a 45 ACP, since you can use any bullet you want. You can use a WFN in 45 ACP, but you have to make sure it feeds. I really doubt you will ever be able to tell the difference a non-expanding solid flat nosed bullet does whether it starts at 750 fps or 850 fps. The only thing you need to worry about is accuracy. That's the whole point of people liking big and slow. Nothing you do will change the effectiveness, so all you need is accuracy.

  8. #28
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tripplebeards View Post
    I shot a couple of nuisance raccoons recently using my new vaquero. I used 5.2 grains of trailboss and a lee 255 grain boolit. The velocity is really low. Head shot for head shot, my 22lr Ruger wrangler seems to knock them “instantly” dead better than the big 255 grain lee at 575 fps.
    try putting some more powder in there
    you will notice a difference
    Hit em'hard
    hit em'often

  9. #29
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by ABJ View Post
    Do a google search for Brian Pearce 44 special articles. The PDF on the Goodrich family site has three load levels and lots of loads in each. I have used several on tier one and two. If I need tier 3 loads I just use my 44 mag.
    Tony
    Haven't read Handloader Magazine in a while but remember Brian Pearce writing he got full penetration on an elk with a 44 Special and Keith bullet at 950fps.

  10. #30
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I use a load of 7.5 gr unique with 250ish boolits
    accuracy and smack what more can you ask for
    Hit em'hard
    hit em'often

  11. #31
    Boolit Master 35 Whelen's Avatar
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    I've killed a few head of game with my .44 Special's, deer and hogs. With the exception of one, they were all dispatched with a 255-ish gr. SWC (RCBS 44-250 KT)running 925-950 fps., the exception was a buck I shot with a 243 gr. cast SWCHP running a hair over 1100 fps. Ranges were as close as 12 yds., with two, a buck and a sow, right at 45 yds. This bullet at this velocity typically completely penetrates so I see little need in any more velocity for this size game.

    One can pretty easily get bullets in this weight range running 950-1000 fps and still stay within 15,000 psi. 8.0 - 8.2 grs. of Power Pistol is probably a fellas best bet. This is pretty much my go-to hunting load and it runs right at 950 fps and shoots quite well in my old rattley Uberti.



    So to answer the OP's question, as always, where you hit 'em is far more important than what you hit them with. I'd not go out after elk with a .44 Special load with a 260-265 gr. SWC running 900-1000 fps, but if it were all I had and a bull walked within 50 or so yards of me, I have no doubt it would work.

    35W
    "Only accurate rifles are interesting." -Col. Townsend Whelen.
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    Certified Texas Hunter Education Instructor

  12. #32
    Boolit Grand Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Thanks for your addition to this thread 35w. Nice looking Uberti too. I like guns with honest wear.

    I don’t have any power pistol but I will keep a lookout for some. I’ve been wanting to try it for a little while now.

  13. #33
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    i shot a buck with a 10 in contender

    Quote Originally Posted by Bazoo View Post
    Thanks for your addition to this thread 35w. Nice looking Uberti too. I like guns with honest wear.

    I donít have any power pistol but I will keep a lookout for some. Iíve been wanting to try it for a little while now.
    i shot a buck three years ago with a 10in contender 44 mag bbl. i was useing 44 special brass and a 245gr swc with 8 grains of unique,a measured 82 yards from me to it. took the top of the heart off and he never took a step, it was a pass through but i didnt find the boolit.

  14. #34
    Boolit Master
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    Out of my 6-1/2" 24-3, a 275 gr. boolit over 6.6 of Unique gets me about 900 fps. And it is accurate as well. I want a quick clean kill on a deer. A deer that runs and suffers gets full of stress hormones that you can smell when you're field dressing and taste when you eat it. I may try handgun deer hunting this year but I would use my 7-1/2" SBH .44 mag with that same boolit over 9.2 of Unique for about 1165 fps.

  15. #35
    Boolit Bub gc45's Avatar
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    My .02 cents: My life has been blessed to have hunted for many years and taking lots of game, from varmits to moose and buffalo and using antique black powder rifles. But I'm here to say, before getting my 44 Special Ruger which I hope to hunt with this year, my brother and i used an older Ruger 44 mag that was my Dad's back in his day. To date, that old 44 loaded with about 7.3 grains of Unique (we used a dipper not having scales) and 240 cast bullets, has dispached around 30 or more deer, all at 45-50 yds from our deer stand in the woods back of our Dad's farm. None I can remember went over 10-20 yds. Also a few black bears with same loads and same results that, went a little farther before going down dead. It's my opinion the hydrolic shock and penitration of this load just kills them quick by really upsetting the vitals. These animals were all killed with lung shots and were just full of blood in the cavity. Having killed many game animals with verious cartidges, the 44 bullets in this weight or heavier and driven to about 900fps is as good as it gets within handgun ranges for proper bullet placement that in my view is most critical. Subjectively, I would disagree with using low velocity loads for humane kills unless at closer ranges and very good bullet placement.
    In short, heavy bullets driven at velocities that give excellent penitration along with proper placement at our intended distances of game, is what is most important. No more, no less.
    Last edited by gc45; 10-07-2021 at 04:07 PM.

  16. #36
    Boolit Master
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    You mean to say one doesn't need $4.00 dollar apiece, copper monometal bullets and 3500 fps to kill the armor plated game of today? Pshaw....I ain't believin' that for a minute.....
    "In general, the art of government is to take as much money as possible from one class of citizens and give it to another class of citizens" Voltaire'

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  17. #37
    Boolit Grand Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    So a standard 44 special load is basically useless for big game hunting except as a last resort and then only with a perfect opportunity.

    But a load similar to the skeeter load works quite well.

  18. #38
    Boolit Buddy
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    Bazoo, I think with a starting velocity of 800/850 and a 40ish yard shot you are good to go. I would in a heartbeat. But!!!! move on out to 50 yds and beyond I feel more comfortable with a load in the 1000 fps range. I have two iron sighted specials that I can hit swingers form 25 yds out to 130 yds on demand but the longer range swingers are not the 6 to 8 inch vitals on a deer, more like 2 feet by 3 feet. I know my own limitations and I respect that.
    I also have a 7.5" 44 mag and a 7.5"454 both wearing scopes and both sighted in a 100 yds. My top end loads for both are right around 1200 or so. If I think I might have a shot over 40ish yds I carry the big guns if not I carry the special at 900.
    I absolutely love the 44 special, If a gun can be a best friend then my flattop is it. It is my go to sidearm when rifle hunting or just woods walking or just being in camp. I have two loads, 5.0 bullseye and a 240 swc for daily use and the same boolit with power pistol loaded to a little over 900. Sorry I'm and work so I don't remember the PP load exactly. The bullseye load inside of 50 yds is the limit of my confidence on a live animal with iron sights and my eyes.
    Tony

  19. #39
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Just some quick numbers for you guys with a basic Keith bullet.

    Started at 750 fps, it would be down to about 720 fps at 50 yards.

    Started at 900 fps, it would be down to about 850 fps at 50 yards.

    This is my opinion, but distance does not play a huge role in the effectiveness of a big and slow round like this. If it works at 10 yards, it will work at 100.

  20. #40
    Boolit Master taco650's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bazoo View Post
    So a standard 44 special load is basically useless for big game hunting except as a last resort and then only with a perfect opportunity.

    But a load similar to the skeeter load works quite well.
    I think, as other's have mentioned already, that it depends more on the range you want to shoot at and your ability to put the bullet where you want it. IRRC a standard .44 Sp load was a 246 lrn going around 750 isn't it? I would only use a swc or something with a wide meplat with a power you can shoot accurately even if its a standard pressure load. I think the others who mention more powerful loads only do so to let you know that more power can be had from the .44 Sp and still be safe in a standard handgun. Experiment with loads if you can and see what you and your handgun of choice like best.

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