.44 special vs .45 colt

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woodpuppy

Single-Sixer
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Don’t forget the .45 Auto Rim - though that leave a helluva jump for the bullet.
 

Hondo44

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woodpuppy said:
Don’t forget the .45 Auto Rim - though that leave a helluva jump for the bullet.

The 45 Auto Rim will not work in a 45 Colt chambered cyl; the rim is too thick because it needs the same headspace as a 45 Auto round loaded in a half or full moon clip.
 

Rodfac

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Well, having shot and loaded for both for over 50 yrs now, I'd say that if limited to store bought ammunition, I'd go with a .45 Colt...plenty of power in those old pointy slugs, some would say enough for any legit purpose in the lower 48...two legged or four, it has the mustard to do the job. There are good guns made for it too. Ones from Ruger, Colt SAA's, and S&W plus a bunch of wannabees. Cylinder throats may be a touch small in Rugers giving less than stellar accuracy with lead alloy bullets, but are easily remedied with a bit of reaming, my New Vaquero did at least...but a lll generation Colt SAA with a 7-1/2" bbl. was just right...both at .453"

But...the .44 Special too, is fine cartridge...better in handloads with a modest increase over SAAMI specs. Ruger makes outstanding single actions for it, as does Colt and S&W. But factory ammunition is anemic at best and expensive when you find it. Brass is easily available and there is a wide variety of bullet shapes and weights to please any aficionado. The Special's smaller case volume lends itself better to smokeless powder...most any pistol or shotgun powder will do BTW and will turn in excellent results. Target loads at 700 fps with Bullseye or 231, or barn burners at 1200 fps are easily turned out and accuracy is universally superb. In my experience I've never found nor heard of a Ruger, Colt or S&W .44 Special that wouldn't shoot extremely well. My day in, day out load mimics Skelton's offering: 7.5 gr of Unique backing any good 240 gr LSWC for 950 fps from a ~4-1/2" bbl. I use it in a quartet of Ruger's, my #1 son's Colt SAA, a S&W M-24, and a half dozen .44 Magnums...it's that good.

So you pays your money and takes your pick, but given the choice and allowing for reloading, mine would be a .44 Special. Developing an outstanding load from 700-1200 fps is easy. Not so much with a .45 Colt. My guess is that big .45 case (designed for black powder) just has too much volume to burn smokeless well...and mismatched bore and cylinder throat dimensions are more prevalent.

Rclark gets my vote as our resident guru on all things .45 Coltish & is a great source of info, but may differ on some of the above...and while his advice is rock solid...I'll still take the Special. All of that notwithstanding, none other than Elmer Keith once said that were he confined solely to factory loads, he would pick a .45 Colt and not feel under-gunned for any legit purpose.

Here's my choice Best Regards, Rod

 

Rclark

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{Concerning Starline Schofield Brass} But hands on experience with many Ruger Vaqueros and Colts including 1st gens does in fact prove they have ample space
Sounds like experience talking there. I personally haven't tried any Schofields in my .45 Colt revolvers (why I quoted Starline) . Now I might have too!

Rod, I may have shot and tested a lot of .45 Colt and have a soft spot for it ... but I am in no ways 'the' guru on the cartridge. I certainly enjoy shooting it and feel that the .45 Colt will shoot just as accurately as the .44 Special given the dimensions are correct (as you alluded to)! There are others on this forum that have just as much or more knowledge than I do. I've never hunted with the .45 Colt, nor had to defend myself with the cartridge (or any cartridge for that matter). So I defer to the men who have been there and done that... Men like Keith, Pearce, Taffin, Prasac, Linebaugh, (and many others even from the o' west) for their experiences with/about the cartridge. Of course, that can give us the confidence that the cartridge will perform just as well in our day and generation too. Same can be said for the .44 Special of course!
 

Biggfoot44

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One Sentence Answer - They are both very excellent cartridges .

Two Sentence Answer - But you have to specify the exact gun in question for each to have meaningful comparison .
 

jyo

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Jan 5, 2011
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44 Special has one area where it has an advantage over 45 Colt---and it's not in Rugers! It's in Colt SAA revolvers---the cylinder walls on SAA's are a bit thinner in 45 Colt, thus giving advantage to 44 Special in my opinion! I shoot both Ruger single-action in 44 Mag and Colt SAA in 44 Special---I rarely shoot full-shout ammo in my 44 Mags anymore, and have pretty much given-up roaming Alaska too... So in both 44 Mag and 44 Special revolvers, I shoot a classic recipe 44 Special load---a +P load if you will consisting of a hard-cast 240 grain LSWC over 7.5 grains of Unique powder and standard power primers---the same load that "Skeeter" and many others have recommended over the decades! This results in about 950 FPS with the 240 grain bullet---about 100 FPS over most standard 45 Colt factory ammo... My favorite Colt SAA has a 4 3/4" barrel---is sighted-in for this load---wears real stag grips---is blue/color-cased and rides in a handmade flap holster by my old friend Gordon Davis (RIP)...
This reload shoots just great in my Old Model, Flattop Ruger---also with 4 3/4" barrel that is carried in an old Ruger Flap holster... It also shoots like a giant 22LR in my Ruger #3 single-shot rifle in 44 Mag! I can recommend it!
 

Johnnu2

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Back in the 70's when I was living in Mn. We used to hunt WAY up north near the border. A friend's father had a year-round cabin and went with us hunting. When the young-uns would laugh at me and my Ruger 45Colt ('cause they had those fast 357's), the old man would tell them.. "he doesn't have to HIT anything with that big 45; he just has to come close and it'll drag'em to death"............
This is that very same Ruger... gussied up a bit now (by Clements et al):



But I like Colt 44's too.....


J.
 

Johnnu2

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Jim, that Colt is the one "we" fixed the timing on.... :)

I also have a Ruger (eared) converted from 357 to 44 (by Clements too)....... When I think about it I DO really like 44's too... we just can't help ourselves.

John
 

protoolman

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I prefer the .45 colt only because my bullet sizer is set up for .45s already as I was casting .45 autos. My son is set up for .44 mag bullets so I will suggest he stick with .44 specials and mags. I cast for 3 diameters already so I avoid buying anything in another caliber.
 
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I've had plenty of both.

I settled mostly on .44's, Special and Magnum for availability reasons. Factory ammo was always more available, with more choices. And brass? .44 brass is always easier to find than .45 Colt brass, even if you have to make Special brass from Magnum brass.
 

Rclark

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Since I get brass from Starline, .44 Special and .45 Colt brass is easy to come by now (as well as other calibers). To that point, loading either is not an issue. Comes down to what you enjoy shooting ... and I enjoy both.

Nice revolvers above. Wish the Rugers came with case coloring/hardening as 'standard' :) .
 

Hondo44

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Rclark said:
Nice revolvers above. Wish the Rugers came with case coloring/hardening as 'standard' :) .

YES! Even the chemical colors look better than an all blue gun. Genuine case colors (hardening not needed) would be nice and should be an option. Albeit, it would add about $350 to the price. I'd still pay that for a favorite model or two.
 

ProfessorWes

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For me it was more a question of .44 SPL vs. .357 Magnum, than .44 SPL vs. 45 Colt. I got back into guns right around the time Ruger released the 50th Anniversary Flattop Blackhawk in .357, and bought one of those as my first gun purchase in years. I then grabbed one of the first run of the .44 SPL flattops when they came out through Lipsey's; it was an impulse buy, but I've never regretted it.

Based on my experiences with both Flattops (and the .44 SPL Bisley Flattop that came later), I feel that .44 SPL does pretty much everything the .357 will in the same size gun (depending on load, of course) and does it with less felt recoil and without the Magnum's muzzle blast. It will certainly handle anything I might need a revolver for, and I find it's just a more pleasant, and fun, round to shoot.

Which is why that Lipsey's .44 Special Blackhawk remains my favorite revolver. Not that I don't also like my .357, you understand.
 

pawncop

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I have heard, but have little first hand knowledge, that the 44 Special is inherently more accurate than the 45 Colt. I cannot state if this is true. It is something to consider.
 

WickedWillie

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The only thing that I can think of that the .44 special has over the .45 Colt is that the specifications and chamberings are a tad more standardized. Other than that...it's a tie.
 

BareBear42

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One difference is that the .45 Colt ammo can be found factory loaded very hot.
My Cor-Bon .44 SPecial 165gr is reported to have a velocity of 1150fps with an energy of 485ft/lbs.
My Cor-Bon .45 Colt+P 300gr is at 1300fps and 1126ft/lbs.
 
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The .45 Colt is my favorite, if the contents of my safe are any indication. That said, I bought a Taurus 431 as a .44 Special nightstand gun with a 3" barrel simply because it's a handy five-shot size and my wife insists it's actually hers . . . she shoots it DA better than I do in SA. It's easy to load for plinking and shoots Silvertips to point-of-aim every time. :mrgreen:
 

Thel

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"One difference is that the .45 Colt ammo can be found factory loaded very hot."

I see Buffalo Bore has some 340 gr .44 mag that clocked over 1400 fps out of 5.5" RH and Underwood has some 340 gr they rate at 1425 fps.
 
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