Defensive Loads

Switching to more serious .44 Special hollowpoint loads saw the Federal 200-grain lead SWC-HP clock out at 825 fps, with a 20-yard group of 7/8" from the longer Bulldog and 775 fps and 3/4" at seven yards from its smaller brother.

Winchester’s 200-grain Silvertip JHPs do 766 fps and 11/4" from the 5" Special. For those wanting a heavier bullet, the Winchester 240-grain lead flatpoint does well over 700 fps. My most-used .44 Special load consisting of the RCBS #44-250 Keith bullet over 7.5 grains of Unique clocks out at over 1,000 fps in the 5" Bulldog which is quite a bit of energy coming from the barrel of such a small sixgun. The original .44 Special load from over 100 years ago can be duplicated with the Lyman round-nosed #429251 bullet over 5.5 grains of Trail Boss. This load does 750 fps and delivers 1" groups from the 4" Bulldog.

Both Speer and Hornady offer self-defense loads for the .44 Special, with the latter Critical Defense version a 165-grain JHP with a muzzle velocity over 1,000 fps, while the Speer 200 Gold Dot is at 800 fps and designed to expand at .44 Special velocities. Either one should be a good choice.