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.44 magnum Rifle Loads

16332 Views 21 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  DennyL
I just purchased a Browning LW Traditional Hunter in .44 Magnum. Does anyone have experience or pet loads with these rifles for whitetail deer? Any links to reviews would also be appreciated. It certainly is a pretty rifle. Now if it shoots well too I'll be a very happy camper.
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Hey Rick,

Give some details on your new rifle. I am not familiar at all with that model. My load at present is not a rifle load. It is one I can use in the rifle or the pistol. It may not be adequate for deer but the 240 XTP should be going at least 1200 fps muzzel vel. out of the 1894 so it is hopefully enough for our smaller deer.

I love the 44 mag. and as soon as I get a longer range levergun or single shot round in one of the old long range cartridges I will be really happy. To bad my eyes have gone just when I need to be turning to optics I want to shoot iron.
Hi Chief, thanks for the reply. The rifle is a Browning Light Weight Traditional Hunter. It has a 24" barrel and is a visible hammer single shot. I believe these rifles are copies of the 1885 Winchester Low Wall rifles. I've seen several in .45 colt, but this is the first one I've run across in .44 Magnum. It should arrive in the next week or so.

I also love the caliber and have several .44 Magnum revolvers including a Ruger Super Blackhawk hunter & S&W Mountain Gun and a Marlin 1894 Cowboy II lever action.

I've been shooting 240 gr JSP bullets over 22 gr. Alliant 2400 in the Rugers. They are pretty robust loads, and I've not used them in the S&W. I am not sure how they will perform in the Browning, but I will probably start at or near that load. I don't know the actual velocity in my revolvers, but the Hornady manual indicates about 1300 fps from a 7.5" Ruger. I imagine they'll zip along a bit faster from a 24" barrel.

The intended use for these loads is for whitetail deer. I hunt in southern Louisiana and the brush is pretty thick. Shots seldom exceed 150 yards.

My eyes are also getting a bit older, and I'm using a Marble tang sight on my Marlin lever action. It has adjustments for both windage and elevation. Besides the beautiful wood, the fact that the Browning comes with the same sight strongly influenced my purchase decision. So far, I think I'll be able to get by with that sight instead of a scope. It has made a real difference for me in Cowboy Action Shoots. You might consider one. I got mine from Brownell's and am very pleased with the quality and function.
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Haven't tried this in rifles (yet) but my .44 deer/hog load is a 280gr. WFNGC, 22gr. WW296, Win LP primer, for about 1350fps from a 7.5" Super Blackhawk.

Ought to be wicked in a rifle. Let us know what you come up with.
Oh, good rifle! You'll have fun with that one. The neat thing is you should not have any bullet length or OAL issues with the cartridges revolver and levergun folks have to watch. Good range and plinking gun, too. The sight will be a perfect match to the gun; your eyes and the gun's energy give out at the same place. I'm thinking of adding the same to win 92.

The only limitation may be the cresent butt plate. Heavy loads will take the fun out of it rather quickly. I suggest making up a mess of .44 spl powered loads in the mag cases for practice. Been using 6.5gr HP38 and 240gr Keiths. 21.5grs of IMR4227 fills the mag case and give a mild 1580fps with the 240 SWCs, if you want semi-hot. Both are "traditional" loads. Found best accuracy with full house mag loads, though (a mixed blessing!).

Worked the 300gr BTB loads up to around 1610fps with 21gr H110. My last batch was 21.7grs of H110 behind the BTB 300gr, which I haven't tried yet, is probably max for the '92. Hoping to see about 1685fps or so with that (then I can put them away and shoot the much more fun Special loads). The 265gr should go to around 1740fps, and the 240 SWCs to ~1880fps, or so.

You might be able to go a little bit further with the low wall, but consider this about top end. Start lower, just in case.

Note too that mixing cast and jacketed (for accuracy sake) doesn't usually work out. Jacket fouling grabs lead as it goes by, so you need to clean it out to get best accuracy and no leading. (Marshall's tip.)

Neat rifle; let us know how it shoots!

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I didn't see anyone mention a fiber optic front sight. I have 51 year old eyes that work a lot better with one of these through a peep.
I really don't know what to do. I am in the exact same delima now. I am going to use my pistol load this year but I think next year I will work up a hunting load with H110 or W296 at near top end with a bullet that can handle that velocity. Recoil is a factor for me with pistol accuracy but not a factor of coarse with the rifle.
The Browning arrived today and all I can say is that the picture didn't do it justice. It is too pretty to shoot! Nawwww, but it is some of the nicest wood I've seen on a factory stock.
I'll try it this weekend with my CAS loads (240 gr SWC over 7.4 Gr Win. 231). Based on experience with my Marlin 1894, I'll be close to the bull when I get some factory or hunting loads set up.I'm out of town Wed-Sat. or I'd be off to the range tomorrow!. Will post results guys. Thanks for the ideas and tips!
Hi Rick, I have worked up a few good loads for the 44 mag. I personally like Hornady's HP/XTP 240 gr bullets .430 dia using WW296 at 25 gr average 1650 fps note:Heavy crimp. This is a great Magnum powder or the Golddot 240 gr using ww296 at 25gr both these bullets have great expansion and penetration on Whitetail deer and black bear, also these loads are very accurate. Aim small hit small RAMbo.
44 Mag loads

Hey Rick.

Do you know the twist rate for your rifle? The 44 Mag rifles out today have a wide variation in twist, but all will stabilize the 240 gr bullets. You may need a rate below 1:24 to go to the 300 gr offerings.

I have had great luck moving from the W296 and H110 world for all mag rimmed pistol ctgs by using the new Hodgdon Lil'gun. At about 7 inches bbl length this powder duplicates H110 and W296 velocities, sometimes at a strikingly lower pressure. In your long bbl, it should leave them in the dust.

With the 240s, start at 22.0 grs of Lil'g and work up to a max of 24.5 (Hodgdon 2002). If you have a chronograph, just quit when you get to 1700 fps, and enjoy the lower pressures. Faster won't help one bit at woods ranges in a hunting application.

Also, you can experiment with seating depth, since this is a single shot. It would be good to know the COL where you contact the lands for various bullet weights and types. Lil'gun has none of the ignition problems that are associated with H110 and W296, so don't fuss over the crimp. Keep an eye on the chrono and work up from 22 grs when you increase length. Stop at 1700 fps and enjoy the increased accuracy. A good lead 240 gr might really surprise you!

Good hunting!
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I'm shooting a SuperRedHawk 44 mag 7 1/2 barrel. I hand trickle every load, and chrono everything I work a load up for.
These loads I worked up started from min load to max. looked for the best shooter, seems to be the hot loads for the 44 mag, I consider one inch groups good for hunting, this is at 50 yards, this is also a scoped handgun. I also tried shooting at 100 yards with a shooting stick and hit mark 5 out 6 times, for the most part I would not take a 100 yard shot with my superredhawk, but it can be achieved with a shooting stick or something to stabilize the handgun from wavering. When I chrono I look for very little variances in fps I allow 25 fps at most, If all is done right powder measuring/seating depth/crimping/ is all done the same, accuracy is impeccable, in tern tight groups. just my thoughts. aim small hit small. RAMbo.
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Good information guys. Since I'm going to shoot the loads in both my Super Blackhawk Hunter (7 1/2") and the Low Wall (24"), I'm going to try three different powder weights with Winchester 240 gr JSP. Because I have 2 lbs of Alliant 2400, that will be the starting powder and I'll load 18, 20 and 22 gr and shoot all for accuracy. The 22 gr is the max listed by my manual (Hornady, 3rd Ed.) so I may chicken out and try 16, 18 and 20 instead. The bullets are due any day now and I should be at the range Sunday to try them out. I'll follow up after I shoot them.

My hope is that I'll get satisfactory accuracy in both guns with at least one of the loads. If so, I won't have to separate loadings when I go hunting this fall. The SBH is already sighted in with Winchester 240 gr factory ammo, so I shouldn't have much change there, but the Low Wall is a brand new gun and so far all I've had to shoot is my CAS loads and, I'm sorry to say, I spent over an hour scrubbing lead from the barrel. There's an idea I won't try again. Wow...the season is creeping up on us. I need to get busy.:D
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It's a shame to soil your guns with copper. :( You haven't tried the BTBs.
I don't think shooting Jacketed bullets are bad and don't foul as much as lead, I think lead is much worse in my opinon, Copper is alot easer to clean than a fouled barrel full of lead;) Take out the stainless steal brush:( LOL,Just my thoughts. RAMbo.:D
I hope the Stainless Steel brush remark was a Joke!
if not it's one quick way to ruin a barrel.......... Marko
Jacketed isn't harmful (well, they wear barrels eventually), just unnecessary and more expensive. I didn't believe it either, having shot cheap cast in a 629 after 1000s of jacketed. It looked like a sewer so I gave cast up.

Look around the site and see Marshall's articles (his cast tech book goes more in depth and is highly recommended) on shooting cast. You have to clean all copper out before shooting cast - otherwise it's chore-boy time (another tip on the site for cleaning lead out).

I have a new Brownchester 44 mag, which might have been rifled on the same machine as Rick's, and have only shot lead through it. It will shoot all day and is whistle clean with Beartooth bullets. Cheap, soft bullets (or the powder) do leave junk flakes in the bore, but not real leading. It looks like a dirty shotgun bore. A beartooth or 2 blows it out clean again. I've tried a lot of bullets and beartooth's handmades are incomparable.

Cleanup is better with cast, too. No fussy Foul-outs or caustic copper solvents needed; #9 gets the powder fouling out in 3 swipes and smells good doing it.

There's something about doing it "right," too. Shooting jacketed in a classic design is kinda like adding a scope to it.
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Well guys, the 21.7 grains of Alliant 2400 (my measure wouldn't throw a 22 grain charge without changing out the pistol charge bar and using the rifle charge bar) was the winner today. It was clover-leafing shots at 50 yards. It was too windy for longer range shooting with gusts up to 40 mph. The 18 grain load wasn't bad, but groups were a bit larger than the hotter ones. All loads used a Win. 240 gr JHP (.430) and Win Large pistol primers.

I have a theory that the cast bullet loads I was shooting before just didn't stabilize either due to low speed or rifling depth. In any case, the hotter loads and jacketed bullets seem to work better for me. Got home Sat. afternoon and fly out again tomorrow am. Maybe I can get more data next week.
CharlieZ thanks for the info. I guess we all can learn something new every day if we listen and pay attention;) Take care. RAMbo.
We finally had a shootin' day here in west Texas! Light overcast, low 80s and a 5-10 mph breeze blowing directly on our backs at the range.

The Browning was cloverleafing shots at 100 yards. Nothing I shot all day was out of the bullseye, even when I didn't do my part. Good thing too, my brother told me he was really worried last week because he knew the rifle wouldn't stay in my safe if it didn't shoot better than the groups I got with the cast bullets. The tang sight is wonderful! Older eyes have troubles with focus on close objects and the peep eliminates the problem. Another good thing since I can't imagine glass on the rifle. It just wouldn't look right.

The load it likes is as follows:
Winchester 240 gr JHP (.430) over 21.2 gr Alliant 2400, OAL 1.610, Win. large pistol primer, Win. brass and a roll crimp at the cannelure. I felt the crimp was necessary to help with complete burning and to keep the bullets from backing out of the brass in my Ruger Hunter. I also sighted the Ruger in with the load and was keeping most in the 10 ring at 75 yards. Better groups will come with practice, but as with the Browning, all shots were "minute of deer".

Charlie Z, I appreciate your comments on copper fouling in a nice rifle and am fastidious about cleaning fouling out. I'll try cast again when I can get some better ones to work with. In the meanwhile, deer season is coming up soon and I've a lot of travel between now and then, so I was in a hurry to get a good accurate load worked up. I got some really good tips here on other powders to try also so the work isn't done (Is that the same as saying "the fun isn't over"?)

All in all, thie rifle's a keeper guys. I appreciate all the help on it.
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My only .44 Magnum 'rifle' is a Super16 barrel which I use on my T/C Contender carbine frame. This is a very compact and accurate lashup, not much bigger than a big pistol, but completely legal with the shoulder stock. I use the same load that works so well in my SBH Ruger, namely the 240 Sierra HP or Hornady HP (laid in a BUNCH of these a long time ago, since they shot so well in every gun I used them in...) and IMR 4227 with a standard Winchester LP primer in Winchester cases. I use a HEAVY roll-crimp. These loads are accurate and shoot clean in longer barrels. I don't feature the superheavy bullets that have become so fashionable lately. The 240 will blow through one of our Maine whitetails with ease, and is adequate for bear from a stand. I didn't use anything but the patridge sights that came on the T/C barrel for a while, but later I picked up a compact 1-1/2x 'scope for peanuts and it now sits on the .44 tube. This little 'scope's big field of view and brightness, 'though it's a small tube, gives good definition in the dark woods.
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