Why Have a .44 Special Handgun?


It is quite interesting to note that within the past couple of years several handgun manufacturers have brought out revolvers chambered for the .44 Special. Of course, these are revolvers, several models of single action types, but also some double action wheel guns as well.  So, why the .44 Special and why should you bother having one?

The .44 Special for certain is an old design, outdated, and mostly relegated to the collector’s safes, right? Introduced in 1907 even before WWI, the .44 Special was originally a black powder load developed to replace the even older .44 Russian.  Most probably recall the old .44 Special loaded in the famous Colt SAA or Single Action Army.  However, Colt and Smith and Wesson both made several handguns in this chambering.  Some of these old guns can still be found at gun shows and auctions around the country.

But, whoa there partner. The .44 Special is far from dead and gone.  In fact, it has actually been experiencing a fairly steady resurgence over the past few years.  Ruger just recently brought out a new .44 Special in their double action GP100 revolver.  This is a 3-inch barreled handgun in stainless steel and chambers 5 shots.

If you take a little time to scan the history of the .44 Special, you will discover that it has long been considered one of the most accurate handgun cartridges ever developed. It remains so today in a fairly wide selection of factory ammunition.  It might even be odd to think so, but the .44 Special can actually be a pretty darn good self-defense load with 200 grain loads.

The .44 Special is considered a mid-powered .44 in the same way the .38 Special is considered a mid-power cartridge to the .357 Magnum. In fact, the .44 Special lacked the power some earlier handgun enthusiasts like Elmer Keith wanted.  They continued to push the envelope with the .44 Special into what eventually became the .44 Magnum.

Remember too that the .44 Special cartridges can be fired in .44 Magnum handguns in the same manner that .38 Specials can be shot through a .357 Magnum. This in effect turns a .44 Magnum revolver into a sweet shooting lower recoil gun for practice shooting when stepped down to the .44 Specials.

Modern factory loads for the .44 Special utilize 200 grain bullets as jacketed hollow points or lead semi-wadcutter loads. Older fashioned loads used 246 grain lead bullets.  The .44 Special may be 111 years old, but it is still performing.  You should try one.

John J. Woods

Magnolia Outdoor Communications

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