Posts Tagged ‘44 Special’

Versatile Powders: W231 Load Data

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013
Winchester W231 and Hodgdon HP-38 are examples of highly versatile powders - Image copyright 2013 Ultimate Reloader

Winchester W231 and Hodgdon HP-38 are examples of highly versatile powders – Image copyright 2013 Ultimate Reloader

Being able to use a single powder for multiple applications is a great benefit. This standardization can allow you to keep your powder measure loaded with the same powder, make bulk powder purchases more equitable, and generally make your life easier. One great example for pistol loaders is Winchester W231 and Hodgdon HP-38 (the same powder branded differently). I have used this powder for many different cartridges and load levels- it meters great, is super-versatile, and is a great bulk-buy in 8 lb canisters.

To show you just how versatile this powder is, I wanted to share some load data with you all for some of my “standard loads” (non-magnum).

Note: This load data is for reference only. Always cross-reference with manufacturer’s load data. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors or possible issues you may have when using this load data. Use at your own risk.

W231 standard loads

Did you notice something about this load data? All of these loads use the same exact charge weight! So I can actually change over cartridges and not even have to mess with the powder measure! This brings a whole new meaning to “standard loads”. This kind of “Sweet setup” may or may not work out for you- you’ll have to make sure your autoloaders are “happy” with the bullet weights and charge weights used, but in my experience these loads work really well.

One powder, 4 different cartridges, and one charge weight. That’s handy! I just hope I don’t run out of W231/HP-38. :)

Have you guys found good powders other than W231 and HP-38 that you can use in multiple applications? Please share!


Range Report – 44 Special Hard Cast in the Smith and Wesson 629

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

I get a lot of satisfaction out of shooting “bullseye” style when I go to the range. It’s a lot of fun to put in practice time, and to see that practice time (whether dry firing at home, or range time) translate to smaller and smaller groups. It’s also rewarding to spend time with a particular gun, and to hone in your skills with that particular weapon.

Smith and Wesson Model 629 (Author's Hiking Carry Gun) - Image Copyright 2011 Ultimate Reloader

One of my favorite guns to shoot is my 4″ Smith and Wesson 629 44 Magnum. In addition to being a go-to range gun it’s what I choose to carry while hiking in the North Cascades near where I live. If I encounter a bear, I want to have something more effective than pepper spray, or my acting skills (play dead and they’ll walk away??). This a very versatile gun, and I love the fact that I can shoot full house 44 Magnum loads with it, and also 44 Special loads (in 44 Magnum brass) for all-day shooting fun.

Today I went shooting with this gun and had great results with one of my favorite loads for this gun. I shot some full-house 44 magnum loads, and then proceeded to shoot several groups with 44 special loads using hard-cast 240 grain bullets. Semi-wadcutters are great at the range because they punch nice big and clean holes in the paper that are easy to see.

Here’s one of my best groups of the day – shooting off hand (two hand hold) at a distance of 30′


I really like the loads used here. Kind of a medium 44-special, but with some kick (not the super-mild variety).

Here’s the load specifics: (use load data at your own risk, always cross-reference load data against manufacturer’s published data)

Bullet: Tru-Cast 240 grain Semi-Wadcutter hard cast bullets
Brass: Starline 44 Magnum
Powder: Winchester 231
Powder Charge: 5.2 grains
Primer: Wolf Large Pistol

Tru-Cast bullets have proven to be a great value ($50/500 for these at the time of this writing) – and have performed very well – with minimal leading in a good gun. Give them a try and see what you think!

**Edit: I was just informed that Jim is not selling bullets at this time. :( I’ll let you all know if he re-opens his bullet company. Thanks.

Another good trip to the range! Hope you all are getting in some range time… Happy shooting!



Dillon XL-650 Quick Switch Kit – Magnum/Special

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

As tinkering guys, we are always looking to make our machinery smoother, faster, better, and more efficient. If there’s a way to squeeze more out of our equipment, chances are one of us will think of a way to make that happen! One of these tinkerers is Doug Williams. Doug is a big fan of Dillon reloading equipment, and he had a thought- what if I could use the same toolhead for both my “Special” loads, and my “Magnum” loads (38/357 or 44spl/44mag). Setting up dies is enjoyable the first time, but not so enjoyable when switching between special loads and magnum loads.

Doug has devised a special set of toolheads for Dillon reloading machines (currently for the 550b and the XL-650) that feature a flippable spacer that adjusts the height of the toolhead in the press to compensate for the difference in case length between the special brass and the magnum brass for 44 and 38/357. That way you can keep your dies, powder measure, and powder checker die in one toolhead, and use them for both special and magnum brass. A great idea!

XL-650 quick switch kit contents - Image Copyright 2011 Ultimate Reloader

The above picture shows what you get with the kit. In the box are instructions and info, the CNC machined toolhead (which is VERY nicely machined!), and the flippable spacer.

Here’s a closeup of the toolhead and spacer:

XL-650 quick switch toolhead closeup - Image copyright 2011 Ultimate Reloader

I love to see people innovating in their reloading rooms, and after using the adjustable toolhead, I think it’s a great product. I used it for 38 Special to 357 Magnum switchover, and put together an HD video for you all showing it in use:

If you are interested in ordering this product, here is the information you’ll need, from Doug:

I keep a 550B version ($50) and a 650 version ($55) listed on ebay or will sell direct with contact through email and payment through paypal. Shipping for one or two toolheads to any US address is $5 and most international addresses is $14.

Do you have experience with this kit, or other Dillon “aftermarket” gear? Please leave a comment!


Poll: What handgun cartridge do you reload most often?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

I know a lot of us reload a lot of different calibers, but I thought it would be interesting to find out what calibers folks are reloading most often (I’ll do another poll for rifle cartridges). Don’t see your most frequently loaded handgun cartridge? Please leave a comment!

What handgun cartridge do you reload most?

View Results

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