7 Best 44 Magnum Revolvers: Well, do you need one, punk?

by Travis Pike

September 11, 2023

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“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?” With that line and the Dirty Harry Callahan films, the .44 Magnum became a household name. Alongside it, the S&W Model 29 became a best seller. In fact, I’d argue it’s the entire reason they still produce the gun to this day. The .44 Magnum is still a favorite of magnum cartridge enthusiasts and remains one of the more common and popular choices for magnum revolvers. 

Early Origins of the .44 Magnum 

The .44 Magnum has a really interesting history. It all goes back to the .44 Russian, which was created in 1870 for, you guessed it, a Russian contract. The .44 Russian became pretty popular. In this era, fighting cartridges started with 4. The .44 Russian was just right in terms of fighting potential and recoil management. When we hit the 1900s and smokeless powder became a thing, S&W wanted to embrace the new technology. 

They released the New Century revolver, also known as the Triple Lock. Alongside it, they released the new .44 Special, which was basically a smokeless powder .44 Russian. Sadly, they didn’t take much advantage of the new, more efficient smokeless powder, and the .44 Special wasn’t much different than the .44 Russian ballistically. 

However, the cartridge gained some fame. A group of firearms enthusiasts and gun writers, including Elmer Keith and Skeeter Skelton, started hot-roding the cartridge. They became known as the .44 Associates. These hot rod loads led Elmer Keith to approach Remington to produce a .44 Magnum load, which they did in 1956. Much like the .357 Magnum working with .38 Special loads, the .44 Magnum works with .44 Special. 

At this time, it was the most powerful production cartridge in existence. It remained so until the 1980s when the .454 Casull entered the production category and left the wildcatter world. It’s still quite potent, and its popularity makes it one of the most affordable magnums to get into. 

Gun University’s Choices of the Best 44 Magnum Revolvers

Best 44 Magnum Revolvers

S&W Model 69
  • First L-Frame in .44 Magnum
  • Full top strap and barrel serration
  • Ball-detent lock-up
  • 2-Piece barrel
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Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan
  • Triple-locking cylinder
  • Strong, extended frame with extra metal in the top strap, sidewalls and barrel mounting areas
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Magnum Research BFR
  • All Stainless Steel
  • Precision grade barrel
  • Single Action
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Colt Anaconda
  • Solid Stainless Steel frame
  • Oversized action
  • Recessed target crown
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Cimarron Bad Boy
  • Octagon barrel
  • Classic western styling
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Taurus Raging Hunter
  • black or two tone finish
  • factory tuned ported barrel
  • Picatinny top rail
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Korth NXR 44 Magnum
  • Integrated picatinny rail top and bottom
  • DLC Finish
  • Amazing Trigger
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Best 44 Magnum Revolvers Specifications

Below is a table of the specs for each revolver.

RevolverActionCapacityBarrel Length (in)Weight (oz)Front SightRear Sight
Smith and Wesson Model 69DA/SA54.2537.4Red RampAdjustable
Ruger Super Redhawk AlaskanDouble Action62.545Black RampAdjustable
Magnum Research BFRSingle Action Only65.0 / 7.561.76Black RampAdjustable
Colt AnacondaDA/SA66 / 859Red RampAdjustable
Cimarron Bad BoySingle Action Only66 / 849 / 50Black RampAdjustable
Taurus Raging HunterDA/SA65.12 / 6.75 / 8.3749 / 53 / 55Black RampAdjustable
Korth NXRDA/SA64 / 644.1 / 55.3Fixed with removable side panelsAdjustable

Best 44 Magnum Revolvers

Here is our list for the best 44 Magnum revolvers:

  1. S&W Model 69
  2. Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan
  3. Magnum Research BFR
  4. Colt Anaconda
  5. Cimarron Bad Boy
  6. Taurus Raging Hunter
  7. Korth NXR 44 Magnum

Best 44 Magnum Revolvers – Reviews 

1 S&W Model 69

Smith and Wesson Model 69 Featured Image

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A
  • Value B

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A

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S&W Model 69 Specs

  • Action DA/SA
  • Capacity 5
  • Barrel Length 4.25 in
  • Weight 37.4 oz
  • Front Sight Red Ramp
  • Rear Sight Adjustable

S&W Model 69 Review

Lots of people associate S&W with the .44 Magnum due to a little film called Dirty Harry. You might have seen it. While the Model 29 is still in production and is still quite famous, it’s really not their best .44 Magnum. It’s only stuck around because of its fame. The better option for serious shooters is the Model 69. This more modern option up the durability and design while also producing a more ergonomic platform. 

The Model 69 is your typical, modern double-action revolver. It features a five-shot cylinder with an exposed hammer for single-action shots. The Model 69 utilizes a full barrel underlug that adds some front-end heft and benefits from modern metallurgy. It’s more compact and lighter than the old N-Frames, but it’s built for a life of full-powered magnum rounds. 

This hefty wheel gun won’t beat itself to pieces even if it eats nothing but a diet of hardcore magnum rounds. It’s a shooter’s .44 Magnum. The slimmer and lighter design mixes with a K frame-sized grip that’s often easier to handle than the beefy N frame of the Model 29. This makes it easier to shoot and handle. 

The Model 69 is fun to shoot and eats those .44 Magnums well. An experienced magnum shooter will be attracted to the rubber grips of the Model 69 due to their straight design, which prevents the gun from twisting in their hand. The big front sight and adjustable rear sight make the Model 69 an accurate gun, perfect for hunting or big animal defense. 

While some may be turned off from the five-shot capacity, it’s not like you’re laying down suppressive fire with a revolver. It’s enough to get nearly any .44 Magnum job done. 

S&W Model 69 Pros and Cons

  • Great Grips Size
  • Ergonomic Design
  • Perfect For High Volume Shooters
  • Five Shot Capacity

S&W Model 69 Deals

2 Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan

Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Featured Image

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  • Shootability C
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy B
  • Value B

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B+

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A+

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Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Specs

  • Action Double Action
  • Capacity 6
  • Barrel Length 2.5 in
  • Weight 45 oz
  • Front Sight Black Ramp
  • Rear Sight Adjustable

Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Review

There is a small market for stubby .44 Magnums. These are mainly used for bear defense and are typically comfortable to carry for long hikes, hunts, canoe trips, and beyond. That’s how the Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan gained its name. They were the first to identify the capability of the .44 Magnum in that role and then produce a gun that’s convenient and easy to carry. The Super Redhawk series of revolvers is well known for their superior durability. 

These beefy revolvers are designed to handle those powerful magnum rounds and to provide you with a long life of service. The Alaskan variant isn’t different other than they trimmed the barrel to 2.5 inches. A triple lock cylinder ensures it maintains timing even after a battery of .44 Magnum rounds. They beefed the frame up with a little extra steel in the top strap, sidewalls, and barrel. This, plus the stainless steel design, makes it half tank, half revolver. 

While the gun can take the beating, the real question is, can you? The 2.5-inch barrel ensures it’s a beefy, hard-recoiling gun. Ruger took steps to help avoid making it too much to handle by installing a massive Hogue Tamer monogrip. This provides a big full grip and a soft grip for low impact. It helps considerably when handling this bulldog of a gun. 

A cold hammer-forged barrel and adjustable sights make it so even this little gun can be surprisingly accurate. Sure, the short sight radius doesn’t help, but if you do your part, you’ll be surprised what the gun can accomplish. Hold on, buckle up, and blast away. 

Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Pros and Cons

  • Convenient to Carry
  • Made to Last
  • Massive Grips
  • Short Sight Radius
  • Rough Recoil

Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan Deals

3 MAGNUM RESEARCH BFR

BFR

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A
  • Value B

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A

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Magnum Research BFR Specs

  • Action Single Action Only
  • Capacity 6
  • Barrel Length 5.0 in / 7.5 in
  • Weight 61.76 oz
  • Front Sight Black Ramp
  • Rear Sight Adjustable

Magnum Research BFR Review

According to Magnum Research, BFR stands for Biggest Finest Revolver and not what my mischievous mind assumes. The BFR series come in any of the big, powerful magnum calibers you expect. The .44 Mangum is almost lightweight in one of these guns. That’s a good thing because Magnum Research makes guns for calibers like .454 Casull and .500 S&W Magnum. Their frames are proved to be tough and rigid with calibers that are plenty more powerful than the .44 Magnum. 

A BFR in .44 Magnum will last forever, not just because of its rigid frame but because of its simple single-action-only design. This same design has been around for well over a century, with minor tweaks that only make it better. Outside of great reliability and a solid trigger that’s scary nice, the BFR offers a nice, thin, ergonomic grip that fits into most hands with ease. 

The Bisley-type grip design also helps with recoil reduction and keeps the gun from rolling rearwards when fired. The BFR comes in a ton of various barrel lengths, and to me, the 5-inch is just perfect. However, you can go longer and slightly shorter if you so choose. Capacity tops out at five rounds, but this keeps the gun light and svelte. It’s a great option for hunting, and the adjustable sights and massive front sight make placing accurate and humane shots on target quite easy. 

Magnum Research BFR Pros and Cons

  • Excellent Trigger
  • Easy to Control
  • Built For Rough Use
  • Five Shot Capacity

Magnum Research BFR Deals

4 Colt Anaconda

Colt Anaconda Featured Image

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A+
  • Value B

Our Grade

A

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A+

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Colt Anaconda Specs

  • Action DA/SA
  • Capacity 6
  • Barrel Length 6 in / 8 in
  • Weight 59 oz
  • Front Sight Red Ramp
  • Rear Sight Adjustable

Colt Anaconda Review

Colt bringing back the snake guns was one of the smartest decisions they’ve ever made. What started with the Cobra now encapsulates modern versions of the Python and Anaconda series of revolvers. The Anaconda is the big bore beast in the lot. This massive .44 Mangum revolver brings back the classic Colt look and feel without the Colt fragility. The old snake guns were popular among people, but they did not have a good reputation for durability after firing a lot of .44 Magnum rounds. 

The 2021 Anaconda, as it’s called, is beefed up and benefits from decades of improved metallurgy to provide a durable, well-built gun that can take the abuse. It’s a solid shooter with a modernized double-action design, a six-round cylinder, and an unbeatable stainless finish. Prior to Colt bringing back the snake guns, I had never experienced one. After a little time behind the Anaconda, I got ‘it.’ 

The smooth trigger is something you have to experience to believe. It’s absolutely glorious. You can’t beat the trigger; it’s just amazing. That great trigger and the massive barrel length lines up well with the adjustable sights. These three features work together to make sure you put your six rounds of .44 Magnum exactly where you want them. 

The gun is massive and heavy, which helps soak up the recoil, and it pairs with the rubber grip well to make sure you don’t flinch at the power of the .44 Magnum. The Anaconda most certainly lives up to its name of being big and mean. 

Colt Anaconda Pros and Cons

  • Amazing Trigger
  • Easy to Control
  • Accurate
  • Hard To Find

Colt Anaconda Deals

5 Cimarron Bad Boy

Cimarron Bad Boy Featured Image

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  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A+

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A-

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Cimarron Bad Boy Specs

  • Action Single Action Only
  • Capacity 6
  • Barrel Length 6 in / 8 in
  • Weight 49 oz / 50 oz
  • Front Sight Black Ramp
  • Rear Sight Adjustable

Cimarron Bad Boy Review

Let’s slow things down and get back to our roots, so make sure you show up in boots. I’m talking about cowboy boots and cowboy guns. .44 Magnum was no traditional cowboy caliber, but the market delivers a cowboy experience in .44 Magnum with the Cimarron Bad Boy. The Bad Boy is Cimarron’s classic cowboy gun in more modern, more powerful calibers. The design takes some cues from the Colt Single Action Army, but is most certainly its own gun. 

The beefy Big Boy features a nice, long 8-inch barrel that pairs well with proper sights. No trench here, just a big adjustable rear sight paired with an even bigger front sight. A single action trigger that is light and short pairs well with the long sight radius and proper sights. While it has a cowboy look, it’s certainly accurate enough for hunting. 

The gun wears a stylish octagon barrel that does look quite nice. The cylinder lacks scalloping, making it both stronger, and, to me, it’s a great stylistic choice. It’s also got a blued finish and wood grips that ultimately present a fine-looking, unique revolver. What doesn’t work super well is the round SAA grip. Under the recoil of the magnum round, it tends to roll in your hand. This makes follow-up shots a bit slower. 

Cimarron Bad Boy Pros and Cons

  • Great Looking
  • Excellent Accuracy
  • Affordable
  • Rolls With the Recoil

Cimarron Bad Boy Deals

6 Taurus Raging Hunter

Taurus Raging Hunter Featured Image

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A

Our Grade

A-

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A+

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Taurus Raging Hunter Specs

  • Action DA/SA
  • Capacity 6
  • Barrel Length 5.12 in / 6.75 in / 8.37 in
  • Weight 49 oz / 53 oz / 55 oz
  • Front Sight Black Ramp
  • Rear Sight Adjustable

Taurus Raging Hunter Review

Taurus has come a long way in the last few years. They’ve steadily improved their production and quality assurance and have been producing some amazing firearms. The Taurus 44 Raging Hunter is their masterclass of firepower and modernization. As the name implies, the Raging Hunter is a hunting .44 Magnum. Raging is also accurate because this thing is absolutely huge! 

The Raging Hunter has a six-round cylinder and an 8.375-inch barrel. It’s massive and weighs a mighty 55 ounces. The weight, barrel length, and the fact it has a ported barrel make this one of the softest shooting .44 Magnums. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of recoil. However, it won’t beat you up. It’s more akin to a hot .357 Magnum in terms of recoil. That’s an impressive reduction. Plus, the big rubber grips are nice for recoil and comfort. 

The Taurus Raging Hunter also features a massive rail across the top of the barrel. This makes adding long eye relief optics easy, and popping a red dot on isn’t exactly hard either. The Raging Hunter comes with a nice set of adjustable sights if optics aren’t your thing. What impressed me most was how nice the trigger is. It’s not as smooth as the Anaconda, but it’s surprisingly nice for a budget-conscious, modern hunting revolver. 

They aren’t giving away the Raging Hunter, but when you consider the modern features and design, it’s not a wallet killer by any means. The Raging Hunter is a ton of fun to shoot and a great way to enter the big bore magnum market. 

Taurus Raging Hunter Pros and Cons

  • Optics Ready
  • Low Recoil
  • Affordable
  • Massive In Size

Taurus Raging Hunter Deals

7 Korth NXR 44 Magnum

Korth NXR 44 Magnum Featured Image

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  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A+
  • Value C

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A-

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Korth NXR 44 Magnum Specs

  • Action DA/SA
  • Capacity 6
  • Barrel Length 4 in / 6 in
  • Weight 44.1 oz / 55.3 oz
  • Front Sight Fixed with removable sides
  • Rear Sight Adjustable

Korth NXR 44 Magnum Review

Have I saved the best for last? You bet I have. Korth is legendary for making some of the finest revolvers to have ever existed. They still produce revolvers, although they tend to be fairly slow in their production. They make them tough to get, but if you can, the difference is immediate. Every single design aspect is well thought out, well-built, and manufactured with care. Not only are they well-designed and well-built, but they also tend to be absolutely gorgeous. 

The NXR 44 Magnum came out a few years ago to a rather happy market. Korth builds them, Nighthawk imports them, and we enjoy them. The NXR has a trigger that makes the Colt Anaconda feel like a cheap Charter Arms from the 2000s. That might sound mean, but dear god, I didn’t expect the trigger to be so smooth. It’s as if Dwarven armorers from the Tolkien universe crafted it. 

Front there we get a number of modern features. This includes a weight below the barrel and a rail across the top for optics. Shooters can swap the sights out to match many styles. It also has a ventilated housing that keeps the barrel cool and an option for a compensator. There are a few interesting choices made with Korth revolvers that work well. The cylinder release is by the hammer, and the cylinder can detach easily for cleaning. It’s a fantastic gun and, in my opinion, the best .44 Magnum in the world. However, the best costs and when you can find one expect to pay close to six grand for it. 

Korth NXR 44 Magnum Pros and Cons

  • Amazing Trigger
  • Awesome Ergonomics
  • Very Customizable
  • Almost Soft Shooting
  • The price!

Korth NXR 44 Magnum Deals

Where the .44 Magnum Shines 

While Dirty Harry used it as a police firearm, it’s not appropriate for that role in any way. It’s certainly not a good defensive firearm option, and it has limited uses. Like all calibers, it can be fun to just shoot. I enjoy recoil and controlling it, so that’s one not very practical application. 

Where it really shines is in its ability to take the game. It’s really a hunting cartridge. It can take medium game like deer and hogs and up to bear with the proper loading and projectile. The powerful round can chew through thick muscle and fat with ease with a heavy load. Load it light, and you can safely take deer without risking destroying the meat. 

Outside of its raw power, the .44 Magnum does a great job of maintaining its energy at range. It’s a great moderate-range cartridge and, therefore, great for medium game. 

Speaking of heavy loads, the .44 Magnum is quite popular for bear defense. In some parts of the world, bears are top of the food chain, and for those of us who enjoy nature, the threat of bears is very real. A .44 Magnum can be bear medicine if you face one down. 

What Makes a Good .44 Magnum Revolver? 

What goes into producing a good .44 Magnum revolver? 

Durability  – The .44 Magnum is no slouch in the recoil department; Your gun absorbs more recoil and force than you ever would. With that in mind, you need a durable gun. It needs to eat the full force of that round over and over without the small parts breaking, the frames cracking, or the cylinder losing time. Durability is a big concern with these powerhouses. 

Accuracy  – If you are shooting what’s often considered a high recoil round, you want the gun to be accurate. Plus, one advantage of the .44 Magnum is its range. You won’t get rapid-fire, fast follow-up shots with a .44 Magnum. Therefore, the gun you’re shooting needs to be accurate and preferably have great sights so you can do your part with minimal trouble. 

Recoil Mitigation  – There are handguns that are a lot more powerful and recoil-inducing than the .44 Magnum. With that in mind, the .44 Magnum is no slouch. You typically want a design that helps you deal with the recoil. This includes the grip size and design. Straighter, larger grips tend to be better at absorbing recoil. Additionally, weight can help, and I mean both inherent to the gun and the ability to add weights. Porting is a great way to reduce muzzle rise as well. 

Think about how the gun will mitigate recoil and how that can help you. 

Is the .44 Magnum For You?

That’s a big question you need to ask yourself. Is the .44 Magnum right for you? In the United States, it doesn’t matter. The fact that you want it is certainly enough. This isn’t an argument over need or want. It’s simply an observation if the round will work for your goals. These revolvers are expensive, and .44 Magnum ammo isn’t cheap either. 

You need to ask yourself what role you are trying to fill. Do you want a .44 Magnum because Dirty Harry had one, and you want one? That’s good enough. However, if you are solely hunting whitetail deer, then maybe the .357 Magnum is better for that. The revolvers are cheaper, the ammo is cheaper, and they tend to work better for deer, as well as coyotes, and other predators. 

If you are hunting a mixture of game, or having to shoot at longer ranges, then yes, the .44 Magnum works well. If you are hunting big game or need to stop a bear, then the .44 Magnum will serve you very well. 

The big powerhouse of a round isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Of the big-bore magnum rounds, it’s easily the most common, with revolvers, rifles, and even semi-auto handguns being produced using the big round. While it might not be great for defensive applications, the old Magnum works well for most other tasks, 

Plus, it’s fun as hell to shoot! Just ask this guy…..

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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