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Old 09-24-2008, 11:03 AM
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44 Magnum vs 357 Magnum for hunting

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Hello, I'm considering trading my 44 Magnum for something a little more manageable like the 357. I'd like to know from those that have actually hunted both calibers the following: Is there a noticeable difference on game between the 44 and 357?

I know the debate will rage on gun forums (just like 9mm vs 45) by armchair commandos who have never shot anything or anybody but paper and metal cans at the range. I my self am one of them. So I ask those who have actually experienced shooting both calibers at appropriate game such as a deer or a black bear. What about something a little bigger like an elk?

I always hear that shot placement is the most important element in bullet effectiveness, after that is good penetration. Would a 158gr or 180gr at maximum velocity and shot straight through the vitals be any less effective than a 44 magnum? Does that 0.083" diameter make a difference? MikeG, I'm looking right at you
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Old 09-24-2008, 11:18 AM
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I have hunted with both and favor the 44 mag. If you handload, you can load the 44 mag down to a much more managable level. Using Unique and HP38, I can load the 44 mag with 245 gr bullets to 1200 fps with much less recoil than factory load.
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Old 09-24-2008, 11:27 AM
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For the game mentioned either one is fine with proper shot placement and the right loads. I use hardcast bullets, 180gr. in .357mag and 240gr. in .44mag.
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Old 09-24-2008, 12:34 PM
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Certainly there is a difference between the .357 and the .44 on deer. I would liken it to the difference between the .30-30 and the .30-06.

Having said that, allow me to point something out -- either will get the job done just fine. Just as I would not choose the .30-30 for 300 yard deer shooting from a rifle, I would not choose the .357 for 100 yard shots from a handgun. BUT, used in a reasonable fashion the .357 will work, and work quite well. I love my .44 Magnum, but I have no plans for getting rid of my .357, and if , say, arthritis in my hand flares up , or just plain "I want to try something different" hits, I'd choose the .357 over the .44 and be happy.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:13 PM
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Not to be contrary, but, "Magnum? We don't need no steeeeeenking magnum!"

Shun the ear-splitting blast of the 357. Avoid the wrist-snapping recoil of the 44. Get yourself a 45 Colt. Even the rather anemic factory ammo will shoot completely through a deer, and a handload holding a 250-260 SWCL at 900-1000 fps will shoot through one lengthwise. At low pressures, with the attendant milder blast and recoil, I might add. As a bonus, you can load it to the same ballistics as a 38 Special through the mighty 44 Magnum, should you choose to tackle rampant mice - or moose.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:25 PM
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As a matter of fact, I DO own a .45 Colt. It's a Colt SAA with a 7.5" barrel, my favorite pistol. We shoot it full throttle with a case stuff with 777 or black powder and a 250gr bullet at 1000fps. Very fun combination.

Which is why I don't really like 44 Special. Seems to me like large caliber moderate velocity cartridges are in the domain of black powder. The 357 can anything a 44 Special can do while using less lead.
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Old 09-24-2008, 02:15 PM
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Huh? Who? Me????

I've used a bunch of different stuff and the critters, some of them pretty big, are all still dead. If you want to use a .357 it will work, you know the story on bullets! 180 gr. hard cast and it'll be dead.

Rocky sure has a good suggestion with the .45 Colt and my bison went down in it's tracks, so I can't argue either.

I guess it really comes down to style and fashion!!!

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Old 09-24-2008, 02:53 PM
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All so far is good advice. No one has mentioned the .41 caliber yet so I feel that I must.
"I know", is close to the 44. Handloads sure make it shine though.

Besides, you don't mention that you have one Army GI. Is time to expand your collection a little.

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Old 09-24-2008, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Huh? Who? Me????
Yes, you, wiseguy

Well guys here's the thing I forgot to mention: I own a Winchester 1886 in 45-70. And I didn't even think about this before, but if I need anything more powerful than what a .45 Colt or .357 Magnum can deliver, I might as well take a rifle. I could go modern and use a 30-06 or traditional and use the 45-70.

The way I see it, if you got a 45-70, you really don't need a 44 Magnum. A 44 Magnum with a 300gr bullet at 1500 fps out of a levergun is no doubt a powerful load. But it is only nipping at the heels of a 45-70 with a 300gr bullet at the same velocity. Plus with the Winchester I have the option of jumping up to 405gr bullets at 1300fps, and these are just mild black powder loads, gentlemen! That's something the 44 Mag can only dream of.

Last edited by Army GI; 09-24-2008 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 09-24-2008, 03:57 PM
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Armchair Commando, here; but one with a goodly number of heavily wooded acres in the hills of Western W.Va. I hunt for food with a rifle.

But for walking around in the woods, I figure I could meet anything between a rabid 'coon and an evil bear-momma. So I use the Forest Gump theory: "I think it's both". S&W 4" Mountain Gun model 29-8 w/230 gr. .44 magnums and generally a Ruger GP100 6" .357 magnum. I'm more accurate with the .357's, so the .44 is for closer and larger critters. I like revolvers, but I recently got me a Marlin 1894ss lever action rifle in .44 magnum, too, to go along with the mountain gun. We've yet to determine how comfortable that is to haul around in the hills, and whether three guns is too much trouble. I could see swapping the rifle for the GP100, it's at least as accurate and has twice the range. Then I'd only have to carry one kind of ammo around with me for reloading.
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Old 09-24-2008, 08:59 PM
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Don't trade the .44. Any good .357 with the proper load is still a lighter gun and the sharp recoil is as bad as the .44 in a heavy gun. The .44 loaded for less recoil is still better on game. So is the .45 that won't take a backseat to anything.
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Old 09-25-2008, 02:43 AM
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Look in the tech notes setion here. Marshall has a great article on the truth about handgun hunting, and there is a great chart there showing wound channel sizes for different bullets.
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Old 09-26-2008, 06:18 AM
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if you handload just load for 1250fps with a hardcast keith style bullet. that is all that elmer wanted and is all that we really need for deer.
i have to heartily second the statements about the 45 colt, i lived most of my life in iowa and used handguns to deer hunt as soon as they let us. the first couple years i used my 44 with mid range loads(240gr noslers & blue dot) and was amazed how well it worked. i then picked up a 4/58" bbl'd blackhawk and used the 265gr cast performance bullet at about 1100fps and all i can say is WOW!! you could load your 44 to the same velocity as the colt loads and get awesome performance on deer.
on a side note i have a 657 6" 41 mag that i really like too. with hot loads it is similar to the 44 both in recoil and performance, but a .410" bullet at 1200fps will clobber a deer handily.
you certainly don't need 1500 fps in a 44 to kill a deer, or even a black bear for that matter and the mid-range loads are fun to shoot too.
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Old 11-03-2011, 10:02 AM
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I have a 4 5/8 inch Super Blackhawk. All the rest of my single actions are 45 Colt. I am thinking of having the SBH converted to a tight chambered 45 Colt. The cylinder chambers will be of minimum diameter to minimize expansion of the brass upon firing. This will allow for longer brass life and also the cartridges can be loaded a little hotter. Beartooth makes a great 280 gr .452 cal bullet with a large .36 inch meplat. If you like flying oil drums Penn makes a 270 gr Thunderhead with a .443 inch meplat. The Beartooth bullet will be stable at longer ranges if that is a consideration. It should penetrate deeper also.
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:57 PM
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+1 .45 Colt. 5.5" blackhawk convertible here and happy with that.
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Old 11-11-2011, 09:36 AM
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I've used both a .357 and a .44 Mag (Dan Wessons) and a .41 Mag (Redhawk) and .45 Colt (S&W M25). All work quite well with proper loads. The ultimate whitetail cartridge? The .357 Maximum. The .357 Magnum peaks out with 180-185gr bullets and that's where the Maximum really gets started. None of the .40-bores can shoot as flat or as far as the Max can. The big bores must have bullet weight to penetrate the same as a lighter bullet Maximum and that means recoil.
One thing though. Elgin Gates' cartridge was never meant to operate at pressures 99.9% of the loading manuals use and the latest 40 kpsi SAAMI standards are a joke. When Daniel Wesson and Elgin Gates got together to create the M40, they meant for it to operate at the SuperMag pressure levels of 48-51 kpsi. As proven in the Contender carbine and rechambered H&R single-shots, loaded to that level, the Maximum can equal the .35 Remington (or close to it). Two revolvers qualify; the M40 SuperMag and the Seville. The Ruger Maximum Blackhawk is a fine weapon, but the cylinder is too short and too small in diameter to let the Maximum stretch its legs.

Last edited by crossfire; 11-11-2011 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 11-11-2011, 02:53 PM
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When it come to manageable I look more at the platform than the cartridge. I have had and hunted with a Ruger SA Hunter in 44 mag. There simply is no legitimate load you can shoot out of it that is not manageable. All the more so if you are shooting the Bisley version. I have never shot one but imagine the same is at least as true of the SA Hunter Bisley in 45 Colt. In the 44 there is not need to firewall a load to take a deer. A good 300gr Beartooth bullet doing 1000 fps or so out of a SA Hunter will feel like a target load but have plenty of power on the other end. Same for the 45 Colt.

To a lesser degree the 8 3/8" Smith 44 mags are very manageable with good loads. So are the 7 1/2 Ruger Redhawks. You can step down to the 357 if you want but it's not necessary. If you want a short barrel and lighter gun with moderate recoil you are stuck with lighter loads no matter what. Longer barrels eat recoil, report and blast. They are just a little harder to carry for some folks. YMMV.
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Old 11-11-2011, 03:20 PM
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used a .357 for 26 years and it was fine but I shot a lot and after my first deer that I had to shoot twice I learned to get a little closer.. Switched to 44 mag when I finally got my hands on one and then switched to 41 mag because the 4" barrel was easier to carry than the 7 1/2" barrel, the result was the same with either gun. They do go down a bit quicker with a larger heavier bullet and while I like my .357 I consider it the bottom of the ladder for anything deer size and up.
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Old 11-11-2011, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Army GI View Post
I always hear that shot placement is the most important element in bullet effectiveness, after that is good penetration. Would a 158gr or 180gr at maximum velocity and shot straight through the vitals be any less effective than a 44 magnum? Does that 0.083" diameter make a difference?
Actually, shot placement is everything under most circumstances.

Is the .357M equal to a .44M ? What do you really think.

If you are a hunter with the self control to limit the shot to match the combination of your skill, and the limited horsepower of a .357M, the .357 with a 180gr bullet is probably enough for elk under some conditions, much like a 50lb bow. On the other hand, loading the .44M to +P .44 Spcl levels would make more sense unless you are just plain "hot" for a .357.
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:24 PM
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I use both. I have my 44 mag TC set up for long range with 225 flex tip and my 6inch GP100 for my bow stands. I use Speer 170SP for my GP. Having said that I just started using Win white box 240SP for my 44 mag. This is a very accurate load and very mild recoil. There is a good article by Foggy Mountain Guide service in Maine. The owner use to use a Python 357 for bear until it didn't work once. He switched to a 41 mag, 210 SP and has taken a ton of bear with that load. He still uses the 357 mag for deer.

Last edited by Noreaster; 11-11-2011 at 05:26 PM.
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