I have always been a fan of the .44 Magnum, not because it is the biggest boy on the block (it’s not), but because you can always get ammo for it, and it’s easy and cheap to reload. But probably the biggest strength of the .44 Mag is that you can get ammo at most any gun shop, and even at Walmarts that still carry ammo. To me that outweighs the little bit of extra power you can get with guns that are more powerful, and that have much more expensive and rare ammo. I think every gun accumulation should have a .44 Mag in it. And if you can afford one of the top name (and price) brands, you should consider them. But if you’re on a budget, I have found that this new generation of Taurus products are extremely high quality. The Model 444 Raging Bull 44 Mag .has been around for a generation at this point, and at a street price of under $700, I thought it was worth a new look and a range test. After a couple hundred rounds downrange, the gun did not disappoint. The Raging Bull is a handful, to hold and to shoot, but if you are in the market for a .44 Mag, I think you’d be surprised by this big Taurus stainless steel revolver.
I hadn’t shot a .44 Mag in a couple years actually, since I reviewed the Desert Eagle in that caliber. A revolver in .44 Mag is totally different. Revolvers were the idea when the caliber was created as a slightly longer version of the .44 Special. Recoil rolls back, even when you muscle the muzzle down. And I found that this long and heavy almost 4 lb. gun didn’t give any kind of “unhinged” feeling you can get when shooting heavy calibers in smaller guns. The Raging Bull is ported, and I don’t know how much actual effect it has on felt recoil and muzzle flip, but I found it more than manageable. I wouldn’t even call follow up shots uncomfortable, and the ample rubber grip is comfortable enough to shoot the big .44 Mag all day without gloves and without any discomfort in the web of the hand. I have been reticent to even review a .454 Casull, and the big .500 S&W, because of the damage that those calibers can do to your bones. I can shoot this gun all day.
Function and reliability were a big problem for Taurus for several years. You’ll probably see some comments come on to this article in fact with people complaining about an old Taurus they had with problems, and I have two old problem Taurus guns in my own safe. But I have to tell you, I haven’t heard a complaint about a Taurus for years, and when I visited their factory here in Miami, I saw them making OEM parts for a number of more expensive gun companies. I think Taurus guns are a great buy right now. And from what I’ve heard, Taurus has been great for several years in fixing those old guns and making things right with whoever owns them today. I’m planning to do a fixitup story for my two Taurus lemons, just haven’t gotten around to it.
This Raging Bull functioned flawlessly out of the box. It shot close to point of aim, and after 4 boxes of range rounds and some Hornady carry rounds, I didn’t experience any problems, misalignments, or stutters in the action of the gun at all. At 25 yards I shot it about as well as I can shoot with open sights at that distance, and I found the adjustable rear sight easy to use and repeatable. There is no optics rail on the gun, so if you want to use it for handgun hunting you’ll have to practice with the open sights.
One thing I’d like to rant about a little is short barrel vs. long barrel in a .44 Mag. This test gun is an 8 3/8ths model, which I believe was the first one out years ago. As you can see from my chronograph tests, it exceeded the velocity. This gun is officially 63 ounces. But if you look at the Taurus M444 page, the lightest 444 on the Taurus website is 27 ounces. For one, that’s a huge ouchy. I can see why someone would want to carry a light gun in the woods as bear repellant, but you just aren’t going to get .44 Magnum ballistics out of a 2″ barrel. I think that rather than spend much more money on a shorty .454 or .500, carry a full sized .44 Mag, and just use a chest holster where the weight isn’t going to bother you at all. The full length underlug on the 444 is one of the reasons it is so manageable and accurate. If you can find one to rent at a range try it. You’ll be amazed. I would rather have 6 rounds of better than full snot .44 Mag than one round of .500 and a broken wrist because I didn’t have my hand on the gun properly.
I am not a big fan of shooting .44 Specials in a .44 Magnum, but if you didn’t know that you can do that, you can. As I said before, like the .357 Magnum, the .44 Magnum was built as an update to an old classic (the .357 Mag. updated the .38 Special, which yes, is .357 caliber). Usually there is not a big sacrifice in accuracy using the Specials, but technically the shorter case can cause a ring in your cylinders because some of the powder burns down in the hole. I’ve never actually seen this in my guns when I have done it, but since it is a pain to keep two different types of brass anyways, I have always found it easier to just load cast bullets at reduced velocities for plinking. The Hodgdon website has an updated load calculator for all of their recommended powders these days. For reduced power loads, I have found that Trail Boss works in pretty much everything. The .44 Magnum is an ideal caliber to get for your first reloading setup because the savings are huge over always shooting factory ammo, the case wall ixys straight, so you don’t have to trim it and it will last for several loadings, and you can get or make cheap lead bullets. See our reloading articles here, and my bullet casting series if these are all foreign concepts.
As revolvers go the Raging Bull is actually pretty sexy. I think the fit and finish on the gun have always been really nice over the years, and the new gun is flawless. Mine came with a Taurus Carry On velvet bag, rubber sight protector, and two keys for the integral Taurus hammer lock security system. This is a transfer bar gun, which mean that there is no pin on the hammer. The hammer hits a bar, which transfers its force to the firing pin. This is meant to allow you to carry the gun with 6 chambers full, Do so at your own risk of course. Other than the reach being a little long for my short fat hands, I couldn’t find a complaint with the Taurus Raging Bull Model 444. If you are in the market for a .44 Magnum (this gun also comes in .454 Casull), I would definitely consider the $799 MSRP Raging Bull.