Bullseye Powder .44 Magnum “Medium” Velocity Loads

© 2014 - Ed Harris

          Soft, plain based, bullets and fast-burning powders provide economy and utility.

A firearm does not need to be operated at “full power” any more than any other machine.  It is true that some people still believe that if you own a .44 Magnum and reload for it, you must be able to feel the heat on your face every time you pull the trigger, as your hand stings and your ears ring. But this is nonsense, of course. Less power loads are fine for recreation and most field shooting.  They indeed have their place.  My friends and I probably shoot 100 rounds of “medium velocity” loads for every dinosaur killer.  Few reloading manuals list loads for the .44 Magnum other than hand busters.   Experienced reloaders successfully improvise, but less intrepid, practical shooters are frustrated.    

The so-called “medium velocity” load is subsonic when fired in from a typical revolver. It also does not exceed the leading threshold of about 1300-1400 fps., when a soft, plain-based bullet is fired from a rifle. Remington offered marketed exactly such a .44 Magnum load for a short time during the early to mid 1980's. It was intended for the police market, as a counterpart in .44 Magnum, to the similar lead bullet .41 Magnum police load, which has also, unfortunately been discontinued.  

Remington’s .44 Magnum Medium Velocity load offering used a flat-nosed, 240-grain, plain- based, swaged lead bullet with two cannelures, resembling an elongated .44-40 slug. Its shape mimicked today’s “Cowboy Loads”  having a catalog velocity of 1000 f.p.s. from a 4-inch vented test barrel, simulating revolver conditions.  

These ballistics approximate those of the original 1873 black powder .45 Colt service cartridge, when fired from a 7-1/2 inch barrel.  This is hardly today’s “mouse-fart” cowboy load, but stout stuff like they used to kill buffalo and shoot Indians.  For today’s hand loader the greatest economy is realized by being able to exploit plain-based cast bullets, using the least expensive, soft scrap alloy, such as wheel weights or common scrap, with faster-burning pistol or shotgun powders which provide twice as many rounds per pound, as the slow-burners normally used for full power .44 Magnum loads.

Lyman’s Cast Bullet Handbook, 4th Edition lists .44 Magnum charges with using fast-burning powders, but their starting loads, while useful in revolvers, often exceed the leading threshold of plain based bullets, when fired in a rifle.  Newer powders such as Titegroup or Trail Boss are listed, but my favorite, Bullseye was not.  Be careful in reducing slower burners, such as #2400, because ballistic uniformity is impaired if you go below about 16 grains in the .44 Magnum case with 240-gr. bullet.

What follows is my listing of loads which “work” and are well proven.  I hope this shortens your learning curve and that they work as well for you as they do for my friends and I.

Medium Velocity Loads for .44 Mag., 265-gr. Saeco #441, BHN11, unsized .433”, LLA

Case, Primer and               Velocity   Velocity   Five, 5-shot Groups* @ 50 yds. H&R

Charge Weight                   5-1/2” RBH       H&R 22”*         Largest     Smallest          Average

Starline .44 Spl. WLP

5.2BE, RCBS LD #10 782, 10Sd          940, 9 Sd  3.0             1.9             2.46

Remington .44 Mag. WLP

6.0 Bullseye, LD#11          774, 36Sd          983, 49Sd          2.5             1.9              2.24

6.6 Bullseye, LD#12          948, 13Sd          1141, 9Sd          2.5             1.4              1.94

7.8 Bullseye, LD#14          1017, 11Sd       1233, 10Sd       2.5             1.2              1.88

16.2 #2400, LD#20            1080, 39Sd       1411, 44Sd       2.5             1.3              1.97

Remington .44 Mag. WLP,  Remington 240-gr. Semi-Jacketed HP

8.4 Bullseye, LD#15          1033, 11Sd       1197, 15Sd       2.2             1.2              1.76


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