The .44 Magnum has been called “the most powerful gun on earth” and, at one time, that was true. While other guns have stolen the title from the iconic round, the .44 Mag remains a favorite with handgun hunters and those looking for a solid self-defense ammunition. It hits its target hard and fast, leaving a deep channel in its wake. Novice shooters are intimidated by the .44 Mag and with good reason, its strong muzzle flash and heavy recoil are hard to handle without ample practice.
Elmer Keith designed the .44 Remington Magnum in 1955. The round is commonly known as the .44 Magnum. Keith, an Idaho rancher, writer and firearms enthusiast, had made a name for himself when he created the .357 cartridge. Keith’s goal was to make an all-purpose round to be manufactured by the Remington Arms Co. Remington produced the cartridge but it was slated to be used in the Smith & Wesson Model 29. As such, S&W is usually credited with introducing.44 Mag ammo to the public. However, Ruger introduced its ammo first, attached to their new single-action .44 Magnum Blackhawk.
Keith spent years making custom loads for the .44 Special before he created the .44 Magnum. He based the new ammunition the .44 caliber bullet but used a high-pressure load to ensure that the new ammo could fire a heavy bullet. The bullet made the ammo faster and stronger than anything the public had seen.
Remington created the .44 Mag as ammo for a revolver, however, it can also be used in other guns including lever action rifles, carbines, and semi-automatic pistols.
The.44 Magnum cartridge uses a bullet with 240 grain (gr), has a velocity of 1,350 feet per second (fps), and puts off a muzzle energy of 971 foot pound energy (ft·lbs). The .429-inch lead bullet sits in a straight-walled case that measures 1.285 inches long. The total length of the ammo is 1.61 inches. It uses a large pistol primer. It can be loaded to a max pressure of 36,000 pounds per square inch (psi).
Some shooters revert to the .44 S&W Special, a smaller round with has less recoil. Experts say shooters should test both types of ammo to choose the one with the most comfort. Because of the high pressure of the .44 Mag, it can only be used in guns chambered for the round. It cannot be used in a .44 Special. However, a .44 Special can be shot from a .44 Mag.
Seasoned shooters often disagree regarding the .44 Magnum as a top choice for self-defense purposes. Experts claim that the .44 Mag is too powerful because of the round’s deep penetration. Inexperienced users can easily cause collateral damage or run the risk of shooting innocent parties.
Shooters should know that .44 Magnums aren’t all the same. Some guns can be used for self-defense while other, less powerful weapons are better suited for sports and target shooting.