Blasphemy, Or Better? Improving The Skeeter Load …


Unique vs. Power Pistol. SWC vs. Radiused Flat nose. Different handloads
for different times. Which is better?

Say it ain’t so, Bozo! How can you improve on the sanctity of one of the most beloved, popular, and well known .44 Special handloads of the 20th Century? Spiritually, you can’t! I have so many “Skeeter” loads, when stacked end to end, they’re long enough for a round trip from Maryland to Idaho — and back.

As you recall, I wrote about the perfect load a few months back consisting of a Lyman/Ideal 250-grain 429421 cast slug, seated over 7.5 grains of Unique powder, ignited by a standard large pistol primer.

Skeeter obtained the load from none other than Elmer Keith, but wrote so often and beautifully about it, the load is known by Skeeter’s name. Most guns shoot this load around 1,000+/- fps, depending on barrel length. No question it’s a dandy load, but can trying different loads, within the same parameters, be useful to us?

Close up of the .44 Keith slug favored by Skeeter and a radiused flat nose slug.

Modern Load?

Here’s a version I’ve been shooting for the past 7 or 8 years, that’s proven very accurate for me. Bullet wise, you know it’s cast, so we can have an endless supply once the proper mold is obtained. In this case, I called on my Slovenian friend, Miha Prevec, of MP-Molds. He calls it his 429-640. It is a radiused flat-nose design, but with a slightly larger flat. Mine also has hollow point (HP) capabilities, but solids can be cast also with the proper pins. Weight runs around 265 grains in solid form and about 258 grains in HP form, depending on your alloy.

These radiused flat-nose designs are accurate. I hate to say it, but my experience shows they are just a tad more accurate than standard SWC designs. Rather than having a single front driving band, followed by the crimp groove, another driving band, lube groove and base, the whole body of the radiused flat nose grips the rifling, minus a smaller crimp and lube groove.

I believe the bullet centers itself better, and definitely has more full-diameter engagement when entering the barrel leade. If skidding occurs, it’s able to quickly re-engage the rifling, as the whole body is like one large driving band. Either way, this style bullet has always shot more accurately for me, no matter caliber.

Skeeter’s influence “made” Tank convert an Old Model Blackhawk
.357 into .44 Special by Alan Harton.

Powder Puff?

Unique is a great all-around powder useful for just about any caliber. But with all of today’s advancements in accelerants, is it the best? No, it’s not, despite its good manners. Alliant’s Power Pistol drives the same weight bullet at the same, or better velocity, at lower pressures, than Unique. Can’t beat that! I use 8.5 grains of Power Pistol with a standard large pistol primer. These loads typically shoot 1″ to 1.5″ at 25 yards, rested. While not significantly more accurate than Elmer’s SWC design, it is slightly noticeable. The 429-640 also appears to maintain long-range accuracy when busting rocks out to 600 yards, when location presents itself.

Better Or Bitter?

Nothing will ever stop me from continuing to load proper “Skeeter” loads. Doing so would cause a severe case of withdrawals, while feeling like I betrayed our sixgun heritage. So don’t think I’m trying to reinvent the wheel trying to find better loads. I’m just pumping up the tire a little by trying some different loads and sharing them with you. Components are scarce, as you know, and this may help you out. Having different options is always beneficial.

I’ll always have a nice stockpile of Skeeter loads, ready to shoot. Because sometimes, you just can’t beat tradition. I’ll also have some of the other loads on hand, because you just never know …

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