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S&W Mod. 3 substituting modern .44 special for old .44 russian ?

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Hi Everyone,

I recently acquired a S&W Model 3 Russian made by Uberti in Italy. A very solid and good quality weapon working flawlessly and reliably right out of the box (something that cannot be said for Uberti's blackpowder clones - they always seem to need more or less fitting to work smoothly). It also shoots to POA and to my surprise, all I had to do was clean off the generous amounts of preservation oil that they bathe their guns in before boxing and shipping.

The only drawback is the price of the ammo. As far as I know, only the Italian Co. Fiocchi makes .44 Russian and they are quite pricey. So I bought one box of 50 for the shells and reload them. Recently, however, I heard from at least one Person that you can shoot .44 Special cartridges without any problems. Checking the cartridge specs they are exactly identical except for case length - the .44 Spl has a slightly longer case.

Are there any comments on this and/or has anyone actually substituted one for the other? Does the .44Spl work in the Model 3 Russian?

Thanks for inputs  :)

The Russian also comes chambered in 45 Colt, so it would have no problem with the power of the 44 Spcl, however I don't know that the special will chamber.  If you have some 44 Spcls, see if they will completely chamber in the cylinder.  If so, you are good to go.  Otherwise, you will have to stick with the Russians.  Black Hills sells 44 Russian also (and also pricey), and I think there may be others.  Starline sells the brass.

Dave T:

--- Quote from: blackpowder on January 28, 2021, 11:47:13 AM --- I heard from at least one Person that you can shoot .44 Special cartridges without any problems.
--- End quote ---

Your source of opinion on this had it backwards. One can shoot 44 Russian ammunition in a 44 Special, much like one can shoot 44 Special ammunition in a 44 Magnum...or for that matter the 38 Special in a 357 Magnum. The shorter, parent case will work in the longer chamber. The reverse is not true.

If you try to force a 44 Special cartridge is the too short chamber of a 44 Russian revolver you could encounter excess pressure when the tight throat of the chamber restricts the too long case from releasing the bullet.

Even if you can chamber a 44 Special in your Russian I would advise against the practice.




 :)  PLUS ONE for Dave T   ;)

I second, your "one person" has it quite 'up-side-down."  Or "Backwards" as it twer.  It the chamber is actually "44 Russian" a 44 Special case is a NO-GO.  Other way around is just fine and even recommended.  Running 44 Russian in 44 Special chambers is an excellent method to reduce case volume for reduced charge.  Or even loading BP and Subs for a little less oompah without resorting to fillers.

When testing your chambers, use only very light pressure when attempting to seat 44 Special cases and only test fit empty cases that DO NOT have a crimp.  I have had several Uberti guns (Open Tops) in my shop, marked 44 Colt that chambers 44 Special without problem.  In fact one set of Open Tops I owned were market 44 Colt and would chamber 44 Special.  My current Chameleon Open Top set has 44 barrels that are marked 44-40.  Uberti never made Open Tops in 44-40.  Strange stuff comes out of Uberti from time to time.

Stay Safe Out There 

Since the Russian is not sold in 44 Spcl, to my knowledge, I doubt that Uberti bored the cylinder deep enough to chamber the Special, but they might have.  In the case of Opentops and conversions, Uberti sold them chambered for 44 Russian only (some early ones, and so marked), 44 Colt, and 44 Special.  Customers tended to want the guns to be marked 44 Colt or Russian because it sounded more old timey.  So finally Uberti finally just started making all the cylinders 44 Special to simplify it, no matter which marking was on the barrel.  And later they just marking them all 44 Spcl to simplify things.  Howsomever, the Russian topbreak is a different animal.  I still say if the gun will chamber them, meaning any 44 Spcl including an empty case, it will be perfectly fine to shoot.


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