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.44 Magnum vs .357 Magnum

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Satasaurus, Apr 1, 2013.


.44 Magnum vs .357 Magnum

Poll closed May 1, 2013.
  1. .44 Magnum

    45 vote(s)
  2. .357 Magnum

    203 vote(s)
  1. Clippers

    Clippers New Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    If you're seriously going to get into reloading, don't overlook the 45 Colt made by Ruger. You can shoot mild cowboy loads or all the way up to near 44 Mag velocities. If not, I'd recommend the 357 Mag.
  2. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Elder

    Jun 11, 2005
    If you reload, I would get the 44 magnum. I would load mostly 44 Special levels at the beginning. If not, I would get the 357 mag. It sounds like you don't have a great deal of experience with recoiling guns. When I was in my early 20's, I felt that 357 mags had a lot of recoil and I was never particularly interested in 38spls at that time. Time passes and more expereince shooting.....

    I got a 41 mag revolver and was determined to shoot it well. I wanted a better revolver (caliber) for deer hunting and I already had a Colt Python (357 mag). I shot and learned and became very comfortable with the recoil, but it was still pretty stout as far as I was concerned. The 44 is just a bit more....

    With the CCW craze, I got a 38spl revolver for carry and started shooting 357's again. All of a sudden, the 357 mag recoil was not significant.

    The difference... experience and baby steps up in power.
  3. Jaymo

    Jaymo Senior Member

    Aug 21, 2010
    My Redhawk an Taurus 44 don't recoil any worse than my Speed Six and Taurus 65. In fact, the .357s were less comfortable, probably due to weight.
    Never experienced flinch with them, either. Then again, I always use hearing protection.
    I found a Charter Bulldog .44 Spl with wood grips to be more uncomfortable to shoot.

    Now, if we're talking Buffalo Bore 340 grain +P+ .44 mag, I may just have to swap the Redhawk's wood grips for some Pachmayr Decelerators.

    BADUNAME2 Participating Member

    Apr 22, 2003
    Alger, OH
    The .44 is more than you need, so I voted .357. Shoot 'em both, though, you may find out you're a power junkie.

    The .44's gonna be excessive for anything on your list, though.
  5. Buck13

    Buck13 Active Member

    May 15, 2012
    Puget Sound Convergence Zone
  6. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Senior Member

    Aug 16, 2009
    Apples and oranges.

    Terminal ballistics is an inexact science and 44 magnum for social work (having to do with people) is barely better than 44 special. Energy wasted is just that, wasted.

    No manstopper will stop anything if it misses.

    A flinch, once developed is VERY hard to unlearn.

    I started out shooting .357 magnum 38 years ago because I could get a gun in that caliber and ammunition was less expensive (and I started loading my own the same week I bought the gun). I now shoot 22 Long Rifle in various handguns, 9mm, 45 ACP, .357 Mag, 44 Mag, 45 Colt and 454 Casull. I load most of the magnum cases to medium Special velocities for my convenience.

    If this is your first handgun, I would recommend a good, target-grade 22 rimfire. Shooting a handgun is a different skill than a long gun and 22 rimfire is a lot cheaper to practice with than even the least expensive handloads (I noticed your other thread asking about loading).

    Second choice would be .357 Magnum and shooting 38 Special power loads (or actual 38 Special ammunition) for practice.

    Not that the 44 Magnum is only for experts or too much to handle. But lighter loads, cheaper ammo and the ability to have LOTS of practice is more valuable than the "cachet" of large bore. Besides, revolvers are somewhat addicting and you will wind up with a big brother for the medium caliber soon enough.

    In the meantime, consider this:

    In the absence of any other information about your shooting experience, my recommendation is for a 22 rimfire.

    Ruger Mark I, II or current model III
    or Browning Buckmark or
    Smith & Wesson Model 41

    Revolvers that come immediately to mind are:
    Ruger SP101
    Ruger Single-Six
    Smith & Wesson's K-Frame K-22 "Masterpiece" (I had one a while back)
    Smith & Wesson 617
    Taurus (I forget the model #)

    Here's my reasoning:

    1 Practice is important for becoming a good shot. Practice (beyond dry firing) takes ammo. Ammo is cheaper for a 22 than for any other caliber. Example: 22 rimfire costs (around here) $20 - $30 per 500. 500 rounds of 9mm (a very inexpensive round) is at least $100 to $150 per 500.

    2 Practice with a round that has almost no recoil makes concentration on sight picture, breathing and trigger control much easier without the distraction of recoil and excessive muzzle blast. You can add those elements later after you have gotten the basics ingrained in your subconscious. If you start out with a hard-recoiling round you are almost certain to develop anticipation (usually characterized by a flinch) which is devilishly hard to cure. Prevention is much easier to, especially while you are learning.

    3 Having a good, accurate 22 will put you on the range (if you go to a formal or informal shooting range) where you will get acquainted with other shooters, see their gun handling practices and see their guns. Most gun owners are proud of their hardware and if you exhibit good safety practices, a modicum of shooting skill and a little bit of polite interest, they will very probably let you handle their guns and even send a few rounds downrange. You can get to try out a wide variety of guns that way and collect testimonials from people other than salesmen when you go to a store.

    4 Most (accurate) 22 rimfire guns are cheaper to buy than similarly accurate centerfire guns and hold their resale value well.

    Good luck. Thanks for reading.

    Lost Sheep
  7. Black Butte

    Black Butte Active Member

    Jun 21, 2008
  8. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Mentor

    Feb 12, 2011
    A cabin in the woods, on the way to nothing.
    If it's your first I'd say get the .357, but .357 and .44 are kind of apples and oranges.
  9. farm23

    farm23 Member

    Oct 16, 2012
    Mountains NC
    My 1st big bore was a 357 but everything since then has been a 44 or 45. I just like big holes. I hunt with a revolver and the 44 does a better job on game and would do a better job on 2 leg critters if needed. My wife carries a 38/357 but uses 38+ for EDC. She thinks a 44spl is more manageable than the 38+ but the 38/357 is smaller for EDC.
  10. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Participating Member

    May 25, 2003
    Northern Idaho
    I have owned both. Speaking from experience, you will shoot the .357 more frequently. The .44 is quite stout and ammunition is quite expensive.
  11. SDGlock23

    SDGlock23 Active Member

    Apr 1, 2005
    I think the .357 Mag will do anything a casual shooter will ever need it to. For self defense, few can argue the almost legendary 125gr JHP. For the woods, 158gr JHP/hardcast is a very good choice, and would work great on deer sized game. 180gr and even 200gr are available as well.

    The ability to shoot 38 Special is awesome, makes for sure fun plinking and something for recoil sensitive shooters to really enjoy without being afraid of recoil. I got out of the .357 Mag just because I wanted to consolidate calibers, but it's a fantastic choice. I think just about everyone needs a good .357 Mag. Mine was a 6" Ruger GP100, stainless model. I can't say enough good things about it, and the Ruger will last 10 lifetimes it's so rugged....for the price they can't be beat.

    I prefer the 6" for added velocity/power since I had no real plans on packing it everywhere anyways, the extra 2" can surely help out. Probably my favorite "utility" load was 14.8gr of 2400 behind a 158gr SWC hardcast. Velocity from the 6" was almost 1,550 fps and recoil is never an issue with a .357 Mag.
  12. mavracer

    mavracer Senior Member

    Jan 9, 2007
    If I didn't reload I'd lean toward a 357, if I did I'd lean toward a 44. neither is the wrong answer.
  13. ldlfh7

    ldlfh7 Active Member

    Feb 12, 2013
    357 for sure if your 1st revolver. For sure
  14. BullRunBear

    BullRunBear Participating Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Northern Virginia
    I own and shoot both calibers but the 357, for your purposes, will be cheaper, more comfortable and much more versatile. An added benefit: my wife and I often introduce newcomers to handguns and 38 specials in a revolver is our way to start them in centerfire shooting. I like 44s, especially 44 specials, but consider the 357 revolver better for your needs.

    Unless your spare time is nonexistent (it happens), give serious thought to reloading. It has many benefits and I find it enjoyable in itself. Unless you shoot a lot in competition, even a basic single stage press will do the job.

    If you end up with the 357 and still want a big bore, think about a 45 Colt, IF you start reloading. It's a fun round with history behind it, capable of great accuracy without painful recoil and can be loaded from popgun levels to any power you are likely to want.

    Let us know what you end up with.

  15. mavracer

    mavracer Senior Member

    Jan 9, 2007
    I've seen a couple post claim the 357s superior versatility and while it is a versatile round, claiming superior versatility would require the 357 do something that the 44 is incapable of.
    What exactly can you shoot with a 357 that can't be done with a 44?
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
  16. Mike Sr.

    Mike Sr. Member

    May 23, 2005
    357 ... 44

    I have both! And each fills a --->nitch'e<---. The 44 mag will drop anything in North America period, so will the 45 Colt.

    357/125 grain is reputed to be have the highest percentages of one-shot stop on 2-legged critters.

    I can shoot light hand loads all day long in my 44 mag that will turn a cinder block into throwing rocks.


    Elmer Keith did not kill an Elk/Caribou*** at over 400 yards with a .357!

    ***I read an account on this shot a VERY LONG time ago and I just can't be sure if it was one or the other...... :(
  17. jmr40

    jmr40 Mentor

    May 26, 2007
    Buy what you want, but lets get some misinformation cleared up. There are lots of claims with no proof to back them up.

    Which has the more recoil depends on the load. Lots of 357 loads recoil much more than many 44 loads.

    Even with factory loads ammo costs is a wash.

    $23/50 rounds of 44 mag practice ammo
    $30/50 rounds of HP ammo

    $22.50/50 rounds of 357 practice ammo
    $31/50 rounds of HP ammo

    My 4" 629 weighs 41 oz. The GP-100 it replaced weighed 40.5 oz. I kept and use the same holster.

    A big part of the reason I sold all of my 357's was because I found that with mid level 44 loads it was more effective, and offered less recoil and less muzzle blast than 357. Size, weight, and ammo costs are a wash.
  18. shafter

    shafter Active Member

    Oct 23, 2011
    For what you want 357 is the way to go hands down.
  19. Lj1941

    Lj1941 Active Member

    Jun 12, 2009
    Even Harry Calahan knew that a "Light Special Load" was necessary in a 44 Magnum for good control and who will dispute "Dirty Harry"?:)
  20. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

    Jan 16, 2012
    Wet Oregon
    I see. For range/home defense, get the .357. A full power .357 ain't baby crap.. it's the same power regardless of the weight of the gun, given the same barrel length.. many provide around 800 foot pounds of energy. Some really kick out of an eleven ounce handgun. heh.

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