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Old 03-17-2016, 02:13 PM
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Default Best .44 Magnum Defense Load?

Hello all! I see that there are some personal defense loads out there in .44 magnum. Loads like the following:

Federal Hyrda-Shok 240 grain Personal Defense



Buffalo Bore "Anti-Personnel" 180 grain lead hollow point



This is just to name a couple. It seems the trend is for "moderate magnum" loads for this purpose, hotter than .44 special of any variety but less than a full-power hunting load. This makes sense, as too much power can be a liability in self defense.

I am wondering what you guys think is the best dedicated defense load against human attackers in this caliber. If you have a Model 29 or other .44 magnum and use it for carry or home defense, I'd like to hear what you are using in it.

Thanks all!
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Old 03-17-2016, 02:25 PM
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44 special is the best sd load for a 44 magnum.

You don't need more for your purposes.
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Old 03-17-2016, 02:36 PM
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Easy answer is .44 Special, 230 grain LRN. That is EXACTLY what I loaded in my 3" Model 629 when it was my bedside gun, before I happily sold it.

44 Magnum is - IMHO - just about close to the worst ammunition you can use for personal defense, indoors or out, EXCEPT - MAYBE - against bears. But we're not starting a "bear thread" here.

Take your 44 Magnum to the range, stoke it with full house .44 Magnum loads, and play Dirty Harry. Aim at a silhouette target at about 7 yards and fire off six exciting rounds at a reasonably fast pace. This is a gunfight so you can't stop, recover, reacquire your sights, you have to kill your attacker NOW.

Count the good hits.

Do it again with .44 Special rounds.

Count the good hits.

Then decide.

Try it one handed..................................................................

Don't worry about where the misses go, through which of your home's walls, into whose room or which neighbor's house, etc. Those little niceties can't be a distraction in a gunfight. Just count hits.

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Old 03-17-2016, 02:56 PM
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I carried a M29 at work for about 5 years, I never found a factory round I was happy with. I actually believe the best . 44 Mag round for self defense is a .45 Colt.
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Old 03-17-2016, 02:59 PM
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I prefer the 200 gr. Gold Dot in .44 SPECIAL.

Speer Gold Dot Ammo .44 Special 200 Gr. GDHP-420334 - Gander Mountain
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Old 03-17-2016, 03:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moxie View Post
I prefer the 200 gr. Gold Dot in .44 SPECIAL.

Speer Gold Dot Ammo .44 Special 200 Gr. GDHP-420334 - Gander Mountain
Plus 1. The man knows of what he speaks,.....
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Old 03-17-2016, 03:49 PM
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Then why do loads like the above exist? I would happen to think the Hydra-Shok load would have been made to have good performance for personnel defense against humans, same with the Buffalo Bore load.
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayFramer View Post
Then why do loads like the above exist? I would happen to think the Hydra-Shok load would have been made to have good performance for personnel defense against humans, same with the Buffalo Bore load.
No one's saying they don't have good performance against humans -- doubtless they do -- only that there are more factors to consider in a self-defense shooting, like controllability, flash, bang, and a .44 Magnum round's ability to keep going (through walls, people) well after other perfectly capable rounds will have slowed, fragmented or been altogether stopped should you miss or punch through your target.

These loads exist because people will pay for them irrespective of their necessity or basic utility.
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:14 PM
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Default .44 Spl.

.44 Special is the way to go but if you hand load, about 8 grains of Unique behind a 240 grain SWC provides about the right amount of punch and decent recoil recovery.

But then, I would not choose the .44 Magnum for personal defense unless I happened to be hunting four-legged game and I was forced to engage a two-legged mutt, in which case, he gets whatever is in the gun.
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:46 PM
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BUFFALO BORE 190gr. SOFT CAST HP-GC HEAVY 44 SPL. 1098 fps - S&W MT Gun, 4 Inch barrel. About 510 FT/lbs of energy.
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:54 PM
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200gr GDHP in .44 Spl or .44 Mag (medium load). Or Winchester 210gr STHP in .44Mag. I'm sure that the 240gr Hydra-Shok is fine ammo, but it is probably a little more powerful than necessary. Second shot may count, too, if you can get the gun down out of the air in time to make one.
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Old 03-17-2016, 05:06 PM
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I'd go with the heavier BB wadcutter load over the 180 hp load.

Buffalo Bore Ammo 44 Special 200 Grain Hard Cast Wadcutter

A hot Special load of at least 200 grains, and at least 1000 fps.

Take advantage of using a revolver! Meplat is your friend. Use a wadcutter or SWC. Put a big flat face forward.
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Old 03-17-2016, 05:30 PM
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As many have recommended, the 44 spl load is best for SD. However, I prefer to load 44 mag cases to 44 spl velocities, same with 38/357. I just like using full length cases.

Last edited by CH4; 03-19-2016 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:10 PM
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Gold Dot is current technology. Hydra Shok and Silvertip are old technology, replaced by HST and Ranger, respectively. Unfortunately, Federal and Winchester don't produce revolver rounds with those bullets. Only the Speer Gold Dot, of the major manufacturers.
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moxie View Post
Gold Dot is current technology. Hydra Shok and Silvertip are old technology, replaced by HST and Ranger, respectively. Unfortunately, Federal and Winchester don't produce revolver rounds with those bullets. Only the Speer Gold Dot, of the major manufacturers.
The Hydra-Shoks have constantly been modified since they were first introduced by Federal.

Winchester's STHP have also been modified with the exception of the 9mm 115/147's, 38 Super+P, 40 S&W and 10MM.
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Old 03-18-2016, 08:39 AM
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Yes, but I wonder why Fed. hasn't transitioned to HST for revolvers and ditto Win. Ranger?
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Old 03-18-2016, 09:55 AM
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Yes, but I wonder why Fed. hasn't transitioned to HST for revolvers and ditto Win. Ranger?
There's a significantly bigger market for (primarily) semiauto rounds like 9mm, .40 and .45 cal.
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Old 03-18-2016, 10:23 AM
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I've got another thread going on handloading SD rounds for the 44mag. I'm leaning towards some 240gr SWC-HP copper plated bullets loaded in the 800-1000fps range - or so.

My goals are 400+ lbs muzzle energy and reliable expansion, with manageable recoil and flash from 2"-3" revolvers for CCW. I'd like to be able to load 44 magnum cases and 44 special cases with the same bullet - just smidge less powder in the specials - because I have 2 of these 5-shot CCW revolvers - 1 chambered for each cartridge.

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Old 03-18-2016, 12:02 PM
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There's a significantly bigger market for (primarily) semiauto rounds like 9mm, .40 and .45 cal.
True. So does that mean that only Speer sees the market as justifying latest technology for all calibers, while other makers are content with "upgrading" revolver calibers due to low demand? I think I prefer Gold Dots in my revolvers, instead of upgraded older technology. Back in the day I did use Silvertips and Hydra-Shoks, but times have changed.
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Old 03-18-2016, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISCS Yoda View Post
Easy answer is .44 Special, 230 grain LRN. That is EXACTLY what I loaded in my 3" Model 629 when it was my bedside gun, before I happily sold it.

44 Magnum is - IMHO - just about close to the worst ammunition you can use for personal defense, indoors or out, EXCEPT - MAYBE - against bears. But we're not starting a "bear thread" here.

Take your 44 Magnum to the range, stoke it with full house .44 Magnum loads, and play Dirty Harry. Aim at a silhouette target at about 7 yards and fire off six exciting rounds at a reasonably fast pace. This is a gunfight so you can't stop, recover, reacquire your sights, you have to kill your attacker NOW.

Count the good hits.

Do it again with .44 Special rounds.

Count the good hits.

Then decide.

Try it one handed..................................................................

Don't worry about where the misses go, through which of your home's walls, into whose room or which neighbor's house, etc. Those little niceties can't be a distraction in a gunfight. Just count hits.

If this doesnít convince you, take your ear muffs off and try it.

Just kidding Ė donít do that.

I read very little about the effects sound when shooting short barreled magnums in a closed area. Itís insanely loud.
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Old 03-18-2016, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Second shot may count, too, if you can get the gun down out of the air in time to make one.
My point exactly!

Quote:
I read very little about the effects sound when shooting short barreled magnums in a closed area. It’s insanely loud.
Many years ago I carried a short barreled H&R M929 .22 LR revolver into the deer woods. No deer, headed back to camp, and I was bored. I entered a clearing and decided to pop off some .22s for fun; lots of rocks and other targets of opportunity and nobody around.

This was outdoors in a clearing.

Those 9 rounds echoed in my ears the rest of the day, they were SO LOUD and bounced back so hard because of the surrounding trees.

Magnum rounds indoors must be AMAZING!!!!!
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Old 03-18-2016, 08:26 PM
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Just about the noise, I was in a shooting one night. I had to shoot at a bad guy from inside my Pickup, that's what the city issued me. I was using a .357. I had some hearing loss before that shooting, afterwards it was much worst.
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Old 03-18-2016, 08:54 PM
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I load a 200gr. Speer GDHP with enough Blue Dot for about 1000fps, in a magnum case. My woods gun is also my next-to-the-bed gun, a snubby Ruger SRH. This load shoots pretty easy, and groups like a target pistol.

I used to believe that using handloads could turn against you if you ever needed to use them for SD. An attorney could argue that you were trying to turn your gun into something even more deadly. With this load, I could say I was trying to reduce the .44 Magnum.

I will admit that I don't recall if that was ever actually used in court. I think that gun writers way back when liked to say it was possible.
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Old 03-19-2016, 01:36 PM
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Groo here
Many here
Are too worried about a second shot, the first one is the important one.
He who hits first usually wins .
If you want a fast bullet, make it a light one that is HP so it slows down quickly, if a heavy, slow it way down so it does not go to far.
If a full wad cutter , you make it about normal weight and sub sonic.
ANY HP "should" hit at 1000fps to insure it opens up.
As "Erich " has said many times---" Accuracy is King, Penetration is Queen, everything else is Angels dancing on the head of a pin."
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Old 03-19-2016, 01:43 PM
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IIRC, Col. Askins liked the early factory ammo for such purposes in SEA.
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Old 03-19-2016, 01:53 PM
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As "Erich " has said many times---" Accuracy is King, Penetration is Queen, everything else is Angels dancing on the head of a pin."
Accuracy is a fantasy.
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Old 03-21-2016, 01:55 PM
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Accuracy is a fantasy.
That may be true, but it is still king. It matters very much where a person is hit, and that is true whether it happens by accident, by skill, or doesn't happen at all.
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Old 03-21-2016, 02:26 PM
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That may be true, but it is still king. It matters very much where a person is hit, and that is true whether it happens by accident, by skill, or doesn't happen at all.
Aim center mass, because that is the largest target.

I saw a New York Police report a few years ago where of the >3000 shots they fired in one year, fully 83% missed the assailant entirely. They stopped publishing the annual report after that.
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Old 03-21-2016, 04:05 PM
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Using a .44 Mag sending a bullet a 1500 fps just doesn't sound prudent to me. Too much recoil, too much muzzle blast and too much penetration. You don't want to shoot a BG with that when he's standing in front of a wall that your kids are sleeping behind. A big SWC or flying ashtray at 800-1000 fps sounds better.
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Old 03-21-2016, 04:19 PM
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The Speer Gold Dot 200 Short Bbl loading should work well, It falls in the upper 44 special range and lower 44 mag range. Recoil is quite manageable. I believe it pushes the 200 gn gold dot around 1000 fps.
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:16 PM
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NYC is publishing reports again:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloa...eport_2013.pdf

Police shootings are way down!
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:19 PM
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Here's older data:

http://www.nyclu.org/files/releases/...%281997%29.pdf
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Old 03-26-2016, 10:07 PM
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If you do a little testing you'll find that most .44 bullets at .44 Special velocities don't expand. I have but one .44 Magnum left, a 629-5 Mountain Gun and bought it because I was so impressed with the Speer Gold Dot .44 Magnum 200 grain Short Barrel load I wanted a gun to shoot it in.

The bullet is the same one used in the .44 Special but instead of 860 fps from a 6.5" barrel, the Magnum version runs 1080 from a 4". A friend bought one of the PC 629s with a 3" ported barrel and ran both loads through it into water jugs. None of the .44 Special rounds opened up but every one of the Magnum rounds did...

Low flash, low recoil and excellent expansion...doesn't get any better than that...

Bob
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Old 03-26-2016, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wbraswell View Post
Using a .44 Mag sending a bullet a 1500 fps just doesn't sound prudent to me. Too much recoil, too much muzzle blast and too much penetration. You don't want to shoot a BG with that when he's standing in front of a wall that your kids are sleeping behind. A big SWC or flying ashtray at 800-1000 fps sounds better.
Agree a .44 mag going 1500fps isn't prudent.

Note that big SWCs are really deep penetrators, which is why they are great for hunting. And, flying ashtrays aren't made anymore.

All of which is why I recommended the excellent .44 Special Gold Dot. It goes in the mid-800s and penetration is adequate but not overly so. Performance similar to the .45acp Gold Dot in 230 gr.
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:00 PM
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When I get a 44 I'll probably use Underwood 44 special that's basically a larger version of the 38 special FBI load
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:53 AM
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Anyone that hasn't heard a full blown 44 or 357 Magnum indoors is in for a surprise. At the indoor range more times than one, I was next to a guy with the 357 and they weren't .38 Special loads. The noise was incredible even with muffs on and sonic valves in my ears. Ditto the 44 Magnum. You could feel as well as hear the noise.

I can only imagine how it would have been had I taken the valves out of my ears and discarded the muffs. I probably wold have never heard my tinnitus again.
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Old 04-16-2016, 01:22 PM
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Lighter bullets typically kick a lot less. Solid non-HP bullets typically penetrate well (and in .44 Mag probably overpenetrate against two leggers). Given these rules, I'd slide toward that Buffalo Bore 180gr. Really any 180gr JHP.

Does anyone have any experience/reviews with the MagSafe 55gr or Glaser 135gr .44 Mag?
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Old 04-16-2016, 08:11 PM
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Ah;

Why do even need "Best" with a 44 Magnum.............. ?? !!

Minimum will do.

Now if you want to do a 200 yard shot on a white tail, I will understand.
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Old 04-16-2016, 09:45 PM
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38 posts,, nobody mentioned lawyers,,,
I used to keep my 629 loaded with the 240 grain SWC's that I practiced with,, 7 grains of Unique,,, IIRC,,,

Then there was a news story about a shooting involving reloads,,
The lawyer made the gun owner with reloads look like some hyper maniac,, that had gone to "great lengths" to do the shooting,,, even MAKING the ammo.
It was bad for the shooter,,,

After that,, I only practice with reloads,, my gun(s) in the sock drawer have FACTORY made ammo.

Currently, the 629 is loaded with Hornady 240 Grain XTP,,, 1350 FPS muzzle velocity,,,

The other gun is for those marauding squirrels!!

It is loaded with Mini-Mags,,,



I use WAY more Mini-Mags,, than factory 44 Mags,,,,,
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:09 PM
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If using reloads for self-defense can "look bad" in court, then practicing at the range or getting training above just basic safety stuff will too. I have a range in my backyard. The distant neighbors all know I shoot almost every day and often burn 100s of rounds in a few hours. Does that mean in court everyone will think I'm a bloodthirsty maniac? How about Jerry Miculek? What if he ever had to use a gun in self-defense? He's fired millions of handgun rounds, not counting rifle and shotgun. Now, messing with the trigger or safety on your carry gun might be a problem, but using reloads? Especially under powered reloads?

As for the use of a .44 mag for self-defense, that depends on if you're carrying in town or out in the boonies. If I'm in the forest around by property, a .44 mag is my choice, and not just for bears. My load isn't the hottest, but it's way above .44 Special level. It's 10 grains of Unique behind a 250 grain cast SWC. In town, if I'm carrying a revolver it's a .357 loaded with something like Critical Defense or Critical Duty. They both meet FBI standards and slide right into an eight-round cylinder with moon clips. But then I might be carrying a 17-round 9mm pistol for the city, where the ranges will be in feet, not yards and you don't want rounds going through the attacker to hit innocents.

Certainly the same shooter firing a 9mm pistol can shoot faster and get more rounds on target at close range (10 yards or less) than he can with any magnum revolver. But don't think there aren't shooters who can get more rounds on target with a .44 mag loaded with factory or equivalent loads than 99% of pistol shooters can with a 9mm - up to six shots of course. Massad Ayoob has demonstrated this is possible, and there are plenty of shooters who can do the same. He used a 4"-629. I'm no expert, but it doesn't take me long to empty a 6" 629 into a man-sized target, even at 50 yards. Now, such a revolver is not easy to conceal and is really for rural areas as far as I'm concerned.

As for the noise, all magnum rounds are loud and you don't want to shoot in a building or car with naked ears. Many people, my self included, keep electronic ear protection right beside the nearest gun when they go to sleep, along with a powerful flashlight, etc. Any firearm you shoot in a house is going to permanently damage your hearing if you're not wearing protection. With electronic ear muffs you can still hear as long as no one is shooting, and you can hear after it's over. But if you have to shoot without protection, then so be it. And it really will not matter if it's a shotgun with buckshot, a 9mm, or a magnum revolver round.
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Old 04-17-2016, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetMK View Post
38 posts,, nobody mentioned lawyers,,,
I used to keep my 629 loaded with the 240 grain SWC's that I practiced with,, 7 grains of Unique,,, IIRC,,,

Then there was a news story about a shooting involving reloads,,
The lawyer made the gun owner with reloads look like some hyper maniac,, that had gone to "great lengths" to do the shooting,,, even MAKING the ammo.
It was bad for the shooter,,,

After that,, I only practice with reloads,, my gun(s) in the sock drawer have FACTORY made ammo.
Can you provide any kind of hard data about that lawyer incident? I am quite sure that it is just internet legend and never happened. Ever. Not even once...
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Old 04-17-2016, 06:37 AM
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Cor Bon also has (or used to have) a couple of 165 grain JHP offerings in 44 Mag and 44 Special and are specifically marketed as defense loads. The bullets themselves are made for them by Sierra. I actually bought 500 of those bullets 3 years ago or so from Midway as production overruns. I loaded them hotter than Cor Bon does (or did) and they are still very controllable in a 6 1/2" Classic or my Desert Eagle. But I haven't seen the Cor Bon ammo for sale anywhere for quite a while, so I don't know if they are still selling the 165 grainers.
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Old 04-17-2016, 08:42 AM
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I used to load 180 gr wadcutters at about 900 ft/sec for a defense load. Then I saw a video which showed a 38 wadcutter drilling a .357 diameter hole straight through an 18" gell block.
Agree with the Speer short barrel gold dot or 44 special equivalent.
As far as noise, how many movie scenes have I watched with full auto firefights in confined spaces. And the actors are speaking in normal tones afterwards. Are special forces types trained to lip read?
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Old 04-17-2016, 01:08 PM
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Carried a few 29's and 629's with a handload of unique under a 180gr sierra JHP. Pretty mild and close to Federal C44B with less muzzle blast. Follow up shots came pretty good. clocked around 1250-1300fps from a 3-4" barrel. If you cant handle the Federal C44B then I would go Gold Dots.
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Old 08-22-2018, 11:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muddocktor View Post
Cor Bon also has (or used to have) a couple of 165 grain JHP offerings in 44 Mag and 44 Special and are specifically marketed as defense loads. The bullets themselves are made for them by Sierra. I actually bought 500 of those bullets 3 years ago or so from Midway as production overruns. I loaded them hotter than Cor Bon does (or did) and they are still very controllable in a 6 1/2" Classic or my Desert Eagle. But I haven't seen the Cor Bon ammo for sale anywhere for quite a while, so I don't know if they are still selling the 165 grainers.
I just picked up some of the factory ammo. From what I understand, Cor-Bon is back and making ammo. I only wish I had a chrono, this ammo is pretty mild (165gr @ 1300fps); if 240gr @ 1500fps is possible I would think this bullet at 1700fps or more is well within the pressure limits. Once we Washingtonians can shoot on state land I'll see how it performs from my 629 5".
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Old 08-23-2018, 12:40 AM
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Quote:
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44 special is the best sd load for a 44 magnum.

You don't need more for your purposes.
I completely agree. The .44 Magnum may have some limited value for use in hunting large or dangerous game animals, but .44 Special provides more than enough power for any defensive use.
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Old 08-23-2018, 04:50 AM
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I like the Buffalo Bore Low Recoil .44 Mag. 255-gr. Keith load (Item 4E)
Safe for use in my old S&W model 29 shown in below left photo, on the
right. (model 27 on left) MV 1,350 ME 1,032.

2nd photo from left is my Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk .44 Mag.
I carry it with Federal's 300-gr. Cast Core (Item P44E)

Probably neither is appropriate for defending against 2 legged critters,
.38 Spl. is enough for them.
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Old 08-23-2018, 09:24 AM
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It seems this is an older thread...but the info contained is anything but. .44 magnum for SD in a home is a no-go in my book.

My bedside is a Charter Arms Bulldog and it's currently loaded with this:

https://www.hornady.com/ammunition/h...cal-defense#!/

I'd like to get my hands on a box of these:

ANTI-PERSONNEL 44 Special Pistol & Handgun Ammunition

200gr hard cast jackhammer that BB is claiming 920fps from a Bulldog. At that speed, good expansion is not really a thing, so might as well make it a hard chunk of lead that will tear stuff up on its way through.
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Old 08-23-2018, 12:46 PM
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About a dozen years ago I saw a doe taken with a 4" model 29 loaded with 210gr Winchester 44mag Silver Tip. Based on what I saw the performance of that bullet on the doe was devastating with complete penetration from right side rib cage entrance and exit out the left.
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Old 08-23-2018, 12:54 PM
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