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44mag sectional density?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Jessesky, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. Jessesky

    Jessesky Member

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    I hear all the guys at the gun shop boast how if you want a gun for woods defense “you’re gonna need at least a 454”, or “I’ll only carry my .500” (which I think is ridiculously impractical FYI). This defense includes everything up to the biggest of North American animals, and that means PENETRATION!

    Correct me if I’m wrong but in the “heavies” for each cartridge:
    44 mag 320gr = .248 sd
    454 casull 360gr= .250 sd
    480 Ruger 410gr= .260 sd

    Shouldn’t the 44 perform almost identically? In defense situations it matters what you hit, not wound channel since there is no time to wait for blood loss. And the 44 should be faster follow up shots. What am I missing?
     
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  2. Peakbagger46

    Peakbagger46 Member

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    No expert here, but it seems bullet design in handgun loads may be more important than sectional density for predator defense.

    Here in the Rockies, I carry my J-frame .357 loaded with 180g hard cast flat nose in the front pocket while chasing elk around during bow season. Looking for penetration and not expansion.

    Kind of a lazy carry, but I HOPE it would make an impression on a black bear. I got charged by one last year. He made it to within 10 yards of me (slack was out of the trigger). Fortunately yelling eventually made him change course.

    Ran into an upset bull moose two years ago. No way that shorty .357 would have helped me.
     
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  3. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    On another thread a fellow successfully used a 10mm load launched from a Glock to stop a Grizzly. He hit the bear in the head just above the snout. He was using jacketed, soft tipped bullets (iirc). I replied that I'd prefer something more like a .41 magnum in a revolver, (with at least a 6" barrel would be my preference), as the base line load for defending vs. a Grizzly . Just from my perspective, I'd think an advancing bear is going to give one the opportunity for only a few shots, and since the 10mm did stop the bear, I'd like a bit more power behind the same bullet, please. o_O Of course a bit more bullet and a bit more power in a .44 magnum would be good too. More than the .44 Magnum, or a hot .45 Colt load, would work, of course. Is it a "must"? Who can say? I think it's not just the cartridge, and the load, but also the platform. Does the handgun that you've chosen for your cartridge fit your hand? How fast can you bring the platform onto target, fire, recover from the recoil, and have the next shot ready in case the first hasn't hit or taken effect to where you know the bear isn't still a threat? ;)

    LD
     
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  4. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

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    I like the 44Mag. I use it. But it's surely not 454 Casull. IMO, 44Mag is more practical, in
    every day usage terms. But if I knew I were facing a dangerous animal, I'd take the 454, because it
    is markedly stronger, ballistically. What you're missing is the muzzle energy and muzzle
    velocity of the extra 10 to 15 grains of powder in the 454 cartridge load. That's @
    2 or 3- 45ACP charges of additional powder, as driving force, for the Casull.

    Downside is the sharp recoil is bone jarring, especially from a shorter barreled
    bear defense gun, like the average guide uses. As a casual camper, and nature buff,
    many times not in the Northern climates, I skate by with a .44, when I enter the food chain. But if I were going into Bear Country on a regular basis, I'd carry the 454.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
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  5. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    Again, though, how fast can the person handle the handgun and bring it onto the target? My point wasn't that the .454 wasn't "better" vs. a Griz, than the older magnums. My point was to balance the cartridge with the gun the person chooses to use. For example if the person's hand doesn't fit the grips well, and the weight of the handgun really slows the user down in getting the sights aligned onto the target, the cartridge is a moot point, right? ;) Single action takes more fine motor skills under stress than does a double-action point-and-squeeze, but then one has to deal with the length of pull and the weight of the pull in a double-action. LOTS of variables. That's all I'm pointing out.

    LD
     
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  6. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

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    Well, if you're so small you can't get a grip on much more than a .357, there isn't
    that much meat on your scrawny butt for a bear to eat, anyway, so it all evens out.:D
     
  7. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    Follow up shot discussion may be a moot point considering you might be able to get off one shot. Clearly placement is job number one. That said, give me the biggest practical hammer. My .500s (excluding the .500 S&W) are built on the same sized platform as the smaller calibers so size impracticality is irrelevant IMHO. Nose profile and bullet integrity are way more important than sectional density. Monometal solids (brass, copper, etc.) are lighter than their length would suggest, and they tend to out-penetrate cast bullets in the same caliber. I think SD is much ado about nothing, but this is just my opinion. That said, the bigger calibers give you a larger margin of error by default. Having taken quite a few really large game animals, I can say with certainty size matters. This is oversimplified, but there are many factors one has to consider in a discussion such as this. I will err on the side of larger whenever possible.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
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  8. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Yes and they do. When you're talking about "heavy for caliber" bullets, you're talking about sectional density. Sectional density is an effective tool to predict how a bullet of a given weight/diameter will penetrate compared to bullets of other weights and diameters. The best penetrators tend to be between .250 and .270. People still place way too much importance on velocity and energy. In reality, more velocity 'may' have a negative effect on penetration with cast bullets because the harder you push them, the more they deform and the more you risk complete failure. The monometal solids pretty much eliminate this possibility and due to the fact that they do not deform, they outpenetrate much heavier cast bullets. They still have to have enough mass/momentum to penetrate so weight relative to diameter is still a factor. What you gain with the .500S&W is a larger wound channel. Not necessarily "power" or penetration. All the big S&W cartridge has over the .500JRH, .500WE or .500Linebaugh is range due to velocity.
     
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  9. Jessesky

    Jessesky Member

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    This was
    this was my concern. On paper the 454 has more energy that’s for sure, but in real world applications, Is that energy a moot point? When we compare these rounds using bullets of similar sd the velocities are close to the same. Which means the relevant differences are wound cavities and bullet mass. For a non expanding bullet a .429 hole still doesn’t seem like any slouch.

    While others may be more experienced than me, I know I can get follow up shots off faster with my .44 than a larger cartridge. Even the best of us miss in an adrenaline pumping scenario. Ultimately I was look for a confirmation that I should or shouldn’t feel under gunned walking with brown bear in the area while armed with a 6” 44mag slinging 320gr flat nose bullets at 1300fps and in theory shouldn’t it even out perform the 325gr 454 which is regularly chosen as a bear load?
     
  10. BigBore44

    BigBore44 Member

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    But if shooting monolithics, it then has even more of an advantage, including penetration. Correct?
     
  11. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    Yes it does. Bigger wound channel and deeper penetration. Probably not the case if shooting hardcast bullets where the limitation is the material they are made from. When the nose distorts, all bets are off. Also, monolithic solids render the sectional density argument a bit silly. A greater determinant to penetration is nose profile, not SD. More weight means more momentum, but two bullets with the same SD may not penetrate equally due to nose design. This is why the emphasis should be placed on the nose more than SD.

    Also, velocity is your friend as long as your bullets are up to the task. I have used a wide range of calibers on large animals (1,000-lbs and up) and bigger is definitely better.
     
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  12. Tradmark

    Tradmark Member

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    Larger wound channel = more power. You may not like the platforms but a 500 smith is a big step up from the other 50’s. A 44 does not equal a 454 when bullets are optimized. I find the 44 mag to be closer to a 41 mag than the 454.
     
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  13. Jessesky

    Jessesky Member

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    True but I think the xframe is too impractically large for woods carry which is my purpose. At that point I may as well be carrying a rifle. Would channel is important, but Is the wound channel difference so significant between the 500 and 44 that it makes a difference in a defense situation when only seconds may matter? If you don’t hit a vital with either, most likely it will take too long for the animal to expire for bullet size to matter. Im not saying this is fact, but asking to better my knowledge
     
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  14. Tradmark

    Tradmark Member

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    Ive killed bears, cape buff, lion, mt
    Lion, waterbuff and a number of large bovines with a revolver and based on experience i couldnt agree less. Bullet size and speed makes killing an animal attacking that much quicker. The only way it doesnt is if you hit the brain. Bigger or faster and better yet bigger/faster cartridges provide a huge margin for error. U stun and knock down with the bigger calibers from spinal shock and brain shock even when the actual cns isnt hit. This gives vital time for a follow up. I reviewed many videos over the last few days and with 454 on up average hit time to death is about 30 seconds tops, Even on animals like the cape buff! With the 44 on down it runs into minutes upon minutes. Shortest was 3:43 a few ran over 10 minutes to go down. Basically with a 44 you BETTER hit the cns. Ive seen a bovine dumped with a shot that didnt hit the brain but it put the animal down!! Gave valuable time for the finishers to be put in. The xframe 4” gun in 500 is not huge and works well, but the bigger calibers like 454/480/475/460 and the 500’s have numerous options that shoot and carry well. See jerry miculek empty a 4” sw 500 in one second flat accurately and tell me a fast f/u isnt possible w the biggies. Just practice!
     
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  15. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    You're not missing anything, a healthy dose of skepticism is a good thing.

    Sometimes a hidden agenda has to be seen for what it is, as in selling you a new gun, or touting a line of BS as the truth, for the sake of conversation. Generally, my experience has been, that a hardcast Keith semi wadcutter, driven at about 1100-1200fps gives the best overall penetration when compared with like calibers shooting handgun bullets. Remember, with any bullet, it will retain it's shape and penetrate, as long as it A. Not met by a bone that will deflect it. and B. It is of sufficient hardness that it can move through the target without deforming; lessening its penetration. (driving bullets faster encourages deformation, and will likely cause less penetration. Think parachute.)

    Ask the gunshop advice giver, "Oh, do you own a .500? What was your test medium?" :cool:

    The 44 magnum and all the rest are handguns. They are carried because they are portable. You alone are going to have to decide what you want. If your 44 or 500 shoots through a rack of 2x4's, water jugs and ballistic gel with a given load at your range session, it's still up to you to judge if that's good for you. Then you might want to evaluate if this gun/load combination is going to save your bacon about the second bite into a bear attack.... and are you ever going to be in that situation.
    The problem with relying solely on gun writers to provide test results, is the underlying fact that they are being paid to sell you more/new guns.

    I've purposely left out the whole gamut of expanding bullets. I limited my discussion to penetration. Hope this helps. :thumbup:

    There is a lot of PRACTICAL advice being given so far, that can help you make your decision.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
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  16. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    I agree with everything tradmark posted and my experiences mirror his. The shorter barreled X-frames while not nearly as cumbersome as the longer barreled versions, I really like Magnum Research’s platforms. My .500 JRHs aren’t appreciably larger than any of my .44 Mags. The .500 JRH has proven effective on a number of large game animals. I too prefer what the bigger calibers have to offer.

    I wouldn’t count on not hitting bone in an emergency situation and therefore suggest a mono metal solid for backup duty.
     
  17. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    Do we agree that if nose profile and construction is the same, a heavier bullet is preferable? IMHO, if all else is equal, a heavier bullet is going to penetrate better. So no, sectional density argument is not silly at all. You telling me that if you take two bullets of identical shape and toughness, that a 200gr bullet will penetrate just as well as a 300gr? That's basically what you're saying.


    So every 100fps counts? So we're conceding that rifles are measurably more effective? I thought the idea was that you needed to exceed 2000fps to gain anything?


    Oh BS. The .41 doesn't even come close. Unlike the .45Colt, it doesn't have the capacity to compete with the .44's heaviest bullets. Look at the Buffalo Bore 340gr .44 and 360gr .454. Same pressure. Same velocity. Comparable sectional density.
     
  18. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Administrator Staff Member

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    I only know from reading: Ross Seyfried has written quite a bit about his hunting. One article spoke of a one-shot kill on an Australian water buffao with a .454. Common through all his articles was a call for hard-cast lead with a large meplat.

    And that's all I know. :)
     
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  19. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    When I was using cast bullets a lot more, velocity bought marginal increases up to the point of distortion. The quality bullets we have now allow for actually using more velocity to your advantage.

    The .44 is an underachiever. I have never been impressed with it’s terminal effectiveness. It’ll get it done, but not as well as its bigger brothers. You need to experiment more and it will become more evident.
     
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  20. MaxP

    MaxP Member

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    He used a .475 Linebaugh and about that time he was experimenting with Trophy Bonded Sledgehammer solids as a better alternative to cast bullets but he had trouble with crimp pull.
     
  21. Tradmark

    Tradmark Member

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    Buffalo bore loads the 454 down and they always run hotter than they list so no theyre not the same. I wasnt aware we were stuck on one particular manufacturer. U think a 340 gr bullet at over 1750 fps is equivalent to any 44 mag load?? U think a 325 gr aframe at 1600+ fps is equivalent to anything available in a 44? No. I can list a very long list of dg kills with the 454 that outpace what a 44 will do handily! A monometal 220 gr load from a 41 at 1600 fps vs a 44 mag 240 monometal load at 1500 fps is a wash and essentially equivalent. Where did this asinine magic 2000 fps limit ever come from? Youre sounding like bfrshooter now!
     
  22. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    And on that note, I'm out.
     
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  23. DannyLandrum

    DannyLandrum Member

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    Keep in mind that SD is not the sole determinant of penetrating ability.
    In addition, weight *alone* is an independent variable. I.e. ceteris paribus (same SD, construction, and velocity), a heavier bullet penetrates more. This is a bit counterintuitive.
    Obviously, velocity is huge, and varies directly with penetration, up the point where the bullet expands/ shreds, where it begins to vary inversely.
     
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  24. Tradmark

    Tradmark Member

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    Thats just good natured ribbing. You know its just kidding craig. But seriously where did this magic 2000fps number come from. I wouldnt be surprised if it was some cockamamie theory worked up around a pile of cast bullets and soaked newspaper. Not something seen in the field on big game animals
     
  25. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

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    Sounds to me like you're talking yourself into a .44, or defending using a .44. If you feel you can
    handle a .44 better, do it. 454, especially in a short barrel, is not for the faint of heart.
     
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