Quantcast

.45 Colt vs. .44 Magum

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by XMP, Mar 12, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Jeff F

    Jeff F Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    1,507
    Location:
    Silver Springs NV

    Me to and I thought the same thing. I found I could roll way better and more accurate loads for a lot less money. Also, I found myself shooting a lot more and then the wife got into shooting with me. Am I saving money by reloading, not that much, but I am shooting better quality ammo and shooting more often.
     
  2. campbell

    campbell Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    Messages:
    275
    The Judge isn't a very versatile woods gun. The .410 out of that barrel is pretty much useless. The Blackhawk has better accuracy and can handle a much wider range of loads.
     
  3. jpsimms

    jpsimms Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    Messages:
    169
    Location:
    Oregon
    .45 colt
    just feels better to me, more accurate in my hands
     
  4. asknight

    asknight Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    1,298
    The .44 is the "Magnum" of the caliber. The .45 Colt is the .454 Casull "Special." :uhoh: :D
     
  5. Beagle-zebub

    Beagle-zebub Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2006
    Messages:
    1,482
    Location:
    Moscow, Russia
    A good point of comparison might be number of reloads per case at a given performance level. Anybody have any input on that?
     
  6. Fishman777

    Fishman777 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    How I understand things...

    Off the shelf .45 colt ammo is more similiar to .44 special than .44 magnum.

    If you reload, the .45 colt can approach and some say surpass the .44 magnum. All I know is that Buffalo Bore's 340 grain .44 magnum +p beats the pants off the their .45 colt +p ammo. If you load a .45 colt up to this level of performance, I am guessing that the pressures are not going to be that much less than .44 magnum. Also, I have read that the .45 colt brass is significantly weaker than what is used with .44 magnum. I've been told that several reloading manuals state this. The .44 magnum was designed for a high level of performance, the .45 colt really was not. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable pushing the .45 colt too far.

    In my book, the .44 magnum makes more sense. While having a .451 diameter bullet is nice, the .429 diameter 44 magnum would have a much better sectional density and would penetrate better. If you really need that level of performance from your ammo, you likely will need penetration more than you'd need that 0.022 of an inch of diameter.
     
  7. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Messages:
    3,794
    Location:
    NE Ohio
  8. Mac45

    Mac45 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2005
    Messages:
    281
    If you load .45 Colt to SAA/ CAS levels, it will last virtually forever.
    Have some Federal brass that I bought as loaded about 15 years ago.
    Lost track of how many times I have loaded it, never had a problem.
    Have some Starline Nickel cases I use for my Ruger Only Loads.
    Going strong after about 6-8 loadings, but I keep an eye on 'em. Sooner or later they're gonna split.
    I don't load for the .44 Mag, but would expect it to be similar.
     
  9. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Messages:
    23,648
    Location:
    Los Anchorage
    I used to shoot and load for the .45 Colt a lot. I ultimately swapped out of it and now use the .44 Mag. My reasoning went along these lines:

    --The .45 Colt's brass design is archaic and has far too small and thin a rim. This led to trouble in some leverguns and was a personal annoyance when manipulating the rounds (stubby fingers)

    --The firearms designed for .45 Colt tend to have less steel around key parts because of the extra width. This is why a revolver in .44 mag can fire powerhouse loads but that same revolver in .45 Colt can only fire standard non-magnum colt loads.

    --The .45 Colt has enormous unneeded capacity. The risk of a double charge is very real and there are annoyances when using Unique and similar powders.

    --The .45 Colt was more expensive, both to reload and to buy new.

    --The .45 Colt's theoretical advantage in power was mostly just that--theoretical. For my purposes it was a distinction without a difference.

    --.44 Mag brass is better and thicker. It holds up for more loads and dents less easily.

    All this is not to knock the original centerfire handgun catridge, but with the .45 Colt you inherit a complex history going back to the early 1870's. With the .44 Mag you get the brainchild of Elmer Keith himself, tailored for modern shooting platforms. If I wanted to get into the .45 Colt size bullets I would suggest going with a Casull or .464 S&W and relegating the grand old Colt to light duty comparable to .44 Special.
     
  10. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Messages:
    9,550
    Location:
    Alabama
    In this Month's American Handgunner, John Taffin has an article which makes perfect sense. Essentially it is , load them for fun.

    Maybe it is part of getting old, but I do not enjoy shooting full power 44 Mag's any more. I have a lot more fun shooting the 45 LC and the 44 Spl. I have absolutely no desire to shoot any 300+ grain bullets in the 44 mag.

    This weekend, I dragged to the range a 44 Spl, a M1911, and a S&W M629-5. I shot about 150 rounds 44 Spl, 200 rounds 45 ACP, and a little more than 100 rounds of 44 Mag, at the end. The load was 240 L 20.0 grains 2400.

    It was not long into the 44 Mag session that I was flinching every shot. Yes the pistol is accurate, yes the round is powerful. And yes, my arm hurt when I got home.

    My arm would have been fine if I shot my 45 LC, 250 LRN at 850 fps, instead of a 44 Mag.

    My 44 Magnum was purchased around New Years. The gun dealer told me that someone had purchased it around Thanksgiving, fired it a few times, and did not like the recoil.

    If you like recoil, go buy the magnum. For fun, buy a 45 LC.


    HogueXgriponM629-4sideviewDSCN6334.jpg


    ReducedM25-7rightsideDSCN2028.jpg
     
  11. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Messages:
    5,061
    Location:
    S.E. Minnesota
    Don't forget about the moose.
     
  12. XMP

    XMP Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Messages:
    63
    Location:
    Minnesota
    This is helping me alot. How about economics? How do prices compare for .44special vs. light cowboy loads in .45Colt, for shooting for fun? And how do prices compare for heavy loads for dangerous/large animals in each?
     
  13. Redhawk1

    Redhawk1 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Messages:
    904
    Location:
    Delaware
    I happen to have both a 44 Mag and a 45 Colt. But I also reload and I cam make them both equal. Personally I like the 45 Colt over the 44 Mag. I just like bigger holes...lol


    As for you price comparison, the 45 Colts are a little cheaper than the 44 Specials and most places don't carry the 44 specials. As for the heavy loads, I think the 44 Mag is less expensive than say buffalo bore or double tap 45 Colt ammo, but then again, you won't be going to the range and shooting the heavy stuff all the time. Me I shoot nothing but heavy stuff, I practice with what I use for hunting...
     
  14. eldon519

    eldon519 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Messages:
    2,449
    Location:
    Georgia
    If you're buying good quality brass, the .45 Colt is no weaker than the .44 Magnum brass. The original .454 Casull prototype loads were made with plain old .45 Colt brass packing triple charges of powder. It's not so different than Elmer Keith overloading .44 Special to generate .44 Magnum ballistics. The only real threat of using .45 Colt brass is if you somehow found a really old balloon-head case which as far as I know has not been available for the better part of the last century. That is how Elmer Keith actually started out. He was grinding black powder finer in order to pack more into .45 Colt cases and seating oversized .45-70 bullets(.458 vs. .452) over the charge. He eventually came across a balloon head case and blew up a Colt SAA, spouted off about .45 Colt brass being weak, and then switched to .44 Special.

    One of the big selling points for me is that the .45 Colt operates at lower pressure (even at the full power .44 mag equivalent loads) than .44 magnum. I used to not be so concerned with the pressure limits of cartridges, but one time I fired my .357 magnum in a hunting scenario with no ear protection. I have had some permanent hearing loss in my left ear ever since. Only took one shot. It kept ringing for over a month. All firearms are loud enough to hurt your hearing, but the higher the pressure limit, the more danger it presents, especially in a revolver where pressure is vented between the cylinder and forcing cone. Speaking of, lower pressure is also gentler on areas of the revolver such as the top strap, forcing cone, etc which is a nice aspect of the .45 Colt.

    For me it comes down to a few factors:
    If you do not reload and do not plan to, get the .44 magnum.
    If you really like S&W revolvers, get the .44 magnum (they use weaker steel in their .45 Colts and can not handle the high performance loads).
    For everything else, they are basically equals with a slight nod (in my book) going to the .45 Colt.
     
  15. XMP

    XMP Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Messages:
    63
    Location:
    Minnesota
    "If you really like S&W revolvers, get the .44 magnum (they use weaker steel in their .45 Colts and can not handle the high performance loads)."

    OK, tell me more about this. I do actually like S&W better, but I wasn't aware all their frames weren't equal. Please educate me.
     
  16. tipoc

    tipoc Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    3,202
    A look through the search function here will show that at least twice a year this gets argued about.

    John Taffin figures that there are several guns that will handle differeing levels of power in .45 Colt.

    The first is the Colt SAA and it's clones, which include the New Vaquero, and the S&W handguns the 25 and 625 in .45 Colt. These will safely handle a 260 gr. bullet up to about 900-1000 fps all day long for as long as you like. This load will kill any deer or black bear in the lower 48 with the proper bullet. (As will a similar load in the .44 Spl.)

    Next up is the Colt New Frontier which can handle similar weight bullets up to 1150 fps. (which the .44 Special can do with a 240 gr. bullet and the .44 Magnum can easily do with slightly higher pressures than the .45 Colt)

    Third level is the Ruger Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk. These can handle 300 gr. rounds at 1200 fps. Which can take most anything.

    Fourth, the Colt Anaconda and the Dan Wesson guns in .45 Colt all of which can handle 300 gr. bullets at 1200-1300 fps. So to deer and black bear we can safely add elk and Moose.

    Fifth we come to the Ruger Redhawk and Super Redhawk, the Freedom Arms guns and some custom guns. All of which can also be found chambered in .454 Casull.

    Frankly most anything in the lower 48 can be killed humanly with a 250-300 gr. bullet traveling anywhere from 900 fps to 1200 fps with the bullet and gun matched to the game and provided the shooter places their shot well.

    The .45 Colt will do this as will the .44 Mag. The .45 Colt will do it with a little less pressure than the .44 Magnum. Shooters choice.

    tipoc
     
  17. tipoc

    tipoc Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    3,202
    I believe that in a "Collectors Edition" of Shooting Times thats on the shelves now (it features some articles by Skeeter Skelton, Jeff Cooper, etc.) Layne Simpson has an article on the .45 Colt. The article discusses some Barnes bullets for the cartridge and some handloads for the guns. He points out that he got 260 and 300 gr. bullets out of a Ruger Super Blackhawk and a Thompson Center single shot at 1200 fps that produced sub 2" groups at 100 yards with scoped guns.

    The article also discusses (as do Taffin's books by the way) the origins of the stories of weak brass for the .45 Colt. which are false.

    S&W revolvers apparently don't use the same heat treatment on the 45 revolvers that they do on their 44s. This may be due to the decrease in the thickness of the cylinder walls of their 6 shot N frames in 45 caliber. The strength of S&Ws is limited by their frame size. The walls of a cylinder that hold a 44 round are thicker at the web than the same diameter cylinder in .45. Their strength is also limited by their lockup and the counter clockwise rotation of the cylinder IMO. I haven't kept up on their X frame guns so I won't speak to those.

    Even so a M625 Mountain Gun is easy to pack all day and 300 grs. at 850-900 fps and 260 at 1000 will take deer and hogs cleanly and defend against black bear if your fortunate enough to place your shots well.

    tipoc
     
  18. Stainz

    Stainz Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2003
    Messages:
    3,118
    Location:
    Pinson, AL
    Others have fought this battle before. First, to be historically correct, the first widely used centerfire handgun cartridge was the S&W .44 Russian, based on their less than stellar received .44 American. It pre-dates the .45 Colt - and outsold the infamous Colt SAA until near the end of the nineteenth century. In 1907 it was lengthened in case size and made available for BP and smokeless as a 'Special' cartridge, a la the '98 .38 S&W Special. It was lengthened again in 1955 as the .44 Magnum. Any .44 Magnum or Special chambered revolver will chamber and fire the .44 Russian, a historically significant - and neat - cartridge, although you will really have fun finding them - unless you make them yourself.

    Latter S&W .45 Colts are made on the similar bore .45 ACP frames & barrels - with longer cylinders, of course. As the .45 ACP is a 21-22kpsi round, vs the .45 Colt's 14kpsi rating, significantly higher performance can be eeked out of a 25/625 in .45 Colt than the usual 'Cowboy' loads. Many, me included, still don't think twice about getting hotter loads in a .45 Auto Rim cartridge than we would load in a .45 Colt. I love my .45 Colt 625 Mountain Guns - and my 4" 629, especially with lighter loads. This is made possible by my basement ammo factory. If I didn't have such, I am afraid I would have to decide if I really wanted to shoot warm-hot .44 Magnums in that 629 all of the time or not.

    I do have a compromise of sorts... a 25/625 in .45 ACP & Auto Rim. Now you have a frugal, both in ammo cost and recoil, big bore. You can buy 250 rounds, white box 230gr FMJ 'ball' ammo, for <$90, inc s/t, at Wally World - on a Sunday afternoon. You want to hunt? Thin skinned targets, like deer, can quite likely be had with the 185-250gr HPs that abound in even some SD ammo, the upper end even including that great Speer #4484 250gr Gold Dot. Want to hunt hogs? A 255gr LSWC @ 900+ fps should suffice - and the wild porker won't know it came from a .45 Auto Rim or Colt!

    All that said, I have needless duplication - two MGs in .45 Colt and a 625JM in .45 ACP. If I had to seriously downsize, and lose my ammo making capability, I'd keep the ugly full lug .45 ACP/AR 625 long after the .45 Colts and, yes, .44s were long gone. Moonclipped .45 ACP ball ammo is just fun - and not much recoil, either. Buy lots of moonclips - Ranch Products' are ~$30/100 delivered. A 5.56mm metal ammo can will hold 105 loaded moonclips - 630 rounds - try to empty THAT at a range session!

    And - if you go the Ruger SA route, recall that some of their recent offerings in .45 Colt are significantly weaker than the former models. Also, the Super Blackhawk is only available in .44 Magnum. Of their .45 Colt-ish DA capable offerings, and I've had both the RH & SRH, the SRH is capable of a far better trigger - and seemed to have fewer problems extracting .45 Colt empties. The RH's drooping ejector rod's star would occasionally skip over a .45 Colt's rim during extraction/ejection, rendering the revolver unserviceable until cleared. As my 4" 625MGs grouped better than the RH & SRH at 25 & 50yd, the Rugers went bye-bye after I got the second MG. I miss the .454 SRH, even if my wrist doesn't. I'll never miss the RH!

    I have two 629s - both current production - a 4" & 6" - partial lugs rule! They get mild loads, but if I wanted to hunt - and didn't have reloading equipment - I would get the 6" - and put a set of .500 Magnum Hoque grips on it, for excellent recoil control (Both of my 629s sport them.). And - you can buy real hunting ammo at Wally World - on a Sunday afternoon. You can mail order .44 Magnum 'cowboy' loads - or .44 Specials - or .44 Russians - for play. Be sure to get a proper bore and a chamber brush - and brush carefully 'between meals', always shooting the longer cases first in a shooting session. Choices... how much - and what - do you intend to hunt?

    Stainz
     
  19. tallpaul

    tallpaul Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Messages:
    1,052
    I am questioning this a bit at this time. I love my .44's but traded into a smith 25-5 4 inch which Linebaugh ranks highly. Not a bad trade for a cheaply acquired welder. My dilemma is not the round itself but the fact that I have several .44 mags and no other 45 colt. I added to the issue by buying a pristine 4 inch 29 shortly after.... I am not sure if another caliber to reload and the cost of brass is worth it. I can add more .44 mag brass that can be used amongst several guns vs the resources going to the colt. I am thinking of thinning my heard to begin with it so I may sell this off. One thing if I keep it would be to convert it to full moon clips for the acp. I would be able to shoot LC or acp in the same gun and have a versatile gun. I may need to trade off some other stuff after all... it still sounds great- add a hard chrome hmmm

    here they are with their little brother .357
    DSCN0894.jpg
     
  20. eldon519

    eldon519 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Messages:
    2,449
    Location:
    Georgia
    XMP, tipoc covered it in post #42. They are just heat treated differently. The engineering and mathematical justification for why a .45 Colt should be able to handle a certain percentage of the pressure of a .44 magnum is just a matter off calculating hoop stress in the cylinder. Hoop stress is basically the bursting force and is dependent on the diameter of the hole and the thickness of the wall. I have not run the calculations myself, but on Gunblast, they mention the .45 Colt being able to handle about 80% of the pressure of a .44 magnum. That is all things considered if you were to make the gun using the same cylinder with nothing more than a bigger chamber drilled into it.

    With S&W, all things are not the same. For the .45 Colts, they do not heat treat the cylinders in the same way, so I am told. This means that the steel does not have the same minimum yield strength, and the simple hoop stress comparison on chamber diameter and wall thickness is no longer valid. That is why I said if you like S&Ws, you probably should stick with .44 magnum. S&Ws can not achieve the .44-magnum-equivalent power in a .45 Colt chamber like guns from Ruger, DAs from Colt, Dan Wesson, etc.
     
  21. XMP

    XMP Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2004
    Messages:
    63
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Thanks for all the help. Right now it appears to be a moot point, since, if I got a S&W, I'd want a pre-lock blued 29 (probably 4") that I could look at in person, and so far there appears to be no such animal. I'll keep looking or eventually accept the notion of buying a Ruger (not sure that can happen, but maybe).
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice