I have the 96/22magnum and love it. I bet the 44 is just like it
As to specials, I can't imagine why you wouldn't be able to shoot them. As long as they feed good, should work fine. Not saying they won't feed good, but it is always possible that a lever might not like a particular bullet or overall cartridge length.
I've never had any trouble feeding any 22 magnum into my 96.
I'd buy a 96/44, it'd go nice with my 44 magnum revolver
I joined the NRA, have you yet?