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Discussion Starter #1
Ok guys I've been wanting to start hunting. I am currently saving up for a hunting rifle, in the mean time I will be hunting squirrel to "get my feet wet". Right now I own a 10/22 (for squirrels and zombies) that I have done a little work to upgrading and what not, and I have my savage model 320 12ga (for anything stupid enough to find its way through my locked door). I went with those as my first firearms because they are basic, useful, and affordable. But now it's time to take the next step. This is the approach I took when trying to decide what rifle is best for me:

Q: What game am I going after?
A: Black bear, hog, big cat (of Virginia) and the occasional white tail.

Q: Will I be long range hunting or close range?
A: close range. (100m max)

Q: since you are poor, is there any way you could get a multi purpose rifle or at least one the fires multi purpose ammunition.
A: Yes. A .44 magnum will take any and all of those game options (at least that's what my research found) and when I turn 21 I will be able to buy a revolver that also fires .44 mag so that's two birds with one stone.

So that's what I've come up with so far. Originally I wanted a "real" big game caliber. I was strongly considering a .338 win mag for hunting trips in the middle of the country. But I came to the conclusion that;

1- I cannot afford a weapon of that caliber.
2- I cannot afford hunting trips to the Midwest.
3- I am still a bit of a novice. (Shooting for 2 years, hunting for 0)

So that eventually lead me to the .44 mag, after briefly pausing to consider .30-06. I decided against 30-06 because if I get a "real" large get rifle it will be either a .338 win mag or a .375 mag. But the question here is; do you think in MY financial and experience situation, that a lever gun with a matching hand gun counterpart, is the most responsible option? Also is there an affordable .44 mag lever gun out there? If so what would you recommend?

P.s. thank you for reading that whole post, I put a lot more info in there than I had intended. I just want to be smart with my money. I'm trying to keep my arsenal small, cost efficient and affective. Thank you for any and all advice.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I mistakenly left out the part about why I picked .44 mag over .45

I picked .44mag because I do not have the ability to load my own ammunition. That being said, there is a limited amount of hunting ammo available for .45, so even though I do favor the ballistics of a .45 I will take a (minimal) hit in caliber and "oomph" in order to has a vastly superior selection of ammo. I also considered 30-30 but I don't know of a pistol that could be a realistic EDC that is chambered in 30-30 haha.
 

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I'm pretty sure the .44mag has more "oomph" At least for this data I would say the .44 is not losing you that at all

.44 200 gr (13 g) JHP 1,282 ft/s (391 m/s) 760 ft·lbf (1,030 J)
225 gr (15 g) XPB Lead Free 1,500 ft/s (460 m/s) 1,124 ft·lbf (1,524 J)
240 gr (16 g) Bonded JSP* 1,500 ft/s (460 m/s) 1,200 ft·lbf (1,600 J)
320 gr (21 g) WFNGC HC* 1,300 ft/s (400 m/s) 1,201 ft·lbf (1,628 J)
340 gr (22 g) LFN +P+ 1,325 ft/s (404 m/s) 1,533 ft·lbf (2,078 J)

.45LC 200 gr (13 g) XTP 1,032 ft/s (315 m/s) 473 ft·lbf (641 J)
230 gr (15 g) XTP 969 ft/s (295 m/s) 480 ft·lbf (650 J)
250 gr (16 g) XTP 929 ft/s (283 m/s) 479 ft·lbf (649 J)
325 gr (21 g) Buff Bore heavy lead +P 1,325 ft/s (404 m/s) 1,267 ft·lbf (1,718 J)

.45ACP
185 gr (12 g) Bonded Defense 1,225 ft/s (373 m/s) 616 ft·lbf (835 J)
185 gr (12 g) Speer Gold Dot JHP 1,050 ft/s (320 m/s) 435 ft·lbf (590 J)
200 gr (13 g) Speer Gold Dot JHP +P 1,080 ft/s (330 m/s) 518 ft·lbf (702 J)
230 gr (15 g) Federal Hydra-Shok 900 ft/s (270 m/s) 414 ft·lbf (561 J)
 

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The option of a .44 mag rifle & pistol set up is interesting. I have a 6 1/2" S&W 29 and love it. The .44 special is a good all around lighter practice and plinking round. With what you are describing as YOUR needs, it would fit the bill. I'd start collecting brass, now, when ever I cam across it because the price is only going up. Another thing you can do now is start collecting reloading dies, lead bullet molds and equipment to cast your own bullets. Keep an eye on Craigslist etc.

With that all said, I have a 45LC rifle & pistol set up. Uberti version of a Remington 1875 pistol and a Winchester 94. When I'm our running light, it's an option.
 

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Yes, your choices are reasonable. The choice of which .44 lever gun you choose is a personal one.. see which one you like best at your local shop (think about it .. you are talking about having the lever action for 2 years before you get the revolver.. you want quality you can maintain right from the start)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the input guys! I would collect brass and dies for reloading but I am currently renting a bed room and that is all the space I have. So I couldn't really reload if I wanted too lol. And it would actually only be about 10 months until a got a pistol because I will be 21 next year in September. I am pretty pleased with the functionality of a lever and wheel combo. Since the pistol is down the road a bit I haven't put much thought into it. But it will definitly need to be double action and a snub nose to be able to carry it effectively. But do y'all have any suggestions as to the best affordable lever gun? My research points me towards a puma.
 

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Snub .44 Mag revolver is not a gun for the beginner, CSD. A 4 or 5 inch barrel is about as short as I'd want to go, and I've shot the big Ruger Redhawk for some years. Right now, there aren't many good choices in the lever action field, though a used Marlin would be a good one if you can find it. The Puma would be a fairly good choice, and the Model 94 Winchester can be rebuilt to take the .44 Mag round if you find a beat-up one for a reasonable price. I've built an Enfield or two for the .45 Colt, and the bolt action gun can be made up to take the .44 Mag with about the same modifications. Just use the 15 round M.1 Carbine mag, and open it out to feed. It will hold five rounds, and, in the Colt, did a fine job of thumping feral hogs in the brush.
 

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I'm pretty sure the .44mag has more "oomph" At least for this data I would say the .44 is not losing you that at all

.44 200 gr (13 g) JHP 1,282 ft/s (391 m/s) 760 ft·lbf (1,030 J)
225 gr (15 g) XPB Lead Free 1,500 ft/s (460 m/s) 1,124 ft·lbf (1,524 J)
240 gr (16 g) Bonded JSP* 1,500 ft/s (460 m/s) 1,200 ft·lbf (1,600 J)
320 gr (21 g) WFNGC HC* 1,300 ft/s (400 m/s) 1,201 ft·lbf (1,628 J)
340 gr (22 g) LFN +P+ 1,325 ft/s (404 m/s) 1,533 ft·lbf (2,078 J)

.45LC 200 gr (13 g) XTP 1,032 ft/s (315 m/s) 473 ft·lbf (641 J)
230 gr (15 g) XTP 969 ft/s (295 m/s) 480 ft·lbf (650 J)
250 gr (16 g) XTP 929 ft/s (283 m/s) 479 ft·lbf (649 J)
325 gr (21 g) Buff Bore heavy lead +P 1,325 ft/s (404 m/s) 1,267 ft·lbf (1,718 J)

.45ACP
185 gr (12 g) Bonded Defense 1,225 ft/s (373 m/s) 616 ft·lbf (835 J)
185 gr (12 g) Speer Gold Dot JHP 1,050 ft/s (320 m/s) 435 ft·lbf (590 J)
200 gr (13 g) Speer Gold Dot JHP +P 1,080 ft/s (330 m/s) 518 ft·lbf (702 J)
230 gr (15 g) Federal Hydra-Shok 900 ft/s (270 m/s) 414 ft·lbf (561 J)

Those are standard 45 colt loads. With modern guns like the Ruger Bisley Blackhawk and Redhawk the 45 colt out performs 44 mag (with heavy bullets).
 

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Ya, whats up with those wussy loads?
HSM Bear loads:

..................................................FPS......ft-lbs
.44 Mag Ammo 305 WFN ...........1,260 ... 1,075

.45 Long Colt Ammo 325 WFN.......... 1,316 ......1,143
 

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A couple other options that you may want to investigate are an inexpensive 30-30 from WallyWorld or a pawn shop and a GP100 in .357.

IMO, they're both well suited for your area and the game you described.

If you start reloading, your load options are wide open.

Good Luck
 

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.44 Mag long gun is a decent choice for your needs.
.44 mag is not a good first hand gun.

Re your other rifle calibers- waste of money in expensive ammunition.
There's nothing in the midwest you can't hunt with a heavy .308 or .30-06 load.
.338 & .375 Mag are way overkill unless you're going after a large brown bear & you won't like the recoil much on either.

Puma is an affordable choice in leverguns, they tend to come with slightly rough actions & oversprung, but shoot well.
The Ruger boltgun is another option.
Marlins have spotty quality control, check one thoroughly before handing over cash. A good one is probably the best .44 Mag levergun buy.
Denis
 

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The .45 Colt can safely produce higher velocities without higher pressures than the .44 Mag because of its larger case capacity.

If you tried to replicate a hot .45 Colt load in a .44 Mag case, using the same powder charge and bullet weight & type, you could potentially blow the gun.
Denis
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yeah when ever I can afford a 338 or 375 I will be going north for brown bear more than west for anything else. But from what you are saying Denis, the best quality in a lever gun will be a marlin, as long as it is in good working order?
 

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The current Winchester leverguns are high-priced internally-modified versions made by Miroku in Japan, so I don't think you'd want to go in that direction.

The various Brazilian Rossi leverguns patterned off the Winchester Model 92 sold by importers are reasonably priced, but typically a shade rough internally & oversprung to compensate. If you get the DVD from Steve's Gunz, you can slick those up yourself, WITH CARE.
They have an annoying wing safety on top of the bolt.

The Italian Model 92 variants of the Winchester pattern made by Chiappa/Army Sport are usually well made, slicker than the Rossis, and more expensive. They are truer to the original Winchester 92 design with no manual safety.

The Henry centerfire leverguns (the current company in New Jersey) are usually quite accurate, extremely smooth, well made, a shade more affordable than the new Winchesters, use a totally different action, and are fairly heavy.

The Marlins are spotty, unfortunately, since Remington bought out the old company & moved production to New York.
The worst ones will show canted front sights, poorly cut sight dovetails, sloppy machining, poor wood to metal fit, and probably have rough actions. Some have been reported to not even chamber a round. In fairness to Remington, they're trying.
The Marlin is usually affordable, and when made right it's accurate, reliable, smooths right up, and is infinitely easier to clean for routine maintenance than the Winchester 92 design.
Totally different action from the 92 clones.

I have a Marlin .44 Mag, .357 Mag, .45 Colt, .45-70, and my wife has two speedy little .32-20s that she dearly loves. All pre-date the transition from the old plant to the new plant.
I had one .357 here briefly that was returned because it was so bad. Which annoyed me greatly, since I'm a longtime Marlin user. Not saying don't get one, just check it out thoroughly before buying if you're going new. You might have better luck looking for an older used one.

I also have a .45 Colt Rossi that's been slicked up by Steve Young, AFTER he works on 'em they're smoother.

I've had a new Winchester here, very nice but I didn't particularly like the internal re-design they've done to them.

And I've worked with Henry .357 & .44 Mag leverguns, no complaints other than the weight which is heavy for hunting use on foot.

Denis
 

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A couple other options that you may want to investigate are an inexpensive 30-30 from WallyWorld or a pawn shop and a GP100 in .357.

IMO, they're both well suited for your area and the game you described.

If you start reloading, your load options are wide open.

Good Luck
I personally do not reload. I have under similar guidelines and financial restrictions chosen a GP100 and a Winchester 94 30-30. The ammo for someone who doesn't reload and is on a budget just fits. At least for me. As well as capable hunters the 357 is great defending indoors. Although I'll say If I had more money the old Winchester would not be there. I wanted a 357 carbine to match the revolver but budget dictated that a $200 Winchester in 30-30 was affordable and worked.
 

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Could you hot load the .44 to do the same?
Dpris answered it good enough. The 45 shines in the heavier bullets. The 44 mag is better with lighter loads. There also seems to be more 44 options. Both are good enough for what the OP is talking about.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Wt80 That $200 price tag does sound more appealing than $500... I guess I need to consider the fact that a matching hand gun and rifle might not be my destiny. Use the force I must, to resolve this issue.
 

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The .30-06 or a .308 is more suited for all-around use than a .44 mag rifle which is limited to about 100yds for max effectiveness.

If you own a .44 carbine, not much real need for a handgun. .44mag is not a defensive handgun UNLESS you handload OR buy .44 special defense loads; assuming you are not skilled at double-action shooting with heavy magnum factory loads...


A .30-06 and a Lee Loader would give you versatility beyond your imagination. Ammo is usually plentiful, cheaply priced, and capable to take Elk, Moose, or even large bear. With light loads and cast bullets you could take rabbits w/o meat damage. The .30 cal rifle can be loaded with any .32 cal pistol bullet which means down to 85gr.

Not much need for a .338win mag in the lower 48 for hunting. .338-06 might be another consideration if you want .338 bullet versatility.
 
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