The showdown: .44 Magnum vs. .45 Colt
So I am idly (for now) considering a larger caliber blackhawk to keep my .357 company. I would get it in the 7 1/2 barrel length. The gun would be used for a lot of target shooting and plinking but also, potentially, for hunting. Whatever I chose, I would reload for the caliber.
What would be your choice and why? Any information of pertinence would be appreciated.
My choice would be the .45 Colt in a blued 7 1/2" Bisley. Although I like the .44 mag. also, there's just something about a big ole' .45. You can load it up or down to suit your needs. It's inexpensive and comes with adjustable sights. The Bisley grip really fits my hand better than the "plow handle" on the Blackhawk. Check out the link: http://www.ruger-firearms.com/Firear...&type=Revolver
The 45 Colt is more romantic, but the 44 Mag. is more practical, popular, powerful, etc. The 45 Colt brass is thinner walled, due to its' original design of being a black powder cartridge and therefore will not last as long as 44 Mag. brass.
44 Mag. brass can be loaded straight out of the reloading manual with 44 Special loads, for target or plinking. Ofcourse, the 44 Mag. can be loaded with its' well known "full house" loads for deer, bear, boar, etc.
Should you decide to sell a 44 Mag., it will be easier to move, than a 45 Colt.
Don't get me wrong, a 45 Colt is a capable cartridge, but a 44 Mag. has a larger selection of ammo availbility, bullet choices, manufacturer brands, and action availbility (semi-auto, double & single, etc.)
Even with all this info, the decision is in the hands of the individual. A 45 Colt can do what the 44 Mag. can do, so it all boils down to a personal choice.
Good luck with your choices!
Good hunting, Bowhunter57
The 44 mag gives you the options of loading up for hunting or down with 44 Sp for target and general plinking. I have a SBH in 44 mag and use it for hunting deer in NH.
Now be aware guys that the .45 Colt can be loaded to .44 Special specs (without cutting down any brass) or ....... it can be loaded to .44 Mag. specs (or close), all in the same cases. I love my .44 Mags (I own two) but why load two different cases for the same caliber gun when with the .45 Colt you can just load it mild or hot for the same effect. Just my $.02.
I have heard that .45 colt brass is the same thickness as all other brass these days, that the thinner walled stuff is a thing of the long past. Anyone know for sure? I know my Dad has loaded some .45 colt that felt a whole lot hotter than factory .44 magnum.
Originally Posted by Bowhunter57
Here's the shinney on the .45 colt. You can load it up or down the scale but stay with in it's range. It's the hog hunters around here who blow up more .45's than anything. They try to make it into a .44mag. There's a gun shop down here that gets about 4 to 5 guns a year from these old boys who think it takes a stick of dynomite to kill a hog or deer. The .45 colt is a great old cartridge just give it some respect. If you need more get a .44mag. Good luck.
+1 with Baldy all the way!!!
Originally Posted by Baldy
In my experience, assuming you are considering a Ruger Blackhawk/Super blackhawk, there is very little difference between the .44 Magnum and .45 Colt, IF carefully handloaded.
The .44 Magnum works best with bullets of nominal to light weight. The .45 Colt works best with bullets of nominal to heavy weight.
The .44 Magnum shines when used for deer to groundhogs, at moderate to long (handgun) ranges. The .45 for up-close heavy game, deer to elk, moose, buffalo.
Bear in mind, most other brands of revolvers, other than Ruger, in .45 Colt, are copies of the old Colt Single Action Army, and are not built for heavy handloads. The .44 Magnums of the same brands are of magnum size frames. In older Smiths, stick with near factory duplication loads in .45 Colt.
Either cartridge can be made to do the task at hand, given a Ruger or similar revolver. There are some older German made single actions that are rugged guns, but look like a mud fence.
"The great thing about the .45 Colt in modern cases as compared to the .44 Magnum is that the .45 Colt can be loaded to more power with less pressure than the .44 magnum. That is not a misprint. The .45 Colt properly loaded is more powerful than the .44 magnum. The .44 Magnum is still a great cartridge, but it takes much more pressure to push a 325-grain bullet to the speed of a 325-grain bullet in the .45 Colt. I must stress that these heavy-loaded forty-fives are not for guns such as the Smith & Wesson N-frames or Colt Single actions or their copies. These guns are very good, but cannot handle a steady diet of 325 grain bullets pushed in excess of 1300 feet per second as can the stronger Ruger revolvers."
if you have the time read this article.
Originally Posted by txpete
what I would like to do (when my finances will allow me) is to use more or less hot .45 loads in the S & W 460XVR. Probably at the time Jeff Quinn wrote his article such revolver was not on the market yet.
I saw and tried it in dry fire, so beefy that .45 colt would feel probably like mild .38 sp's fired in a .357 revo. Also, comfy grip and good DA.
besides, the 460 is also loadable with .454 casull and the powerful .460 S&W.
With the possibility to adjust the loads in each one of the 3 calibers allowed, the choices become almost limitless.
mccoy: Sir; I agree with most of your repliers. Just for considerations.
The .44 is an outstanding round; forgiving and popular at the local gun store or; as we have here "country" store.
.45's are not as popular and giving we may have to drive some distance; and ???forget??? or run out of ammo.
For around here I can and do go into country to big city stores for ammo.
Additionally; Rugers .44 Magnums can and do take beatings with ?heavy? loads; and wait for more.
7 1/2" for hunting and plinking. You've just had a good day.
the .429 mag is a great round its just to a handloader .452 does it better.if you don'y handload go with a 44 mag.
99% of what I shoot is 8.5-9.0 grs unique with my cast 250 gr lfn bullet.there isn't anything here in texas that it won't drop.the ruger t/c only loads are nice but not really needed unless going after big game like elk bear ect.
we need to do a poll and find out how many people have gone on a hunting trip and forgot the ammo bet it is a thin list.
Well, I suppose I'm gonna have to be the fly in the punch, here, but I think the .44 is a better cartridge, AND a better choice in the guns he's talking about, and I'll even tell you why (if you can wade through all the stuff that follows).
First, I think I'll address some of the points in this article; both those quoted below, and some that weren't:
First, I have to ask how this guy is measuring this "power" that he refers to. He says that the .44 requires more pressure to get a 325 grain bullet going at the same speed (probably true -- addressed below), but if you can get both bullets going the same speed, and they have the same weight, then they have the same "power" if you're using kinetic energy as your measure. If you are somehow using bullet diameter as a measure of power, then you have to ask a question: if you need a heavy bullet moving at 1300+ FPS, what are you probably trying to do? In most cases, you are trying to penetrate as deeply as possible into a large animal, and if that's the case, then I have bad news for the .45 fans. If a .452-.454 bullet weighing 325 grains, and a .429 bullet (the .44 mag's actual bullet diameter) weighing 325 grains are both moving at the same speed, and both are similarly constructed of hard-cast lead, the .44 is almost certainly going to penetrate deeper in almost any medium, because it has better sectional density. Think of dropping a 16-pound bowling ball and a 16-pound steel rod about 2" in diameter from a height of 10 feet into the same soft dirt; which is going to penetrate deeper? The steel rod is, of course, because all it's weight/mass is concentrated into a smaller surface area; it has to push less dirt out of the way, so it keeps going deeper into the dirt. So, what is this measure of "power" that he is using? If you figure it out, let me know.
Originally Posted by txpete
Now, to address the pressure situation. Yes, the .44 will probably need more pressure to get that same weight bullet moving at the same velocity, for a related reason to the discussion above; because it is smaller diameter, for a given weight, the .44 bullet will be longer than the .45 bullet. This longer bullet has a longer bearing surface touching the barrel, so it has more friction to overcome. Fortunately, the .44 has more available pressure to safely work with than the .45 ever will, because of the thicker cylinder walls. In the article, even the writer admits the .44 cylinder is stronger, although I'd like to know where he got his figures on how MUCH stronger it is. But even if we take him at his word (that the .45 cylinder is 80% as strong as the .44 cylinder), then he has to admit the .44 will ALWAYS have an advantage in safe use of pressure. He gets around admitting this advantage by claiming that "...the .45 has the strength required for heavy loads." (in the caption showing both cylinders side-by-side, near the bottom of the page, on the right).
On the subject of strength, he states " The .45 Ruger cylinder is at least eighty percent as strong as the .44 magnum Ruger cylinder, and the frames are the same." I wonder if he really knows what he's saying, right there? If the frames are the same, as in the same size, it means that the hole in the front of the frame for the barrel is the same for both calibers. This means the .44 barrel can be made thicker in the critical forcing cone area at the rear of the barrel, to better dissipate heat and resist cracking at it's thinnest points. If he means the frames are the same EXCEPT for the hole in the front, and the .45 is larger, then the frames are NOT the same when it comes to strength and the amount of support the barrel receives from the frame at that critical juncture. A bigger hole in the same size piece of metal means less metal around the hole.
Combine this with better bullet selection across a wider range of weights, all .44 bullets having a cannelure/crimping groove properly located for use in the .44 mag cartridge (not so with some .45 bullets originally intended for use with autoloading pistol cartridges or other proprietary ammo), and the huge range of factory loads in both .44 magnum and .44 special (which can be safely fired in any .44 mag revolver) for the non-handloader, and the .44 is the clear winner, just about any way you slice it.
Last edited by DJ Niner; 04-01-2008 at 04:17 AM.
Why go to the trouble of handloading hot 45 Colt rounds instead of just shooting 44 magnums? Three reasons, caliber, bullet weight and presure. Obviously a 45 is bigger than a 44, and with that increase comes heavier bullets. The heaviest practical bullet for the 44 mag is right around 300 grains, with the 45 Colt in these revolvers you can easily go up to 350. So the two things that you can always count on, bullet diameter and weight, beat the 44 mag. Since you never really know how long your shot will be you can't count on any specific velocity. The third aspect, presure, is also held by the 45 Colt. As it has a significantly larger case, roughly 11%, it can do what the 44 mag does with less presure. Why? What moves the bullet down the barrel? A volume of expanding gas. Since the 45 Colt case is larger it gives us more powder, thus more gas to push the bullet. So we can either have less presure and push the bullet at the same speed as a 44 mag, or have the same presure and push it faster. Most people who hot load the 45 Colt take the former route and go with less presure, but larger bullets.
To be honest the 45 Colt isn't perfect for everybody. For one thing, and this is important. If you have a medium frame 45 Colt for your carry piece or Colt SAA or clone you MUST be certain you never allow your hot magnum level loads to be fired in it. If you do and you're lucky you might escape with only being injured. This is one of the strengths of the 44special/mag combo, since the hot loads won't chamber it's easier to ensure that this situation never arises. With that in mind I still belive that the 45 Colt is the most versitle round available today. If I were limited to a single caliber I wouldn't hesitate to pick the 45 Colt, I'd have a Taurus medium frame for concealed carry, a 6" Anaconda for field/hunting/sport shooting and a lever action rifle for the times when I wanted to hunt, or just plink at longer ranges. Of course a custom bolt action chambered for the 45 Colt does have posibilities...but that would be the subject of another article.
I sure agree about the ready availability of the .44s.
in many factory loads
My thoughts about the .45 colt and higher calibers are mainly restricted to handloaders, once you buy a coupla boxes and a good stock of bullets (or cast your own), primers and powder, then you can shoot them even 20-30times around, without even thinking about going to the store.
And have fun with your loading recipes (within reason).
One thing that wasn't mentioned was RECOIL. When loaded to "equal" power, the .45Colt has much less recoil than the .44mag. Less recoil means less muzzel jump and quicker re-acquisition of target, also less strain on your gun.
Just a thought!
Listening to your guys and from reading a lot, I think the .45 colt is for me. It also helps that my Dad already has a gun and loads for that caliber.
Whoa! With velocity and bullets weights being equal in the same gun, the .45 will kick slightly more. Why?
Originally Posted by Don357
The .45, in the same model gun, will be slightly lighter, more steel being removed for the larger cartridge. This will generate more recoil
as recoil is relative to the weight being put into motion, in both directions, the weight of the gun versus the bullet weight.
In the same gun model, as caliber decreases, the gun weight increases.
And one other thing, which Elmer Keith touched on long ago: chamber wall thickness. The .44 will have greater metal thickness in the cylinder and forcing cone areas.
Cylinders can, and do, bulge. And Barrel forcing cones do crack.
The more steel, the better.
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