Handgun Hunting Calibers


March 7, 2007, 01:12 AM
Im in a pinch on gun/caliber for hunting. Ive found articles saying that a 4.5 inch barreled 41 magnum is fine for deerhunting out to 100-130 yards if you can sight in correctly. But I just have to ask, what real differences do 357 mag, 41 mag, 44 spl, 44 mag, and 45 colt and even 45 acp have between themselves other then muzzle energy, recoil, and bullet weight and diameter?

And just what makes a good hunting load for a revolver? Is it merely good energy, expansion, accuracy and weight. Or do i have to get a complicated mathematical formula based on balistic coefficients, velocity, energy and the like?

I have to ask because from my reading of Keiths biography, he used just about all of these calibers to hunt with and defend himself with, and i want the scoop that doesnt come from a gunwriter depending on cash from ammo companies to fill the family bean pot.

Those calibers are my main question, but I have some questions on the following guns from Taurus. Can they be good deer killers, coyote killers, and self defense weapons?

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March 7, 2007, 01:30 AM
Quote: "deerhunting out to 100-130 yards"

That's a reeeeeal stretch with typical handguns of any caliber, at least twice the distance that most ethical hunters will take a shot.

Yeah, very experienced shooters with a good scope and rest might take and make such shots with hand cannons like S&W's semi-new .460, but the vast majority of us use heavy bullets in the .357 to .452 range - at distances of 50 yards or less. Sorry, it's bedtime for me, so gonna leave it at that, but I'm confident you'll get some similar comments before long.

March 7, 2007, 01:54 AM
130 yards is a long way for a handgun, but it is possible with practice.

I'd look at a .44mag, .45colt, .460S&W or .500S&W.

It's going to take a fairly long barrel to reach out that far, so CCW won't be likely.

If you are talking self defense while out hunting then any gun will work.

March 7, 2007, 08:07 AM
If you hit the deer in a vital area, a 357 Mag., 41 Mag., 44 Mag., etc. will all be suitable for deer. The problem with taking them at 100 or 200 yards is with being able to hit them and not with lack of bullet energy.

Although legend has it that there are 44 Mags. out there that will group an inch or two at 100 yards, I've never shot one. In my experience, for straight walled cartridges to shoot well enough for me to reliably take deer from a field position at 100 or 200 yards, I would want a scoped handgun shooting something with quite a bit more energy like a 357 Maximum, a 444 Marlin, a 454 Casull, a 460 S&W or a 500 S&W. I think the 357 Mag., 44 Mag. and cartridges of similar length are generally more like 50 yard hunting cartridges.

If you go to bottle necked cartridges, there are a bunch that will give very good 100+ yard accuracy. I was yesterday, for the first time, shooting a 223 Ackley Improved and fireforming some cases in the process. Even with very preliminary load development, that gun is good for less than 1 inch off the bench at 100 yards.

March 7, 2007, 09:21 AM
How far away can you shoot 4” group? If you can do that @ 150yd with a 44mag 6 shooter you’ll nail plenty of deer. An XP-100 or Contender chambered in cartridge like 7-08 would be a better choice at distant ranges. If you wanted to stick to handgun ammo, but lack the accuracy necessary to make a clean kill, you might look into a lever action chambered in a pistol cartridge.

March 7, 2007, 07:29 PM
It takes a lot of "whack" to put down a deer. I've seen them get hit with a .454 or even a 12 gauge, go down, then get up and run off.

I'd forget the 45 acp. .44 mag will probably be as good as you are. Limiting factor will be operator error. 150 yards is a LONG poke with a muzzle loader or slug gun, Pistol makes it that much harder.

Can a pistol do it?? I was sighting in my .357 Herret Contender at 100 yards. A blackbird lit on the rise behind the target, maybe 125 yards. Took careful aim and splattered the bird. I had a scope, it was warm & dry with no wind, and I had a benchrest. Hard to carry a benchrest while hunting.

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