Right up the Middle! The .41 Remington Magnum
Date: Jan 06 2020
Over the years, cartridges seem to come and go, but it seems like there is nothing more interesting than the .41 Remington Magnum. Introduced in 1964 by Elmer Keith, the dean of gun writers at that time, it was offered in the Smith & Wesson Model 57 with a combination of loads from Remington. One was for hunting, the other, a toned-down version made for law enforcement duties, was something that Bill Jordan lamented about in his book, No Second Place Winner.
He went on to say that while the .357 Magnum seems to be the ideal cartridge for law enforcement, there was no suitable loading data available back then and “when presented will be in the .41 caliber” scaled down for law enforcement use. Elmer quietly set upon his mission of badgering the likes out of Remington, Smith & Wesson and Ruger until he finally got his way and the round was born for all to use.
In the beginning, it looked like the ideal cartridge for all parties. For hunters, for those who could not tolerate the blast of the .44 Magnum, the .41 Magnum looked ideal. But was it? Checking factory specifications, there is only about a six percent difference between the two in velocity with a 180-grain bullet, and for most shooters that is really nothing when comparing cartridges for big game. When it comes to muzzle energy, shooters are looking at only 12 percent in viable power in the hand. Presently, I find nothing in current literature showing a reduced load in either lead or jacketed that could be used for law enforcement purposes. In the past, this was listed as around 1,000 fps with a 210-grain lead bullet.
Handloading seems to be the best bet as most of the commercial ammunition producers are down to one bullet weight, if that. Component manufactures are not that far behind as both Hornady and Barnes, as examples, only list one bullet weight (210 and 180 respectively) with Speer leading the pack with a 200-, 210- and 220-grain bullet in both their novel JHP-SWC and jacketed hollow point. Brass is available from Starline and Hornady, but in checking the Midway site, Remington was listed as “out of stock, no backorder,” which could mean it may never be available again, or there will be a long wait.
Primers are the common larger pistol type and I use the CCI brand of their No. 300 or the No. 350 for slower-burning powders. Powders are no problem with traditional Unique, H-110 and Alliant 2400 leading the pack for availability. Accurate No. 7 and No. 9 are popular for top velocities as is Winchester 296. Loading dies are available, again from a number of sources, with the tungsten carbide sizing die as the best investment for loading over the years.
In my dealings with the .41 Magnum, I found it easy to reload with current products on the market. After sizing, belling or expanding the case, insert the primer, charge with powder and cap it off with your favorite bullet. Due to the power of the .41, I crimp on the heavy side in a separate operation after the bullets are seated.
My favorite loads with the Sierra 170-grain bullet include 21.0 grains of 2400 (½ inch at 1,450 fps), the Speer 200-grain with 8.5 grains of Unique (¾ inch at 1,010 fps) or the Hornady 210-grain bullet over 22.0 grains of H-110 (¾ inch at 1,054 fps). Additional loadings include the Sierra 210-grain bullet with 18.5 grains of 2400 (½ inch at 1,310 fps) and the Speer 220-grain bullet with 20.0 grains of H-110 (¾ inch at 1,313 fps). All testing was done at 25 yards with the gun in a Ransom Rest.
Finally, guns for shooting the .41 Magnum are on the wane because demand is down and with only a few available in production like the Ruger Blackhawk and the Desert Eagle, the selection is sparse. When out at shows, look for guns from Charter Arms, Smith & Wesson and Freedom Arms to name a few.
While many may downplay the .41 Magnum, to me, it is still an active player in the handgun field and I still like to shoot it. Like anything else, there seems to be a cult following and looking online, there is still plenty of guns and components to meet the demands for some time to come.