.41 vs .44


July 20, 2008, 10:06 PM
Is there a massive difference between these two calibers when it comes down to handgun hunting? Say if you used identical handguns, example raging bulls with same barrel length but one in .41 and the other in 44?

Both these cartidges with take adult bear with minimal problems. Thats what alot of hunters say after they DO so. So what im interested in knowing, is that if a guy is seeking to primarily go after white tail, and possibly bear someday in the near future if hes lucky enough to get a permit for a bear, is 44 the better way to go in caliber?

The big buffalo bore 44+p+ are putting out a little under 1700 ft lbs at the muzzle for energy, and well that seems enough for bear, deer, even elk at short range... What does a person do?

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July 20, 2008, 10:30 PM
I have not hunted with either, so the following is just my opinion. Whatever the 44 (.429 bullet diameter) will do the 41 (.410 Bullet diameter) will do, and if the 41 magnum isn't big enough, then you probably need somthing a lot bigger than a 44 magnum. I do own a 41 magnum, and I like it a lot, but bullets, brass, reloading dies etc. are a bit harder to find than for 44 magnum, and sometimes more expensive.

July 20, 2008, 10:45 PM
I've hunted with a .44 magnum handgun for a long time and shot several deer with it. I probably could have bagged every one of those deer with a .41 magnum just as easily. The .41 is sweet to shoot, and defintely not a "weakling" - I'm just used to the .44 and like using .44 Specials for practice.

Shot placement is crucial with either caliber so careful shooting and being conservative about the ranges shots are taken at will contribute a lot more to your success than a few extra ft/lbs. or grains of bullet weight.

Good Luck !


July 20, 2008, 11:04 PM
Ive been looking at ammunition for both calibers and well, i can get high end ammunition for both. Its just that well, its hard to decide.

I was planning on alot of 44 special usage just to keep accuracy up, and maybe handloading some mild magnums anyway. but its a hard decision.

July 20, 2008, 11:06 PM
For my money wrong question rather consider as a rig.

That is I think the .41 is as big as the S&W N frame can handle well and reliably and long term.

Because I vastly prefer the N frame I limit myself to a .41.

If I were committed to a larger frame then I would likely go with a larger cartridge meaning a bigger bore - for hunting a .45 such as the .454 or larger. That is I might go with a Redhawk in .41 but for a Super Red Hawk or a bigger North American Arms or a Bowen conversion I'd make the step up bullet throw weight. No doubt it's unwarranted prejudice but I doubt a Raging Bull would be my first choice for a pistol to run at redline. I'd certainly enjoy a Hornet or Bee though.

July 20, 2008, 11:31 PM
There is not a massive difference.
Dead is dead. People have killed a lot of animals with both.

July 21, 2008, 10:43 AM
I want a .41. Why? The cult appeal, the fact that I reload, the more compact ammunition (as opposed to .44, slightly more compact), and the fact that it'll do anything the .44 will do. I mean, similar velocities with similar bullet diameters and weights. However, the .41 will not push as heavy a bullet, advantage .44 in Alaska I guess, maybe, though I would feel under-gunned with either on a huge brownie. As soon be shooting a .357. But, normal hunting, the .41 will kill anything the .44 will kill. I haven't looked at what bullet molds I could get for the .41. I know 210 grain is pretty standard. Not sure how heavy you can go in the caliber, but there are some over 300 grainers available for ..44 mag if you want to rely on it in Alaska. I'm a long, long, long way from Alaska.

If I wanna move UP, I have a Ruger in .45 Colt I handload for. :D I really don't need a .41, I think think it's a cool caliber and that I'd enjoy it. I never got into the Dirty Harry thing with the .44, never got the bug, never owned one. I was a .357 guy until I got the .45 Colt. It's a little better hog stopper than .357, but the .357 has never failed me so I can't see that I actually NEEDED anything more than a .357 in the field. :rolleyes: But, few gun choices for me anymore are about NEED, anyway. LOL! I love single actions and specifically BLACKHAWKS for field use and my 41 will likely be a Blackhawk. Barrel length I go back and forth about. I have a short .45, so I'm thinking 5.5" if I could find one. My .357 is a 6.5". 5.5" would be the compromise. I have this weak spot for the short barreled SAs, though, and might wind up with a blued 4 5/8". If I get it in DA, it'll likely be a Taurus Tracker if I can get it without the stupid ported barrel. Probably be a Blackhawk, though, love my Blackhawks. :D N frames ain't got squat on the Blackhawk for strength and in a field gun in heavy calibers, I prefer single actions, have no use for a DA trigger.

July 21, 2008, 12:06 PM
Dirty Harry actually did carry a .41 instead of a .44 because a .44 in that frame was not available in time.

B Man
July 22, 2008, 11:03 PM
He also used a 45 Colt in filming

July 27, 2008, 11:19 AM
I've used & own several of both . . . the .41 is my wheelgun of choice (I acquired the .44s earlier in my firearm addiction). If you reload, I'd say .41; if you don't, a .44 might be the most prudent option.

Art Eatman
July 27, 2008, 11:33 AM
I've never actually hunted with my .44 Maggie, although I've done a lot of shooting with it. And, up to around 180 yards.

Off the cuff, I'd not think there's a nickel's worth of difference on whitetail to around 50 yards. From what I read, most pistol hunters consider that their own personal limit.

Beyond that, I guess success would depend on one's skill and knowledge, as much as the cartridge. And, there is some distance at which, even were I assured of a good hit, I'd maybe pass the shot.

July 27, 2008, 11:46 AM
"...there is some distance at which, even were I assured of a good hit, I'd maybe pass the shot"

Exactly. That distance is, for me, about 90-100yds (and preferably 60-70yds.), even though I can hit paper plates at 150yds. Hitting and dropping are two really different things.


Out West
July 27, 2008, 07:16 PM
My vote goes for the 41 Mag - mostly because its what I have already invested in. I have taken deer with my 41 Mag lever rifle and they drop dead like they were hit with a .308 . I limit my range to under 100 yards and the deer I have taken have been much closer to 50 yards or under. I love the idea of a combo outfit in the field - either my S&W 627 Mtn gun or my Ruger Redhawk 5" partnered up with the Marlin lever gun.

Notice that we tend to evaluate calibers by consideration of how they would stack up to the most dangerous game? If I was camping in Alaska and wanted something for Brownies, I would not be thinking handgun. I'd probably be thinking short barreled 12 gauge pump.

Out West

Jeff F
July 27, 2008, 07:33 PM
If you hand load the .41 is sweet. You can load light practice loads or hotrod hunting loads. If you don't hand load the .44 mag is probably a better bet. Lots of factory loads and .44 spl loads. Last time I bought .44 spl factory loads they were pretty pricey and not much in bullet selection, a few round nosed loads and Winchester silver tips is all I could find at the time.

July 27, 2008, 08:33 PM
Both are great calibers. I prefer the 41 magnum because I shot it better typically. That was 10 years ago and I have not had the need to try another 44 magnum since. The 41 magnum fills the niche for what I want in what would currently be called a medium power magnum.

Neither is head and shoulders above the other. If you are planning to get an N-frame Smith, I'd go with the 41. If you are planning on shooting lots of hot loads, go with Ruger in 44 mag.

A lot of people use the reloading argument in favor of the 41 magnum. If you shoot a lot, I would load either caliber. Ammo has been getting really expensive.

July 27, 2008, 08:57 PM
"Dirty Harry actually did carry a .41 instead of a .44 because a .44 in that frame was not available in time."

Huh? I had my N Frame M29/6 1/2" in '67, long before Mr. Harry had his adventures filmed and well before the .41 saw daylight.

July 28, 2008, 06:53 PM
Huh? I had my N Frame M29/6 1/2" in '67, long before Mr. Harry had his adventures filmed and well before the .41 saw daylight.

But S&W did not have one to give them for filming in time.

bad form, but here is the wikipedia article excerpt:


The gun used by Clint Eastwood in the filming of the movie was reportedly not a .44 Magnum. According to a story related by a member of the studio's prop department, Smith & Wesson did not have a Model 29 in stock at the time one was requested for filming. Instead, they used a Smith & Wesson Model 57 in .41 Remington Magnum. The Model 29 and Model 57 are identical except for minute differences in bore size, chamber dimensions, and exterior markings, none of which are visible in the film.

July 28, 2008, 07:38 PM
The 41 Remag is sweet and the 44 Remag is just a little sweeter. Like they say, no substitute for case capacity and the 44 can produce at least a couple hundred ft.lbs. more energy and as you know 44 specials can be used for practice. I shot my first handgun deer with a 44 Remag. I now have a 10" TC contender in 357 Maximum with which I also took a deer.


July 28, 2008, 10:06 PM
I practice with fully loaded rounds and for my wrist comfort, the .41mag wins over the .44mag, hands down!
Yes, it is true, that I could load down the ammo, or use .44special, but I would rather not. I let my son shoot the .44, while I, with my early stage arthritis, shoot the .41...I do not feel as though I have less power, in fact, I can shoot the .41 more accurately than the .44

July 30, 2008, 10:24 PM
Huh? I had my N Frame M29/6 1/2" in '67, long before Mr. Harry had his adventures filmed and well before the .41 saw daylight.

The .41 was introduced in 1964.

Tom Krein
July 31, 2008, 01:19 AM
I have .41's and .44's. For me it comes down to the bullets.

IF I could only have one or the other I would personally choose the .44 every time (good thing I don't have to choose... :D). It seems there is a much better selection of both cast and jacketed bullets in the .44 cal. Especially the heavier for caliber bullets, which is what you want for hunting.

Brass is also more readily available, as is loaded ammo. Say your ammo doesn't make it with you on a hunt... how easy is it going to be to find .41mag loads vs .44mag loads.

You can also shoot .44 specials in your .44mag for reduced small game/practice loads. Not available unless you reload them for the .41mag.


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