I've got a S&W 686 P with a 4" barrel. My brother has a S&W 629 with a 6" barrel.
Both are fine revolvers, but I went with the .357 because I could practice with .38's which cost less than .44 mag ammo. The fact that the 686 shoots both rounds made it seem more versatile to me, as well as the fact that I don't plan on doing any hunting with it.
My brother on the other hand plans to use his 629 to hunt boar.
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I've got both, but for use, I'll pick the .44 over the .357. The .44 mag can be loaded milder for use as a target or self-defense load, or can use .44 specials, although they're a bit anemic (for safe use in 19th century revolvers), and in either case it throws a BIG chunk of lead (nearly twice the bullet weight of some .357 loads).
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I own a few of each.Like punchie said each has it's own purpose.For everyday carry I just got a titanium taurus 6".Light and still useable in .357-lighter than my 686-6".And a 357 with a well placed bullet still gets most jobs done.For the really big jobs-get a 44mag,454 casull,45-70,50AE,50smith,etc.
Like punchie said....... What's the intended use? What type of firearm...handgun or rifle? I don't think I would want a derringer in .44 mag but then probably not in .357 either! (That's just me. If you like 'em, go for it )
For a good revolver/rifle combination I would go with the .44 Mag. You can always load down but it's nice to have the extra stopping power if you need it.
I think the .357 is an overall better choice. I THINK. I know the .44 is a great round and has been around a long time. The .357 is a powerful round that can be fired through even some of the smallest framed revolvers. Great for carry.
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I've owned Blackhawks and Redhawks in .44, fine stout pistols but went to a T/C Contender for handgun hunting for more effecient rounds. For carry and target I like the .357 but now carry a 5 shot .38 Airweight because it is easier to carry in the summertime. So I vote for the .357 for target, plinking, and carry. But why limit yourself? Have both!
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I have a Smith&Wesson 629classic with a 6and1/2 inch barrel. I can't wait for deer season so I can try it out. I've shot a few critters with it and they didn't stand a chance. As for the 357. I was considering it but I hunt wild boar and wanted something that I knew would have enough nock down power.
If this question of comparison was asked sometime before I may have chosen 44 because of its power and force. But now since 500 and 460 Mags are available, there is really no need for 44 at all. I think these new calibers have made 44 useless if not obsolete. This for two main reasons:
1. 357 is lighter and better in terms of accuracy and self defense. Generally for self defense purpose you dont need hell a lot of force in bullet, but enough to stop the aggressor, or kill him.
2. If anyone would pick 44 for lets say hunting, its not wise choice anymore for two reasons:
i. better and more powerful such as 454, 460 and 500 are now available
ii. DONT use handgun, but rather a fine both action for hunting. that what they are made for.
For most people, the .357 is more practical. For those who handload, the .44 is much more versatile. Even more versatile than the .44 is the .45 Colt with a .45 ACP cylinder. If you handload, you have several power levels with the .45 which are similar to the .44, but the .45 ACP allows use of inexpensive ball ammo and adds to the fun.