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  #1  
Old 07-26-2010, 05:48 PM
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Default Heavy Bullet .44 Magnum Loads

What's the deal with shooting outsized .429 diameter bullets from .44 Magnum revolvers?

When I was jumping into .44 Magnum shooting/handloading with both feet in 1980, the heaviest bullet generally available was a 265 grain jacketed soft point offered by Hornady. This bullet probably was really aimed at .444 Marlin shooters. I thought I was really doing something to try a box of them. I didn't notice that they offered anything over the usual run of 240 grain jacketed bullets on the market nor did they make any more sense than a cast 245-250 grain lead SWC over a healthy charge of 2400.

Beginning what, 12-15 years ago, it became popular to shoot very heavy (as in excess of 300 grains) case lead bullets out of the .44 Magnum revolver. Some of these bullets are so long and heavy they may not be loaded in a Smith & Wesson Model 29. Now many pistoleros seem to think that one may not hunt with a .44 Magnum unless he is flinging one of these thumb sized slugs. Perhaps they are good for really big critters that bite back or mash a person, and are of a size and temperament that one has no real business hunting with a .44 Magnum, but I can't see these bullets having real application in .44 Magnum.

Last week I saw someone pontificating on another forum about how these heavy hunks of lead were necessary for whitetail deer hunting. As if the old tried and true 240-250 grain bullets would just bounce off. I know they grow whitetail deer larger in other parts of the country but here in Texas there's not enough whitetail deer on the hoof to offer impenetrable resistance to the original bullet weight range for .44 Magnum which was 180 grains to 240 grains as I recall.

I've only taken a couple of deer with the .44 Magnum and 240 grain Sierra JHPs but it certainly sufficed.

The crushingly heavy bullet loaded in the .44 Magnum looks a bit faddish to me but I live a sheltered life these days and don't get out much.
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Old 07-26-2010, 07:11 PM
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I think people are mimicking writers such as Ross Seyfried and John Taffin. Because Ross needed big heavy bullets to hunt a Cape Buffalo with a handgun, ergo I must need them, too, for my whitetail exploits.

Along the way, the manufacturers found out that, just like elephant rifles, there is a market for the biggest and baddest of almost anything, regardless of actual need for such items.
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Old 07-26-2010, 07:21 PM
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Bryan,
YOU ARE A MESS!



Here, on our own small piece of the gun forum Internet, someone recently was pontificating 400gr bullets in the 44Mag. I just keep trying to figure out why?

I mean, if Elmer Keith could shoot a 44Spl 250gr bullet(loaded to magnum velocities)at a Montana, Idaho, or where ever, deer ('cause they are REALLY BIG) at 600 yards from a 4" barrel, why in the world do we need something in that weight range?

My personal opinion is because we aren't the marksmen he was.

Imagine what recoil is from a 5" six shooter!

Here is what a 240gr bullet does to an Indiana deer @ 135 yards, fired from a Marlin 1894 at just under 1700fps.

Graphic pictures below here:




Entrance Hole:



Exit hole with bullet stuck in hide:

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Old 07-26-2010, 07:29 PM
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A lot of it came from Veral Smith, the brains behind LBT, or Lead Bullet Technologies. Ross Seyfried swore by LBT designs when the whole 5-shot .45 Colt craze was getting off the ground.

I bought an LBT Long Flat Nose Gas Check mould for a 325-grain .452" slug about 10 years ago. Bullets from it were extremely accurate, but it kicked about like a 155mm howitzer, so I went back to standard weight slugs.

Elmer Keith asked for a 250-grain slug at 1,200 fps because it just flat worked.


Okie John
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Old 07-26-2010, 07:33 PM
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The application is for deeper penetration on large and dangerous animals. Talking about deer hunting and heavy 44 magnum loads is talking about two different things.
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Old 07-26-2010, 08:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragon88 View Post
The application is for deeper penetration on large and dangerous animals. Talking about deer hunting and heavy 44 magnum loads is talking about two different things.
Well, I suppose, but that was what we were talking about. If you need more take a 300WinMag or a 416 Weatherby or................something that there will be no question about.

I read a bear story that went like this:
Guide and hunter killed by Griz after taking 6 44Mag bullets in the heart.

I'm saying, the hunter didn't take a big enough gun. I wouldn't want a 400gr 44Mag!
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Old 07-26-2010, 08:14 PM
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Different strokes for different folks. Wonderful thing about America, we can choose between a lot of options when it comes to guns and their loads. Me, I could care less what other folks use, and I don't trash folks for using something different than what works for me. I just ask the same from them. For me a 240 grainer is all I need from a .44 also, but if others feel the need for something bigger and it works for them, what's the big deal? It's their gun and their choice. There's bigger things to worry about in life than what others load in their gun.
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Old 07-26-2010, 08:23 PM
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When I was chasing elk with my TLA #5 I loaded the 325 gr LFN rather mildly at 1100 fps. Wanted the momentum to ensure penetration if an off angle opportunity arose. It was an extremely accurate load too.
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Old 07-26-2010, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smith crazy View Post
I read a bear story that went like this:
Guide and hunter killed by Griz after taking 6 44Mag bullets in the heart.

I'm saying, the hunter didn't take a big enough gun. I wouldn't want a 400gr 44Mag!
The gun probably would have been fine if they had placed their shots correctly. Shooting for the "heart" (most likely the shots were actually strewn around the abdomen) won't do the job fast enough. A single shot that penetrates the skull and destroys the central nervous system is more likely to put the animal down instantly, and that is what the 300+ gr 44 mag loads are designed for.

I'm not saying a 44 mag is the ideal bear gun, but it can do the job with proper load selection and bullet placement.
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Old 07-26-2010, 11:33 PM
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Just wondering about being able to stabilize the really heavy bullets, can you stabilize a 400g bullet out of a .44? The velocity will be a bit reduced for starters, slowing rotation.
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Old 07-27-2010, 12:20 AM
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A 400gr 44 mag load would be something to see. Forget rifling, the bullet would have to be so long to fit 400 gr of lead that you would be fighting case capacity and cylinder length. It would have to be developed with the slowest of powders, H110/W296 or slower.

However, there is a historic 200 gr 38 special load, so anything is possible...
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Old 07-27-2010, 12:20 AM
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I keep a .44 mag beside the desk just in case Boudreaux says there's a bugger out there. I have 200 gr wadcutters loaded in it and don't feel a bit under gunned.

Boudreaux
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Old 07-27-2010, 01:21 AM
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I've been pleased with a home cast 265g GCSWC for both my pistols and my new-to-me Marlin. Very accurate @ 1200fps from the revolver and deadly @ 1700fps from the rifle.

Went through a 160# wild boar like it wasn't even there.
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Old 07-27-2010, 05:59 PM
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whats up fellas, stumbled onto this forum by accident thru google, but after reading had to join and put in my 2 cents. 400gr .44 slugs? i must have them. the heaviest i could ever find were 325s. i dont really use my loads for hunting as much as just for shooting econonmically. personally, just shooting and trying to manhandle a 400 gr load outta my 629 8 3/8 would just be fun and actually trying to hit something with it would be worth the wrist-ache. though i have a feeling my wrists are a little younger than some of yours. and ive also read that a grizzly's skull is thick enough to deflect even .44mag rounds...probably an old wives tale but perhaps some of you guys would know more than i about that
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Old 07-27-2010, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 44caliberkid View Post
whats up fellas, stumbled onto this forum by accident thru google, but after reading had to join and put in my 2 cents. 400gr .44 slugs? i must have them. the heaviest i could ever find were 325s. i dont really use my loads for hunting as much as just for shooting econonmically. personally, just shooting and trying to manhandle a 400 gr load outta my 629 8 3/8 would just be fun and actually trying to hit something with it would be worth the wrist-ache. though i have a feeling my wrists are a little younger than some of yours. and ive also read that a grizzly's skull is thick enough to deflect even .44mag rounds...probably an old wives tale but perhaps some of you guys would know more than i about that
You might want to check out Beartooth Bullets. The 400g will probably end up too long for the Smiths. Have a lot of cool stuff.
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Old 07-27-2010, 09:25 PM
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i tryed some of the 300 gr stuff years ago when i first started reloading, loaded hot it beat my poor 629-1 all apart! i was shooting alot in those days, now i stick with 240 gr for most of my 44 mag loads, that 629 was a great shooter, i killed a few deer with that gun, it was one of the few 6 inch guns that i realy liked.
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Old 07-28-2010, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michael thornton View Post
i tryed some of the 300 gr stuff years ago when i first started reloading, loaded hot it beat my poor 629-1 all apart! i was shooting alot in those days, now i stick with 240 gr for most of my 44 mag loads, that 629 was a great shooter, i killed a few deer with that gun, it was one of the few 6 inch guns that i realy liked.
When I bought my first 629-1 the gunsmith told me to stay away from the 300 gr bullets. Personally I never saw a need for them and have heard to many stories like the one above.
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Old 07-28-2010, 11:13 PM
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I shoot a 310 WFNGC + 21.0grs of H110 from my 4 5/8" Ruger Super Blackhawk, should be effective on most critters.
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Titegroups View Post
Just wondering about being able to stabilize the really heavy bullets, can you stabilize a 400g bullet out of a .44? The velocity will be a bit reduced for starters, slowing rotation.
Had a fella, does car-racing in nice weather, won't be back on here 'til winter, talking about those heavy bullets. Used 405gr hard cast in Redhawks. The idea was, for SD bear load at short range (not hunting), to develop a 1000 fps load, no faster, such that you could get in a second shot. For protection when hiking in Alaska or...
The guy is FlatTop. He and friends got up a load with 2400 that suited them. Penetrated 13 gallon water bottles lined up in a row and never found the bullet. At 1000fps, I don't think I'll stress the gun at all. FlatTop's load put 5 in one inch @ 25 yds.
The bullets come from BearTooth for you guys that like to experiment. I have some loaded with several slow-burning powders, but some recent surgery has kept me off the range. Will let you guys know, although I won't reco these loads for anything less than a RedHawk.
Sonny
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Old 07-29-2010, 04:00 AM
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240 grains are all I've ever deer hunted with in the various .44mag revolvers I've had over the years.
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:14 AM
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Ive killed around 35-40 Whitetails with my .44 using 200-210 gn JHP, at ranges from 15-105 yds over the years. All these shots were thru shots leaving golf ball size exit wounds and all deer recovered within 15 yds or less. You can kill a whitetail with any weight 44 cal. bullet if you place your shot. Those who think only 300 gn bulllets will work on whitetails havent shot enough of them . Dont get me wrong, If i was hunting bear Id have a heavy bullet designed for the job, but you dont need that for whitetails.
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Old 07-29-2010, 04:09 PM
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I don't think that bullets heavier than the standard 240gr. are necessarily superior in the 44 Mag. I have a 2 5/8" 629 and use 300gr CastPerformance bullets in it exclusively. I found them to be accurate and I'm not trying to push them real fast out of that short barrel, nor am I hunting with it or using it for long-range shots. I just wanted a flat, heavy hunk of lead that might offer some slap at close range. I haven't tried the CP 320s yet, but might have to see what they 'feel' like. Mostly I'm just having fun.
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Old 07-29-2010, 05:37 PM
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I'm no scientist, and I believe in change and evolving. When it comes to the .44 Mag, I'll just trust Elmer's judgement. If you know one thing about him, it's that he never went without enough gun.
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Old 07-29-2010, 08:38 PM
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I have shot 7 deer with a 44 mag Ruger Redhawk. Killed the first three using 240 gn XTPs but since have used 200 gr as I eat the meat from my deer and 240's were just making holes to big.
200 gn is all you need for eastern deer where a good size one goes 200 lbs.
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Old 07-31-2010, 07:54 PM
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I can see heavy LSWC or LFP, 300gr-320gr, for hunting really big game, but for deer, any decent bullet from 180gr-250gr is more than enough. The Lyman Dev, about 250gr, would be a good choice. I had mine modified to cup point instead of HP. About 270gr, expands really well @ 1200fps & penetrates enough for an deer or hog shot, any angle.
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:56 AM
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This question came up on another forum, and here's what I said:


After lots of trying, I've decided that 180s and even 200gr bullets are not effecient and do not produce very balanced loads in the 44 Magnum. While they can be very accurate, it seems it takes a lot of work to find the sweet spot to get them that accurate, and once that's done, you really only have a low-recoil target load, IMO, because these bullets just don't have the SD for decent penetration and they blow-up too easily (in JHP form) for salvageable small game hunting. I guess they'd be interesting P-Dog loads, but even then, the heavier-bullet loads have better long-range trajectory, so that's only a short-range benefit. I don't mess with them anymore.

I found that around 210grs, bullets start getting a LOT better. They have enough bore-riding surface (or at least that's what I theorize is the benefit) that it's fairly easy to find accurate loads without much work. Also, we're finally getting to a weight that occupies enough space in the case to give better load density, and the weight of the bullet provides better resistance to the powder to cause better combustion in more combinations than with the 180s. I buy and shoot a fair number of Rem. 210gr SJHPs, but Win. 210gr STHPs would work well too. I like Lyman 431215 mould, which makes 215 to 220gr bullets that are also pretty accurate with lower recoil and conservation of my lead supply.

However, even though the 210s are kind-of my "minimum" weight class for 44s, for a "lightweight" bullet in the 44 Mag, I like 225s even better. The Speer 225gr HJ-SWC-HP is my favorite defense and light-hunting (Texas scrub whitetails, coyotes, and game of that size or smaller) bullet in the 44. My primary "practice load" bullet is a 225gr RNFP, which is also a dandy rabbit load, because it doesn't destroy meat like an expanding bullet. Developing accurate loads with these bullets is a piece of cake, and load balance is good enough that virtually any pistol powder is able to be utilized with these bullets and give good ignition.

There's nothing wrong with 240-250gr bullets in the 44 Mag, and you can see by their popularity in this poll that they certainly work, or many wouldn't use them. They work so well, because it's what the cartridge was designed around. My favorites are: Lyman 430421 (245-250gr Keith SWC), RCBS 44-250-KT (part # 82044) (which is even more true to the original Keith design than the Lyman these days), and the Win. 240gr JHSP. An very exemplary bullet in this weight class is the Nosler 250gr Partition Gold bullet. If you're looking for a premium bullet for the 44 Magnum that can do anything and everything in the realm of hunting, this is it.

A bullet weight range that was pretty ignored until recently is the 260-290gr weight range. For many, many years, only the Hornady 265gr JSP (for the 444 Marlin) was available, and many respected and famous gun writers said it was not ideal and "too much of a good thing" in the 44 Mag. They've since ate those words and turned out looking like sissies, because silhouette shooters started shooting 300+gr bullets... I think truth be told, the writers were shocked and unhappy with the recoil, or felt the masses would be and would complain to the editors about them. This is actually my favorite weight range for serious 44 Mag loads. I designed a custom 265-270gr (depending upon the alloy you use) Keith SWC that religiously adheres to his principles. My only change was making the drive-bands a little wider. Keith in his later writings mentioned once or twice that the only improvement on his original bullet would be to try it a little heavier to around 270grs, and that's what I did. For a "maximum effort" bullet in the 44 Magnum, I really like the Lyman 430640 RNFP. It's pretty much a cross between the WFN and LFN bullets, so I call it a "MFN" (Medium Flat Nose). It's a balanced design that feeds through lever-action carbines well, and is correctly balanced to minimize it's impact on the powder reservoir inside the case while simultaneously giving a lot of weight. It's very accurate and has a nice, big meplat (flat nose). Depending on alloy, it weighs between 275 and 285grs. (My "hard" bullets, which are WW+2% tin weigh 281grs.)

Now, there's plenty of bullets which weigh 300+grs for the 44; however, I don't like them. For the most part they are marketing gimmicks or ego-gratifiers. The ammo companies know that having a 300gr bullet is going to sell a heck of a lot better than a 290gr bullet. That's in spite of the fact that they did the research back in the 60s and discovered that a 290gr bullet was the ideal maximum weight to get the best combination of penetration, energy, load balance (room for powder in the case, combined with ignition reliability, combined with useful velocity and bullet weight), and reasonable pressures. This crossed over into any .430" bullet in a straight-walled case with high pressure loads, as they tested it in the 444 Marlin as well, and it still held true. Remington actually had a 280gr bullet ready to market in this caliber in the 60s, but Hornady beat them to the market by a couple months, and Remington decided to discontinue the project, probably on the theory that the market wouldn't support more than one heavy-bullet for the caliber, and Hornady's was already out... (They looked at things different back then.)

I use cast bullets pretty much exclusively in the 44s, with the exception of the Ruger 44 Carbine (I have an original from the early mid-60s), whose gas system requires a jacketed bullet to prevent fouling. The only jacketed bullet I'd look at seriously in place of a cast bullet is the Partition (or the similar Swift A-Frames). Since pistols are weak hunting tools compared to the rifle or shotgun, I want my pistol loads to penetrate. Cast bullets with good, large flat points do that well, and disrupt a lot of tissue too. That's the killing mechanism and it works every bit as well as a JHP, but more reliably.
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Old 08-28-2010, 01:11 AM
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I understand all the arguments both for, and against heavyweight bullets in the .44, and at one point or another have, or do agree with all of them.

For deer you don't need anything more than Keith's original design for clean kills, BUT........ depending on where you live or hunt, you may have to take hard quartering angles, either to or away from you, to puncture the boiler room, and maybe break a shoulder joint on the way through before reaching the vitals. That's when a bit more weight comes in handy. We don't all have private land to hunt on and sometimes we have to take less than textbook ideal broadside shots if we want meat in the freezer for the winter. (Not unethical shots, but not ideal either)

For bigger animals, or those about the size of a big deer but much more stoutly built like bear and hogs, a heavier buller makes a lot of sense to ensure good penetration regardless of what bone or muscles are hit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonny
Had a fella, does car-racing in nice weather, won't be back on here 'til winter, talking about those heavy bullets. Used 405gr hard cast in Redhawks. The idea was, for SD bear load at short range (not hunting), to develop a 1000 fps load, no faster, such that you could get in a second shot. For protection when hiking in Alaska or...
The guy is FlatTop. He and friends got up a load with 2400 that suited them. Penetrated 13 gallon water bottles lined up in a row and never found the bullet. At 1000fps, I don't think I'll stress the gun at all. FlatTop's load put 5 in one inch @ 25 yds.
The bullets come from BearTooth for you guys that like to experiment. I have some loaded with several slow-burning powders, but some recent surgery has kept me off the range. Will let you guys know, although I won't reco these loads for anything less than a RedHawk.
Sonny
Correct sonny, and keep us posted

As for Flat Top and his buddies at Beartooth- what they were looking for wasn't just the biggest and baddest round, they were actually after something in particular. One of the guys hangs out in big bear country for at least part of the year, and wanted a bullet that would penetrate like gangbusters on a charging bear whether it was a brain shot, or one that hit the big shoulder joint on an incoming bear, but have very controllable recoil, and that is just what they got. They didn't want to use maximum loads, even with 240-250 grain cast bullets because of slower follow-up shots due to the heavier recoil. They were looking for a bullet that would penetrate as well as, or better than anything they had tried, but do it at a rather mild velocity of about 1,000 fps and have easily controllable recoil, which would allow faster, aimed follow-up shots. They've reported very good success with their attempts so far in their Redhawks.

Those 400 grain bullets will only work in Redhawks, and maybe Dan Wesson cylinders (at least to achieve their goal of decent velocity and safe pressures). They are long for sure (1.089"), but they have two crimp grooves so that you can seat them out as far as possible in the Redhawk. The lower crimp groove places .575" of the bullet inside the case, which is only.09" more than a 305 grain Rim Rock WFN GC,(very similar to a CPBC WFN GC) and .0975" more than the SSK 320 truncated cone bullet that was so popular for so long with guys going after large or dangerous game. That's not a big difference when you consider that those bullets are regularly fired with maximum loads, and the load those guys were/are using are running well below max-closer to somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 throttle. Seated in the lower crimp groove the loaded round measures 1.785" COAL, and when chambered in a Redhawk will be .025" below flush with the end of the cylinder. That length is too long to use in a Smith, though you can seat them to the top crimp groove which is .065" father forward and they will fit. I have tried each way in both my Redhawk's and my 29's. (for fit only at this point)

I talked to Marshal Stanton who owns Beartooth, and he doesn't recommend their use in a S&W 29, not because of strength issues (especially in this case where max loads are not the goal), but because they have to be seated so deeply to work in a Smith that it leaves less than a desirable amount of room in the case for the powder to still be able to reach sufficient velocity without undue pressure.

Just a little background, and info on the 400 grainers for anyone who is interested. If you aren't, that's cool with me too. It's fun though to experiment with something out of the ordinary, and lets face it, if ol' Elmer Keith hadn't of felt that way, we might not have the .44 in the first place.

Last edited by Gun 4 Fun; 08-28-2010 at 02:29 AM.
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Old 08-28-2010, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
What's the deal with shooting outsized .429 diameter bullets from .44 Magnum revolvers?

When I was jumping into .44 Magnum shooting/handloading with both feet in 1980, the heaviest bullet generally available was a 265 grain jacketed soft point offered by Hornady. This bullet probably was really aimed at .444 Marlin shooters. I thought I was really doing something to try a box of them. I didn't notice that they offered anything over the usual run of 240 grain jacketed bullets on the market nor did they make any more sense than a cast 245-250 grain lead SWC over a healthy charge of 2400.

Beginning what, 12-15 years ago, it became popular to shoot very heavy (as in excess of 300 grains) case lead bullets out of the .44 Magnum revolver. Some of these bullets are so long and heavy they may not be loaded in a Smith & Wesson Model 29. Now many pistoleros seem to think that one may not hunt with a .44 Magnum unless he is flinging one of these thumb sized slugs. Perhaps they are good for really big critters that bite back or mash a person, and are of a size and temperament that one has no real business hunting with a .44 Magnum, but I can't see these bullets having real application in .44 Magnum.

Last week I saw someone pontificating on another forum about how these heavy hunks of lead were necessary for whitetail deer hunting. As if the old tried and true 240-250 grain bullets would just bounce off. I know they grow whitetail deer larger in other parts of the country but here in Texas there's not enough whitetail deer on the hoof to offer impenetrable resistance to the original bullet weight range for .44 Magnum which was 180 grains to 240 grains as I recall.

I've only taken a couple of deer with the .44 Magnum and 240 grain Sierra JHPs but it certainly sufficed.

The crushingly heavy bullet loaded in the .44 Magnum looks a bit faddish to me but I live a sheltered life these days and don't get out much.
And the cult of the hardcast was born. They always post reams of pic of dead animals, leading the naive to believe that the critters just dropped dead in their tracks. The cult always claims that penetration is of utmost importance.

Once the cult gets established on a forum, users of jacketed bullets are banished. All posters must praise the holy hard cast. Anyone who posts negative experiences with hard cast hole drillers is denigrated.

Personally, I thought the hard cast cult was inspired by bullet casters looking for a marketing edge. If you have an LBT WFN mould you can charge 2x more than standard jacketed - and guys will pay it.

Nowadays a 240gr bullet is considered insufficient - especially if it is a jacketed hollow point. Doesn't matter than guys are killing deer, bear and pigs with them consistently - the cult of the hard cast has deemed them inferior. And there is no arguing with them.

The cult has dictated that a 44 mag must be loaded with 300gr or better WFN hard cast or it shouldn't be used for anything beyond pigeons.
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  #29  
Old 08-29-2010, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by dla View Post
And the cult of the hardcast was born. They always post reams of pic of dead animals, leading the naive to believe that the critters just dropped dead in their tracks. The cult always claims that penetration is of utmost importance.

Once the cult gets established on a forum, users of jacketed bullets are banished. All posters must praise the holy hard cast. Anyone who posts negative experiences with hard cast hole drillers is denigrated.

Personally, I thought the hard cast cult was inspired by bullet casters looking for a marketing edge. If you have an LBT WFN mould you can charge 2x more than standard jacketed - and guys will pay it.

Nowadays a 240gr bullet is considered insufficient - especially if it is a jacketed hollow point. Doesn't matter than guys are killing deer, bear and pigs with them consistently - the cult of the hard cast has deemed them inferior. And there is no arguing with them.

The cult has dictated that a 44 mag must be loaded with 300gr or better WFN hard cast or it shouldn't be used for anything beyond pigeons.

For the most part,I agree with you.There is a prevailing tendency on various forums to either blend in or get flamed.There is a cultish herd mentality at work.

I've cast bullets for over 4 decades and yet I appreciate jacketed bullets very much.There is a lot of snobbish condescension among many when it comes to jacketed bullet use.
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:10 PM
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For deer you don't need anything more than Keith's original design for clean kills, BUT........ depending on where you live or hunt, you may have to take hard quartering angles, either to or away from you, to puncture the boiler room, and maybe break a shoulder joint on the way through before reaching the vitals. That's when a bit more weight comes in handy. We don't all have private land to hunt on and sometimes we have to take less than textbook ideal broadside shots if we want meat in the freezer for the winter. (Not unethical shots, but not ideal either)

For bigger animals, or those about the size of a big deer but much more stoutly built like bear and hogs, a heavier buller makes a lot of sense to ensure good penetration regardless of what bone or muscles are hit.
I think I understand what you're saying, but for clarity, you are NOT saying that Elmer's original load (250gr SWC @ ~1200fps) will NOT penetrate on quartering shots, right? Elmer had too many examples to count of his original, experimental 44 Spl. load w/ his design of 250gr SWC and either 2400 or even the old No.80 powder (which he abandoned only due to pressure issues, not due to lack of penetration), where the bullet completely penetrated through both shoulders. Granted, the bullets must be cast hard enough to accomplish this, but there's NO need for a bullet heavier than 250grs to do this, at least on deer-sized and construction-style game. There's just no need for anything heavier on hogs, deer, or other "small" big game. Go to Moose, caribou/elk, or big bears, and I'd want all the penetration I can get, and would "upgrade" from the Keith, but it's the really large animal that will stop a Keith, but let a WFN keep going through, not a deer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dla View Post
And the cult of the hardcast was born. They always post reams of pic of dead animals, leading the naive to believe that the critters just dropped dead in their tracks. The cult always claims that penetration is of utmost importance.

Once the cult gets established on a forum, users of jacketed bullets are banished. All posters must praise the holy hard cast. Anyone who posts negative experiences with hard cast hole drillers is denigrated.

Personally, I thought the hard cast cult was inspired by bullet casters looking for a marketing edge. If you have an LBT WFN mould you can charge 2x more than standard jacketed - and guys will pay it.

Nowadays a 240gr bullet is considered insufficient - especially if it is a jacketed hollow point. Doesn't matter than guys are killing deer, bear and pigs with them consistently - the cult of the hard cast has deemed them inferior. And there is no arguing with them.

The cult has dictated that a 44 mag must be loaded with 300gr or better WFN hard cast or it shouldn't be used for anything beyond pigeons.
I agree and disagree. I'm a proud member of Cast Boolits forum and have been casting bullets for around 30 years, and there is what I perceive to be a playful anti-jacketed-bullet attitude over there, but occassionally, they even admit that jacketed has it's place and application.

Also, as far as cast bullet "cults" pushing the heavy bullets, I disagree there as well.

Who really started the heavy-bullet 44 project was J.D. Jones of SSK, who wanted a heavier hunting bullet. Now, he was taking wildcats ("Handcannons") to Africa and shooting BIG (I mean REALLY BIG) critters with them. He wanted to do the same with standard 44 Mag... So, since casting is cheaper and easier to do at home than swaging, and he wanted penetration, which generally comes just as well from hard-cast bullets as from FMJs, he just ordered up some moulds to fit his needs. This started heavy-weight cast bullets. This was in the mid- to late-70s and early 80s.

Then, silhouette shooting came along, and those fellas needed bullets with sufficient momentum that after the velocity had bled off, there's still be enough power to knock over the Rams waaaaayyy out there. The heavy bullets appealed to them for that purpose as well. Again, home casting was the route for expense as well as availability. This was really burgeoning in the 80s to early-90s and lead to the Endurance package on the S&W29 series.

Then, Sierra came out with their 300gr JSP, and several other jacketed bullet companies followed suit over the next few years.

When I started a small bullet-casting company, 300gr 44s weren't even in any other bullet-casting company's catalogs, except for maybe one or two. I looked into offering them, because this is when a lot of articles were getting published about heavy bullets in the 44 (heavy meaning right at 300grs), but there wasn't a demand around here. I never offered them. The heaviest bullet I offered in 44 was 240grs... The bullet casting companies never drove this demand. All bullet casting companies, including the biggest (Bull-X and National Bullet Co., back in the 90s) didn't have the cash to push a market in a certain direction. We always reacted to where the demand was.

As far as there being a "cult of the cast-boolit," I can see where you'd feel that way, and I agree with you that it is silly. Personally, I really liked Robert Milek's writings on this subject. He very clearly pointed out that there is a use/purpose for both bullet styles, and tested them to compare and contrast where they were good and where they were weak.

I really like cast bullets, but I do not shun jacketed. They have their place. I really like cast bullets, because I can be really self-sufficient and cheap. I can make soft HP cast bullets at a fraction of the cost of purchased jacketed, but they're not the greatest choice for a high-velocity or semi-auto HP bullet, because they're soft enough to either lead the bore, or get deformed on (and often jam on) a feed ramp. But for a 38spl. or 44spl. velocity-level revolver load, my cast HPs will work better than the jacketed (whose jacket is sometimes too heavy to allow expansion at those low velocities).
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by MMA10mm
I think I understand what you're saying, but for clarity, you are NOT saying that Elmer's original load (250gr SWC @ ~1200fps) will NOT penetrate on quartering shots, right? Elmer had too many examples to count of his original, experimental 44 Spl. load w/ his design of 250gr SWC and either 2400 or even the old No.80 powder (which he abandoned only due to pressure issues, not due to lack of penetration), where the bullet completely penetrated through both shoulders. Granted, the bullets must be cast hard enough to accomplish this, but there's NO need for a bullet heavier than 250grs to do this, at least on deer-sized and construction-style game. There's just no need for anything heavier on hogs, deer, or other "small" big game. Go to Moose, caribou/elk, or big bears, and I'd want all the penetration I can get, and would "upgrade" from the Keith, but it's the really large animal that will stop a Keith, but let a WFN keep going through, not a deer.
You've got it!
I know that you don't need more weight for deer or hogs, though in my experience (and I have killed quite a few hogs) a heavier bullet can be a benefit for come what may shooting in the thick stuff, especially on and enraged boar being persued by dogs.

My post above regarding the heavy slugs was only to clear up some misconceptions about why Flat Top and some others have been playing with the 400 grainers in .44 caliber. They are for a very specific purpose that most shooters and hunters will never have.

I too, use both jacketed and cast bullets, and for deer generally prefer jacketed since they open up and will usually (though not always) provide a faster kill, deer don't require that much penetration, and where we hunt it's important to keep the deer from crossing property boundries.

I would also like to point out to the "jacketed is as good as cast cult", that cast bullets are far easier on barrel steels, cheaper to shoot (which is a major concern these days), and are available in a wider array of choices than jacketed bullets, though there are enough jacketed ones out there now to cover most applications quite nicely. Last, a lead bullet will provide higher velocity than a jacketed bullet given equal pressures, and equal velocity with less pressure than any jacket bullet. Maybe an extra 100 fps won't add any appreciable killing power, but it does help flatten trajectories a bit, and with a handgun, every little bit helps.
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38spl, 44 magnum, 629, cartridge, colt, crimp, dan wesson, endurance, fouling, gunsmith, hornady, model 29, nosler, rcbs, redhawk, remington, ruger, silhouette, weatherby

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