Optimum Barrel Length for .44 Magnum?


January 18, 2004, 04:20 PM
In the near future, I'm planning on getting a .44Mag revolver for use in hunting (usu. hogs & whitetail deer), IPSC (.44SPL/not IDPA), and general plinking & woodsbumming (already handload). I'm leaning toward either a Redhawk 5.5"bbl or a S&W 6" bbl., but others have given me input about both shorter (4") & longer (7.5") barrels. Now I'm just plum confused...:banghead:

What would you consider the OPTIMUM barrel length for my purposes? :scrutiny:

Thanks in advance....:D

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January 18, 2004, 04:27 PM
I think ''optimum'' is a bit subjective and will vary from one to another.

I'll say this tho ... seeing as a full house (''real'') .44 mag round has to make use of what is in effect a fast burning rifle powder .... a slow powder by handgun standards .... there is at least a sorta minimum ... and I think that 6" is about that minimum ........ otherwise you lose/waste a lot of that ''oomph'' in wasted gasses out the muzzle!!:p

I would favor 7 1/2 as even better and maybe that is ''my'' optimum ...... tho I happen to choose 9 1/2 tubes for my two SRH's in .44 mag and .454 ..... it makes better use of the round's potential.

My Raging Bull is 6" ... in .454 ... but even if .44 mag I'd regard it as my minimum length.

Just my 2 pennies.

January 18, 2004, 04:45 PM
4 inch barrels are good for carrying, but for hunting, the longer barrels are going to give you a better sight radius and a little more velocity as well as improved recoil control. I have a S&W 29-3 with a six inch barrel and that is nice, handy package. For heavy handloads, I have a Ruger Super Redhawk with a 7-1/2 inch barrel and it is easy to shoot. I really can't say that a 44 magnum would be a great choice for IPSC, although it will surely take down poppers with authority, but six rounds is a handicap these days. I think the majority of IPSC revolver shooters opt for something like a S&W 625 which can quickly be reloaded with moon clips.

January 18, 2004, 04:55 PM
Everything you say requires carrying the beast around. I think one poster shoots everything you've noted using a Redhawk with 5.5" barrel. More holsters for this than for SRH with 7.5". Power not an issue.

January 18, 2004, 05:07 PM
A 29/629 in a 6" seems to be the best blend bewtwwen balance, toteability, and performance, IMO...but I would rather have a 4", myself, and lose a bit of power, to gain some handiness.

Jim March
January 18, 2004, 05:41 PM
The longer the barrel, the faster and more *effectively* accurate (due to sight radius).

The shorter the barrel, the faster the draw and concealment gets easier.

That's why the old west Colts with 4.6" tubes were known as "the gunfighter's choice"...longer was the mark of a working outdoorsman who might be hunting, or stopping major critters.

Upshot: if the goal is *defense* against critters at close range, think shorter within reason. If you're hunting, the range opens up and speed-draw isn't a factor, so go longer.

January 18, 2004, 05:52 PM
Better clarify a few things....

IPSC: I'd use .44SPL loads that make major, not magnums (hard on the steel targets...:eek: ). Also, it can't have ports or a scope on it (not in Revolver class, anyway).

Hunting: I'm not planning to scope it anytime soon, but it wouldn't hurt to have that option (i.e. Redhawk 7.5" integral mount) for a red-dot type scope. Not planning to use it past 50 yds.

Performance: I can modify the handloads for the barrel lengths. I'm more interested in things like "shootability" and "portability".

I'm kinda interested in the .45Colt versions of these revolvers too, but .44Mag is still my first choice.

EDIT: It'll also probably do a little duty as a nightstand/HD gun too.

Thanks for all the help so far...:D

January 18, 2004, 05:57 PM
Aha ... well I still think 6" is an ideal minimum but ..... as regards your needs then certainly 4" is now looking better ..... if you are going to load for tube length then that helps a lot too.

I think length decision here will be probably as much as anything .. what you want to carry easily and wield easily. ..... which could be 4" ... but 5 1/2'' to 6'' still better otherwise - re performance, sight base etc.

January 18, 2004, 06:56 PM
To me a handgun is to be carried. 5" would be perfect, but I've killed 5 deer over the years with a 4" M29 and not a single one of them complained about my barrel length... I guess the darn fools don't read gun magazines.

I followed the siren song of 300+ grain bullets @ 1325+ fps, and so a 5.5" Redhawk is my hunting revolver these days. It's a fine revolver too, with enough barrel to actually make 300 grain XTP's expand on broadside shots. But for deer and such to 350 pounds, a 250 grain "Keith load" from a 4" 29 is really all you need. If I were starting over I'd get myself a .44 Mountain Gun, load it with 240-250 SWC's at about 1300 fps, and call it good.

January 18, 2004, 07:21 PM
Ok just to bring something up that others haven't. If you plan on using it for hunting check your state laws to see if there is a minimum. For instance MD has a 7.5" minimum if you want to use it for deer.

John Ross
January 18, 2004, 07:29 PM
Sarge's post is spot-on. I say this given that 80% of my 44s wear 8 3/8" tubes.

Handle a 629 Mountain Gun. Then handle a 5.5" Redhawk (change the grips.) If 250s at 1300 will do, get the Smith with its better trigger. If 320s at 1325 are your aim, get the Ruger.

When you decide you want to plink at LONG range, add another .44 to your collection: an 8 3/8" Smith without the full underlug, or an 8" or 10" Dan Wesson.


Ala Dan
January 18, 2004, 09:01 PM
Greeting's All-

A Smith & Wesson 5" 629-5 "Classic" would make
for a near perfect fit. :D

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

January 18, 2004, 09:44 PM
I agree with your first choices of 5.5 - 6 " barrel length.

Also to expand on anapex's post:

Even if a shorter barrel is ok in Texas, it may not be in another state if someday you want to hunt elsewhere. As an example, Georgia's 6" hunting minimum is what motivated Glock to make a 6" Glock 20 barrel. (Glock's USA location in Smyrna, GA was no doubt an influence.)

FWIW, Tennesse's minimum barrel length for hunting is 4".


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