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The .44 Remington Magnum
By Chuck Hawks
The .44 Remington Magnum was introduced in 1956. For years Elmer Keith and others had been experimenting with heavy loads in the .44 Special case, and these experiments had gotten a lot of exposure in the firearms press. Finally Remington teamed with Smith & Wesson to bring out a lengthened and strengthened .44 Special case (much as the .357 Mag. is a lengthened and strengthened .38 Spec. case) and a revolver to shoot the new cartridge.
Handgun ballistics tables show bullet weights of 180, 210, 240, 275, and 300 grains for the .44 Magnum. The most popular and generally the most useful remains the 240 grain jacketed bullet at about 1180 fps with 741 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy from a 4" revolver barrel. The figures from a rifle barrel are 1760 fps and 1650 ft. lbs. The JHP bullet is preferred for handgun hunting use, while the tougher JSP bullet is the best choice for the higher velocities achieved by rifle barrels.
For the handloader there is a good selection of .429" bullets, the bullet diameter actually used in the .44 Magnum cartridge. Common jacketed bullet weights include 180, 200, 210, 225, 240, 250, 265, 275, and 300 grains.
For reduced recoil and flat trajectory in a revolver, I have found the 200 grain bullet a good choice, and for all-around use it is hard to beat the 240 grain bullet in revolver or rifle. Those who insist on using their .44's on heavy game are partial to the 265-300 grain bullets. Lead bullets should be kept well below 1000 fps to minimize barrel leading. Actually, in any magnum handgun caliber, it is best to forgo lead bullets.
For practice shooting and varmint hunting I load a 200 grain Speer JHP bullet in front of 11.0 grains of HS6 powder for a MV of about 1000 fps. This load uses Winchester WLP primers and is, in effect, a ".44 Special +P" load in Magnum brass. Recoil is moderate and the trajectory is flat enough for most purposes.
According to the Handgun section of the Hodgdon Data Manual, 26th Edition 13.0 grains of HS6 powder will give a 200 grain JHP bullet a MV of 1197 fps, and 15.5 grains of HS6 will give a MV of 1516 fps.
23.0 grains of H110 powder can drive a 240 grain jacketed bullet at a MV of 1411 fps, and a maximum load of 24.0 grains of H110 can drive the same bullet at a MV of 1548 fps. These figures were achieved in a 7" pressure test barrel. The MAP of the latter load is 39,300 cup. Large pistol magnum primers were used for these loads.
Note: A full length article about the .44 Rem. Mag. can be found on the Handgun Cartridge Page.
Copyright 2004, 2010 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.