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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Along the thread of my previous post, what are people's opinion of .41 colt vs. .44 special?

I have a historic interest in .41 colt, but have read a lot of info on people being fans of .44 special?

Just curious what people think of the two.
 

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I shoot and reload both. The .44 Special is vastly superior in any respect. In the case of the .41 Long Colt ammunition is expensive and reloading components are much harder to find.
 

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I have collected Colt SAA's for quite a while and I find that most people shy away from buying an old SAA in 41 Colt and they love the SAA's in 44 Special. They especially cherish those older SAA's in 44-40 (aka 44 WCF). I own one of the last 41 Colt SAA's (in very fine condition) built on the black powder frame and I have taken it to a few local gun shows trying to sell it with no luck. People pick it up and lay it back down when the see the caliber.
 

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The .41 Colt is more expensive for brass and bullets, and is less effective in terms of power and accuracy. I would never want to handicap myself with a .41 Colt, and have avoided them in a lifetime of collecting. About 25 - 35 years ago .41 Army Specials and some other Colts would be the "sleeper" at gun shows, prices being about 1/3 what guns in more normal calibers were asking. I still avoided them, and have never regretted it. Now that they sometimes compare in price to more common calibers, the ammo cost and poor effectiveness is still the same.
 

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When I got my first SAA several years ago, a 38 w.c.f. , It had some worn notches in the cylinder. I started looking for a cylinder with no luck. I kept getting told that all of the 38-40 cylinders end up in 41 Colts.

Dan
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the info. I get the impression that the 41 is inferior to the 44, however,could you not make a similar argument that the 44 in SAA is no improvement over a .45? Just curious. I can't imagine a 41 is more then 44Wcf to buy or reload?
 

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44 is much less popular than the 45 and does not have the power potential of the 45. However, it can be loaded to a higher potential for shooting in the SAA because of it's cyl wall thickness. The 45 can only be loaded to its full potential in other heavier single actions.

41 Colt PROS:

Nostalgic cartridge
Can also shoot 38-40
Comfortable to shoot
Reduced price to buy

CONS:
Not known as a man stopper
Makes for a heavier SAA
Not popular, hence the lack of components available
Poor resale value

44 Special PROS:
Nostalgic cartridge
Known for accuracy with almost any load
More power potential with reloading
Man stopper potential
Myriad choices of components available due to popularity
Lighter gun
Good resale value

CONS:
Never as popular as 45 or 38.
Often 44 SAAs are overpriced
 

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In the late 20's, if the 41colts (that were already going obsolete) had ended up transitioning into the prototyped and more-modern design 41colt-special (the way it was supposed to) which was R & D'd by Colt & Remington but shelved due to the onset of the depression, then there would be a very powerful argument between the two; 41colt-special & 44special. But it never came to fruition.

The Blackpowder 41colt is left in the dust just about every aspect of design and performance there is vs the 44special. The 41colt-special (that never was-- commercially) vs 44special would be a whole different conversation. Really is a shame that one fell between the cracks.
 

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Colt made a couple of special ordered 41 Mags in 2nd gens.

The 38-40 was in affect already a better 41 Colt Special. And loaded for Rugers it's a better 41 Magnum.
 

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Hondo, nice job on the list.

Kingcobb said:
Thanks for the info. I get the impression that the 41 is inferior to the 44, however,could you not make a similar argument that the 44 in SAA is no improvement over a .45? Just curious. I can't imagine a 41 is more then 44Wcf to buy or reload?
Modern smokeless powder loads are limited by the weaker design of the Colt SAA in several of the bigger cases, 38-40, 44-40 and 45 Colt to be specific. All fine cartridges for the SAA metallurgy and strength using Black Powder.

All those particular cases are way, way to big to use modern fast burning pistol powders efficiently. Sure we all shoot them but efficient they are not and reloaded incorrectly, dangerous.

John Moses Browning was asked to duplicate the Schofield 45
M1887 Military Ball Cartridge (a down loaded and down sized 45 Colt round)
in a modern handgun, 230gr lead @ 730fps. Besides being rough o nthe original guns most recruits had a hard time shooting the full 45 Colt black powder loads. Browning then designed a 45 Caliber cartridge (45acp) to function with modern smokeless powder and stuck it in his .380 semi auto pistol. Which eventually gave us the 1911. Compare the size of a 45acp with a 45 Colt and you get the idea of what is efficient and what isn't with what was then modern smokeless powder.
Take a look at what 5.gr of Bullseye looks like in a 45acp case and you can see just how far smokeless has come. Knowing that Bullseye is one of the oldest modern smokeless powders.

Point is the 45 Colt case is huge. Cylinder walls on the SAA are thin because of it. Really thin at the bolt locking slot. The bigger bottle neck cases of 38wcf and 44wcf don't really help all that much but the lighter bullets in both do, normally limited at 210 instead of the typical 255gr in a 45 Colt.

44 Special added a lot of cylinder wall for strength and allows a 240gr bullet to be pushed pretty fast by comparison with modern smokeless and still keep the a SAA in one piece. A 38 Special will offer even more strength to the cylinder and the bullets get limited at 158gr. typically but 200s were once the norm.

Elmer Keith saw that the SAA wasn't up to a hot loaded 45 after blowing a few up. And he saw the advantage of the extra material in the cylinder wall of a 44. Special to use his preferred heavy bullets. Same reason he didn't try using the 44-40...with the 44-40's big case heads and light bullets.

Guns get lighter for barrel and cylinder going up in caliber for .32, 38, 40, 44, 45. Enough to notice it in hand. Annoying so for many in weight, for the .32 and .38. Even the 38-40 is getting up there in weight with a .40 cal. barrel. Easy to shoot and flat shooting thought with extra gun weight and light bullets. .41 Colt is heavier than a 38-40 given the same size guns because of the extra material in the cylinder of the .41.

.41 Colt factory load was 21gr of black and 200gr .40cal bullet

38 -40 was 40gr of black and a 180gr .40 cal bullet

44-40 was 40 gr black and a 200gr .429 cal bullet

.45 Colt was 40gr of black and 255gr .454 cal. bullet
 

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The .41Colt is going to be more trouble to feed and has far less performance potential. It uses heeled bullets and expensive brass and both are limited. That said, if it holds romantic appeal to YOU, there is no discounting that. The .44Spl is far more plentiful and far easier to feed. It offers easily obtainable, cheap brass and myriad options for bullets and loads ranging from factory level powderpuff to Keith's 1200fps load if the gun is of later vintage.


Thanks for the info. I get the impression that the 41 is inferior to the 44, however,could you not make a similar argument that the 44 in SAA is no improvement over a .45? Just curious. I can't imagine a 41 is more then 44Wcf to buy or reload?
In the Colt SAA or similarly sized sixguns, the .44 has a distinct strength and performance advantage.
 
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