45 Colt vs 44 Mag: Caliber Comparison

45 Colt vs 44 Mag: Caliber Comparison

February 27, 2024 By Posted in Blogs

In the world of recreational shooting, every detail matters, and the choice of bullet is a crucial part of enjoying your shooting experience. With so many options available, the debate among gun enthusiasts often zeroes in on specific caliber comparisons. One such classic contention is that between the 45 Colt and the 44 Magnum, also known as the 44 Mag.

Today we will take a deep dive into the 45 Colt vs 44 Mag debate, taking a look at key facts and specifics about each bullet type. We’ll be exploring their historical roots, ballistic performance, and tangible factors to consider when choosing between the two popular bullet types. We’re not here to declare one is superior to the other but to equip you with essential information that will help guide your decision based on your needs and preferences.

History and Development of 45 Colt and 44 Mag Bullets

When assessing two different bullets, history and evolution play an integral part in understanding its present-day performance.


The 45 Colt, colloquially known as the “long colt,” was first manufactured in 1873 for the iconic Colt Single Action Army revolver, the Colt SAA. Originally designed as a black powder cartridge, the Colt was an instant success in the American frontier for its stopping power and reliable performance. It has made an indelible mark in firearms history, being adopted by various Western-style guns such as the Ruger Vaquero® Bisley, and even versatile lever guns, marking it a truly ageless bullet.

The 45 Colt has since transitioned from black powder to smokeless powder loads, allowing it to remain relevant today where smokeless powder loads dominate. The 44 Mag, on the other hand, was designed with smokeless powder in mind, accommodating the requirements of modern shooting disciplines.


The 44 Magnum, on the other hand, is a relatively modern bullet type, developed in the mid-20th century. The brainchild of legendary gun writer Elmer Keith, the magnum was designed to produce a revolver cartridge with unmatched power. Acclaimed for its high velocity and heavier bullets, the 44 Mag quickly became a go-to bullet for high-power needs. Used in famous models such as the S&W Model 629 and Ruger Redhawk it has since become a favorite for both sporting and hunting handguns.


In terms of evolution, the two bullets have treaded individual paths, each embracing different aspects of ballistic performance. The Colt highlights the lower pressure and reliable performance, while the 44 Mag emphasizes higher pressure and high-velocity delivery. The battle between the 45 Colt and 44 Mag truly embodies the adage – old meets new. But how will they fare in technical parameters and user preferences? Let’s delve into their ballistic performances to find out.

45 Colt vs 44 Mag: Understanding the Ballistic Performance and Technicalities

The usability of any caliber lies in its blend of precision, energy transfer, and ballistic capabilities. Understanding the technicalities of these aspects can give an insight into the feedback you hear from those shooting the 45 Colt or the 44 Mag.

Let’s begin with pressure and velocity. Pressure refers to the amount of force exerted onto the bullet from the explosion, while velocity is the speed at which the bullet travels. While both the 45 Colt and the 44 Mag have impressive statistics in these categories, the technical nuances are where you’ll see the difference.


The 44 Mag typically operates at higher pressures, around 36,000 PSI, when compared to the standard pressure of the 45 Colt, which clocks in at about 14,000 PSI. These higher pressures account for faster muzzle velocities. In simpler terms, the 44 Mag’s extra power is due to pushing a similar size grain bullet as the 45 colt, but at a higher speed resulting from a larger quantity of smokeless powder.

Bullet weight also matters. Generally, the 44 Mag is associated with heavier bullets typically ranging from 220 to 240 grains. This doesn’t mean that the 45 Colt is left in the dust though, plenty of shooters load their 45 Colts with bullets that weigh above 250 grains, and some heavy loads even tip the scale beyond 300 grains.



On the other hand, the 45 Colt was originally designed for dominating at close ranges, where it was trusted for its stopping power. While factories may load them light, hand loaders know the versatility of the 45 Colt. A hand loader can increase a 45 Colt bullet’s stopping power with the right choice of load.

It’s also worth mentioning that while the 44 Mag may offer a higher power level and speed, the 45 Colt offers less pressure, which may significantly reduce wear and tear on your firearm over time. Comfort and longevity are factors often overlooked in the quest for sheer power.


To sum it up, when comparing the 44 Mag and 45 Colt, what you’ll find are two options that cater to different shooting needs. One is a hard-hitting speedster – the 44 Mag with its higher pressure and velocity. The other is a classic powerhouse – the 45 Colt, whose blend of reliability, lower pressure, and variable loads has kept it relevant for over a century.

Choosing Between 45 Colt and 44 Mag: Factors to Consider

When it comes to bullet choice, potential buyers must acknowledge that it isn’t one size fits all. Personal preference, intended use, comfort, and reloading are all factors that tip the scale during bullet selection.

Choosing Between 45 Colt and 44 Mag: Factors to Consider


Let’s start with the intended use. If you’re after a bullet for recreational shooting or hunting, where you need velocity for an instantaneous impact, the 44 Mag might appeal more to you. However, for those who prefer a bullet with less recoil that has proven itself over a century, the 45 Colt provides a spectacular option.


Comfort is another crucial factor. The 44 Mag, with its higher pressure, is a crowd-pleaser in terms of sheer power, but it comes with significant recoil and muzzle blast. The 44 Mag can also be harder on the shooter’s hand since it’s typically shot out of smaller, lighter revolvers. The 45 Colt, with its lower pressure loads, still delivers powerful shots with a softer recoil and blast. The 45 Long Colt in heavy revolvers like the Ruger Blackhawk or Ruger Redhawk might just become your new trusted sidekick.


Whenever handset loads are considered, the reloading aspect of these bullets is important to consider. Hand loaders always enjoy experimenting with the 45 Colt. As it runs on lower pressures, there’s ample room for manually adjusting and experimenting with the load to find that perfect match between power level and recoil. The 44 Mag, owing to its higher pressure and velocity, may offer less freedom in terms of reloading, however, it is capable of packing a meaner punch than the 45 Colt can achieve with any load.


Personal preference ultimately is the decider. Weapons like the Ruger Blackhawk, Ruger Redhawk, Ruger Vaquero, and others have models that can chamber both these bullets, giving a shooter the option to experience both without needing to change their firearm. One may prefer the raw power and speed of a 44 Mag while another may lean towards the slower but steady deliverance of a 45 Long Colt. The choice is entirely up to you.

Berry’s Superior Plated Pistol Bullets

Crafting the finest plated bullets on the market, Berry’s Bullets offer a remarkable balance of consistency, accuracy, and affordability. Whether you’re looking to hand load a 45 Colt or a 44 Mag, you’re sure to find a superior projectile from Berry’s.

Reliability is the cornerstone of Berry’s Bullets mission. We stand behind every bullet we sell with a commitment to accuracy and consistency. Our lineup extends beyond bullets – from ammo boxes to vibratory case cleaning tumblers to reloading manuals that delve deeper into the world of shooting.

But, our support for you goes beyond merely providing top-notch bullets and reloading products. Need help in deciding between a 45 Colt and a 44 Mag? Our team of experts is here to help, committed to guiding you toward an understanding of the value and benefits of both calibers.