Finally going to get myself a .44 magnum. The last one I had was a Ruger Super Redhawk with a 9.5 inch barrel. Since I don't hunt with handguns, it was kind of pointless for me to have it (I bought it on a whim because it was big, stainless, and fun to shoot-and got it for less than $400). I've been wanting a much "smaller" and more usable model. I like the Smiths too, but can't find one for a price I'd like to pay. I finally settled back on a Ruger. But, I am having a rough time deciding whether I want the 2.5" barreled chunk of steel known as the Ruger Alaskan or the 4" Ruger Redhawk. Whichever I get, it will be used for home defense, vehicle defense, and for 4-footed critters whenever I'm in areas that may require such. Of course, I plan to use .44 special loads for the home and vehicle defense. The magnum would do the job, but might be a bit much for the application. In the woods, however....it'll be the magnum round for certain. I like the idea of 4" barrel (6" is too long for what I want) and wonder about the 2.5" barrel of the Alaskan. Both are nice looking guns. I don't know if I should be worried about the difference in barrel lengths, but it has crossed my mind. The thing is, I don't want to be in a situation where I've bought one and wished I got the other. So I guess I'm also asking is it better to get the gun with the greater barrel length....or not? I'd hate to be sitting there wishing I'd gone with greater barrel length.... What do y'all think?