(Shooters Bible Guide to Extreme Iron tip #1) – The .44 S & W Magnum


Having been instrumental in the development of the .357 S & W Magnum, Elmer Keith once again turned the handgun world on it ear by playing a key role in development of the .44 Remington Magnum. His idea for the new cartridge emerged from his experiments with the .44 Smith & Wesson Special, which had been developed in 1907 as a replacement for the then-popular .44 Russian.

Although the earlier offering had a reputation for fine accuracy as a black-powder cartridge, its limited powder capacity was deemed unsuitable for the bulky smokeless powder available then. As a result, the .44 Special was designed with a significantly greater case capacity and stronger cartridge case.

Unfortunately, factory ammo merely duplicated that of the earlier cartridge, so it languished and never achieved much acceptance until it caught Keith’s eye. Taking advantage of the larger and stronger case, Keith began stretching the .44 Special’s pressure boundaries and achieved impressive results.

Armed with his .44 Special test data, Keith approached Smith & Wesson about offering a commercial version of his high-pressure loads along with revolvers chambered for it. Smith & Wesson eventually was persuaded and collaborated with Remington to develop a new cartridge based on the .44 Special.

As with the earlier .357 Magnum, the new cartridge named .44 Remington Magnum, was designed to be slightly longer than the parent round to prevent it being loaded in revolvers chambered for the .44 Special.

The first Smith & Wesson .44 Remington Magnum revolver was built in December 1955 and publicly announced in January 1956. Meanwhile Sturm, Ruger & Co. was not asleep at the switch. After a Ruger employee had found discarded, fired .44 Mag brass, the company did a bit of research and quickly adapted their Blackhawk revolver to the new round and put it into production. As a result, Ruger Blackhawk .44 Magnum revolvers actually reached dealer shelves a few weeks before Smith & Wesson’s new .44.

For the rest of the story of .44 Magnums as well as other hand cannons,purchaseShooter’s Bible Guide to Extreme IronfromGun Tests.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here