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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
Wolfe Publishing Group
  • alliant reloading data
  • reloading brass
  • shotshell reloading
The Ultimate Reloading Manual
hodgdon load data

.44 Magnum Revolver (using Hornady bullets)

Author: Brian Pearce
Date: Apr 23 2020

The first production .44 Magnum revolver was completed December 29, 1955, and shipped from Smith & Wesson to Mr. R.H. Coleman of Remington Arms Company. With the urging of Elmer Keith, the two companies worked together in developing the new gun and cartridge. The .44 Magnum is one of the most versatile handgun cartridges ever developed, especially when handloaded.

A heavy roll crimp is suggested, which serves to prevent bullets from jumping crimp during recoil, and aids with powder ignition. Tests have proven that with most slow burning, magnum revolver powders, a heavy crimp reduces extreme spreads and increases accuracy. Jacketed bullets with a square bottom cannelure should be seated with the case mouth just slightly below the top of the cannelure, then firmly crimped in place. Since Hornady swaged lead bullets do not feature a crimp groove, they should be seated to the correct depth, then the case crimped directly into the bullet.

When loading the 225-grain FTX bullet, Hornady suggests trimming cases from industry standard lengths of 1.275/1.285 inch to 1.255 inch, then seating bullets to an overall cartridge length of 1.645 inch (as shown in the accompanying data). This still results in a cartridge that exceeds industry specifications by .035 inch. In cross-referencing cartridges so assembled in multiple guns, some rifles would not feed correctly, due primarily to the longer cartridge length. Before loading any quantity of ammunition, be certain handloads function in the intended gun. Most revolvers accept this bullet/cartridge without incident and can be loaded in standard length cases.

When seating the FTX, be certain to use a seating stem that fits the bullet’s ogive profile, or bullet damage will probably result.

When using the Hornady 180- and 240-grain swaged lead bullets, barrel leading began to occur at speeds over 850 to 950 fps (depending on powder) and accuracy quickly deteriorated. It is therefore suggested to keep velocity below these speeds when using these bullets.