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Thread: Loads for S&W 696

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub TXTad's Avatar
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    Loads for S&W 696

    I've got a 1990s era S&W 696 that I'm going to be loading for. I have no reason to beat up this gun as I have plenty of other bigger .44 Specials, including a couple of the recent GP-100s (3 and 5").

    I have a Lee 429-214. I'm thinking a 7.0 gr of Unique under that bullet should be just fine, but 7.5 probably wouldn't be hard on it.

    Anyone else have any 696 favorites?

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master

    stubshaft's Avatar
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    I use Skeeters load of 7.5 Unique under that bullet in my 44 Specials all of the time. It will NOT harm your 696 at all and I get great accuracy with it to boot.
    Old enough to know better, young enough to do it anyway!

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  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Have a friend up in ILL who has several as does is brother. Their simple rule is "if it hurts your hand, you are hurting your 696".
    Dan had one with a cracked frame (found at a local show) to remind people what the 696 was not.
    "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Male Guanaco out in dry lakebed at 10,800 feet south of Arequipa.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Using a very similar projectile, we used 5.5-6.0/Red Dot/215 gr. LSWC in .44 Special, for CASS, and falling plate competitions. The load is more in the "Cowboy Action" level of performance, but was very very accurate. Ordinarily, I prefer the use of bulkier propellants like Unique, rather than Red Dot, in .44 Spl., but the Red Dot load worked so well, we just kept on using it. Just watch for the possibility of double-charge w/Red Dot, if you use it.
    Like you, I doubt that 7.5/Unique/214 gr. would strain anything in a 696 (though you couldn't get me to shoot that out of Charter Arms ANYTHING). The load is similar to the Keith-Skelton 7.5/Unique/240-250 gr. LSWC, which was touted as giving 950 f/s from a 4" N-frame. While I found the load obstreperous in a 696, I would think that the same load with your lighter projectile would be somewhat more controllable, and just as effective.
    In the 7.0 - 7.5 gr. charge weight range, you have puh-LENTY of "oomph". I think I'd try loads in 0.1 gr. increments, in search of a load that is much more accurate than with the other charge weights. Within the range of 7.0 - 7.5 gr., the likely difference in velocity is ~75 f/s or less, so you have enough with any charge weight. Search for the "tack-driver" load within that range.
    For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:18
    He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool become servant to the wise of heart. Proverbs 11:29
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  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I have had pretty good luck with a 200 grain (actually about 210 grain) MP mold (IIRC, the 432-423) and 4.5 grains of Red Dot. I have a Ruger GP 100 and find the heavier Skeeter level loads a little objectionable when all I am doing is killing paper. For my N-frame 6 shooters, I load heavier loads, but the 696 has a reputation for breaking when pushed over the line, so I would tread on the lighter side, especially since you have other guns for bigger stuff.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Long ago I had a RCBS Little Dandy measure. One of the rotors was for 6 grs of Unique. I used it with Lee 240gr tlswc bullets in a Second Model Hand Ejector .44 Special and a Rossi 92 copy in 44-40.
    Excellent accuracy and easy to shoot well in both guns.
    It should be a hoot in that 696.


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  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    obstreperous

    That is a new vocabulary word for me. I like it! Good one!


    As I get older, obstreperous is the opposite of what I look for in a useful handgun load used for spending time in the highcountry. I ran across a 696 in a local gun shop in 1998 and it has been my woods gun ever since. It is perfect for my needs. I have never settled on a "best" load but have a lot of good ones. The RCBS 255K and 5 grains of Red Dot is a good one. That mold casts on the heavy side running 270 - 275 grains depending on alloy.
    Chill Wills

  8. #8
    Boolit Bub TXTad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kosh75287 View Post
    Using a very similar projectile, we used 5.5-6.0/Red Dot/215 gr. LSWC in .44 Special, for CASS, and falling plate competitions. The load is more in the "Cowboy Action" level of performance, but was very very accurate. Ordinarily, I prefer the use of bulkier propellants like Unique, rather than Red Dot, in .44 Spl., but the Red Dot load worked so well, we just kept on using it. Just watch for the possibility of double-charge w/Red Dot, if you use it.
    Like you, I doubt that 7.5/Unique/214 gr. would strain anything in a 696 (though you couldn't get me to shoot that out of Charter Arms ANYTHING). The load is similar to the Keith-Skelton 7.5/Unique/240-250 gr. LSWC, which was touted as giving 950 f/s from a 4" N-frame. While I found the load obstreperous in a 696, I would think that the same load with your lighter projectile would be somewhat more controllable, and just as effective.
    In the 7.0 - 7.5 gr. charge weight range, you have puh-LENTY of "oomph". I think I'd try loads in 0.1 gr. increments, in search of a load that is much more accurate than with the other charge weights. Within the range of 7.0 - 7.5 gr., the likely difference in velocity is ~75 f/s or less, so you have enough with any charge weight. Search for the "tack-driver" load within that range.
    I think I'm hoping to reach 900fps with the 214gr bullet from the 696. If I can hit 950, that will be gravy, but I also don't want anything obstreperous. I am not going to go over 7.5 gr of Unique. Well, I might try 7.8 since Alliant says that's top for 220gr 44 Special, but no +P loads.

    900 fps is 385 ft.lbs, 950 is 429 ft.lbs.

    I think even 900 fps should be more than sufficient for anything that is likely to attack me in North Texas, especially those paper targets and steel plates at the range.
    Last edited by TXTad; 01-24-2023 at 11:31 PM.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Wow...
    Maybe I should start a website with a "word of the day" for broadening one's vocabulary. I wouldn't want to appear PENURIOUS with my EDIFICATIONS...
    Last edited by Kosh75287; 01-24-2023 at 07:04 PM.
    For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:18
    He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool become servant to the wise of heart. Proverbs 11:29
    ...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40


    Carpe SCOTCH!

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