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  #1  
Old 12-17-2007, 02:09 PM
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45 Colt and 44 Magnum compared? (4" v 6")


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I've seen people on these forums say that the extra 2" can mean a 20% increase in power for a 44 Magnum. But with a 45 Colt, the difference in barrel length is negligible. But I want to find out for sure, so who can help me answer the following questions?

When using a full power 44 Magnum load (approx 1550fps or so), what is the velocity/ftlbs difference between a 4" barrel and a 6" barrel? This is purely an academic exercise as I already own a 6.5" Taurus Raging Bull. I'm just curious.

Although I do shoot a lot of 44 Special out of it and if I had to make a decision I would probably choose a 4" barrel for the Special.

When using a full power 45 Colt (standard pressure at approx 950fps) what is the difference between the 4.5", 5.5", and the 7.5" barrel? Where is the greatest jump in power or are they all negligible in difference (~50fps).

Last edited by Army GI; 12-17-2007 at 02:13 PM.
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:36 PM
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The load I shot out of my 7.5 inch Super Redhawk chronographed at 1350 fps with a hardcast Kieth style gas check 255 grain bullet cast out of a Lee mold and sized to .430

The same load chronographed at 1250 fps out of my 5.5 inch Redhawk. This isn't a 4 inch to six inch comparison, but it is a two inch difference. I don't know what the energy figures on these loads were, but both killed deer and black bear very well and recoil was very tolerable.

I now carry and shoot a Taurus stainless Tracker four inch 41 magnum that is ported and I wouldn't be a bit afraid of popping a deer or black bear with the 210 grain cast I shoot out if it.

I don't know if that helps you any, but in my experience I wouldn't feel undergunned with a four inch 44 mag or 45 long colt revolver if I could shoot it accurately enough to hit game out to a hundred yards with. My old hunting partner carries a Ruger 45 Colt single action with the 4 5/8 inch barrel and feels comfortable with it. Problem with any of the long barrel big guns is you've darned near got to carry them in a shoulder holster instead of a belt holster. My 41 weighs 34 ounces and is a joy to carry though a handful to shoot with full power loads.
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  #3  
Old 12-18-2007, 06:11 AM
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The velocity difference is totally unpredictable. You might have a 4" gun that's 100 fps slower, 50 fps slower, shoots the same or is FASTER than the 6" gun. Honest.

Truly, no two guns are the same.
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  #4  
Old 12-18-2007, 12:18 PM
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I've seen exactly what you describe Rocky. It just depends on how tight and how slick the bore is. When we firelapped my buddy's Ruger 45 Blackhawk bullet speed came up near a hundred fps in his 4 5/8 inch barrel. Same happened with both my Redhawk 44 magnums. I haven't firelapped my 41 Tracker, but that's on the list of things to do as soon as I can afford some lapping bullets from Marshall.

The accuracy also increased in my friends 45 and in both the 44's I've done. What a great system that firelapping kit is.
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  #5  
Old 12-18-2007, 03:24 PM
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I understand that some shorter guns can be faster than longer guns based on a multitude of reasons.

But for the sake of argument, let's just say they're too consecutive revolvers made one right after the other on the same CNC machine.

For the 45 Colt we're looking at a full BP charge under a 250gr LRN bullet (usually about 950fps out of a 7.5" barrel).

For the 44 Magnum, we're looking at a 240gr OEM SP bullet at 1600 fps.
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  #6  
Old 12-19-2007, 10:59 AM
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With the BP loads in the 45 LC you'd probably see quite a difference! From my experience BP favors long barrels! Switch to Smokeless powder and you'll see less deviation between the barrel lengths as all the work is done in a short distance with smokeless powder.
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  #7  
Old 12-19-2007, 07:04 PM
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barrel to cylinder gap smooth bore ruff bore all make a difference. 20% 2inchs of barrel I don't think so thats over 250 fps more on full blown 44 mag loads.45 colt loads in a strong revolver will hold their own to a 44 mag if you load your own.
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  #8  
Old 12-19-2007, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocky Raab View Post
The velocity difference is totally unpredictable. You might have a 4" gun that's 100 fps slower, 50 fps slower, shoots the same or is FASTER than the 6" gun. Honest.

Truly, no two guns are the same.

Exactly, my buddy has an identical 6" GP100 and our velocities are the same with 125 grain bullets, but his gun shoots 158s & 180s 100-125 fps faster than my gun, consistently.
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  #9  
Old 12-20-2007, 03:15 AM
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The difference between my two 629s, 4" and 6 1/2" is about 100 fps. with the highest intensity loads. The less intense the load, the less difference. That is also for that particular two and a half inches of barrel between 4 and 6 1/2 inches. The difference between 5 and 7 1/2 inches will produce a different result with the same load.

Last edited by Youper; 12-20-2007 at 03:34 AM.
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  #10  
Old 12-20-2007, 03:12 PM
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MY SBH 5.5" gives me an honest 1260fps with 300gr cast performance and 21 grains of H110. It's short enough to pack around and long enough for a decent sighting radius for over 50 eyes. I'm sure thats more than enough thump for any critter I might run into in the woods.
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  #11  
Old 12-26-2007, 05:46 PM
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Well, it looks like the New 45 Colt Hi-Power Ruger is going to put a 44Mag to-bed...<:-))

http://gunblast.com/Ruger-Redhawk45.htm
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  #12  
Old 12-29-2007, 04:27 PM
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I am not impressed with his groups at 25 yd's from a Ransom rest.
Ream that cylinder to the proper dimensions and I could cut those groups in half or better at 50 yd's from sandbags.
Looks like Ruger is still making those throats too small. I will never understand why they do that only with the .45??????
The .45 is a super caliber and deadly accurate, why do they handicap it?
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  #13  
Old 12-29-2007, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bfrshooter View Post
. . . I will never understand why they do that only with the .45??????. . .
They don't. I have a standard RH that makes holes from all but one chamber that touch at 50 yards. And it would even do that with the old white box American Eagle 240 grain soft point .44 Mag ammo. The one chamber opens the group an inch, but that still isn't bad. A few years after I got that gun, a friend bought the identical gun and it wouldn't hold 12" at 50 yards. We sent it Ruger with the accuracy complaint and description of how the two guns compared. Five weeks later, it came back with a note from the shop saying they had reamed the cylinders. They did that and refinished it at no charge. And, bingo! No more gross groups.

So, I guess what throats you get depend on what day of the week the gun was made? Ruger is willing to fix them if you are dissatisfied.
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  #14  
Old 01-01-2008, 05:29 PM
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This article will partly answer your question as it looks at the difference of 45 colt and 44 mags using heavy bullets. Linebuagh states the 45 will get equal velocities in a 5.5 inch barrel at the same PRESSURE as a 44 in a 10 inch barrel. Its a good read:

http://www.customsixguns.com/writing...ht_bullets.htm

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  #15  
Old 01-01-2008, 06:42 PM
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The main advantage to 44 Mag is that all 44 Mag guns are built to handle all 44 Mag loads, and all the stuff on the shelf is loaded up to good performing specifications. 45 Colt is nice if you reload or happen to own a Ruger, Freedom Arms, or Thompson/Center and can afford to buy outrageously priced custom built ammo.
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  #16  
Old 01-02-2008, 12:29 PM
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just a guess, wonder that max loads use slower burning powders so the longer barrel gets more increse in fps, than faster burning powders where burn happens sooner.
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  #17  
Old 01-06-2008, 07:03 AM
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Unclenick, thanks for the heads up, I have never had a .44 with tight throats from Ruger, most are too large so I didn't know they actually made some too small. I have never read about it before either.
I have both the .44 and .45 and love them so this is a hard discussion about barrel length for me because I like long barrels for primary hunting guns.
The only thing that would concern me with a real short barrel is if a slow powder would all burn in it. So if you want to compare velocities, powder also enters into it. If I had a short barrel I would use a little faster powder and the difference would be less.
I don't think it matters that much because I feel it is more important how accurate the load is, how the gun feels to you and how well you can shoot it.
My biggest reason for liking long barrels for hunting is not the velocity but the gun holds easier and steadier for me and the muzzle blast is farther away.
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:32 PM
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To me a big plus for a long barrel is just sight radius, assuming iron sights. It also true that added weight cuts down on small vibrations, which is why even .22 rimfire target barrels are heavy weights. What you give up is speed of pointability.

Short barrels, if they get short enough, can indeed ruin any chance of getting good results from a slower powder. We had a thread on .38 snubbies awhile back that showed some absolutely terrible extreme spread in velocity. Something like 150 fps. It's bad enough to see that in a rifle, but when your talking about a round that is in the 600 fps range to begin with, you are seeing 1.8:1 differences in muzzle energy from one shot to the next. Yikes. Small charges of extremely fast powder (Clays, VVN310) could only safely achieve peak velocity of 575 fps, but at least it stayed there.

The problem I had with Linebaugh's article is an underlying false assumption in his assertion that, "Whatever the .44 Magnum will do, the .45 Colt will do with roughly 1/2 the barrel length, pressures being nearly identical". His illustration assumes the terminal ballistics of the same-weight bullets in these two chamberings will be identical. They won't, quite. The bullets will have 10% difference in sectional density, which will mean roughly 10% loss of penetration from the .45 when velocities and bullet construction are matched. The difference probably isn't noticeable in most practical situations, but I mean to point out the internal ballistic advantage he claims for the .45 didn't come free of any trade-off. In this case he exchanges a hole with 10% more area for one that was 10% deeper.

The one thing that will be identical about those holes is their volume. Linebaugh claims the .45 does this with a shorter barrel, but he actually pays for that with more powder. If you cut the charge in the .45 down to the .44 charge levels, then you actually have to extend the .45 barrel beyond 10" to bring the velocity back up. H110 doesn't burn efficiently at the lower pressure the reduced load produces, so there goes the efficiency advantage.

It is instructive to have same-sectional density bullets of the same construction compared. If these are brought up to the same velocity, then the penetration will match and the .45 will yield the full advantage of its larger hole. To match SD's, the .45 bullets would have to be 275 grains, against 250 grains in the .44, and 350 grains against 318 grains in the .44. They would be 10% longer, so the powder charge would no longer have as much room, and would be burning against greater bullet mass inertial resistance (Newton's equal and opposite reaction force), which raises burning rate and pressure. The .45 powder charges would therefore have to be reduced a few grains to hold pressure down to 40,000 PSI. With less powder pushing a heavier bullet, the barrel length then has to come out to right about 10" to match the .44 Magnum velocities. There goes the shorter barrel.

So, to my thinking, when you compare apples to apples or oranges to oranges, the tests have proved bigger cases hold more powder, which, in turn, can put more total energy into each round, making bigger cartridges more powerful. For same gun ruggedness, the shooter pays for that extra power with more weapon and ammo weight and recoil to control. I seem to recall this also turns out to be true comparing the .44 Magnum to the .357 Magnum? OK. So call me a curmudgeon, but I thought we knew this already?
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Last edited by unclenick; 01-06-2008 at 02:36 PM.
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  #19  
Old 01-06-2008, 03:57 PM
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In't it mostly true using non-expanding flat bullets that meplat width determines penetration to a very large degree? In other words a 300 grain 45 colt with a .300 meplat will out-penetrate a 300 grain 44 bullet with a .340 meplate even though the .44 has a higher sectional density.

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Old 01-06-2008, 05:02 PM
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UncleNick, don't assume that the higher SD bullet will out penetrate the lower SD bullet even of like construction. At the Linsbaugh Seminar in Jackson, Miss. last year I saw with my own eyes lower SD bullet out penetrate higher SD bullets. Example the 425 grain hard cast flat point shot from the 500 JRH out penetrated the 420 grain hard cast flat point from the 475 Linebaugh. The 500 JRH Meplat is 78& of body diameter and the 535 grain 500 Linebaugh is 77% and the 420 from the 475 is 74% and the 500 grain 500 Linebaugh os 72% and the bullets penetrated in decending order of meplat diamenter


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