.44 Magnum- As the .357 Magnum was developed from the .38 S&W Special, so the .44 Magnum, also called “.44 Remington Magnum”, was developed from the .44 S&W Special. This article provides an overview of the .44 Magnum and why the .44 Magnum revolver is so popular!
History of the .44 Magnum
Elmer Keith, the hunter and Idaho rancher who contributed to the development of the .357 Magnum, continued his experimentation and contributed to the development of the .44 Magnum through his experimentation with adding more load to the .44 Special case. The commercial version of Keith’s cartridges was created in 1955 through a partnership between Remington and Smith & Wesson and called the .44 Magnum, while the firearm chambered for it was the Smith & Wesson Double-Action Model 29, a model that is still in production in 2011. But either because Remington supplied samples to Ruger or a Ruger employee found a cartridge casing, Ruger was actually able to introduce a .44 Magnum revolver before Smith & Wesson, the Single-Action Blackhawk. Today, the only Blackhawk to take .44 Magnum cartridges is the Bisley version, but the New Super Blackhawks are chambered for .44 Mag.
Although developed for revolvers, .44 Magnum has been and is still used in rifles and carbines. Originally used mainly by hunters and law enforcement personnel, it gained fame through its use in the 1971 movie Dirty Harry and its use became more widespread. The number of purchases for 44 magnums after this movie was unreal!
As was done as a safety precaution with the development of the .357 Magnum from the .38 S&W Special, the .44 Magnum was extended in length to make it impossible to chamber it in the .44 Special firearms, which were not made to cope safely with the power of the .44 Magnum charge. And again, similar to the situation in which firearms made for .357 Magnum cartridges are able to accept .38 S&W Special, firearms that are made for the more powerful .44 Magnum cartridge are able to chamber the less powerful .44 Special cartridges without issue.
.44 Magnum’s Today
Today, Smith & Wesson revovlers consist of the Model 29 in its line of S&W Classics, with models having 4-inch and 6.5-inch barrels and taking both .44 Magnum and .44 S&W Special rounds, and each with a 6-round capacity.
Also available are the Model 329 PD (4-inch barrel), Model 329 Night Guard (2.5-inch barrel), and Model 329 XL Hunter (6.5-inch barrel), all of which have a 6-round capacity and take both .44 Magnum and .44 S&W Special cartridges. The Model 629 Magnum Hunter (7.5-inch barrel, .44 Magnum only, Single/Double Action) and Model 629 (4-inch barrel, .44 Magnum and .44 S&W Special, Single/Double Action) are other Smith & Wesson offerings for hunters and competitive shooters.
Ruger revolvers current line-up of .44 Magnum firearms includes two bolt-action rifles with rotary magazines, as well as the Redhawk, Super Redhawk, Bisley Blackhawk, and Superblackhawk models. .44 Magnum revolvers are also made by Taurus and Magnum Research, Inc.