44 Magnum

The .44 Magnum is a large bore cartridge that was first introduced in 1956. An accurate, deeply penetrating round, the .44 Mag was originally designed by Elmer Keith, an Idaho rancher, writer, and firearms enthusiast. Keith had previously developed the .357 Mag cartridge and solidified his reputation in the firearms community. Keith set out to create a multi-functional cartridge and convinced Smith & Wesson and Remington Arms Co. to manufacture it for the Smith and Wesson Model 29. Although Remington manufactured the first. 44 Magnum at Keith’s request, S&W is credited with introducing the .44 Mag to the public. Not many people seem to remember that Ruger beat S&W to market by a few months with a .44 Mag version of its single action Blackhawk revolver.

Keith had intended for the .44 to be used for hunting, self-defense, and target shooting. The cartridge is strong and packs a big punch. The .44 is extremely precise, giving the shooter as much as a 90% accuracy rate.  However, the high-pressure causes it to carry a heavy recoil and muzzle flash, making it less than ideal for novice shooters or people of smaller stature. Those that find the .44 Mag a bit too intense may opt for the .44 Special, a slightly smaller cartridge with less recoil. Shooters should experiment using both rounds to find which is best suited to their style and experience. Note that .44 Special cartridges can be fired from guns chambered for a .44 Magnum, but the reverse is not true.

While the .44 Magnum seems to be the perfect bullet for self-defense experts often rebut the choice due to its deep penetration. They claim that the cartridge is too powerful for in-home defense and may cause collateral damage.

It’s important to keep in mind that not all .44 Mag ammo is the same. Some brands and grades are appropriate for self-defense while other, less powerful, grades are more appropriate for target and sports shooting.

Clint Eastwood in "Dirty Harry"

Popularity

The .44 Magnum was selling well in the marketplace until 1971 when Clint Eastwood made his debut as “Dirty” Harry Callahan. Dirty Harry was the lead character in the movie, a hard-boiled San Francisco police detective who would do anything necessary to restore justice to the mean streets of his city.  There is a now legendary scene in which Dirty Harry confronts a wounded bank robber. He delivers the line:

“I know what you’re thinking: ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

After the movie hit the theaters, Eastwood’s devotion to his S&W Model 29 and .44 Mag skyrocketed sales and kept the iconic weapon and cartridge at the top for decades. It’s hard to tell how many thousands have practiced that very line in front of the mirror.

The .44 Mag is no longer the most powerful handgun in the world, but its popularity will live on forever.

Best .44 Mag Self-Defense Ammo

Remington 44 Magnum Ammo

  1. Remington Ammunition: 240 Grain HTP Rounds

Top of the list of the best .44 ammo for self-defense. Available in 240 grain SP and SJHP rounds, this American-made self-defense cartridge is inexpensive, but powerful. It boasts 1180 FPS Muzzle Velocity and 742 ft lbs Muzzle Energy.

Hornady 44 Magnum Ammo

  1. Hornady Ammunition: JHP XTP Load

Highly recommended by seasoned shooters, this American-made self-defense cartridge makes the list for the best .44 self-defense ammo. It’s slightly more expensive than the Remington, but also more powerful. It boasts 1150 FPS Muzzle Velocity.

Fiocchi 44 Magnum Ammo

  1. Fiocchi Ammunition: 240 Grain JSP

Coming in at the same price as the Remington, this foreign-made 240 grain self-defense ammo offers 1838 FPS velocity.

Winchester 44 Magnum Ammo

  1. Winchester Ammunition: Platinum Tip 250 Grain JHP

A bit more expensive than the other brands, Winchester offers this American-made self-defense cartridge with 1250 FPS Muzzle Velocity.

Federal 44 Magnum Ammo

  1. Federal Ammunition: 240 Grain Fusion

This medium-priced American-made Fusion bullet with brass casing delivers 887 ft lbs Muzzle Energy.

 

Best .44 Mag Target Shooting Ammo

 

Magtech 44 Magnum Ammo

  1. Magtech Ammunition: 240 Grain SJSP 

Brazilian-based Magtech offers this SJSP bullet with brass casing, touting 1180 FPS Muzzle Velocity and 742 ft. lbs. Muzzle Energy.

Remember, regardless of which cartridge you choose, nothing takes place of practice. A bullet won’t serve any purpose if it misses its target.

 


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