Favorite Loads Hot off the Press .44 S&W Special

The .44 Special was introduced in about 1907 and is an extremely accurate cartridge. However, as factory loaded with a 246-grain lead roundnose bullet at approximately 750 fps muzzle velocity, the .44 Spl. does not engender a reputation as a "hot" cartridge.


That changed when Elmer Keith and the other .44 Associates of the 1920s and 1930s began handloading it to its maximum potential; then, the .44 Spl. could legitimately claim top gun performance. Even the potent .357 Magnum delivers less muzzle energy than a 240/250-grain cast SWC on top of a case full of 2400 or 4227.

Of course, the situation changed when S&W introduced the .44 Magnum 50+ years ago. Since then, even the .44 Magnum's performance has been eclipsed by several bigger bore and more powerful handgun cartridges. But there are limits to the bigger-is-better scenario, based upon your tolerance to recoil.


My experience shooting those behemoths suggests they exceed my limit.


The handloads listed on this page encompass a suitable range of performance from plinking to personal protection.

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Lanes Favorite .44 Special Handloads

BulletPowder (Type/ Grs.)Velocity (fps)
Hornady 180-gr. JHP-XTP Power Pistol/ 8.8 1015
Clements 200-gr. Cast SWC Unique/ 8.0 1086
Clements 200-gr. Cast SWC Univesal/ 8.1 1135
Lyman No. 429421 240-gr. Cast FP AA Plus/ 5.1 805
Magnus 240-gr. Cast SWC 2400/ 15.3 1028
Magnus 240-gr. Cast SWC AA Plus/ 5.1 815
Magnus 240-gr. Cast SWC Titegroup/ 4.8 815
Magnus 240-gr. Cast SWC Trail Boss/ 5.5 776
Magnus 240-gr. Cast SWC W231/ 5.8 843
Keith-style 250-gr. Cast SWC2400/ 15.8 1096
Keith-style 250-gr. Cast SWC IMR-4227/ 16.5 947
Keith-style 250-gr. Cast SWCUnique/ 7.7 941

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