Educational Zone #53 – Great Firearms – The .44 Special

I have long been a fan of the .44 Special round. It is an old cartridge, but a good one. This year, it is 100 years old, having been introduced in 1907. 

An old gun writer named Elmer Keith loved this round and did a lot of experimenting with it. He liked hot loads and loaded the .44 Special to very hot velocities. Sadly, he blew up a few pistols working on these hot loads.

He finally talked gun makers to come out with a hot .44 round called the .44 Magnum. He then started shooting the .44 Magnum and never looked back.

However, the old .44 Special is a fine round just as it is. The case length is 1.16 inches long, compared to the .44 Magnum which is 1.285 inches. This extra length is to prevent the hotter .44 Magnum being accidentally loaded into weaker .44 Special pistols.Here’s a round of .44 Magnum on the left compared to a .44 Special on the right.

They are loaded with the same 240 grain lead Semi Wadcutter bullet (Keith’s recommended bullet).

But I load the .44 Special with around 5.0 grains of WW 231 for a velocity of about 700 fps, a nice easy-to-shoot load.

If I want high velocity and power, I switch to the .44 Magnum.

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The pistol I shoot is a fine old revolver, the Smith & Wesson Model 24-3.

It has the legendary S&W deep bluing and a target hammer, target trigger, target sights, and shoots like a dream.

I picked it up at a gun show a few years back after looking for one for many years.

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Here I am shooting it this morning.

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When you load up this 6-shooter, you have a fist full of lead.

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The target sights make this a great target revolver.

They are made with a sharp and square front sight.

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This gives the shooter a very sharp and positive sight picture, allowing the best shooting.

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And here’s an 18 shot group, standing on my hind legs.

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A fine old pistol, and a fine old caliber.

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Conclusion:
Don’t let a chance of finding and buying one slip past you. You will love this caliber and pistol.

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