.44 Magnum Revolver

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers: Ultimate Guide

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The .44 Magnum is a powerful round you can use for hunting. If you’re looking for a handy revolver you can bring with you during hunting excursions, here’s our list of the best .44 Magnum revolvers on the market.

Cutting to the Chase

For those of you who want to read about guns, here they are. You can scroll back later and come back for the rest. I am only going to talk about readily available guns that you can find in almost any gun store or online that I’ve had some experience with. There are many .44 Magnums out there, but these are my favorites:

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers in Single Action

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers in Double Action

Why Get a .44 Magnum Revolver?

The .44 Magnum revolver is probably one of America’s favorite wheel guns. It holds a special place in a lot of revolver collectors’ hearts. A .44 Mag revolver isn’t something you need, but it might be something you want.

Whether for self-defense or as a secondary unit when hunting, there are a multitude of other pistols and revolvers that will do the same, if not, a better job than a .44 Mag revolver. However, not many calibers can outdo the sheer power and stopping force that a .44 Mag delivers.

I wouldn’t recommend it as an everyday carry gun. However, it’ll give you enough stopping power should the need arise. The .44 Magnum is a generational cartridge with the sweet spot, the tipping point of power that most people can handle as a revolver cartridge.

.44 Special vs .44 Magnum

The .44 Special and the .44 Magnum have the same bullet size and bullet dimension. A key difference is the .44 Magnum has a slightly longer and sturdier case. The .44 Magnum is also much more powerful, with almost double the muzzle velocity and triple the muzzle energy of the .44 Special. This makes the .44 Special more suitable for hunting small to medium game while the .44 Magnum has been proven to take down large animals, even polar bears.

If you’re looking at it from a self-defense perspective, both the .44 Special and the .44 Magnum will give enough stopping power to disway and disable an intruder. Keep in mind that the .44 Special will have an easier-to- handle recoil than the power snapback you’ll get from a .44 Magnum.

Can I Shoot the .44 Special out of a .44 Magnum Revolver?

Since the .44 Special and the .44 Magnum use the same bullet, you can definitely shoot the .44 Special out of a .44 Magnum revolver. Just make sure to clean your gun and barrel before swapping out cartridges.

However, DO NOT attempt to shoot the .44 Magnum out of a .44 Special revolver. Not only are the cases different lengths, but forcing a .44 Special to shoot the much more powerful .44 Magnum cartridge will ruin your wheel and barrel.

There are also safety concerns involved with the .44 Magnum revolver that can handle the .44 Mag round. So a .44 Special revolver may not have the same design and engineering involved as a .44 Mag revolver.

Parts of a Revolver

Revolvers are relatively simple firearms. If you’re a new gun owner and you’ve never handled or owned one before, here’s a quick run-through. 


An action, or trigger group, comprises the components necessary to ignite a cartridge. It includes the trigger, hammer, and safeties as a single unit. Additionally, mechanics are developed and utilized according to the weapon’s action. The function of the trigger determines the sort of action, whether single-action or double-action.


The frame is a metal enclosure that acts as the handgun’s handle or grip. All other components are incorporated into or linked to the frame.


The bullet goes through a metal tube known as a barrel. This is why the handgun barrel is shorter than the barrel of a rifle or shotgun. It was meant to be fired with one or two hands rather than against the shooter’s shoulder. The barrel plays an important part in the bullet’s accuracy, range, and velocity as it exits the chamber.


Repeating handguns, like revolvers, hold more than one round of ammunition. The cylinder is what holds the ammunition in a revolver.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers 357 vs 44 Mag recoil comparison
.357 Magnum vs .44 Magnum Recoil (click for large version)

The recoil can be fierce — around 20 foot-pounds of recoil energy. So it isn’t for everyone. For comparison, a .270 rifle generates about the same energy but it’s a rifle, a gun that weighs over twice as much and lets you get both hands and a shoulder on the stock. .44 Magnum recoil is not for the shy.

History of the .44 Magnum Caliber

The .44 Magnum has an interesting history. It came from the .44 Special, which was very popular with hand loaders in the early- to mid-20th century due to its versatility. From gallery-type target loads to rounds that would put down a deer, the old .44 Special had it all. But it wasn’t enough for some intrepid pistoleros.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Pistol Caliber Comparison

The .44 Magnum was developed by outdoor sportsman and writer, Elmer Keith. Elmer was a prominent figure in the development of revolver cartridges and firearms from the early 1920s until his death in 1984. His influence jump-started several cartridge innovations having a personal hand in the development of the .357, the .41 and the .44.  However, he’s probably best known as the father of the .44 Magnum.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Elmer Keith
Elmer Keith – Photo: sportingclassicsdaily.com

Having had a hand in the .44 Special, Elmer was looking for ways to shoot heavy-weight bullets at higher velocities. After five years of experimenting, with the help of Remington and S&W, he eventually introduced the .44 Remington Magnum and the Smith and Wesson 29 in 1955, the first .44 Magnum firearm of its time. Although it never gained traction for the Armed forces and police, the .44 Magnum has become extremely popular in today’s market as a self-defense and hunting caliber.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Evolution of Cartridge Cases

Buyer’s Guide to the Best .44 Magnum Revolvers

Action Type: Single Action vs Double Action

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Single vs Double Action

Revolvers either come in a single or double action, both with its own set of pros and cons. To use a single-action revolver, you must pull the hammer to properly cock the gun after each shot. This mechanism produces a lighter and smoother trigger pull, leading to more accurate shots.

However, the trigger only does one job — releasing the hammer. This means after every shot, you need to pull back the hammer. Hence, pulling the trigger with an uncocked gun won’t do anything. That may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re coming off a semi-automatic pistol, you might need more practice and get used to.

Also, be careful about dropping a loaded single-action revolver. It may discharge when dropped or struck with the hammer. This is also why most old-style single-action revolvers are chambered one less than the full capacity of the cylinder. You can pull back the hammer down to the starting position on the unloaded cylinder.

There are two types of double-action revolvers: those with automatic firing mechanisms and those you can manually cock like single-action firearms. When a firearm is designed to be manually cocked, the user’s trigger action is called double-action-only.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Double Action Revolver
Double Action Revolver

Using the double-action revolver’s trigger-cocking instead of manual cocking, you can fire the shot more quickly. The heavier trigger pulls on double-action revolvers are also safer than single-action revolvers. Additionally, mechanical safety is not required for double-action revolvers since it takes a long, deliberate draw to discharge.

Brand/ Manufacturer

Revolvers are known to stand the test of time. So getting your hands on a quality revolver is a must for safety and to preserve the longevity of your investment. If you’re having difficulty choosing between gun makers, just know that Smith & Wesson and Ruger were the first two to develop .44 Magnum revolvers. They also have been known for making some of the best revolvers in the world.

In my opinion, some other noteworthy reliable brands to consider are the Dan Wesson and Colt. If you find yourself on a tighter budget, Taurus makes some high-quality revolvers at a lower price range.


We touched on safety earlier with single and double-action revolvers. However, when you think about safety on a revolver, it’s not like the traditional safety you’d find on a semi-automatic pistol. You can find revolvers with safeties like the Ruger Rough Riders hammer block style safety. However, for the most part, the safety of your revolver relies heavily on its mechanism of action.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Ruger Transfer Bar
Ruger Transfer Bar

Without a single-action revolver, the bullet won’t discharge when you pull the trigger unless the hammer is pulled back. On a double-action revolver, the safety is sort of built into the trigger pull. This means that a double-action revolver will have a heavy, lengthy trigger pull that will require some effort to fire the gun. It’ll make more sense once you try it out for yourself, but once you shoot, you can tell right away how solid and safe double-action revolvers can be.


If you’ve never handled a .44 Magnum revolver before, one of the things you’d have to consider early on before purchasing your revolver is recoil. The best way to get used to the recoil is by spending time on the range to shoot and practice with your weapon.

If you can’t put in the time or enough rounds to familiarize yourself with the recoil, you might want to consider a smaller caliber revolver. But if you’re a complete beginner and still want to try a .44 Mag, try shooting the .44 Special first and then scale up.


Revolvers will always have that extra bulk compared to semi-auto pistols. They lack the traditional spring and gas systems to help reduce recoil. Instead, they rely on the weight and the design of the cylinder chamber and frame. However, the extra-bulk is usually accompanied by well-designed, ergonomic grips that allow you to achieve a tighter hold to prevent muzzle grip, no matter the size of your hands.

The downward extending grips also help get a higher hand position on your revolver, giving you full, extended coverage of the revolver with your shooting hand. This gives you better control, better reliability, and allows your better accuracy.

The Best .44 Magnum Revolvers

There are many good .44s out there, but some are better than others. Let’s divide them into two groups — single actions and double actions.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers in Single Action

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers in Double Action

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers: Single Action Revolvers

Above, I mention Ruger’s Super Blackhawk. This is the gun most shooters envision when asked about single action .44 Magnums. Here are the various models made in .44 Magnum:

New Model Super Blackhawk Standard Resize

Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk

The Ruger New Model Super Blackhawk is a series of four different revolvers designed around the New Model Super Blackhawk configuration. The standard New Model Super Blackhawk comes in 10 different variations with barrels lengths ranging from 3.75 inches to 10.5 inches, with the 7.5-inch variant as the most popular of the ten. It’s a great, reliable, and sturdy .44 Magnum that’s comfortable in the hands and has a decent enough weight to handle the .44 Mag.

The Bisley model has a unique, distinctive grip shape designed to lessen recoil as you shoot for a little more recoil reduction. If you’re looking into sights options, the Hunter model sports a full-length solid rib on top of the barrel with scope mount cuts to aid in mounting a scope.

  • Comes from a well-known, reliable manufacturer
  • Excellent hunting partner
  • Extremely durable build
  • Light and smooth trigger pull
  • Decent for long-range use
  • Heavy revolver

New Model Super Blackhawk Bisley

The Bisley model, with its distinctive grip shape, said to lessen felt recoil, is available in barrel lengths from 3.75- to 6.5 inches, all in stainless. One of the original flat top .44 Magnum Ruger revolvers had a 6.5-inch barrel — I had a friend who had one. This is a very handy length for hunting.

New Model Super Blackhawk Hunter

New Model Super Blackhawk Hunter
Photo: mikestexashunt-fish.com

This gun sports a full-length solid rib atop the barrel, with scope mount cuts to aid in mounting a scope. Barrel length is 7.5 inches, and the gun is stainless.

New Model Super Blackhawk Bisley Hunter

There is one Bisley model with the same Hunter treatment as above. It has a 7.5 inches barrel and a solid rib. If you are a traditional cowboy-style single-action fan, there is even a short-barreled distributor exclusive Vaquero revolver in .44 Magnum. However, this is not a standard production item.

Magnum Research BFR

If you’re looking to make a statement, you should check out the Magnum Research BFR. Magnum Research is known for making big handguns, and their Big Frame Revolver (BFR) is no exception. The BFR is like a miniature cannon for your hands, and this hefty revolver is only chambered for large calibers. The new BFR has a redesigned hammer, not vertically higher, to make it easier to cock. It also has a brand new grip in partnership with Hogue to give you a better ergonomic feel.

BFRs are known for their durability and reliability. This solid, stainless steel revolver closes in at 54 ounces, and all that weight comes in a hefty package. Additionally, the cocking action on this gun is extremely smooth and very light, with a crisp trigger pull to match.

In terms of accuracy, don’t be surprised to get less than 2 inches groupings at over 25 yards. You can definitely hone it in more with enough time at the range. All that weight does wonders for recoil, and it feels really good to shoot for a .44 Magnum revolver.

  • Excellent recoil for a .44 Mag
  • Accurate at over 25 yards
  • Fully adjustable front and rear sights
  • Can chamber multiple types of large calibers
  • Expensive
  • Very heavy and large

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers: Double Action Revolvers

Smith and Wesson Model 629

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Smith & Wesson Model 629 Left Side

The original .44 Magnum was a Smith and Wesson double action Model 29 with a 6-inch barrel. It was made to S&W’s exacting tolerances and exhibited the fit & finish that the company was known for. The trigger was excellent, as were the sights.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Smith & Wesson Model 629 Barrel Left

It wears a long 8 3/8″ barrel and has scope mount cuts in the barrel rib. I briefly had a scope on it, but it was just too unwieldy and negated the easy handling that revolvers are known for.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Smith & Wesson Model 629 Rear Sight
Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Smith & Wesson Model 629 Muzzle

So, it sports the original iron sights. They are fully adjustable with a white outline rear and red-plastic-insert front ramp on top of a rib. It also has longitudinal grooves in it to break up light reflections.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Smith & Wesson Model 629 Grip
Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Smith & Wesson Model 629 Frame

If you’re shopping for a timeless revolver to add to your arsenal then try the Smith and Wesson Model 629. The S&W Model 629 is a classic revolver with an impressive resume. They’re also known for having some of the best, quality-made sights on the market and renowned for their accuracy downrange.

  • Some of the best sights on the market
  • Extremely accurate
  • Good at mitigating recoil
  • Expensive
  • Very Hefty revolver
  • Can be cumbersome to travel with

Smith and Wesson Model 69

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Smith & Wesson Model 69 Right Side

A recent design from Smith and Wesson for a new .44 Magnum was to take a 5-round cylinder, mate it to an L-frame (the 629 is made on the larger N-frame), add a 4.25-inch barrel with shroud, and finish it in satin stainless with black accents.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Smith & Wesson Model 69 Barrel and Logo

This is the new Model 69. It weighs 37 ounces and loses the 6th cylinder chamber in order to make the cylinder fit in the L-frame window.

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Smith & Wesson Model 69 Rear Sight

.44 Magnum Revolvers haven’t always targeted the concealed carry market but Smith Wesson has managed to cram all the power of a .44 Magnum in a compact piece of equipment. 

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Smith & Wesson Model 69 Front Sight

The Smith and Wesson Model 69 comes with a 2.75-inch barrel that’s great for concealment. It has a lengthy underlug to provide better recoil control overtime and can support both the .44 Special and the .44  Magnum.

The frame is built out of durable stainless steel that can withstand hot ballistics. As with most S&W revolver sights, the rear and front sights are completely adjustable and easily aligned making it easy to take follow-up shots. The handgrip is comfortable and gives you enough girth to make it easier to handle the revolver’s recoil.

  • Easy to conceal
  • Has single and double action modes
  • Heavy duty, durable stainless steel build
  • Dependable sights
  • Reduced length and weight means more recoil

Ruger Super Redhawk

Best .44 Magnum Revolvers Ruger Redhawk Right Side

The Ruger Redhawk is one tough gun. Utilizing a no-side-plate design gives the gun some extra strength, and the single-coil spring mechanism tends to make for a lighter trigger pull.

Ruger Redhawk Rear Sight

An adjustable rear sight coupled with an easily-swapped front sight — you just press in on a plunger at the muzzle and the sight pops off. You can fine-tune the sight’s height and insert color without resorting to a file or paint.

Ruger Redhawk Front Sight

The cylinder locks at the front, rear and bottom to help hold things together tightly when the gun is fired. Barrel lengths range from 4.2 to 7.5 inches, with distributor specials adding some variation to these.

Ruger Redhawk Cylinder Latch
Ruger Redhawk Barrel Right Side

If you’re on the market for true, explosive power, the Ruger Super Redhawk might suit your needs. It’s a great rifle for protecting yourself from four-legged predators, but it can also be used for hunting. It also has a Picatinny rail where you can add a low-power scope or red dot. The Super Redhawk’s silky black rubber grip is also an excellent feature. You can hold firmly and prevent any mishaps despite the high recoil with this grip.

  • Efficient and comfortable grip
  • Stainles steel barrel
  • Triple locking system for secure attachments
  • Strong recoil when shooting bullets of 300gr or more

Alternative: Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan

In bear country, the Ruger Alaskan is a reliable concealed carry pistol you can use to protect yourself against bears and wolves. The Alaskan is a smaller version of the Ruger Redhawk with no extensions. It is popular among individuals who desire to stroll about more confidently. It’s lightweight, compact, and convenient to carry.

Shooting this pistol was a blast because of how easy it was to recover from shot to shot despite the big caliber and small barrel of the rifle. This model comes with a superb pair of Hogue grips that completely cover the grip. Also, it features a great adjustable back sight that you just need to set up a bit for straight shooting.

When compared to other revolvers in the 44 magnum class, this one is more than a little pricey. Still, the Ruger Alaskan .44 magnum is an excellent pistol for use on the trail, in the woods, or for self-defense. This revolver was made to be pointed at something big, so all you have to do is grab a decent grip and aim it in that direction.

  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel build
  • Dual chambering for .44 Magnum and .454 Casull
  • Triple locking cylinder for dependable shots
  • Hogue Tamer Monogrip with internal recoil cushion
  • Heavy

Taurus 44 SS

Taurus Model 66 4 Inch
This is a 66, but they look identical

The 44SS is a double-action revolver with a 4-inch (45 ounces), 6.5-inch (54 ounces) or 8 3/8-inch (57 ounces) barrel that looks like a Model 629 Smith and Wesson. I’ve explained elsewhere on this site that Taurus and S&W were both owned by the same parent company, so designs and tooling were shared between them. That is why this gun can legally look like a 629.

All models include a pinned, dovetailed black steel front blade sight and an adjustable black steel rear sight. The optics are rudimentary, but they do a good job of letting you see. Also, the muzzle of the barrel has a port on top of it.

Taurus Model 66 4 Inch Hammer

Taurus uses standard black molded rubber grips on their .44 Mag model. In the past, the gun had soft radiator-style handles that some people didn’t like. So, it’s a nice change to the new models. There is also a transfer bar safety, double-locking cylinder at the crane and the rear, and a Smith & Wesson-style cylinder release in the revolver’s firing mechanism.

Some of the .44 Magnum’s recoil is absorbed by the grips, which makes this revolver pleasant enough to use. It’s easy to handle light loads, and a full house is no problem. In terms of accuracy, it’s more than enough for anything from target shooting to home protection to handgun hunting from acceptable range.

  • Durable build
  • Comfortable grips
  • Comes in different barrel lengths
  • Stainless steel material for corrosion resistance
  • Limited aftermarket parts available
  • Heavy

Taurus Raging Bull

Taurus Raging Bull 4 inch

As a large-caliber pistol, the Raging Bull stands out from the crowd. The award-winning design has a barrel length of 6.5 inches and a matte stainless steel finish. The pistol is more accurate when it is held stable in your palm thanks to a plush black grip. Compared to other similar products, this one is a lot less expensive. As a bonus, you receive a high-capacity rifle.

Taurus Raging Bull Disassembled

The Raging Bull will work in just about all situations where you need a hunting .44 with iron sights. It does have a full-length vent rib, so some scope mounts should work. If you want a Picatinny rail for optics, take a look at the Raging Hunter below.

Shooting the Taurus Raging Bull .44 Magnum
Photo: Personal Defense World

With a sleek, ergonomic handle, this heavy-duty rifle will help lessen the amount of recoil you feel when firing it. The 6.5-inch and 8 3/8-inch barrels of the Raging Bull make it a versatile choice for any situation. Additionally, the gun’s enormous recoil may be mitigated by the presence of ports on each side of the weapon. Reduction of perceived recoil is also made easier by the barrels’ factory porting and cushioned grips.

  • Ergonomic handle
  • Less recoil
  • Affordable
  • Accurate and comfortable to shoot
  • Trigger pull may be too tight for some

Taurus Tracker 44

Taurus Tracker

The Taurus Tracker .44 is a Single/ Double action revolver that’s small and extremely versatile with just about everything you could ask for. Made from stainless steel for extra durability, this revolver comes with a shorter 4-inch ported barrel for reduced recoil. Its overall length of 9 inches gives you a much smaller profile compared to other .44 Mags on the market.

Taurus Tracker Grip

This is a great option if you’re looking to use a .44 Mag in lieu of a typical conceal carry weapon. It also comes with an extremely reliable 5-shot cylinder and a phenomenal ribbed grip that makes this gun easy to handle.

Taurus Tracker Barrel

One nice feature of the Taurus Tracker 44 is the security system. It comes with a security key that allows you to disable the entire weapon allowing you to have that added safety and peace of mind, especially if you’re in a household full of children.

Taurus Tracker Barrel Vents

The grip palm swell fills your hand nicely, and the pointability of the gun is enhanced by that grip. I think, loaded with either .44 shotshells, mid-range .44 Magnum or .44 Special ammo, this gun would definitely go into the woods with me every time I went. One in stainless steel would be just the ticket for an all-weather outdoors companion.

Taurus Tracker Vent Closeup
  • One of the more affordable brands on the market
  • Very versatile, multi-purpose .44 Mag
  • Top-notch security system
  • Extremely durable and very reliable
  • Ideal recoil for its size
  • Loud shooting sounds

Our Pick

The Smith & Wesson Model 629 is a great beginners .44 Mag revolver. It can conceal the attacking recoil of a compact .44 Mag using a small revolver. It’s a double-action single with a well-designed hammer that’s comfortable to shoot. The trigger is well made, and the stainless steel body and chrome finish make it a durable and reliable handgun with a semi-versatile array of uses.

If you haven’t shot a .44 Magnum yet, since it’s a Smith and Wesson, you can always practice with the .44 Special before going up to the bigger round.

Wrap Up

That concludes our review of the best .44 Magnum revolvers. If you are looking for a .44 Magnum revolver to shoot or add to your collection, any of the revolvers we have listed above is a good pick. But if you’re still unsure of which one to buy, you can always check our buyer’s guide to help you figure out which one will suit your needs.

Any shooter can enjoy the .44 Magnum round. Remember that all it takes is practice to get used to controlling the recoil. Keep it up and you’ll be like a pro shooter in no time.

What are your thoughts about .44 Magnum revolvers? Do you have a favorite gun? Let us know in the comments below. 

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  1. I was fortunate to have inherited a Ruger Super Blackhawk that I shoot Silhouette with , it is a very accurate handgun with exceptional knock down power. 240gn projectiles are what I normally feed it and I love shooting it with one hand to the amazement of other shooters .

  2. I ve been looking at super rrdhawks, and the raging bull. Your info was well received. Stainless will be my prefered.

    1. I have 3 44 mags, but i prefer the 5 shot model 69 S&W. do you believe this smaller frame will do well with heavy 44 mag loads. [bear]

      1. Ted, I don’t see why it wouldn’t handle bear loads. Remember that a hard-cast 300-grain bullet will penetrate deeper (usually) than a JHP. If you can get that 300-grainer up to around 1000+ fps, you should be go to go. It’ll kick hard, but you don’t need to fire 50 at a sitting. Just remember that the 69 is not an N-frame gun and do most of your practicing with lighter loads. That gun just sits well in my hand, for sure!

    2. Glad I could help. I too prefer stainless – it’s more rust-resistant and if you get a small scratch it’s easy to fix. Those are both good guns that you’re looking at, for sure.

    1. Hi Mike,
      Yeah, the PC guns are great! My 629 is smooth shooting, but it’s because it’s been used since 1982 and the parts have worn in. The PC will get that sorted out for you out of the box!

  3. Hi Mike, I love the 44 mag cartridge, and I appreciate your artical. Smith and Wesson has my vote. I have the 629 in 4″, and a 329PD in 4″, find the recoil to be a little bit stiff in the 329PD, so I changed the grip from wood to the Hogue X grip. It gives a little more cushion for your hand. Also found that 240 grain bullets is all you need for bear protection. Either hard cast or jacketed hollow points. My prefered ammo is the Remington 240 grain semi-jacketed hollow point, loaded with the Winchester 296 powder, 24.0 grains loads. Excellent load for killing critters. Works well in carbines too. I have a Ruger 44 carbine, semi-auto that’s deadly accurate with that load. Would love to see Ruger come out with a new stainless steel all weather 44 magnum semi-auto carbine with a rotary magazine. The 69 Smith and Wesson 44 magnum in a 3 or 4 inch barrel and with full ejection lug/ejection rod would be a excellent hunting buddy in bear county as well. Less weight than the 629. Better to carry on your belt. I carry my 329PD because it’s half the weight of my 629 and still has 6 shots and better sights. It’s excellent for moose hunting here in Alaska. It’s never failed me.

    1. Wow, you sure have had a lot of experience with the .44! Your advice is well-taken (especially about bears and moose). You’ve had, or have, some great guns. I remember the Ruger semi-auto .44 carbine – I agree that one in stainless would probably keep the production line running 24/7. The bolt action 77/44 was popular, but I think the semiauto would be great. Your load of 296 is on the upper end of the pressure curve, so keep an eye on your primers…you can load a full box of 50 and shoot them with no problem, but the 51st might be bad. I’ve had a bad case that I didn’t know was weak come apart. With lighter loads, it’s no big deal but with full 296 loads, it could be a problem. The primers can be flattened, that’s fairly usual with hot loads but if you’ve got a run of “iffy” cases, you might start to see “flow-back”, where the firing pin indentation is ringed and sticking up. There’s where you exert extra care and keep an eye on it. This is just from my experience, so take it for what it’s worth. Thanks for the great reply!

  4. Living in Alaska the .44 is my choice for a hiking gun. I do believe the .44 is on the lower rungs of the bear ptotection ladder, and the .454 would be a better choice, but I just don’t shoot it well. When I am fishing in bear country I often will endure the cumbersome weight of my short barrelled 12 gauge with slugs stuffed in the magazine. But usually my son and I carry the 4” Taurus M44SS into the field. I have put hundreds of boxes of factory loads through mine, many are 300 gr. full-pressure, flat point, lead loads, and after years the lockup is still tight. Both guns are very accurate, and have just been solid shooters that with the porting and grips are easier on the wrist than the Super Blackhawk(s) I have owned, and my old S&W model 29 – that gun as much as I like it hammers my hand and wrist with 240 gr. loads.

    The M44SS seems to be on the verge of being taken over by the Raging series, but if you are thinking of buying a quality revolver I highly recommend you take a look at it before they are history.

    Great article by the way.

    1. Thanks for your comments – I’m glad you liked the article. You have helped prove something that I have suspected for a long time. I have long thought that the 44SS was a sleeper in the Taurus line of .44 revolvers and was a great bargain waiting to be had by an astute handgunner. The ported barrel surely must help with recoil – at least it has done so in my experience. My experience with a Super Blackhawk was years ago…I do remember it hurt with certain loads. I agree about the Model 29 being a wrist-thumper – I have a 629 with a long barrel (the lead photo at the top is my gun) and it will definitely let me know when I shoot a fire-breather load. I was thinking of picking up a 4-inch .44 for deer hunting, to carry when I’m out with my .243. That barrel length and caliber are legal in my state. With my mid-range handloads (a 240 cast SWC at around 1100 fps), it makes good deer medicine out to 75-100 yards or so. I’ve taken many under those circumstances. You now have me wondering if that particular Taurus may be the next gun I end up with (I had been thinking about the Tracker). Although I don’t have to contend with bears, the old .44 is still my gun of choice for woods walking. Good comment!

  5. I’ve been looking at getting my first revolver. 44 mag

    Just about every source says this and that and floats around in iffy this and iffy that , but your info seems bang on. Especially your honesty about recoil.

    Well put, and thanks.


    1. Thanks for the kind words. I just speak from my 40-plus years of personal experience where the .44 is concerned. I really appreciate your reply!

  6. I’ve shot and owned more than my fair share of .44 mags. There is only one I’ve kept overtime… my Dan Wesson .44 mag. If you can find one buy it. If I could only own one pistol or revolver this would be my choice without hesitation.

    1. Thomas, good choice. I know the DW 357 I had was excellent, but never saw a 44 around here. Thanks for the comments.

  7. Bought a Tarus tracker a few years back, for a back woods hike in Norhtern California. The trip was canceled, in any case I dry fired the tracker found out that it would jam, lock up. Still have the weapon never fired it. Any similar issues with this handgun?

    1. I just bought an M44 Tracker. I fired Winchester jacketed soft points. I had pretty severe side spitting usually the 3rd or 4th round in, to the point the cylinder would not rotate for the next round. The cylinder has quite a bit of play, I read some blogs on line that it’s a forcing cone issue. I just filled out a return form on the Taurus website. I really like the gun, but extremely disappointed I have to send it in to get repaired.

      1. Mark, too bad. Keep us posted on how it comes back to you. OK? I’m interested, at least, to know first if they fixed it properly and second how long it took. Thanks for writing!

    2. Al, can’t say that I’ve experienced the lockup problem. Taurus has pledged better customer service – they will fix it for you. That gun is really popular – you might want to send it in before you shoot it. Question…did it lock up in SA or DA mode, or both? Just curious. Thanks for writing!

    3. Al, No, no similar issues. Every now and then one slips through QC. Have you sent it back yet? They should take care of it. Thanks for writing!

  8. My .44 experience has been limited to some time with a Redhawk and quite a bit more with a 629 that I have right of first refusal to buy, if my BIL ever wants to sell it.

    Your piece is right on about ammo flexibility with these guns. The right stocks/grip and moderate rounds can make a .44 a great target gun. Or it can punish you. It is, as you state well, not a first gun to buy. I come to it after many years with DA and DAO .38s and .357s.

    Will be fun to own one, with a matching lever action, eventually.

    1. Old School – love the avatar! – sounds like you might be in line to get a really good 44 – I really like my 629. But…. if you’re into wrist-thumper loads, the Redhawk might fit better. Both those guns are very well built and should give you (and your kids/grandkids!) good service. The lever gun is icing on the cake, for sure – two guns, 1 cartridge. Makes things easier. Thanks for writing.

  9. sw has a lot of problems now days quality control and customer service to name a few if you can find an old one in good shape grab it. ruger makes a good gun but ugly as crap. and for taurus anyone that has been with in 100 ft of one knows they are complete junk. so if some one tells you to buy a taurus he either don’t know what he’s talking about or he’s being paid. if you have to buy a new smith hold it in your hands before you put down your money check barrel cant and forcing cone gap. then cross your fingers, good luck.

    1. Douglas, interesting points. I agree that S&W has had some issues in recent years – mine was made in 1982 so I don’t worry so much. I do have a question – do you own a Taurus or had much experience behind the trigger of one? I’ve had many, over the years, and have had to send two back, but one was just for a recoil spring that they are going to stock on their website now. At that time, they had to have the gun back. Both of my returns were semiautos. The other one was, I believe, related to ammo – setting the bullets back in their cases in the magazine on recoil as they hit the front side of the magazine creating at least one very overpressure round that caused the gun to let go. That was a PT1911. Neither of my returns were due to manufacturing defects. And, since you mentioned it, I am not paid by Taurus…just the opposite…. they’ve gotten more than a few of my dollars over the years. Anyway, appreciate your comments!

  10. I own four .44 Magnum revolvers including the S&W Model 69 with the 2.75” barrel, two Model 629’s (4” and 3” barrel versions) and a Ruger Super Redhawk with a 2.75” barrel. All are handfuls to shoot with full magnum loads, but the Model 69 is the worst due to the relatively light weight of the revolver. If I had to pick one as the best, it would be the Model 629 with the 4” barrel. With all these wheel-guns, at the range I use .44 Specials, with perhaps one or two cylinders of .44 Magnum. That’s more than enough whup ass for me these days.

    1. John D, I sure agree. I very seldom shoot full rip-snorters due to the recoil and the wear to my 629. If I had the S. Redhawk, I might be a little more adventurous but it still beats the shooter up! Thanks for writing again.

  11. Hey, Mike! As always an excellent article. I don’t mean to be a wise hammer, but I would mention that the original S&W made in 1955 was not actually designated Model 29. Those came about in January 1956. Also, the film version of the 29 used by Dirty Harry actually had a 6 1/2″ barrel which was an extremely limited production piece. I had a chance to buy one reasonably, but did not. I sometimes weep aloud even now for that decision! God bless and keep up the great articles, sir.

    1. Byron, yep, you’re right. The original .44 magnum from S&W was like when they brought out the .357 in 1935 – it didn’t become the model 27 until later. And, I’d forgotten about that extra half-inch on Harry’s gun’s barrel… I owned a 6 1/2″ 29 for a while in the late ’70s. Nice gun. Thanks for the compliment, and thanks for writing!

  12. I own both a Super Blackhawk 5.5 inch barrel stainless and Redhawk 7.5 inch barrel blued 44 mags . I hunt with both . Shot a big 4×4 , 20 inch whitetail and a 5 point bull elk with my Redhawk and a 5×5 whitetail buck with my Blackhawk 44 mag . Both have factory sights . I shoot 240 grain handloads out of both . I like my Ruger 44 mag revolvers a great deal and hunt with them every year . I recently purchased a Ragingbull 454 Casull 6.5 inch stainless that I also like . Good article with lots of information and a look at a great cartridge and some quality handguns that chamber it !

    1. Rob, thanks for the kind words. I’ve always liked the Ruger 44s – they are tougher than necessary, which is a good thing. The Taurus is a good gun, too – I reviewed a Raging Hunter in .44, it’s on the site. Appreciate your comments!

  13. Great article, thanks for the time and effort you put into it.
    Greatly enjoy reading about Elmer Keith, he was one of my favorite gun writers.
    Have had S&W .44 mags in the past but where I live there’s no chance of running across a bear and handgun hunting isn’t legal.
    I do, however, have two 627 Performance Center .357’s one with a 2.5 in inch barrel and one with a compensated 5 inch barrel. I carry the snubby frequently. Having an 8 round cylinder is a plus for me and they are accurate and fun to shoot. Elmer stated in one of articles that snubby is just as accurate as a pistol with a longer barrel. My experience says he was quite right.
    Thanks, and keep up the good work.

    1. JohnR, yeah, Elmer was right – a snubby can be just about as accurate as any longer-barreled handgun. It only takes an inch or so of barrel to stabilize a bullet, so a 2″ revolver shouldn’t be at a disadvantage except for sights, but that’s another issue. The 627 is a great gun. Thanks for writing!

  14. Mike, I don’t hunt but, I have a M29 built in the middle ’70s and a more recent Colt Anaconda. I shoot both at the range and primarily use .44 Spl. However, now and then I shoot the .44 Mag just to keep the muscle memory. I really enjoy both revolvers and I get good accuracy if I do my job. I thoroughly enjoy your articles, keep them coming.

    1. Honu, thanks for the compliment – hopefully they will keep coming. Sounds like you have two primo revolvers – glad you enjoy shooting them! Thanks again for writing.

  15. For snubbies in .44 Mag, S&W’s 69 is very tempting (but minus one round to get the svelte L frame). Ruger’s Alaskan, although much heavier with styling queues taken from a main battle tank might have the edge in recoil mgmt especially for those dabbling with +p or dare I say it +p+. Even with increased bulk and extra steel, many say you won’t be dabbling for very long (maybe one 20 round box).

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