View Full Version : 4in v 5in .44 mag velocities?

John Browning
07-21-2010, 3:20 PM
I've got two 629s which I both love. However, I've also fixed my heart on getting a Cooper 52 Excalibur and Zeiss Conquest for the upcoming deer season in Oregon. I'm going to be selling some stuff here soon and might have to part with a 629. What is the difference in velocity between the 4 inch and 5 inch barrels? I shoot them both well and they also both carry with ease, the performance difference is all I'm unsure about. Thanks.

07-21-2010, 6:06 PM
The choice in powder will have an effect of the velocity difference. A fast powder like Tightgroup will not be as affected as much as a slow powder like H110. A very rough ball park general rule of thumb educated guess would be 50 to 100fps per inch (longer barrel = faster).

07-21-2010, 6:32 PM
Scoot your mouse over to the the ballistics by the inch website:

dstewart's estimate of 50 to 100 fps seems to a pretty good educated guess.

John Browning
07-21-2010, 7:12 PM
Thanks guys. Looks like the 5in is the sweet spot for the .44 mag.

07-21-2010, 7:24 PM
I have both 4 & 5 and the 5 just LOOKS better to me !!

07-22-2010, 7:57 AM
When I chrongraph my 44 mag loads I use a 7 1/2" Ruger and a 4" Ruger along with a 4" Dan Wesson. Even with that much difference in length there is only about 100 fps average per load.. the slower the powder the more difference like WW 296 but AA #5 is like 80 fps.

07-22-2010, 10:14 PM
I almost missed it on the BBTI chart when looking at the 4 and 5 inch velocities. There is a significant difference. But this lenght really is for 2 and 3 inch barrel velocity.

Until I saw lazs post above, which is consistent with my experience.
I went back and looked. If you want to compare the 4 and 5 inch guns you have to look at the 6 and 7 inch on the chart. This is because of the way they measured the barrel lenghts. See quote below.
There is not that much velocity difference between 4 and 5 inch. (6 & 7 inch on the chart) Also there is a velocity loss due to the barrel gap in a revolver reflected in the real life tests.

4 inch is a handier better balanced packing gun in my opinion. Not that much loss in performance.

"One note: in every case with the T/C Encore the length of the barrel was measured from the end of the barrel back to the breech face. This is how semi-auto pistols are measured, but revolvers are measured as the length of the barrel in front of the cylinder gap. Take this into consideration when comparing calibers using our numbers"

07-22-2010, 10:41 PM
I have both 4 & 5 and the 5 just LOOKS better to me !!

The five inch tubes also just seem to balance and handle the best. If you ever have a chance to compare 3.5, 5 and 6 inch 27's, you'll see what I mean.

07-23-2010, 7:32 AM
Yep.. in all the shooting I have done with 44 mag over the years I would say that 4" is a good minimum.. not too much given up over say a 6".

44 mag ammo is another thing tho. If you use factory stuff it will in almost every case be packed with slow burning powder for high velocity in longer tubes. For reloading you can use medium burning powders like AA #5.

For some reason tho... 44 mags have never acted like giant 38 snubbies.. they seem to not stabalize the heavier slugs well in less than 4" guns. 38 snubbies seem to be accurate with just about any weight of bullet.

I agree with 700 that the 4" 44 mag is a very balanced gun that packs well.

07-23-2010, 5:27 PM
I've got an acquaintance that actually concealed carries a Model 29 with the the 8-3/8" barrel (though I hardly know how he conceals that monster). He has told me many times that the long barrel length is the only size that actually completely burns the powder on both factory loads and his teeth rattling hot loads, which is why he does not like anything shorter than that. He said the short barrels have extremely high muzzle flash and such a reduced energy that to him it is not worth shooting a "shorty.

There is a little note in the current issue of American Handgunner on short barrel .44 mags and how the performance suffers and the recoil is overly painful with them. Personally I have only shot the 7-1/2 (I think is was) Super Redhawk, but I don't think I'd like shooting a shorter model that doesn't have the extra weight to control the recoil.

07-24-2010, 8:03 AM
you friend is correct if he is shooting factory ammo and reloads using large amounts of WW296 or some other slow powder.. The old time loads were developed with 2400 and blue dot and now with powders like AA #5 and #9

I have both 8" (and 7.5) and a couple a 4" 44 mags along with a 5.5" super blackhawk.

With medium burning powder the 4" guns are getting good velocities with 250-290 grain slugs.

American Handgunner is also correct in my opinion, that shorter than about 4" is not a great idea.