I can relate to the desire to make the right choice, the first time with any of these high dollar, sight unseen purchases. I was in a similar quandary with my two Model 97's.
I have a 6.25 inch 41 Mag and a 6.0 inch 22LR. Based on the bore similarity, my 41 would weigh close to the same as a 44 given equal barrel lengths. I will share a couple of my thoughts.
First, the accuracy capability of these guns is better than any of us can shoot with iron sights, so I would lean towards a longer barrel, especially for target shooting. That increased sight radius helps me quite a bit when it comes to shooting with irons. I am not a short barrel guy anyway so no big deal. I just can't see paying for all that accuracy potential, but handicapping yourself with a snub barrel, but that my personal preference.
FA's have more to like than raw accuracy potential, so I could see someone wanting a 4" as a carry/backup simply because the build quality of these guns is supremely good. For my build, the 5.5 barrel just didn't look right to me with the length of the ejector housing, which is why I was OK going a little longer. I didn't want some ridiculously long 10" silhouette gun, nor did I want a snub nose. Mine would be used for target shooting and I also want it to cover hunting applications if I wanted to do that as well. I honestly think that a 6.5 barrel would be my ideal because it looks right to me and feels right in hand and complements the weight of the frame well as far as balance. Long story short, I'd choose the standard length 5.5 over the 4" length any day of the week if thats your two options..
Secondly, I'd avoid the express sights on a target gun as well. They aren't meant for that and now isn't the time to make compromises. I'd stick with standard sights for a crisp sight picture and then look into upgraded sights from Clements, etc if you are still unhappy.
I really like the 6.25 length of my 41Mag, and would have liked to get a longer barrel on my 6.0 inch 22LR, but with the small bore, I didn't want the gun too get to heavy, but at the range last week, another inch of barrel would have made aiming easier in all honesty.
Check out Cove Creek Outfitters in PA. They have several in stock, and have special ordered for me on numerous occasions. My wants are so specific, I find that's the easiest way to get what I want, the first time.
Good Luck choosing..Sorry the last pic is upside down for some reason , it's not that way on. My phone?!?!
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