Going slightly below the minimum load

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Yosemite Sam

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I had an epiphany today: I shot some commercial .44 special loads from my SBHH and really enjoyed them. Thing is, I've got a ton more .44 mag cases than .44 special.

Using a 240gr LSWC and Unique, my Speer manual lists a minimum load of 6.5gr for the .44 mag, but a max load of 6.3gr for the .44 special.

My question is, can I safely load the .44 mag cases with, say, 5.8-6.3gr (to account for metering variations), or am I risking detonation? This is amounts to just over a half grain (.7gr) under the minimum.

Or should I just go out and buy .44 special cases if I want to shoot .44 special loads?

On the same tack: If it's OK in .44 mag, would it be OK in .45 Colt, too? Speer currently lists a 250gr LSWC with Unique @ 8.6-9.5gr. Can this safely be taken down to, say, 7.8-8.0gr?

These loads should still provide more than enough energy to avoid squibs, I'm just worried about going below some expected pressure threshold.

-- Sam
 

Rock

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Some years ago I wanted to load up some .44 Special ammo and did not have any cases; however like you I had a bunch of .44 Mag cases. I noticed some differences in loading data as you have noted, and since I have a Lyman Power Trimmer I just cut down some Mag cases to the .44 Special length.

Over the years I have loaded the hundred cases I trimmed many times with no issues, and since they have been loaded at .44 Special pressures the cases are very strong in comparison with the loads used.

The cases were Norma cases probably manufactured in the late sixties or very early seventies and were very well made brass. Hope this helps.
 

63November

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There are a few things to consider when going "less".

First, you don't want to stick a bullet, so make sure you have enough speed to reliably kick the bullet out.

Second, lead bullets are probably the best idea since they are less likely to stick.

Slow powders are the detonators so that's not an issue to worry about as long as you're using one of the quicker ones (like Unique). Just don't try it with powders (like H110 and W 296) which specifically say not to reduce.

The biggest thing may be that your load consistency may be compromised by going below the minimums. Safety is only one of the factors considered when loads are prepared for publishing.
 

Chief 101

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Sam, I have done Unique way below the min in the 44 mag case with the soft lead 240s from Hornady. You should be just fine. If you are loading in the 44 spec range no problemo. If you ever have a squib, always check the barrel for unwanted debris. Chief aka Maxx Load
 

Jimbo357mag

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This is the low-end for some Hodgdon powders in the 44 Magnum.
I'm pretty sure most of these would be cleaner burning.

from the Hodgdon website: http://www.hodgdon.com/

240 GR. LSWC CAST Winchester AutoComp.......430" 1.620".. 7.0 886 13,800 PSI
240 GR. LSWC CAST Hodgdon.....Universal........430" 1.620".. 6.5 852 11,700 CUP
240 GR. LSWC CAST Winchester..231...............430" 1.620".. 5.5 800 12,000 CUP
240 GR. LSWC CAST Hodgdon.....HP-38............430" 1.620".. 5.5 800 12,000 CUP
240 GR. LSWC CAST IMR...........Trail Boss........430" 1.620".. 6.0 828 19,100 PSI
240 GR. LSWC CAST Hodgdon....Titegroup........430" 1.620".. 4.7 801 11,100 CUP
240 GR. LSWC CAST Hodgdon....Clays..............430" 1.620".. 4.3 759 14,000 CUP

...Jimbo
 

gerryb158

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Some time ago I did some bore lapping for a .44 S&W Spec following the instructions provided by Beartooth Bullets. Essentially, they want you to keep the MV at or below 500 fps. In doing this I had several loads with between 1.0 and 2.0 gr. of Unique and fired them into a stack of wet newspaper. I assure you that this "drastically" reduced load will put a .44 cal. lead bullet through several inches of wet paper. Therefore, not to worry about reduced loads with Unique. As has been said, H110 or W296 is another matter. Also, no problem using the .44 mag. case for reduced loads. The length difference between the Mag. and the .44 Spec is very small and will make little or no difference with reduced loads. Your Speer manual that lists 8.6 to 9.5 gr. (Unique) in the .45 Colt is a bit puzzeling. 8.0 gr. of Unique in this cartridge is "plenty" functional! You will have no problem with 7.8 to 8.0 gr. loads and if you want "mild" will probably go down to around 7.0 gr. Good luck with this stuff. Gerry
 

DGW1949

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While being concerned about pressure is a good thing.....be aware that often, recomended load-ranges for this or that powder is based on which specific bullet is listed, the burning characteristics of a particular powder, acceptable accuracy....and which gun the recomendation is for.

Can't help much with your 44 Mag questions, But I've had quite a bit of experience with using Unique , and the 45 LC.....enough to say that the 250/8.6-9.5 Unique load which you mention is ABOVE conventional factory loads as to pressure and velocity. It is also ABOVE what my Speer #9 Manual shows as being a max load for the Colt SAA. I'm stressing "ABOVE" here so's you'll know that using that much Unique, aint going to produce the reduced-power load you are looking for....and that it is way-above a factory 44 Spl which you like shooting.

You may also note that once you start loading below recomended charges for Unique (in any caliber)....you'll start seeing that all the powder aint getting burnt, and in some cases....that the case aint sealing to the chamber wall correctly (AKA blowby).
In other words.....it takes X-amount of pressure for any certain powder to burn correctly. Unique is rather forgiving in that respect.... meaning that if ya drop below the recomended pressure-threshold, it don't esculate and blow your gun up. It WILL however, become erratic, less efficent, and and for lack of a better word....quite dirty.
The capacity of the 45LC case and the 44Mag are simular enough that if using simular-sized bullets, you can just about bet that they will both display the same shortcomings when working with low powder charges.

What I'm saying here is that t'were it me, and if developing a reduced load was the object....I'd find some published "cowboy" loads for whatever cartridge I was loading, and go from there.
I'd also insure that I had adequate bullet tension, and use a heavy crimp.

You might find a suitable load on the Alliant website.

Hope this helps.

DGW
 

J Miller

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No such thing as detonation with Unique. Ain't gonna happen. You go too low and all you'll do is stick the bullet in the barrel.

The 44 Spcl case is only 1/10" shorter than the .44 Mag case. Get your caliper out and measure out .10" and see just how small that is. You can safely use the .44 spcl load in the .44 mag case.

Were it me though, I'd pick up some 250gr Keith SWC's and load them over 7.5grs of Unique. A very good .44 Spcl load and would work really good out of a .44 Mag.

Joe
 

Rclark

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You can safely use the .44 spcl load in the .44 mag case.
Ditto. No problem.

As Jay says 7.5g of Unique is a good load. I moved up to 8.5g just recently and like it too for a light load. We are talking about pushing a 240g SWC lead bullet. Unique is a good versatile powder.
 

Yosemite Sam

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Thanks for all the information, and there is a lot.

I understand that the low pressure rounds may not be as accurate as full power. I'm going to make up a small amount of each and test them. I hadn't thought about the issue with pressure sealing or cleaner burning.

I was surprised by the Speer loads for .45 Colt too, especially when the Keith load was 8.5gr, if I'm remembering right (if not, it was 8.0). But I have the manual (Speer #13, fwiw) open in front of me right now, and I'm seeing 8.6 to 9.5 gr for the Unique/250gr lead SWC combo.

The manual discusses differences in throat dimensions between pre war SAA guns and modern ones, but no restrictions are listed in the load data. There is a separate section for "Ruger & Contender" loads, all using jacketed bullets, the closest being a 260gr JHP with 9.5 to 10.5 gr of Unique. The 200gr slug maxes out at 11.8 gr.

I also have a Nosler manual, and it does have a separate section for "SAA & Replicas", but they do not list a Unique load. They also have a section for "Ruger & Contender" and that lists 11.3 gr max of Unique for a 250gr JHP, which is the only 250gr load listed.

Frankly, I don't find any "CAS" loading data I've seen to be that light: 225-230gr lead slugs with 7.8-8.5 of Unique (.45 Colt, again). This surprised me, too. I keep reading about these "powder puff" CAS loads, but not in my loading manuals!

I do like the idea of cutting down .44 mag cases. In any event, I'm going to have to acquire more .44 special brass one way or another, as I now have my name in on of the the Lipsey's guns. It'll be my first non-Bisley Blackhawk.

-- Sam
 

Rclark

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I do like the idea of cutting down .44 mag cases.
I don't see the point unless you truly have a .44 special specific gun. Just load the .44 mag loads to .44 special velocities.... Problem solved. In fact I don't even have an .44 special cases for that very reason.
 

Yosemite Sam

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Rclark":3kr6v9eg said:
I do like the idea of cutting down .44 mag cases.
I don't see the point. Just load the .44 mag loads to .44 special velocities.... Problem solved. In fact I don't even have an .44 special cases for that very reason.
Because I'm now going to be needing .44 special cases, since I have a .44 special gun on order. I'll probably just break down and buy a bag of brass, though.

But yes, I can still use .44 special level loads in .44 mag cases when shooting the .44 mag gun. In fact, it sounds like a good target round.

-- Sam
 

Spike66

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I do this with .357. I don't have .38 special cases handy so I just load .357 cases with a .38 special load. So far it works great.

I do this to prolong the life of my K-frame model 19.
 

c.r.

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I'd prefer to just trim X number of 44 mag cases down to 44 special lengths and be done with it? Maybe use some of my 44 mag cases with a higher round count.

this way i'd be removing that variable.

Also, this would reduce the possible confusiom with a magnum length load........is it loaded as a 44 special?...........is it loaded as a magnum round? However good documentation would eliminate this as well, so this point might not really be worth a flip.

~c.r.
 

Rick Courtright

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Hi,

Just my personal experience...

Going just a "little under" w/ Unique hasn't been a problem w/ lead bullets (.38 Spl level in .357 Mag brass, .44 Spl level in .44 Mag brass.) I haven't tried it w/ jacketed bullets, since I'm looking for light plinkers when I load this way. That kinda ammo automatically points me toward lead...

Now, as already noted, Unique CAN become a littler dirtier when downloaded, but I've solved most of that by using a Lee Factory Crimp die and adding a bit more crimp to hold things tight a hair longer for better ignition. Finding how much more is required takes a little experimenting.

I wouldn't bother to trim the brass unless you can't find any .44 Spl brass before the "real" .44 Spl arrives.

Remember, all this is "in MY gun," YMMV and so forth...

Rick C
 

Tommy Kelly

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I believe you should gine trail boss a try you can get some low velosity loads and remain safe and also use the 44 mag cases to be right in your gun to keep from having to scrub fowling out of your cylinder to go back to 44 mag loads. The trail boss is a case filling light load powder.
 

clevor362

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May 19, 2007
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Dickson, TN, USA
When I was the ballistician for Accurate we developed light loads for the 357 and 44 magnum cartridges. We used cast bullets to develop loads for the then new sport of Cowboy Action Shooting. Give Accurate a call and talk to them. I'm sure Johan can still find the info somewhere. Tell him Bill said hello.

I'll briefly summarize by noting that in straight wall pistol cartridges bullet seating depth directly affects the pressure and velocity just as surely as powder charge weight does. Basically we used Keith style bullets and seated them with the driving band flush with the case mouth in the magnum case thereby approximating the case capacity of the 38 & 44 spl cases below the base of a seated bullet. At any rate the info was made available over ten years ago, perhaps earlier. Hope this helps.
 

Capn27

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DGW1949":2bm5xu9b said:
While being concerned about pressure is a good thing...... DGW

I have to say that this is one of the most thoughtful, helpful, and complete answers on reduced loads I have ever read. Thank you for clarifying this.

+1 !!
 

Yosemite Sam

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As an update to this, I picked up some Trail Boss recently, and was pleasantly surprised with its performance. I used both 4.0 and 4.5gr with a 240gr LSWC and got acceptable accuracy with both. No unburnt powder on the lower load, either. I don't have a chrony, so can't report the velocity.

clevor362, thanks for that added insight.

-- Sam
 

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