Hunting with a .500 SW or a 44. Mag? Experiance?


June 15, 2007, 07:06 PM
I have often thought about getting some sort of .44 mag or possible a .500 SW for some close to medium range whitetail hunting, but I have zero experance handgun hunting. What are some things to look for in a hunting revolver?

1.Minimum barrel length?

2. I dont want open sights, red dot or scope?

Possible choices for revolvers are SW or possibly a Ruger.

Any experiances with handgun hunting would be appricated!

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June 15, 2007, 08:33 PM
The most important thing to look for is accuracy.

I've never taken any big game with a revolver but I have with a Thompson/Center Contender in 357 Herrett with a scoped 10 inch barrel (the biggest animal was a black wildebeest). I've shot a 500 S&W revolver with a red dot sight and a T/C Encore with a scope and I have to say I prefer scopes.

If you play around with the loads a bit, the 500 S&W is usable, accuracy wise, for big game at 100 yards (about 2 to 4 inches off the bench) and very accurate at 50 yards. In my experience, the 44 Rem. Mag. doesn't do as well at 100 yards.

Even with a 3 inch barrel, the 500 S&W would have plenty of power for any hunting in North America. I don't like handgun barrels any longer than 15 inches and prefer them in the 10 to 12 inch range. Some states have specific requirements for handgun barrel lengths (in Ohio, they have to be at least 5 inches long).

jack the toad
June 15, 2007, 08:46 PM
I have a 44 and 500, both S&W, both 4". I've only used them for feral hogs but also would work for deer, etc. The 4" carrys well in a holster and is adequate for where I hunt.

June 15, 2007, 08:46 PM
What Grum said. I've cleanly harvested both mule & whitetail deer with both a .357 & a .41 mag. Both calibers you referenced would be sufficient, POWER-WISE. You have to be proficient, ACCURACY & CONSISTENCY-WISE. Select a caliber you shoot best and with which you are comfortable . . .

June 16, 2007, 01:07 PM
You will be fine with your choices. It is great fun. You really don't need a 500 S&W for deer hunting. Ammo is expensive and you need to develop some proficiency with the caliber at the range prior to hunting. But if that is what you want, go for it.

I use a 480 Ruger revolver as my deer hunting hand cannon. I have used a 41 magnum revolver, but have not actually scored with it. The 41 and 44 are both great choices for deer hunting at ranges to 100 yds or so if you are capable of hitting the target at that range. I chose the 480 Ruger because I felt it was more flexible and I have hopes of using it to hunt larger game than whitetails. Just so you know, I love the 41 magnum caliber.

I prefer a 6" to 7.5" (+/-) barrel for hunting with or without optics. Seems to be a great barrel length. If you are carrying a rifle in addition to the handgun, I would go with a 4" (no scope) for portability reasons. However, if you are perched in a box stand commonly used in Texas, portability really doesn't matter as you just lay it out where you can pick it up when you need it. The amount of energy or velocity loss is not that significant between a 4 or 6-inch handgun. It is generally easier for most people to shoot a 6" handgun accurately; but technically from a gun standpoint, there is no difference in accuracy.

I have not used a red dot, but have used scopes. The red dot is quicker to get on target as I understand it and based on messing with them. The scope gives you a more precise aiming point.

June 17, 2007, 09:03 AM
Some states do have minimum barrel length requirements. Six inch is about right, longer barrels can be awkward to carry and find holsters for. Most likely all your shots will be taken at 100 yards or less. Longer shots are possible, be mindful that the .44 drops like a rainbow between 100-to-200 yards.

Big Daddy K
June 17, 2007, 09:34 AM
I have a New style Ruger Blackhawk in 44 mag. 7.5" barrel with adjustable sights.
I love to shoot 44 spl and cowboy loads out of it.
With 240 factory mags it is plenty for anything I plan on hunting.

I also like the 41 mag but do not own one at this time. Looking at Taurus Tracker in that caliber.

Dont under estimate the 357 mag. There is another thread on this caliber and hunting somewhere. I had a GP 100 and traded for the Blackhawk. Wish I kept it and just bought the Blackhawk.
I learned on this forum that federal makes a 180 gn cast bullet for hunting in 357.

June 17, 2007, 10:13 AM
I've hunted with both, and with a .460 S&W Magnum.

The .44 (6" barrel) is pretty much only a wild boar gun for me. I've used it a lot. I put a red dot on it, but I find that I can find and aim with a fiber optic front sight a little faster, particularly in the bright sunlight aiming into shade. I wouldn't mind hunting whitetail with it, but never have. Red dot or scope, probably no difference, though I prefer the precision of a reticle. I try to limit any shots to 75 yards or closer, but it will do 100 yards. No more.

The .500 (8" barrel) works very well for 100 yards or more. It was scoped with a Burris variable (1-4x, IIRC), but I've since moved the scope off. I tried a red dot on it once at the range, but the red dot did not survive the first cylinder. It is, I think, overloaded for whitetail, or even big boar. The really hot loads are overloaded for everything. I think that's deliberate on S&W's part. Recoil is, well, "stout".

The .460 seems perfect for handgun hunting, to me. I can download for small stuff, upload for elk, and scoped it is good from contact distance to 150-200 yards, theoretically. I've got it set and ready to go this Fall, scoped with the Burris, sighted in at 100 yards, with the 150 and 200 drop identified on the reticle. How soon to October?

As to your question on barrel length, I've always gone with 6-8", believing that the loads required that much length to get velocity up. I also like the increased sighting plane. And a red dot or scope would look weird on a short barrel, IMO.

I've never shot a Ruger; can't help you there.

June 17, 2007, 11:31 AM
New Field & Stream magazine mentions their first choice for deer hunting with a handgun is the 44 magnum with Winchester 250 gr Partition Gold rounds.

Their second and third choices are the ones that cause some interest from me. No. 2 is the 480 Ruger. To quote them... "This wonderful cartridge provides a boost in power over the .44 magnum without the knuckle-mangling recoil of the .454 Casull." As they said.. "It comes in two loadings--a 325-grain bullet at 1350 fps and 400-grain at about 1200 fps. If that ain't enough, maybe you should be using a rifle."

The 45 Long Colt is their honorable mention caliber with Winchester 225-gr Silvertip Hollow Point bullet. They say it will serve you well out to 50 yards.

June 18, 2007, 09:03 AM
I LOVE to hunt with a handgun. I have taken deer with the TC Contender in 30-30 up to 175 yds! (More accident than not, but it dropped in its tracks!) Several taken closer and most are the 'bam-flop' kind if shot placement is good.

SHOT PLACEMENT is the KEY with handguns and especially 6-guns. I have taken several deer and hogs with the .44 mag. It is a wonderous tool at 6-gun ranges (and that means however far you can place your shots WELL). My latest .44 mag one was a 6-point whitetail at 65 yards through both lungs. It ran like most lung-shot deer do, but not far and with an easy trail to follow.

The .44 mag is hard to beat for a balance of accuracy, power, availability and price of ammo, variety of ammo, etc. I have used a Ruger Redhawk in .44 but my favorite is a Ruger (new model) hunter stainless with a 4X scope aboard. It is a TACKDRIVER for a 6-gun.

Get something you can AND WILL shoot A LOT and with enough oomph to do the job. Then Practice and place your shots.

Have a BLAST!-and good luck.

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