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Concensus for favorite bullet weight in 44Mag?

Discussion in 'The Wheelhouse' started by MCNETT, Jan 20, 2005.

  1. 180gr

    0 vote(s)
  2. 200gr

    0 vote(s)
  3. 240gr

    4 vote(s)
  4. 270gr

    2 vote(s)
  5. 300gr

    1 vote(s)
  1. MSgt Dotson

    MSgt Dotson

    Sep 30, 2006
    I have some plinking/practice loads of 200 gr jacketed flatpoints moving along at a modest 1075 fps...

    Controllable, and pleasant....!
  2. GLShooter


    Jan 3, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    240's across the board for plinking and IHMSA.


  3. MakeMineA10mm

    MakeMineA10mm * * * * Millennium Member Lifetime Member

    Feb 13, 1999
    Central Illinois
    Dug up kindof an old one, but it's a good one. I missed it originally, so here's my take, if anyone is still listening.

    After lots of trying, I've decided that 180s and even 200gr bullets are not effecient and do not produce very balanced loads in the 44 Magnum. While they can be very accurate, it seems it takes a lot of work to find the sweet spot to get them that accurate, and once that's done, you really only have a low-recoil target load, IMO, because these bullets just don't have the SD for decent penetration and they blow-up too easily (in JHP form) for salvageable small game hunting. I guess they'd be interesting P-Dog loads, but even then, the heavier-bullet loads have better long-range trajectory, so that's only a short-range benefit. I don't mess with them anymore.

    I found that around 210grs, bullets start getting a LOT better. They have enough bore-riding surface (or at least that's what I theorize is the benefit) that it's fairly easy to find accurate loads without much work. Also, we're finally getting to a weight that occupies enough space in the case to give better load density, and the weight of the bullet provides better resistance to the powder to cause better combustion in more combinations than with the 180s. I buy and shoot a fair number of Rem. 210gr SJHPs, but Win. 210gr STHPs would work well too. I like Lyman 431215 mould, which makes 215 to 220gr bullets that are also pretty accurate with lower recoil and conservation of my lead supply.

    However, even though the 210s are kind-of my "minimum" weight class for 44s, for a "lightweight" bullet in the 44 Mag, I like 225s even better. The Speer 225gr HJ-SWC-HP is my favorite defense and light-hunting (Texas scrub whitetails, coyotes, and game of that size or smaller) bullet in the 44. My primary "practice load" bullet is a 225gr RNFP, which is also a dandy rabbit load, because it doesn't destroy meat like an expanding bullet. Developing accurate loads with these bullets is a piece of cake, and load balance is good enough that virtually any pistol powder is able to be utilized with these bullets and give good ignition.

    There's nothing wrong with 240-250gr bullets in the 44 Mag, and you can see by their popularity in this poll that they certainly work, or many wouldn't use them. They work so well, because it's what the cartridge was designed around. My favorites are: Lyman 430421 (245-250gr Keith SWC), RCBS 44-250-KT (part # 82044) (which is even more true to the original Keith design than the Lyman these days), and the Win. 240gr JHSP. An very exemplary bullet in this weight class is the Nosler 250gr Partition Gold bullet. If you're looking for a premium bullet for the 44 Magnum that can do anything and everything in the realm of hunting, this is it.

    A bullet weight range that was pretty ignored until recently is the 260-290gr weight range. For many, many years, only the Hornady 265gr JSP (for the 444 Marlin) was available, and many respected and famous gun writers said it was not ideal and "too much of a good thing" in the 44 Mag. They've since ate those words and turned out looking like sissies, because silhouette shooters started shooting 300+gr bullets... I think truth be told, the writers were shocked and unhappy with the recoil, or felt the masses would be and would complain to the editors about them. This is actually my favorite weight range for serious 44 Mag loads. I designed a custom 265-270gr (depending upon the alloy you use) Keith SWC that religiously adheres to his principles. My only change was making the drive-bands a little wider. Keith in his later writings mentioned once or twice that the only improvement on his original bullet would be to try it a little heavier to around 270grs, and that's what I did. For a "maximum effort" bullet in the 44 Magnum, I really like the Lyman 430640 RNFP. It's pretty much a cross between the WFN and LFN bullets, so I call it a "MFN" (Medium Flat Nose). It's a balanced design that feeds through lever-action carbines well, and is correctly balanced to minimize it's impact on the powder reservoir inside the case while simultaneously giving a lot of weight. It's very accurate and has a nice, big meplat (flat nose). Depending on alloy, it weighs between 275 and 285grs. (My "hard" bullets, which are WW+2% tin weigh 281grs.)

    Now, there's plenty of bullets which weigh 300+grs for the 44; however, I don't like them. For the most part they are marketing gimmicks or ego-gratifiers. The ammo companies know that having a 300gr bullet is going to sell a heck of a lot better than a 290gr bullet. That's in spite of the fact that they did the research back in the 60s and discovered that a 290gr bullet was the ideal maximum weight to get the best combination of penetration, energy, load balance (room for powder in the case, combined with ignition reliability, combined with useful velocity and bullet weight), and reasonable pressures. This crossed over into any .430" bullet in a straight-walled case with high pressure loads, as they tested it in the 444 Marlin as well, and it still held true. Remington actually had a 280gr bullet ready to market in this caliber in the 60s, but Hornady beat them to the market by a couple months, and Remington decided to discontinue the project, probably on the theory that the market wouldn't support more than one heavy-bullet for the caliber, and Hornady's was already out... (They looked at things different back then.)

    I use cast bullets pretty much exclusively in the 44s, with the exception of the Ruger 44 Carbine (I have an original from the early mid-60s), whose gas system requires a jacketed bullet to prevent fouling. The only jacketed bullet I'd look at seriously in place of a cast bullet is the Partition (or the similar Swift A-Frames). Since pistols are weak hunting tools compared to the rifle or shotgun, I want my pistol loads to penetrate. Cast bullets with good, large flat points do that well, and disrupt a lot of tissue too. That's the killing mechanism and it works every bit as well as a JHP, but more reliably.
  4. nickE10mm

    nickE10mm F.S.F.O.S.

    Apr 13, 2004
    Wichita, KS
    Great post, man. :)
  5. Mikie

    Mikie Millennium Member

    Dec 21, 1998
    Eastern MA
    I like the Bear Creek Moly-coated 240 gr SWC. I can drive them at magnum velocities and still get the barrel nice and shiny without heavy lead removal.
  6. FM12

    FM12 I need AMMO!

    Jun 17, 2007
    Favorite is a Speer 200 grain Mag Tip JHP over a bunch of either 296 or H110.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  7. AZ_Quailhunter

    AZ_Quailhunter NRA Life Member

    Apr 29, 2007
    Have to say 240gr. Sierras for 90 percent of my shooting.
    Hunting would be 250gr or better....any type.
  8. nickE10mm

    nickE10mm F.S.F.O.S.

    Apr 13, 2004
    Wichita, KS
    And by the way, I like a 250gr, flat based, wide grease-grooved Keith at 1000-1200fps for most all deer hunting and plinking and anything or lighter for coyotes at long range. Also, lightly loaded solids using head shots wilke rabbit and squirrel with practice and no meat damage. l
  9. cherokeewarrior

    cherokeewarrior NRA Life Member

    Aug 4, 2012
    Have used 240 jhp and 200 jhp for deer, didn't see much difference in the result. Both were one shot stops.
  10. nickE10mm

    nickE10mm F.S.F.O.S.

    Apr 13, 2004
    Wichita, KS
    Although, admittedly, I've been liking heavier stuff in emergencies. ;). 280gr WFNGC at 1100fps.
  11. smokeross

    smokeross GTDS Member #49

    May 15, 2011
    You totally missed one of the best bullets for hunting with the .44 magnum. I use the Hornady bullet designed for the .444 Marlin rifle. It's a 265 grain with less exposed lead that is harder than most since it's designed for higher velocity. Also has a thicker jacket.
    Don't have to pay a premium price for them. They penetrate great. 23 grains of Winchester 296 will push it right along.
  12. Buckeye63


    Jul 24, 2004
    East TN
    I was late on voteing on the only 44 mag at this time is a Rossi snubbie (Taurus tracker) ..and 240gr is my favorite 44 mag load...for SD I use 44 Spl. ammo...

  13. Redhawk45


    Sep 8, 2014
    Middle Tennessee
    210 grain: Remington SJHP to reload, Winchester Silvertip off the shelf. Deer and self defense. Sorry had to shut down computer and finished a couple of posts down.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2016
  14. ruffterrain


    Oct 26, 2014
    Subject to change
    Like many have commented, bullet weight in a .44 Mag is often purpose-defined. For hunting (at least here in PA) the 240 gr JSP has proven itself to be extremely effective on big game including white-tailed deer and black bear. I voted the 240 gr for this reason.

    That said, when tramping around in the Rocky Mtn grizz country in WY or MT, I'm usually packing (along with my pepper spray) a .44 Mag revolver sighted in for 300 or 305 gr bullets in the event it comes down to the great bear or me. Not saying the 240 gr JSP wouldn't be adequate, but trading-up to 300 gr to ensure the round has the penetration necessary to break bone and reach something vital.
  15. kupferb


    Jul 6, 2012
    250 Keith is my favorite. One hole in one out.
  16. Redhawk45


    Sep 8, 2014
    Middle Tennessee
    I use 240 grain cast and 210 grain Remington SJHP, a bulk buy years ago, after reading a Dick Metcalf article in which he determined that 210 grains was the perfect compromise between shallow penetrating 180 grain and over-penetrating 240 grain JHPs. I bought 1500 bullets so I should have them used up for deer hunting some time in the 22nd century. I have bought 320 grain Garret custom factory loads in the past, not enough brown bears or elephants to use up my 50 round supply. Any good 240+ SWC cast gets my vote in 44 Magnum flavor.
  17. ss30378


    Mar 14, 2012
    I'm a heavy bullet guy, 180-200 in 357, 265-300 in 41, 300-340 in 44, 350-405 in 454. No need to push the bullets hard as even at 900-1000fps they bill go through anything. The buffalo bore 340gr +P+ load runs 1465fps from my blackhawk hunter and while recoil is solid it isn't at all painful.