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.44 Special vs .44 Special Cowboy

rhmc24rhmc24 Member Posts: 1,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
I was shooting .44 Special Cowboy 24 grain in my .44 Triple Lock today. Sounded like a .38 and hardly any buck. Anyone know how much the Cowboy is downloaded compared to the standard .44 Special? I'm thinking of reaming one of my old S&W DA breakdowns to take the Special. .44 Russian is hard to find hereabouts. Any comments appreciated.

Comments

  • rhmc24rhmc24 Member Posts: 1,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Winchester's 2007 Product Guide that has all their ammo info gives the .44 Spec and the .44 Cowboy almost the same performance, within 5 grains bullet weight difference and 5 fps velocity. The question comes to mind, with so close to the same, why bother? Why would the ammo maker offer such a small difference? Why would a shooter choose one over the other?

    My limited knowledge about cowboy loadings has it that they exist to be gentler and safe for our older guns. I have the unconfirmed notion that the cowboy loading is designed to give a softer launch to the projectile and just happens to almost have the same performance specs. But is it really any different safety-wise?

    Does anyone have the real skinny on this? Or should anyone care?
    Thanks for reading this far.

    PS I have been shooting both in my S&W 1st Model DA and the only difference I notice is the .44 Special burns a little cleaner.
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    If you want to preserve authenticity of your revolver, trim 44 special or magnum cases down to Russian size-no big deal and handload with 200 grain bullets in front of 5gr Bullseye. It's very cheap shooting of a very easily loaded cartridge.
    Otherwise rechamber the DA topbreaks to 44 Spl. but only use the light loads.
    I once borrowed a Spanish copy of a S&W top break in 44-40 to chronograph some black powder loads. The gun started off in as new condition but after six or so full black powder loads, the gun loosened up dangerously.
    The triplelock was a favorite of Elmer Keith who shot some real high powered loads out of it.
  • rhmc24rhmc24 Member Posts: 1,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I have too many irons in the fire to get into reloading. I can make a nice chamber shoulder reamer in less time than to rework and load 100 rounds.

    I have several old S&W 44s from 1881 to 1915. One is too nice to shoot. I have 2 TLs one first days of production and the other at the end. I shoot the later one. Same for the DAs. I assume the cowboy 44-40 ammo is also downloaded the same as the other cowboy near squib-level loadings. I wouldn't want to set off any 44-40 rifle rounds in my old pieces. As a kid I didn't know the difference and did that with 38-40s in my old SAA and my ears rang for weeks. Apparently didn't hurt the gun which I traded off level. Those were the 1930s and a good SAA went for $5 or so in those days. Those Spanish S&W DA copies were advertized in J.L.Galef's flyer ("Galef's Go-Getters" it was called) for $4.50 in the '30s.

    Been there, Done that!
  • rhmc24rhmc24 Member Posts: 1,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I got the answer, in case anyone else is interested. It is from a 2007 Winchester publication about their ammunition - a freebie at the local gunshop.

    Cowboy 44 Special 240grs, 750 fps-- Standard 44 Spl 246grs, 755 fps

    Cowboy 45 Colt 250grs, 750 fps-- Standard 45 Colt 255grs, 860 fps

    Cowboy 44-40 225grs, 750 fps-- There is no Winchester 44-40 handgun round, only rifle 200 grs, 1190 fps.

    My conclusion: not a lot of difference in the Cowboy and Standard rounds for the 44 Spec and 45 Colt but the 44-40 rifle round is much hotter and bad news to use in our old guns.
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    I don't agree with your 44-40 premise.
    The velocity you quote is ,I'm sure, rifle velocity which is the same as for the original black powder loads.
    Out of a revolver you should see a bit less than 1000fps.Ammo makers
    stopped making high speed rifle loads for 32-20, 38-40 and 44-40 many years ago and all their loads are safe in old rifles and handguns because they're all black powder equivalent loads.
    I agree the std factory loads for 38-40 and 44-40 while still having black powder velocities, also unnecessarily have jacketed soft points which are not good for a lot of shooting through original soft rifle and revolver barrels.
    Cowboy bullets, I believe are all soft lead.
    I'm surprised at the quoted 44spl velocity. It sounds like the original standard load and not a reduced cowboy load.
  • rhmc24rhmc24 Member Posts: 1,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    As I said, "My conclusion" and here's more of it. Qustion: is there such a thing as a continued conclusion? An oxymoron? Anyhow: It seemed strange that all three rounds have the same velocity. With the Cowboy .44 Spec and .45 Colt being so close to the Standard, why bother with the designated Cowboy loading? I noticed a dirtier residue, black, from the Cowboy than I get with normal smokeless rounds. As you say, these old rounds are now performance limited in the first place to protect our old guns. The Winchester info didn't mention anyting about pressures which leaves me wondering about initial ignition in the 44-40 rifle load. No doubt a propellant is selected that has a progressive pressure build up for perfornance in a barrel of rifle length. My "premise" may not stand up in practice but I won't be trying it out the 44-40 rifle load in my old guns.
  • rhmc24rhmc24 Member Posts: 1,984 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I made the reamer and now I can shoot .44 Specals.
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