44 Bulldog and 44 Webley ammunition velocity testing

Having done the wood penetration testing of the two rounds shown in the other post I grew curious as to what kind of bullet velocity these bullets were getting with such a short barrel.

In this first test I measure the velocity of 3 rounds of caliber .44 Bulldog as made and sold by Old Western Scrounger in the 1990s. The weapon used is the 5 shot folding trigger variant of my Belgian 44 Bulldog revolvers and it has a 2.5″ barrel.

Hmm, not much to it. Did you notice the lack of recoil when I shot? It was kind of like firing one of the child’s cap pistols of my youth.

So in the interest of completeness I next proceed to velocity test some of the /44 Webley ammunition I made in the same pistol.

So what do we learn from this? First (which I had already learned while making the last video) adding 10 more grains or so of FFF gunpowder under a heavier bullet greatly increases the recoil. Sadly that extra gunpowder and recoil only threw another hundred feet per second or so into the velocity.

What do the numbers mean? Well let’s compare these figures to some other well known self defense cartridges

The .32 Colt auto pistol cartridge moves a 71 grain bullet at about 774 feet per second from a small pocket auto. It generates 121 foot pounds of energy.

The 380 Colt auto pistol cartridge moves an 88 grain bullet at about 875 feet per second from a small pocket auto. It generates 150 foot pounds of muzzle energy.

Both of these rounds, because of their low kinetic energy are considered to be near the bottom of the pile as good choices of caliber for self defense.

Then we come to the bulldog revolvers.

The .44 Bulldog moves a 168 grain bullet at 390 feet per second from my little revolver. These bullets develop only 57 foot pounds of muzzle energy, or less than HALF the kinetics of a .32 acp.

The 44. Webley cartridge with about 18 grains of FFF powder launches a 205 grain bullet at velocity of 502 feet per second. This gives it a muzzle energy of only 115 foot pounds.

In short, neither round develops more muzzle energy than does a .32 auto pistol!

Indeed the ballistics and the wood block penetration test of the other blog would indicate the 44 Bulldog is no more of a manstopping round than is the .22 Short or a .25 auto pistol (and actually some loads for the .25 greatly exceed the kinetics of the 44 Bulldog cartridge).

On paper the .44 Webley cartridge exceeds those the /22 Short and the .25 acp in stopping power, but as noted it’s paper ballistics are still inferior to those of a 32 auto pistol.

What I see as the saving grace (if there is one) of a /44 Webley bullet as a self defense round is that because it is a bigger bullet it will make a bigger hole in an opponent.

Alternatively because of the much greater recoil of a black powder cartridge the question becomes one of shot to shot recovery time for the shooter.
Smokeless powder burns continuously for as long as it remains in the gun which generates a constantly accelerating push against the bullet. Conversley black powder detonates all of it at once and the only push the bullet gets is the initial first push, after that on the way down the barrel everything is inertia.

This in my opinion is the true difference between modern smokeless powders and the black powder cartridges of old.

Of course sadly these old Bulldog revolvers are made of older non-alloyed steels in formulations which had imprecise (if any) tempering and therefore the weapons are not strong enough to experiment and develop smokeless powder loads for them.

These tests were done with a chronograph. My opinion is any serious shooter or reloader should possess a chronograph. Often testing with a chronograph will make information you should know readily apparent to you. Things like the average velocity of the rounds, their shot to shot deviation, are the numbers being measured by you the same as the numbers the bullet manufacturer was advertising (LoL, probably not as manufacturers tend to hype their products), etc.

If you are seeking a chronograph like my own, you can get one here by just clicking on the image.

If you would like to do a little price comparison shopping first, then I suggest a copy paste of the link below.


If you want the best in shooting and gunsmith supplies I strongly suggest checking out this link.

Your questions and comments are always welcome. Feel free to leave them below. Thanks.

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