Good thread! Glad you started it and hope it receives some interest. Now you're talking about a really outstanding handgun cartridge. Despite the advent of the .44 Magnum, the .44 Special is uniquely useful among revolver cartridges. It is one of my very favorite handgun cartridges.
The .44 Special has always come in some nicely configured handguns. That Colt Single Action Army just has to be one of the very best ways to do .44 Special in single action revolvers. I've never personally been much of a fan of Ruger products but I'd make an exception for that keen looking .44 Special Sheriff's Vaquero they introduced a while back. It's look, along with the barrel length configuration makes it quite appealing. Cimarron Arms has some good lookin' and fine handling revolvers in .44 Special including a replica of the 1872 open-top that would be fun to own.
I love old guns and any Smith & Wesson N-Frame .44 Special is appealing to me. I like the look and balance of the tapered barrels typically found on their classic revolvers from bygone times and a .44 Special Triple Lock is one of my "grail guns." The run of Smith & Wesson Model 24-3s that was produced in the early 1980s are great as are the later stainless steel Model 624s.
I love the gargantuan Colt New Service and .44 Special was one of the factory chamberings for that very fine revolver. I'd sure take one if I "snuck up" on it for the right price.
That lightweight Smith & Wesson Model 296 looked like such a nice way to do a real .44 Special self-defense revolver. I got to play with another fellow's Model 296 a year or so ago and it was great. It's a shame the Model 296 was discontinued.
The Charter Arms Bulldog looks like another good idea for a practical .44 Special revolver concealed carry piece. I never had a really good opinion about Charter Arms until I first tried one of the .44 Special Bulldogs some years ago. This one was the stainless steel version and was surprisingly nice with a crisp, positive action and good practical accuracy. Since that time my brother-in-law has acquired two of the regular blued steel models. They were used and I don't know when they were made but both shoot just fine and seem to be reliable so far. I don't think I'd want to stoke the Charter Arms Bulldog up with any .44 Special handloads cranked up to "Elmer Keith" levels but there's some good factory loads out there (the Federal 200 grain lead SWC-hollow point comes to mind) and any good handloader could do a great job making equivalent moderate yet capable .44 Special ammunition.
My own .44 Special revolver is a 5-inch Smith & Wesson Model of 1926, otherwise known as the 3rd model in collectors' reference books. A factory letter shows it was shipped to Wolf & Klar in Fort Worth, Texas in March of 1932. Here's a not-so-great photo of it (bottom revolver) taken some years ago along with a long-barreled Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum. Sort of a grandfather/grandson posing of revolvers.
Over the years I've played with it by handloading all sorts of both jacketed and cast lead bullets in it up to and including the famous old Keith load using 2400 and a 245-250 grain cast lead semi-wadcutter bullet. That load will rattle the fillings in one's teeth but might have some application if he wanted to use the .44 Special for deer hunting.
My favorite handload for use with this revolver uses a 245 grain lead semi-wadcutter over 7.5 grains of Unique. This load is very accurate in this particular revolver and shoots to its sights' point of aim. Muzzle velocity is 817 fps and muzzle energy calculates to 362 ft./lbs.
For comparison purposes, the Winchester 246 grain lead round nose factory load clocks all of 681 fps from this revolver. A bit of a plodder, the load is very accurate though. A really great factory load that this revolver likes is the Federal 200 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point. It gives a muzzle velocity of 851 fps and yields good accuracy. It is easily controllable as well.
Yep, the .44 Special is one classy and elegant way to do handgun shooting of all kinds.