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Old March 10, 2008, 08:17 PM   #1
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.357 Magnum or .44 Magnum?

I'm looking into getting my first revolver. I want something with a 6" barrel, and it will only be used for target shooting. Would you recommend .357 magnum or .44 magnum and why? I reload, so if either is easier or more economical to reload, that would be a consideration as well.

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Old March 10, 2008, 08:21 PM   #2
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1. If you've never owned a revolver before I'm betting you aren't used to heavy recoil - a reason to stick with a .357.
2. If you aren't very rich - you probably won't be wanting to shoot lots of expensive .44 ammo. - another reason to go .357 (which also handles .38 special which is even cheaper to shoot).
3. If all you want to do is put holes in paper, a .357(.38) does that just as well as anything available. Another reason for the smaller caliber.
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Old March 10, 2008, 08:26 PM   #3
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I'm used to a fair amount of recoil. I shoot mainly .45 ACP, and I've shot both .44 mag and .357 in the past (years ago) and don't remember having a major problem with either. Your other points make sense, though.
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Old March 10, 2008, 08:27 PM   #4
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But seriously the .357 will be more versatile and cheaper to reload for, that being said i got a S&W 29-2 with 6 1/2 bbl as my first revolver, see i got this thing about dirty harry.

honestly the real question is which gun do you have your eye set on, which one just make you smile thinking of it. also remember that shooting the special version of either will save you on powder and a little on lead
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Old March 10, 2008, 08:28 PM   #5
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I enjoy shooting .357 Magnum and can stay fairly accurate with some pretty hefty loads. My accuracy starts going all to pieces with .44 Magnums and falls completely apart with some of the heavier .44 Magnum loads. You may or may not have similar issues.
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Old March 10, 2008, 08:28 PM   #6
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A 44 Mag out of a 6" barrel isn't bad, it's just a bit more brisk than a hot 158 grain 357 Mag out of a 4" barrel.

And, since you reload, you can always tone the big bore cartridge down a bit.
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Old March 10, 2008, 08:29 PM   #7
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consider ruger blackhawk convertible. 357/9mm.
shoot the cheapo 38 and 9mm rounds at the range and still have 357 available for hunting etc...
adjustable rear sight.
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Old March 10, 2008, 08:35 PM   #8
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I forgot to mention, I plan on putting a scope on whichever gun I choose.
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Old March 10, 2008, 08:38 PM   #9
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These are my two favorite calibers. My ego is telling me to urge you to get a .44, but the sensible side of me is saying .357. The .357 is - um, how shall we say - a crap load of handgun and you won't be dissappointed - unless you get a .44 afterwords (but, once you see the price of ammo the .357 will become good enough once again).
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Old March 10, 2008, 08:47 PM   #10
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I'd go with .357 mag. Seriously, unless you plan on hunting, I see no good reason whatsoever anyone would need or want a .44 mag. I know, I know....some people love'em but thats my opinion and Im sticking to it...Elmer Keith be damned!!!
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Old March 10, 2008, 08:54 PM   #11
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better choice as you can use 38 special rounds. You can also load 38 Special in a BBWC and enjoy some great bullseye shooting.
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Old March 10, 2008, 10:00 PM   #12
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Handloading saves so much money that it is almost ridiculous not to.

My last batch of .357 magnum handloads cost about seven cents apiece. .38 Specials use less powder and are cheaper. Everyone should have a .357, preferably a S&W.

You can load .44 Specials for the.44 Magnum as well. And there are wadcutter boolit molds available for this: even cheaper handloads.

Get whatever caliber makes you happy.
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Old March 10, 2008, 11:09 PM   #13
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I'd say as others have in this thread before me; get a .357 and shoot .38, .38+P, .38+P+ and .357 Magnum to your heart's content. If you get a Ruger GP100 it'll handle all those and just last and last. Have one on order myself right now, supposedly in on the 28th of this month.

I just bought a New Model Super Blackhawk from Ruger, a nice stainless single action .44 Mag. Shoots sweet but the cost of ammo can be very prohibitive! For target only, why bother?
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Old March 10, 2008, 11:25 PM   #14
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If the gun is "only for target shooting," then I'd get a .22 lr. Really. Cheap, fun. We got a .22 auto pistol for backyard plinking and it's a hoot. It's good practice, fun, and cheap. Accurate as all get out. Helps develop good shooting skills without teaching bad ones (like a .357 or .44 can do), and the paper is just as dead from the .22 round as from a .44.

One pistol for all eventualities? A 4" .357. A S&W 19, 66, 586, 686, 28 or 27 are all great. Anything from plinking to hunting or more. Much more packable than a 6" and very close in accuracy (if not the same - I have seen serious handgun tests fail to find an accuracy difference at normal pistol ranges). You will have a velocity difference, which impacts ballistics at longer ranges. Under 75 yards, I'd say the handling benefits of a 4" outweigh the velocity benefits of a 6".

Still want a centerfire gun? Consider a .38 only gun. A S&W model 15, 67, 14, or even a fixed-sight model 10. With factory 158gr ammo, it is very accurate to POA. The 6" Model 14 is the benchmark of accurate 6" .38 specials, bar none. A 5" Model 10 (or earlier, vintage "Military & Police" model) is sweet-handling and shooting gun that won't break the bank. These guns will be cheaper than a .357 by a 20 or 25% margin at least.

Why don't I like the .44mag? I do. I love it. I have one. But it has two uses - a) bear defense with full power loads, or b) occasional practice with .44 specials and full power loads, to support use "a". It's not nearly as versatile a gun as the .38/.357. If I carry for SD or keep at home for protection, it's a .357 that's doing the work. I have four .357s but only one .44mag and I don't expect to change that ratio any time soon.

Hope that helps you think about what you REALLY want to do with the gun and which one is right for you.
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Old March 11, 2008, 08:10 AM   #15
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i have a .357, my first handgun was a .357 snub nose and it is a very versatile tool, from teaching someone new on .38's to hunting deer with .357 buffalo bore loads. that being said, i am buying a .44 today (hopefully if the shop still has it). i don't know what it is about the .44 .. i just need one. i shot one once and i didn't really care for the groups, i just wanted to hold onto the darn thing! i say get the .44 if you reload, ammo cost wouldn't be an issue and you can work your way up as you please, and once you've worked up to firing full .44 mags with no problem that .45 acp will feel like a mouse gun.
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Old March 11, 2008, 08:26 AM   #16
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Of those 2 & for target shooting I say 357 mag. I also like the 6", my 2 similar 6"'s are a 686 & Security-Six. I don't feel like parting with any, but my 357's would be about the last to go. I reload the whole range from light 38 to hardcast over a max charge of win 296.
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Old March 11, 2008, 09:06 AM   #17
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"Elmer Keith be Damned" Great God in Heaven Darren. Go immediately to the nearest sink and wash your cerrebellum out with soap. Crikey.

That being said, a .44 Magnum is absolutely not an appropriate choice for a first revolver. A .22 is probably the best choice, but if you are set on a centerfire then a .357 is the best choice in my opinion hands down. The reasons have already been stated fairly well.
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Old March 11, 2008, 09:23 AM   #18
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I have to agree with those who said .357 as well. I own both and love to shoot both, but I had the .357 1st and have reloaded much more ammo for it than the .44 mag. I still have hundreds of rounds of empty .38 spl. brass by the can reload a wide variety in the power range for low $$. The selection of bullets avaliable is wider too.
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Old March 11, 2008, 09:35 AM   #19
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Elmer Keith did use a .357 from time to time to help control the field mice population. However, he only loaded those long "Keith" SWCs cast out of linotype metal on top of obscene amounts of 2400.

I love both, but if I had to pick only one, it would be the .357 because of its versatility. A Ruger GP100 or a Smith and Wesson N frame would for last a couple of lifetimes. Ruger Blackhawks are as rugged as they come if you want a single-action revolver.
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Old March 11, 2008, 09:47 AM   #20
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If you reload, a 44 magnum is the way to go. You can load down to 38 Special or to 44 mag max. Much larger range of power to choose from.
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Old March 11, 2008, 11:13 AM   #21
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We know you're not going to own just one revolver so the decision process isn't that critical

For a first revolver, a .22 would be great. Between the .357 and 44 mag, I'd recommend the .357. Powder, brass and bullets will cost less. You can download .38s and have a lot of fun. 44 mag factory ammo is expensive and, depending on the revolver, can be rough on the shooter. (I owned a Ruger 6 1/2" Blackhawk 44 magnum for 38 years and had a great time with it. I cast 250 gr Keith bullets and shot a lot of reduced loads with the gun. My hunting load was 20 gr. of 2400 behind a Hornady 240 JHP. I shot a couple of deer and lots of coyotes, jack rabbits and badgers with that gun. But, I started with S&W 19's and Ruger Blackhawks (.357) before graduating to the 44 mag.)

I have alot of 44 components and have a serious itch for the Ruger 44 Alaskan. I find I like the grip on this gun better than a single action Ruger grip for my aging hands.

Anyway, for a double action revolver (you didn't indicate whether you're looking at a SA or DA), I'd look at the S&W 686 or the GP100, 4" barrel. I own a Ruger SP101 2 1/4" snubbie, now, and have been having a great time with it.

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Old March 11, 2008, 11:27 AM   #22
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Thanks for all the great replies everyone. Let me clarify a few things.

1. I'm looking for my first centerfire revolver. I already own a .17 HMR revolver.

2. I want a double action gun.

3. I'd prefer not to go over $600.
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Old March 11, 2008, 11:54 AM   #23
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I'd say get the .357. Although the ammo price gets closer if you reload, there is no advantage to the .44 for paper punching, and the .357 will still be cheaper and the added shooting ease will make range sessions more enjoyable.
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Old March 11, 2008, 01:32 PM   #24
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Since you handload, either can be loaded to suit your needs. Personally, I'd rather shoot moderate .44Mag loads all day long than a hundred rounds of full-house .357's. Try as I might, I just can't warm up to the .357. The only two I own are destined to become something more useful.
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Old March 11, 2008, 02:22 PM   #25
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I'd say look for something like a used Dan Wesson, maybe a model 15-2 or similar. The S&W 686 is also a nice gun and you could probably find one of those used as well. I like the .357 because of the versatility. It's very comfortable to shoot .38SP WC all day long for paper targets and general plinking and if you handload, it'll be cheap to shoot (relatively speaking).
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