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Old March 25, 2005, 08:23 PM   #1
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3,4,or 5 inch barrel in .44 magnum?

I am considering purchasing a Smith & Wesson .44 magnum, and I would like some advice as to which sized barrel is better. I expect to shoot the gun some, and carry in the woods as a back-up. Probably will not hunt much with it. Also, I am curious if the Ported Barrel really reduces felt recoil? Would a 3 inch or 4 inch barreled .44 magnum shoot more like a 6 1/2 inch barreled gun if it had the ported barrel? I have a 5 inch model 625 in .45 acp, and I like the full lug barrel. It is alittle heavy for extended carry, though. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old March 25, 2005, 09:26 PM   #2
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Having tried M629's with 4", 5", 6", 6.5", and 8 3/8" barrels, my personal favorite (for open sights) is the 5" M629 Classic with full underlug. If uses involve hunting, choice changes to 6.5" M629 Classic with 2X Leupold. I think you are really getting into personal opinion here and must choose whichever you prefer. I do not like ported barrels on .44 Mags as they greatly increase muzzle blast and I can live with the raw .44 recoil without them. Just my .02.

Good shooting and be safe.

ps: The extra weight of 5" barrel is appreciated when carrying stops and shooting starts!
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Old March 25, 2005, 09:48 PM   #3
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I have the 3" Trail Boss with the ported barrel. I have several longer-barreled 44s, so I carry this one only for emergency use. I fired some 320gr Cor Bon hardcasts over my friend's chrono, then we fired some through his 4" unported Mountain Gun. My revolver averaged around 1075fps and he got closer to 1150fps. I've fired both guns a fair amount and recoil seems relatively comparable. For emergency use at 20-30yds or less, accuracy is also pretty close. If I were to do it again, I might consider the Mountain Gun just to get the extra 75fps. Oddly, my friend likes the Trail Boss better. I guess the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence!

I like the looks and feel of the scandium 44 with the 4" barrel but have not shot one. It would be easy to carry but at 26 oz, I imagine recoil is quite sharp.

I've never fired any 44 without very good ear protection so it's hard for me to say whether the ported 3" is really that much worse than the unported 4". I imagine that shooting in an emergency without ear protection, the ported 3" would hurt more.
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Old March 26, 2005, 08:26 AM   #4
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I like a barrel of at least 5 inches due to velocity loss in shorter barrels, also the powder has more time to burn, but if you reload you can work with faster burning powders to overcome that, Speer has now come out with short barrel gold dot loads not sure if they have them in 44mag yet. I have 2, 5 inch big bores and find it is a good compromise for sight picture, size for carry and weight. Also the longer barrel adds a little weight and helps reduce muzzle flip under recoil. I think everyone has a personnal preference due to various needs in a gun and for woods backup a snubby may not be the best choice. I feel for all around use other than concealed carry a 4 inch is about minimum and anything over 6 inches gets heavy by days end unless you get one of the new light weight metals like titanium or scandium.
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Old March 26, 2005, 09:19 AM   #5
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Curious if the Ported Barrel really reduces felt recoil?

I have had a 3 inch Magna-Ported 629 and now have a 5 1/2 inch Stainless Ruger Redhawk.
I liked the 3 inch Smith & Wesson but coould see no difference in felt recoil after Magna-Porting. The Redhawk's double action trigger is tooooo loooong but, will take any load[s] you put through it. I'd go with atleast a 4 inch, if not longer.
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Old March 26, 2005, 01:33 PM   #6
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Recoil no, muzzle flip yes.

I have two of the 3" Classic Hunter Model 29 S&W models. One is stock, the other has had the Weigand "Tame the Beast" porting package applied. In back-to-back shooting sessions, the felt recoil is the same. The perceived recoil is vastly different due to the fact that the muzzle on the stock gun whips up severely (FSVO "severe") while the ported gun just kind sits there. It still delivers a whollop to your hand, it just doesn't twist upwards like the other gun.
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Old March 26, 2005, 03:11 PM   #7
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Do you have any plans of concealed carry with it?

If so, I'd say the 4" is the best all-purpose length.

In the big N-frame-sized guns, my personal opinion is that the 5" balances best, and for me shoots best (i.e. swings quickly, but heavy enough to be smooth).

If you're open to Rugers, the 5.5" Redhawk isn't a bad balance either.

As a side note, I absolutely hate ported guns, and wouldn't buy one for several reasons:
1.) IF you have to fire it from a retention position, it's going to spray burnt and unburnt powder, hot gasses, and possibly lead shavings into your face.
2.) Huge flash right in front of your eyes.
3.) reduces muzzle rise, but to me, that hurts the handling of the weapon, as you're now absorbing all the recoil straight back. To handle heavy recoiling guns, I keep my wrist locked, and let the gun recoil, letting my shoulder and elbow joints as well as the weight of the gun to absorb the recoil.
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Old March 26, 2005, 04:17 PM   #8
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For a general utility big bore, 5" of barrel length is close to my idea of heaven with a handgun. It will still balance extremely well in the hand and while you will lose some velocity compared to longer tubes, you will still have enough to dispatch possible dangers on the trail and a good shot at game is still within reason if it should present itself.
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Old March 26, 2005, 04:20 PM   #9
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If your just using it as a backup for hunting, and maybe some fun shooting, go for the 5" barrel..

Its not that hard to find a good, comfy shoulder rig that will make it easy to carry.
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Old March 27, 2005, 09:03 AM   #10
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I've had 3" , 4", and 6.5" S&W .44 magnums, and I still have a 5" Classic. it's my choice of the S&W's.

The 5" balances well for me, after I found the grip that fit me best.

The 4" I had was a Mountain Gun, which carried nicely, but kicked pretty bad with anything approaching a full load. The 3" was not ported, and had an unfluted cylinder. It had less perceived recoil than the 4", more like the 5". This may be because the powder wasn't as fully burned?
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Old March 27, 2005, 10:10 AM   #11
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Another vote for the S&W 629-5 Classic .44 magnum with a 5" barrel.
I own one of these, and IMHO its the best barrel length for field use
or target shooting.

Best Wishes,
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Old March 27, 2005, 04:36 PM   #12
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I recently purchased a 629 Magnum Packer.
It's has a non-fluted cylinder, a 3" bbl and is quadra ported.
Very little muzzle flip, but it is a beast straight back.
I must be getting old, cause I bought a padded shooting glove just because of that gun.

I think the 5"bbl is the best choice, but I have this addiction to snubby revolvers.
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Old March 27, 2005, 04:52 PM   #13
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I have a 5 inch Ruger .44 mag that I dearly love. I shot a 7 inch and just didn't like the extra bulk. Not that the Redhawk is lightweight, but for my uses, it is light enough to carry all day in a shoulder holsetr while fishing, yet for me, very manageable and accurate on the range.
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