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44 mag. reloading... need some advice

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Kentguy, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. Kentguy


    Nov 22, 2010
    Kent, OH
    Greetings everyone,
    I could use some advice here because I’m in some uncharted waters for me. I am trying to develop some “target type” or possibly hunting loads for a .44 magnum and what I have used so far have yielded I guess you could call “so-so” results perhaps a different powder or brand of bullet? I’m just not sure, what have you folks use with good success perhaps you could steer me in a better direction.
    All my test rounds fired without failure – accuracy was tested at 25, 35 & 50 yards. After checking several sources I settled on using the numbers from my “Speer” manual. The temp was around 75 degrees with a very slight left to right breeze, rounds shot from a bench/gun rest position. Here are my details;
    Case – Win. (used) trimmed to 1.275”
    Bullet – 240g JSP (Remington)
    Powder – Alliant 2400
    Powder range – 19.0g up to 21.0g
    Primer – Winchester WLP
    OAL – 1.590”-1.595”
    Crimp – Heavy (suggested in Lyman’s manual)
    Winchester Factory rounds Vel – 1,409.83 fps & SD – 37.60009
    My Test charges;
    19.0g Vel – 1,309.83 fps & SD – 28.44937
    19.5g Vel – 1,318.66 fps & SD – 15.00222
    20.0g vel – 1,374.00 fps & SD – 29.42788
    20.5g vel – 1,361.66 fps & SD – 27.68875
    21.0g vel – 1,408.16 fps & SD – 24.26039
    My test gun is an S&W 44 magnum model 629 w/8-3/8” barrel
    Again my results with all of this were just average (at best) with the exception of the charge of 21.0g – the tights groups achieved but still nothing to write home about. I know that 2400 is a long standing powder used for this caliber along with the 240g bullet, but if there is something out there you have found that yields great results for you – by all means please let me know. I am certainly open to any procedural thoughts you could offer as well. Like I said this caliber/gun is all new territory for me.
  2. TKM

    TKM Shiny Member Lifetime Member

  3. Pat T

    Pat T

    Nov 6, 2004
    NW PA

    I recently reworked my hunting load for my S&W 29. I am using H110 powder and a CC1350 primer, but what I found was that differences with this powder and primer combination in accuracy was significant with only a .2 of a grain increment. I have not loaded 2400 for this caliber and no doubt there are others here with more experience on your combination of components, but it may be you are jumping over some sweet spots with the .5 grain load steps. Good luck and have fun with this!
  4. sig357fan


    Apr 8, 2008
    SW OH

    I've never used H110 and never gotten "as good as" results with jacketed bullets as I do with cast bullets, and yes, I'm a dyed it the wool 2400 user for magnum and cast bullet rife loads.

    what I do know about H110 is from the manufacturers warning to not reduce H110 loads as much as you would when starting with other powders, you'll see it about half way down the first page of the link provided below.

    when you look up the 44 mag data, your loads are below what Hodgdon recomends as a starting load, this may be your problem.

  5. alank2


    May 24, 2004

    For a target load, I like loading 7.5 grains of VV n320 with a 240gr JSP. I get around 828 fps (sd 15, es 43) with a 2 1/2" Alaskan.

    Good luck,

  6. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    I guess the first question is what kind of accuracy are you looking for & how much hangdun exp do you have shooting boomers? I have been an avid 44mag shooter & reloader for 35yrs. I jabe even managed to wear out a Ruger SBH shooting in met sil. Most of my early years was all full power stuff. Now days, I have throttled back most of my loads to extend the lif of my older S&W. It's not diff to get 44mags shooting 4" @ 50yds w/ open sights, even better with younger eyes. Slap a scope on my RBBH, 4" @ 100yds is pretty routine.
    My guns never see jacketed bullets anymore. All lead, all the time, even for hunting loads. I can cast a LHP that works just as well, maybe lightly better, than many JHP for hunting out to 100yds. The lead bullet also has less wear on the critical forcing cone area (how I managed to shoot out a RBH). So you are on the right track w/ 2400. You might try switching to a std primer for 2400 loads. If you want only full power loads, then try H110/W296 & mag primers.
  7. Kentguy


    Nov 22, 2010
    Kent, OH
    Thanks guys,
    My original thoughts were not to develop a “full Power load”, which is why I choose 2400 instead of H110 or something else, but a load I could control, achieve a decent reacquisition and of course be as accurate as I could get. I have never tried VVn320 powder, it’s a faster burning powder that 2400, but I certainly not opposed to trying a different powder..
    I was expecting to get groups of 2”-3” groups at 25 & 35 yards and 3”-4” groups at 50 yards. Bullets at all charges were outside those expectations thus my feelings of “so-so” accuracy. As far as my experience shooting boomers… I have been shooting 45 ACP & 357 magnum for over 20 years but like I said this is my first go around owning, reloading & shooting 44 magnum. As a general rule, I like to develop loads that are a bit on the liter side, they are more fun to shoot and I generally achieve a more accurate round going in this direction.
    It seems most of you gents run lead bullets – something like a LSWC? These are what I run through my 38 Special & 357 Mag. Switching to Standard primer like CCI #300, Federal #150 something like that (I have both of these in stock).
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  8. sig357fan


    Apr 8, 2008
    SW OH

    Sorry for my confusion, I got the idea you were using H110 instead of 2400.

    And I’d have to agree with Fred on using standard primers and cast bullets with 2400, my current load is CCI 300 LPP, Win brass and a Lee 310 GCFP, cutting clover leafs at 50 yards off the bench with a scoped TCC super 14.

    I had tried a couple different jacketed bullets and a couple different powder with the Lee 310er and was lucky if I got under 2” at 50 yards, my 2400 load is accurate and should have plenty of thump with out being too abusive to me or my pistol.

  9. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012
    When I am working up for a new gun in that caliber I start out with a 240-250 gn SWC from either my Lyman 429421 mold or the RCBS 250-K and Unique powder with aCCI lpp.

    I start with a top end .44 spl load from the manual and work up as longas accuracy doesn't decrease. I am generally happy with an all-around load for a .44 magnum at somewhere between 1,000-1,100 fps. I kind of like playing around in that area between the top end special and the mid range magnum loads. If I go beyond 1,100 fps I switch to H110 at it's "safe" level, 4227, or 2400. I don't usually quote powder charges for a couple of reasons, but one of my Smiths goes just ape over a charge of 17.5 gns of2400 under a 245-250 gn SWC cast fairly hard and sized to .430" and crimped firmly. To my frustration my Winchester Trapper wants 1.5 gns more and accuracy starts to slide with the pistol at that point. besides I don't want that heavy a load as a general rule. i wish the rifle, with it's velocity advantage in a given load would at least agree with one of my pistols on "pet load"
  10. Mongosafari

    Mongosafari El diablo verde

    My standby load for my Ruger Redhawk 7 1/2" 44 mag is a Remington bulk 240 gr JHP over 20.0 gr 2400 and a CCI Large Pistol Magnum Primer. Mostly R-P brass but some Win and Starline.
  11. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    3"-4" 50yd accuracy w/ open sights is quite good, especially if you are not a regular to the 44mag. Recoil management w/ full power loads is an aquired taste so sounds like some add'l. trigger time will help your groups a bit. Should I assume you are testing off a bench? I would if looking to isolate an accurate load. Nothing wrong w/ jacketed bullets, but IMO, you gain little to nothing in a big bore moving a good cast bullet along @ 1200-1400fps.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  12. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2008
    There's always Unique that works well in the 44M if a milder load is preferred.
  13. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    240 grain lswc and 18.5 grains of 2400 with a standard primer for a good accurate mid-range load... found 20.0 grains with the same bullet is a good load close to the upper end. Both accurate, but my Marlin doesn't like the 20 grain load. It will cut a ragged hole at 50 yards with the 18.5 though, so I usually stick to that as a standard (works fairly well in the revolvers too).
  14. DarkShooter


    Dec 4, 2011
    Mid Range Load - 240gr LSWC, 8.5gr Unique, CCI 300, Mixed Brand Brass

    Standard Load - 240gr Hornady XTP, 19.0 2400, CCI 300, Starline or Winchester Brass

    Been using these two loads in several 29's and a Winchester 94 Trapper for years.
    Very consistant and more than accurate enough.
  15. If that's your first go around, than those are nice numbers.fwiw, I also get better accuracy with lead hardcast than a jsp. leadheads or mtbaldy bullets are all that I used and with H110 or Lil'Gun powders.
  16. Highspeedlane

    Highspeedlane NRA Life Member

    Jan 25, 2008
    New England
    Try out some H110/W296. Use the starting charge in your load data, give it a heavy roll crimp and touch it off with a magnum primer.

    I used 2400 when starting out loading the .44 Magnum several decades ago but was never happy with my groups. My first outing with H110 out performed anything I had tried before.

    It's now my go-to powder for any heavy bullet loads from .357 Magnum and up.
  17. Kentguy


    Nov 22, 2010
    Kent, OH
    Wow thanks for all the advice everyone,

    The accuracy I was getting was not horrible at all it is just from a bench rest and my revolver firmly planted in my pistol rest - I expected a much tighter grouping. If I was shooting free hand... I'd say "thank you very much" and call it a day.

    I have developed several really nice accurate loads for my S&W 357 magnum w/6" barrel using Allinat 2400 with Barns XTB & Hornady XTP bullets but that gun really likes the LSWC! :thumbsup:

    I thought with my 44 magnum I'd try a compromise (of sorts) with the JSP bullet but is seems lead is the way to go here as well for my next round of tests.

    I have to say when it comes to "full power loads" the 240g JSP with 21.0g of 2400 will give your wrist something to think about. This tested closest to the Factory loads I tested against and gave me my tightest grouping. But I wouldn't want to shoot those for an extended period of time in one day.

    I have to say I love the 44 mag and I don't know why I waited so long to jump into this revolver. I do thank you all for your advice - I have jotted down your recommendations and now I have some shopping and testing ahead of me.
  18. GotFour


    Dec 1, 2006
    Memphis, Tn
    296 w/mag primers and a heavy roll crimp. Accurate, top end velocities, meters great and burns a lot cleaner than some of the other powder choices that tend to gum up your wheel gun after extended shooting sessions. Works great in .357 mag too.
  19. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    The issue W/ H110/W296 is it's a max effort powder & doesn't do reduced loads well at all. I still use it, but only for max loads. For more comfy range loads, 2400 downloads nicely into the upper midrange w/ good accuracy & burns pretty clean.
  20. I load a Lee cast bullet-310 grains-2400 -15.5 grains.
    Bullets are cast from mixed range scrap.
    My records show an average of 910 fps.
    I have not measured my groups, but it shoots nice tight groups at 15 yards off hand.
    S/W 629. 6" barrel.