I have sort of a love/hate relationship with the .44 Special in that I really want to like the cartridge, but I just haven't found a gun chambered for it that really fits my tastes well. My first venture into the world of .44 Special was a Taurus 445 snub. My thought was to use it as a compact pocket revolver (yes, I have fairly large pockets) and that the bullets were already "pre-expanded" so the short barrel wasn't much of a worry. While it seemed like a good idea at first, the rather small grips that came on the gun made it unpleasant to shoot with anything more than very mild handloads (I couldn't get through a 50-round box of Winchester 246gr LRN without a very nasty blister on the web of my hand). While I could have put more substantial grips on the gun, doing so would have defeated the entire purpose that the little revolver was supposed to serve. I eventually sold it and put the money towards a S&W M66-2 snub that I've been very happy with.
My second try at a .44 Special was a beautiful nickel S&W M21-4. This gun was going to be used as sort of a "light magnum" as it was big and strong enough to handle Kieth-level .44 Special loadings. While I liked it much better than the Taurus, it still didn't really fit into the niche I'd envisioned for it. While it certainly handled recoil better than the snubby had, its 37.5oz weight made recoil punishing with anything more than a Skelton-level loading. Also, while it was lighter than a comparable .44 Magnum revolver, its physical size made it no easier for me to carry (40+oz guns aren't an issue for me so long as the right belt and holster are used). While I tried very, very hard to like the gun, I eventually sold it and put the money towards my 4" 629.
Even after these two disappointments, I still like the idea of the .44 Special. Something along the lines of a medium-frame, all-steel, DA revolver with a 2 1/2-3" barrel and a useable sized set of grips to be used as a compact belt gun with regular factory ammo (much like how I use the afforementioned S&W M66) seems attractive to me. The S&W 696 would seem to fit this niche perfectly, but they're no longer in production and the idea just isn't interesting enough for me to pay the scalper's prices that used 696's seem to command these days. A Rossi 720 might be interesting if I found one for the right price, but I've only seen one in person once and the price was too high to interest me (I won't buy a "second tier" revolver like a Taurus, Rossi, or Charter Arms sight unseen due to the reports of hit-or-miss QC). The new Ruger Blackhawk .44 Special certainly looks like a nice gun, but I'm really not that interested in single-actions. Oh well, I guess I'll just keep an eye on the used revolver racks in case something catches my attention.
Smith, and Wesson, and Me. -H. Callahan
Well waddaya know, one buwwet weft! -E. Fudd
All bad precedents begin as justifiable measures. -J. Caesar