What is the best powder for 44 Mag/Sp?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by oISHUTupNrocKIo, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. oISHUTupNrocKIo

    oISHUTupNrocKIo Glock Lover

    Hey guys, I'm new to reloading, in the past few weeks I read alot about reloading including this forum, videos on youtube, and Richard Lee Manual. I'm going to be loading 44 Mag/Sp and 10mm to start off... I was just wondering what is the best powder for standard-hot loads in 44 Mag? I know almost all the powders from Win#296 to Blue Dot, but I hear bad and good from most powders except Win#296 (and Win #231), but since I can't find Winchester powder and it's not readily available... I was just wondering what is the most popular powders that people here use in their 44 Mag loads, and also in their 44 Sp loads...? Thanks!

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  2. First, get the Lyman #49 to go w/ the Lee. The Lee manual, IMO, just a bit vague & lacks a good cross section of bullet/powder combos. For full power 44mags; 2400, AA#9, H110/W296 (same powder), LilGun all get the most from the 44mag w/ any bullet wt. For midrange 44mags & full power 44sp, 2400 can still give good results as will any med burner like Unique, WSF or Universal. Anything faster than Unique, target loads only.

  3. degoodman

    degoodman Out of Columbus

    More is better when it comes to manuals. The internet has ALOT of load data on it these days, but I still like my paper. I like having the book from the bullet maker I'm using whenever practical.

    Fred's powder list covers all the bases. I only use two powders off the list however. H110/296 (as indicated, its the same powder, load data is identical) for my full power work, and Unique for midrange stuff. I don't bother with "target" stuff in .44 mag. If you're loading CAS loads in .44 Special, I use alot of titegroup and 700-X. Watch yourself though, basically nothing target load wise comes close to filling the case when double or even triple charged, so be extra vigilant with your powder drops.
  4. H110/W296 (identical) is probably the most available powder for high-end loads. You will need magnum primers (CCI350).

    Any of a bunch of mid-range powders will give you good results for mid-range loads. Since you are going to load 10mm, use your 10mm powder (AA#7, Power Pistol, etc.) for your 44mag mid-range fodder.

    See load data section for ideas.

    44mag load data info
    #4 dla, Aug 11, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2010
  5. I like Bluedot for my heavier loads for both 44mag and 10mm, even 9mm. For my easy, shoot all day long fun loads for 44 mag, Unique.
  6. I have loaded hundreds of 44 mag rounds using 23gr of H110, Hornady 240g XTP's & large pistol primers. Accuracy is excellent. This load is used for white tail deer hunting out of a Encore Pistol and I have had excellent results. It is by no means a tame load but I use the 44 mag for hunting not target practice.
    #6 Old Style, Aug 11, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2010
  7. MakeMineA10mm

    MakeMineA10mm * * * *
    Millennium Member Lifetime Member

    First off, do yourself a favor and get used to the process first. There is plenty of time to get all geeked out about this load or that one. For right now, get yourself a pound or two of Unique, and just get used to sizing, re-priming, bell-mouthing, powder-charging, seating, and crimping.

    Don't work on hot loads. Just make medium loads. The difference between medium and heavy loads in a 44 Magnum is about 200-400 fps, which means the medium loads are still doing 900-1000fps, which is quite powerful with a 240gr bullet. It will be exciting, but easy on you and the gun. There's a shear joy just from cranking off the first 50 rounds you assembled yourself, and it makes no difference if they're hot loads or mediums. In fact, you'll be so thrilled, you'd be better off with the medium loads, so you can shoot many more of them, which you'll desperately want to, because of the shear joy of shooting your own ammo...

    Unique is also ideal for 44 Special. It's a very flexible and forgiving powder. It bulks well, so an inadvertant double-charge will either over-flow the case, or be clearly noticable as "too full."

    Get some experience and keep reading before you load hot loads. That's vitally important.
  8. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    :goodpost: Heed this excellent advice... you'll never hear anything better.

  9. degoodman

    degoodman Out of Columbus

    While I agree with your underlying sentiment, you're kinda missing the point on "hot" vs "medium" loads in this case.

    The "magnum" pistol cartridges, .357, .41 and .44 in particular are fairly unique in that there are "mild," "medium" and "high" pressure loads at a wide range of velocities. Just because a particular load reaches full power velocities does not necessarily mean that you're playing on the fringes of pressure. And with unique as our example, you can make some really unsafe high pressure loads that are 100 FPS slower than many published starting loads with 296/H110.

    With medium loads and faster powders, you are also playing in the danger zone with load density, with some charges of faster powders barely filling 1/3 of the case. That can cause ignition problems, and also let you miss a double if your technique is off.

    So yes, you want to avoid playing on the fringes of pressure with your early reloading efforts, but that doesn't mean you have to shy away from full performance loads in the .44, as long as you select an appropriate powder. You also don't want to try and stretch a medium speed powder into higher end velocities because you're playing with more risk there than with a slow powder at minimum / medium loads.
  10. Agreed, but playing w/ H110/W296 & reducing loads can be just as unsafe. Like Freak said, good manual or two gets it done. 2400 is probably your best bet for mid range to full power loads as it does done load pretty well into nmidrange.
  11. MakeMineA10mm

    MakeMineA10mm * * * *
    Millennium Member Lifetime Member

    I appreciate and agree with what you're saying. However, I am more concerned with the point that he is a new reloader. No reason to over-complicate things by getting him into high-velocity/moderate-pressure loading powders and techniques, which tend to have more limited applications.

    He can load light, medium, and heavy loads with Unique, as he gains experience and confidence with it, but initially, he just needs something safe that goes "bang." But still, a 240-250gr LSWC @ 900 fps is quite powerful, and has been used to take many head of big-game. It's more-powerful than a 45, a very-highly-reputed "man-stopper." Nothing to be ashamed of with a load like that... It's also easier on the gun and the shooter.

    I agree with you that there are unsafe high-pressure loads with Unique that are only 100 fps below what he could do safely with something like 2400 or H110, but my post above pointed out that he shouldn't expect to load that heavy with something like Unique. I suggested a good Unique load would be several hundred (not ONE hundred) feet per second slower than those with a slower powder, and I pointed out how happy he should be with that, because it's still a powerful load. It's just not a top-end load for the 44 Magnum. (It would be a top-end load for the 44 Special that he also mentions though...)

    I'm also not saying he shouldn't load full-power loads, just that those should come later, after he has some more experience. Reloading is safe and fun, but it's most-safe and most-fun, when you get into it slowly and carefully and build on your experiences incrementally. Slower learning in safer in this instance, IMO.

    Well, that's why I suggested Unique. It's slower than a "fast" powder - being about in the middle of the pistol burning rates, which means it won't have tiny little charges with powder. It bulks better than a ball powder, and although in most loads I'm suggesting, it won't overflow the case, it will be quite noticable if there is a double charge. Lastly, Unique is one of the most-forgiving/least-problemtaic powders I've ever worked with in terms of ignition. It will work much better than the slower powders in that regard, not requiring a magnum primer or having ignition problems in cold weather...

    Thanks for making that point clearer. I don't agree with the advice of going for full-power loads with a slower powder for a new reloader as his first attempts for the reasons I outlined above, but I agree that he should also not go for full-power loads with a medium powder too. That would be folly as well.

    Get some Unique and practice loading, paying particular attention to each step in the loading process, preferrably with a single-stage press. After a few hundred rounds have gone down range, and some more reading and conversing with others, it will be time to get a slower powder and practice safe loading practice with that, and work into full-power loads with that. But for starting off, it's wise to go slow.
  12. :goodpost:

    This is one of the best reasons for a beginner to use Unique. Even in the cavernous 44 mag case, a double-charge is instantly obvious!!
  13. Not to mention your gun might actually survive such a dbl charge event. Not true w/ faster powders like TG.:wow:
  14. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    .44 Special - Unique
    .44 Mag - Unique for midrange (like the man said, don't assume midrange means lower pressures), 2400 for full power loads
    10mm - Blue Dot

    Just my opinion.
  15. I've gotta agree with the "Unique as a first powder", thats the advice I got when I started reloading and I couldn't tell you how many pounds I've burned up in everything from 9mm to 45 Colt.

    One other point to consider is that with the mid-range Unique loads, not only are they easier on on your gun, they are easier on you.

    when I first got my Ruger NM Blackhawk I didn't have reloading supplies and started with a box of full power 240 gr. JHP, took a couple hundred Unique mild loads to get rid of the flinch I developed in that first box of 50 "hot" rounds.

    just my $0.02

  16. How many of those giving advise load for the 44 mag?

    The 44 mag is a very easy cartridge to load. Unless you want a shelf full of weird canisters of powder, pick 1 for real 44 mag loads and pick another for your 10mm. The powder you use for the 10mm will also work nicely for your 44mag poofter loads. So don't go and buy a can of Unique unless you plan on using it for 10mm - there's nothing special about Unique for 44mag.

    The best powder for full-house 44mag will tend to be too slow for the 10mm.
  17. MakeMineA10mm

    MakeMineA10mm * * * *
    Millennium Member Lifetime Member

    Hiya dla, I load for both 44 and 10mm. (Truth be told, I'm loading much more 44s than 10s these days... [please don't tell them in the 10mm Reloading Forum! :) ])

    I agree with your evaluation, but would look at it a little different. Unique is a very good powder for a beginner. I think many look at things from their current, more-advanced loading knowledge and don't take into consideration enough that he has stated he's relatively new to the process. In that case, practice to get used to things.

    My two primary powders are W231 and AA#9. I use the W231 in all of my pistol calibers for plinking/practice loads, and I appreciate it's flexibility and good flow through powder measures. BUT, I won't recommend it right out of the gate for a 44 Magnum reloader, because it gets kind-of "peaky" with pressures spiking suddenly when you get towards the top-end. It's faster than Unique, and I want to avoid recommending something that will give the problems degoodman mentioned earlier. So, just because I use it, doesn't mean it's right for the OP.

    Now, AA#9, I'd suggest he look at, after he burns up that first pound of Unique. AA#9 gives max-performance loads in 10mm, and it's geometry is such that you almost can't get enough of it in the 10mm case to get it over-pressure-max. It's also a good and flexible powder for high-power 44 Mag loads.

    I like flexibility in my powder magazine. That way I can buy in bulk and save money, and still be able to get optimum loads out of it. AA#9 also works for me in 357 Mag, 30 Carbine, and 300 Whisper, in addition to 10mm and 44 Magnum. It's nearly as flexible and useful at full-power end of things as W231 is at the low-end. BUT, for this fellow's first Summer of handloading, Unique will get him there. I don't burn much Unique anymore, but it's a dandy powder to learn with.
    #17 MakeMineA10mm, Aug 15, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2010
  18. degoodman

    degoodman Out of Columbus

    I'm not trying to start a fire here, but Unique is not necessarily the solution to the problem here. Its a good powder, I use a ton of it, 8 pounds at a time, so I'm not dissing it.

    Unique bulks well in a service cartridge, or the .44 Special. Not well enough in the .44 Mag in my opinion. I just checked, at level full in a sized remington case there was 24.5 grains of unique in there. With a 240 grain jacketed pill and an alliant listed max charge of 10.3 grains, you can double charge a case, with 4 grains of room left, and no spillage. drop the weight to a 225 grain lead slug, and you're still looking at 11 grains, for 2.5 grains of room before spillage on a max charge. If I'm counting on "bulk" to catch a double charge, my personal rule is at least 60% fill on the case to guarantee a visible powder spill and a bullet that likely will not sit on the case mouth. .

    the other thing is that we have to be very clear about is PRESSURE. I've seen it again in a few posts here. In terms of the "strain" on the gun, the chamber and forcing cone don't know the difference between a unique load at 30K PSI and a load of 2400 at 30K PSI. the difference between them is going to be a couple hundred FPS out the muzzle, and a little bit more shove on the shooter. but the cylinder didn't know the difference.

    The last thing I guess, and I didn't do it either, was to ask the reloader what he's hoping to accomplish. I myself, have no use for .44 special or powderpuff .44 loads. I have revolvers in .38, .357, .41, .44, .45, .454, .460 and .500. If I want a "lite" .44, I pull out my .41 with its full power loads. and when I reach for the .460 or .500, I'm not loading them with .45LC's or .500 specials. To make it explicit, I don't load hot. I don't have to. But I do load to full power relative to caliber. Is the OP looking to cut costs, cut recoil, load a bullet not easy to find from the factory for hunting, or what? If you're looking for powder puffs, the right powder is alot different than the one for full power hunting stuff.

    Like I said in the beginning, I have no beef with unique. but I am not convinced in the least that its a "safe" "newbie friendly" powder in .44 Mag. Other powders have their own quirks too, no doubt. 296's admonition to not reduce loads more than 5% off maximum, instead of the more customary 10% or more. etc. But if you're within the book, I think you're almost safer with low to middle pressure loads of 2400 than you are with unique.
    #18 degoodman, Aug 15, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2010
  19. The only two I ever used were 2400 and W296.
  20. Yeah, since maybe 1976? It was my 2nd handgun, a RBH. I shot it so much I have actually worn the forcing cone to where it is unsafe. 1000s of rounds fired in plinking & MetSil competition, all full power loads back then. Now I only have 5 rev from a 3" snub to RBBH for hunting.:dunno: Unique or other med burner works great for 800fps plinkers to 1000fps 300gr loads. You can certainyl get a bit more gas out of H110 or 2400, I use both for max effort loads, but med burners will work fine for most range duty. I pretty much only shoot lead bullets today. A steady diet of jacketed certainly beats the forcing cone up more than lead bullets in the same pressure range. The S&W are a bit more fragile than Rugers, so a steady diet of magnum loads should be avoided if you expect longevity form your fav 44mag.
    Let's say, more safe than loading TG or other uberfast powder. Any powder that fills half the case is easily spotted in a dbl charge if you are paying 1/2 attention. One should push any powder past it's max levels, so if max vel loads are wanted, only slow powders will do. If you only want accurate midrange, say 240-250grLSWC @ 1100fps, Unique or WSF do that w/ more efficiencey & often better accuracy than downloading the slower powders like AA#9 or 2400 (as we know, H110/W296 should not be downloaded significantly).
    #20 fredj338, Aug 15, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2010

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