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Old 06-18-2018, 11:54 PM
SmithSwede SmithSwede is offline
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Default .44 Special in Competition ?

Iím a long time Bullseye shooter and also own a nice 6 1/2Ē barrel 1950 Target Model in .44 Special. Beautiful gun. I may shoot it in the Centerfire stage sometime soon.

Hereís my question. Back in the day, did anyone really shoot .44 Special in competiton events?

Iím inclined to think no. First, you needed a .45 gun for the .45 stage, so I am not so sure what a .44 Special would offer that a .38 or .45 could not deliver.

Second, the .44s seem to have been made in such small numbers during the golden age of Bullseye shooting that I assume they were not super popular with the target shooting crowd. In contrast, the K-38 in .38 Special was popular and well known.

Anyone have insights on this?
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Old 06-19-2018, 12:11 AM
Shotguncoach Shotguncoach is offline
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I've wondered the same thing...

Would the advantage of the larger hole equate to higher scores over time simply due to cutting a scoring ring? The difference in the radius isn't huge, but it could add up.

Or......is that numerical advantage outweighed by the lighter weight and lower recoil of the K-frame guns? My own 1950's are a joy to shoot, but I always seem to score a point or two higher with the 14-3 or the K-22 in informal practice.
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Old 06-19-2018, 01:57 AM
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The use of the 44 Special in Bullseye matches was actually once quite popular, but you have to go back to the pre-2700 days.
Until then, the pre-eminent organization for the promotion of handgun marksmanship was the USRA, the United States Revolver Association.
Their matches were similar to what we know through the more recent NRA-type matches, but with slightly different target sizes, and the use of 20 yards vs 25 yds as one of the de facto distances.
The USRA rules were so popular in their day (approx 1920s to just a bit after WWII) that they were widely picked up in Canada. When I lived there, I belonged to a couple clubs that still used the old USRA targets and rules. This was the late 70s to 80s.
I used to buy cast wadcutters from a local caster for use in my M29. He used the 429348 mold, for a 180 gr WC. This was a well thought of older design intended for USRA shooting with the 44 Special.
From my experience, you were indeed a lucky guy to have a S&W 44 Target or Colt New Service Target in 44 Special for large bore match shooting. If you weren't so lucky, you could still do well with a S&W 455 or a Webley & Scott 455. I saw a couple target versions of the latter!
Anyhow, the NRA created the 2700 and the National Match course, and managed to monopolize pistol shooting. Now we're stuck with a match format that requires a "service pistol" for the third 900 aggregate, that hasn't been the service pistol in over 30 years (that would be the 1911), in a form so heavily modified that it nothing to do with what anyone would reasonably consider to be a service pistol.
Hmmm...

By the way, Keith makes reference to the topic in "Sixguns". He specifically opines that if the 44 Special were allowed in the NRA large bore match everyone would quickly drop the 1955 Target S&W in 45 ACP/Auto Rim.

Best Regards,
Jim
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Old 06-19-2018, 04:26 AM
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By the time I shot the 2700 Bullseye matches, the hot set up here on the West coast was the S&W model 41 .22 Auto and a Colt Gold Cup (for the CF and 45 portions), which is what I used.

A few old timers back then used the wheel guns, K22, K32, and the 1950/55 .45 Target model.

But way back in the early century 44 Spl was king, Smith actually producing some TLs specifically for Bisley matches with adj-for-windage-only rear sights. And the 44 Russian before that.
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Old 06-19-2018, 08:15 AM
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"Back in the day" of bullseye competition there were three relays. .22, .38, and .45. The third stage had to be fired with a .45. One might have been allowed to use a .44 in the .38 relay as a shooter could use a .45 in the second (.38) relay.
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Old 06-19-2018, 10:14 AM
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I believe the ".38" stage was actually called the "centerfire stage" and any centerfire cartridge larger that 30 caliber can be used. (Thus the 32 Long full wadcutter)


Tradition has it that this came about because of one of the top shooters of the day made himself a .22 centerfire based on the old velodog cartridge (using a Colt Woodsman?) and was cleaning up in the CF stages. The result was the rules were modified.
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Old 06-19-2018, 11:46 AM
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I shot those matches in the 60s during my early days in the Air Force. Frankly, I don't remember ever seeing a .44 Special used. If anyone used a wheel gun which was a bit rare, it was usually a .38. Most of us in the service, shot our 1911 .45s in both the Center Fire and .45 stages of fire.
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Old 06-19-2018, 12:39 PM
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A .44 light special is a joy to shoot whether chambered in the appropriate caliber-ed revolver or in a .44 Magnum frame.

Any of you Jack Armstrong guys out there, I dare you to tell me you target your.44 Magnum revolvers with .44 Magnum ammo.

I'm no small guy. That being said, about 15 rounds of .44 Magnum and I'm done ! Reload that with a .44 light special and you could shoot all day without the nerve shock and joint pain.

I predict in years to come there will be a manic collectors rage of seeking out these long overlooked sweetheart, .44 Special revolvers.

One of my favorites is a .44 HE 3rd Target. Good thing I found that one 25 years ago. They are very scarce now. The model of 1950 is near as sweet but that pre-war fit, finish and action is tough to beat.

Elmer Keith knew what he was doing.

So does Harry. See clip 1 minute in, explains loads.

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Old 06-19-2018, 12:45 PM
mtgianni mtgianni is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadin View Post
I believe the ".38" stage was actually called the "centerfire stage" and any centerfire cartridge larger that 30 caliber can be used. (Thus the 32 Long full wadcutter)


Tradition has it that this came about because of one of the top shooters of the day made himself a .22 centerfire based on the old velodog cartridge (using a Colt Woodsman?) and was cleaning up in the CF stages. The result was the rules were modified.
Charles Askins brags about this in several articles and his Bio including the fact that his employer and sponsor tells him not to use it.
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Old 06-19-2018, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by model3sw View Post
Any of you Jack Armstrong guys out there, I dare you to tell me you target .44 Magnums with .44 Magnum ammo.
I don't think I'd use the example of a fictional Hollywood character as a means to prove a point and Elmer was an opinionated ***.

However, when I was shooting bullseye I used a Model 29 for a couple of years and did very well with it, in fact I shot my first perfect score with that gun. That was with .44 Special level loads. Once, on a lark I shot a match with full power loads. This was a twenty five yard, fifty round course of fire. The fun was done about twenty rounds in and the rest was a lot of work. By the time I was finished I was sweating like a pig and antics like that are primarily why I have arthritis in my hands and shoulders now. I did shoot a 497 out of a possible 500 on that particular course of fire, so I was happy with that.

Last edited by Trooper224; 06-19-2018 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 06-19-2018, 07:01 PM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is offline
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" If you weren't so lucky, you could still do well with a S&W 455 or a Webley & Scott 455. I saw a couple target versions of the latter!"

I saw a target model Webley MK VI in a gunshop in Glen Burnie, Maryland back in the mid 1970s. At the time, I had a .455 MK IV, but no cash. I went home, sold my MK IV to a friend and by the time I got back to the shop, the target model was gone. AND, my buddy won't sell the MK IV back to me either.
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:35 PM
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Using a revolver in NRA bullseye matches is an interesting proposition. I think you would do it only you if loved revolvers, wanted folks to know you could post a good score, and didn't care much about winning matches. I tried it and was humbled on many occasions. I shot a Ruger Mk I for .22 but used a K38 for centerfire and a 25-2 for the .45 stage. A problem is the large N-frame in the timed and rapid fire stages, five shots in 20 seconds or 10 seconds, respectively. Shooting single action, which most did for these stages, puts the gun in motion and controlling the inertia to realign the sights is difficult. Those who could control this with strength and practice shot the best scores. I didn't, but I found the K frame much easier to manage and could sometimes post a 95 in timed fire. I still like to put up an NRA 25 yd timed and rapid fire target and and fire a few strings but competition is far behind.
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Old 06-22-2018, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by model3sw View Post
A .44 light special is a joy to shoot whether chambered in the appropriate caliber-ed revolver or in a .44 Magnum frame.

Any of you Jack Armstrong guys out there, I dare you to tell me you target your.44 Magnum revolvers with .44 Magnum ammo.

I'm no small guy. That being said, about 15 rounds of .44 Magnum and I'm done ! Reload that with a .44 light special and you could shoot all day without the nerve shock and joint pain.

I predict in years to come there will be a manic collectors rage of seeking out these long overlooked sweetheart, .44 Special revolvers.

One of my favorites is a .44 HE 3rd Target. Good thing I found that one 25 years ago. They are very scarce now. The model of 1950 is near as sweet but that pre-war fit, finish and action is tough to beat.

Elmer Keith knew what he was doing.

So does Harry. See clip 1 minute in, explains loads.

Magnum Force - Target Practice - YouTube
Nice to see the range I trained in as a rookie. Brings back fond memories!

Last edited by Kingspoke; 06-22-2018 at 01:52 PM. Reason: type o
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Old 06-22-2018, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadin View Post
Tradition has it that this came about because of one of the top shooters of the day made himself a .22 centerfire based on the old velodog cartridge (using a Colt Woodsman?) and was cleaning up in the CF stages. The result was the rules were modified.
I won't be Askin who that was...
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:09 PM
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Interesting comments.

I think a .44 Special revolver would be competitive in the center fire slow fire match, possibly even picking up a point or two with 'scratch' hits that brushed the higher scoring ring by virtue of the wide bullet. The problem would come with timed and rapid fire, where along with aiming, one would have to deal with either rapid hammer manipulation or shoot double action. (I realize bullseye shooters already knew this, but thought I would explain for the benefit of younger correspondents who might think 2700 is the model of the latest smartphone)

I shot 2700 competition from 72-73 on the army's time, from divisional to all army level. I never saw a single revolver. As best I recall, the Marksmanship Training Unit at Ft Benning, who had the resources to get pretty much what they wanted, had determined through experience that shooters did better with self-loading pistols. The mission was winning, not nostalgia, so sixshooters were history.
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:29 PM
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I've got a few photos down at the rifle club showing the pistoleros back in the late 20's and 30's, you see what looks like 2nd H.E. with tall front sight blades, .44 special of course. That was probably the hey day for the .44 special from what I've heard from the old timers that are still around. When I unlimbered my 2nd Model H.E. with the front sight that looks like the fin on an alpha Orca whale a couple of the old guys said that really reminded them of the old days when the guys shot with bowler hats. Back then the shooters had nicknames like "Doc" because he was one.
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Old 06-30-2018, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deadin View Post
I believe the ".38" stage was actually called the "centerfire stage" and any centerfire cartridge larger that 30 caliber can be used. (Thus the 32 Long full wadcutter)


Tradition has it that this came about because of one of the top shooters of the day made himself a .22 centerfire based on the old velodog cartridge (using a Colt Woodsman?) and was cleaning up in the CF stages. The result was the rules were modified.
That would be none other than Charlie Askins and his .221 Askins, a .22 CF round based on the 5.5mm Velo Dog. He got the idea after taking a French Velo Dog revolver off of a prisoner.

Last edited by jtcarm; 06-30-2018 at 12:42 PM.
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