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Out of a 20 inch barrel, is a defensive 357 magnum cartridge louder than a 12 gauge shotgun? I'm trying to figure out a long gun for home defense and general hunting/plinking, and I am not thrilled with the report of a 12 gauge shotgun without hearing protection indoors. I know I would probably only have to shoot once, but I would prefer to stay with a Lever-Action because I'm not familiar with the shotgun and I do not feel comfortable using one. So, if the 357 magnum out of the 20 inch barrel is about as loud as it is out of a revolver, I would then like to go with a 44 special out of the Marlin 1894. If you had to use an 1894c or a 1894 in 44 special to defend oneself without hearing protection, which would you prefer, considering that I reload so ammunition is affordable either way.

Another thing I am worried about is the bore diameter. Is a modern Marlin with Ballard rifling accurate with 0.358 lead cast, and 0.430 lead cast for the 357 and 44 magnum, respectively? I shoot a lot, and having two special order oversized ammunition can add about 3¢ per round, which is the difference between shooting every week or shooting every other week :).

I truly appreciate your advice, and thank you!
 

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My advice is fairly simple. Get the 357 or 44 and the very basic reloading gear from Lee for about 100 bucks. Then you can hand load cheap enough to go to the range twice a week, and you can order cast bullets from Dardas and many others and get exactly the right size bullets for the same cost. I have never loaded for 357 but have for 44 mag and 45 Colt. Using Trail Boss you can load them sub sonic if you wish, with the report just a bit louder than a 22, but the hole a 44 hard cast will leave in a home intruder will be impressive indeed! I think a .357 lever gun would make a fine home defense gun, same with a 44 or 45. Just remember that those cast bullets if loaded too heavily might pass through somebody like swiss cheese and keep going through the next wall so make sure there wont be collateral damage. If you hand load you need not mess with 44 or 38 Specials.. Or a shotgun will get it done as well, your choice. Personally I would go with the 1894.
 

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For a home defensive rifle you would also want to consider the type of bullet and the velocity of the bullet at close range. There are many things to consider when using a particular load in a particular gun. One load will work great in a rifle and then very poorly in a handgun and vice-verse. What is good for hunting may not be good for a close encounter at home.

Look for a bullet design that has a low sectional density that is short and light for caliber, is soft enough to expand and has a deep wide hollow point or a tip that helps it to expand quicker at low velocity. A normal hollow point will expand well if at a higher velocity but, consider the powder being used for lower muzzle blast, report, and flash as well. Then hope you never have to find out how well they work.

Many more ammo mfg's are designing and making personal protection ammo for use at close range for the just such purposes and a box would last a long time unless you live in a war zone just practice with your regular ammo. And that also would be one less reason for a law suit against you for loading your own. Let the ammo company handle that, they have a team of lawyers just for that purpose.
 

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With the amount of adrenaline going thru your system in a home invasion type deal, you will never hear the sound of the round going off.I would much rather have a Remington 870 pump shotgun in that situation.You will likely have trouble with 44 specials feeding.My 1894 takes .432" diameter cast bullets,it has ballard rifling.My 357 has microgroove rifling.The groove diameter is .3575".Bullets sized .359 are ok,.360 are better.A friend has a ballard rifled 357 that has a groove diameter of .3565".His was easier to get an accurate load worked up.
 

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I agree with dgslr in that you will not be bothered by noise in an attack situation. If you do any hunting, you probably have experienced this when shooting game; the rifle is not loud and does not kick very much (unless your eye is too close to the scope, LOL). I don't know the physiology in a stress situation, but your concentration on the treat or game seems to produce a reduction of preceived noise level. I have fired a 44 magnum with a 4 5/8 inch barrel, a 16 guage shotgun, and a 30 carbine rifle in a room without hearing portection and I did not preceive them as overly loud. In a reduced lighting situation, I would be more concerned with the blinding effect of the muzzle blast fireball some ammo can produce.
 

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After thoughts: You might want to consider the 45 Colt in a levergun. That round operated with less pressure than the magnum rounds. Also since you reload, you can load 44 magnum cases to Special volocities. I duplicated the old 44-40 round using the 44 magnum case using a 205 grain cast FP bullet and it was very pleasant to shoot from my 24 inch barrel 1894 without hearing protection althought I almost alway wear muffs. However, I never fired it indoors. Have killed a couple head of game with that load and it was effective. After saying all that, I would choose a good reliable 20 or 12 guage semi-auto shotgun for a person not experienced with a scattergun.
 

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Longfin, are you deef or someting? I know I have very sensitive hearing from a lifetime of operating wood working machines and forging steel and copper, I probably have some damage, but shooting a .44 in a room with no protection, and not percieing them as being overly loud? A couple of years ago while my wife and I were camping, I went off and fire my .357 4" with no plugs, and man, I got that sort of hollow ringing effect for a while afterwards. I can't imagine that in an enclosed room, although in a defensive situation I probably wouldn't notice at all.
I sometimes shoot my 39A sans hearing protection (which I like) and this does not bother me at all.
Oh, Longfin, kinda pullin your leg there about being deaf ;)
 

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lesismore said:
For a home defensive rifle you would also want to consider the type of bullet and the velocity of the bullet at close range. There are many things to consider when using a particular load in a particular gun. One load will work great in a rifle and then very poorly in a handgun and vice-verse. What is good for hunting may not be good for a close encounter at home.

Look for a bullet design that has a low sectional density that is short and light for caliber, is soft enough to expand and has a deep wide hollow point or a tip that helps it to expand quicker at low velocity. A normal hollow point will expand well if at a higher velocity but, consider the powder being used for lower muzzle blast, report, and flash as well. Then hope you never have to find out how well they work.

Many more ammo mfg's are designing and making personal protection ammo for use at close range for the just such purposes and a box would last a long time unless you live in a war zone just practice with your regular ammo. And that also would be one less reason for a law suit against you for loading your own. Let the ammo company handle that, they have a team of lawyers just for that purpose.
+1
 

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Continuing what lesimore said, I like 110/125 grain hollow points for the .357 home defense loadings. Heavy hard casts may penetrate even brick veneer! Make sure your selected load feeds without fail or even without any hint of hang up. If things get sticky, that is not the time to find out if your Marlin likes the load or not. Noise: I would think that would depend on the given load for each. Good luck, Jack
 

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For years I did alot of hunting with my Ruger 44mag 4 5/8" using "ol Elmer's load of 22 gr. 2400 and 250 hard cast lead. I remember reading that under stress the report would not seem loud. When I had a standing shot it would ring my ears but two times on running shots I hardly noticed the sound at all. The difference was amazing ,I'm assuming it was the adrenaline in my system.
Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for your help -I'm going to look at a few carbines tomorrow in 44 magnum and hopefully find a good fit. I think a low powered magnum or a high powered 44 special hollow point with a low weight would be very controllable and very effective for home defense. Honestly, I'm trying to get away from black rifles and black shotguns that are only useful in the one in a million chance I would have to use them. I'm trying to transition to rifles that I would normally enjoy shooting anyway, and then using them for defense only if I need to, instead of having some sort of military arsenal sitting in my living room :). I think military style rifles have their place, but I personally find traditional guns more appealing. Thanks again for your assistance and opinions.
 

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When I was a LEO I used to carry a Trails End 44 mag. It was loaded with CCI Blazer 200 grain Gold Dots 44 Specials. I thought it was perfect. I would not hesitate to use that combo for HD.
 

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Hey guys, for my $0.02 I load both my 1894 .44 mag and my S & W 629 with Hornady's LeverEvolution ammo as my go to self defense load. Most accurate load for the S&W and handy dandy in my rifle as well. Gee, I seem to recall they'll do in a pinch for wild game too! ;D ;D ;D

For my experience with hearing shots under duress, I got into the 'zone' with my 300 Win Mag and a running buck a few years ago, all I heard was a low 'Baloosh' with each shot...(yeah, I shot behind it on the first two), and virtually no felt recoil. Just like on the slow mo movies (or Saving Pvt. Ryan).

Shoot Straight, stay safe,

BMC
 

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You fire a gun inside a house, any gun and you will definitely hear it. At my brothers house one day I got the bright idea of sitting at his kitchen table and shooting at a target out in the yard through a open sliding door. Since there wern't any houses around for miles it seemed like a good idea.....not. I fired only one round from a 9MM pistol. I heard no sounds for the next two days.
 

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In a true SHTF situation, with lives on the line, in the defense of yourself, your family, or others, you won't notice the muzzle blast.

Auditory exclusion is a phenomenon that cannot be duplicated, except under extreme physical/emotional stress. That is why I mention a true SHTF situation. Cut a round or two loose in an enclosure for practice, and they will temporarily deafen you - - cut a round or two loose in your house while a goblin is lurking and you won't hear a pin drop or a hammer fall. Not to say that doing this won't cause hearing issues later, or that after the adrenaline dump subsides you won't notice some ringing, but during the encounter - nada, zilch, nothing...

Optical exclusion (similar to tunnel vision) is another thing that occurs during a true SHTF situation that rarely can be duplicated, except under extreme physical/emotional stress.

The muzzle blast from a defensive weapon, fired within the house would likely be about the last concern I have in choosing which weapon or chambering to go with. My Wife and I live in town, pretty small yards, occupied homes adjacent to ours, etc. My first concern would be to "have enough gun" to mitigate the threat as quickly as possible with the fewest shots possible (i.e. a shotgun with bucky balls - at least #4 buck would be my first choice). My second consideration would be to minimize the potential for collateral damage from over-penetration.

Just my $0.02... ;)
 

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Does anybody still use rock salt in their shotguns for HD purposes? That was what most everyone in town seemed to use when I was growing up, but then, smallish town, unlocked doors, everybody pretty much knew everybody, and the biggest threat was someone raiding your garden (usually moose!). Then again, getting hit with rock salt up close would not be anything pleasant. I suppose now it is best for all concerned to have a corpse to call and have removed, saves on lawyer expenses.. ::)
 

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The only time I ever heard of anybody using rock salt was for keeping garden raiders out of the melon patch.

For actual home defense, I will still trust to #4 bucky balls from a 2-3/4" shell in the 870. Something about 27 pellets @ 0.240" in diameter, weighing roughly 21 grains each moving along at about 1,300 fps from my 18-1/2" cylinder bored barrel is pretty comforting. ;)
 

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AINT NO FISH said:
Longfin, are you deef or someting? I know I have very sensitive hearing from a lifetime of operating wood working machines and forging steel and copper, I probably have some damage, but shooting a .44 in a room with no protection, and not percieing them as being overly loud? A couple of years ago while my wife and I were camping, I went off and fire my .357 4" with no plugs, and man, I got that sort of hollow ringing effect for a while afterwards. I can't imagine that in an enclosed room, although in a defensive situation I probably wouldn't notice at all.
I sometimes shoot my 39A sans hearing protection (which I like) and this does not bother me at all.
Oh, Longfin, kinda pullin your leg there about being deaf ;)
No offense taken and yes I am practically deef, just ask my wife. LOL; course she might agree to the "something" part too. My ears have been ringing sinced 1984 when a muzzleloader nipple stripped out on me. That was a blast to the old ears that took out alot of my hearing. The 44 going off was an accidental discharge, so I was not anticipating the blast and it did not seem overly loud. I think the shock of it happening somehow reduces the auditory impact, but no scientific data to support that statement.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Just wanted to thank you all for your help! Last week I went out and got myself a new blued 44 magnum to go with my dirty Harry Gun :)

This is the best forum ever! Because of you guys, I knew what to look for, and what a good price would be. I was able to get this after looking for so long, and it'll be really nice to finally get her to the range! Thanks again!
 

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My 2¢

My home defense line up:

45 ACP
12 gauge shotgun - #4 and lower preferred: 00 buck, slug
1894C - 357 Mag

If I still need some thing after that I need more range time.

As others have said, under stress the sound is not something you notice.
 
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