More Compact .44 revolver


February 12, 2011, 10:26 AM
I've got a .357 mag w/6" barrel in a Ruger GP-100. I spend a lot of time in the Adirondack Mountains and contrary to what the DEC here will tell you, there are mountain lions here. My question is: I'm looking for a smaller barrelled .44 mag for bear/whatever defense up in the mountains. I've had a bear follow me 2 miles back to my car once. He never charged but when I walked he walked, when I stopped he stopped, all the way to the car. I never thought about defense in the woods until that point, ok, so there was the moutain lion tracks that crossed mine behind me once, but I never saw it. Anyone have a short barreled .44 they would recommend for this type of use? Or maybe another caliber?

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February 12, 2011, 10:37 AM
I carry a S&W 4" Mountain gun in a Simply Rugged pancake. Very comfortable (and comforting). With round grips it's fairly compact and loaded with 280 gr. hard-cast wide flat points accurate and powerful as well.

I don't know how much smaller I'd be willing to go, especially when a lugged 3" would probably weigh in the same as my 4" slim bbl.

February 12, 2011, 10:38 AM
I like this one.
Or this.

February 12, 2011, 10:44 AM
I'm fairly ignorant, but I'd say your current .357 would be more than adequate for your stated purpose. I'd be very concerned about muzzle velocity so I wouldn't go for a short barreled gun. I realize it can be a bit awkward to carry, but the longer barrels develop more muzzle velocity and I'd want all the potential energy I could get when dealing with dangerous game.

February 12, 2011, 12:57 PM
I am surprised that the S&W is less then the ruger.
I myself would carry a 12g. pump shotgun, loaded with slugs or oo buck.
357 mag is a great round, but a bit on the light side for bears.
I would go with the S&W 44 mag.:) over the ruger. And If weight was no issue
The 12g. would be on a sling over my shoulder.;)

Standing Wolf
February 12, 2011, 01:03 PM
.44 magnum is the minimum caliber I carry in bear and/or mountain lion country.

I have a lot of faith in my three-inch pre-agreement Smith & Wesson model 629; a longer barrel would be at least as good or better. If weight is a problem, there's a Smith & Wesson scandium .44 magnum six-shooter with a fairly short barrel.

In grizzly bear country, I believe I'd want a .44 and at least a .30-06 rifle.

February 12, 2011, 03:56 PM
Smith used to make a stainless 3", 5-shot .44 Special, on the L frame so it was smaller than the N frame. Model 696, I have one, rarely see them even at large shows these days, but it's a nice gun if you come across one.

February 12, 2011, 04:05 PM
The .357 is a powerful cartridge for sure but I think maybe the barrel is the problem. It takes some fumbling and peeling of clothing to get that 6" barrel out of my hip holster. It's certainly not a quick draw item. I was thinking of a 4" or even a 2" I could maybe carry in a chest holster so I could just reach into my jacket and grab it if I needed to. And, if I need to get a shorter barrel, figured I'd just go up a notch to the .44 mag. That's just what I was thinking, maybe it's not practical.

February 12, 2011, 05:24 PM
Maybe switch from 357 to 40 s&w...good tradeoff or no?

February 12, 2011, 05:37 PM
Personally, I carry a 460 with a five inch barrel when in bear country. 260 grain Winchesters loaded with Nossler partion Gold bullets. About 2500 ft.lbs.

A .357 is plenty for lions. Average cat is 90lbs with females and 140 lbs for a male, approximately. There are of course bigger ones out there. If it will stop a person, it will stop a lion. None the less, choose your ammo wisely.

357 may be a bit under powered for black bear, and definately too small for grizzlies.

If you want a .44, then check out S&W Nightguard series of revolvers. They are scandium framed, so they are real light. I think they come in 6 shot, 2.5" barreled guns, but personally, I'd go with a longer barrel. The S&W Mountain Gun in .44 is nice.

February 12, 2011, 07:41 PM
Whatever handgun you choose, I think you should re consider how you carry it.

In the woods I open carry. If it's winter I have a long enough nylon gunbelt that it can go over my coat or jacket. When I get to "the wild", I transfer my holster from pants belt to exterior belt.

I don't want to have to fumble through layers of clothing either.

February 12, 2011, 08:00 PM
I bought a Taurus Tracker 44 for my wife to carry while we're hiking. She likes to shoot it--even with full-up loads. She practices with 44 Special level handloads.

Four inch ported barrel. Ribber griips to soak up recoil. Nice fit and finish. Weighs only 34 oz. Five shots. With Speer shot capsules loaded with #9 shot, it makes short work of snakes, too.

What's not to like?

Take a look at one. Nice gun, nice gun.

February 12, 2011, 08:29 PM
BigN...Did you actually see this "bear"? If not then check out the reports from these two sites.

February 12, 2011, 08:44 PM
Jelly jar, I did actually see the bear. It was on the same trail as I was about 100 yards behind me. I'm not sure we have any of the Bigfoot variety around here, at least none that I've seen or heard of. If I ever see one, you'll be the first to know...

February 13, 2011, 09:40 AM
Waldron, the Taurus Tracker looks just about perfect. Just what I was looking for. Sweet looking little piece...Priced reasonably. I'll get one ordered up this coming week, thanks...

February 13, 2011, 01:43 PM

Thanks for the nice reply. You'll like the gun.

I started with a S&W Model 48 41 Mag in 1966. I was doing geological field work in the Laramie Range, Wyo. I was carrying it for rattlesnakes. I was also carrying a 10# sledge hammer, a rock pick, chisels, field notebook and a back pack that, by the end of a day, weighed over 50 pounds--rock samples. The temp was around 100 degrees. Something had to go. It was the 3 and a half pound 41 Mag.

That's why, on seeing the nice, little Taurus, I bought it immediately. Have not regretted it.

I think the guys that buy the 2" S&W or similar Rugers with weights over 3 pounds are nuts!

Glad I could help.

February 27, 2011, 06:24 AM
Picked up my new Taurus Tracker, 44 mag, on Friday, took it to the range on Saturday, in spite of the bad weather. Couldn't have the gun in the house all weekend without shooting it. First thing I have to say about the gun is, it's pretty...It's also ( by far) the loudest handgun I've ever shot. I always wear good hearing protection but even with that on the noise is very noticeable. The factory grips are good but a bit small for my large hands but I think a pair of Hogue's will take care of that problem. I also took a 22 auto and a Ruger GP 100 in 357 mag with me. I started with the 22 and worked up to 38 then heavy 357 loads. I figured working up to the 357 would help me ease into the recoil I knew was coming with the Tracker. It didn't. I have a Ruger Super Redhawk in 44 mag also but it has an 8" barrel and absorbs most of the recoil. I closed my eyes and pulled the trigger. The recoil came but I still wasn't ready for it. It's the first handgun I've fired that actually hurt to shoot. I loved it! After about 10 rounds I had to put a thicker, padded glove on my right hand to help absorb the blast. After a few rounds of getting used to it I ended up firing 30 shells through it. It's very accurate at 25 yards, once you're not afraid anymore. It really pushes back against you but it does seem like the porting helps in keeping the barrel down since it didn't flip up much, which is what it was designed to do. I'm happy with my purchase. I hear some people say "just get a 44 mag and tone down the reloads." Well, in that case, it's no longer a 44 and you may as well have saved the money and stuck with the 357. I agree it's not a gun you'd shoot woodchucks with all day but it's great for what it was designed for, a short barrelled, light, powerful trail gun. Once you get used to the recoil and all the noise, I think you'll like it, I do...

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