You are Unregistered, please register to use all of the features of!    

Firearm & Gun Forum - > Handguns > Revolver Handguns >

The origin of the .44 Special

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-13-2008, 02:09 PM   #1
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 869
Liked 333 Times on 198 Posts
Likes Given: 23

Default The origin of the .44 Special

I was reading an article about handloading the .44 Special last night, and the writer questioned whether the .44 Special was ever a blackpowder round, having been introduced in 1906~1907. His comment was that smokeless powder handgun rounds were already in production by then.

From such authorities as White & Munhall and Gen. Julian Hatcher, we learn that the .44 Special was a lengthened .44 Russian round, to hold three more grains of blackpowder, to boost performance. Blackpowder in 1906?

Bear in mind that smokeless powder did not work well in revolvers of the day. Unlike other arms, the cartridge case head is not rigidly supported by a breech block in a revoolver. Clearance must be allowed between the case head and standing breech to permit free rotation of the cylinder. Otherwise, binding occurs. This was further complicated by the extra allowance for blackpowder fouling. When original blackpowder cartridges were loaded with smokeless powder, the extra quick high pressure generated slammed the case back against the standing breech, tying up rotation.

So, for awhile at least, REVOLVER cartridges continued to be designed around blackpowder. As an interim, semi-smokeless powders were developed to produce less flash and smoke and fouling than blackpowder, but less pressure than smokeless powder. Not until about the beginning of WW I did smokeless powder become universal.

Examine old cartridges, paying attention to the primers. Copper primers indicated the round is loaded with blackpowder, brass primers indicate semi-smokeless (Les Smoke, for example) powder, while nickel plated indicate smokeless. This holds true for old rounds, as the current standards abandon this practice. The lack of a groove ahead of the rim will indicate an older round.

The .44 Special made its debut in the Smith & Wesson New Century, or Triple Lock revolver.

Bob Wright

Last edited by Bob Wright; 06-13-2008 at 02:11 PM. Reason: Correct atrocious spelling
Bob Wright is offline  
Reply With Quote

Join Today - It's Free!

Are you a firearms enthusiast? Then we hope you will join the community. You will gain access to post, create threads, private message, upload images, join groups and more.

Firearms Talk is owned and operated by fellow firearms enthusiasts. We strive to offer a non-commercial community to learn and share information.

Join Today! - Click Here


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Firearms Forum Replies Last Post
38 special ctg unclesloppy Revolver Handguns 10 11-21-2009 03:09 AM
Nabojov Ostrych origin ? Should I use it ? b44106 Ammunition & Reloading 1 04-04-2009 01:36 AM
Well Now! Ain't this special. Kelly J Politics, Religion and Controversy 2 11-26-2008 03:06 AM
500 Special? Huntress Revolver Handguns 1 05-26-2007 02:21 AM