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STONER_63

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I have gotten some great advice on this forum, so here we go again ...

A few years back I picked up a very nice Ruger GP100, Standard Model 1715 w/ a 3" bbl. It's a great revolver, well-built and reliable. However, sight upgrades are hard to come by without extensive and costly customization.

I could sell her, but I guess I am sentimental. So now I am in the market for a .357 revolver that comes with night sights that can be replaced as needed, 4" bbl preferred. I like .357 because it packs plenty of punch without the insane recoil of the .44 Mag, and you can always shoot .38 for practice/economy. Primary purpose of this weapon would be nightstand duty, with occasional open carry on the trail or in the woods.

So far I have looked at the Ruger Redhawk 5059 and about a half-dozen nice-looking S&W models. Since the Ruger I have is stainless, I would prefer to go with classic wood grips and bluing.

So what do you all recommend? Looking for a 'Top 5' list if possible. Thank you all!
 

s1xty7

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I, too, am a fan of Ruger revolvers and have a few in .357. In particular a pair I have designated for nightstand use. They are the harder to find 4", full lug, fixed sight models in .357 magnum. They made a few in 38 special as well. Anyway, I outfitted them with compact Lett grips, tracked down two double action only (DAO) hammers (not just grinding off the spurs, but from actual DAO GP100s), and picked up a couple Meprolight SP101 tritium front sights. I can hand one to my wife, in an emergency, and there is no need to worry about safeties, cocking the hammer, accidental discharges (the DAO trigger is strong enough not to be pulled by accident), all with a bright dot on the front to help point it. Little polish on the spring channel and a few other surfaces leads to a trigger that is heavy enough yet smooth.

GP100_DAO_Side_1.jpg

Maybe it's not a different model of gun, but a different configuration. I'd look at SP101 night sights and have a smith fit it for $25 or so if you don't want to risk drilling the new sight pin hole yourself.

Good luck!

Edit: Mine are from the mid 90s and don't have that new fangled quick release front sight, so your sight selection might be different.
 
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OldBroad44

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I think SW or Ruger revolvers with adjustable sights normally come with one of three sight styles, none of which are night sights. The more recent versions of adjustable sight models do have sights that are replaceable, however. Look for front sights that are pinned. Amazon lists night sights for K, L, and N frame revolvers for about $100.

For a nightstand or home defense revolver, I like Crimson Trace laser grips. My vision without glasses is so poor I can't see sights or red dots at all. But I can see the dot of the laser on the target. With my glasses, it is a dot on the target. Without glasses, its a huge blob that's even easier to see. The laser also facilitates aiming from weird one-hand positions that might be relevant if surprised and needing to fire from bed from positions in which the sights are not lined up with the eyes. Crimson Trace makes laser grips for J, K, L, and N size frames.
 
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Scout 38S

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s1xty7 is barking up the right tree, great setup and OldBroad44 has transitioned to what works from what used to work. I like the Ruger GP 100 with the easily removable front sight. A seven shot with an aftermarket front night sight. In the dark at combat ranges I use the bright front sight like a bead on a shotgun. The three dot system for me blurs without glasses, and I find it distracting. I have an FO FRONT sight on my GP 3"

DSCF0848 (3).JPG
 

STONER_63

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Thanks to everyone who responded. My short list has only two guns on it:

The S&W Model 19 has an adjustable rear sight and a red ramp front sight. I have never used a ramp sight, but it looks to be sufficient for my needs.

The Ruger GP100 Standard Talo has what appears to be an adjustable rear sight, and a fiber optic front sight.

I am already familiar with Ruger, and their customer service record is good. The Model 19 has a more classic look. Both seem accurate and well-made.

What's the consensus out there?
 

OldBroad44

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Thanks to everyone who responded. My short list has only two guns on it:

The S&W Model 19 has an adjustable rear sight and a red ramp front sight. I have never used a ramp sight, but it looks to be sufficient for my needs.

The Ruger GP100 Standard Talo has what appears to be an adjustable rear sight, and a fiber optic front sight.

I am already familiar with Ruger, and their customer service record is good. The Model 19 has a more classic look. Both seem accurate and well-made.

What's the consensus out there?
Ruger GP 100s. The specific front sight is a detail. Talo editions are harder to find used. Hard to beat a standard red ramp front sight for not getting hung up when drawing. And not breaking. I'd make mine stainless steel for ease of care. GP 100s are muzzle heavy.

In used Rugers, also consider the Security Six. they have standard, not muzzle-heavy balance.

For SW, consider four models, all of which have adjustable sights. The 586 and 686, which are the same except 586s are blued and 686s stainless steel. And the 19 or 66, likewise the same except 19 is blued and 66 is SS. SS requires much less care to keep it from rusting, a huge advantage in the wet NW. An even larger advantage in coastal areas where the air and water are salty.

I would go with the SW 686. This is the L frame under-lugged .357. Its heavier than the 19 or 66 and stands up better to heavy use with full power loads. Because of the under-lugged barrel, the gun has a pronounced muzzle-heavy balance. If you prefer a somewhat lighter gun with a traditional balance, go for the 19 or 66. These have a standard not under-lugged barrel. But if buying used, inspect carefully to get one that hasn't been used overly much.

I like a muzzle-heavy balance in revolvers. It gobbles up recoil. And my hand can feel where the muzzle is, so I can hip shoot surprisingly well with them. Thats relevant for defense when extending gun in standard way would put gun within reach of bad guy who is so close he could grab or bat it away.

These 6 models are all excellent guns. All in 6" versions are likely capable of under 2" groups at 50 yards from Ransom Rest. The SWs will have lighter smoother triggers than the Rugers. The Rugers usually cost a bit less. You can improve the triggers on the Rugers by repacing the springs, but the result still doesn't match the SW triggers.That's the main reason I'm a SW lady rather than a Ruger lady in .357 caliber.
 
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s1xty7

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The Ruger vs S&W debate has been around forever. For me, I don't like having a side plate with screws that can come loose or get buggered up. Nor do I like the locking "Hillary hole" on the side of new Smiths. I feel like the design of the GP100 and related Rugers is stronger because there is no hole in the side of the frame to access the internal mechanism. Reloading manuals have Ruger only loads for a reason. I've bought both (have a nickel plated 586 and a 681 which is a fixed sight 686), and while the Smiths' triggers are smoother, the Ruger wins in my book.
 
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OldBroad44

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The Ruger vs S&W debate has been around forever. For me, I don't like having a side plate with screws that can come loose or get buggered up. Nor do I like the locking "Hillary hole" on the side of New Smiths. I feel like the design of the GP100 and related Rugers is stronger because there is no hole in the side of the frame to access the internal mechanism. Reloading manuals have Ruger only loads for a reason. I've bought both (have a nickel plated 586 and a 681 which is a fixed sight 686), and while the Smiths' triggers are smoother, the Ruger wins in my book.
I know of no Ruger-only factory loads in .357 mag, not even at Buffalo Bore. The cast metal of the Ruger requires more metal to work than the equivalent SWs, meaning the Rugers are heavier clunkier guns. And I would get nothing for that extra weight unless I reloaded. That's why I said I'm a SW lady in .357. However, .44 mag is a different story. There are factory loads that go up to +P+ in .44 mag that take .44 all the way up to 1600 ft. lbs.-- Cassull level loads but in .44. So in .44s I like having both SWs and Rugers--Rugers for +P loads and for scoping if desired in the bigger guns. SWs in shorter barrel offerings for the lighter overall weight and better trigger.

I, too, dislike the locks on the SWs. I stick with used pre clock versions of SWs. Both are excellent brands, though.
 
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1. S&W 586/686 4” barrel.
2. S&W 19 or 66 with a 2.5” barrel.
3. S&W 13, 4” barrel or Colt Police Positive 4”.
4. Ruger GP100, 4” barrel
5. Heavy barrel S&W model 10, 4”
 

STONER_63

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Ruger GP 100s. The specific front sight is a detail. Talo editions are harder to find used. Hard to beat a standard red ramp front sight for not getting hung up when drawing. And not breaking. I'd make mine stainless steel for ease of care. GP 100s are muzzle heavy.

In used Rugers, also consider the Security Six. they have standard, not muzzle-heavy balance.

For SW, consider four models, all of which have adjustable sights. The 586 and 686, which are the same except 586s are blued and 686s stainless steel. And the 19 or 66, likewise the same except 19 is blued and 66 is SS. SS requires much less care to keep it from rusting, a huge advantage in the wet NW. An even larger advantage in coastal areas where the air and water are salty.

I would go with the SW 686. This is the L frame under-lugged .357. Its heavier than the 19 or 66 and stands up better to heavy use with full power loads. Because of the under-lugged barrel, the gun has a pronounced muzzle-heavy balance. If you prefer a somewhat lighter gun with a traditional balance, go for the 19 or 66. These have a standard not under-lugged barrel. But if buying used, inspect carefully to get one that hasn't been used overly much.

I like a muzzle-heavy balance in revolvers. It gobbles up recoil. And my hand can feel where the muzzle is, so I can hip shoot surprisingly well with them. Thats relevant for defense when extending gun in standard way would put gun within reach of bad guy who is so close he could grab or bat it away.

These 6 models are all excellent guns. All in 6" versions are likely capable of under 2" groups at 50 yards from Ransom Rest. The SWs will have lighter smoother triggers than the Rugers. The Rugers usually cost a bit less. You can improve the triggers on the Rugers by repacing the springs, but the result still doesn't match the SW triggers.That's the main reason I'm a SW lady rather than a Ruger lady in .357 caliber.
Thank you! You definitely know your revolvers, and I am happy to see that I am thinking along very similar lines to what you wrote here. I already have a GP100 stainless w/ a 3" bbl, so I am naturally looking at something different for my next revolver. I put a lot of time and effort into humidity management, but you make some really good points about the merits of stainless vs. blued metal. Stainless is less tactical, but is that even a factor for this particular gun and the desired application? Thanks again for your insights - much appreciated.
 

STONER_63

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STONER_63

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s1xty7 is barking up the right tree, great setup and OldBroad44 has transitioned to what works from what used to work. I like the Ruger GP 100 with the easily removable front sight. A seven shot with an aftermarket front night sight. In the dark at combat ranges I use the bright front sight like a bead on a shotgun. The three dot system for me blurs without glasses, and I find it distracting. I have an FO FRONT sight on my GP 3"

View attachment 857956
Thanks for your post! Please provide the details on that FO FRONT sight on your GP 3". I feel like I have hit a dead end for sight upgrades on my GP100 w/ 3" bbl. I can hit what I aim at with the trench/blade setup in daylight/range conditions, but in low light? Not so much ...
 

OldBroad44

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@STONER_63, you mentioned preferring .357 to .44 mag because of the "insane recoil" of the latter. However, you can shoot .44 special in a .44mag. This gives you about the same energy level as the .357, but with a fatter, heavier, and subsonic bullet. So this is no more recoil than a .357 mag. And its lots less noise.

A downside of the .357 for self defense is that it is twice as loud or more as .38sp, 9 mm, .44sp, .45 auto, .45 Colt., or even a shotgun. .357 mag has been known to cause ruptured eardrums or temporary to permanent damage if fired in a confined space, such as in a house or car. For this reason I've switched from full .357 mag loads for EDC in my SW 686 snubby to .38sp 150gr full wadcutter hard-cast short barrel anti-personel loads from Buffalo Bore. These are a highly penetrating round designed to "penetrate 12" of mammalian flesh and bone." And a full wadcutter is actually a seriously effective bullet design, especially at full rather than reduced .38sp power and with a hard cast rather than soft lead bullet. But its .38sp power level, not .357 mag. .357 mag depends upon speed to achieve its power. .44 sp. reaches the same power level by having a fatter heavier but slow moving subsonic bullet.

Note that if you are firing ordinary full .357 mag loads from your 3" Ruger, you are only getting .38sp or 9mm power level anyway. If you want full .357 mag performance from such a short barrel you need ammo designed for short barrels--ammo with fast burning powder that imparts nearly all the energy to the bullet before it exits the muzzle of the short barrel. Assuming you aren't going to shoot it indoors or don't care about having functional ears afterwards.

Actually, you can choose the energy level of the .44 mag ammo you're firing all the way from .38sp power levels to .44 mag +P. Over the counter .44sp is pretty wimpy. On line you can get up to about 650 ft. lbs. Over-the-counter .44 mag ammo generally runs 800 to 1200 foot lbs. From a 6" revolver with an under lugged barrel, I can shoot the 800 level with one hand, and either hand. At 1200 I need both hands. Bear loads for self defense from Garrett or HMS are in the 800 to 1000 ft. lb. level and are flat nose hard cast. It is considered important to be able to control the gun with one hand with either hand, as the bear could be on you chewing on your dominant hand or arm in an instant. Hunting loads for deer or bear are usually 1200. But the fact is, .44sp penetrating hard cast flat nose or Keith semi wad cutters are effective to hunt deer or bear. And of course .44 mag +P goes all the way up to about 1600 ft. lbs., that is, .454 Cassull level power from a .44. (Rugers can fire such loads; SW can't.)

So basically I'm making your life more complicated by pointing out that .357 has a major disadvantage you probably weren't considering. And .44 mag does not have horrific recoil unless you choose ammo to make it so. Note too that if you ever have to point a gun at a bad human, the intimidation factor matters. The greater the intimidation factor, the more likely the bad guy withdraws, and the event is over with no bodies you need to try to explain away or bury. And the less the intimidation factor the more likely the bad guy is to try to take your gun and shove it up your hoo-ha. What makes a gun intimidate? I think size of the gun is one factor. Bigger is better. I think guns that are standard black or SS are more intimidating than guns that are colored to resemble toys. But a huge factor is the size of the hole in the barrel.

So I suggest you tell your significant other that you need two or three new guns. A SW 629 Classic .44 mag with a 6 1/2" barrel and a SW 686 .357mag with a 4" barrel. And maybe you'll need a Marlin lever action rifle too, because one could have the barrel threaded for a suppressor and use it with .44 sp. Or maybe I'm the one who needs the 629 Classic 6 1/2" and the Marlin.

My solution to needing to be able to shoot in the dark is Crimson Trace laser grips, not night sights. Crimson Trace Grips are available for J, K, L, or N frame Smiths, but not for Rugers as far as I know. They're available from Amazon.


.
 
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STONER_63

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@STONER_63, you mentioned preferring .357 to .44 mag because of the "insane recoil" of the latter. However, you can shoot .44 special in a .44mag. This gives you about the same energy level as the .357, but with a fatter, heavier, and subsonic bullet. So this is no more recoil than a .357 mag. And its lots less noise.

A downside of the .357 for self defense is that it is twice as loud or more as .38sp, 9 mm, .44sp, .45 auto, .45 Colt., or even a shotgun. .357 mag has been known to cause ruptured eardrums or temporary to permanent damage if fired in a confined space, such as in a house or car. For this reason I've switched from full .357 mag loads for EDC in my SW 686 snubby to .38sp 150gr full wadcutter hard-cast short barrel anti-personel loads from Buffalo Bore. These are a highly penetrating round designed to "penetrate 12" of mammalian flesh and bone." And a full wadcutter is actually a seriously effective bullet design, especially at full rather than reduced .38sp power and with a hard cast rather than soft lead bullet. But its .38sp power level, not .357 mag. .357 mag depends upon speed to achieve its power. .44 sp. reaches the same power level by having a fatter heavier but slow moving subsonic bullet.

Note that if you are firing ordinary full .357 mag loads from your 3" Ruger, you are only getting .38sp or 9mm power level anyway. If you want full .357 mag performance from such a short barrel you need ammo designed for short barrels--ammo with fast burning powder that imparts nearly all the energy to the bullet before it exits the muzzle of the short barrel. Assuming you aren't going to shoot it indoors or don't care about having functional ears afterwards.

Actually, you can choose the energy level of the .44 mag ammo you're firing all the way from .38sp power levels to .44 mag +P. Over the counter .44sp is pretty wimpy. On line you can get up to about 650 ft. lbs. Over-the-counter .44 mag ammo generally runs 800 to 1200 foot lbs. From a 6" revolver with an under lugged barrel, I can shoot the 800 level with one hand, and either hand. At 1200 I need both hands. Bear loads for self defense from Garrett or HMS are in the 800 to 1000 ft. lb. level and are flat nose hard cast. It is considered important to be able to control the gun with one hand with either hand, as the bear could be on you chewing on your dominant hand or arm in an instant. Hunting loads for deer or bear are usually 1200. But the fact is, .44sp penetrating hard cast flat nose or Keith semi wad cutters are effective to hunt deer or bear. And of course .44 mag +P goes all the way up to about 1600 ft. lbs., that is, .454 Cassull level power from a .44. (Rugers can fire such loads; SW can't.)

So basically I'm making your life more complicated by pointing out that .357 has a major disadvantage you probably weren't considering. And .44 mag does not have horrific recoil unless you choose ammo to make it so. Note too that if you ever have to point a gun at a bad human, the intimidation factor matters. The greater the intimidation factor, the more likely the bad guy withdraws, and the event is over with no bodies you need to try to explain away or bury. And the less the intimidation factor the more likely the bad guy is to try to take your gun and shove it up your hoo-ha. What makes a gun intimidate? I think size of the gun is one factor. Bigger is better. I think guns that are standard black or SS are more intimidating than guns that are colored to resemble toys. But a huge factor is the size of the hole in the barrel.

So I suggest you tell your significant other that you need two or three new guns. A SW 629 Classic .44 mag with a 6 1/2" barrel and a SW 686 .357mag with a 4" barrel. And maybe you'll need a Marlin lever action rifle too, because one could have the barrel threaded for a suppressor and use it with .44 sp. Or maybe I'm the one who needs the 629 Classic 6 1/2" and the Marlin.

My solution to needing to be able to shoot in the dark is Crimson Trace laser grips, not night sights. Crimson Trace Grips are available for J, K, L, or N frame Smiths, but not for Rugers as far as I know. They're available from Amazon.


.
Wow! Thanks for giving me a lot to think about. To be fair, I only fired a .44 once about 10 years ago. It was a significant emotional event to say the least, and while it was a real blast (literally), I didn't come away feeling confident in my ability to fire accurately or consistently. To this day, I can't watch a Dirty Harry movie without having flashbacks.

Fast forward a couple of years, and I picked up a Ruger GP100 3" bbl at a decent price. It feels great firing .38 and pretty good with .357, but your point about maximizing the potential of .357 is well-taken, and I am 100% certain that I could shoot better with a 4" bbl. Question: what load would you recommend for the 3" Ruger?

I will definitely give the .44 Mag another try. I think the .41 Mag is one of the great 'might have been' rounds, and I have flirted with the idea of getting a revolver and a lever-action in that caliber. But the new plan is to stick with .357 because (a) it allows you to shoot .38 as well and (b) the lever-action .357 works just fine.

Speaking of lever-action rifles in a pistol caliber, you ought to consider adding one of these to your wish list:

Taylor 1892 Alaskan Takedown

Ever since I got my Ruger 10/22, I have developed a hankering for takedown rifles. And I have always kicked myself for not picking up an M1 Carbine back when they were affordable. With these thoughts in mind, the 1892 in .357 is looking better every day ...

Thanks again for your post.
 

OldBroad44

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Hello @STONER_63.

If I were carrying your 3" Ruger as EDC, I would need to take into account that I might need to fire it indoors or from inside a car. So I would want a subsonic .38sp load, not a .357 mag load so as to preserve my hearing. And it should be designed for short barrels. Go to the Buffalo Bore website and look at their .38sp Standard Pressure Short Barrel Low Flash Heavy .38 sp. There are three versions. I would want a penetrating load, because I walk around my neighborhood, and we have black bears and a resident cougar. So my choice is the full wadcutter hard cast. That will go all the way through a human or bear skull, making a large wound cavity the whole way. It would also go through walls in my house if I fired it indoors. But there's nobody who would be hurt by that. If I lived in a city or a house with family members in adjacent rooms or in an apartment building, I'd be less concerned about enough penetration to get through bear skulls and more concerned about over peneration. So I would go with the 125 grain jacketed hollow point. Buffalo Bore is out of all three of these loads right now, but had them all in stock when I wrote my last email. Keep an eye on the website; with a little luck they will soon have them in stock again.

Its a shame your first experience with a .44 mag was so bad. Unfortunately, a lot of people think its fun to hand a heavy recoiling gun to a novice and enjoy his unpleasant experience. As if this makes them a better man, a macho thing. To me, all it proves is that they are either a bubblegum-hole or a lousy teacher. Or both.

The way I start someone on .357 or .44 mag (assuming they are already familiar with guns and gun safety, just not large bore revolvers): First, I use a full-size gun that is going to be relatively comfortable even with full loads. This means 6" revolvers in .44. Anything smaller and lighter and I don't shoot it with full .44 mag loads at all. (Sure plenty of people do. I'm not a masochist.) We go to a spot in the woods with a good backstop, the side of a steep hill. I put up a paper plate about chest height, and we stand only about ten feet away. I first familiarize them with the empty gun, dry firing (with snap caps) so they know just what the action feels like. Then we put on hearing protection. The sound is a big part of the recoil experience, so its good to eliminate that. Then I load with the lightest load available. With a .44 mag that would be a .44sp wadcutter. I shoot some first so they can see what the recoil looks like. Only after they are thoroughly comfortable and elated with how they are doing with the wadcutters would we move up to standard over-the-counter .44sp loads. Then to a few of the high-end .44 sp loads that I carry as woods loads, and that would be fine for hunting deer or bear. At each increase in power I shoot some first, so newcomer can see recoil before experiencing it.

My woods load is the Grizzly 44 sp 260 gr Cast Performance wide Flat Nose Gas Check Hard cast. (Google them. The Midway listing has a pic of the cartridge. I order directly from Grizzly Cartridges the NW company that has them in stock. Midway doesn't.) Then we would shoot for a while with practice loads. I get my .44sp practice ammo from Proficient Marksman, who is @oremike, a fellow NWFA member. They cost roughly 50 cents each when you buy from him at gun shows. So the final stage in my intro to .44 mag would be firing the practice ammo at various ranges. Then toward the end of the session we'd shoot a couple of rounds of HSM Bear loads. This is a commercial .44 mag ammo that is about 1000 ft lbs. Relatively low power for a full .44 mag load. Then we'd finish with one or two rounds of full power .44, something that runs 1100 - 1200 ft. lbs. Two hands only. For just one or two rounds, I don't use gloves. And it stings hands a little. Any serious practice with that power level and I use gloves, but not with the lower power levels. at every increase in power I would shoot first so the introducee gets to see what the recoil looks like. I never hand a novice a loaded gun and ask them to fire it with no idea what the recoil is going to be like. Thats fear inducing. The high end .44sp loads are fine for hunting medium game within about 50 yards. Only at greater distances or if shooting bigger game such as elk, or in grizzly bear country, would I use .44 mag. Most people carry and fire only .44 mag in their .44 mag revolvers, and I did too for many years...before I discovered the specialty .44sp loads such as the Grizzly 260gr.

The Taylor Takedown does appeal, and I would like to see one. For rifles in .44 the Marlin appeals because its side ejection allows a regular scope rather than just a forward mounted scout scope.

The .41 mag is not very popular compared with .44. So there are fewer guns available for it and fewer commercial loads. Most who shoot it reload. Its main advantage is supposedly lesser recoil than .44. But these days so many loads are available that if you know your ammo you can have whatever power/recoil level you want with .44.
 
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WAYNO

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Actually, even though the velocity of a full house .357 is greatly diminished in a 3" barrel, it is still substantially greater than a .38 Special of the same bullet weight fired from the same barrel. The difference is somewhat less however, when the .357 is compared to a 9mm. Another way to think of this, whereas a short barrel diminishes the potential of a .357, it also diminishes the potential of a .38 Special.




I very much agree to the compromise of a relatively slower bullet of far greater weight. Both recoil and muzzle blast are easier to tolerate. Three great examples are .45 ACP, .44 Special, and .45 Colt, all three available in short barreled revolvers.
 
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