I hear a lot of folks who claim that stainless is easier to clean than blued. That has not been my experience.
In my experience, it is the finish on the metal, rather than the actual material that makes the difference as far as ease of cleaning is concerned. A highly polished surface, no matter which type of steel it is, will be easier to clean than one that has some texture to it. Ruger puts a very high polish on their stainless guns, at least they do on their single action guns, to simulate the nickel plated finishes of long ago. Their blued guns have a pretty high polish to them too. In my experience, it requires the exact same amount of elbow grease to clean either.
However, a stainless finish will tend to highlight any smudges of fouling that a blued finish might hide.
Same with fouling. The more highly polished the surface, the less fouling will cling to it. The actual material does not matter.
I do not think there is any noticeably different wear characteristics to either metal either.
Is the life-span issue the same with high powered rifles? I honestly don't think I'd ever be able to wear out a revolver barrel...especially since probably 80%+ of my handgun work is with lead cast bullets. On the other hand, I have known a few people that have toasted a few barrels on their varmint rifles. Granted, I don't crank out thousands of rounds per year in with my Savage .223, but I do send probably close to 200-400 rounds down the pipe per year with it. I'm just curious about the stainless vs. blued question because I see more and more high end rifles have stainless barrels now days...even when they're screwed into a blued action! That seems kind of strange to me, but I'm wondering if it give them an upper edge on accuracy, ease of cleaning or life-span, etc. Obviously stainless is less susceptible to rusting (although I KNOW it will rust if you totally neglect it like putting it away in a case when wet, etc.). Any ideas?
I have a blued 6" GP100 and a stainless 4" GP100, and I have noticed no difference in either leading or copper fouling between the two. They both have a couple of thousand rounds through them now, a mix of .38spl FMJ and LRN, and .357 JSP and LRN.
When I clean then after each range trip, I do oil the barrels with some Otis bore solvent or some Militec-1 oil. Just a light layer, let it sit for a bit, and run a patch to get rid of the excess. My bores look like new, regardless of carbon steel or stainless, and clean up in a snap. I do the same for the cylinder bores and they also always clean up with utter ease, regardless of shooting .357 or .38spl.