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Only revolver I currently own is my j-frame Model 38 Bodyguard I bought new in the early 90s. I've been eyeballing the N-frame Models 27-2 and 29-2 on Gunbroker. I'm leaning towards the 357, but would still be pretty happy acquiring a 29-2. Looking at 6/6.5" bbl or 8 3/8" bbl. This would be just for fun at the range, not hunting or for carry.

Any thoughts from the crew here? I'd get both, but would be too much $ right now!
 

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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! Well, essentially they are the same gun in different calibers. If all you plan to do is shoot at the range, the .357 would be cheaper to shoot with .38 Special than the .44 with .44 Special. You can significantly reduce the costs by casting your own bullets and hand loading the rounds. If you plan on hunting, either would work for game up to deer but the .44 will have more knock-down power in .44 Mag. If hunting larger game, the .44 would be the obvious choice and for protection in bear country. Just my HO. YMMV.
 

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Get an "L" frame S&W revolver like the 686. Look for a 4 inch or 6 inch for range use.

I owned and sold an 8 inch silhouette gun. It was just too long for me. My preference is now for 4 inch revolvers, but I do own 6 inch target revolvers too...

You'll like the balance and weight, won't go broke buying ammunition and be able to control it better.

It takes some practice and training to properly follow through shots with a .44 Magnum N frame, which is a handful in any case.
 

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I have both but much preffer my 686 6". I can hold a 3" bullseye at 25 yards and for me thats great. The 44 629 is a 8 3/8 barrel thats magna ported but it's a handful with hot loads. I normaly use 44 special loads in it.
 

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I really favor the older guns and my pre Model 29 is just pure pleasure at the range. BUT I find myself shooting my 8 shot Model 627 Pro Series the most. Yes it has MIM parts and a lock but it is just deadly accurate even with the 4" barrel. Have 8 shots with moon clips is just a bonus. I have a Burris FF III mounted on it and the accuracy constantly amazes me and my friends. Not a gun that I thought would be high on my favorites list but it sure is. I'm positive that the easy shooting load that I have for .357 helps.
 

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If you reload or have access to reasonable 44 special ammo supply, 44 mag is a hoot and very versatile. But you can make the same case for 357.

I would rank 357 as my top caliber, but 44 Special is a great caliber for almost any purpose.

Given your parameters, I would list as options:

  • 686 w/ 6” barrel
  • K frame w/ 6” barrel

Nothing wrong with N frame 357 but they are pretty hefty with a 6” or longer barrel. I also don’t think you will like an 8+” barrel length.
 

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Since 1979 I have owned a variety of .357 S&W Mag. and .44 S&W Mag. revolvers. Over the last few years, I've about decided that there really is not anything I need to do that cannot be done w/ a properly loaded .357 S&W Mag. So ... I have a six inch 686-1 that is outstanding for matches and hunting in bad weather. When out deer hunting, this is the revolver I carry. God help anything that doesn't know I'm about to lower the boom on it with that revolver. Once the flash and boom ... it'll be all over. I also have two 28-2's, a four and a six inch. These are what I started with way back in 1979. I have a nice 19-3 and a 66-2, both four inch. If I'm going to be doing a lot of walking in the woods, etc., I generally carry the 66 ... but the 19 is about my be all to end all preference. The .357 S&W Mag. loaded correctly, will handle anything that walks or crawls in the southeast United States ... and right on up into the northern states! Loaded w/ Buffalo Bore 180 gr. flat nose hard cast bullets at 1,400 FPS, it has more than enough penetration and power to punch through muscles/bones and reach the vitals of a game animal. JMHO. Sincerely. bruce.
 

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I would get the .357 myself but the .44 is a bit much for my taste!
 

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If you're looking to just have a very nice range toy , I can't fault your desire for a long barreled N frame. The 27 is a logical choice for less expensive ammo and is a beautiful revolver but at the range it's the 29 that draws the crowd. Choose wisely , my friend.
 

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Ignore the fact that reloading components have all but vanished. Hopefully, they'll make a return but who knows when.

With that in mind, the M29 can handle essentially all you can ask of a revolver by using reloaded ammo. Just like using .38's in the .357, you can lighten the powder charge and bullet weight to make it very low recoil. Or you can load it to .44 Special, .44 Special +P, or full bore .44 Magnum. Whatever suits you fancy. Somewhere along that line, it does things that the .357 can't, should you want it.
 
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