Reloading The .44 Special

Posted on: Thursday January 7, 2021
The .44 Special
MD Smith

MD Smith


The .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol)

Left to right:– 250 gr. SWC, 240 gr. HP, .44 with 225 gr. SWC-JHP, .44 with 250 gr. JHP
250 gr. SWC+GC, 265 gr. JFP, 240 gr. JSP

(WC= WadCutter, SWC= Semi-WadCutter, FP=Flat Point, HP= Hollow Point, RN= Round Nose), SP=Soft Point, (JHP= Jacketed Hollow Point and if GC indicated, means Gas Check at bottom of lead bullet)

Loads for .44 Special:

(Note: These are near maximum loads, you should use 10% less to start.)

(See note on Powders below or read all about various Powders.)

Bullet sizes vary from .429″ for jacketed to .432″ for some lead in diameter. Due to different barrel lengths, type of bullet, seating depth, primer type and other factors, you may not get near the FPS charted. It is just a guide and the reason you should start under these charges and work up.

160-165 grain Lead RNFP Cowboy loads
Universal 5.5 gr. 851 FPS minimum
Universal 6.3 gr. 1042 FPS MAXIMUM
HP38 4.9 gr. 893 minimum
HP38 6.0 gr. 1040 Maximum
Titegroup 4.5 gr. 865 minimum
Titegroup 5.8 gr. 1035 Maximum
Clays 3.6 gr. 836 minimum
Clays 4.6 gr. 1009 Maximum
165 grain Lead RNFP
Trail Boss 4.8 gr. 865 FPS minimum
Trail Boss 7.0 gr. 1005 FPS MAXIMUM
180 grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)
Bullseye 6.5 gr. 910 FPS
Unique 9.0 gr. 985
2400 16.0 gr. 950
HP38 6.6 gr. 941
185 grain Lead RNFP Cowboy
Trail Boss 4.5 gr. 791 FPS minimum
Trail Boss 6.6 gr. 944 FPS MAXIMUM
Universal 5.4 gr. 823 FPS minimum
Universal 6.4 gr. 1031 FPS MAXIMUM
HP38 4.4 gr. 810 minimum
HP38 5.6 gr. 953 Maximum
Titegroup 4.0 gr. 819 minimum
Titegroup 5.5 gr. 1025 Maximum
Clays 3.5 gr. 810 minimum
Clays 4.5 gr. 930 Maximum
190 grain Lead WC (cowboy loads)
AA N100 3.7 gr. 823 fps
AA No. 2 4.0 gr. 836
AA No. 5 6.7 gr. 871
200 grain Lead SWC or RNFP
Trail Boss 4.3 gr. 757 FPS minimum
Trail Boss 6.3 gr. 885 FPS MAXIMUM
Universal 5.5 gr. 802 fps (Cowboy mild)
Universal 6.5 gr. 960 Cowboy max
HP-38 4.5 gr. 743 cowboy mild
HP-38 5.6 gr. 918 cowboy max
Titegroup 3.8 gr. 746 Start
Titegroup 5.4 gr. 973 maximum
Clays 3.5 gr. 748 cowboy mild
clays 4.5 gr. 891 cowboy max
AA N100 4.1 gr. 867 fps
AA No. 2 5.2 gr. 905
AA No. 5 7.4 gr. 959
210 grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)
Bullseye 5.5 gr. —– FPS
Unique 7.5 gr. —–
2400 13.0 gr. —–
HP38 6.2 gr. 909
225 grain JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)
Bullseye 4.8 gr. —– FPS
Unique 6.2 gr. —–
2400 12.0 gr. —–
HP38 5.5 gr. 827
240 grain Lead RNFP Cowboy load
Trail Boss 4.0 gr. 673 FPS minimum
Trail Boss 5.2 gr. 763 FPS MAXIMUM
240-250 grain Lead SWC or RN + Gas Check (GC)
Bullseye 4.2 gr. 664 fps (mild load)
Bullseye 4.5 gr. 765 FPS
Unique 6.0 gr. 800
2400 11.3 gr. 805
Universal 4.9 gr. 721 cowboy mild
Universal 5.6 gr. 873 cowboy max
Universal 6.5 gr. 920 MAXIMUM Hot
Clays 3.2 gr. 669 cowboy mild
clays 4.0 gr. 771 cowboy max
HP38 4.2 gr. 717 (mild load)
HP38 4.9 gr. 775
HP38 5.2 gr. 858 cowboy max
Titegroup 3.2 gr. 669 Start cowboy
Titegroup 4.0 gr. 771 maximum cowboy
No. 2 4.7 gr. 819
No. 5 6.8 gr. 860
231 5.4 gr. 795
AA N100 4.0 gr. 700 (mild)
AA N100 4.4 gr. 800 MAX
AA No. 2 4.5 gr. 711 (mild)
AA No. 2 5.0 gr. 808 MAX
AA No. 5 6.3 gr. 760 (mild)
AA No. 5 7.0 gr. 864 MAX
AA No. 7 8.1 gr. 779 (mild)
AA No. 7 9.0 gr. 885 MAX
AA No. 9 10.4 gr. 832 (mild)
AA No. 9 11.5 gr. 946 MAX
AA 5744 12.5 gr. 737 MAX
240-250 grain JHP
HP38 4.9 gr. 775 FPS
No. 2 4.5 gr. 604
No. 5 6.5 gr. 730

Discussion: I no longer use the same bullets and cases for the special loads as I do the Magnum, since all my rifles and pistols use the magnum round. Normally, you use the 44. special cases in guns chambered for the .44 special cartridge.

I used to load down the .44 mag cases to .44 special velocities. Since I have experimented with case position sensitive powder and found great differences, I now want bulkier powder that will better fill the case. To use a yet larger case, like the .44 mag with only a .44 special load in it, would make the matter much worse. Therefore, I no longer use the .44 mag cases when loading down to .44 special velocities. NOTE: Velocities are lower in the larger cases so speeds and pressures are different. DO NOT use Magnum loads in .44 Specal Cases. NEVER! Not even in a .44 Magnum pistol. Because of the smaller case, pressures will be exceeded.

Unique is about the best all around powder, but if you want a slower burning powder, I suggest 2400. Accurate’s powders come in a number of speeds and there are loads from the fast No. 2 to the slow No.9. The manuals don’t show every type of powder for every bullet weight for the .44 special. That is why you don’t see FPS by every load. Hodgon only shows HP38 for the .44 special loads. I don’t know why. If you have a lightweight .44 or older gun, always start with 10% less than amounts listed above, and work up to the full maximum loads.

Below, are two loaded rounds. For lead bullets near 900 FPS, I recommend a GC (Gas Check), the little copper bottom on the lead bullet as below (5th item from left). For any loads over 900 FPS, I suggest using a jacketed bullet. However, .44 Special loads are so mild, you can really use whatever you want to. For the mild .44 special loads, I recommend all lead bullets and loads that produce 700-850 FPS speeds. It’s best to shoot all lead bullets outside to avoid lead fumes.

The .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol)

Left to right:– 250 gr. SWC, 240 gr. HP, .44 with 225 gr. SWC-JHP, .44 with 250 gr. JHP
250 gr. SWC+GC, 265 gr. JFP, 240 gr. JSP

*
Bullseye, Unique and 2400 are products of Alliant (formerly Hercules) Powders.
Clays, Universal, HP38, HS6 and H4895 are products of Hodgdon Powders.
IMR 3031 and IMR 4895 are products of IMR (formerly DuPont) Powder Company.
No. 2, No. 5, #2230, and #2460 are products of Accurate Arms Company
WMR, WSF, WST, WSL, 760, 748, 231 and 540 are products of Winchester, Components Div.

References: Accurate Arms Co. 1996 Reloading booklet – – Alliant Powder Co. Reloaders’ Guide (1995) – – Hodgdon’s Basic Reloaders Manual (1996) – – Speer Reloading Manual, #12 – – Winchester Reloading Components Manual, 14th edition – – Lyman Piston & Revolver Reloading Handbook, 2nd edition. – – VihtaVuori Oy Company, reloading booklet (1995) – – Numerous magazine articles on reloading special calibers and personal loads where noted.