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Old 07-24-2020, 06:37 PM
MSUForester MSUForester is offline
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Default Semi-wadcutters or copper for 44 special

Ok I'm new to the site. I'm wanting to work up a reduced load of 44 specials, and I have a question. What is your preference of bullet for target loads? Do you prefer the SWC or a copper jacketed bullet? What are to pros and cons of either?
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Old 07-24-2020, 06:46 PM
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Lead will be a lot cheaper. Downside can be barrel leading, smoke from lube. But you could use coated lead SWC and avoid that.
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Old 07-24-2020, 07:19 PM
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If the cast bullets fit your gun and are of the right alloy for your intended load, they will probably be more accurate than a jacketed bullet.
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Old 07-24-2020, 10:25 PM
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Thanks guys for the info. I think I'm going to go with the Missouri Bullet 240 gr. SWC. It has a hardness rating of 18.
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:57 AM
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Hard cast lead will be economical, if you are worried about leading, then the Hi-Tek coated cast lead bullets would be a good choice.
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:13 AM
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Go with whatever their softest bullet is.
Hard lead often causes more leading than soft. With the coated bullets it does not matter so much as far as leading goes, but the softer ones are more forgiving of a slight mis-match between bullet, cylinder throat, and barrel leade diameters.
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:18 AM
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Meister cast bullets
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:35 AM
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I choose plated for the inbetweeen of decent costs and no leading. I've tried my hand at reloading lead bullets and just don't want to deal with the leading and all the other issues of finding the perfect bullet for your particular gun.
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSUForester View Post
Thanks guys for the info. I think I'm going to go with the Missouri Bullet 240 gr. SWC. It has a hardness rating of 18.
I use the coated Missouri 255 gr Elmer Keith SWC in my .45 Colt. Excellent accuracy and no leading. The have the same design in .44.
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:01 PM
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I use a 200 gr. RNFP lead bullet for reduced 44 loads. 185 gr wadcutters work fine too and make impressively clean and large holes in paper.
Don't shoot lead you don't need to do the job.
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:16 PM
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The OP specifically stated he wanted reduced loads. In .44 Special this indicates a velocity range of about 700 to 850 FPS (depending on bullet weight primarily). There is nothing within that range that cannot be accomplished with cast lead alloy bullets, and even for the purpose there is little to be gained by the harder alloys.

For several decades my usual load for .44 Special uses a 240-grain SWC cast of wheel weight metal (BHN ~12). My mold throws these at 0.4295" diameter and I use a .0.430" sizer die (basically lubing without sizing). My powder charge is 7.0 grains Unique. Very accurate in all of my .44 revolvers (Model 1950 Target, Model 29 4", Model 29 6.5", Model 629 3", and Colt Single Action Army). Never any leading beyond what a good bronze brush won't remove easily (typically a light wash in the chambers, forcing cone, and on the cylinder face).

Same load has proven effective on game up to Colorado mule deer (175-250 lbs. live weight), usually penetrating fully side-to-side even when bones are struck.
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:18 PM
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Quite a few years ago I chose my "main shootin' bullet" in 44 cal to be the Lyman 429421, 245 gr LSWC. Later on I tried some plated bullets but I had already solved any leading and accuracy problems, and the plated were no benefit. My cast bullets don't lead barrels,I don't count pennies and I don't get lube all over me, so I still have about 200 unused plated bullets of the 1,000 plated bullets I purchased in various calibers, and I did melt down about 50.

So, with loads running from about 750 fps in my Special loads up to about 1,000 fps in my Magnums, the 429421 works quite well in my 5, 44 Magnums...
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:30 PM
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For target loads I like the 200 grain DEWC from Rimrock
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:39 PM
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I have a 185gr WC mold but I like heavier bullet. I have a 242gr button nose WC in 45cal. I just bought 44cal HBWC from Cast Boolit forum. Expect some good shooting from m24s. I have HBWC molds in 38/357 cal and they shoot excellent.
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
The OP specifically stated he wanted reduced loads. In .44 Special this indicates a velocity range of about 700 to 850 FPS (depending on bullet weight primarily). There is nothing within that range that cannot be accomplished with cast lead alloy bullets, and even for the purpose there is little to be gained by the harder alloys.
Firmly agree. Brinell 12 is most suitable.
(PS - The modern abbreviation for Brinell is HBW.)
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:03 PM
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My default load for .44 Spl has always been a LSWC. In fact my M24-3 has never had anything else through it (i.e.; 240 gr. LSWC over 17.0 gr. #2400. Have used the same bullet with 20.0 gr. of #2400 in a M29-2 with equal satisfaction).

For the power range you are seeking a good quality SWC will do well. Regardless of reported hardness you may find that some SWC's from one vendor will lead, while from another they will not. The alchemy of alloy, hardness, lube, powder, velocity and the quality of your gun's bore will dictate how much lead you may wind up mining.

That said, I have had better luck (less leading) with Missouri Bullet than one other well respected brand produced here in my home state.
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:05 PM
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.44 Special and cast lead bullets are like peanut butter & jelly.
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Old 07-25-2020, 01:31 PM
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Given the original question, I will offer a mild caution to anyone thinking about making mild target loads with jacketed bullets. Generally speaking, jacketed bullets are not considered safe for use in light loads -- "light" being defined as any powder load that is less than the starting load for that powder and bullet shown in a reputable manual. Jacketed bullets have a higher coefficient of friction than lead, meaning lead bullets are "slicker" and can be moved with lighter loads of powder. Use a light load meant for lead bullets and you may have a jacketed bullet fail to make it out of the barrel, leading to all sorts of possible unpleasantness if you fire another round without realizing the bore is plugged.
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Old 07-25-2020, 04:18 PM
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18 BHN may be too hard for your needs. Look for a mfg that can get a softer alloy allowing the lower pressure to fill the lands and the lube to work as designed.
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:24 PM
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For target loads in .44 Special a Hi Tech coated 200 grain SWC or RNFP with a starting load of Trailboss works pretty well and is good for Cowboy shooting in SASS.
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Old 07-26-2020, 01:47 AM
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Good advice here MSUForester, just remember that for best results, you should make the bullet fit the cylinder throats. To do this, just take a .430 bullet(Hornady) and see if you can push it through the cylinder with only finger pressure using a pencil or wooden dowel. If you can't, you will have to use bullets sized to .429. If it goes through with no resistance, you will need a .431 bullet. You do not need hard cast to keep from leading at 44 spl velocities but you need the proper fit at any velocity. Powder coated bullets are a big help. What gun are you using?

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Old 07-26-2020, 02:54 AM
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I picked up some 200 gr. HBWCs from Bear Creek to try in my .44 Magnum. Their .38 HBWCs shoot very well out of my 52 and .357s, so I have high hopes for this bullet. We've got a hurricane due to hit us tomorrow pm so the public range is closed and I won't get to try them out until next week.

I'm thinking of starting out with 8 grains of Unique. These are just for punching paper so mild-medium loads are all I'm looking for.
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:18 AM
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Personally, I don't believe jacketed bullets have any place in the 44 Special.
Any potential issue with a lead bullet can easily be solved by choosing the right size, alloy, or, on rare occasions, lubricant.

Keep in mind that the original specifications, which are documented repeatedly in period literature (not to mention data from original sample cartridges), call for a .432" - 433" lead bullet.
Also, most commercial cast bullets are way too hard.

Perhaps this is saying too much, but my theory is that jacketed bullets in the .429-430" range were intended to do two things. First, alleviate pressure in hot loads, and second, offset the issues arising as revolver manufacturers started cutting corners with hand fitting.
In particular, they stopped hand lapping barrels and fine tuning the alignment of individual chambers with the bore.
Admittedly, not everyone agrees with my theory.

In any case, depending on the vintage of your revolver, lead bullets are a good way to treat it right.

Jim
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Old 07-26-2020, 10:33 AM
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Actually , sizing the bullets to the size of the cylinder throats is meaningless . It's the groove diameter of the barrel that determines the cast bullet size . If the cylinder throats are smaller than the determined size of the cast bullets , the throats need to be opened up so your cast bullet will push throat with little pressure . Last but not least , is there a tight spot where the barrel threads onto the frame . Pushing a soft lead slug all the way through the barrel will determine that . If it stops short of exiting the barrel near the forcing cone , then there is a choke there that needs to be removed to shoot accurately and lessen the chance of barrel leading . Alloy hardness , lube hardness etc are factors that are important as well . Veral Smiths (LBT Molds ) sells a soft bound book called " Jacketed Performance with Cast Bullets " . It explains in detail what to look for , how to solve problems encountered to increase accuracy and reduce the problem of leading a barrel for revolvers , semi auto's and rifles . Regards Paul
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Old 07-26-2020, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slickracer View Post
.44 Special and cast lead bullets are like peanut butter & jelly.
I was going to say beer and pizza, but this works too. Same with 38 special.
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Old 07-26-2020, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
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Actually , sizing the bullets to the size of the cylinder throats is meaningless . It's the groove diameter of the barrel that determines the cast bullet size . If the cylinder throats are smaller than the determined size of the cast bullets , the throats need to be opened up so your cast bullet will push throat with little pressure . Last but not least , is there a tight spot where the barrel threads onto the frame . Pushing a soft lead slug all the way through the barrel will determine that . If it stops short of exiting the barrel near the forcing cone , then there is a choke there that needs to be removed to shoot accurately and lessen the chance of barrel leading . Alloy hardness , lube hardness etc are factors that are important as well . Veral Smiths (LBT Molds ) sells a soft bound book called " Jacketed Performance with Cast Bullets " . It explains in detail what to look for , how to solve problems encountered to increase accuracy and reduce the problem of leading a barrel for revolvers , semi auto's and rifles . Regards Paul
Veral Smith's book is a benchmark on the topic. That said, I believe the cylinder throat dimension is critical. If oversize for the caliber, any lead bullet with create excessive leading.
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Old 07-26-2020, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboy4evr View Post
Actually , sizing the bullets to the size of the cylinder throats is meaningless . It's the groove diameter of the barrel that determines the cast bullet size . If the cylinder throats are smaller than the determined size of the cast bullets , the throats need to be opened up so your cast bullet will push throat with little pressure . Last but not least , is there a tight spot where the barrel threads onto the frame . Pushing a soft lead slug all the way through the barrel will determine that . If it stops short of exiting the barrel near the forcing cone , then there is a choke there that needs to be removed to shoot accurately and lessen the chance of barrel leading . Alloy hardness , lube hardness etc are factors that are important as well . Veral Smiths (LBT Molds ) sells a soft bound book called " Jacketed Performance with Cast Bullets " . It explains in detail what to look for , how to solve problems encountered to increase accuracy and reduce the problem of leading a barrel for revolvers , semi auto's and rifles . Regards Paul
Don't agree. I'm only a home caster and have written no texts, so I'm not considered an "expert". But I do know sizing to chamber throat diameter is the best way to achieve good bullet to gun fit. The main reason I slug the barrels of my guns is for my info and to make sure the grove diameter is smaller than the chamber throat diameter. Ninety-nine percent of the time the grooves are smaller, but by sizing to the throat diameter I'm insured that the bullet diameter is larger than the groove diameter, as much as possible with the given throat diameter. If a bullet is larger than the throat diameter, it will be sized down to the throat diameter as it passes through, and it will fit the groove diameter as well as possible in the particular gun. If the bullet is smaller than the throat diameter leading can occur, both in the barrel and on the cylinder face and frame. So regardless of barrel diameters, if the bullet does not fit the cylinder throats, problems will arise and the simplest, most efficient way to get good fitting bullets is to measure the throats and size bullets accordingly.

Bullet hardness take a back seat to bullet to gun fit as far as pertained to accuracy and clean shooting...

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Old 07-26-2020, 01:50 PM
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I have to say that I have never had a revolver with grossly over size throats . I have read others saying it happened to them . I've had undersize on 2 occasions . I have found a set of pin gauges removes the guess work . I got a set that goes from .250-.500 from amazon for less than $100 . Something of late that I have started doing is I tumble lube my cast bullets after sizing and filling the lube groove on my RCBS Lubesizer using LBT soft blue lube . After tumble lubing using the 45-45-10 formula with Alox , I pour them out on a piece of wax paper and allow to dry for a couple of days . This gets lube on the edges of the driving bands . My barrels are even cleaner than before . Even my cast bullets that I powder coat get a light tumble lube coating . Is it necessary ? Well , I feel it's worth the little bit of extra effort . Regards Paul
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Old 07-26-2020, 02:46 PM
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I like 185 gr lead double-based wadcutters. Over 5.8 gr Unique. COAL 1.249. Not seated flush, but in the last crimping groove.

Accurate. Pleasant.
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:02 PM
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I don’t shoot hot loads with cast bullets. I have never had a leading issue with cast bullets. I have had leading with swaged 45 cal SWC by Speer. I’ve shot a lot of Hornady swaged 38 bullets at reasonable velocities and never had leading. I shoot as soft an alloy as I can.
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboy4evr View Post
I have to say that I have never had a revolver with grossly over size throats . I have read others saying it happened to them . I've had undersize on 2 occasions . I have found a set of pin gauges removes the guess work . I got a set that goes from .250-.500 from amazon for less than $100 . Something of late that I have started doing is I tumble lube my cast bullets after sizing and filling the lube groove on my RCBS Lubesizer using LBT soft blue lube . After tumble lubing using the 45-45-10 formula with Alox , I pour them out on a piece of wax paper and allow to dry for a couple of days . This gets lube on the edges of the driving bands . My barrels are even cleaner than before . Even my cast bullets that I powder coat get a light tumble lube coating . Is it necessary ? Well , I feel it's worth the little bit of extra effort . Regards Paul
Not naming any names, but I have two revolvers in .45 LC that run as much as .456 (throat). A few others at .454. All have .451-.452 bores. Not uncommon at all in that caliber.
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:46 PM
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My 629 was born with .429 throats (actually a couple of cylinders were closer to .428) and a .429 bore. It would lead the barrel after about 15 or 20 rnds, not terribly but it did lead. It was not all that accurate either. I bought a Manson reamer and reamed the cylinders to .431 and it changed the gun for the better. No lead qt all and it is an accurate piece with the bullets that it likes. Before reaming, it didn't like any of them. There is a guy on the Castboolits website that does cylinders and his work is reportedly very good and reasonable to boot!
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Old 07-27-2020, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by MSUForester View Post
Thanks guys for the info. I think I'm going to go with the Missouri Bullet 240 gr. SWC. It has a hardness rating of 18.
For reduced loads, they specifically make their "Cowboy #12" which is a 0.430" 165gr TCFP. Cheap and effective. As long as you don't run them hot they will work great.
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Old 07-27-2020, 09:15 PM
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Interesting thread.

I think I'm just gonna get some old school bullet molds and make frozen meat bullets.

Then I can avoid leading altogether. Plus I can feed all the critters in the surrounding area at the same time!
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Old 07-27-2020, 09:32 PM
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I mold a 204 gr WC with Lee liquid Alox lub with 5.0 gr of BE.
Extremely accurate in my 1923 target .44 Spl, 1955 44 target and M24-4
target.
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Old 07-28-2020, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Tytan01 View Post
Interesting thread.

I think I'm just gonna get some old school bullet molds and make frozen meat bullets.

Then I can avoid leading altogether. Plus I can feed all the critters in the surrounding area at the same time!
NAA!!,, not meat, it attracts insects, especially wasps,,
I read about the ice bullets in that one sniper book, and I have been meaning to try them,,,


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Old 07-28-2020, 10:26 AM
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If handloading, I really can't see a reason to depart from a good quality lead SCW at 240-ish grains and modest velocity. It will work well for any purpose for which the .44 Special is suited.
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Old 07-28-2020, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by MSUForester View Post
Ok I'm new to the site. I'm wanting to work up a reduced load of 44 specials, and I have a question. What is your preference of bullet for target loads? Do you prefer the SWC or a copper jacketed bullet? What are to pros and cons of either?
Here is 2 of My favorites: Starline Brass, CCI std primer, 12.8 grs of 2400 and a Lyman 429421 at 250 grs and Alox/beeswax lube or powder coated. IMHO, jacketed bullets are a waste of money in a 44 spl, but then I am a dedicated bullet caster, AND there are lots of good, small companies selling cast bullets out there. In MY experience, beveled base lead bullets are not as accurate and more prone to leading than a good sharp flat base like the Lyman or one of its clones. I have a newer model 24 that came from the factory with .4283 cylinders and I opened them up to .431. It get 888fps from a 6" barrel for 5 shot average and shoots 14 shots in 1 1/2" @ 25 yds. 6.7 grs of Unique does 916 fps and is just as accurate. I size to .430 and .431, either one is accurate in both my 44's.The 2400 is a bit dirty at low speeds but it is worth it to me for the way it runs through a powder measure. After all, cleaning the gun after a range session is no biggie. No need to overthink the 44 spl. It is the least tempermental round ever made. Hope this helps. Murf
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