It’s Raining .44 Specials!
As I write this, it is the first month of the New Year and it is cold and snowing; however, it is also raining—raining .44 Specials. Suddenly it seems .44 Specials are everywhere, being offered by at least four American manufacturers in addition to imports and special limited runs by distributors. The .44 Special goes back over 100 years and has always been the connoisseur’s cartridge. The neat thing is more and more sixgunners are becoming connoisseurs. Anywhere thinking sixgunners gather, the .44 Special becomes a topic of conversation. If that’s not cool I don’t know what is!
Although the .44 Special arrived in the closing days of 1907, it would remain for Elmer Keith to really make it a household name among sixgunners. From 1929 to 1956 he called it the “King of Sixguns” and several of his .44s including the “No. 5 SAA” as he called it are on display in the Elmer Keith Museum in the Boise, Idaho, Cabela’s. Keith worked for nearly three decades trying to convince ammunition makers to offer his .44 Special Heavy Load consisting of a 250-grain hardcast bullet at 1,200 fps, and if necessary he felt revolver manufacturers could come up with a new sixgun for this load.
He got a lot more than he asked for when the new .44 Magnum arrived and clocked out at nearly 1,500 fps. Both S&W and Ruger offered excellent sixguns for the new cartridge which was simply a lengthened .44 Special. Keith was so happy he retired his .44 Specials and used the .44 Magnum almost exclusively for the next 25 years.
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