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44 Smith & Wesson Russian

44_russian

Developed in 1870, the 44 S&W Russian was the first revolver cartridge I know of to utilize internal lubrication and was therefore a huge step forward in cartridge-revolver development.

Performance was modest by modern standards. It launched a 246-grain hollow-based round-nose-lead bullet at about 750 fps using about 23 grains of blackpowder.

Likely, chiefly because of the modern internally lubricated bullet design that did not rely on obturation to engage the rifling and the well-made revolvers that fit the ammunition well, the 44 Russian soon developed a reputation for accuracy rivaling the best cap-and-ball revolvers and far surpassing most cartridge conversion guns. The only limitation was ballistic performance.

 


 

When the 45 Colt was introduced in the 1873 Single-Action Colt revolver (after experimental work with the model of 1872 Open-Top Colt) using a full 40-grains of blackpowder to launch a 255-grain hollow-base round-nose-lead bullet at 930 fps from a 7½-inch barrel, ballistics for the 44 Russian seemed, and were, positively anemic by comparison.

As with any revolver round, best practice is to apply a roll-crimp after seating the bullet. A roll-crimp eases loading of rounds into the cylinder and can help limit bullet pull under recoil if only modestly. I cannot too-strongly recommend getting a second seating-and-crimping die so you can have one adjusted to seat the bullet and the second adjusted to only crimp the case mouth. Generally, attempting to do both operations in one step is a recipe for damaged and destroyed cases.


The text associated with the cartridge description reflects opinions and conclusions of the author, M.L. (Mic) McPherson. Lee Precision and its employees do not necessarily either agree or disagree with any of his comments. We present these with due deference to his recognized expertise in the firearms field. His acumen extends to handloading and all aspects of ballistics - internal, external, and terminal.
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