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Old 08-30-2023, 12:09 PM
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Default A "Special" State of Mind (The .44 Kind)

As a child I can remember dad reading to us from our three household standards; the Bible, Good Friends, Good Guns, Good Whiskey, and Hoglegs, Hipshots, and Jalapenos. Based on these early impressions, I've managed to always have a Bible in my saddlebags, and a wheelgun on my hip; more specifically a .44 Special.
I do not know how/why I gravitated towards this particular caliber above all others, unless on some cognitive level it registered with me as a child listening to Skeeter praise of it. Regardless of the reason, this has always been my work/carry choice, in spite of owning .357s, .45s, .44 mags, and other odds and ends. I've experimented with all of them in my harsh and unforgiving work environment, but always come back to the Special.


The first .44spl I came across was an m21 that I came into at the trade price of a Ruger no.1 in 416 Rigby, plus a $100 tin. I outfitted it with Grashorn service style grips, a hard sought vintage Tyler T, a good Tom Threepersons from Lobo Leather, and a home-made six-round slide.


Positions of gun, knife, and slide required a lot of experimenting. I've made several adjustments over the years and have come to what I believe to be the perfect configuration of the three for a ranch work environment.

I fell into a rough crowd who got me set up with dies, turrets, brass, and every type of bullet known to man. After lots of experimenting, this gun ends up shooting POA at 35 yards with Skeeter's pet mid-level load plus .3gr of powder. From there I worked into a single action or two with some grade-A Harton tinkering, which I also put to good use.


Fast forward a few years, Mr. Harton has limited his work to Colts only, but was graciously willing to take on a Smith DA project for me. Evidently, another Skeeter detail that stuck with me as a child was the allure of a 5in barrel. Combine this with adjustable sights and the incomparable .44spl, and it seemed I just had to have it.
The result was a Harton converted 5in .44spl on an m28-3 donor. I realize this could have been easier accomplished (maybe) by just finding a suitable m24, but it wouldn't have had a 5in barrel, interchangeable front sights, nor would it have Mr. Harton's fingerprints all over it.




So far it prefers 260gr 429421 bullets with a borderline reckless dose of 2400 and magnum, (yes, magnum) primers, but I am searching for alternatives. I forgot a screwdriver to adjust my sights at the rawhide range, but a flattened .22 shell from my saddlebags and fencing pliers filled the void.

I hope to get it outfitted with a set of Zane's wonderful service grips, but for now resides in a home-carved set of some unidentified wood randomly found in the barn. The leather is homemade as well, and I find the shoulder rig particularly comfortable on horseback, though it will not do for serious puncher work. For that I've gone with a neutral-cant basket weave number that I'm not quite used to, so experiments are still underway.



I'll refrain from going through the critters name by name, but I've managed to bag several among the finest Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas has to offer.

In the meantime, until I get the Harton gun ironed out, I maintain my existence with the ever reliable m21. So familiar it is that even my Hancock horse can distinguish its report from other guns. The proof is in the pudding when he comes running to the gate when I discharge my daily 24 rounds of practice shots in the morning.



I cannot seem to move past my Special state of mind, and have all but decided resistance is futile. Like everyone here, guns are a primary enthusiasm in my life for use in recreation, as well as intensive work. I'll likely always have a few calibers, but by default it seems I never leave the house anymore without a .44 Special. It rides nice in a feed truck, in a saddle, and even "Mexican style" when I do not feel a holster is appropriate.





I'm afraid I am, and will likely always be a "Special" man, in spite of what my critics may assert.
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Old 08-30-2023, 12:14 PM
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Nice. Thanks for sharing. Us suburb dwellers can fondle our .44’s and only imagine wearing and using them daily like you do.
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Old 08-30-2023, 12:47 PM
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44 special is one of my favourites. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 08-30-2023, 12:50 PM
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Outstanding post. Nice guns, nice shooting, looks like a nice life.
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Old 08-30-2023, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burnston View Post
As a child I can remember dad reading to us from our three household standards; the Bible, Good Friends, Good Guns, Good Whiskey, and Hoglegs, Hipshots, and Jalapenos. Based on these early impressions, I've managed to always have a Bible in my saddlebags, and a wheelgun on my hip; more specifically a .44 Special.
I do not know how/why I gravitated towards this particular caliber above all others, unless on some cognitive level it registered with me as a child listening to Skeeter praise of it. Regardless of the reason, this has always been my work/carry choice, in spite of owning .357s, .45s, .44 mags, and other odds and ends. I've experimented with all of them in my harsh and unforgiving work environment, but always come back to the Special.


The first .44spl I came across was an m21 that I came into at the trade price of a Ruger no.1 in 416 Rigby, plus a $100 tin. I outfitted it with Grashorn service style grips, a hard sought vintage Tyler T, a good Tom Threepersons from Lobo Leather, and a home-made six-round slide.


Positions of gun, knife, and slide required a lot of experimenting. I've made several adjustments over the years and have come to what I believe to be the perfect configuration of the three for a ranch work environment.

I fell into a rough crowd who got me set up with dies, turrets, brass, and every type of bullet known to man. After lots of experimenting, this gun ends up shooting POA at 35 yards with Skeeter's pet mid-level load plus .3gr of powder. From there I worked into a single action or two with some grade-A Harton tinkering, which I also put to good use.


Fast forward a few years, Mr. Harton has limited his work to Colts only, but was graciously willing to take on a Smith DA project for me. Evidently, another Skeeter detail that stuck with me as a child was the allure of a 5in barrel. Combine this with adjustable sights and the incomparable .44spl, and it seemed I just had to have it.
The result was a Harton converted 5in .44spl on an m28-3 donor. I realize this could have been easier accomplished (maybe) by just finding a suitable m24, but it wouldn't have had a 5in barrel, interchangeable front sights, nor would it have Mr. Harton's fingerprints all over it.




So far it prefers 260gr 429421 bullets with a borderline reckless dose of 2400 and magnum, (yes, magnum) primers, but I am searching for alternatives. I forgot a screwdriver to adjust my sights at the rawhide range, but a flattened .22 shell from my saddlebags and fencing pliers filled the void.

I hope to get it outfitted with a set of Zane's wonderful service grips, but for now resides in a home-carved set of some unidentified wood randomly found in the barn. The leather is homemade as well, and I find the shoulder rig particularly comfortable on horseback, though it will not do for serious puncher work. For that I've gone with a neutral-cant basket weave number that I'm not quite used to, so experiments are still underway.



I'll refrain from going through the critters name by name, but I've managed to bag several among the finest Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas has to offer.

In the meantime, until I get the Harton gun ironed out, I maintain my existence with the ever reliable m21. So familiar it is that even my Hancock horse can distinguish its report from other guns. The proof is in the pudding when he comes running to the gate when I discharge my daily 24 rounds of practice shots in the morning.



I cannot seem to move past my Special state of mind, and have all but decided resistance is futile. Like everyone here, guns are a primary enthusiasm in my life for use in recreation, as well as intensive work. I'll likely always have a few calibers, but by default it seems I never leave the house anymore without a .44 Special. It rides nice in a feed truck, in a saddle, and even "Mexican style" when I do not feel a holster is appropriate.





I'm afraid I am, and will likely always be a "Special" man, in spite of what my critics may assert.
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Old 08-30-2023, 01:03 PM
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Great writeup Sir. Thank you. I kinda' like the .44 Special myself..
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Old 08-30-2023, 01:11 PM
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Yup, a 44 special is hard to beat.

Here is a pretty rare King 4th Model Military 44spl with red reflector sights. It shipped originally as a 4" fixed sight and then King did their magic. Shown with a S.D. Myres 'jockstrap' floral carved holster.

A "Special" State of Mind (The .44 Kind)-dsc_0040_zpsdqksjixs-jpg
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Old 08-30-2023, 01:13 PM
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I've been a "Special Man" for many years. I currently own 9 guns in this wonderful caliber and always looking for more.
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Old 08-30-2023, 02:16 PM
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My only true Special is a Uberti 73!

Ivan
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Old 08-30-2023, 04:09 PM
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One of my favorites is an old retired Houston PD revolver.
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Old 08-30-2023, 04:34 PM
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Very nice guns and great pictures, I have only 1 .44 special and it is a Ruger flattop 4 5/8” gun.
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Old 08-30-2023, 04:57 PM
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Really nice. I have a model 696. It shoots great.
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Old 08-30-2023, 06:42 PM
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This pic is old......The guns are old..........I am old......But I still enjoy therm and their kinfolk not on display. I adopted Skeeter's load way back and see no need to change. 7.5 grs of Unique behind my 250 gr cast SWC....Good enough for cock roaches or bears......That OP feller would probably nice to hang out with.
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Old 08-30-2023, 07:03 PM
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Nice writeup and I agree whole heartedly. I was a Skeeter and Elmer follower and took a liking to the .44sp. years ago. I had Andy Horvath convert a 3 screw .357 for me years ago but let it go. I have a 4" 1950 Target and a 696. I had a 4" 24-3 and a 3" 24-3 that I traded away. I also had a 6" 1950 Target that I let go as well. I think it is my favorite caliber of all. I could easily sell off all of my .357's and go with 44sp.
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Old 08-30-2023, 07:06 PM
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I applaud the OP who has demonstrated in words and pictures how "special" the .44 S&W Special really is. I have to confess, my two .44's (a Ruger Blackhawk and S&W Model 24-3) are mainly in the safe and sometimes take a trip to the range to do nothing but punch paper. However, you have demonstrated just how practical and effective this fine old cartridge can be when carried as a working gun to take game and get rid of predators. With the right load in the right gun handled by a highly competent shooter, the old .44 will get the job done. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-30-2023, 07:20 PM
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Very impressive post Mr. Burnstone! Enjoyed it a lot and I don’t even own a .44spl. Thanks for posting. 👍👍
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Old 08-30-2023, 07:35 PM
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I have 3 .44 specials, one Smith, and two Rugers. The Rugers are modern, a Vaquero Lipsey's .44 Sheriff's model, and a 5-shot .44 GP100. Then there is my 1923 S&W Hand Ejector N-frame, nickel, fixed sight. Built on a WWI .45 frame, inspection stamps and lettering prove it was ready for military service, but never built as one. I've shot Keith .44 special loads in the Rugers, but I will not in the Smith. It is too pristine.
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Old 08-30-2023, 07:50 PM
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OK, so here is my straight flush: 44s first throught 5th models--the last being a magnum.

I posted this picture a few years ag... have a few more 44s today.

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Old 08-30-2023, 07:53 PM
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Great post, well done.
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Old 08-30-2023, 07:57 PM
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I am down to a 24-3 and a 4 5/8" Blackhawk. I enjoyed your write up with the possible exception that you seemed almost apologetic of your leatherwork. From my eyes you should be bragging on it.
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Old 08-30-2023, 08:45 PM
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My only .44Special but it's a choice one, & my favorite handgun in good company... This M24-3 Lew Horton Special... I shoot steel with and carry both in the Woods and on Nightly Neighborhood Dog walks. The trigger in both DA/SA is amazing and I can stage a single action shot without touching the hammer 98+ times out of a 100 I'm so familiar with that DA trigger pull.

The .44Special Cartridge is so diverse... load dependent it's even capable of taking any game/animal in North America I'm confident.

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Old 08-30-2023, 08:56 PM
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I've sold some of my target .44's but still my 1950 cut down to 5", 696, and two others.
That dam Elmer & Skeeter got me going with there write up's.
I don't count my old M29......
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Old 08-30-2023, 11:10 PM
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Great writeup Sir. Thank you. I kinda' like the .44 Special myself..
Those are dandy. Nothing beats stag or ivory on blue steel.
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Old 08-30-2023, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by SAFireman View Post
Yup, a 44 special is hard to beat.

Here is a pretty rare King 4th Model Military 44spl with red reflector sights. It shipped originally as a 4" fixed sight and then King did their magic. Shown with a S.D. Myres 'jockstrap' floral carved holster.

A "Special" State of Mind (The .44 Kind)-dsc_0040_zpsdqksjixs-jpg
That holster is a prime example of why I cannot have nice things. I'd have it scratched up and muddy. Beautiful indeed; thanks for the pics.
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Old 08-30-2023, 11:14 PM
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This pic is old......The guns are old..........I am old......But I still enjoy therm and their kinfolk not on display. I adopted Skeeter's load way back and see no need to change. 7.5 grs of Unique behind my 250 gr cast SWC....Good enough for cock roaches or bears......That OP feller would probably nice to hang out with.
I appreciate the compliment. Sadly, spending the bulk of my time with horses and cattle dogs I'm a bit of a pain in the rear, and I tend not to share my ammunition. Bless the anonymity of the internet.
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Old 08-30-2023, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by TJm15.38 View Post
I applaud the OP who has demonstrated in words and pictures how "special" the .44 S&W Special really is. I have to confess, my two .44's (a Ruger Blackhawk and S&W Model 24-3) are mainly in the safe and sometimes take a trip to the range to do nothing but punch paper. However, you have demonstrated just how practical and effective this fine old cartridge can be when carried as a working gun to take game and get rid of predators. With the right load in the right gun handled by a highly competent shooter, the old .44 will get the job done. Thanks for sharing.
It has taken a lot of time and work, and more than one close call when I was concerned I didn't have "enough gun." Fortunately, this turned out to be more shooter error than a pistol problem, and I began to practice more from the back of a moving horse. Thankfully I've yet to have another occasion to test my new skill.

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Old 08-31-2023, 07:35 AM
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Wonderful write up and photos. I truly envy you, hope to see more of your post.
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Old 08-31-2023, 08:08 AM
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That holster is a prime example of why I cannot have nice things. I'd have it scratched up and muddy. Beautiful indeed; thanks for the pics.

Yup, I can't hunt, work cattle, or fences with that kind of leather. For those days we have rigs like these:


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Old 08-31-2023, 09:42 AM
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I have 3 .44's.
A 1919 .44-40 Colt SAA with one piece Ivories.



A 3rd Gen. .44 Spl. with Sambar Stag stocks.



Lastly, a custom built, by me, Smith model 624, with a .44 Magnum barrel I installed, because I liked the heft of the heavier Magnum barrel.
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Old 08-31-2023, 12:44 PM
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I have 3 .44's.
A 1919 .44-40 Colt SAA with one piece Ivories.



A 3rd Gen. .44 Spl. with Sambar Stag stocks.



Lastly, a custom built, by me, Smith model 624, with a .44 Magnum barrel I installed, because I liked the heft of the heavier Magnum barrel.
I'm proficient with the Smith, but I long for the Colt. Mine is a 3rd gen as well, with one piece Red Stag from Zane Thompson.

Did you have a cylinder gap issue using the .44mag barrel on the 624 frame? I started my m28 conversion with a .44mag barrel but the gap would have been much too wide and he'd have had to mess with the barrel to make things right. I instead opted for an m24 takeoff from a member of this forum.
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Old 08-31-2023, 01:09 PM
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I appreciate the compliment. Sadly, spending the bulk of my time with horses and cattle dogs I'm a bit of a pain in the rear, and I tend not to share my ammunition. Bless the anonymity of the internet.
I share your thoughts. I only share ammo with my son if needed. And you can count the folks I've invited onto my private range in the last 20 years with your fingers on both hands.
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Old 08-31-2023, 01:45 PM
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Default Great post!

Good to see others out in the country.


First time my 44 made it into two posts in one day, but what the hell...


624 4" from 1985, a sweet carry gun.


Thanks for posting!




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Old 08-31-2023, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Mbrgr1 View Post
Good to see others out in the country.


First time my 44 made it into two posts in one day, but what the hell...


624 4" from 1985, a sweet carry gun.


Thanks for posting!




I love the way Hard Cast Keith's seem to "Auto Align" into the cylinder's charging holes from a Speed Loader with minimum effort offering a much faster reload time.

My old M625, Keith's, and HK Speed Loader made for my fastest reloading times in a revolver to date.

That is a lovely 4" M624 and those grips, goodness, they are sweet!
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Old 08-31-2023, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burnston View Post
I'm proficient with the Smith, but I long for the Colt. Mine is a 3rd gen as well, with one piece Red Stag from Zane Thompson.

Did you have a cylinder gap issue using the .44mag barrel on the 624 frame? I started my m28 conversion with a .44mag barrel but the gap would have been much too wide and he'd have had to mess with the barrel to make things right. I instead opted for an m24 takeoff from a member of this forum.

I have a lathe, so I had no problem cutting the barrel shoulder back to obtain a .004" b/c gap. I then recut the forcing cone to 11 degrees.
As I had used a blue Model 29 barrel, I had Andy Horvath scrub the .44 Mag logo off and restamp the barrel with .44 Special. The gun was then sent off and I had a red ramp insert installed and then had it hard chromed.

The picture doesn't show it, but I installed a smooth color case hardened combat trigger and a color case hardened target hammer.
The gun is very accurate.

Last edited by bgrafsr; 08-31-2023 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 08-31-2023, 09:18 PM
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I LOVE the .44 Special. It's by far my favorite handgun round. Currently the only dedicated .44 Spl I have is the 5-shot 3" Ruger GP100. I carry it alot and find it the perfect size sidearm in a Simply Rugged pancake holster.

My 4" .44 Mtn Gun has mostly had .44 Special rounds through it. Another huge favorite. I grew up with Skeeter and Elmer so I know what you mean, those were great and entertaining books indeed.
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Old 08-31-2023, 10:20 PM
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OP - You have some beauties there. My favorite .44 spl is a USFA (bottom gun) that shoots to the sights at 25 yards with a 240 swc at 875 fps.

Larry

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Old 09-01-2023, 12:16 PM
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Great post, really enjoy seeing working guns doing what they were made for! I tote a M69 4.25" around the farm occasionally. (44spl loads most of the time). Had a 696 that somebody really wanted so I let it go. I like the smaller 44 L-frame and prefer the longer barrel of the 69. Kinda think Elmer and Skeeter would have too!
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Old 02-04-2024, 02:51 PM
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Seen some outstanding 44’s on this thread. 44 Spl. has been a favorite for longer than I can remember. Wanted to post my three beauties that are all working guns. A third generation COLT NFSAA and two 1950 44 targets. The latest is a factory 4" that the previous owner / owners put to some heavy use but not abused and it is a great shooter.



New photos of pre 24 4" now with moose antler stocks made by
bigmtnman who is a member of this forum.




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Old 02-16-2024, 12:40 PM
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Ok we gotta keep this thread going... My all-time favorite round

My 1985 624...
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Old 02-16-2024, 01:21 PM
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Gentleman,
I confess, my 624 is one very special amongst all my S&W revolvers. I had it roundbutted to have more options for stocks, but in the end I stick with Hogue round-to-square conversion stocks without finger grooves. It's very accurate with plated and jacketed bullets in .429/.430 and a 215 grs lead SWC in .432. Interestingly accuracy was also fine with heavy lead SWCs in .430 above 250 grs. Otherwise lead is not the best option, chambers are wide.

Will take it out to the range on saturday...

regards from Germany
Ulrich

original


Ahrends Retro Banana


Ahrends Retro Target


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Old 02-16-2024, 02:53 PM
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Great looking stocks on that 624 Ulrich. I love wood stocks on revolvers.
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Old 02-23-2024, 10:04 PM
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I despaired of ever finding (or affording) a 24-3 or a 1950 Target model, so I bought the ruger gp100 in .44 spl when the 3 incher came out. I liked it so much I bought a flat top blackhawk. They are accurate revolvers and so much fun to shoot. If I didn't " roll my own" it'd be hard to find ammo for sure.

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Old 02-24-2024, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wuluf View Post
I despaired of ever finding (or affording) a 24-3 or a 1950 Target model, so I bought the ruger gp100 in .44 spl when the 3 incher came out. I liked it so much I bought a flat top blackhawk. They are accurate revolvers and so much fun to shoot. If I didn't " roll my own" it'd be hard to find ammo for sure.

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I carry that 3" GP100 in .44 Special as a CCW quite often. It's one of my most-carried guns. I like it a lot.

The 4 5/8" flat-top Blackhawk in .44 Special is on my Wish List!
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Old 02-24-2024, 10:11 PM
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The 624 no-dash with Magnas which I much prefer over Target stocks.

Very comfortable IWB at 4 o'clock in a Simply Rugged pancake holster.

200gr Gold Dots
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Old 02-25-2024, 02:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcs266 View Post
Ok we gotta keep this thread going... My all-time favorite round

My 1985 624...
I agree with that but the thread should be in “Reloading” because the 44 Special is a Reloaders Dream.

Everyone who is a Gun Enthusiast should have a S&W DA revolver and a Colt SAA in 44 Special JMHO.
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Old 03-03-2024, 08:21 PM
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Gentlemen,
I first started getting interested in the .44 Special and the guns chambered for it when the articles and books by John Taffin which to more articles by Elmer Keith, Skeeter Skelton, and Sherrif Jim Wilson. To date I have four handguns in that caliber. I also cast the bullets for the hand loads for these guns. Some of these loads I have chronographed for each gun and some I haven't yet.

The first is a Hamilton Bowen custom made from an old .357 Ruger old model 3-screw with a 4 1/2" barrel. It is very accurate with 7.5 grains of Universal Clays with an RCBS 44-250-K bullet mold cast of Wheel Weights. All of these loads use the same bullet but some use a softer 1-20 tin to lead mix for bullet obturation. I'm guessing it's a good 950 to 975 feet per second load.

Next is Ruger 5 1/2" Flat Top New Model. The Ruger barrels are getting much smoother inside. It uses the same Wheel Weight bullet with 8.8 grains of Power Pistol for 1051 FPS.

Next, we have the Ruger .44 Special 3" GP100 5-shot which is not being made any more. I put the Ruger Compact grips on mine and it uses the 200 grain Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point which chronoed at 809 FPS for a carry load. A hand load which shoots to the same point of aim as the Speer load at 7 to 10 yards is 6.8 grains of WW 231 with the RCBS bullet only cast of 1/20 tin to lead alloy. A hotter load is 7.7 grains of Universal Clays at 906 FPS.

Lastly is the S&W Model 624 4". The action on this gun is very smooth and I really like how it balances in the hand and packs very well on the hip. This gun uses 7.0 grains of Universal Clays with the RCBS bullet cast of 1/20 alloy. Again, I'm guessing I'm getting a good 950 to 975 FPS from this load from this gun.

The .44 Special is indeed a very special round and as John Taffin has said, it can take care of 95% of any thing we might need it for!

Jim Crites
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Old 03-03-2024, 10:40 PM
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.45mtngun, good post and description of your four Specials. I have three .44 Specials. One of the 3" GP100's like yours, a Lipsey's 3 3/4" Vaquero Sheriff's, and, a not rare, but unusual, S&W 1923 .44 Hand Ejector, 6 3/8" barrel, factory nickel, that I discovered at Cabela's Library, of all places. I might shoot it this spring, finally, when I get some 1923 velocity 240gr lead handloads done. Not many rounds. I don't want to mess up the finish with too much dirt to clean without scarring the finish. I also have a .44 magnum Vaquero that I doubt that I'll ever shoot anything but Specials in. It likes the Skeeter .44 loads, fixed sights and all.

I love the .44 Special. A friend called it the .22 for the full grown man. LoL
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Old 03-03-2024, 11:25 PM
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4" 24-3 with grips by Zane Thompson.


.44 Special conversion on a flattop .357 by John Gallagher.

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Old 03-04-2024, 12:58 AM
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My daily companion now. The "ideal" handgun I've wanted for years is now a reality and I'm loving it.

I have a 629-3 Mountain Gun and have carried it ALOT over the years, but an honest N Frame ".44 Special" was still something I just had to have.
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Old 03-04-2024, 12:13 PM
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24-3 with Skeeter Skelton Bearhug handles …

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