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Was the .44 Mag. EVER the “Most Powerful Handgun?”


Was the .44 Mag. EVER the “Most Powerful Handgun?”

The Quote
In the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie “Dirty Harry,” the San Francisco detective spoke one of the most memorable lines in cinematic history:

“I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

The Facts
The Smith & Wesson Model 29 chambered in .44 Remington Magnum was introduced in 1955 after the experiments of Elmer Keith with the .44 Special convinced C.R. Hellstrom at S&W and C.G. Peterson of Remington to produce the cartridge. The load used a 240 gr. bullet at 1,350 fps and nothing available to consumers at the time even came close. Though hardly a new cartridge in 1971 when Dirty Harry recited his famous line, that film is certainly responsible for much of the .44 Magnum’s mainstream popularity.



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  1. fliteking

    January 3, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I’m not sure it matters if you are on the receiving end . . .

  2. Kathy Skaggs

    January 3, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Quite sure it doesn’t.

  3. NymRod

    January 4, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Be it a .44 Magnum or a .357 Magnum it doesn’t matter to the one on the receiving end as there’s only one level of dead and either round is more than enough to accomplish such.

  4. Jaime Cancio

    January 4, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I laughed during the first/premire showing of the movie ‘Dirty Harry’ when Clint Eastwood said that forever after assisinine line”; in fact six of my friends with me and I all laughed sitting in the back row of a very crowded movie theatre enjoying time off – we were a working security unit for another company that required us to carry both a California CCW and Carry Exposed Permits in the State of California.
    At that exact time I had a first generation U.S.A.F. Bushmaster civilian model semi-auto pistol with rotating rear receiver that shot .223 Rem./5.56mm Nato ammunition that produced 3,100 fps. with 55 grain FMJ, HP, or SP ammo. This included a state of the art scope with rotating cross hairs so the pistol could be shot at any angle. And when fitted with 30 round magazines I assure you at the time it was the most powerful pistol in the world and when fitted with six inch muzzle break/flash hidder the end of it looked like a 12 GA shotgun; I always kicked myself in the rear-end for selling it.
    And I gaurantee at that same time a Thompson Center Contender Single Shot Pistol shooting the 30/30 round with 170 grain bullet in a 15 inch barrel would shoot rings around the .44 Mag and also in extended range. My Thompson Center Contender in .357 Casaul Mag with Duplex or Triplex loading pushing a 180 grain bullet out a 12 inch barrel will either make a man of you or a boy with one shot; pushing that bullet out at .308 Rem/7.62mm Nato 2750 fps velocity and energy.
    The most impressive shot I ever saw first hand was the taking or a large black that charged a friend of mine while we were out hunting; when the bear came charging out at him from thick forest my friend yelled at the top of his voice and the bear immediately stopped within fifteen feet of my friend and made ready for a final charge; my friend lowered himself to his knees raised his S&W Mod. 41 22LR semi-auto pistol and shot under the head of the bear with a C.C.I. 22LR HP into the chest area directly into the heart of the bear. The bear seemed to be lowered to the ground as if an elevator brought him to the ground; his body became limp, he rolled over on his side and was dead. Certainly not the most powerful pistol in the world…gun control and shot placement was what that shot was all about. So much for Grey Tree squirrel hunting with a handgun.
    Also, so much for the usualy Hollywood B.S. and mis-information and indeed Hollywood stupidity within the movie ‘Dirty Harry’.

  5. Poodleguy

    January 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    As for me I’ll take a .41 Mag any day over the .357 or the .44 mags. It is flatter shooting & more accurate than the .44. A former huntin’ buddy of mine smacked a bobcat here in Az @ 125 yds!! This was in the ’70’s before the bobcats were put on a protected status. I made one of the prettiest wall mounted rug styled trophies that I have ever seen. BTW: the 10mm can be loaded to darn’ near the same velocities of the .41 mag, tho I wouldn’t want it in a semi auto – – the S&W revolver in 10mm w/a minimum bbl length of 6″ is a deadly combination. Happy huntin’ out there guys!!!!

  6. barbiecakes

    February 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    .44 mag is not good for home defense. It could pass right through an invader, though a wall and into the next house. .45 JHP +P is better. We have three .44’s in the family. 5 and a half inch Redhawk. An old Ruger 3 screw single action and and old S&W six inch 629 ( stainless version of the Dirty Harry model)

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