Firearms

Big Steel — The Taurus M44 .44 Magnum

A Taurus .44 Magnum being held in both hands of a person, barrel pointed left with dirt in the foreground and trees in the background.

The .44 Magnum is something of a wonder cartridge. It is all that most of us are willing to handle in a sidearm. There is no sugarcoating the recoil of the big magnum—it can be brutal. Yet the .44 Magnum is among the most accurate handgun cartridges. It is as deadly as a high power .30 caliber rifle against game at moderate range—perhaps more so.

Taurus revolver with black grip and silver barrel pointed to the left on a white background.
The Taurus revolver is a brute of a handgun, but friendly to the skilled user.

It is a challenge to master the type, but once mastered, no hunting handgun will serve you better. Some people like the .44 for personal defense. If you favor the reliability of the revolver, there is a lot to be said for the big .44. Today there are more powerful handguns than the .44 Magnum. However, unless you have thoroughly mastered the .44 Magnum, you have little business with the .454 Casull or .480 Ruger. My hat is off to the big burly types who deploy these heavy revolvers.

For most of us who really need a big bore, or are simply interested in the challenge of mastering the big Magnum, a quality four-inch barrel .44 Magnum is ideal. Among the most practical modern .44 Magnum handguns is the Taurus M44 in stainless steel. This revolver is not one of the new breed of ultra lightweight revolvers.

The Taurus Magnum is a Heavy Duty Accurate Revolver

I am not up to handling a revolver that feels whippy in the hand and kicks brutally when firing Magnum charges. No, at 45 ounces, the heavy-barrel Taurus is the ideal handgun for all around use with this powerful and accurate cartridge. And what use might the .44 Magnum be suited? For those who trust the revolver over the automatic, the Taurus is as modern as today’s headlines.

For hikers who may be confronted by an angry bear, or one of the big cats, the M44 is ideal. It is a common thread in animal attacks that the revolver is pressed against the skin of the animal, at which time it is fired repeatedly after the animal bowls a human over during an attack. As a practical matter, no automatic can compare in this regard.

44 Magnum on left side, barrel pointed to the right, with black grip against orange and yellow shapes. There is a .357 Magnum on the right with a black grip, barrel pointed upward.
The .44 Magnum (left) isn’t that much larger than a .357 Magnum (right) but gets the business done.

If you need long-range accuracy, few handguns are as accurate as a target-sighted .44 Magnum revolver. The four-inch barrel revolver is relatively fast from leather and capable of good accuracy.

At any rate, it is controllable with the proper loads—and practice. While the M44SS4 is heavier than some handguns, you will appreciate the weight when touching off full-power Magnum loads.

You may also appreciate the conservative, effective, barrel ports. Located in rows of four on each side of the front sight post, these ports affect velocity—but little. More importantly, they curtail muzzle flip to a noticeable degree.

The front sight sports a red insert and is approximately 1/8-inch thick. The rear sight sports a white outline and is fully adjustable. I think it is noteworthy that the rear sight is of a new design and far more robust than previous revolver adjustable sights. A single screw secures the long leaf holding the sight to the revolver. I like this improvement very much.

Another thing I like about the Taurus revolver is its appearance. The stainless finish is nicely polished. The lines are traditional, even with the incorporation of the heavy underlug barrel and barrel ports, and the balance is good.

When examining the revolver for lockup, there was little-to-no play in the action with a cocked hammer. The Taurus is as solid as an anvil and the grips are worth discussing. The Taurus Tracker line uses ribber grips which are quite popular. The M44SS4 uses a more conventional rubber grip with a pebble groove surface. The first thing you notice is this grip is smaller than the heavy, wooden-checkered grips common to many large revolvers.

These grips are probably the smallest useful grips for use with the .44 Magnum cartridge. They are ideal for most hand sizes in single action fire and remain controllable in double-action fire. Practice and accommodation with the firing grip  often delivers good results with this grip size. It is important to note the hand is shielded from metal at all times when firing this revolver. There is no need for aftermarket grips.

The transfer bar firing system is thoroughly modern and deserves some attention. When the hammer is at rest, the hammer cannot touch the frame-mounted firing pin. The transfer bar only rises when your press the trigger completely to the rear—breaking the hammer from the sear. At this point the transfer bar rises and the hammer smacks the transfer bar impacting the firing pin and firing the revolver.

Taurus .44 Magnum, barrel pointed to the right, with a black grip on a dark-to-light gray background centered on a bright red shape.
The author finds the Taurus M44SS4 nice looking and nice shooting handgun.

When the hammer rebounds, the transfer bar is once against in the safe position. There is also personal evidence that the transfer bar system, coupled with the frame mounted firing pin, is more resistant to higher pressure—causing a primer to flow back into the firing pin channel and lock the revolver up.

In short, there are design features evident in the M44SS4 that make it a good choice for Magnum cartridges.

The action is smooth. Like most modern actions, the Taurus has smoothed with use. I estimate the double-action trigger at about 13 pounds—optimum for good double-action control. The key to double-action trigger control is to press the trigger smoothly, and take time for trigger reset with each press of the trigger. The single-action trigger is smooth and crisp at 5.25 pounds. While the revolver handled well enough, the proof of any handgun is in the firing.

Firing the Taurus M44 .44 Magnum

For this Shooter’s Log evaluation, I began with light practice loads. The .44 Magnum revolver handles the .44 Special cartridge and the .44 Russian as well. The gentle push of the .44 Special makes firing the heavy-barrel Taurus a joy. Make no mistake; this isn’t a powder-puff cartridge. A 246-grain RNL bullet at 780 fps has been known to suffice. The Winchester loading uses a hollow base bullet and this combination leads to gilt-edged accuracy.

From a solid bench rest at a long 25 yards, several five-shot groups of 1.5 to 2 inches were delivered on demand. That would be match-grade accuracy in a good self loader, although simply average for the .44 Magnum revolver. Moving to a heavier defense load, the Federal 200-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point breaks just over 800 fps. Double-action pairs were also delivered with good results on man-sized targets at seven and 10 yards.

This is a good controllable load for personal or home defense. The longevity of both the handgun, and you as the shooter, are aided by use of a light load like this. From the bench rest, the Federal loading turned in groups averaging 2 to 2.5 inches. This is certainly well beyond any reasonable expectations.

Red and Black Box of American Eagle pistol cartridges with some cartridges in the open box and some scattered below the box on a mottled light gray background.
Federal’s 240-grain JSP American Eagle loading is clean burning, accurate and reliable.

If you handload—and you should—powerful combinations may be worked up that are powerful amd controllable. As an example, among my all-time favorite, all around, go anywhere, do anything loads is a combination of Unique powder and the Hornady 180-grain XTP for 1100 fps. This is a hot .44 Special, loaded in the Special case and gilt-edged accurate. The XTP may be light, and definitely breaks the rules. The 180-grain load penetrates and expands well at this velocity. From the 25-yard test, a singular group of 1.0-inch was managed, although the average was 1.5 inches.

For deer-sized game, and wild hogs, the full power .44 Magnum is useful. I fired a few from the bench; the full power loads were almost startling. When you are bracing on the bench rest there is less give. I began with the affordable American Eagle .44 Magnum 240-grain JSP. This is a load with a clean burn and good accuracy. The best group for five shots at 25 yards was 2.5 inches.

The Hornady 240-grain XTP in the full power Magnum load settled into 2.2 inches. I also fired 20 of the powerful Hornady 300-grain XTP loads. I have to admit, perhaps a heavier handgun may be better suited to this sledgehammer load but just the same, I managed a 2.0-inch 25-yard group with this hammerhead load. Then, I rubbed my wrists for a time.

A Taurus .44 Magnum being held in both hands of a person, barrel pointed left with dirt in the foreground and trees in the background.
The Taurus .44 Magnum is intelligently designed and fits most hands well.

What is the Best Use of the Taurus Magnum?

This dog will run and the accuracy demonstrated by the M44SS4 is clearly adequate for hunting thin-skinned game well past 75 yards. I would hesitate to take an animal in the sights at 100 yards with any iron-sighted handgun, and the Taurus is definitely an accurate handgun. It is well suited to rough and tumble pursuits such as boar hunting.

If the revolver is your gun, the Taurus would make a fine, home defense weapon—with a thoughtful choice in .44 Special ammunition. For defense against animals, it is the one to beat. In the end, I found a reliable, accurate handgun with enough accuracy for any likely chore. If you have a need for a powerful revolver, that will do the business at a fair price, the Taurus M44SS4 is among the best choices in modern revolvers.

Do you use a Magnum? Have you tried the Taurus? Let us know in the comment section.

[bob]

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (33)

  1. I’ve owned the custom shop Mountaineer 1 version of the M44 for well over 20 years. It came with Wolff springs, match hammer and trigger, and porting. It’s finished and polished stainless steel with laser engraving and laminated cocobolo grips. It is a true pleasure to fire. Winchester white box 240 grain 44 Magnum rounds are manageable with one hand. The revolver is well-balanced and the porting does its job well. When I carry it I usually loaded with .44 special.

  2. How do the new ones compare to the older ones? ex) Taurus “Brasil” vs Taurus “Brazil” I believe mine is from early/mid 90’s — ss polished 3″ barrel

  3. My last experience with a 44 mag was about 11 years ago. My cousin had bought a long barrel S&W just like Dirty Harry’s. It was his first firearm, and my second time shooting any handgun (the first was a 22lr). Needless to say, we were both in some pain after each firing just one cylinder. I then saw an M44 for sale locally on Armslist, I thought it was the sexiest looking revolver I had ever seen with the exception of a 4” 500 S&W magnum. The price was right too so I picked it up. I took it to the range, and after I was done plinking with my 9mm pistols, it was time to feel some pain! I decided to ease into it with some 44 specials. To my surprise, I felt very little recoil; anyone who can shoot a 38 special snubby could use the M44 with 44 special. Then it was time to cowboy up and try a cylinder of magnum loads. With gloves on and ears on tight, I put them on paper. To my surprise, there was still not nearly the kind of recoil I was expecting. In fact, I think the M44 is more comfortable to shoot with standard magnum loads than a Glock 23 is. I took the gloves off and put two more cylinders down range.

    Taurus does get a lot of crap, much of it is merited and well deserved. But in this case, I think this is a very well made firearm and one of the best looking to boot. It locks up tight, has good sights and is comfortable enough to shoot often. I am very satisfied with this firearm, your results may vary.

  4. I picked up my new Taurus M44 yesterday, cleaned it up and took it to the range. With the first six rounds going into the cylinder, and closing it; the cylinder would not lock-up, and rolled clock-wise while I was facing the hammer. Attempting to turn the cylinder counter-clockwise with the hammer down, resulted in the Cylinder Stop catching the stop cut-out in the cylinder.

    The cylinder lock-up was solid when the hammer was cocked. The cylinder rotated as expected on double action and single action shots. The Taurus M44 well shot without other incident. It is a comfortable big bore gun to shoot due to its ported barrel. It shoots with good precision It will have top go back to Taurus for evaluation and cure of the faulty lock-up.

  5. Great pistol.More accurate than I expected, I handoad my cast 249 gr bullets, use mag cases with standard 44 spl l loads. This produces great accuracy and mild recoil.Unique and trail boss are good powders. I am surprised in the accuracy, the rifling in this 4 inch barrel is only 3 inches due to the porting, This pistol is well built quality surpasses previous models that I have owned.

  6. I’ve just bought this gun. I was concerned about cylinder-lock due to the cylinder moving before the lug to lock it in place disengages. That happened with my first Tracker, and my second was thinking about it, I could tell. lol But no such problem with the Model 44. I saw a review and the reviewer said that he didn’t experience that DA. I hesitate to shoot DA as it is usually less accurate, and the pull is harder. But the Model 44 shot smooth and accurately DA. My only problem was when I used Remington .44. It did not like it and the cylinder closed hard and wouldn’t move. I’m seriously considering using the Model 44 as my carry gun (!), as although it is heavy, it is smooth, I can shoot it all day, and it is accurate. (I’ve carried large frames before; and they may not be first choice, but I’ve managed it, and the Model 44 would be perfect for wilderness self defense.

  7. I’m a very petite woman who owns a Tracker. With .44 special, it’s a fast, accurate, and breathtakingly powerful little beast. I was very hesitant to purchase a Taurus due to their bad reputation, and I am hesitant to run the Hornaday 240 XTP through it on a regular basis, but on the night that I needed it, it worked just fine. This is my preferred regular carry while on trail, or working range with untrustworthy livestock. I used to prefer longer barreled pistols, but after a bad surprise from a big cat, I now have zero hesitation on recommending the Tracker to fellow women who trail and ride. On my tiny frame there is no way this would be a c&c choice, but for open carry it serves beautifully. I’ve owned mine now for three, going on four years with zero issues.

  8. Tania, Hunter(good, cheap thumb-strap field holster), any of the big name manufacturers that accommodate A and W and Ruger .44’s.

    1. I have mine in a nice leather pancake holster made by Looper that is sized for N frame revolvers. Fits perfectly.

  9. I own the Tracker 44 in Matte Black finish. The ribbed rubber grip is extremely comfortable and the porting (which many frown upon) does do it’s job of minimizing muzzle rise and recoil. Mine has not “fallen apart” (I too am well aware of issues Taurus owners have had). I did order it through Davidsons and I will not lie was dissapointed when the photo showed the cylinder, trigger and hammer in polished stainless and it came completely in matte black. However for the price ($488) it is just WAY too much fun to shoot to complain about the finish.

  10. i own a stainless steel, 2 and 1/2 inch M44 with a concealed carry hammer, D.A.O. I love this firearm. I load it with 225 gr. Barnes VOR-TX bullets. A great shooting, accurate gun. I am 6 foot 2 inches and weigh 235 lbs. The M44 conceals almost as well as my .38 special snubbie.

  11. I fire a Ruger Alaskan .44 mag. It’s a snubbie with a significant recoil. Normally at the range I’m good for no more than three six-round practice firings before my right hand begs for mercy. (I’m 80, which explains a lot.) That’s when I retire to my .357 mag Dan Wesson 715. Both are beautifully made guns, which, I’m told, is a hit-or-miss affair when it comes to Taurus. Flinching, which I’m trying to get under control with the Ruger, occurs. I’m working on it. The Alaskan’s a very heavy hunk of gorgeous metal. Even so, the .44 mag’s an unforgiving round.

  12. Bob,
    Nice article. I own this revolver and use it for mountain carry in Colorado. The 240 grain jacketed soft points have a significant recoil, but provide good protection against black bear, cougar and elk. My guide gun in 45-70 gives better protection, but I only use it in camp. The revolver is much lighter and more portable for hiking, backpacking, etc. The 4″ barrel has less recoil and muzzle flip than a 2″, has very good accuracy and holsters easily. The sights are very visible and easily adjusted. Single action shooting is very nice and smooth. The recoil makes quick follow up shots difficult. I do not know how well the Taurus will hold up to a steady diet of full power rounds. So far, it has been fine. I also own a Taurus 1911 and would not recommend their 1911 pistol based on fit/finnish/assembly and failure of the magazine retainer while shooting. I do recommend this revolver though.

  13. I bought this gun and shot 24 rounds of 240 grain horanady ammo through it… before it broke and the cylinder fell out.All my friends at the gun club warned me not to buy a Taurus and the all laughed at my suprise when it fell apart, that was really nice. i tried to call Taurus but with a wait time of one hour, I gave up. took it to a reputable gunsmith and he told me Taurus does not sell parts to gunsmiths, he cant fix it. I will try the one hour wait time tomorrow. looks like I may have flushed 600 down the crapper

  14. Would like nothing more than to find a Taurus .44 magnum in 4”, however none are to be found anywhere locally here in So. Fl., for me to go and look at and feel. And as far as online purchases, most places are out of stock.And I can’t figure out if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Are they that popular that no gun store can keep them, or get them long enough? I want it because I think it is far more beautiful than a S&W. And I have a pristine S&W Model 66-4 in 2”, that’s never been fired, simply because it’s a beautiful gun!! Especially after I polished it out to a mirror finish, and it will never be fired, unless I have to kill someone!! Then I won’t have a problem with it getting dirty. And I will do the same with the Taurus, when and if I can ever get my hands on one. I need to see it in person. If it’s the Matte finish, then it won’t happen, but if it’s a satin finish, I’ll buy it.

  15. Something is wrong, from the recoil comparison to the groups you are shooting. Take the gun to a qualified gunsmith, back to where you purchased it or send it to the factory, according to instructions in your manual.
    I assume you are not recoil-sensivitive (nor your friends), but shooting the 44 Mag off of a bench rest may not be the best way.

  16. I own this gun the 44TRACKER4SS in 4″ barrel…it does looks good, not much recoil as my S&W 6″ even though the S&W is much heavier. HOWEVER, I wonder if there is something wrong with my barrel…I have spent 50 rounds and I can’t get it sighted…the grouping is terrible. Even shooting from the bench at 25 yards. 14″ grouping 🙁 And I consider myself a good shoot…even my 2 other friends couldn’t get it right with this gun.
    What should I do?

  17. Until recently I owned a Taurus M-44. I believe it was one of the first produced by Taurus when they entered the 44 mag. market. It had a remarkable finish and, after who knows how many rounds through her, a strong lock-up. The accuracy was amazing. I reluctantly had to sell the revolver when I was out of work. Without a doubt I will buy the SS version as soon as I am in the market again. BTW, I have owned a Model 29-2 and a 629 PC 3″ ported. The Model 29 was the smoothest and most accurate revolver I have ever fired. The 629 PC was probably the most fun to shoot. I am amazed, however, at the staying power of the Taurus.

  18. I have a Virginian Dragoon 6″ chambered 44 mag and love it, only thing is I am not partial to the cowboy guns so I purchased the M44SS4 and as I have not fired it yet I can go ahead and say that I bet this is going to be one SWEET bad a$$ gun to fire and have around if needed. All of the information, research and feedback tell me this is an awesome weapon.
    Thanx for the article, it just confirmed my thoughts.

  19. I have had the 44ss4 for about 6 months and finally went to the range today and it’s a BEAST!
    Good trigger squeeze, accurate, and a wrist workout.
    Make sure your ready if you get one.
    It’s a mans GUN!
    I shoot the 44mag loads and it was right on target even head shots.
    2nd Amen Arms!

  20. Bob, I have a Taurus Tracker Magnum 44 and I wonder if the grip on TSM44SS4 will fit on the Tracker… If so, where can I buy that kind of grip?

  21. I have a 44 special Taurus snub nose highly polished stainless with wooden grips, must be at least 16 years old, in great condition. seems a little heavy, but it fires smooth. very little recoil. My 357 Ruger will knock your socks off compared to the Taurus, and I feel that the Taurus has much more power behind it cause of it being a 44. easier to fire and better at the range with it.

    1. Mike, yes the 44 special is a great round that has sort of been forgotten about makes a big hole and no over penatration unless using round nose ammo. In my reply to Jon I mentioned I have the 44 magnum which gives you more options for rounds and the added weight absorbs recoil. The 357 is a great round too and with that gun you can also use 38’s in it. I bet that 44 special is nice.

  22. I have a Taurus Raging Bull (whatta corny name). They are pretty much the same gun aside from barrel length (and the added weight that come with this). It fires really well, very accurate, and almost out to the same ranges as my old carbine. It really is fun to fire. The only problem I have so far is that the cylinder gap between the barrel and cylinder allows too much venting in my opinion. I am not sure if there is some design reason for this, but it makes it a bit of a chore to clean. Other than that, I haven’t experienced any problems.
    I have heard people complain about the metal being a zinc alloy instead of “American steel,” but I really haven’t noticed any defects or denting, even with my rough treatment.
    Hopefully I will still feel as good about it a couple thousand rounds down the road.

  23. I like what you said about 44 mags. it is my favorite cal. I got suprised when I got aholed of 18″ barrled taurus “revolver” rifle, it has turned into my favorite for many things, at top of list is boar hunting, and I back it up with a 5.5″ barrled ruger blackhawk 44 mag. You only carry one round that works for both, and feel very well armed for ANYTHING.

  24. Ok, perhaps I am wrong in my assesment as presented. It appears there are only a couple of sentences in the whole article purtaining to defense, and they dealt with particular factory loadings, I believe.
    In reading the article, I guess I saw the gun as being very well suited for use in country where man is not neccessarily at the top of the food chain, as a second sidearm when hunting, fishing, or just camping in open remote country. I never even considered it for home defense, I already own, and can think of much better choices. Since I’m not familiar with Tarus products, I wasn’t aware of the Raging Bull you soke of jon, but figured the company probably offered some such 6″ iteration, which would definately be my choice, if I prefeered Taurus revolver, and wanted a scoped shoulder rig for a primary weapon. While not suited for every purpose and everybody, this probably wouldn’t be a bad choice, I’d think.
    When you get a chance Bob, give us some articles featuring Contenders, please.

  25. i pretty much disagree with the whole article of mr cambells. first, it is not suited for home defense. it will blow a hole through anything it hits inside your house, go through the siding and play hell with the next house up the street or kill an innocent kid that is just [playing outside. secondly it may be accurate with a light load and a light grain bullet out of the taurus 4 inch bbl. the whole gun is a misconcieved arm. why would you buy a gun that is a 44 magnum, then put a compensater on it.that may help you to aim but it also takes away from the power of the bullet. i think this is called foot pounds of energy??? then use it indoors as a home defense weapon??? it makes no sense. and another point, if you are going to man up and buy a 44 magnum from taurus, just buy the real taurus…the raging bull 44 magmun with all those features plus it has a 6 inch plus bbl. on it. . i have owned a ruger super redhawk for almost 20 years and i have shot a lot of ammo through it. it has a 10 and a half inch bbl on it. i read stories of one famous individual that killed a deer at 200 yards with this gun. with open sights and a 300 grain bullet. after all of the different loads i have shot through it, the federal premium 300 grain bullet was so accurate, that i went out and put a leupold 2 to 7 power scope on mine. . i say dont be misled, the taurus raging bull with the long bbl is perfectly well suited just like the ruger and just as accurate according to articles i have read, and also, just as heavy to haul around. so hunt with it!! does anybody out there really want to blow all the windows out of their house, wreck their hearing, and take the chance of killing a nearby neighbor???? i dont think so. i own a 9 mm for home defense….it may be a little too big for close encounters. but it wont go through the person i will shoot with it and endanger everybody else in the neighborhood!

    1. Jon, if you read the first part of this the writer is talking about a 246 grain@ 780 fps and 200@800fps under firing the 44. These loads are no
      hotter than a 45 what are you talking about punching holes into neighbors house with these rounds? As for the compensator it will give a
      slight loss of fps but its not that drastic of change and makes follow up shots easyier.
      This is a great gun to own I have one for multi purpose as a carry and for the woods. Of course I’m not going loaded with 300 grain hard cast for personal defense. I use 44 special loads and what is nice if you hand load you can make them a little hotter with out over penatration. Which I think makes this a very versitile gun who is going to carry around a 6” revolver or longer in any cal? It limits its function to just a woods gun. I don’t think the writter is suggesting using hot 44 magnum loads for home or ccp use tho if you live out in the country like I do and your closest neighbor is 1/4 mile away with woods between its not a big deal to use magnum rounds in home defense. The most dangerous round is the one that misses not over penatrates. IMHO.

  26. Nice write up Bob, I no longer own a .44, but was always a revolver man, and really miss the 7 1/2″ Super Blackhawk I once had, and could shoot so well. Hindsight, you know. I have recently read how accurate the .44 Special is also, and it wouls seem to be a perfect match for everyday shooting with this gun. I totally aggree with your statement about profficiancy with larger than .44 Mag calibers. I’ve never owned any kind of Tarus, but awhile back read that they have become as viable an option, as choosing a S&W, Ruger, or Colt for any shooting task.
    Like I said, I never owned or fired one, and really haven’t researched them, but if that is the consensus, Tarus is amoung good company. The photo in the article shows what looks to be a good, serviceable, reliable handgun, one which would be a good choice for being in bear/cat country, and the stainless would be appealing, as well as the smaller, rounded grip. The pebble finish sounds like a comfortable plus, and the beefy looking ejector rod housing etc, makes it appear rather nose heavy, which would be a good thing also. Looks like it’d be a great gun scoped too, maybe with a nice shoulder rig. Of course, handloading for this gun would be simple compared to an auto, and fun and interesting too. Thanks for the aricle.

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