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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have read that the Lipsey's .44 Special flattop can use a 250 gr. Keith, Alliant 2400 powder, 16.5 gr., to achieve 1200 fps. This is a noble feat, and I'm impressed.
Do any of you folks have the caliper dimensions of the steel thickness, at throat end, between adjacent chambers and also the steel thickness from one chamber to the outside cylinder wall? Or perhaps a link?
I have been unable to find this under Search.
I am in the throes of chronograph testing the .44 Special with various powders, using a 240-253 SWC or Keith design cast bullet. Trying to develop a 1000-1050 fps load that is most accurate with my gun.
Thanks,
Sonnytoo
 

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Sonnytoo, Please don't be offended ... just a question. Why in the world would someone buy a 44 Special then try to push it to 44 Mag velocities? The 44 Special's max SAAMI chamber pressure is very low ... 15,500 psi. The load you listed (250 gr Keith, 16.5 gr 2400) runs just over 20,700 psi. Proof loads are rated at 130% (20,150 psi) so this load exceeds proof load pressure.

The hottest load I could find that does not exceed SAAMI pressure is 9.1 gr Blue Dot with a 240 gr LSWC (900 fps from a 3" barrel). This load should exceed 1000 fps in a 4 5/8" or longer barrel. Ref: Hornady 7th Ed.

Don't get too strung out on the cylinder wall thickness of your 44. That's only one defining factor. Because Ruger uses a deep lock notch (about .030") it becomes the weakest area of the cylinder. Metallurgy (alloy) also has a lot to do with how much pressure the cylinder will withstand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi IOWEGAN,
I requested the Ruger cylinder dimensions so I could compare the Lipsey’s .44 Special with my “new”696 .44 Special, 0.429” throats.

I am not refuting anything you say, but rather am trying to learn from all of this. And I’m probably not alone.

As my post is very long, I have sent it to you outside of this forum. Perhaps the results of our discussion may be written up here later.

Brian Pearce ran an article of higher-pressure .44 Special loads (June Handloader, issue #260). His recommended loads were tested in Lipsey’s .44 Special Flattop. With ~250grain cast loads, he shows a 2400 load @1211 fps, a AA-9 load @ 1205 fps. He also lists a Power Pistol recipe slightly in excess of 1000 fps that is still with SAAMI specs. His listed loads are for the Ruger…or guns of similar strength. As he specifically mentions the model 24/624 and the 696 in his article, I am trying to figure how my 696 compares to the Ruger .44 Special in terms of frame/cylinder strength.

Lane Pearce in the November 2009 Shooting Times, again with the Lipsey’s Ruger .44 Special, shows several hard-cast loads, 240-250 grain, using 2400 that fall between 1000-1100 fps.

Thanks again,
Sonnytoo
 

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Wouldn't want to feed either of my S&W .44 Specials a steady diet of 1000+ fps rounds, but they are quite capable of handling the pressure. Accurate, too, with 16 grains of 2400.

I believe that the SAMMI pressure standard for the .44 Special is deliberately set low to accomodate 100-year-old guns that don't have the metal strength of our more modern guns.

Elmer Keith showed us that a S&W N-frame, in .44 Special, loaded with up to 17 grains of 2400, works very well, indeed. Beyond that, though, there is the .44 Magnum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wouldn't want to feed either of my S&W .44 Specials a steady diet of 1000+ fps rounds, but they are quite capable of handling the pressure. Accurate, too, with 16 grains of 2400.

I believe that the SAMMI pressure standard for the .44 Special is deliberately set low to accomodate 100-year-old guns that don't have the metal strength of our more modern guns.

Elmer Keith showed us that a S&W N-frame, in .44 Special, loaded with up to 17 grains of 2400, works very well, indeed. Beyond that, though, there is the .44 Magnum.
You are correct and thanks for your response. I shot many Keith loads in my old 1950 Target 50 years ago.
My "problem child" is my 36 ounce Smith 696, a L-frame, and I'm having difficulty finding much information about it. It is decently heavy with a long lug under the barrel, and my 950 fps loadings are really mild in recoil. The L-frame is a really nice size to carry and handle.
And no, I don't want a steady diet of 1000+ fps either but I'd like to know I can use them when I feel the need.
Sonnytoo
 

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Sonnytoo, As you probably have figured out by now, I'm a conservitave reloader ..... still have both eyes and my hands both have 5 fingers. I'm one of those "don't exceed SAAMI" guys. In my younger days, I ruined a perfectly good S&W Mod 19 with hot loads ... a good lesson that I will never forget nor repeat. I don't believe in blowing up guns nor do I believe in stressing them to their limits. Brian Pearce, John Taffin, and John Linebaugh are in a different world. They like pushing the limits, especially with 45 Colts and 44 Specials. Their theory ... if it doesn't blow up, it must be safe. I don't subscribe to that theory because I've seen too many guns come in my shop that were damaged from over pressure loads. I also refuse to believe any load data that does not come from a SAAMI certified lab ... Speer, Hornady, Sierra, for example. Many loads posted in magazines or on the Internet are nothing more than a guess when it comes to chamber pressure because there were no actual lab tests conducted. I use a software package called "QuickLOAD" that will predict chamber pressure with reasonable accuracy but I would never trust it as a source for reloading. My loads all come from a reputable reloading manual ... if a load isn't listed, I don't use it.

As I stated before, the thickness of the metal in the cylinder is just one of many properties of how well it deals with chamber pressure. You can't predict which gun is stronger or if a specific gun will hold up to those heavy loads. As an example, a cylinder on one gun may be thicker than another but because a different alloy was used, the thinner cylinder may actually be stronger. You can make a fairly safe assumption ... if you stay within the SAAMI limits your gun was designed for, it will last a long time and be safe.

If you look at the Energy and Momentum charts, http://rugerforum.net/showthread.php?t=7566 you'll see the 44 Special (with factory ammo) is an excellent self defense cartridge. The 44 Special's momentum rates right in the middle of the desired zone between 20 and 30 lb-f/s. You can't get much better than that! I see absolutely no reason to push this cartridge any hotter. To quote a line from the Speer reloading manual "If you want more power, buy a bigger gun". Maybe a Mod 629 would serve your needs better. Just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
In my younger days, I ruined a perfectly good S&W Mod 19 with hot loads ... Brian Pearce, John Taffin, and John Linebaugh are in a different world. They like pushing the limits, especially with 45 Colts and 44 Specials.
As I stated before, the thickness of the metal in the cylinder is just one of many properties of how well it deals with chamber pressure. You can't predict which gun is stronger or if a specific gun will hold up to those heavy loads. You can make a fairly safe assumption ... Maybe a Mod 629 would serve your needs better. Just my opinion.
Good morning, Iowegan. In my younger days, I stretched an as-new 1950 Target, .44 Special, with 225 grain and 240 grain Speer half-jacket loads that would make Elmer cry. I learned a good bit about pressure signs in the process, but paid a dear price.
I guess I've got a bit of experimenter in me, as we know the guns that gave rise to the SAAMI-recommended pressure levels. We know that those SAAMI levels belong right where they are due to many of those old guns still on the market and in use.
We have a fair idea that the guns and steels we're using today are the product of many good engineers, chemists, metallurgists, physicists...and just plain shooters. And we are aware of the various improvements in frame and cylinder design made by Ruger, Smith, Freedom Arms over the years that safely allow pressure levels in modern weapons that were unheard of years ago.
I allow myself to project a bit of new technology to massage those SAAMI levels in particular guns of my choice...after careful consideration of the various physical parameters of each gun.
I would never push SAAMI for .357 Mag or .44 Mags; I shoot my Redhawk and my model 29 @ 1100 fps.
I DO push SAAMI for .45 Colt in my Rugers and Smiths, as do many reloaders. And I will push .44 Special SAAMI loadings a bit, but only AFTER careful consideration and learning and reading everything I can get my hands on concerning any particular weapon. And there are those folks, whom we've talked about, who have been leading the way. Perhaps it is time for powder companies to have a special section reserved for Ruger, Freedom Arms, Contender, Smith L and N frames for the .44 Special in a manner similar to what exists now, @ Hodgdon.com for the .45 Colt.
I'm interested in progress, but wary. I'll be 71 tomorrow so I'm slow to act, but not stupid. And I love every second of it, as I'm sure you do also.
And I thank you again for your fine input and contributions.
Sonnytoo
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
I doubt you would have made old Elmer cry...I've read in the past that he pushed 24 grns of 2400 behind a 240 grain bullet, in a .44 Special. YIKES!!! Now that's asking for it.
Perhaps you're right...but I came real close. I keep trying to forget..(that was in 1959). I stretched my 1950 Target into junk. And I did my share of pounding the cases out of the cylinder. Darned good engineers...those Smith boys.
:) Sonnytoo
 

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Sonnytoo, First ... best wishes on your birthday! I totally agree ... modern metallurgy coupled with good engineering has resulted in stronger guns which makes some of the SAAMI standards a bit "dated". Despite this, I still contend staying within SAAMI limits is a good thing. My reloading goals have concentrated more on accuracy than raw power.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Sonnytoo, First ... best wishes on your birthday! I totally agree ... modern metallurgy coupled with good engineering has resulted in stronger guns which makes some of the SAAMI standards a bit "dated". Despite this, I still contend staying within SAAMI limits is a good thing. My reloading goals have concentrated more on accuracy than raw power.
Thank you, sir. We don't disagree in general.
My accuracy has, to a significant degree, deteriorated with the oncoming cataracts and muscle weakness. Shooting with Harry Reeves in Bullseye is a fond distant memory. Now I just figure...if I can't hit 'em, I'll run 'em off with muzzle blast.
:) Sonnytoo
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Pushing the velocity envelope no longer interests me.
Me neither. I don't expect go over about 1050 fps, and that's just five or ten rounds. But in terms of accuracy, I usually just shoot offhand, Weaver stance, @ 10 yds or so. I can't see well @ 25 yds. Maybe a new year will get rid of my cataracts. I miss that shooting for accuracy with new loads @ 25 yds, even if it is on the bench.
Sonnytoo
 

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Sonnytoo - you might consider giving John Linebaugh or Hamilton Bowen a call regarding your interest in assessing cylinder strength and such. Both will answer the phone numbers listed in their websites. I recently called John regarding similar questions comparing the "New Vaquero" to the "Old Vaquero", strength-wise and got what I consider to be high quality information. Others, such as Ross Seyfried, Brian Pierce, and John Taffin have done a lot of work with .44 Special and have authored many articles and such. These very knowledgable and experienced gentlemen would certainly also be great references but harder to get in contact with than John or Hamilton. Cheers and good day!
 
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