Christmas Eve, 2021 – Hope to finish writing this evening and to get some sleep before Christmas Day. Christmas, for us, is an observation of the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ and an opportunity to be thankful for all we have received. I hate to arrive late to a party.
What follows is really not about the Ruger 44 Carbine, although it does deserve accolades. It is about all of those well made old timers, sitting in the used rifle racks in gun stores across the country, blued steel and old growth walnut. Mostly available at moderate prices, hunting rifles that have probably not seen a hundred rounds and are ready to go hunting.
Sometimes “new” means revolutionary, or at least evolutionary design work. Sometimes “new” means changing a camo pattern on a firearm or refreshing smokeless powder packaging.
In some cases, new designs improve performance and/or durability. However, some new designs are intended solely to disguise cost reduction; “No, those aren’t a a cheap plastic grip frame and surface hardened metal injection molded fire control pieces. That is space age high tech polymer that won’t sink or shrink in the rain and those MIM fire control parts will last… until they wear out!!”.
It is easy to tell the good new products from the bad new products for those impervious to carnival barkers, so the aggressive sales and marketing isn’t a problem. The problem is when cheap new products push excellent good old products out of production.
Fortunately, good old rifles are almost always available in used rifle racks or online, probably abandoned by some guy who needed to buy “new”
A good old rifle
Ruger 44 Magnum Carbine
|Point of Origin||Southport, CT|
|Action||Gas Operated Short Stroke Piston|
|Caliber||44 Remington Magnum|
|Barrel / Contour||*18.25″|
|Twist Rate||1:38″ 12R|
|Barreled Action||Carbon Steel|
|Trigger Pull||5 Lbs 9 Oz|
|Drop at comb||1.2″|
|Drop at heel||1.5″|
|Weight||5 Lbs 12 Oz|
|Base Model MSRP||$108 (1966)|
* Extended to 18.5″ after SN 102-64701 Approx 1979
My favorite rifle is a 45-70 lever action carbine, when handload component variety and power play a role in a hunting application. Setting aside handloading, and limiting quarry to feral hogs, deer and black bear, the Ruger 44 Magnum Carbine is my favorite.
Compared to the lever action 45-70, the downsides to the Ruger Carbine are more limited bullet selection and a gas port/piston that has an aversion to cast bullets. Reliability and longevity of function require ammunition somewhere near the performance of 240 grain factory loaded ammunition. Still, the semi auto Ruger is also significantly lighter, first shot recovery is fast and hand grasp and shooting stance do not change when making follow up shots.
With full tilt loads, the lever action 45-70 is… stimulating, maybe even invigorating, but that little lever action and a shooting shoulder will never be BFFs. By comparison, the Ruger Carbine recoil and report are moderate.
Minimalism in firearm is a wonderful thing. Especially now when fancy metal engraving, checkering and diverse finishing are no longer evidence of labor hours and refined craft skill. That $5,000 limited edition, more than likely, represent fifteen minutes of output from a computerized machine. A machine obeying the instructions of a programming geek, who is simultaneously playing War Thunder.
But Joe, it doesn’t even have a Schnabel!!…!
The Ruger 44 Carbine has a steel recoil pad. Joe, won’t that give you an owie? As a preteen, I learned to shoot centerfire with thousands of rounds through a 30-06 Model 1903 Springfield, with standard issue steel buttplate. Consequently, I have no surviving nerve endings in my right shoulder, so it’s all good to me.
Yes, the Ruger is devoid of most modern rifle accoutrements. So what? Checkering is over rated, unless there is a need for a spontaneous Queen Anne Salute while hunting, or in the event the shooter just finished a Sloppy Joe and has not yet toweled off.
About that missing Schnabel, it is right there, built into the forend, ready to be pressed into service as soon as more than two people agree on what purpose a Schnabel serves. Of greater importance, that sight band is silver soldered in place and that brass beaded, dovetail mounted front sight is made of steel. No plastic “quick deploy” sights where “quick deploy” may mean breaking off, falling off or losing adjustment.
Is it AR, AK or NJ magazine compatible?
No, the Ruger refuses to surrender its individuality to popular demand and, instead, opts for a bottom load tubular magazine. Yes, like a shotgun, 4 rounds, enough to give the stock a guppy belly, but not enough to promote deer death by lead poisoning. Later open top models incorporated a rotary box magazine, one of those good design improvement.
No, it isn’t a fussy eater and, no, the rear sight isn’t tired
I would have to classify the original owner of this Ruger as significantly indecisive. The receiver has the original D&T for scope mounting. Then it has a second rear base D&T and a barrel front base D&T and, then, a side D&T for a peep sight. And, of course, it has a folding rear sight to clear that ginormous Weaver 2.5x scope objective bell. I mostly look through the scope, leave the rest to potential and appreciate the fact the gun is very accurate.
|Speer Gold Dot
Common bullets, meaning moderate priced bullets that are very effective. The 180 grain is a good all around bullet that expands, but stays together at elevated carbine velocity levels.
The Gold Dot is actually made for the lower velocity 44 Special, but it expands well at 50 yards and stays together.
The Hornady seems to be made of harder lead and more stout jacket. They are accurate and deep penetrating.
The Winchester expands well even at 100 yards on deer size game. Also accurate.
The 270 grain Speer expands less at 50 – 100 yards, but penetrates well and stays together. Nice for bigger/tougher game.
I wanted to load some of the newer powders, but what is listed works. Besides I could never figure out who sold what powder to what company, which have been withdrawn from the market and what new powder just means a cheaper source of a powder type was found, so the oldie was discontinued.
Handload data – rifle and handgun
Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity, pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may be excessive in others. All loads should be reduced by 5% as a starting point for development where cartridges have greater than 40 grains in capacity and 10% for cartridges with less than 40 grain capacity following safe handloading practices as represented in established mainstream reloading manuals. Presentation of these loads does not constitute a solicitation for their use, nor a recommendation.
|44 Remington Magnum 36,000 PSI MAP
|Firearm||Ruger 44 Carbine
|Max Case Length||1.285″ +0.000″/-0.020″|
|Min – Max COL||1.535″ – 1.610″
|Primer||CCI 350 (LPM)
|Bullet Diameter||0.4320″ +0.000″/-0.0060″|
|Reloading Dies||RCBS Carbide
|Remington Bulk JHP||180||29.9||1.595||Alliant 2400||25.0||2180||1899|
|Remington Bulk JHP||180||29.9||1.595||H110||31.5||2248||2021|
|Remington Bulk JHP||180||29.9||1.595||Win 296||31.0||2288||2092|
|Speer Gold Dot JHP||200||28.7||1.610||H110||29.0||2057||1878|
|Speer Gold Dot JHP||200||28.7||1.610||RS Enforcer||25.0||2025||1822|
|Speer Gold Dot JHP||200||28.7||1.610||Winchester 296||29.5||2132||2018|
|Hornady XTP JHP||240||25.6||1.605||H110||25.5||1834||1792|
|Hornady XTP JHP||240||25.6||1.605||RS Enforcer||22.0||1800||1727|
|Hornady XTP JHP||240||25.6||1.605||Win 296||25.5||1868||1859|
|Winchester Bulk SJHP||240||25.1||1.605||H110||25.0||1811||1749|
|Winchester Bulk SJHP||240||25.1||1.605||Lil’ Gun||24.0||1823||1772|
|Winchester Bulk SJHP||240||25.1||1.605||Win 296||25.5||1883||1889|
|Speer SPGD||270||22.7||1.585||RSA Enforcer||20.0||1663||1659|
|Speer SPGD||270||22.7||1.585||Win 296||23.0||1719||1772|
The Ruger 44 Carbine will shoot inside 1″ at 50 yards with the listed loads and does not open up beyond 1 1/2″ to 1 3/4″ at 100 yards. The load levels work in lever action rifles as well, like my 1894 Marlin, or bolt actions like the Ruger 77/44.
And on that note, I wish you and your families the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest and Healthiest New Year!