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With the success of the 45Colt shot loads, I turned my attention to the 41mag, 44mag and 480 Ruger. The easiest cases to use were the 414 and 445 Supermag brass, but longer cases could be made. I pulled out Cartridges of the World and looked in the specs portion to get an idea of what would have similar rim body dimensions.
44mag: For the 44mag I used some 303 Britt brass. First I chucked a piece of brass in the hand drill and turned the rim down to .508” with a file. The rim was a little too thick, so I turned it down with the file and drill also. Next I had to turn the base down a little to .453” to fit into the cylinder. After that I trimmed the case to length and ran it partway into a 38-40 sizer die. The dimensions were not perfect, but they did work.
For Wads, I followed the steps above to cut my own out of milk jugs or thick card board. Below is a short list of powders and charges.
2400-12gns-.44oz-Reasonable pattern, but the faster powders worked much better.
Red Dot-4gns-.51oz-Nice tight pattern
41mag: My buddy Wayne is a 41mag fan, so I turned my attention to the 41 mag next. The easiest case to use is the 414 Supermag case. A 303 British case can be made to work, but the rim and base needed to be turned down. Another option was 30-30 brass. Just turn the rim down, cut to length and fire form to fit the cylinder. The base of the 30-30 brass is abit too small, but it can work if you can’t find anything better.
I could not find a bottle necked set of dies that would work to form cases, so I ran the 414 case into a 303 British sizer die and it fit the chambers very well.
Again, wads needed to be cut for the 41 mag. I got nice tight patterns with 2400, Unique and Red Dot, but all of the loads that I tried locked up the gun upon firing and would not let the cylinder rotate.
So maybe I need to try some lighter charges, or find another sizing die option.
480 Ruger: With the addition of the 5shot 480 Ruger in the Ruger Bisley line of guns, I couldn’t help myself and picked one up to add to my Ruger collection.
Shotshell cases were formed from 45-70 brass. First thing was to chuck a piece of brass in the drill and turn the rim down to fit a 480 shell holder. The case was cut to fit the length of the cylinder, then ran partway into a 30-06 sizer die until it would drop into the cylinder. Most of the loads tried would lockup the cylinder until I got to 11 gns of RedDot. This gave a nice tight pattern and did not lock up the cylinder. I could not find a die in my collection that would form a roll crimp over the case, so the overshot wads had to be glued into place.
RedDot-11gns-.64oz-Tight pattern, easy cylinder rotation
RedDot-13gns- .63oz -Tight pattern, easy cylinder rotation
Heavier shot, no 6, T, and 000 Buckshot:
The good patterns with no. 8 shot got me to wondering, what about using some heavier shot. I had some no. 6 shot which gave reasonable patterns with the same powder charges. I ordered some T lead shot, .220”, from Midway, to try as it seemed like it was the largest size that would allow 2 pellets to fit side by side and stack in the case. With using 4 grains of Red Dot, I was able to get 10 pellets loaded into the case. I also had some 000 Buckshot that I used in 2 ½” 410 Buckshot loads for the Judge. I was able to get 3 of the 000 Buckshot loaded into each case. I think that the over powder fiber wad wasn’t forming a good seal for the T and 000 Buck as the pellets barely penetrated one layer of cardboard.
To get the wad to seal better, I seated a plastic milk jug wad on top of the powder, then I cut a 1/8” hard card wad in half and seated it on top the plastic wad. Next went 3 000 buckshot and a 1/8” hard card wad on top followed by a heavy roll crimp to hold everything in place. This seemed to help and the loads would almost penetrate ½” of particle board. I started bumping up the powder charge to 7 grains of Red Dot until the 000 buck would blast a big hole in the particle board, plus penetrate several inches of wet clay. With 7 grains of Red Dot, I was able to get 9 of the T pellets in the case and still leave enough room for the 1/8” hard card wad. Loaded this way, the T shot easily penetrated the ½” particle board and several inches of wet clay also.
Caliber-Load-Notes: 000 Buck
45 Colt-7gns RedDot-2” group at 10’
44 Mag-8gns RedDot-1 ½” group at 10’
41 Mag-7gns RedDot-2 ¾” group at 10’
Wrapping it up:
This was a very fun project to take on. I’ve been thinking about it for a few years, but just never got around to it. The only downside to the project is that the shot loads would lead the barrels fairly quickly. A bronze brush with a patch would scrub the leading out easily enough.
From 10-15 feet away, and armed with two 45 Colt single action Rugers, my Son and I could easily dust small pieces of broken clay pigeons that were scattered across the berm. These loads should easily take out a snake or even a grouse if encountered within close range and can add a little fun and versatility to your favorite revolver.