Fun With Four .44’s

And Black Hill’s .44 Colt Ammo
; .

You don’t have to compete to enjoy cowboy guns, and the Cimarron 1872
is as pleasant as any single action. Accurate, too, with the right ammunition.

There are few things more rewarding than improving the grouping ability of a firearm through handloading and fewer things more humbling than having a factory round shoot so well you wonder if you should even bother. Black Hills Ammo .44 Colt proved to be such a round, and a pleasing surprise to say the least.

sue involving the Cimarron 1872 Open Top. Marked “.44 Colt,” the pistol readily chambers .44 Special (not surprising since there is really little difference in case length) and I had been shooting .44 Special exclusively for a spell with so-so success. It was an eye opener to shoot the Black Hills .44 Colt ammo, and since things have returned more or less the way they were B.O. (Before Obama), I was able to get enough to shoot in my other .44’s as well.

Unlike its 1870’s-era namesake, the Black Hills ammo is loaded with a modern, conventional 0.430-inch flatnose lead bullet seated within the case. It is meant for the modern revolvers used in cowboy action such as the Cimarron and Stoeger/Uberti, and shouldn’t be tried in original 1860 Richards conversions.

Four .44’s went to the range with me on a hot day. Along with the 1872, a Cimarron 1860 Richards-Mason conversion in .44 Special, a Stoeger/Uberti Old Model Russian marked “.44 Russian” but also chambered for .44 Special, and a S&W 624 .44 Special—the second new gun I ever bought. It’s my old bowling pin gun, and I hadn’t fired it in wa-a-a-y too long.

Shooting commenced at 15 yards. Groups were good enough the targets were moved to 25 yards even though the sights are rather obscure on the Old West revolvers. Still, the 1872 delivered fine groups, and both the 1860 and the Old Model Russian shot superbly. Firing double action from the bench, the 624 shot blessedly right over the front sight, zeroed as it was for my old .44 Special bowling pin load featuring a 250-grain bullet at 900 fps.


Three groups (left) fired at 15 yards with the Cimarron 1872 and Black Hills .44 Colt
load were good enough to move the target to 25 yards. At 25 yards, the 3-1/4-inch
group was several inches above point-of-aim. Jeff wasn’t aiming to “correct” the
windage at 25 yards, so he has no explanation why he shoots “on” at 25 yards.

The big Cimarron 1860 Richards-Mason conversion is superbly
accurate, considering the archaic sights. Jeff looks forward to
putting a higher front sight in a dovetail on this one.

These .44 Colt cases have a smaller rim than the .44 Russian or Special, and unless the No. 3 top-break was worked briskly, the ejector wouldn’t launch all the cases and one or two had to be plucked out by hand. This was the only thing coming close to a malfunction throughout the test. The big S&W hand ejector Model 624 spit the cases out briskly.

Birchwood Casey Splatter Targets in blue with an orange center give a high-contrast sight picture for the rather obscure Old West sights. These blue targets are easier on my eyes than black ones even in bright sun. It was easy to use different “holds” on the targets depending on where the gun shot, which is why the 15-yard targets have multiple groups.

Black Hills .44 Colt ammo shoots so well, the only reason to reload is economy. The retail of $41.50 only seems high until you price primers, bullets and powder. As a hobby, handloading to beat the accuracy of the BH load is a worthy goal, and certainly still more economical, but if money were on the line, I’d place my bets on the factory stuff!


The Stoeger/Uberti Old Model Russian is another shooter, even with
a much heavier trigger. It, too, shoots high and slightly off, and the
sight correction will require some thought. It has proven more accurate
with Winchester factory .44 Special, but the Black Hills .44 Colt is no slouch.

Jeff’s old S&W M624 bowling pin gun shot the .44 Colt right over
the front sight. Surprisingly, the Smith’s 6-1/2-inch barrel delivered the
highest velocity by far averaging 802 fps. Grips are by Ahrends,
(515) 532-3449,

These three .44 cartridges share basic dimensions, but aren’t always interchangeable.
Handguns in .44 Special (left) chamber all three. Handguns in .44 Colt (middle) will
chamber the Russian also. Handguns in .44 Russian shoot only the Russian. Caveat:
Some modern custom .44 Colt conversions need the .44 Colt brass for its smaller
0.480-inch rim (the Special and Russian rims are 0.510-inch).

Black Hills Ammunition
P.O. Box 3090
Rapid City, SD 57709
(605) 348-5150

Birchwood Casey
7900 Fuller Road
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
(952) 937-7933

Cimarron Arms
P.O. Box 906
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
(830) 997-9090

Stoeger Industries
17603 Indian Head Hwy
Accokeek, MD 20607
(301) 283-6981

2100 Roosevelt Avenue
Springfield, MA 01104
(800) 331-0852