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Thread: 44 Special Range Day

  1. #1
    Boolit Man
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    44 Special Range Day

    Worked up loads for a newly acquired Bulldog 44 and my 3Ē Ruger GP100 using Unique and 240gr LSWC Keith boolits.(Fed LP and Starline brass)

    6.0gr Unique
    6.5gr Unique
    7.5gr Unique (Skeeter load)

    The 6.0gr load was firm, but mild in the Bulldog and easy on the Ruger.
    The 6.5gr load was stout, but still controllable in the Bulldog and fine in the Ruger.
    I didnít try the 7.5gr load in the Bulldog. Iím sure it would be stout and the Bulldog can take it, but no reason to stress the firearm.

    In the Ruger, the Skeeter load was a joy to shoot. It was the most accurate out of the bunch. Recoil was noticeable, but not severe. The Ruger is built like a little tank and had no issues with this load.

    The 6.5gr load will be my carry load for the Bulldog and the 7.5gr is my carry/all purpose load for the GP100.

    Every range session with the 44 Special makes me love this cartridge more and more.

    All the best!

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  2. #2
    Boolit Master


    Walks's Avatar
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    You're right to keep the 6.5gr load for the Bulldog. I tried it in mine, as it was the only .44Spl load I used at the time was 7.5grs. Just a bit stout for me even back then, so I down loaded .5gr then 1.0gr. That 6.5 worked well. These days it's my Cowboy load of 4.0grs of TiteGroup under a 210-215gr Bullet. The old lee#429-208-WC cuts a Clean hole and is very accurate too.
    I HATE auto-correct

    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

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  3. #3
    Boolit Man
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    Thanks. I’m sure I could carry and fire the 7.5gr loads in the Bulldog with no ill effects, but I like shooting the little Bulldog and 6.5gr with 240 Keith bullet is no joke. I’ll stick to a mix of the majority load of 6.0gr for range work, and 6.5gr to keep me honest, haha.

  4. #4
    Boolit Man
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    Damn it. I just paid too much for a S&W 696 revolver era 1998.

  5. #5
    Boolit Man
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    Good thing I loaded up Skeeter Loads.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I have a Taurus 431 (blue, 3" w/ fixed sights) that often travels with me to the hunting camp. I had tested several loads in the 240-250 boolit weight range that gave decent groups but the recoil and slower M.V. caused groups to print higher than I wanted. I usually carry snake shot loads in it when I am working out chores at the camp (I hate snakes!). I found success when testing the Lyman 429348 boolit at 180 grains, then picked up a Lyman 429625 mold. This is a 2-part mold with separate molds for the base unit (hard alloy) and a nose section (soft alloy) to make hunting loads. The base section alone weighs 175 grains and I tested these against each other. Load data came from the Lyman #45 manual where they show a maximum load for the 180 grain boolit at 11.5 grains of Unique. I loaded down to 10.0 grains Unique and found success. Both of these boolits grouped tighter than the heavier boolits and closer to where the sights were looking, more of what I was hoping to find. Next I tested this load in a Charter Arms Bulldog and got the same results as with the Taurus. The "348" boolit is a conventional wadcutter and the "625" base resembles a yawning hollow point. Either one is a suitable candidate for a trip to the camp.

  7. #7
    Boolit Man
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  8. #8
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    Pavia: the hot tip with your 696 is to get a set of X frame Grips from S&W They fit right on the frame of the 696 and have about 3/8" of real padding where the Web Area of your Hand interfaces with the grip. That way you can shoot the gun all day with heavier loads like Skeeters.

    All S&W pistols have the same grip profile and they all hit you right in the web of your hand which gets old pretty fast.

    The X Frame grips were a night and day difference.

    And you got one of the good 696's It would be a 696 No Dash, with the Firing Pin on the Hammer as opposed to the 696-1 with the firing pin in the frame and the 696-2 which has the stupid lock.

    I paid $950 for mine and it was worth every cent. My normal is load Keith boolit with 6.0 gr of W231. Shoots right to the sights.

    The one thing you have to be aware of is not firing a Jacketed Bullet after firing Cast. If the forcing cone has any lead built up in it,,, it will crack the barrels spigot and there are NO REPLACEMENTS!!! The gun will be fine as long as you don't do that. They were actually proofed with Magnum level loads and were fine but that small NO NO is something to be avoided.

    On the M69 that problem was addressed by making the Barrel Spigot (area around the forcing cone) thicker, and area in the frame around it heavier. The M69 is an L frame .44 Magnum.

    IMHO the 696 is a better gun and it would have been fine if they had just addressed that one small flaw. Instead they left the door open for Ruger to fill it with the GP100/44 which has been pretty successful.

    By shooting PC'd Boolits in the 696 you never will get any leading! Something to think about.

    Randy
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    Last edited by W.R.Buchanan; 01-10-2022 at 07:06 PM.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master AnthonyB's Avatar
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    A 696 is one of my Grail guns. I have the Ruger GP100s and am on the lookout for a Smith 69.
    Tony

  10. #10
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    44 Special in a Bulldog makes for a fun day at the range.
    NRA Benefactor Member NRA Golden Eagle

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by pworley1 View Post
    44 Special in a Bulldog makes for a fun day at the range.
    Always.. After much trial and error with my old, blued, original 3", Bulldog... I "carry" the Speer swaged 240SWC over 4.0 gr Red Dot.. at a Mundane, but hard hitting 650fps.. If I wish to print lower... a 200 Lee CFP, over 6.0 gr Unique, gives 775fps...
    Tho my old Bulldog wears Pachmayrs.. I do Not want "More", thanks

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have an older blue 3” Bulldog - it is a joy to carry and shoot. Mine seems to like a 220 gr bullet that I normally shoot in 44-40; hits to POA at 20 yds and doesn’t kick quite like the heavier slugs.

  13. #13
    Boolit Man
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    I got some leading with the lighter loads using the hard cast Keith SWC, so I’ll take a look the PC bullets or stick with 6.5gr and up. Thanks.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pavia View Post
    I got some leading with the lighter loads using the hard cast Keith SWC, so I’ll take a look the PC bullets or stick with 6.5gr and up. Thanks.
    I know we are supposed to be "all about" casting here... but the 240 swaged SWC seems a Natural for the Special!!! For many reasons.
    That, and I refuse to cast two different alloys for the same Boolit... Not something I want...

  15. #15
    Boolit Man
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    I was using a hard cast boolit from Missouri Bullet Company with a BN of 18. No leading with the 6.5 or 7.5 loads, so softer choice for 6.0 is warranted. Also the 6.0 was fired out of a new Bulldog and I’m sure there is some roughness in the barrel and just needs a bit of a break in. I like the idea of the idea of the powder coated bullets to color code between firearms.

  16. #16
    Boolit Man
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    On its way to my FFL!

  17. #17
    Boolit Master murf205's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pavia View Post
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    On its way to my FFL!
    Pavia, I don't know what you consider too much for that 696 but it must have been good if you sprung for it. That is one gun you will never regret buying. Just follow Randy's advice about loading for it and you might want to consider the powder coating route to keep leading to a minimum. If you don't want that lil' 696, PM me cause I would love to find one that somebody didn't want my first born as payment.
    IT AINT what ya shoot--its how ya shoot it. NONE of us are as smart as ALL of us!

  18. #18
    Boolit Man
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    I paid $1500. That’s not deal, but I’ve seen them go close to $1800. So, I probably spent too much, but this is a bit of a grail gun, however I still love all my 44s.

    I have some nice Altamont boot grips on the way for it.

  19. #19
    Boolit Man
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    I also have a Lipsey’s 44 Special Ruger Flattop Blackhawk in 4 5/8”. Blued with Altamont fake Ivory’s.

  20. #20
    Boolit Man rkrcpa's Avatar
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    Hard to beat the 696





    Two different Pachmayr profiles. Without the back strap covered is easier to conceal, with the back strap covered is more comfortable to shoot.

    Anyway you choose, it's a winner.

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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