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American Handgunner May/June 2010 - Page 70
John Taffin HANDLOADING The Garrett 310 grain Super Hard Cast Hammerhead. SAGE ADVICE FROM THE HANDLOADING GURUS Randy also loads for the .45-70. His 420 at 1,850 can handle just about anything that walks the earth! Great news for the non-handloader. A quartet of .44 Magnum Perfect Packin’ Pistols; all prime candidates for the Garrett 310 Defender. Handloads For Non-Handloaders I have no idea who was the first to begin using heavy-forcaliber bullets in big bore sixguns. The oldest reference I have found comes from Chauncey Thomas, editor of the American Rifleman, in 1926: “Several years ago I warned Keith against this very thing. At the time he was shooting oversized .45-90 Winchester bullets in the Peacemaker diameter .457" and weight 300 grains. He came near killing himself then. If he does not reform he will get sooner or later a permanent case of lead poisoning, or his searching friends will pick him up with a blotting pad.” At about the same time Keith asked if anyone knew where he could find a .454" sizer; this was after he blew up a .45 Colt using oversized bullets. He had the right idea, that is, using heavy bullets, he just went about it the wrong way. big anD Heavy Garrett to the rescue F r ast-forward to the early 1970s and the introduction of Ruger’s .45 Colt Blackhawk. For the first time we had a .45 Colt sixgun strong enough to take advantage of the relatively large case capacity of .45 Colt brass. Shooters were soon shooting 250-260 gr. .45s at .44 Magnum velocities, however many of us took a different path, that is using 300 gr. bullets at reasonable muzzle velocities in the Blackhawk. My knowledge of the past and Keith’s disaster with a .45 Colt stood me in good stead and I sized .45-70 bullets, mainly the Lyman 300 grain #457191, down to .452" and loaded it to 1,200 fps. The only drawback for many shooters in using such a bullet is they have to not only reload but also cast their own bullets. For non-handloaders, we now have handloaded .44 Magnum ammunition using heavyweight bullets Garrett Cartridges. Garrett does not try to be all things to all people as he offers only two calibers with his custom handloads,.44 Magnum and .45-70. There is no finer ammunition available anywhere. Garrett keeps it simple and does it right with two superb big bore offerings. In the 1950s I fell into the trap of believing all .44 Magnum loads had to be loaded fullbore, and my standard load was Keith’s 250-gr. cast bullet over 22 grains of #2400; it was a powerful load then and still is. It also provided enough recoil back in my early days to slow down my learning curve when it came to shooting big bore sixguns. As I, and likewise my early .44 Magnum Smith & Wessons and Ruger Flat-Tops got older, I looked for a less stressful load. Using 10-gr. of Unique and either a 260 or 295 grain hard cast bullet I came up with a much easier shooting but still powerful loading at approximately 1,050-1,100 fps depending upon barrel length. At that time I thought someone should offer this type of load over the counter for non-handloaders. That someone is Randy Garrett. andy offers three levels of .44 Magnum loads all assembled with his own bullet design he calls the Hammerhead. Ammunition for the .44 Magnum is normally loaded to an overall length as specified by SAAMI to fit all cylinders and rifle actions. This wastes the advantage of long cylindered revolvers. Randy designed his bullets to take full advantage of the available space. His bullets are characterized by long noses with a very broad .320" meplat or a flat nose. Randy also uses an alloy with a minimum amount of antimony to give a very hard bullet but one that will not shatter on impact. The 310-gr. Super Hard Cast Defender Hammerhead is rated at 1,020 fps from a 4" barrel, 1,100 fps+ from long-barreled .44s, and is an excellent choice in such sixguns as the S&W 329PD. For those who wander away from the beaten path this is an excellent choice for self-defense against predators no matter how many legs they may have. It should also work well on deersized game at reasonable distances. This may well be the best idea ever offered in .44 Magnum ammunition. Moving up a notch we come to the Garrett 310-gr. Super Hard Cast Hammerhead loaded to 1,325 fps for use in allsteel .44 Magnum revolvers, except the Taurus Tracker, as well as the Thompson/Center Contender. In my 71/2" Freedom Arms with 2X Leupold scope this load clocks out at 1,400 fps and shoots into 13/8" at 50 yards. Finally we have the 330-gr. Super Hard Cast Hammerhead +P for use in long cylindered revolvers such as the Redhawk, Super Redhawk and Raging Bull. These clock 1,355 fps in my 71/2" Redhawk. Randy also offers five levels of .45-70 loads with bullets ranging in weight from 350 to 540 grains. Four of these are designed for rifles, however the .45-70 Government Super Hard Cast Hammerhead works fine in the T/C Contender. His Web site has complete loading data. * For more info: www.americanhandgunner/productindex WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2010 70