44 Magnum Ballistics

44 magnum ballistics testing with revolver and chronograph at a shooting range

An in-depth look at 44 Magnum ballistics including a ballistic chart with velocity, energy and bullet drop data.

44 Magnum is a massive man stopper when fired from a revolver. Heck, it’s even big enough to bring down a whitetail or even an elephant. The 44 Magnum is popular for good reason. But what is the cartridge capable of ballistically? This article will give you a good understanding of 44 Magnum ballistics. We’ll look at velocity, energy, and drop data for popular commercially available loads.

  • As one of the most powerful handgun rounds in the world, the 44 Magnum is beloved by shooters who prefer to fire one shot and be done with it.
  • A vastly more powerful version of its predecessor, the average 44 Magnum load delivers more energy at 150 yards than the 44 Special can at the muzzle.
  • The 44 Magnum’s typical bullet is comparable in weight to that a 45 ACP. Its muzzle velocity is several hundred fps faster, however, giving it a far flatter trajectory and absolutely crushing energy downrange.
  • The 44 Magnum is more than adequate for hunting medium-sized game, and will even pass through a quarry as substantial as a bison when equipped with a non-expanding hard cast bullet. Elephants have been taken with 44 Magnum firearms!

44 Magnum Ballistics Chart

Barrel LengthMuzzle25 yds.50 yds.75 yds.100 yds.Muzzle25 yds.50 yds.75 yds.100 yds.Muzzle25 yds.50 yds.75 yds.100 yds.G1G7Sect. Density
Remington HTP - 240 Gr JHP7.511807410.186
Remington - 180 Gr. JSP41610148213661036878745
Remington HTP - 240 Gr. SP7.511807420.186
Fiocchi - 200 Gr. SJHP8.275147513121178966764617-0.52-2.160.17
Federal Hydra-Shok - 240 Gr. JHP412101152110210601024780707647599559-0-0.7-3.3-7.70.1750.186
Fiocchi - 240 Gr. JSP8.275131011511042914706579-0.66-0.2770.186
Hornady XTP - 200 Gr. JHP7.515001413133212591194999886788704634-0-1.1-3.4-
Hornady XTP - 300 Gr. JHP7.511501114108310551030881828781742706-0-1.7-5.3-10.90.2450.232
PMC - 180 Gr. JHP7.51750165615671485140212251096981881786-0.40-2-5.80.1850.14
Black Hills - 240 Gr. JHP7.512608460.186
Magtech - 240 Gr. FMJ411801128108310451013742678626583547-0-1.7-5.3-10.80.1780.186
Black Hills - 300 Gr. JHP7.511508810.232
Federal Vital Shok - 225 Gr. HP412801209114710961052818730658600553-0-0.6-2.8-6.90.1640.175

Origins of 44 Magnum

Hornady 44 Magnum ammo

The 44 Special debuted in 1907 and became a favorite medium for handloaders in subsequent decades. Elmer Keith, a writer, outdoorsman, and one of the most prolific handloaders who ever lived, had a certain fondness for loading cartridges far beyond their commonly accepted limits. He experimented with the 44 Special extensively. (Keith destroyed more than one revolver in this fashion.)

Keith put Keith-sized charges of propellant in 44 Special casings and seated them with heavy-for-caliber bullets. (He favored the 44 Special casing over that of the 45 Long Colt for its greater wall thickness, as well as its narrower diameter that is conducive to revolvers with thicker cylinder walls.) A beloved figure in the shooting world, Keith didn’t have to petition firearm manufacturers very hard to get them to start producing revolvers chambered for his new round — the 44 Magnum.

Mass Produced 44 Magnum

The 44 Magnum went into commercial production in 1955, and quickly became a big hit. While more potent handgun cartridges have since become available, the 44 Magnum’s indisputable stopping power has given it considerable staying power. Its one of the few rounds that even someone who is clueless about firearms is likely to know by name.

The 44 Magnum offers projectiles ranging in weight from 180 to 340 grains. A typical 240 grain load delivers a 1,180 fps muzzle velocity for a staggering 742 ft lbs of muzzle energy. That’s well over triple what is considered the acceptable minimum for self-defense. The 44 Magnum couples such awesome energy with great accuracy. A competent shooter can group shots in a 4” target at 50 yards. Bullet drop is nearly negligible at that range.

Its heavy bullet and fast muzzle velocity are also the reason for the 44 Magnum’s chief shortcoming: its recoil. A 44 Magnum revolver’s kick is so jarring that only the handsomest San Francisco cops would consider using it as their duty weapon, as it makes fast and accurate follow-up shots nearly impossible. Furthermore, the 44 Magnum’s hearty muzzle blast produces more than enough light to rob its shooter of their night vision.

Other 44 Mag Attributes

  • The 44 Magnum possesses an 0.125” longer casing than the 44 Special, but not to accommodate a larger charge of propellant. Rather, it is to prevent shooters from loading 44 Magnum rounds into weapons chambered for 44 Special. That error that could easily prove fatal.
  • Despite what its name suggests, the 44 Magnum’s bullet is actually 0.429” in diameter.
  • While originally developed for revolvers, rifles and semi-automatic handguns chambered for 44 Magnum soon became available.
  • “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 kind of lost track myself. But being that 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 ya, punk?” Dirty Harry delivered his famous monologue in 1971, back when what he said about the 44 Magnum was still true. Since then, the 500 S&W Magnum has become the world’s most powerful handgun cartridge.

44 Magnum Ammo for Sale

AmmunitionToGo.com carries a full line-up of soft point and hollow point 44 Magnum ammo. See our current in-stock offerings for sale by clicking here.

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