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Thread: 44 magnum bear loads

  1. #1

    Default 44 magnum bear loads

    Hello

    I'm looking to load some rounds for Bear proctection,to be fired from my Rugar Black Hawk.I have been experimenting with Speer 300 grain plated soft points over 20 grains of winchester 296,in a Remmington case ingnited by a Ferderal primer.These just loads just don't seem to be stout enough and I'd like to use hard cast lead.Where can I buy heavy hard cast lead projectiles?
    By the way,the Revolver has a four inch barrell

    Many thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Bear Bullets

    Climber,

    I have used the various 300 grain weight hard cast bullets from Cast Performance, Bear Tooth and Bull Shop Bullets. (Alaska Made)

    http://www.bearthoothbullets.com usually sell direct and I have used their 280 WFN GC, 290 LFN GC, 300 WFN GC and a 325 WLN GC all are very good. They will size to your specs but the .430 is usually good for the Rugers.

    Cast Performance Bullets have a really good 300 WFN GC and a 320 WLN GC. http://www.castperformance.com/ They are available direct or from Cabela's, sometimes, Graf & Son, and Midway USA.

    Dan Congliosi, (Bull Shop Bullets) sells his excellent bullets on line I think that site is http://bullshop.gunloads.com/prices.html
    I use the 300 grains with 19.0 grains of Vihta N110 powder for a very clean burn and excellent accuracy. This gives about 1400 fps from the 7 1/2" bbl Redhawk and 1289 fps from my 5 1/2" SBH. The Redhawk is a tighter gun.

    Cast is the way to go with the 44 especially in the shorter packable length.
    Good shootin'.

    Murphy
    Last edited by Murphy; 09-17-2006 at 17:51.
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  3. #3
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    I don't know that going to heavy hard cast will make tremendous gains over the 300 gr speer, but any of the quality cast bullets Murphy mentioned in 300-320 gr over up to 21 gr of H-110 or W-296 and lit off with a magnum pistol primer will wring all you can out of the 44 mag.

    I also didn't feel 100% confidant in the 44 for a bear gun, so I went up in bore size. To me Rugers 480 is the perfect balance point of big bore, heavy bullet, but not intollerable recoil. They just need to bring it out in a 4" for perfection.

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    Default Short barreled Bear guns

    Paul,

    I agree. The 4" 480 would be a great packin' trail gun. I like the idea of a 475 LB short. The big guns are too much sometimes.

    The biggest gain in hard cast for the 44, or any caliber, over jacketed is terminal performance. A hard cast is more like a good solid. At handgun vlocity expansion is a sometimes thing for soft points so the hard cast solid gives us a lot more dependable penetration. One other advantage, a cast bullet is almost always faster then the same weight in a jacketed bullet due to lower friction. This is sometimes as much as 100 fps. The short barrels which suffer for velocity anyway can benefit from more weight, 300 plus grains, and cast helps a little with velocity.

    What do you shoot in your 480? What barrel length do you have now? A four inch Redhawk would be a welcomed addition to my arsenal. I would opt for better sights and a good action job and hit the trail.

    Murphy
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  5. #5
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    Murphy,

    I loaded alot of different rounds through the 44, had a supply of LBT 310 gr, a Lee mold that dropped a 320 gr from ww's, and a lee I modified that came out at 330 gr, and all could be driven 1200 fps from a 4 5/8" sbh.

    My 480 is a 7 1/2" SRH. I still think about picking up a 9 1/2" and having it cut to 5", and using the stub to make a 4" 48 special on a bisley. I'd expect a 4" to loose an even 100 fps over my 7 1/2". I'd also cut the cylinder to take full moon clips, great for fast reloads or swapping to a cylinder full of small game loads.

    Anyhow, I've tried about dozen different cast bullets through the 480, and have several molds. I think I've got about 4000 rounds through it, and have fired a grand total of 6 factory jacketed loads. Everything else has mostly been cast by me. I've tried from round balls to SWC, LFN, WFN, variations of those designs from 275 grs to 460.

    At the moment I have a custom mountain molds that is a very close imitation of the classic Elmer Keith SWC, and it drops out at 275 gr. My hope was great accuracy at 700 fps for very light recoil and small game, but I haven't found the right powder for that. I have found a load of blue dot (notes not handy for exact charge) that clocks 1000 fps and puts them right in there.

    The next bullet which has been my longtime favorite and I'm killing myself as I've apparently lost the mold, is a 310 gr LFN. The mold was made by ballisticast by running one of their cherries in shallow for a two lube groove bullet. 9.7 gr of Unique produces 950 fps and I believe I have yet to shoot the load to the guns potential. 25 yd groups are one hole just over bullet dia, 50 yds 1", 100 yds 3 shots went into 1 1/2" wide 1/2" high, and I declined to squeze off the last two rounds for fear of messing up the group.

    My mainstay hunting protection load is a 400 gr over 21 gr of H-110 or Lil-gun. Both clock 1200 fps, and put 5 into 1" at 50 yds. I've tried a 390 gr LBT, Lee 400 gr, and a custom 400 gr LFN gc mountain mold that has a super long nose that produces the same case capacity as a 475L. I sold the LBT because the lee shot just as well, it's actually a prototype of their production mold. To me, if this doesn't do the trick, it's big rifle time. The long nose bullet has been driven 1350 fps by a buddy, but I saw the recoil on that load and new better than to see how fast I could push it.

    The last mold was an experiment by me to see what the max bullet one could practically shoot out of the 480. I had balisticast make it, and asked them to sink their WFN gc cherry in a bit deeper to make a 450 gr bullet. Out of ww's it comes out 460 gr. The bullet is so long if you crimp it in the canalure, the gc swells the case, so I crimp in the first lube groove. I found 19 gr of H-110 will push it 1100 fps, and it'll also put 5 into 1" Thats a max load, as even a 1/2 gr more gets a bit sticky. Another 480 shooter tested that bullet at John Linebaughs summer seminar a few years back, and penetration was very impressive, 38" of wet newsprint, and on the bone test 2" of heavy steer bone and then 10+" of newsprint. I realy don't know that this is much more bullet than the 400 gr or not. Recoil isn't much stiffer.

    The best 475 and 500 Linebaugh loads were just a touch over 40" on the newsprint, so you really don't give up anything by going with the 480. I have fired many 475 and 500 Linebaughs, and the seemingly minor increases in powder charges and increases in velocity result in major increases in recoil.

    So far the only game I've taken with it is spruce hens, and since my small game loads shot so much lower than my fp loads, they were all chest shot. 300 gr @ 700 fps just punches a caliber sized entrance, and a 1/2 dollar exit. Really not much meat loss, and not enough velocity to tear stuff up. Needless to say they don't get away.

    Now if I could just manage to see a legal moose during moose season I might get a chance to see what it'll really do.

    Forgot to mention, I did try some bullets from lees new lighter mold, and also that guy had gotten a second one and cut the base off to make a lighter bullet, I think it was around 275 gr. Accuracy wasn't as good as my 275 keith or 310 lfn, so I never ended up getting one of those molds. Lees 400 gr is a good mold though, specially for the money. Also a decent shooter at ~700 fps with a light load of unique (don't have notes handy and not a load I used enough to memorize)

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    Member Magnum Man's Avatar
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    Talking Not Again

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    I don't know that going to heavy hard cast will make tremendous gains over the 300 gr speer, but any of the quality cast bullets Murphy mentioned in 300-320 gr over up to 21 gr of H-110 or W-296 and lit off with a magnum pistol primer will wring all you can out of the 44 mag.

    I also didn't feel 100% confidant in the 44 for a bear gun, so I went up in bore size. To me Rugers 480 is the perfect balance point of big bore, heavy bullet, but not intollerable recoil. They just need to bring it out in a 4" for perfection.
    The last thing I want to do is step on your toes Paulh but the gentlemen did ask what would be a good bullet, not what would be a good gun.

    LOL Just trying to save us from the 44mag bear gun controversy again. Ok Ill start. LOL I think the 44 mag is ok If you can use it well, and loading a tough bullet for it wouldnt hurt. Altough... a bigger pistol would probably be better! I use a 44 mag for an after hours outhouse gun In bear country on Admiralty Island. That and my 15million candlepower spotlight!! What do you Think?............................................ .................................................. .................................................. ..................................

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    Member Magnum Man's Avatar
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    Question ruger blackhawk

    Is it an option to have a blackhawk 44mag converted to a 480 ruger or 454 casull or such? I love the way the blackhawk fits the hand and is easy to hang onto and i really prefer the single action. Id like ot get the 50th anniversery model and have something like this done.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    Sorry about hijacking the thread, I was thinking I should have split my response off on a new thread.

    As to converting a blackhawk to 480 or 454, yes it is possible, but the cost for the work is extremely high. The frame has to be milled out for a larger dia cylinder, a larger dia 5 shot cylinder has to be made, the gun has to be re-timed as a 5 shot, and a new barrel has to be fit. You'll be out about the same money as a Freedom Arms mdl 83 by the time you get the work done. I've fired a variety of single actions and conversions, and to me the FA mdl 83 with a roundbutted grip frame fits my hand best, a roundbutted ruger bisley is second best, and the blackhawk with serious power loads simply has too small of a grip.

    I know folks like to pooh pooh the SRH as an ugly monstrosity, and it is ugly, but shoot one before saying you don't like it. I'd long been a fan of the single actions, then I shot a SRH, and found that in my hands, I shoot it much better than the SA's. To me how well you shoot a gun is paramount, I'll give up packability and good looks to have a handgun I can hit with.

  9. #9

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    I'm using Western Nevada/West Coast Bullet hard cast 300gn on top of 20gn W-296 from my magnaported 4" 629 with pachmyer fingergroove grips. It's kind of a rip snorter of a load from the light gun, but a delight to carry and eminently controllable in DA if you're experienced with that rather than SA.

    Haven't shot a grizzly or brown bear with a pistol and I doubt many other folks have either, so you'll have to settle for keyboard ballistics on bruin performance.

    On the other hand, I've taken quite a bit of other game with 44's and a wide variety of bullets. Also shot game with some of the same bullets in 444 and a wildcat rifle, so I have a feel for what extra velocity can mean. Over the years I've been hard pressed to recover any 44 bullets from any game rather than test media. Lotsa dead critters and wound channels to ponder, but I never seem to have a metal detector for finding pass through bullets.

    Based on all those experiences though, I have no doubts about adequate penetration and performance on bear with that particular 300gn hard cast, provided you put them where they belong.

    Pure supposition on my part, but I'm confident in carrying my little 629 because I shoot it very well. That's payback for me in putting my money into shooting it rather than buying yet another, bigger handgun and still having to invest the money in ammo to learn to shoot it well enough to make a difference. Show me a bunch of results from actual shots on bears that contradict me, and I'll happily buy a bigger gun or search for a heavier bullet.

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    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Question

    I have a 360 Grain WFNGC I am getting about 1390 Velocity out of my Ruger redhawk 7.5 barrel.
    It is a nice shooting load .

    RR
    Practice does not make perfect !!!!!
    Perfect Practice makes perfect !!!!!!!!!!


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  11. #11

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    I'd say ditch the single-action hawgleg and at least get a double action .44 Magnum if your concern is bear defense. Thumbing back that trigger might just be one-to-many operations to consider while you are occupied with making a response. Maybe you are an action shooting enthusiast of great experience, no matter. If you are concerned enough about being mauled, bring a defensive weapon that will enable you to respond as swiftly as possible.

    Do you practice with your off-hand? Could you reliably control your Blackhawk if your gun arm was broken/missing? You want to be able to fire 6 heavy loads as promptly as you can press the trigger, maybe jamming the barrel into the hide of the bear. A single-action puts you at a handicap from the get go. Maybe you won't need to ever draw your gun? Maybe it'll be all you have to rely on? It sure beats a sharp stick!


    I am sure that the Super Redhawk in .44 is a platform that would take max loads longer than any S&W. Cylinder might be longer too, allowing more flexibility in bullet seating than the S&W.

    I have a 4" 629. With factory loads, and every type of grip I can find, the gun hurts the web of my hand after 5 or 6 cylinder fulls. The Ruger SRH in .454 Casull does not sting my hand and shoots a much heavier bullet. I cast a 340 grain bullet so I am getting 40% more bullet weight and higher velocity in a fast double action platform.

    I used to own a .357 Blackhawk. They are tough guns, and reliable. They can take heavy loads.

    Get a double-action.
    If you live up here, go with a bigger cartridge than the .44 magnum.

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    Default

    not much more to add to what has been said ther climber. anymore I stick to the .44mag with either 300grn cast performance or beartooth 325's in my Smith. In my ruger bisley .45colt I shoot 345 grn beartooth hardcast and it does it easily with the bisley grip-4 5/8's bbl.

    whether it be single or dbl action shoot it alot, shoot well and carry it all the time(read that somewheres). I tried that with my SRH .454 and about went gimp for a wk after carrying one time for 3 days one of the best shooters I have owned.

    regards,

  13. #13

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    "I have a 4" 629. With factory loads, and every type of grip I can find, the gun hurts the web of my hand after 5 or 6 cylinder fulls. The Ruger SRH in .454 Casull does not sting my hand and shoots a much heavier bullet."

    There's a lot to that, Lester. Guns and grips fit each of us differently. My 629 is entirely comfortable for me to shoot, but it really jangles my hunting partner's hand. He prefers the SRH with standard grips and will shoot it side by side with me and my 629 all day long without complaint. But his SRH and grips rip me a new one. I'm fine with replacement grips on a RSH, but the standard ones simply don't work for me.

    Moral of the story? Use the gun that fits you best and you shoot best.

  14. #14

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    Hogue's, Pachmayr's, S&W magna and the bigger magnum grips; on my N frame 44 mag, none are comfortable for an extended plinking session. Maybe it has to do with the frame backstrap design? Ruger SRH having more of a Colt model P slope. It is, afterall, the grip geometry that makes the single-action model P's easier to handle in heavy recoil.

    I doubt that being able to handle 40 or 50 rounds of .44 magnum really enters into the picture in a bear defense situation. The 4" with magna grips is almost a pocket pistol, if you have big pockets.

    But, I live near Trapper Creek. I don't really use many of the guns I brought to Alaska anymore. I may as well use a .357 magnum for bear defense as carry a .44 magnum. Brown bear encounters are simply too high a probability.

    Grip design for extended comfort shooting sessions doesn't matter very much. The whole argument about .44 magnums is like the 9mm vs. .45acp "controversy". Guys with 9mms want to feel "secure" packing them.

    Since buying my Casull, I don't carry a .44 anymore. What is the point? Where I live, it would be taking a risk. I understand that a "well-placed" .44 mag solid can do the job. Several sportsmen have taken large Brownies with .357 magnums. When it comes to bear defense, I am not a sportsman making a calmly placed shot from a blind.

    A neighbor of ours once bumped into a Brownie in the dark while carrying in the groceries. He emptied a magazine of .45acps into the bear in the dark, but they never found the bear; blood, but no bear. Likely, if he'd known he was going to bump into the bruin he would have not taken a knife to a gunfight. That's how it always is.

    I am really sincere in advising no reliance on a single-action for bear protection, even a Freedom Arms 454C.

    My research led me to conclude that the .454C was THE cartridge for velocity and penetration. I carry the strongest bear medicine I can, when I am without a heavy loaded rifle.

    Single actions are best used at Cowboy Action shoots, at least in Alaska.

  15. #15
    Member alaska bush man's Avatar
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    Thumbs up 44 Mag Load

    I favor a little expansion over the LBT........the 270 Speer SP Gold Dot is excellent along with the Speer and Sierra 300gr FP. The Sierra 250 FPJ is also a excellent bullet.

    I carry a 6" Colt Python with Sierra 180 JPJ handloads for most of my sidearm carry! The 44 and 454 have stayed home for many years.

    Most of Revolvers are Double Action but I do have a FA 454....also!
    Alaska

  16. #16

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    Did I miss something? I thought the poster was asking about loads for his gun....a .44 Mag!
    Having played the .44 Mag thing since 1956, I must agree that Beartooth Bullets and Rock Island ballistics hard cast heat treated bullets are the way to go! The single most important factor is not the bullet weight, but but the heat treating!
    I also think we maybe have gone a too far on the weight side. My two fanorite cast bullet weight 265 and 275 grains. Regards, James@ Dixie Slugs

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    Default

    Hello all.
    I'm new here & this will be my first post.
    My "bear" & hunting load for my 8&3/8 mod. 29 is a Performance Cast (not Cast Performance. These are made in Oregon & I get them from "The Ammo Shop" in Soldotna) 320 gr hard cast over a substantial load of H-110. It runs 1350 fps from my gun with good accuracy. I have no practical experience with it on Big bears.
    Vance in AK.

  18. #18
    Member alaska bush man's Avatar
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    Default Bear Load 2cents

    Hard Cast

    Alot of hunters carry hardcast, but don't realize how to use them!
    These hard bullets are designed to bust thru shoulderblades and skulls if you are a good shot! They will not expand in soft tissue like lungs and will often punch a hole thru without depositing a energy dump from expansion.

    A good Sierra 300 FP or Speer PSP in the 44 mag or 454 is my prefered bullet.
    Alaska

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    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Hardcast Is The Way To Go !!!!!

    Back to the original question "I'm looking to load some rounds for Bear proctection to be fired from my Rugar Black Hawk"

    Hardcast is the way to go .
    For protection you want the bone breaking effects from a hardcast either heat treated and or water quenched bullets and use a wide meplat bullet.
    For hunting loads on non dangerous game don't treat your bullets or buy non treated cast bullets so you can get a bit of expansion in softer tissue shots if that is what you want.

    Buy or make alot of bullets and get massive trigger time and then do more trigger time and repeat !!!!!

    RR
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    Perfect Practice makes perfect !!!!!!!!!!


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    Default Hardcast...

    Quote Originally Posted by James Gates View Post
    Did I miss something? I thought the poster was asking about loads for his gun....a .44 Mag!
    Having played the .44 Mag thing since 1956, I must agree that Beartooth Bullets and Rock Island ballistics hard cast heat treated bullets are the way to go! The single most important factor is not the bullet weight, but but the heat treating!
    I also think we maybe have gone a too far on the weight side. My two fanorite cast bullet weight 265 and 275 grains. Regards, James@ Dixie Slugs
    James,

    I think you're right about the bullet weight in the 44. I haven't found any advantage to anything heavier than 300 and my guns seem to do best with the 265 to 300 range and I have a 280 grain WFNGC that is the best combo of weight/velocityand SD, I've ever used. Especially short barrelled guns, do better with less than 300 grains bullets. With the 45 calibers in the colt I shoot a 280-300 WFN and in the 454 I think bullets start at 300 grains. 350's seem to have the right combination of weight/velocity/sectional density. Like most situations there is a compromise.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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