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Ammo Brief: .44 Auto Mag

Ammo Brief: .44 Auto Mag

We take a quick look at .44 Auto Mag, a cartridge with a short and stormy career.

Introduced late in 1971, the .44 Auto Mag cartridge was developed for the Auto Mag pistol designed by the late Harry Sanford of Pasadena, California. The gun was also made and marketed for a few years by High Standard. The cartridge is made by cutting off .30-06 or .308 Winchester cases to a length of 1.30 inches, inside reaming the case neck to accept 0.429-inch bullets and trimming to a length of 1.298 inches. The newly formed case is then loaded with 0.429-inch jacketed bullets of 200 to 240 grains.

For a time, .44 Auto Mag cases were made in Mexico, by Cartuchos Deportivos Mexico and headstamped CDM. Loaded ammunition was later offered by Norma of Sweden. A few custom ammo makers furnished loaded rounds. Dies are made by RCBS. The .44 Auto Mag cartridge was used only in the Auto Mag semi-auto pistol, which is no longer in production.

General Comments

The Auto Mag semi-auto pistol operates on the short recoil principle, with a six-lug, front-locking rotary bolt. Made almost entirely of stainless-steel, it has a 6.5-inch barrel, an overall length of 11.5 inches, and weighs about 3.5 pounds. It was the most powerful commercial semi-auto pistol manufactured at that time. When loaded to maximum, a 200-grain bullet can be pushed at over 1,500 fps, and the 240-grain to 1,400 fps.

.44 Auto Mag Loading Data

Bullet Grains/Type Powder Grains Velocity Energy Source
180 JHP 2400 25.0 1,600 1,024 Sierra
200 JHP W296 26.5 1,500 999 Hornady
240 JHP W296 24.0 1,350 972 Sierra, Hornady
240 JHP H110 23.0 1,400 1,045 Hornady

Unfortunately, the Auto Mag pistol had a rather short and stormy career marked by more than its share of manufacturing, marketing and mechanical troubles. The .44 Auto Mag pistol was developed primarily as a sporting gun. It has been used to take all kinds of big game, including deer, elk, moose and Kodiak bear. It’s in the same class as the .44 Magnum.

Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt of Gun Digest’s Cartridge’s Of The World.

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