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Reloading: Powder Comparison .44 Special Loads

Reloading: Powder Comparison .44 Special Loads
Rupp’s test included IMR Target and IMR Red, both relatively new powders from that company, against the new Winchester 244—with tried-and-true Alliant Bullseye for comparison. Guns were Ruger GP100 (three-inch barrel) and Smith & Wesson Model 629 (five-inch barrel).

Winchester WinClean 244 is a relatively new powder, one produced under license by Hodgdon. Out of the blue, the company sent me a can to try, and, hey, I never look a gift horse in the mouth.

While this powder is supposed to be ideal for 9mm, .45 ACP and .38 Special, I was in the process of developing a .44 Special load using Oregon Trail’s Lasercast 240-grainers for my Ruger GP100, with the Smith & Wesson 629 in there so I could compare speed from a three-inch barrel versus a five-inch. I’d already tested IMR Red and IMR Target, so when the Winchester showed up, I added it to the test and included Alliant Bullseye, too.

WinClean powders have a copper-fighting agent, which I didn’t test here, and also promises cleaner burning. Lead loads are sooty to begin with, and at least anecdotally I thought the Winchester loads were cleaner than the others.

A ball powder, it metered very well through my RCBS Chargemaster Lite, which threw every charge in the test. I also threw 10 charges of 5.1 grains (0.1 grain under max) through my ancient Lee volumetric measure. Six were 5.1 grains, two were 5.0 grains and two were 5.2 grains. That’s good enough for me.

I’m not sure whether Winchester 244 will be my trail load. It shot well, with the exception of that outlier with the 4.8-grain charge, but I’m looking for more velocity. However, with its excellent metering, I think 244 is going to be my go-to powder for .38 Special practice loads with Hornady 125-grain XTPs. I’ll report back on that in a future issue.


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