Join On the Hunt: .44 Magnum or .460 S&W?
Whether you’re looking down a 300 BLK scope or aiming down iron sights, when you’re hunting you want a reliable weapon that will take down your prey with one shot. A lot of that depends on the caliber of your round, so today will settle the debate between the .44 Magnum or the .460 conversion.
The first main point to compare is velocity, or how fast the bullet travels to the target. You can look statistics up on any website or forum, but Smith and Wesson, the manufacturer of the .460 claims that it’s the fastest bullet out there.
Based on experimentation, the .460 held up that claim. There were instances where the .44 Magnum flew 100-200 feet per second faster, but most of the personal shots and data online show the .460 as the victor here.
This one doesn’t affect accuracy so much as the follow-through and it’s hard to understand until you actually fire them both, but here it goes. Recoil is how much the gun bucks when you squeeze that trigger.
Both weapons have serious recoil and require a strong wrist and hand to keep it under control, but the .460 kicks like a mule when fired. Not to mention, it’s an extremely loud weapon. Those 2 factors can make it harder if you need to fire a second shot, though if you train with any weapon it will change the outcome significantly.
Kinetic Force vs. Stopping Power
Kinetic force, or energy, is a statistic that doesn’t actually affect weapon performance, but it’s a fun number that gets tossed around by manufacturers. The fact is that a .460 will fire with twice the KE that a .44 Magnum can put out.
Many people seem to think this means stopping power, but that’s not the same. Stopping power is more comparable to momentum.
For example, the .460 fires a larger, heavier bullet. That round will connect and knock something down in most cases, but not necessarily stop it permanently.
A .44 Magnum, on the other hand, will fire a smaller round with higher velocity. When that bullet connects, whatever it hits will likely be killed or at least incapacitated.
This is because of the impact force and penetration that the .44 carries when it fires, which is largely due to the cartridge. That leads to the next point.
Do Ya Feel Lucky?
A gun is only as good as the bullet that it fires, and that’s why the .44 has better stopping power. For those who don’t know, bullet power is based on grain and that’s not what .44 or .460 means.
In this case, the .460 may have a heavier recoil or better velocity but the bullets simply don’t come close to the amount of grain that a .44 can put down. Especially with the recoil that bad with 100-200 grain rounds, a .460 might very well explode if it tried to throw down with the 300 and up that a .44 Magnum does.
In fact, the .44 can fire as high as 355-grain rounds accurately at anywhere between 1,200 and 1,400 feet per second. To put that in context, the .44 Magnum would be trustworthy to stop a bear if you had to.
In short, both weapons are beautiful weapons of destruction. The .460 is a harder caliber to find, and much more expensive, though.
If you’re going for speed, the .460 is your winner but the .44 takes the cake on practicality and stopping power. In fact, the only handgun more powerful than the .44 may very well be the .45 ACP.
If you’re wanting to try something fun that has a serious kick and will wake the neighbors in the next city, go with a .460. Otherwise, keep it safely tucked away with the rest of your weapons and use the .44 Magnum as your hunting weapon of choice.
Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder
and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily
Caller and other publications.