Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by forrest r, October 19, 2011.

  1. forrest r

    forrest r

    I’ve started revisiting the 44SPL again: always wanted to have/use a target pistol in 44SPL. I’ve always owned 44MAGS (29’s & blackhawks) or charter arms bulldogs. I got a 624 last year & finely have taken the time to start to reload for it this year.

    I wanted to try to reload with some of the older Lyman molds, but it’s hard to find them. I finely ran across a 429348, it’s a double end wad cutter. One end is a plain base & the other is for gas checks. I just got started with casting & loading test loads for that bullet/pistol combo. It didn’t take long to get a good load with that bullet using the plain base end on top of the powder.

    I ran across a Lyman 429360 4 cavity mold & haven’t cast anything bullets yet. I was planning on trying to make some light plinking loads with this bullet.

    I’ve also been considering buying a gas check maker for the 44’s. I think it would be an excellent addition to any 44SPL/44MAG reloads.

    Any ideas, thought, suggestions, experiences, ECT, would be greatly appreciated. Especially with a gas check maker & the 429360 mold.
  2. I have a Winchester 94 in 44Mag/Spl as well. I am just starting to get into casting for it. I've been on the hunt for a good LSWC mold. If you need more molds I know of too spots that are good resources to get them as well as GC's. Castboolits has a swap and sell area and I've also bought from eBay with no problems.

    GC's in a 44 are always helpful in my newbie opinion when loading up 44's due to the heat behind them. My dad has always used Hornady GC's so I know the quality of them but also heard good things about Sierra. Personally I've not used them before as I am currently loading with a 358665 Lyman for my Rossi 92 and Taurus magnum revolver.

    I do remember seeing a GC maker on eBay just recently so you might be able to save a few bucks. Sorry I do not have a more substantial answer for you question but again Castboolits most assuredly will. Please stay get comfortable and let get the board moving. :D

  3. forrest r

    forrest r

    It should be interesting to say the least. At first I was making the bullets too hard for the speeds I was driving them. I went to air dropping the bullets instead of water quenching them & the groups shrank immediately. I have a long way to go to get to the groups down to an acceptable level, 2" @50yds. I've only tried 3 different powders & I'm getting 2" groups @50ft. I need to go out & buy some target powders for the pistols. Right now the only target powder that I have is clays; I want to get some bullseye, WW231 & some AA#2 to play with. We'll see what happens.
  4. My dad has always advocated air dropping to water. "Get water in your lead and your dead." Taught me that a long time ago and I've always remembered it. W231 and #2 might be a bit fast for what you want. I use those mostly for 9mm and other pistol loads. W296 was what I always used in 357 Mag loads, however I did load up some 38's with W231 recently. Hopefully they will group well, but then again I've no idea when I'll get the chance to shoot. I'm also worried I might have loaded them a bit warm. 4.4gr of W231 over a 163± gr LSWC. I need to get a 44 mold so I can get those going next.

    I surely hope you get a chance to shoot before the weather turns to crap.
  5. Jeff H

    Jeff H

    Hey, Guys, another "new guy here.

    I was going to wait a while before signing up, but saw a post on my weak spot - the .44 Special.
    I have been shooting the .44s for a long time and the 'Special has always been my favorite.
    There is only one factory load I have ever used in it - all the rest have been handloads.

    Once, while living in Arizona almost thirty years ago, and without access to my reloading equipment, I bought a .44 Special and took a box of Winchester 246 grain loads home with it so I couls shoot it. That is the only box of factory .44 Secials I have ever fired. I have had the best luck with 208, 215, 240, 250 and 265 grain lead bullets in the 'Special and have only used a gas checked bullet if that's the only thin available in a shape that I wanted to try.

    One wadcutter that has worked extremely well for me in several 'Specials has been the LEE 108 grain WC. I have had one of their double-cavity moulds for over twenty years and have shot it over W231 and Unique with great results. My W231 load is the best one and I just found another old Charter Target Bulldog recently that I shot some of those out of first just because they have shot so well out of everything I have used them in. Cast from straight wheel weights, they always seem to come out at just the right hardness ("softness"?) for the pressures used with them.

    Currently, I have narrowed my .44 Special "collection" to the mentioned Charter and the Lipsey's-Ruger 5 1/2" Flat Top Blackhawk that came out a couple years ago. In the Ruger, it makes five-leaf clovers at 15 yards. I have not had a chance to try it at 25 yards. In the new old Bulldog, it shot about 2" at twenty yards, but that was the first time I shot it and it needs some trigger-work. In previous 3" Bulldogs, it would hold 2" by 2 1/2" for ten shots at twenty five yards - but about eight inches low. I should try to find another 3" because I really miss them.

    I have found that just about any 240 and 250 grain lead SWC shoots well in any 'Special I have owned (to include a 4" 624) and have found it difficult to assemble a "bad" load for it as long as I am using some reasonable pistol powder listed in the books. I have shot a lot of "above factory" 'Special loads (about 1,000 fps being the upper limit) using Unique and 2400. Unique, W231 and 2400 have done everything I have ever needed with cast bullets in the 'Special, but I could get by with Uniqie alone if I had to. I have used Herco without issue and I do have some loads assembled with a 265 grain RDO (custom LEE TL RFN) over IMR 4227, which I have not tried yet. That 265 shoots extremely well over Unique. My favorite 240 grainer is a Magma SWC with a bevel base, even though I have always shunned bevel bases myself. I came across it in the last few years and it has a lot of bearing surface compared to the Keith and Thompson designs - even with the BB.

    You may find that gas checks are completely unnecessary for the 'Special, if spend some time on castboolits .com, metioned in an earlier subject, but it's a lengthy subject. There's no voodoo to it and it's easier than some people believe. I have shot thousands of plain-base .44s through the .44 mag, at mag. velocities, without issue. "Store-bought" bullets will usually be the least likely to accommodate an undiapered bullet and that is possibly why so many have problems with leading. If you cast, you have control over the things that make it work.

    This site seems like a neat idea and I hope it takes off. Glad to be here and thanks for having me.


    Lipsey's-Ruger .44 Special Flat Top with CLC Olivewood Grips, Super Blackhawk Hammer and Belt Mountain Base Pin.
    Load is a cast 240 grain plain-based SWC sized at .430"
  6. Welcome to the board Jeff. Nice to see another new member with a 44 to help us out.

    I was going to ask you what mold you were using. I was just telling Forest R that he may want to try a different power other then W231 or #2 but it appears I may be wrong. Glad to hear you've had good success with those powers in the 44 special loads. I always thought those would be too fast and hot for the loads but again I was wrong. Guess I need to do some more homework and look for a 44 mold for my Winchester 94.

    I sure do like the picture you posted that is one beautiful piece. I assume it groups well. Seems like a lot of people are selling off some of there arms. I just cannot do that for some reason, it's like selling off my wife or something.

    I know there are other forums out there for folks but I just wanted to make a nice simple home for Ohio owners to come and relax, talk and discuss. Hopefully it will start to grow, I am working to get it listed in the search engines as well.

    Sorry if this post seems a little short right now, I am in the middle of casting some 38's and just waiting for the lead I added to melt.


  7. Jeff H

    Jeff H

    Thanks for the welcome, AJ.

    I would definitely NOT say that you are "wrong" about W231. The thing that is so fascinating about loading and casting is that there always seems to be something new to learn or a new twist to keep us interested. Powders that didn't work for us once in one gun may turn out to be the berries in another later. W231 works great for me, but maybe not for everyone with their gun and bullet preference. I am using it for milder loads but it's too fast for heavier loads.

    I got onto it whe shooting the .32 mag and had some left when I moved the .32s along. I was shooting a Kimber 1911 in .45 ACP that wanted to lead with my tried and true Unique load, so I tried W231 for giggles and the leading stopped. So, I tried it in the .44 Special and I even have a .357 load I use it in. Where Unique had always been a trusted .45 ACP powder for me, I got one (the Kimber) that my old load just didn't work well with.

    Similar to your .44 Carbine, I am shooting the .357 in a Rossi '92 carbine and have found that low-level .357 loads coming out of a 16" barrel are about what "normal" .357 loads are coming ouit of a 4" barrel, so back to W231 and it has been working out nicely. Unique or Bullseye would likely do as well using appropriates amounts of either. That .357 Carbine is very useful and versatile, but it leaves me with one last thing I have to buy those pesky, teensy small pistol primers for. I have seriously considered going to a .44 carbine and just cast and load for one diamter again.

    Yes, that .44 is atypical of the common factory revolver issues I have experienced and most who own one from the original run Lipsey's had say the same thing. It shot well right out of the box - even with the long, gritty trigger pull, which has since been corrected. That brings me to an explanation of how I can let go of some of my guns. THAT Ruger is one I waited for for 40 years. Once I was able to get what I wanted, the others didn't interest me. As I got older and more set in my ways, I began to realize that a few guns got used all the time and a lot of them sat in the safe. I would buy a "new" gun that I liked fairly often and that kept me low on cash for reloading comonents. Trying to shoot them all to some meaningful degree was impossible. I eventually started moving things and have very few guns now, but what I have is what I really like and really want. I don't have to worry about dividing my time and I have fewer variations of components to try to keep up with - which is good because the last time I bought primers I was upset that they were all the way up to $12!! Imagine the look on my face when I saw them at over $30!!

    Just as an example - I now only shoot and load for handguns that take standard, large pistol primers and if I have $30, I don't have to decide whether I buy small, small magnum, large magnum, etc. I don't run out of one type and have a surplus of another type that I don't need for what I want to do right at that moment. This model is not for everyone and I have had a lot of guns myself. I don't think everyone should try to pare things down - especially if they don't want to. I actually have two more long guns and a revolver that I will be moving soon to make room for the ones that I really, really wanted all along. Works for me but won't be right for everyone.

    Casting and posting at the same time?? You must be very coordinated. I would make a mess of both. Keep casting while you're throwing god bullets. I think we'll be visiting this thread for several days with as interesting a subject as it is.
  8. I never thought about W231 for 44's of any kind, I've always used it for pistol loads. I will agree with you 100% that casting is a whole other ball game. Every time I think I have something figured out it changes on me and I have to learn something new. LOL

    You stated you used W231 for your .357 loads as well, I just recently loaded up some .38's with W231 and a 158gr LWSC style Lee bullet. Hopefully I did not load them too hot. I maxed out the Hornady load of 4.4gr W231. I also have a Rossi 92 that I loaded them for but also a Taurus Mod 66, 7 shot revolver. Both weapons should be able to handle them I would hope. Your thoughts and opinions??

    With what you said about the .357 loads I am a bit concerned now. I completely forgot about the carbine added velocity to the rounds. I will say my Rossi 92 will eat just about anything and is as accurate as the day is long. It's one of my fun guns to shoot. That's what I've been casting for lately but I still want to cast for my 44 and 45ACP.

    I know how you feel about getting the one gun you truly want. That was pretty much my .308 Savage 10FP rifle. I've waited and waited and one year when I was out of work I can across that rifle at the right price and I just had to have it. I fought myself for days about it and the money but in the end she is mine. Could I have sold some of my others, probably, but would I be happy doing so, probably not. Hence the reason my dad calls me a gun whore. I just cannot let loose of them. I've bought them all at various times in my life and they all have a particular meaning. ;)

    I still want to get my hands on a 45 Colt single action like the old west. Dad's has one and that is lots of fun to shoot. Perhaps some day in the near future unless I buy my .17 HMR or a 30-30. Bare in mind I am not a hunter but just a target shooter and a person that enjoys reloading to relax at night.

    $12 primers wow that was a while ago. I remember those days as well and yeah I am paying $25 a box at Cabelas. I keep adequate stock of primers and brass at all times. Hell my dad and I can carry on a small war with the stock pile we have and can make. LOL I pretty much load every type of primer out there is seems like. I head to Cabelas about once a week just to window shop but somehow end up with some sort of reloading component to add to the stock. My wife always tells be the house will explode not burn if there was ever a fire.

    Aside from reloading and casting I am also a computer nerd at heart. I've got a computer in my reloading room with am inventory program I wrote to track everything. It makes life easy to keep up and I can take a short break here and there. I did cast several hundred 358-665 bullets tonight so I do have a decent stash of them. I just need to more lube to get them lubed and loaded now.

    I sincerely hope that other like you come to the board. :D

  9. Jeff H

    Jeff H

    Wow, thanks, AJ. I personally think that the membership, as a whole, is pretty first rate here - all THREE of us:)!

    What I am shooting in the Rossi is what I would shoot in any .357. I don't personally see a need to load it above book just because the '92 is supposedly stronger than a Smith M60 (for example), because with the same level of pressures in a handgun, you get significantly more velocity out of a carbine or rifle barrel. More for less, so to speak.

    The W231 loads I am using in the .357 are actually well under the loads listed in the reloading manuals. I use 5.5 grains of W231 behind a LEE 125 garin RFN, 124 grain TC, 158 grain TL SWC and the 159 grain RFN. Obviously, the pressure is lower with the lighter bullets, so they are not as "snappy" and are very pleasant to shoot. I have not choronographed them, but they are probably going 1000 to 1200 fps. In a Ruger SP101, they are like shooting target .38s. The 158s are a higher pressure load than the 125s but are still pretty low pressure by .357 standards. Again, I can load the longer barreled carbine to velocities that I would get out of a 4" .357 but at much lower pressures.

    I have shot some LEE 158 TL SWCs cast from 50/50 WW/pure lead and air cooled with a very, very low dose of W231 and they are about as loud as a .22 CB short but shoot well and have enough punch to do this at 25 yards (hit a steel ram and was found lying at the base):

    The only thing the added velocity in your carbine will do is make the bullet fly flatter and hit harder, maybe even get you to a level where you see some leading, but the pressure does not increase with the longer barrel just the velocity. If you are using book loads - nothing to worry about. W231 is not a magical powder - it has just happened to work well for several sub-1000 fps loads I use. If I had t opick ONE powder for handgun, I would pick Unique, because it is better suited to some higher level loads and lower level loads even as it is not THE best for the highEST or lowEST loads.
    Last edited: October 21, 2011
  10. Good to know, I was really worried that I might have loaded them way to hot. Now that I think about it I have 10 bullets loaded to 5gr of 231 those should be safe I hope too. I followed the Hornday 8th Edition for the 4.4gr loads. Granted I probably got a little happy with the powder but then again I am used to really crisp loads because of my .308, 44gr 4064 under a 147gr FMJBT

    You said you 5.5 grains of W231 behind a LEE 125 grain RFN, 124 grain TC, 158 grain TL SWC and the 159 grain RFN, my question is your using 5.5 under ALL those weights?? If so then I am fine with my 5.0gr loads, bearing in mind that I've load in .38 spl brass not magnum.

    Mostly what I am using is WW lead and air cooling as well. My father will not/has never allowed water near the lead pot so I learned that early on. That was quite an impressive picture I always wondered what they looked like after they were fired and now I know. :D

    I try to always use book loads when possible, but from time to time I try a recipe I've garnered the net at Castboolits. Some of those gents have been around since the days of Moses and have tried and true load recipes. I wish I did have the option of a close range to fire my Rossi 92 but there is no rifle range here in Toledo. I hope that I can find a farm nearby that will allow me to use a very tiny portion of it to build a range, that will give me the option of testing these loads and getting some firing done. Hmmm, then I will have to cast and reload more. hehehehe

    P.S. Spread the word to other Ohio shooters and our membership will grow. :)
  11. Jeff H

    Jeff H

    5.5 grains of W231 under either 158 grainer or 125 grainer. The lighter TC is a 9mm bullet and runs about the same weight as the 125 RFN.

    I am using .357 cases with that charge. I would have to look, but I am pretty certain 5.5 grains is too much for .38s according to my manuals.

  12. forrest r

    forrest r

    I’m glad to see 44SPL/MAG fans here!!! They say life goes in circles, I truly believe that. I got away from bullseye/target shooting years ago & joined the grip it & rip it crowd. I got away from the target grade/burnrate powders for slower mag powders. So I want to get back to some of the old classic bulleye powders.

    It’s been years since I’ve burned any 231/hp38 or bullseye. I vaguely remember using AA#2; I only bought 1 # of it years ago. But I remember getting some good loads with it & it metering extremely well. I still have my powder baffles for any problematic powders. I just want to get back to some target loads for 50yd/meter slowfire bullseye & just some general excellent loads for showing off while plinking.

    I’m sizing my 44 bullets to .430 right now & that’s all I can get out of the 44WC mold that I have. It casts a .4305 bullet out of hill pickings (bullets from the backstop). Hill pickings is all I’ve shot since the early 90’s. I know the .430 size is close to being undersized in my 624 right now. I used the same load for bullets that were water quenched & air dropped. The air dropped bullets are softer & the groups tightened up in the 624, the contender didn’t care & shot both bullets the same. It’s a very light load, 6.0g of universal clays. I used to use a lot of unique & found that the universal clays is very similar to the unique in burnrate, load weight for any bullet and ballistics. The only difference is that the universal clays meters better in my powder throws & burns cleaner.

    I’d love to get 4 or 5 killer loads with 3 different bullets for the 44SPL. Once I get those it makes it easier to develop target loads in 44MAG for the contender. There’s such a long bullet jump with shooting 44SPL’s in the 44MAG contender barrel.
    My smiths a 629 on the left & a 624 on thee right.
    My contender.

    And yes, I miss my bulldog also, used to own them for years, 3†barrel & a set of gripper grips by pachmyer just made my day. I don't know how to add an attachment to these threads, if anyone wants a templet of different sizes of powder baffles let me know & I can e-mail them to you.
  13. Jeff H

    Jeff H

    That's some nice steel you have there. Some pretty classy and classic stuff.

    Your "hill pickings" are probably yielding enough soft jacketed bullet cores to give you a reasonably soft alloy. .430" may be just fine if the alloy is soft enough to bump up and seal the bore. I have always preferred softer bullets and gooey bullet lube myself. I don't know how many people I have heard in my lifetime blame "soft bullets" for leading and accuracy problems when the opposite was likely the real problem.

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