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A cylinder, 6 rounds, no compromise—that’s what I learned from experimenting with 44 Mag revolvers. The fact that you consider buying one of these hand cannons means you’re about to enter a whole new realm of firepower.
With an incredibly high caliber, a 44 Mag handgun provides the powerful boom to level anything that walks on four with the ground—or two, if you’re planning to floor an intruder! Since you don’t want to commit an expensive (or cheap) mistake, I filtered out my gun collection and brought you my picks for the best 44 Mag revolver. I have dedicated reviews of 9mm and 10mm handguns and also best single action revolver lineup just to be sure I covered various shooting preferences. Interested in concealed carry or home defense? I got your back there, as well.
Getting Your First 44 Mag Revolver?
Let me walk you through some initial thoughts that I had when I first laid my hands on a .44 Magnum revolver. My transition to 44 Mag handguns was preceded by firing a myriad of 9mm Glocks or SIGs. After a while, I knew I was ready for the big game, revolvers. Why?
Frequent trigger pulls and having a fair amount of retention with recoil tolerance help with firing 44 Mag revolvers. However, you don’t have to be a professional marksman to get one. Note that the key to perfection with revolvers is the frequent visits to shooting ranges since revolvers aren’t the type of gun that should lie dormant in a gun case until some problems arise.
One thing that some may find restricting is the limited capacity. 44 Mag revolvers typically hold 6 cartridges in the revolving cylinder, and some cylinders are designed to accommodate only 5. With limited cartridges also comes intricate reloading, where you’re more likely to insert one cartridge at a time to the 6 chambers.
Yet, I’d say that a 44 Mag revolver can do with one trigger pull what a 9mm pistol can do with three, whether you’re hunting or carrying it for self-defense. Afterward, all the limitations you’ll get exposed to with revolvers will convert into “norms” that you’ll get used to with every fired cartridge!
A Brief History of the .44 Magnum
Bear in mind that when we say .44 Magnum, we’re referring to the cartridge, not to the firearm. Firstly, I’d regard Magnum guns as unbeatable since they’re primarily made to fire cartridges whose calibers (the diameter of a gun’s barrel) can’t withstand normal conditions. That’s what makes a 44 Magnum revolver powerful.
These cartridges were the contraption that Elmer Keith brought to life. He was obsessed with the idea of designing a high-pressure load (the cartridge’s base) that ruthlessly propels weighty bullets. He dreamt of a cartridge that’d achieve unrelenting penetration, and the .44 Magnum was born.
With an initial intent for handgun hunting, Keith enticed both Remington and Smith & Wesson to consider the potential of this cartridge. Soon after, Remington undertook the manufacturing of the cartridge, while Smith & Wesson introduced its first 44 Mag revolver, the Model 29, in 1956.
Despite being designated for sidearms, it didn’t take long until this mighty cartridge was incorporated into other firearms, like lever-action, bolt-action, and semi-auto rifles. The implementation of this caliber in rifles and revolvers has proven competence in medium-sized games, like hunting deer, antelope, and feral hogs.
Nowadays, the usage of 44 Mag revolvers has transcended the notion of handgun hunting, especially after the Model 29’s unforgettable appearance in Dirty Harry. These merciless hand cannons have unveiled the “high-risk, high-reward” option for precision-seeking marksmen.
Modern .44 Magnum Firearms
I bet you’re not here for a CCW (concealed-carry weapon) piece since 44 Magnum firearms, especially revolvers, aren’t made for this purpose. Predominantly, these revolvers tend to print on your shirt if you hide it in a holster around the waistband. I’d say 44 Mag revolvers are as good as 9mm pistols when it comes to self-defense.
After the adoption of this caliber in some rifles for hunting, the 44 Mag revolver decided to drift away from the handgun hunting scene to the self-defense one. When this diversion happened, marksmen began to think of these revolvers as primary firearms, especially after the emergence of scoped revolvers.
Most shooters may regard 44 Mag revolvers as obsolete because the modern ones didn’t introduce anything new to the firearm industry. However, modern revolvers now feature a swing-out mechanism, where the cylinder hinges on a pivoting crane that opens it sideways for reloading the chambers.
I also feel grateful for the brilliant speedloader solution for reloading. These speedloaders resemble the cylinder layout in every 6-shooter, and they allow you to refill the 6 chambers simultaneously instead of inserting separate cartridges to every chamber.
So, reloading has become a 2-click process that works through pressing the star lying in the middle of the cylinder to release spent cartridges and fitting the speedloader into the empty chambers, like little legos!
Best 44 Mag Revolver Reviews
- Lengthy underlug for better recoil control for professionals.
- The 2.75-inch barrel complements the concealability of the revolver.
- Supports both .44 Magnum and .44 Special.
- Great out-of-the-box rear and front sights that effortlessly align for quick shots.
- Comfortable grip for marksman-grade handling.
- Stainless steel body that withstands hot ballistics.
The Smith & Wesson Model 69 manages to bust the long-lasting claim that’s taken over the realm of revolvers, which is that revolvers aren’t primarily targeted at concealed carry. Before I tried it, I’ve experimented with S&W’s both K and N frames. N-frame revolvers were bulky, while K-frame ones gave potential to a CCW piece.
Specifications of the Smith & Wesson Model 69
Adjustable Black Blade
Single or Double Action
The American firearms manufacturer had plans to bridge the gap between those two frames, and the Model 69 Combat Magnum was brought to light as a compact revolver that packs the destructive 44 Mag firepower. The innovation lies in the fact that the Model 69 is the first revolver to adopt a form factor based on the L frame.
S&W succeeded in cramming the power you’ll mostly find in the heavy N-frame revolvers into a holster-friendly L-frame package. That’s the mindset that pushes gun owners toward possessing a little demon like the Model 69 with its 2.75-inch barrel. But is this short barrel a good call at the range?
I like that S&W reinforced the Model 69 with a full-length underlug since it’ll eventually reduce the kickback of the muzzle climb. When you lay hands on the Combat Magnum, you’ll notice that the short barrel is an indicator of how this 44 Mag revolver targets concealed-carry shooters as it weighs around 34.4 ounces.
As you might have guessed, the light weight might affect recoil. In the end, you want to shoot fast and flat. However, I’ve always thought of recoil control as a subjective matter that hails down on a heated discussion at a bar among marksmen. Yes, this 44 Mag revolver is so lightweight that it requires some practice to get used to.
For instance, shooting S&W’s X-frame .500 Mag revolver hasn’t been a pleasant experience, and I’m not planning on doing it again. But at least, it made me appreciate my recoil retention with the Combat Magnum and the CCW-compliant barrel, which disassembles to 2 pieces: a threaded barrel and a shroud for precision.
One thing I noticed is that the cylinder has the same bulk as N-frame 44 Mag revolvers, proving that the Model 69 boasts a beefed-up version of the feather-light K-frame revolvers. Slide that release button to snap the cylinder open, and it’ll swing out with 5 chambers for ammo insertion.
I wouldn’t count the cylinder capacity of 5 cartridges as a downside since the cylinder has sizable spaces between each chamber to boost the rigidness of the stainless steel. This 5-shooter is chambered in either 44 Mag or 44 Special. Relatively speaking, that’s good news for some beginner-to-intermediate users.
If you fill the chambers with 44 Special, chances are you’ll experience less recoil than shooting a 44 Mag cartridge since the casings of 44 SPL ammunition exert less pressure and, in turn, less recoil. Still, I’d prefer acquainting myself with shooting 44 Mag for potential recoil tolerance.
The extended grip is made up of synthetic rubber, and I’ve had no frustrating moments with the textured surface. S&W also gives you an option to change this grip by loosening the middle screw to swap it with another one.
Though the Model 69 is a double-action 44 Mag revolver, the hammer tempted me to cock it multiple times until I enjoyed the single-action mechanism of this revolver. This hammer has a sturdy texture that makes it easy to cock back, and the trigger pull is so seamless that I’ve become a fan of the Model 69’s one-handed approach.
- Comfortable wooden grip for excellent handgun control.
- Medium weight for beginners to get used to recoil anticipation.
- Easy-to-cock hammer with a flat surface for a one-handed grip.
- Long barrel that increases aiming accuracy.
- Chambered in .44 Remington Magnum or .44 S&W Special
- Adjustable rear sight allows adding length to elevation.
With the Ruger Super Blackhawk, you actually get two advantages, the first being that you’ll carry a prodigious wheel gun that’ll sooner or later remind you of that classic Colt Python from the 50s. The second is that it doesn’t bear a .537 Mag caliber, but a mighty 44 Mag one with a budget-friendly price tag.
Specifications of the Ruger Super Blackhawk
I’ve owned another variant of the Super Blackhawk, which has an unfluted cylinder. Unfluted cylinders have a connected design that looks uniform. Alternatively, this new Super Blackhawk boasts a fluted cylinder with some metal removed for carving cut-outs (flutes) among the chambers to reduce the weight.
This 5.5-inch barrel has given me the implication of weighty handling, and that’s true. However, the weight is fantastically distributed among the unfluted cylinder, barrel, and the vintage grip. This 44 Mag handgun has an 11.38-inch overall length of alloy steel this time, reflecting the price segment where the Super Blackhawk lies.
Unlike the S&W Model 69 Combat Magnum, the Super Blackhawk’s cylinder doesn’t magically swing out for speed-loading. It follows the old-school fixed cylinder mechanism for reloading instead of the modern-day cylinders that either break outward or swing sideways.
While it may sound archaic, this fixed cylinder has a nearby gate, which you can open when you half-cock the hammer lever. Only then will you be able to load every 44 Mag bullet at a time in the 6 chambers by spinning the cylinder. Note that this revolver is also chambered in 44 Special ammunition.
I won’t let you think of the added weight as a curse, though. Weighing 45 ounces, the Super Blackhawk won’t be cruel to you if you decide to shoot it one-handedly. The lightweight Model 69 will hit you with a more aggressive kickback than this Super Blackhawk. The more weighty the handgun, the better the recoil absorption.
The Super Blackhawk is a single-action 44 Mag revolver, meaning you’ll have to cock the hammer manually to activate the trigger’s functionality to move the firing pin for the next shot. I’d like to take a moment to tip my hat before this vintage-looking hammer—it looks like a seat, and you can cock it back with minimal pressure.
I even tried to fan that hammer like newbies, and it didn’t let me down! It’s better than the curved hammers we see nowadays in single-action revolvers, and it’s not the only good ol’ thing in this affordable 44 Mag revolver. This genuine hardwood grip never fails to seduce me to carry this gun to destroy some watermelons at the range.
Since the cylinder doesn’t pop out to the side, how will you be able to get rid of the spent cartridges? Below the barrel, you’ll spot the old-timey charm of the fixed, full-length ejector rod. So, you’ll have to spin the cylinder to bring the chamber and slide that rod all the way back till you laboriously dump these casings.
Though I’m addicted to these slides, I should point out that it often gets stuck in the middle, and I had to remove the cartridges manually. However, this happens only after extensive use. Overall, this is a cost-efficient 44 Mag revolver—care for it, and it’ll take care of your targets, especially with these adjustable sights.
- The triple-locking cylinder complements the stability while shooting.
- The grip is cushioned for comfort and recoil control.
- A one-piece barrel that’s hammer-forged for both durability and accuracy.
- The 13-inch overall length allows for scope mounting.
- The rear sight is adjustable in terms of elevation and windage.
Although Ruger jumped on the 44 Mag revolver bandwagon too late in 1949, the founders of this firearms manufacturer sensed Smith & Wesson’s interest in the potential of double-action hand cannons. Both manufacturers have their headquarters situated in Connecticut, where the double-action dream came to life.
Specifications of the Ruger Super Redhawk
Hogue Tamer Monogrip
Single or Double Action
In 1979, Ruger announced its first double-action 6-shooter, the Redhawk, which also came later than its competitors. Better late than never! This handgun has appeased to the palms of seasoned marksmen, and the Super Redhawk still carries the legacy of the original Redhawk to this day.
Since I’ve been an avid bearer of the single-action Super Blackhawk, I felt the urge to give the double-action Ruger Redhawk a shot to see how it fares with a bursting cartridge like the 44 Mag. It’s worth mentioning that this handgun has two variants, one of which is chambered in .454 Casull, giving an initial implication of endurance.
“That’s some merciful recoil we have here!”—a phrase you’ll rarely hear during a 44 Mag revolver chit-chat. While the availability of a .454 Casull variant gave me a positive impression about the build quality, it was also a bit intimidating for me. What I expected was an unforgiving recoil by all means, but the reality was different.
First off, the Ruger Redhawk 44 Magnum’s 7.5-inch barrel kind of soothed my worries. This is a good rule of thumb to follow: the longer the barrel, the more forgiving the recoil unless you’re dealing with an unappeasable .50 AE or .500 S&W revolver. Thinking about these makes me feel grateful for sticking to this revolver.
Additionally, I’m thankful that Ruger dedicates 3 parts of this 44 Mag revolver to make recoil less painful: the barrel, the grip, and the cylinder. Weighing 53 ounces, the Super Blackhawk even more than its single-action cousin, the Blackhawk. So, the weight also cleared out the odds of suffering from a blistering kickback.
This long barrel doesn’t have an underlug for support, making it more reliable and heavy-duty than that of the Smith and Wesson 44 Mag Model 69, although we don't have a full-length ejector rod (it has no advantage other than looking cool, anyway).
We get the standard dot-textured grip with grooves that act as finger rests. You can change it with a custom one, but I recommend that you don’t! Ruger calls this the Hogue Tamer grip, and it houses a recoil cushion that troubleshoots aggressive kickbacks, no matter how heavy the loads get.
The third key to recoil reduction here is the stainless steel cylinder, which swings out when you slide the release button. Ruger employs a triple-locking mechanism to fasten this cylinder to the front, rear, and bottom of the revolver’s frame to ensure that it doesn’t wiggle. This Ruger-exclusive solution deserves a round of applause!
Now that recoil is no longer a problem, let’s get into how it muddles through at the range. This 3-way solution made me feel that the recoil drives the handgun slightly backward instead of pushing the muzzle upward, which is good news for beginners. Also, the double-action trigger has a straightforward pull that requires less pressure.
Typically, the hammer is often disregarded in double-action 44 Mag revolvers. Yet, this one has a delicate hammer that’s easy to cock rearward if you wish to use it in the single-action mode. Note that you can’t fan this one since the sights are fixed on a higher level than the hammer’s lever.
- Mid-size barrel with an underlug for the ejection rod.
- Supports the insertion of S&W .44 Special or Remington .44 Magnum.
- The cylinder goes along with any speedloader.
- The adjustable rear sight helps personalize an elevation that you can handle.
- Has a wide array of accessories due to its fame.
“This is the 44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off.” These were the lines uttered by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry while threatening his enemy, referring to the all-time classic Smith & Wesson Model 29. Did he fire that 6th shot, though? Yes, he did—no setbacks whatsoever!
Specifications of the Smith & Wesson Model 29
Checkered Square Butt Walnut, Wooden
Single or Double Action
This movie is the reason why the Model 29’s sun will never set as long as traditional firearms remain in circulation. On the advent of the .454 Casull followed by the .460 and the .500 S&W Magnum calibers, many shooters expected that the Model 29’s legacy would be irrevocably wiped off since it uses 44 Mag ammunition.
On the contrary, the hype behind the S&W Model 29 is still skyrocketing to this day, and I bet you’re here to know why. While we may not find anything new with this 44 Mag revolver, I’d say that the Model 29 has provided the standard that other firearms manufacturers regard as the mainstay of 44 Mag revolvers.
One thing that caught my eyes is the carbon steel build, which is exceptionally stronger as it ensures that this handgun will last a lifetime, to say the least. Carbon steel has more carbon incorporated into it, granting the Model 29 higher durability and better heat dissipation.
Heat distribution is our top-priority spec to deal with the hot ballistics of a tenacious 44 Mag revolver like the Model 29. Luckily, the frame isn’t the only component made of carbon steel since both the cylinder and the barrel derive their support from this carbon-infused polymer.
The Model 29 we see in Dirty Harry had a 6.5-inch barrel. However, this reissue of the classic 44 Mag revolver adopts a 4-inch barrel with a handy underlug to accommodate the full-length ejection rod. The Model 29 weighs 43.08 ounces, considerably more than our 34.4-ounce S&W Model 69.
The increase in both weight and barrel length hints at improved recoil retention compared to the advanced-level kickback we’re familiar with in the Model 69. Still, an iconic wheelgun like this requires additional practice sessions to get used to. For the untrained eye, I’d recommend loading this handgun with .44 Special ammo at first.
For mainly a double-action sidearm, the Model 29 has its hammer unhindered by the rear sight. It’s funny that most manufacturers cut off some metal from the lever to prevent gun owners from fanning the hammer. But, Smith & Wesson doesn’t do monstrosities—it wants to keep its classics in their prime.
The 6-chamber cylinder easily swings out to the side when you poke that release button. Fortunately, this vintage cylinder is compatible with most speedloaders on the market. So, you can save yourself the trouble of loading every 44 Mag cartridge individually.
What encouraged me to take this Model 29 reissue to the shooting range was that Dirty Harry-esque wooden grip, which features a square-shaped bottom like the 44 revolvers that captivated us from the past century. I’d presume to say that this hand cannon is well-suited for intermediate shooters who can’t stand the Model 69.
- The underlug-equipped long barrel reduces muzzle flips.
- Two cut-outs on the ribbed barrel for scope mounting.
- The weight is evened out between the frame and the grip.
- Adjustable stock iron sights with perfect alignment between the rear and the front.
- A safe loading mechanism that doesn’t require half-cocking.
The first Blackhawk I used had a .357 Magnum caliber, but the Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter packs a vindictive 44 Mag one. If you’re still reading, you must’ve drawn the distinction between Ruger’s Blackhawks and Redhawks. Yes, Blackhawks are single-action revolvers, while the Redhawks utilize double-action triggers.
Specifications of the Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter
Ruger has been taking care of its Blackhawk Hunter lineup since it first hit the market in the 50s, and that’s because of the ever-increasing demand of handgun hunters who want a high-caliber revolver for some big-trophy games. I personally use mine for self-defense amid a venture into the woods.
If there’s one thing that sets the Blackhawk Hunter from the regular Blackhawk, it’d be the reloading mechanism. In the Blackhawk Hunter, you only need to open the loading gate and spin the cylinder to insert your Remington cartridges of choice. Half-cocking the hammer won’t do any magic, and I recommend you don’t do that.
If you attempt to half-cock the lever, you may end up initiating the trigger to move the firing pin, and you wouldn’t want to do that since you may fire the Blackhawk Hunter accidentally. Ruger implements a safety measure in this mechanism by preventing any hammer cocking until the loading gate is slammed back in place.
Like the Super Blackhawk, this 44 Mag revolver has a 7.5-inch barrel, but with an underlug this time. Although I would’ve preferred a one-piece barrel, I appreciate that the one we have here adds to the overall weight of 52 ounces. So long as more weight means less recoil, I’m definitely in—that’s a sane decision.
One look at the back, and you’ll see the classic-looking hammer. I’ve had no tragic moments with it since it’s easy to reach even if you don’t have a high grip on the gun. I just don’t like that the rear sight is slightly elevated, and it eclipses the prominence of the hammer. Your thumb may land on the sight until you get used to it.
Unlike the Blackhawk, this 44 Mag has its cylinder made of one chunk of stainless steel. You’ll see no flutes when you spin it to reload. This unfluted cylinder’s guts welcome 6 .44 caliber cartridges from either Remington or Smith & Wesson. If you choose to fire it with .44 Special, you’ll observe a noticeable degradation in recoil.
While the cylinder stands unfluted, you’ll find 2 cutouts on top of the barrel for third-party optics. As its name implies, most gun owners would resort to this 44 Mag revolver for big-game hunting. I’d say human hunter-gatherers would use the Blackhawk Hunter if they had the luxury to assemble a revolver!
Aside from the sturdiness of stainless steel, we get a unique black laminate grip from Ruger, allowing you to have a high posture while handling this firearm. Inside this grip lies a coil spring for weight distribution. Without this spring, you’ll have a hard time trying to achieve an even grip because of the heavy 7.5-inch barrel.
Does the Blackhawk Hunter run through the same ejection rod adversity of its brother, the Blackhawk? Unfortunately, yes. However, I’m glad that Ruger has molded the trigger guard into a rounded shape in this revolver; I can finally say goodbye to knuckle pain!
- A well-functioning ejection rod that won’t get stuck in the middle.
- An extended wooden grip inspired by the Single Action Army.
- Blade-shaped front sights that line up with the adjustable rear sight.
- The 8-inch octagonal barrel provides an incredible linear sight for accuracy.
- A recessed trigger with a spacious guard to decrease LOP (length of pull).
If you’re new to the realm of revolvers, you may not hear about Cimarron. This firearms manufacturer’s founder, Mike Harvey, is actually aiming at reviving the vibes of vintage firepower. That’s what I felt when I first laid hands on the Cimarron Bad Boy since it boasts nearly the same design as a 19-century Colt Single Action Army.
Specifications of the Cimarron Bad Boy
Wooden, Army-Style Grip
8 inches, octagonal
Carbon Steel, Blue Finish
There are many things that draw your attention when you look at this 44 Mag handgun. For me, it’s been the 8-inch barrel, the lengthiest on our list. After shooting some cartridges, I’ve noticed that this octagonal barrel is much stiffer than round barrels. Also, the flat barrel edges here somehow increased my accuracy.
Combine that with the lengthy sight radius, and you’ll realize how accurately you can fire this Bad Boy. The long barrel alone allows for rapid target acquisition if you’re a fan of quick draws. At first glance, you may argue that it’s a two-piece barrel. However, it’s only a one-piece tube with an underlug for the ejection rod.
Just behold how affordable this Bad Boy is. Despite that, Harvey doesn’t compromise on the build quality; it’s made out of an unrelenting chunk of blued carbon steel, similar to old-school 44 Mag revolvers like the Smith & Wesson Model 29. This further explains Cimarron’s intent to reinvigorate the veterans of the past.
I still remember the way my old man taught me to reload an army-style single-action revolver. For starters, you should half-cock the hammer, open the reload gate, and insert one of these offensive Remington cartridges. Back in the day, shooters used to skip one chamber so that the firing pin wouldn’t land on a live cartridge.
The Bad Boy doesn’t require you to ignore the 6th chamber; you can enjoy the entirety of the 6-shot cylinder. The secret behind this is that the firing pin is integrated into the hammer. It’ll retract when you hold the lever back for a moment then slowly push it forward to place it in a steady position—Samuel Colt would be proud!
As the Bad Boy weighs 48 ounces, I’ve hoped for unchallenging recoil control, especially that the barrel has some extra length. However, this speculation was far from reality since the muzzle climb may run unbearable for beginners.
- Standard 6.5-inch barrel and a better sight radius for aiming precision.
- Cushioned synthetic grip for recoil absorption.
- Stainless steel build that stands the test of time.
- Supports .44 Special rounds for less aggressive kickbacks.
- Accurate trigger pulls in single action with a thumb-friendly hammer.
The Smith & Wesson Model 629 is the savior for those who don’t want to get a taste of the attacking recoil of the Model 69 or 29. I’d deem this 44 Mag handgun a standard for the entry-level revolver bearers who have familiarized themselves with basic recoil control in semi-automatic pistols.
Specifications of the Smith & Wesson Model 629
Adjustable White Outline
Single or Double Action
The spec sheet gave me the benefit of the doubt even before I took this guy to the shooting range. The standard 6.5-inch barrel is ribbed into 2 pieces. Although it’s circular, you’ll be able to retain an acceptable sight radius while aiming, thanks to the contrast achieved by both the red front sight and the white rear one.
Most double-action 44 Mag revolvers have a subtly curved lever. However, the hammer on the back resembles that of a single-action revolver since it has a rest for your thumb, rendering it convenient to shoot this handgun in the one-handed mode.
The swing-out cylinder is home to six 44 caliber rounds. Since it’s a Smith and Wesson 44 Magnum model, you can opt for .44 Special ammo if you’re an absolute beginner to avoid the uninviting recoil. After firing this handgun, I felt grateful for the trigger’s feel, especially in single-action shots.
Why Choose .44 Magnum?
Many shooters have questioned the tendency of marksmen to hold .44 Mag revolvers. I mean they have bursting recoil and a restricting capacity of 6 rounds—what’s so attractive about them? These revolvers caught the eyes of shooters because they’re something to DESIRE, not something to DEMAND.
Firing a 44 Mag firearm is synonymous with taking your marksmanship to the next level. Think of it as a challenge: you’re ambitious enough to pull the trigger of one of the strongest firearms in the world with the determination to succeed in predicting the recoil pattern and nailing every one of these 6 hollow-point cartridges.
What tempted me to get into 44 Mag firearms is the vicious idea of possessing unrelenting firepower in a pocket-sized package instead of a rifle, for instance. As of now, this caliber sits on top of the cartridge hierarchy alongside the .50 American Express used in the stony-hearted Desert Eagle.
Putting that into perspective, the .44 Remington Magnum has made a breakthrough in handgun ballistics since the cartridge can achieve a low-end velocity of 1180 ft/s, compared to the 835 ft/s velocity of the .45 ACP.
I can hear you saying that both the .454 Casull and the .500 S&W Magnum make 44 Magnum ballistics sound futile. Still, I’m happy that we have a vigorous choice that sits halfway between these two cartridges, and that’s where the .44 Mag shines.
Personal Experience With Both .44s – Special and Magnum
It took me a while to differentiate between the .44 Magnum and the .44 Special. Except for the increased length of the former, both cartridges bear the same dimensions. You can even load a .44 Mag revolver with .44 Special ammo. So, what’s the difference that should attract you to opt for either?
Although the .44 Special is the predecessor of the .44 Magnum, many arms manufacturers still release revolvers with .44 SPL-compliant cylinders. I deem this good news for beginners who want to get straight into Magnum revolvers since the Smith & Wesson .44 SPL handguns boast controllable recoil.
Seeing that the .44 Special is older, it’s far more cost-efficient than our Remington cartridge. Yet, it’s not widely in stock as the .44 Magnum, rendering .44 SPL revolvers useless. Alternatively, the .44 Special is what the bearers of .44 Mag revolver resort to when on a budget.
However, I started with a .44 Mag revolver right off the bat and made an effort to acquaint myself with the unmanageable recoil, which has become something intuitive later on.
One thing that I have to admit is that the .44 Mag produces unbearable muzzle flash when you fire the cartridge, overwhelming your eyes even in broad daylight. So, visiting the shooting range at night is where the .44 Special decisively excels.
Single Action vs. Double Action
Suppose that a despicable home invader managed to break into your property, and you’re finally ready to call dibs on their life. You do your quick draw and heroically pull the trigger, but nothing happens!
Probably, you were holding a single-action revolver in this unfortunate situation. Do you see that lever that resembles the beavertail on Glock pistols? Yes, that’s called the hammer. In single-action revolvers, you have to manually cock the hammer by sliding it backward since the trigger only does one task: release the hammer.
The firing pin will only deliver a cartridge to the barrel on releasing a cocked hammer. So, single-action handguns are great for hunting or cowboy shooting competitions, but not definitely for self-defense. Some marksmen repeatedly fire single-action revolvers by “fanning” the hammer, meaning they rapidly pull it for consecutive shots.
However, that turns out to be impractical if you’re caught up in a real firefight since your shots will be terribly inaccurate; you may end up harming yourself. That’s where double-action revolvers come into play. The trigger of these revolvers undertakes two tasks: cocking the hammer and feeding the barrel with cartridges.
Note that you can’t fan the hammer of a double-action revolver and won’t even feel the urge to do so unless you’re a show-off who tried it out like me.
Things may go south at the shooting range if you’re still new to 44 Mag revolvers. That’s why I want to address some safety precautions that you MUST follow before or while firing your handgun. Start by paying attention to your surroundings. Never pull the trigger on something unless you know what’s lying behind it.
You’d also want to treat your unloaded gun as if it’s loaded—there may be a cartridge in one of the chambers that you left on a whim. So, never point your gun at a vulnerable direction on the off chance that the trigger is accidentally pulled. When reloading, open the cylinder using the nearby release button/latch.
In case you wish to unload unspent cartridges from the cylinder, open it and flip the gun with your hands open to grab the cartridges. However, if you want to get rid of spent cartridges, point the muzzle down for safety, open the cylinder and press the ejector rod and let them fall since they’ll be unbearably hot.
You should NEVER align your thumb to the gap between the barrel and the cylinder or place your thumb on the cylinder when you fire. Also, if you’re using a single-action revolver, bear in mind that the trigger pull is so minimal when you cock the hammer. So, don’t expect to feel the trigger pull since it’s so soft.
44 Mag revolvers are reliable most of the time when they are well-maintained and cleaned. Actually, the common consensus about revolvers is that they don’t malfunction when delivering cartridges, unlike what we might experience with semi-automatic pistols that require you to rack the slide in case of a cartridge jam.
When a problem arises with revolvers, it most likely has to do with low-quality ammunition, which often leads to the formation of fouling inside the barrel. Fouling refers to the stuck remnants of copper or lead that result from a spent cartridge, and it has to be cleaned regularly; otherwise, the bullet trajectory may get altered.
Like with any other gun, 44 Mag revolvers are bound to malfunction if there are construction defects. For instance, my first revolver’s ejector ran loose and caused the cylinder to be locked shut until I shipped it back for maintenance.
The key to reliability here is that revolvers are mechanically less complex than semi-autos. Almost no revolver chokes up on certain types of ammo, so much so that marksmen won’t test their revolvers with a plethora of rounds.
On the other hand, you have to test semi-autos because of their ammunition sensitivity, which costs you many rounds for testing whether the barrel has adapted to the new ammo or not.
It’s easily noticeable that 44 Mag revolvers have got some excessive bulk, but that’s the norm with revolvers in general. I’d say that the most enticing thing about a revolver’s ergonomics is the grip. No matter your hand size, you’ll be able to achieve a tight grip to control the muzzle flip.
Unlike semi-automatic pistols, 44 Mag revolvers have more of a downward-extending stock that helps with getting a higher grip on the handgun, ensuring full coverage of the revolver with your dominant hand’s middle, ring, and pinky fingers.
The next thing you’d want to do is wrap your weak hand’s fingers around your dominant hand except for the thumb that you’ll tuck on top of the other hand’s thumb to form an X shape for better recoil tolerance. You’re now ready to call the shots!
There’s a saying I’ve always believed in based on my experience with .44 Mag revolvers: a handgun’s accuracy depends on who’s holding it. Generally, the difference in the intrinsic accuracy of every revolver is indistinguishable—what really matters is how you treat these hand cannons.
If you succeed in getting a marksman-grade grip (like mentioned above) and understanding the sense of recoil and muzzle climbs, you’ll be able to improve your shooting capabilities with a 44 Mag revolver, which produces a stronger kickback than your average semi-automatic pistols.
Wheelgun, hand cannon, man-stopper, a portable tank—these are all synonyms for your best 44 Mag revolver. The “gun that won the west” was a revolver, the Colt Single Action Army. These relentless firearms are an authority without question. They obliterate the enemy and take no prisoners!