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Web Blast: Real .44 Cowboy Loads

Handloading Web Blast Extra

Some Realist Loads

By John Taffin

Handloading Jan

IThe last place to learn safe gun handling is at the movies or the TV screen and it’s a rare film that ever depicts recoil in any shape or fashion. Forty-four caliber sixguns and leverguns recoil. When cowboy action shooting started almost everyone used .45 and .44 sixguns with the same level loads used on the frontier. It wasn’t long before some discovered it was a lot easier to shoot fast first using .38 Specials, then light-loaded .38 Specials and now even .32s. At one time a minimum velocity of 650 fps was suggested for revolvers, however that idea did not go very far, even though real cowboy loads from the last quarter of the 19th century were at this level or above.

Smith & Wesson introduced the first big-bore cartridge-firing sixgun in late 1869 with the .44 S&W American. All the .44s following close on its hells started life as black powder cartridges and any sixgun made prior to 1900 should only be used with black powder or black powder substitute loads. If one wants to really be part of the spirit of the old West black powder can still be used not only in the old guns but any of the currently produced sixguns as well.

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Web Blast Extra Photos

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Old sixguns such as the .44 Russian Smith & Wesson New Model #3 and the .44 Colt
Cartridge Conversion should only be used with black powder loads.

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Thanks to modern replicas today shooters can enjoy Real Cowboy Loads in a .44 Colt Richards
Conversion, .44 Russian Model #3 Russian and .44 Colt 1871-72 Open-Top.

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Excellent Powders or building Real Cowboy Loads for such cartridges as the .44 Colt
for use in a replica 1871-72 Open-Top include Red Dot and TiteGroup.

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19th-century sixguns such as this .44 Russian Smith & Wesson Model #3 Russian.

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These Colt .44-40 Frontier Six-Shooters, are able to handle Real Cowboy Loads but
only those assembled with black powder or a black powder substitute.

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Real Cowboy Loads for the .44 Special can be assembled with the original Round-nosed style or of the Keith bullet.

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Twoday’s Cowboy is likely to choose a .44 Magnum or a .44 Special for Real Cowboy Loads such as these Smith & Wesson sixguns.

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With easy-shooting standard level .44 Specials at 750 fps, this Smith & Wesson Model 21 performs superbly.

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6.0 gr. of Unique comes very close to duplicating the original .44 Special load which shoots superbly in this USFA “Russian and S&W Special .44”.

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The original .44 Special is a Real Cowboy Load giving excellent accuracy at just over 800 fps in these Colt New Frontiers.

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eal Cowboy Loads in .44 Special loaded with 6.0 and 7.5 gr. of Unique at around 800 fps and 1,000 fps both shoot very accurately in these Colt Single Actions.

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Jan/Feb 2010

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