Common Sense

In the July/August 2015 Handgunner I wrote of target loads for the .44 Magnum. In this installment we move up, not to the heaviest loads, but loads certainly able to handle most tasks and do it with authority without beating us up. Keith’s standard load for the .44 Magnum was his 250 to 260-gr. hard cast bullet over 22.5 grains of #2400 for around 1,400 fps or more. This was, and continues to be, a most excellent and powerful load. However, it’s not needed on a daily basis.

For the past 20 years or so my loads have been toned down considerably while still affording adequate power. I do hold onto one powerful load for hunting and keep a couple boxes always at the ready using a 290 to 300-gr. hard cast bullet. My favorite is the NEI 290 grain SWC Keith-style bullet, over 21.5 grains of either H110 or WW296 for around 1,300-1,350 fps from a long-barreled .44 Magnum. A 100-round box lasts me a long, long time.

A more enjoyable load using the same bullet is put together with 10.0 grains of either Unique or Universal. This load clocks out at 1,100-1,150 fps, depending upon sixgun and barrel length and is not ever likely to come up lacking in power one would need in everyday situations. This same powder charge with the Keith 250 to 260-gr. bullet clocks out at the same velocity and basically duplicates his full-house .44 Special load in .44 Magnum. This load, while performing more than adequately, does not have the bone jarring qualities of a full house .44 Magnum.