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Thread: .357 or .44?

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    Default .357 or .44?

    I'm looking to buy one handgun for defense both in the woods and in my home. 90% of my woods trips are in black bear country. There are coyotes and feral dogs, but no grizzly or brown bear, no mountain lions (though a few are rumored in some of the areas I hike), no hogs.

    I want the gun to be a double action revolver, and I'm biased toward Ruger.

    Since it's going to be used in the woods, I naturally want it to be smaller and lighter, but for black bear it needs to develop a good velocity to penetrate deeply, so I'm looking at a 4" barrel (4 3/4" is a GO!). I'm in Maryland, so there is little to no chance of me getting a concealed carry permit. I'm not looking for EDC.

    Now, while I need that big, heavy, penetrating bullet for bear, I will be using the gun for home defense as well. The difficulty here is that my house is a single story, and bedrooms are dispersed all over the house, so almost any shot I take indoors will have a bedroom behind it.

    I can't decide between .357 and .44. The .357 is better for stopping humans and the .44 is better for black bear. I can't say which shooting situation I'm more likely to be in. I'm in Baltimore and my neigborhood seems to be going downhill fast. We now see the police helicopter over our neighborhood almost nightly, certainly several times a week. When I am outdoors I'm usually in VA and WV. I try to get into the woods every weekend, and probably make it two times (one overnight and one dayhike) a month. I would estimate I have a bear encounter 50% of the time, so I see a black bear once a month. I haven't really been threatened by any bears yet, but I've had a few that acted aggressively for a bit before I or they left.

    If I chose a .44 magnum and loaded .44 Special +P for home, would that round over-penetrate a human and put my family at risk?

    If I chose a .357 would 180gr FMJ or JSP ammo from a 4" barrel be enough penetration against a charging black bear?

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    I like 357 because you can shoot 38 through it as well. Makes for a cheaper training aid.
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    I prefer the 357 but that is just me. If you load your own rounds you have a huge variety of bullets to choose from 110g-220g. The 180WFN are my favorite and there is no way I'd feel under guned with one. YMMV

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    I like both cartridges. The .357 will likely be your best all around choice. There are so many loads available in both .38 spec and .357. Buffalo Bore has a .357 load that would likely be good black bear medicine. As far as home defense, choose a frangible load and you'll really reduce the risk of over penetration.

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    I'd be shooting Mag Safes or Glasers from the .357 at home.
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    After having carried one professionally for many years, I say 357 all the way. +1 on what Panzer said, 38 or 357, two guns in one, GP 100 is nice.
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    its six of one half a dozen of the other. in a small handgun a 44 magnum is not fun to shoot, but then again a 357 in a small gun isn't much fun to shoot either. I personally would buy the 44. load it with hard cast keith bullets at about 1000 fps for woods and buy a good 44 special frangible defense load for home.

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    I would agree with most about the .357 being the choice. I'm a big fan of .44 but the danger of the bullet going straight through a person, and whatever is behind it, and hitting an innocent person would prevent me from using it as home defense.

    .357 can be equally dangerous in that respect, but you can shoot .38 out of them and they're more likely to not cause an exit wound. JMO, I'm not an expert.
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    They will both be plenty for a human. So long as it's a lead based round you will not pass through multiple walls if you hit the center of mass, or rather, the liklihood is diminished. The 44 has a huge amount of energy and the larger round will also create a larger impact point and mushroom so it should theoretically stop a bear better than a small bullet. However, there are thousands of studies that show that this isn't important or that it is not scientifically accurate. Regardless, you should go with what ammunition you regularly find around you. They both can stop a bear, and they'll both take a dear.

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    If you were ever going to venture west into grizzly country I'd recommend the .44, but if you are sure you'll stay in black bear territory the .357 is the way to go. You can shoot Buffalo Bore lead flat nose for bear, .357 hollow points or frangibles for personal and home defense, and still have the option of cheaper .38 special ammo for practice. In your particular situation that seems the sensible choice.

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