This debate always casts the 348 WCF as a much better chamber than the 444 Marlin, it’s not, it’s just different. Its somewhat like comparing a 375 H&H to a 458 Win Mag, both excellent for their intended purpose. The 444 Marlin has a 23% greater frontal area over the 348 WCF, the 458 Win Mag has a 22% greater frontal area over the 375 H&H. Obviously the 444 Marlin, 375 H&H and 458 Win Mag can utilize telescopic sights, the 348 WCF on a 71 platform would need a scout set up to do that, most do not drill into their prized 71 barrel tops.
So in comparison for heavy game like elk, moose and brown bear (I won’t get into all the .429 bullet types and weights) the 444 Marlin can utilize about 30+ types from 200 gr - 355 gr, the 348 Win may have about 3 types from 200 gr - 250 gr. So which is more versatile, especially with telescopic sight use at 200 yards on game listed above?
Back to comparisons, let’s use a 250 gr Barnes in the 348 WCF and a 335 gr Rimrock HCGC in the 444 Marlin. Let’s look at a 150 yard shot on game above with a 125 yard zero.
Remember you have an 85 gr weight advantage and a 23% greater frontal area with the 444 Marlin:
@2,350fps,ME 348 WCF =3,065 ft-lbs E
150 yds, 348 WCF =1,933 ft-lbs E
@2,100fps,ME 444 Marlin =3,280 ft-lbs E
150 yds,444 Marlin=1,961 ft-lbs E
@ 150 yards the 348 WCF shoots about an 1” flatter and drifts 1.5” less than the Marlin. Not a big deal considering the 444 Marlin in a 336 or 94 AE platform will have telescopic sights for significantly better judgment in bullet placement.
Back to the 375 H&H and 458 Win Mag comparison. We have the 375 shooting 300 gr Barnes and the 458 shooting a 400 gr Barnes. At 150 yds and 175 yard zero.
@2,600fps,ME 375 H&H =4,502 ft-lbs E
150 yds 375 H&H =3,049 ft-lbs E
@2,350fps,ME 458 WM =4,904 ft-lbs E
150 yds 458 WM =3,092 ft-lbs E
@150 yards the 375 H&H shoots +1.09” and drifts 3.2”, the 458 WM is +1.46” and drifts 4.2”. Again not a big deal.
All are great big game chambers, but the real question is when comparing them what does the added bullet weight and frontal area offer? Throughout most uses it is reasonable and proven throughout many applications they offer significantly deeper penetration and much greater wounding and blood loss trauma.
My point is do not underestimate the ability of the 444 Marlin when loaded heavy, it is a bone crusher with similar attributes when used on thin skin game as the 458 Win Mag is on thin and thick skin game at 100-150 yds. A 335 gr HCGC will out penetrate any 348 WCF load hands down with a significantly greater size wound channel and severe trauma/blood loss. Just like the 458 WM will do over the 375 H&H at 100-150 yards. All the above will kill just fine, but the wider bores will offer plenty of reach at 150 yards and a better solution to close encounters with their heavier bullets and greater frontal area. There is no substitute for those two advantages at 150 yards.