The .44 Special …
The Perfect Load?

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Here’s Skeeter’s famous 7.5" flattop Blackhawk with his rig.
Yup, Tank got to shoot it.

Early on, during his part-time job moonlighting as a gun writer, Charles A. Skelton exclaimed the merits of the .44 Special. Later, he would write about the virtues of S&W Model 24s, Colt SAAs and custom .44 Specials converted from Ruger .357 Blackhawks. Over the years his favorite .44 Special handload would become famous.

Few know he actually got the load from Elmer Keith. But Skeeter’s fans associate the load with him so much, they simply refer to it as “The Skeeter Load.”

The .44 Magnum and .44 Special, both with .44 Keith bullets,
in this case H&G 503 by MP Molds.

The Recipe

Every die-hard Skeeter fan knows this load by heart. There’s no need for writing it down, because it’s the only load you’ll ever need. The load consists of a Lyman Ideal 429421 cast bullet, designed by Elmer Keith, himself. This bullet is seated over 7.5 grains of Unique powder and stuffed in a .44 Special case, sparked with a large pistol primer. Velocity runs close to 1,000 fps, depending on barrel length of your shooter.

This load is easy to shoot, recoil wise, by most shooters and capable of taking care of 90% of your shooting chores. What the 10% can’t do, I haven’t a clue. Compare this to the .44 Magnum, which runs 400+ fps faster, has considerably more recoil, and which few can handle, at least initially. It takes time learning how to control the recoil. Most don’t need all the horsepower for the majority of their shooting needs. The .44 Special can handle everything with better manners.

A few of Tank’s .44 Specials. The lighter frames of the .44
Special make them more comfortable to carry.

Everyone’s Amigo

Skeeter gained a considerable following using common sense and expertise sprinkled with humor and entertainment in his writings. His fondness of the .44 Special is proof of those claims. Skeeter admitted to trading in his .44 Special for a .44 magnum when they were first released. He quickly admitted the recoil was too much for fast follow-up shooting, if needed, during his Sheriff duties. He quickly returned to the .44 Special, saving the .44 Magnum for hunting, favoring a Ruger 7.5″ flattop Blackhawk.

Skeeter showed everyone his good “horse sense” when comparing the .44 Special to the .44 Magnum. By knowing the required tasks at hand, Skeeter knew what tool was best for doing a particular job. He passed this knowledge on, as only he could, with humbling words people appreciated, as if spoken by a friend, because he was our friend. The .44 Special is indeed special, because Skeeter made it this way.

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