Single action revolvers are a reminder of how simple life can be. It is so easy to be in a state of agitation over the economy, local politics and swelling government that all of the good things, the pleasurable things in life take a back seat. A quality Ruger handgun, some inexpensive 41 Remington Magnum handloads, with some friendly husband – wife target shooting competition to follow. A good day. Very relaxing.
Quick note – Both Hogue # 408-502-104 Rubber Mono Grips and # 408-650-101 Cocobolo Grips were purchased from Brownells. The Mono Grips instructions show installation on an earlier model Ruger, pre internal hammer lock, but they do not fit. No room for the grip hanger. The Cocobolo grip instructions indicate these grips will not fit on an internal hammer lock gun but. actually, they go right on and fit like a glove. I went back and ordered a # 078-000-019 Ruger Round Hammer Strut assembly to see if I could make the Mono grips work as they provide a distinct improvement when shooting. The holster was purchased online at the Ruger store.
Handloading the 41 Remington Magnum
For the most part, inexpensive cast bullets topped the component list. New Starline brass was used for all handloads. It is inexpensive, good product and almost always in stock someplace. Lee Precision dies were selected because they form check straight wall cartridges during bullet seating and the factory crimp die works. The only issue here is that the loading dies are not carbide so they will be used with case lube with the expectation they will wear out after 20,000 rounds or so… about 15,000 rounds more than this gun will see. There are no other notes. This is one of the easiest and most straight forward cartridges to handload.
The 41 Remington Magnum is a stout cartridge. At the low end of the bullet weight spectrum, 180 grains, it can easily put 500 fps on the 40 S&W’s with comparable barrel lengths, running right along side the 44 Remington Magnum. On the big end of bullet weight, factory ammunition can push 265 grains to 1,400 fps and generate over half a ton of kinetic energy out of 6″ barrel revolver.
While the 41 Remington Magnum is often put into context as “between the 357 S&W Mag num and 44 Remington Magnum” the 41 is actually a lot closer to the 44 Remington Magnum in performance. Pictured left to right – 357, 41 and 44 magnums.
|357 S&W Magnum||0.355||110-200||25.6||35.000|
|41 Remington Magnum||0.410||170-265||35.0||36,000|
|44 Remington Magnum||0.429||180-340||39.5||36,000|
The .41 Remington Magnum was one of those Elmer Keith induced cooperative manufacturers’ projects. I miss that guy. Judging from the proliferation of AR based product, the rash of .410 revolvers and too small to handle micro .45 ACPs, so does the industry. The 41 Remington Magnum cartridge debuted in 1964, married to a large frame double action revolver… a combination that holds little interest for me. The round fortunately fits in nicely with a compact single action like the Blackhawk, a gun made for field carry, hunting and defense, and this is my point of focus.
Hey! What’s that four?
The bullets were selected based on application. They are not what I would have selected for primarily self defense against a human threat. Combing through law enforcement shooting results, it became obvious that light 170 – 180 grain, rapidly expanding bullets yielded the highest stop rate, over 90%. Expanded diameter of recovered bullets was the largest at 0.680″, while penetration was moderate for the round at 14.9″.
In this case, the application is hunting and/or wilderness self defense where the primary targets would have a heavy skeletal frame and large tough muscle mass. Could be a big feral hog, could be a large bear, could be a mountain lion. All beyond my realm of experience with this cartridge, but most of the seasoned writer/hunters who warrant respect, have comfortably used the cartridge for hunting elk, caribou, black bear, and moose with heavy cast bullets. So the light weight, thin jacketed bullets were put away and the deep penetrating hard cast and a tough jacketed hunting bullet were rounded up.
* COL within 0.030″ of cylinder face
The Hunters Supply 200 grain bullet hardness checked at 14.6 BHN. Not very soft, but I would have preferred a gas check for less fouling at higher velocity levels. The 250 grain Cast performance round yielded the least net case capacity which caused me to do some juggling with powder speed. Ultimately, I seated the bullet out beyond spec to recover some case volume. There was still plenty of room in the chamber and the roll crimp position was good.
The True shot bullet has a long conical nose. Subsequently, the required COL is well beyond the maximum SAAMI spec of 1.590″ to the extent it pushes the Ruger’s cylinder capacity. Picture right, top chamber shows just how close of a fit this is… about 0.030″ from the cylinder face.
Finally, I wish the cast bullet guys would go back to listing load data on their site, or packaging it with their products. The absence creates a need for research and load development which makes it more difficult and time consuming to use these products. Not sure why, with the steep increase in cast bullet prices, why they can’t be like the jacketed bullet guys and provide some application data for the benefit of their customers.
I posted load and accuracy data on a dedicated load sheet. Makes it easier to update when future projects are conducted and more load data is generated.
Like I said, friskier than I remembered…
The Blackhawk and 41 Magnum combination is not what I would call… subtle. But then I also wouldn’t call it a recoil thumper either. Wood grips and metal backstrap posed no handling problems under recoil, making it pretty easy to retain a good grip. The thicker cocobolo wood grips definitely helped by being more of a comfortable handful.
Sight adjustment was easy, bullets seemed to shoot to a fairly common point of impact and all of the hardware pieces stayed put. With reduced 200 grain loads, a bit over 1,000 fps, the gun was easy to shoot and noise levels were modest. Off a rest, three shots under 2.5″ at 25 yards was the norm, regardless the load.
The gun was as tight when the shooting was done as it was when the day started. Clean up was an easy wipe down. There are a few things I’d like to change as an enhancement, but I will save that for another time. The Ruger Blackhawk is, as it always has been, a great value in a handgun. Well finished and low priced, the Blackhawk offers a lot of utility in a handgun.