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mesinge2 04-17-2011 06:41 PM

Warning potential caliber war
I often carry my S&W 3" 44 magnum model 629. And for the sake of recoil control and rapidity of rounds fired I often carry it with the new 44 SPL Critical Defense load from Hornady. I also often carry my 2 3/4" Security Six with 158 grain Fiocchi XTP loads.
I began wondering about the difference between these loads based on the shorter barrel lengths and the relatively light 44 SPL bullet weight.
So I did some testing with my chrony (average of 10 rounds).

The Critical defense round clocked in a 165 grain 44 SPL round traveling at 915fps from the 3" barrel and the Fiocchi 158 grain 357 mag round clocked in at 1178 from the 2 3/4" barrel.

The bullet weights are very close. The velocity edge goes to the 357, but the diameter of the round goes to the 44 SPL. I just wish I had gelatin blocks to test expansion of the two rounds.

So, based on this data and ignoring weapon size.

What's your opinion?

Which is "better" ?

P.S. I used the word better loosely for the lack of a more suitable word.

doctherock 04-17-2011 07:37 PM

I've always preferred the .357 magnum: however, I have shot the .44 very little.

chainsaw 04-17-2011 07:47 PM

I like the thump of a 300 gr. .429 coming out of my .44 mag.Not too viable for a carry gun but it shure puts a hurt on stuff.

freefall 04-17-2011 08:22 PM

Personally I would rather carry the Security Six with 125 HPs. Certainly nothing wrong with the .44 sp though, it starts out halfway to what you're trying to get the .357 to expand to.

canebrake 04-17-2011 09:13 PM

357 mag for carry.

Why carry the extra gun when the smaller frame will do as good?

danf_fl 04-17-2011 09:19 PM

On what you have presented, I went with the .44 only for the manufacturer's name.
Under different conditions (like the same manf name for both), I would go with the .357 ala Mr canebrake.

mesinge2 04-17-2011 10:46 PM


Originally Posted by canebrake (Post 488603)
357 mag for carry.

Why carry the extra gun when the smaller frame will do as good?

The 44 (41oz) is about the same size and weight as a 1911 (38oz); although it is much thicker:

Clem 04-18-2011 01:55 PM

I live in a state where concealed carry is for all intents and purposes, impossible. I am a big guy, but I don’t think I would carry an N frame Smith as a concealed carry piece in any caliber. If I wanted to carry a 3” gun, it would probably be either my 3” Model 60 Pro or SP101. The bulk of an N frame is a nonstarter for me.

While I tend to feel that “real” guns begin with .40 caliber, I am not sure it makes much difference what the size of the hole in the barrel is. Ammo in important, in any caliber, but shot placement is more important.

mesinge2 04-18-2011 02:51 PM

The gun is quite accurate. Here is a group I shot with 300 grain 44 Mag loads, It is 100 times easier to group even tighter groups with the lighter loads! Pay atention to the recoil and understand why I like the Special loads for this 3" monster, :D

masterPsmith 04-18-2011 03:27 PM

I also prefer the .44sp over the .357 mag for carry. Recoil is very manageable in the N frame Smith whereas the .357s sharp bark is hard for many people to handle with quick follow-up shots, even in an L frame Smith. JMHO.


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