.44 Magnum Reduced Recoil Reloads Using Hodgdon HS6 Powder

By Jim Fleck and the Guns and Shooting Online Staff

Ruger Super Blackhawk
Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum test revolver. Illustration courtesy of Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

In his article "The .44 Remington Magnum," Chuck Hawks stated the following: "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 muzzle velocity (MV) was extrapolated from data published in various reloading manuals. This article will supply our readers with some data to see just how accurate Chuck's educated guess was.

The 25th Edition of the Hodgdon Data Manual states that, from a .44 Magnum revolver with a 7.5" barrel, 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. Working from the bottom of this range (13.0 Grains), Chuck and I loaded cartridges in half grain increments down to 10.0 Grains. This covers the range from a minimum 44 Magnum load to .44 Special velocity level. Because there is so much interest in reduced recoil loads, it would be helpful if the powder and bullet manufacturers were to include reduced velocity loading data for magnum handgun cartridges in their manuals

We did our load testing at the Izaak Walton range south of Eugene, Oregon. We placed our Chrony chronograph 10 feet from the muzzle and fired five shot groups. The weather was 55 degrees and partly cloudy. The test gun was a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum with a 5.5" barrel. We used 200 Grain Hornady XTP (JHP) bullets and new W-W preprimed cases.

The recoil and blast were mild to moderate from the minimum Load (10 Grains) up to the maximum Load (13 Grains). The fired brass was clean, without soot at the mouth or any sign of excessive pressure. As you can see from the charts below, all of the loads produced the expected chronograph velocities.

Chuck and I have a long history with HS6 powder and have found it to be an accurate, clean burning powder for mid-range loads in Magnum revolvers. Here is the Raw Data; all velocities in feet-per-second:

Grains/HS6

Load 1

Load 2

Load 3

Load 4

Load 5

Avg. Vel.

Ext. Spread

10.0

923

942

984

965

999

962.6

76

10.5

1026

1004

1004

1007

1002

1008.6

24

11.0

1021

1055

1049

1063

1078

1053.2

57

11.5

1063

1074

1082

1080

1086

1077

23

12.0

1122

1151

1139

1149

1146

1141.4

29

12.5

1144

1150

1176

1184

1179

1166.6

40

13.0

1217

1180

1218

1227

1233

1215

53

Here is the averaged data plotted, note it's linearity (Grains / Velosity):

HS6 Grains / Velosity

We used the cartridges remaining after the chronographing for informal accuracy testing. We fired a 25 yard, 8-shot group (without a rest) that measured 2-1/8" and clustered around the point of aim. This may not sound like much, but please consider that the cartridges were loaded with from 10 to 13 grains of HS6 powder. As you can see from the data, Chuck's educated guess was quite close.




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Copyright 2012 by Jim Fleck and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.


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