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Thread: .357mag or .44mag?

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    I am looking for an all purpose revolver, with a 4-6" barrel. I am looking at the Ruger GP100 and Ruger Redhawk models. I am not interested in a S&W due to the integrated safety lock, and I would like to purchase a new gun, so a used S&W is out of the question. Plus the Ruger is cheaper and more durable.

    The gun will be used for:

    - Backpacking/hiking, sometimes in areas with dangerous predators

    - Every day open carry

    - Target shooting

    - And just about any other normal activity one does with a revolver

    I am torn between the two calibers. Economically speaking, I would prefer the .357. But as far as power and just about everything else, I would prefer the .44mag.

    I have heard that reloading will save a lot of money, but will it save me enough to bring the cost of the .44mag within the range of the .357/38spl? If not, how much money can I save reloading the .357/38spl?

    Remember, I'm comparing the cost of the reloads to the cheapest brass cased ammo on the market.

    Thanks,

    Mike

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    Ok, I wouldn't say Ruger is more durable than Smith & Wesson... if we were talking about Ruger being more durable than Taurus, then I'll fully agree with you there.

    Ruger is an excellent choice of handgun.

    .44 Magnum is, well, certainly appropriate for being in the woods with big bears, moose, or any other create that will utterly destroy you.

    .357 won't make you as deaf or as blind (if fired in the dark) as a .44. Of course that is a bit of a joke.

    If you prefer the .44 Magnum, go for it.

    If you bought your ammunition at Walmart for example, you may be paying somewhere between 50 cents to a $1 per bullet. Reloading, after getting your setup going, will save you lots. You may be spending more like 10 to 20 cents per bullet depending on what material you use and where you buy it all from. I am no expert though but I know several reloaders that quote me prices all the time. I don't buy reloaded ammo because I'm afraid of double charges or a lack of powder.

    Like I said, if you like the 44, go for it. You gun is not going to be really any larger than a 357 and you can use it for target fun, self defense on the street, at home, or in the woods.... same as a 357.

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    Based upon your requirements, and one needs some clarification, I would say the .44 Magnum is your better bet. The one requirement that causes me to say this is,

    "Backpacking/hiking, sometimes in areas with dangerous predators"

    which is also the one requirement that needs clarification. If dangerous predators means small to medium cats and animals in those size ranges, the .357 should do fine. If, on the other hand, you are talking about Virginia black bears, the .44 Magnum is a must and may even be a bit on the low end of the power scale for them unless you reload.

    The problem otherwise are the rest of your requirements which would be better served with a quality .357 Magnum.

    I have both and have hunted with my 5 1/2" Redhawk (I used to most always handgun hunt). While I was after deer, I was in areas where bears roamed so I loaded my handloads always with that in mind. Hiking in dangerous country is reason enough to carry a seriously powerful revolver. For your other needs, a .357 GP100 would be a fine choice.

    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

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    Regular Member PDinDetroit's Avatar
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    I have both guns you are currently looking at for the most part, so I will offer my experience. GP100 .357 Magnum 4" with Hogue Recoil-Tamer Grip and Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum 7.5" with Hogue Monogrip.

    While I agree that .44 Mag is definitely more powerful, I believe that accuracy of initial and follow-up shots to be far more important. I find myself much more accurate with the .357 Mag and do not feel under-gunned in the least (unless I was in Big Bear Country). This and the need for everyday Open Carry would lead me to a GP100 and replacing a factory grip with a Hogue Recoil-Tamer Grip.

    The GP100 was the first pistol I purchased and I have not been disappointed.
    Rights are like muscles. You must EXERCISE THEM to keep them from becoming atrophied.

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    I LOVE Rugers. I have two .357 Magnums, a .45 Colt, two .22's and a .44 Magnum. I also reload and can say that the .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum are well suited to reloading. You can find loads for the .44 Magnum that are light and easy to handle as well as ones that make you think you are shooting a canon. I always went with the light loads...they are more fun to shoot.

    Once I calculated the cost savings and figured that a box of reloads is about 1/5th the cost of store bought ammo. That takes into account that you will NOT have to buy the brass.

    I once considered buying a Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum with the 5 1/2" barrel for an all purpose handgun; including personal protection. A high ride holster and a good thick belt supports a lot of "gun". I like BIG guns as it is my opinion that the "bigger the gun, the more likely a perpetrator will flee"; I would NOT like to have to pull the trigger in a "situation".

    In the woods I would load it with .44 Magnums and for personal protection, .44 Specials.

    Have fun deciding!!

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    rugerdon wrote:
    I LOVE Rugers. I have two .357 Magnums, a .45 Colt, two .22's and a .44 Magnum. I also reload and can say that the .44 Magnum and .357 Magnum are well suited to reloading. You can find loads for the .44 Magnum that are light and easy to handle as well as ones that make you think you are shooting a canon. I always went with the light loads...they are more fun to shoot.

    Once I calculated the cost savings and figured that a box of reloads is about 1/5th the cost of store bought ammo. That takes into account that you will NOT have to buy the brass.

    I once considered buying a Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum with the 5 1/2" barrel for an all purpose handgun; including personal protection. A high ride holster and a good thick belt supports a lot of "gun". I like BIG guns as it is my opinion that the "bigger the gun, the more likely a perpetrator will flee"; I would NOT like to have to pull the trigger in a "situation".

    In the woods I would load it with .44 Magnums and for personal protection, .44 Specials.

    Have fun deciding!!
    I've owned two Redhawk .44 Marnums, one with the 7 1/2" barrel and my current one with a 5 1/2" barrel I bought in 1984. I installed Pachmayr grips, a lighter Omark trigger spring, and Ruger hunting sights (excellent for accuracy). My favorite handload for this gun was a 225gr Speer JHP over 23 grains of 2400. Powerful and very accurate. I find the 5 1/2" Redhawk to be excellently balanced for my hands.

    My current .357 Magnum is a Ruger Security Six 4" barrel, also with Pachmayr grips. It was made in 1976 and has stamped on the frame, "Made in the 200th year of American liberty" which makes it a collectors item. Very accurate and very strong, it is an excellent revolver. Incidentally, both of these guns are in stainless steel.



    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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    I LOVE loading the .44 Magnum! It is an EXCELLENT all around caliber. I own a Ruger Super Redhawk with a 7 1/2" barrel; it has a Leupold 2X scope on it. This combination makes it a superb hunting gun, at least for the Eastern United States. It is all you need for deer and even bear and is easy to carry.

    I can't understand all of these other handgun rounds other than to generate sales...now the .44 Magnum is not the "most powerful handgun in the world". So what!

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    Regarding reloads: I find that the 240 grain bullet is the one best suited to the .44 Mag and the 158 grain best suited to the .357 Magnum.

    I used 2400 fora while...that is the powder that Elmer Keith used to develop the cartridge...but found that my cases were hard to extract. Switching to Hodgkins H110 got the same results but with less pressure; my cases extracted easily. In .44 Magnum I use the 240 Gr. Hornady (with the H110) for hunting and a 240 Gr. cast bullet for general fun (with that bullet I use Unique, but it smokes alot...like I am shooting a muzzle loader).

    In the .357 Magnum (I have a GP100 with a 6" barrel and HAD a Security Six with a 4" barrel but gave that to my son) I load 158 gr. lead bullets with Unique powder for general target practice and fun but use factory rounds for carry.







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    Mike,

    Howdy. In my opinion (and you'll get what you paid for it), the .357 will serve you well. Have you ever shot a .44mag? It's a handful. A 44 is a larger and heavier revolver and, believe me, this can be an issue for every day carry. A 44mag has its place, perhaps for deer hunting, but from your description, I'd stay with the 357.

    I hear a lot of folks say how much they like their 44mags. Well, that's all fine & good, but I'll say again that it is indeed a handful of recoil. It's more of a specialty gun & not as widely useful as a 357.

    Robert in the hills of Tennessee



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    I agree that the .44 Magnum CAN be a lot of recoil but with reloading, as it is obvious Mike is considering doing, the recoil can be tamed down quite a bit. Plus, for target shooting and general fun and for personal defense one can use .44 Specials and the recoil is hardly noticable.

    Yes,the .44 Magis a big gun and I am sure that carrying it around all day could get wearisome but with the proper holster and belt, one could manage depending on their size and strength.

    That is something Mike has to consider. Ifone wants to get one gun to handle all situations including hiking in areas with dangerous game, then the .44 Magnum is the choice I would make.

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    rugerdon wrote:
    I agree that the .44 Magnum CAN be a lot of recoil but with reloading, as it is obvious Mike is considering doing, the recoil can be tamed down quite a bit. Plus, for target shooting and general fun and for personal defense one can use .44 Specials and the recoil is hardly noticable.

    Yes,the .44 Magis a big gun and I am sure that carrying it around all day could get wearisome but with the proper holster and belt, one could manage depending on their size and strength.

    That is something Mike has to consider. Ifone wants to get one gun to handle all situations including hiking in areas with dangerous game, then the .44 Magnum is the choice I would make.
    Well I carried a Super Blackhawk for 11 years and a Redhawk for 3 years out in the woods hunting and as you know, this can mean hours. I never found either one to be a hindrance for me, though I would pick the Super Blackhawk as the better one to carry.

    I never found the recoil to be a problem with any of my .44 Magnums, mostly because I am not recoil sensitive for one thing and when shooting something like a .44 Magnum, you know beforehand what you're getting into.

    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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    rugerdon wrote:
    Regarding reloads: I find that the 240 grain bullet is the one best suited to the .44 Mag and the 158 grain best suited to the .357 Magnum.

    I used 2400 fora while...that is the powder that Elmer Keith used to develop the cartridge...but found that my cases were hard to extract. Switching to Hodgkins H110 got the same results but with less pressure; my cases extracted easily. In .44 Magnum I use the 240 Gr. Hornady (with the H110) for hunting and a 240 Gr. cast bullet for general fun (with that bullet I use Unique, but it smokes alot...like I am shooting a muzzle loader).

    In the .357 Magnum (I have a GP100 with a 6" barrel and HAD a Security Six with a 4" barrel but gave that to my son) I load 158 gr. lead bullets with Unique powder for general target practice and fun but use factory rounds for carry.





    I used to be very fond of the 240gr Sierra JHC bullet. As for 2400, I also used 296 but I tended to prefer 2400. I never tried H110, however.

    For my .357 Blackhawk I used for hunting, I liked the 160gr Norma JHP over 15.5 grains of 2400. I killed a deer with that load.

    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    Like many here I have all of these revolvers. I particularly like the Ruger GP-100 in .357 with a 3" barrel and the Ruger Super Redhawk in .44 Mag. But I also have a S&W 629 3" .44 Mag. I know ... I know you said you did not want the Smith. I only have one S&W with the integral lock, a .500 Mag 4", and frankly people complaining about that lock is just a lot of nothing. You never even know it is there. I don't use it, and I do not carry the key. However the concept is not all that bad an idea and the S&W approach to the design is not bad.

    Setting that aside for now. The Ruger GP-100 is one accurate and durable pistol. You cannot do better. The Super Redhawk, same thing you cannot do better, it is a lot stronger than the Redhawk which is very strong. If you reload the cost of the ammo will be well below factory loads and .357 and .44 will be within a few cents of each other. The most expensive elements are the brass (reusable so cheaper each time you use it) and factory bullets. If you make your own cast bullets you can bring the costs WAY down at the expense of some cleaning issues after you go shooting.

    For my money the .44 would be my choice. One thing you did not mention was the possible use of snake shot when you are afield. Using CCI snake loads I have found that it take from 2-3 shots for the average copperhead if you use .357/.38. If you use CCI .44 shot, it takes one shot EVERY TIME. Since we have a very bad snake problem here, this is important to me.

    If you are recoil sensitive you can shoot .44 specials. You will still achieve most of the power of the magnum, reduce the recoil, improve the accuracy, and make the same sized hole as the magnum loads.

    Now for this S&W thing. I have all of the guns mentioned above. I very much like a 3" barrel length as it is accurate enough and still short enough to carry with ease. My S&W 629 is a 3" barrel, unfluted cylinder, in Stainless with a Houge grip. It is very accurate, and lighter than the Ruger. It has shown no signs of wear from years of use. It would not bother me one whit if it had an integral lock, but it does not. Time and extensive use has shown me that the S&W is the best overall among the guns mentioned above.

    That said, based on your refusal to consider the S&W I would recommend you chose a Ruger .44. If the recoil bothers you shoot .44 specials.

    Regards

    PS - Never shoot a feral cat with a magnum.:what:
    "Research has shown that a 230 grain lead pellet placed just behind the ear at 850 FPS results in a permanent cure for violent criminal behavior."
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    I heard 296 is a good powder but I never tried it. If you get a load you like, then stay with it.

    I shot a deer with my .44 Magnum and it did the trick. Unfortunately, I had a cervical neck injury and have a hard time walking over rough terrain, so I don't hunt anymore...but I'm not giving up my .44 Magnum...maybe my son will get it one day.

    Another good caliber is .45 Colt and I believe thatthe Ruger Redhawk comes in that caliber. I have a Ruger New Model Blackhawk with a 4 5/8" barrel. The problem with the single actions I find, is that they are wide and you keep bumping your arm; and I kept scraping my arm over the rear sight when wearing short sleeve shirts. I considered buying a flap holster.

    With.45 Colt though, you HAVE to reload in order to get rounds with sufficient power (unless youbuyvery expensive specialty ammo), as the manufacturers are afraid someone will put the round in an old gun that is not designed for high pressures and blow it apart. Remember that the cartridge was originally designed for black powder. There are some loads for the .45 Colt that are MISERABLE to shoot.

    Not to stealMike's thread to talk about favorite reloads, but one of the reasons I took up reloading was so that I could have rounds thatwere not as hot as the factory stuff. It is a lot more fun to shoot...and the more you shoot, the better you become.



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    Yeah Hawkflyer, Tell me about the copperhead problem in Prince William County. My house is adjacent to the Occoquan Reservoir. The kid next door got bitten by one, as well as the kid up the street. They run around in the woods with flip flops...no wonder.

    By the way, my carry gun is a S&W 686, 7 Shot. I bought it at a gun show for $450 and love it; it was before S&W "sold out" to the Clinton Administration. The reason I don't carry my Ruger GP-100 is because it has a 6" barrel and it is like drawing a sword when clearing it from the holster.

    While Smith makes a good revolver, there are so many models to choose from and one's mind goes crazy trying to figure out what you need. Ruger makes a few, well-made, solid revolvers and have everything you need.

    I was sorry to see them discontinue the Super Blackhawk Hunter...the Single Action with the integral scope mounts.

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    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    I too live along the same river. Last year we dispatched 12 copperheads just in the immediate area of the house. Year before that 18. I have had two dogs bitten, one of them three times (great do but too curious for her own good). Fortunately dogs have a modest resistance to the venom.

    We actually see a lot more copperheads than we dispatch. If they are in areas of the property not adjacent to the house or barn, I leave them alone as they serve a valuable purpose in rodent control, but I will not tolerate them at the house for safety reasons.

    The .44 shot loads (some CCI, some my reloads) will usually cut the snake in half and toss it three or more feet away from the shooter. This is the precise effect I am looking for.

    The .375 shot loads will wound the snake unless you get the muzzle within about 18" of the snake and shoot it in the head. Easy to do since they will line up on the muzzle. Even then it usually takes more then one shot to kill them.

    My other advice still stands - Never shoot a feral cat with a Magnum.

    Regards

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    Copperheads are a way of life in Prince William County. You just "deal with them".

    My daughter lives in an end townhouse next to a ravine in Montclaire. During wet weather they come out of the ravine and sun themselves in the rock garden in front of her house. They do not like "getting their feet wet"...so to speak. My granddaugher runs around there in flip flops during the summer despite my disapproval and despite the fact that the kid next door got bitten by one.

    Unfortunately, one can't discharge a .44 Magnum, even with shot loads, in a townhouse community.

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    Hawkflyer wrote:
    SNIP My other advice still stands - Never shoot a feral cat with a Magnum.
    I would never shoot a "wildcat" cartridge, magnum or not. Doing so voids the warranty, you know.
    :P
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

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  19. #19
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    Citizen wrote:
    Hawkflyer wrote:
    SNIP My other advice still stands - Never shoot a feral cat with a Magnum.
    I would never shoot a "wildcat" cartridge, magnum or not. Doing so voids the warranty, you know.
    :P
    He's in rare form tonight.

    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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    SouthernBoy wrote:
    Citizen wrote:
    Hawkflyer wrote:
    SNIP¬* My other advice still stands - Never shoot a feral cat with a Magnum.
    I would never shoot a "wildcat" cartridge, magnum or not.¬*¬* Doing so voids the warranty, you know.
    :P
    He's in rare form tonight.
    It's the Scotch!
    "Research has shown that a 230 grain lead pellet placed just behind the ear at 850 FPS results in a permanent cure for violent criminal behavior."
    "If you are not getting Flak, you are not over the target"
    "186,000 Miles per second! ... Not just a good idea ... It's the law!"

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    Hawkflyer wrote: snip/edit
    The .375 will wound the snake unless you get the muzzle within about 18" of the snake.
    It usually takes more then one shot to kill them.
    :what:What kind of snakes do you have near you?
    They must besimilar in size to the Tremorworms?

    You'reusing a magnum rifle round to kill snake

    If you think like a Statist, act like one, or back some, you've given up on freedom and have gone over to the dark side.
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    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    Agent19 wrote:
    Hawkflyer wrote: snip/edit
    The .375¬* will wound the snake unless you get the muzzle within about 18" of the snake.
    It usually takes more then one shot to kill them.
    :what:What kind of snakes do you have near you?
    They must be¬*similar in size to the Tremor¬*worms?

    You're¬*using a magnum rifle round to kill snake
    TYPO ... IT WAS A TYPO!

    Holy crap you are faster than Grapeshot on typos. That would be .357 Snake shot. But I still don't recommend it. The .44 is better, and I am waiting for CCI to come out with .500 Mag, or at least for Speer to come out with .500 Caliber shot cups I can load myself.:celebrate

    I think .500 Mag would be even better than the .44 mag. It would probably just disintegrate the snake. I have even considered getting a Taurus Judge just for dispatching snakes. Oh yea. Before all you people come out of the woodwork wanting to know why I don't just use a shovel or other yard tool instead of shooting these critters. I do not routinely carry yard tools and in any case I do not have a permit to conceal a yard tool.:what:

    Regards
    "Research has shown that a 230 grain lead pellet placed just behind the ear at 850 FPS results in a permanent cure for violent criminal behavior."
    "If you are not getting Flak, you are not over the target"
    "186,000 Miles per second! ... Not just a good idea ... It's the law!"

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    I just wear ankle high boots and kick any around any log I am about to sit down on. If you get bitten by a copperhead, you really have to be trying.

    When I do go down to the reservoir, I just carry a .357 Magnum.



  24. #24
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    Ok, I wouldn't say Ruger is more durable than Smith & Wesson... if we were talking about Ruger being more durable than Taurus, then I'll fully agree with you there.


    well ruger barrels are built at 27% higher pressure than standard firearms,but as to who is better i dont know go with what feels right,just know 357 ammo is cheaper and more common,both accomplish the same basicly just get a little closer to the bear with that 357...

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    Where's the poll?
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