.357 Magnum vs. .44 Magnum, pros and cons!

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by DemonTweaks, Feb 3, 2011.

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  1. DemonTweaks

    DemonTweaks Member

    Feb 3, 2011
    seattle WA
    Hello every one!

    I recently decided to take up shooting again (used to shot rifles and bow when young) and figure I'll go big. So went to a local gun shop and tried out the famous .357 Magnum in three different size revolvers.
    Was way fun and inspiring!
    Except for the first five rounds thru a 2" barreled Ruger...
    NOT a great start choice from the guy behind the counter...


    Been thinking to maybe step it up even more to the even more famous .44 Magnum though. Will probably go and test some of them out too.
    My main usage will be target, paper and other objects, and in worst case scenario, home/personal defense.

    I would like some feedback on the good and bad with the two above mentioned calibers.
    Is the 44 too much? (I'm not going to hunt or anything like that)
    Big, if any, difference in cost of ammunition? (want to shoot it quite a bit so i can handle it well)
  2. Redd Orion

    Redd Orion Member

    Feb 3, 2011
    California's Left Coast
    I suppose I might ask: How big a boy are ya'? ;) Both can be tough to handle for smaller people, or those with smallish hands.

    I have had enough experience with .357 revolvers to not have a great deal of respect for the caliber. I know I'm going to get flamed for that, but here's my take: They have more recoil than I think they deserve to give. For small-bore out of small arms, there is 9mm and .40SW. Both are deadly, accurate and fast. When you want to step up to larger bore, there is the venerable .45ACP and the .44 Magnum.

    I briefly considered purchasing a 357 for awhile, until I shot a few from friends and rentals. Ballistically they are impressive, but compared to other cartridges out there, for me they fall into the "why bother" category.

    What I settled on for a paper-poker/pig gun was the Smith & Wesson Performance Center .44 Mag light hunter. Might be kinda pricey if you're just getting back into shooting after a long hiatus, but tons of fun and a worthy sidearm in the field.

    I might suggest trying to rent or borrow a ported .44 mag, as that makes a huge difference. With a larger revolver you will want the recoil to be aimed straight back towards you as opposed to straight up, causing unwieldy and uncomfortable barrel rise.

    Bottom line, try 'em both!
  3. bluetopper

    bluetopper Member

    Dec 17, 2005
    Northeast TX
    If you're not going to reload there no greater pleasure in shooting than a nice target 38, for one, it wont abuse you, it's very accurate and powerful enough for just about anything.
    I highly recommend handloading/reloading. If you do, the 44 Magnum will open up a whole new world of shooting fun. and versatility; from mild to wild.

    As for the 357......it really doesn't do anything for me anymore now that I took up reloading and the 44 Mag.
  4. Old krow

    Old krow Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    MS Gulf Coast
    Welcome to THR guys!

    My advice would be to take a quick look at ammoengine and price ammo. Both are good guns and both have their place, but can be a little on the pricey side for the range if you do not reload. Of course "pricey" is a relative term, but there's a noticeable difference, especially when compared to something like a 9mm or 40SW.

    Like parisite said, hand loading makes it all the more bearable and more versatile. I doubt that I'd consider them range guns if I wanted to shoot a pretty good bit and didn't load my own. Of course a "pretty good bit" is also a relative term.

    Try them both and see which one you like best and see if the ammo costs suite you.
  5. gwalchmai

    gwalchmai Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    outside the perimeter
    You have presented a false dichotomy - there is no reason not to have them both. As noted, reloading is a must for the .44, both for the economy factor and the fact that it allows you to bring out the true potential of caliber. I paid off my Dillon 550 with the savings from the first 3500 rounds I loaded.

    A halfways decent handloader can easily tailor mild plinking loads(180gr bullets @ 700fps) to wild (300gr bullets @ 1000fps) grizzly killers. That makes the .44 pretty versatile. And of course the same can be done with the .357.

    BUT, if I were limited to factory ammo I'd get a 4" or 6" .357, preferably a S&W 686.
  6. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

    Jan 8, 2011
    You don't reload, want it for punching paper and self-defense....A 4" .357 fits the bill best, IMO.
  7. SPW1

    SPW1 Member

    Apr 22, 2009
    I like both, but if I had to narrow it down to one or another I would probably take a full size 357 with at least a four inch barrel over the 44 magnum. In my opinion a 357 needs at least a four inch barrel to make it worth while, less than that and you might as well go with a 38 special. Properly loaded a 357 will take game up to deer size or a bit bigger just fine and it is easier to find 357's that balance and point well without being overly bulky. That said, the first gun I ever bought was a 44 mag revolver and I have a soft spot for them, I just don't think they are as versatile or as practical as a full size 357 due to their considerable bulk. This is especially true of double action revolvers.
  8. 788Ham

    788Ham Member

    Sep 24, 2010
    Hills west of Denver
    As the above poster just said, get a 4" .357, shoot 38's until you get fairly good with it, then go to the heavier recoiling .357. If you haven't had much experience with revolvers, STAY away from the .44 mag, it'll beat you up! If recoil bothers you to the point of not wanting to shoot the .44 mag, and decide on shooting 44 spec., no sense in spending the money for a .44 mag! Be sensible about what you are wanting to undertake, unless money flows into your pocket better than mine!
  9. doctorxring

    doctorxring Member

    Jul 24, 2005
    The Republic of Texas

    The only thing better than a 357 or 44 Magnum is a 45 Colt.

    If you handload. If you want power and are going factory ammo, then 44 Magnum
    is a much power as most people can handle in a revolver.


  10. frankenstein406

    frankenstein406 Member

    Jan 9, 2011
    357, 38 for cheap plinking and 357 hd or plinking to. Good luck
  11. David E

    David E Member

    Aug 3, 2008
    Anyone who asks this question should get the .357 The .44 magnum is best bought by the guy who already knows he wants or needs it.

    The Ruger GP-100 or S&W 686 would fill the bill nicely.

    And, maybe the OP already knows it, but a .357 can also shoot .38 special, adding to the versatility.
  12. HelterSkelter

    HelterSkelter Member

    Jan 4, 2011
    both are great guns, but i prefer the .357. it's a better manstopper and it's a lot cheaper to shoot. with a .357 you can also shoot .38s through it which are way cheaper than .357s and a helluva lot cheaper than .44 magnum or .44 special.

    either gun can be shot by anyone of any size easily with practice. i'm 5'9" 145 lbs with average size hands and i can shoot either without any problem. in fact even the hottest and heaviest loads i don't feel satisfied.
  13. TwoNiner

    TwoNiner Member

    May 26, 2009
    Welcome to the world of revolver demon.

    I'll give you some advice someone once gave me--go with either as you'll eventually have both .357 and .44.

    My first revolver was a .357 mag GP 100 with a 6" barrel. The Ruger is a thing of beauty and tough as nails. Handles hot loads just fine and your hands don't get beat up thanks to the nice rubber grips. The gun is inexpensive and a great value.

    Funny thing is I actually bought a s&w .44 6" about a week before I got the mag. I ended up canceling the order before the waiting period was up and switched over to the Ruger. I originally thought the .44 would be cooler but ended up going the more conservative route and it was a good decision in the end. Don't be fooled, the .357 is one powerful round.
  14. forindooruseonly

    forindooruseonly Member

    Oct 3, 2009
    Go with the .357 and start with the .38 specials. I don't know your level of shooting experience from the past and whether you have much experience with handguns, but if you are relatively new to handguns the .44 will probably give you lots of bad habits, especially if you are shooting factory loads through it. .44s are pretty stout, especially out of shorter barrels, and as a result many inexperienced shooters develop a pretty bad flinch and start jerking the trigger. This, of course, means they don't hit much with it.

    If you start with a .357, you still have a very powerful handgun with a magnum cartridge, but with .38s it is pretty mild and ammo is much cheaper until you start to reload. Of course, you can shoot .44 specials in a .44, but the price goes up and they are still pretty powerful rounds.
  15. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Sixgun Nut

    Jan 27, 2006
    West Tennessee
    Agreed! If you have to ask, you probably should just buy a .357. Gaining proficiency with a good .44Mag is not for the feint of heart or the non-handloader.
  16. GP100man

    GP100man Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    Tabor City, NC.
    I`ve owned numerous GPs & Redhawks !!

    I`m down to a6" &4" Stainless GP & a 7 1/2" Redhawk hunter. These STAY !!!!

    I cast & load my own is the only way I`ve been able to shoot em to any amount !!

    Scrounging components is my only worry , primers & brass being the costliest !

    Get the 357 first
  17. Minnesota Wild

    Minnesota Wild Member

    Dec 4, 2010
    Obviously the whole point of a gun used for fun, like a motorcycle or piece of luxury electronics, is that it turns you on. While it may be easier to shoot a 357 than a 44, the whole point you cite is to have fun. If fun to you means the biggest boom, then get the 44.

    For the rest, I agree with the previous posts. The 357 is incredibly versitle; there are 38 Special loads that are no more powerful than a 22LR, up to 125 gr loads that are more powerful than the standard auto loads. The 44 has become more mainstream, but it's still a specialty gun. 44 Mag loads are pretty fierce in all but the largest guns. If you want to load down, both 44 Special brass and loaded ammo isn't very widely available. 38 and 357 are some of the most popular loadings period and hence are cheaper and available everywhere.

    I think you'll enjoy shooting either, but if you're torn between the two, I think 357 gives you more options.
  18. asm19

    asm19 Member

    Dec 21, 2010
    If it's down to the 357 and 44, go with 357. If you're not going to hunt with it then why pay a dollar or more per round just to punch holes in paper. Get yourself a Ruger GP-100 and you'll never regret it. 38 special wadcutters punch holes in paper better than anything I've shot and have very little recoil. When you want to shoot something with a little more power, load some 357's and you'll know what a versatile tool you have.

    Nothing against the mighty 44, I just believe it belongs in the woods taking down big and dangerous animals, not in the recreational shooting or home defense arena.

    Also, for recreational shooting fun, don't overlook a single action 22 revolver.
  19. hermannr

    hermannr Member

    Jan 23, 2011
    Okanogan Highlans
    I see you live in Washington State, as I also do. You cannot hunt in WA with a .357, it is specifically excluded. If you ever want to hunt with this weapon, get a 44 mag, or better yet a 45 colt (LC)

    You can down load a 44 mag or 45 colt for plinking, and load both up for hunting. the 45 feels softer for the same power level.
  20. CDawg

    CDawg Member

    Aug 20, 2010
    NW Florida
    First revolver I purchased in 1982 was a Ruger Redhawk .44 magnum. Recently my Uncle gave me a stainless Dan Wesson .44 magnum with multiple interchangable barrels. The .44 magnums are great revolvers. I reload, so it's much cheaper to shoot them. I also have some .357's: Colt King Cobra; Ruger Security Six; and a Ruger SP101. The .357's are much cheaper to shoot with factory ammo, since you can use .38 special. Fiocchi also makes a .357 magnum 142 TMJ round that is reasonable cheap to shoot at the range. Pretty hot round. The SP101 is the 3" barrel version. That's the smallest barrel length I care to shoot .357 magnums from. I like both the .44 and .357 magnums, but if I could only choose one, it would be a good .357 with a 4" barrel.
  21. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Member

    Mar 7, 2007
    The Land of Bowie, Crockett, Travis & Houston
    Both are good choices.

    Skeeter Skelton was a big-time champion of the .357 for decades, but after the advent of the .44 Magnum, came to love it as well. However, both had their place. For big game and silhouette, he was a .44 Magnum man all the way. But for police work, general handgun use, and range work, the .357 was nearest and dearest.

    He summarized the relationship of the two this way: "It's the case of a good little man getting the hell beat outta him by a good, bigger man."

  22. walker944

    walker944 Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Texas Hill Country
    TwoNiner said it best:
  23. lobo9er

    lobo9er Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Earth, Currently
    start with a 357.

    357 is a good place to start and if your not going to hunt and just shoot paper, Unless you just want something louder the paper isn't going to notice the difference :)
  24. riflenut

    riflenut Member

    Dec 14, 2006
    357 mag.

    you would be better off buying the 357.the round is a good defensive round for protection.also for target you can use 38 rounds for target shooting alot cheaper round than a 44 mag.
  25. hunterbob

    hunterbob Member

    Feb 4, 2011
    If you are a novice, pistol shooter, I would get a 22 target pistol and join a group of target shooters at a range. You will learn how to hold the weapon and shoot accurately. Work your way up to the caliber you feel is right for you. Shooting different guns once in a while is not enough. No matter what pistol you get, still practice, practice, practice.
    I have fired countless 357 rounds in a model 26 S/W. Never thought there was a recoil problem.
    I have fired countless 44 mag rounds (redhwk), and I have shot it one handed at times. Recoil is the nature of the beast and I like it. My wife carries a Redhawk 44 mag for her personal protection and enjoys shooting it.

    I use 44 special ammo for self defense in my 44 mags and hunt with it too.
    I use 38 special ammo in my 357 or 357 mag for self defense (CCW) its a medium frame revolver , easy to carry. The caliber gives an option for each gun. (lessons recoil)

    My main stay is my 1911-A... bigger is better to get me to my shotgun.

    Each weapon has a different purpose for me, more is better.
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