.357 vs. .44 mag. or 45 colt in levergun?


May 28, 2012, 03:19 AM
I am debating purchasing either a .357 Magnum or a .45 Colt in a lever action rifle. I have thought about a .44 magnum; but thought it might be more recoil than I prefer. My concern is several fold; possible back up rifle for close up deer hunting, shooting cost (since I don't reload), and recoil after a long shooting session. I am leaning towards the .357; but would like to hear any opinions.

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May 28, 2012, 03:30 AM
Sense you're not a handloader, I'd roll with that 357 cause you can buy 38s cheap. I handload and shot a lot of handloaded 38s in my new Henry 357 the past few days. I really like this weapon and if you find a new gen they are drilled and tapped if you wanna throw a scope mount on later. I am still wary on the new remlins now that Remington bought marlin so that why I went Henry. It's a nail driver.

May 28, 2012, 06:30 AM
I would second the .357 for a non-reloader. Out of a carbine the .44 isn't nearly as bad as you might think. The cost of .44 Special/Magnum ammo and selection compared to .38 Special/.357 balances your options in favor of the smaller caliber everything else being equal. IMO the .45 Colt is a non-starter considering the high costs of factory ammo and extremely limited loadings.

May 28, 2012, 08:00 AM
I put a rubber recoil pad on my M1894 in 44 Mag and that really helped tame the recoil. It had an old plastic buttplate and that was uncomfortable.

Rossi makes a M1892 in 454 Casull. With a crescent steel buttplate that must hurt to shoot!


Crunchy Frog
May 28, 2012, 09:14 AM
We shoot leverguns in cowboy action. The .357 rifle (shooting .38s) is very popular. As Bubbacrabb said, this is the most economical choice but understand that some magnum caliber rifles may have trouble feeding the shorter cartridges. Sometimes you can try different types of ammo (different bullet shapes and overall length) to find something that will work.

Unless you need the greater power of the .44 Magnum the .357 is a good choice for a field gun. The longer tube of the rifle will give you higher velocity than the .357 gets in a revolver. Recoil is mild even with full power .357 loads.

We have a fair number of people who shoot .45 Colt in the rifle. Sometimes they have problem with "blowby": There is insufficient pressure to expand the case to fully seal the chamber so gas and unburned powder comes out of the action, sometimes into the shooter's face. This is particularly true when shooting reduced power handloads. If your chamber is a little on the large size or the headspace is off, it can lead to the problem. I seldom hear of blowby in the .38-.357 rifles.

May 28, 2012, 10:17 AM
I have a Winchester 1894 in 44 Magnum. Recoil isn't too bad considering it only weights six pounds. Of course you aren't going to want to shoot much more than a hundred full power rounds out of it in one day. However, it's really the only caliber that I would consider for hunting. I know the others will work, I just like the extra margin.

May 28, 2012, 11:47 AM
The Marlin (an older one) in .357/.38. Lots of choices for ammo, from inexpensive .38 special to .357 magnum from Buffalo Bore that will have no trouble on deer at 100-125 yards.

I reload for mine. My daughters favorite load in this rifle comes out the barrel at 1850fps. Plenty of zip for a rifle like this. The .357 mag is one of the pistol calibers that really get significantly increased velocity from a rifle barrel.

May 28, 2012, 12:30 PM
Full power "hunting" loads for .45Colt is not going to feel much, if any, more mild than .44Mag when shot from a rifle. Don't confuse the sort of .45Colt rounds you would need to use for hunting with the reduced recoil Cowboy Action loadings.

I've shot some rounds of .44Mag from a Marlin 1894 lever gun and found the recoil to be solid but fun. But you indicate that you're looking for something with a lower recoil. What do you consider to be suitable?

Money wise anything that starts with a "4" costs a bundle to buy. It doesn't matter what the rest of the numbers are. If you want to plink a lot and hunt occasionally under the right conditions with it I'd have to echo the idea of the .357/.38Spl option simply for the lower cost .38Spl plinking ammo. Otherwise it's going to get expensive in a hurry just to feed the beast.

May 28, 2012, 12:46 PM
I sold my marlin 44 to my uncle because I didn't enjoy shooting it. I much preferred my marlin 357. when standing the 44 isn't too bad, but put it on a sandbag and it hurt.

38's barely recoil. 357 lets you know it went off, but will not hurt you. 45 colt is going to be a lot like 44 mag. It will kick a little less than 44 with the hot loads, and the cowboy ones cost more than 357 and 38's, so what's the advantage to it as a plinker?

May 28, 2012, 12:48 PM
We gave a 357 Marlin in lever action. It's a family favorite: easy shooter including 357, accurate, and scoped with a 2x isn't heavy.

Old judge creek
May 28, 2012, 01:44 PM
I have and use all three... plus some lever rifles in 44-40, to boot.

The fact is any of your chosen three will handle almost any job you might need to handle ..... EAST of the Mississippi River (and I grew up playing in the swamps and woods of the deep south).

But for your area (Colorado) I'd suggest you go with the 44 magnum (or 45 Colt). If you learn to reload, the difference between the two is academic, IMO. Until then, the 44 mag will beat the pants off any commercial 45 Colt load that I'm aware of (and I've been a reloader since the mid 1950s so bear in mind that I am NOT "up" on what's currently on the shelves. I've not bought commercial centerfire ammo since "I can't remember when".

Second only to the 357/38 Special, the 44 mag offers the largest variety of off the shelf ammo. And, like the 357/38, a 44 mag will shoot the less powerful 44 Specials.

If you learn to reload, you'll find that you can tailor your loads to the point to wherever and whatever power levels you want and that simply opens up a whole new world for the shooter.

One thing you should be aware of is that "some" rifles are extremely picky about overall cartridge length i.e. my Browning M92 357 is one of the greatest rifles ever in my battery, but it won't reliably cycle 38 Specials for beans. Its strictly a 357 mag rifle. I've not seen that issue in my (older) Marlins rifles.

My two favorite 44 Magnum lever rifles are my Marlin Cowboy Limited and my Rossi M92 Trapper (the Rossi is also picky about cartridge length, but its one of my all time favorites performance wise).

The simple fact is that your choice should hinge on what you possibly might need to actually do with the rifle. Generally I tell folks to pick out the biggest, meanest, nastiest, critter in the area that they might have to shoot with the rifle and then choose accordingly.

In the high Sierras, or high desert, and in Alaska, I generally carry rifles and handguns in calibers that have "4" as the first numeral.

Regardless of what you select, you'll have most of the bases covered. And as you gain actual field experience, you'll come to decide what's best for you. I've been playing in the wilder places for 65 years now and my choices have changed many times during those years.

May 28, 2012, 02:41 PM
Get whichever one you have the matching caliber revolver in.

May 28, 2012, 03:27 PM
I have the 357 and the 44 mag.
The 44mag recoil isn't anything to worry about.
The 357 has more trouble loading the 38 spec. than the 44 has loading the 44 spec.
I would like the 45 colt (I have the pistol...Blackhawk). But as said above, until you reload the 44 mag is a better choice for your desires.
In all, I would say the 44 mag (it isn't as cheap but then I haven't found any ammo probs at all with mine: that isn't true with the 357.)
I don't reload yet either.

May 29, 2012, 11:02 AM
For what you are looking for and especially if you don't reload a .357 is the way to go. I reload and already have a 44 Marlin but I'm still looking for a 357 lever gun for most of the same reasons you are.

May 29, 2012, 11:07 AM
I'm a big 45 Colt fan but since you don't reload I can't recommend getting involved with that caliber. Go for the 357.

May 29, 2012, 07:24 PM
After lots of feedback and research; I have decided on the .357 M92 Rossi. It just has so much more positive feedback in the way of a plinker; and possible back up hunter at close range. I live in SC and hunt in some thick woods. I have a .308 and .243 for flat wide open spaces; and will stick with my bolt actions for the majority of my hunting. However, during those occassion when I get in thick areas where a 50 yeard shot is the longest I will face; the .357 will be a good gun to have along. I am chosing Rossi due to the negative feedback I am getting on the current Marlin rifles. Sounds like they went downhill after Remington bought them out. Now I just have to decide between the 16 inch and 20 inch barrell.

May 29, 2012, 07:56 PM
Good for you David! I hope you really enjoy it!


May 29, 2012, 10:23 PM
Thats the one I'm leaning towards too... Good luck and let us know how you like it...

May 29, 2012, 11:44 PM
My Marlin is a 30-30, so.....

That being said, when I get to owning one of those, it will be in .357, because I have a Vaquero and Blackhawk in .357...no .44 or .45

May 30, 2012, 03:22 AM
44 mag doesn't kick that much. I've done lengthy range sessions with mine. The factory pad on the standard 1894 is pretty generous. If you get a 'cowboy' model it has no pad. I have a cowboy model, I use a PAST recoil shield (you wear it rather than the rifle) if I'm going to do more than a box of 50.

May 30, 2012, 03:43 AM
Good luck!

May 30, 2012, 10:41 AM
You've had some great advice here and Snag's views above mirror my own. But let me throw out another option that you may not have fully considered and that meets your specs of a good, close hunting deer rifle with low recoil:

The venerable 30-30.

I have a 1968 Marlin 336 Texan (straight grip, 20" bbl) that I picked up in great condition on GB for $325. Beautiful, well made carbine.

30-30 seems to get short shrift these days with all the bench rest wonders and short magnum loudenboomers. But this is a great round that has put more meat on the table than any other, period. You will find factory ammo for it wherever ammo is sold, and it is priced right. With Hornady's Leverevolution, you have you have a factory load that will put down deer out to 200 yards and the 170 gr offerings will do for black bear and elk at more reasonable ranges. The reduced recoil factory loads in 150 gr give to you plinking ammo at prices not much higher than pistol caliber. And if you ever do reload, the wonderful world of 30-30 expands exponentially - I am currently working up 50 yard plinking and varminting round using the Hornady 86gr short jacket .30 Mauser bullet and 11 grs of Trail Boss. It should feel about like a .22lr.

The important thing is that you want to buy a lever gun. Everyone should own at least one. 357 sounds like a good fit for you, but give 30-30 some thought.

May 30, 2012, 01:08 PM
Good choice. In this state .45 Colt is not legal for deer, both the .357 and 44 mag are. Other states may vary.

May 30, 2012, 01:45 PM
if you are serious about hunting the .44 mag is going to be better round producing about 1400 ft lbs out of a carbine barrel vs about 800 ft lbs from a .357. Most of the increase in velocity and energy is from the lack of a b/c gap when compared to traditional revolver ballistics. With .44 mag you can shoot 180 gr if you dont like recoil. Around here .44 mag is about 30% more expensive vs .357. I love .357 magnum but I had a delayed recovery on a nice 8 pointer and wont do it again. If you double lung a deer with either it is going to die but a .44 has a much bigger blood hole for tracking.

Crunchy Frog
May 30, 2012, 08:56 PM
Get the 20 inch tube. That way when you start shooting cowboy action (and you should), your magazine will hold ten rounds.

I'm in SC as well, in the Greenville area. We have a SASS affiliate club just down the road, there are two clubs that shoot in Columbia, one near Summerville and one in Aynor near Myrtle Beach.

Send me a PM for more info if you are interested.

May 30, 2012, 09:05 PM
you can always have a pachmeyer pad installed

May 30, 2012, 10:40 PM
I'm in SC too... big hug :)

I was a Piedmont Regulator from back in the day. You could say that I have used and abused most any levergun at one time or another.
The Rossi in .357 should be fine for the OP and the intended use though I have a soft spot for the 44.

May 31, 2012, 11:21 AM
I believe that I have decided on the .357. I am just trying to decide 16 vs. 20 inch barrel; and large lever loop vs. smaller lever loop. Any thoughts?

May 31, 2012, 12:52 PM
A just for fun gun... shorter barrel, small loop.

Old judge creek
May 31, 2012, 01:11 PM
Personally, I MUCH prefer the Trapper (16" barrel length) to the others because they are much easier to carry, easier to stow when you pack your gear, and in heavy brush or close quarters are much easier to manipulate.

For SASS use I go with the longer barrel rifles because they hold more rounds in the tube. In real life, the Trapper is IMO a better choice. The beauty of most lever rifles is that they can be "topped off" as you shoot them.

The large loop lever is purely a hollywood wanna be affectation IMO.

John Wayne used one in the movies so now...

In reality it came to be for a very practical purpose: in extremely cold conditions, you can readily fit a hand wearing a glove or mitten through the lever. The standard lever does not offer that.

In use, the loop lever will beat the stuff in's out of your trigger hand because you have to move it further to contact the far side of the loop, and then throw the lever. Wearing a mitten mitigates the hand travel and buffers the backside of your hand rapping against the far side of the lever. Certainly, its a personal choice.

Regardless of what you choose, I do believe that you will indeed enjoy it.

May 31, 2012, 03:29 PM
I prefer the longer barrel; but as noted above it depends on what you want. If you're taking deer with a 357 you'd better have as many fps as you can: get the 20...It doesn't seem to me like 4" would make a big deal in the brush: but any brush around me has poison oak: I ain't going in there...

I agree with the comment above on large loop: my 1895 45-70 has the large loop: but for your purposes I'd go small: my 357 and my 44 mag 1894s both have small loops.

May 31, 2012, 03:33 PM
http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/76636-1.html scabbard

May 31, 2012, 04:14 PM
small loop unless you have fingers like bananas or ski gloves

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