250/44 Hammerheads

To be clear, Randy Garrett’s original 310 Hammerhead load was designed to have the most killing potential possible when fired from a “N” frame (29) S&W at standard SAAMI 44 Magnum pressures. Randy reached this goal and to this date that accomplishment has never been equaled. While the 310HH load did and still does exactly what was intended, reality, as it often does, raised its ugly head. The problem with the 310HH load has mostly to do with the frailties of man when shot in handguns and on a different front, some design conflicts (remember, the design was optimized for a S&W) having to do with some rifles.

In regards to handguns, the problem with the 310HH load is that in some situations it is too much of a good thing, particularly in this day of extra light weight revolvers including Mountain Guns and the Scandium 329. The guns handle it fine, (its standard pressure), most shooters, not so much. In rifles and carbines, the problem is incompatibility with some repeating mechanisms because the overall length of the 310HH is optimized for the S&W “N” frame and therefore longer than SAAMI standard. Additionally the bullet was optimized for a revolver cylinder throat and some rifle chambers will not accept it. Then too, many rifles and carbines (Marlins) have a 1-38 twist rate (S&W is 1-18), that is more ideal for lighter bullets.

At least as a partial answer to the recoil/blast issue in revolvers, Randy came out with the 310 Defender load which uses the same 310HH bullet loaded with a different powder to a lower (yet still meaningful) velocity. Still, for many situations, this is more power/recoil/blast than desired. Many times, customers/friends and I have discussed a kinder, gentler load. In particular, a Wyoming customer, (BP), pushed me to develop, (as my good friend John Taffin would call it), an everyday working load. The concept was to use all that is known of every facet of bullet/load design to make a shootable load that would still have incredible penetration. This would provide the maximum killing potential for the amount of recoil/blast to be endured. I personally always try to design/use handgun ammo for maximum potential killing and deep penetration because handguns are often pressed into service on jobs that would ideally be handled with more power than most shooters, care to handle on a daily basis or can really put to use with accuracy. These ideas guided me in the design of the 250 grain 44 caliber Garrett Hammerhead bullet and our three loads featuring it.

The bullet is a classic weight, 250 grains. 45 years ago when I first started shooting 44 Magnums, the two most common bullets for the 44 Magnum were 180gr and 240gr jacketed bullets. A 250gr was a heavy cast bullet often used by followers of Elmer Keith. By the early eighties, J.D. Jones had me convinced a 320 of his design screaming out of a Redhawk was the answer (and cast with a good alloy still ain’t bad). A while later, Randy Garrett schooled us all with his design and alloy of what could be done with the fully developed 44 Magnum.

The Garrett 250/44 Hammerhead bullet and the loads they feature are not an attempt to get all I can from the 44 but rather to get the most out of it at modest recoil levels. Because I was not looking for a heavy bullet or high velocity, the overall length was easily kept inside SAAMI specification for OAL. Additionally, because the bullet would not have the mass and in some cases the velocity of our 310 and 330 44 offerings, I made the meplat a little smaller. Other than the change to a shorter OAL and a penetration enhancing (admittedly at the sacrifice of a larger wound channel) smaller meplat, this bullet is the same as other Garrett Hammerheads featuring a gas check, Garrett HH alloy and the best bullet lube money can buy. The loads are as follows;

1.   44 Magnum Hammerheads
      250-gr SuperHard/Tough Hammerhead
      1100-fps from 4", 1200-fps/7.5", 1330-fps/16", 1370-fps/24"
      For use in all 44 Magnum Revolvers & Leverguns

2.   44 MAG 250gr Defender
      250-gr SuperHard/Tough Hammerhead
      1000-fps from 4"
      For use in all 44 Magnum Revolvers & Leverguns

3.   44 SPECIAL Hammerhead
      250-gr SuperHard/Tough Hammerhead
      1000-fps from 7.5", 950-fps from 4.5"
      Standard Pressure <15,500psi

Some have already asked why not load a 250 to max velocity? Because, if you want more killing potential, I believe you are better off going up in bullet weight and to the larger meplat of our 310gr or 330gr+P if applicable.

Note: All three loads work fine in all tested 44 Magnum leverguns. The 44 Magnum 250HH load does about an optimum 1350fps from rifles/carbines.

Note: With velocities of approximately 1100, 1000 and 925fps from 4” barrels, you can pick your recoil level in the lightest of 44 revolvers. Believe me when I tell you there is a substantial difference in recoil between the three in say a 4” M329 S&W.

Note: Many shooters of factory 44 Magnum ammunition, shoot the commonly available 240JHP and JSP loads. Guns that are sighted in properly for these loads usually shoot high with our 310HH loads, particularly the 310 Defender. The 250 Magnum load will hit close to the same point of impact (and recoil) as the somewhat standard 240JHP & JSP loads.

Very shortly after I had finalized these loads, noted gun writer Dick Williams, a writer of considerable handgun experience and one who has great interest in the 44 Special, came out to the ranch for some bullet testing. The intention was to successfully hunt hogs, but they would not cooperate. He did however kill a wild spring turkey with a 7.5” Gallagher 44 Special using the new 250. The day before the turkey kill we set up a series of one gallon jugs to test penetration. I knew about what it would do to the water jugs but I don’t think Dick bought into my level of optimism. Dick’s picture of the test follows and you should note that while we are shooting the new 250HH from a 7.5” 44 Special custom Gallagher at 1000fps, the same bullet does the same 1000fps from a 4” S&W329 when using the 44/250 Defender load.

Result: The new 250HH @ 1000fps shot thru 12 one gallon jugs of water and Dick Williams is a believer.

Click the images below to enlarge.

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Thank you for your interest, Ashley Emerson