.44 Mag (lever gun) and 240 gr. XTPs on deer?


April 9, 2008, 08:48 PM
I bought a new Marlin 1894 in .44 mag last year and mounted halo sights on it. I've only shot Hornady XTPs with H110 powder (max at 24 grains) because I get 3" 10 shot groups at 50 yards (halo sights are amazing). I hear a lot of people saying to use FMJ on deer because it will go through both sides and leave a better blood trail. My question is how doe the 240 grain Hornady XTPs do on deer under 100 yards? Any personal experience?

Also, what is a good practice load with cheaper bullets? Less powder?

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April 9, 2008, 08:53 PM
I have used the 240 GR. XTP's in my .50 CAL. muzlleloader before and must say they will drop them in their tracks. Not sure what the difference in power is between your .44 MAG rifle and a muzzleloader but I would say your rifle will do just fine. I don't care about the FMJ for animals. I think you will have better results with the XTP.

April 9, 2008, 08:55 PM
Anybody that uses a FMJ (I assume you mean full metal jacket) on deer is not only an idiot, but it's also illegal in many states.

Only problem with XTP's is that the expansion may be too much at rifle velocities. If you hit big bone (shoulder) they may blow apart rather than penetrate enough. I do know several guys that use them with good results and swear by them.

I use . 44 caliber 300 grain Nosler SP's in my Knight BP rifle and get absolutely excellent performance.

Triple S
April 9, 2008, 08:56 PM
I have a very similar set up and the XTP is a great choice for deer. For factory stuff, the Hornady XTP is my favorite load, but if you handload (which it sounds like you do) try the Barnes XPB. Loaded correctly, it is my favorite .44 load for deer. I highly recommend that you do not shoot FMJ's. Yes, they "can" work, but the XTP and Barnes bullet will do SO much of a better job.

April 9, 2008, 09:02 PM
I have used the 240 grain xtp's on 5 Deer so far. Exit wounds on all Five. My rifle is a Ruger model 96. A plinking/cheaper load uses HS-6 and 240 Lazercast SWC's. For a Hog or Black Bear load 300 Grain Speer JSP. Or LBT 320 grain swc over H-110

April 15, 2008, 12:20 AM
I use a 240 xtp with 23.5 grains of H110 out of my marlin 1894 44mag. Did they mean cast instead of fmj?
That load gives me 1750 fps out of my marlin with the 20" barrel. According to hornady the 44 240xtp works from 1750 fps down to 800 fps.
Stick with 240 xtp and you cannot go wrong. Go to go2gbo.com and look under handgun hunting, very informative about 44mag bullets jacketed and cast. Also the xtp is
.430 versus .429 and in my marlin and others the bores are closer to
.430 and up. For plinking I have not decided on that yet for mine.

Steve in PA
April 15, 2008, 03:06 AM
I've never heard of anyone using FMJ for deer. In fact, its probably illegal in most states.

I use the 240gr XTP's for handgun hunting and have taken several deer with the load. My scoped SRH will group inside 3" at 100yds.

April 15, 2008, 03:24 AM
Here in NH (New Hampshire) The use of FMJ is legal to hunt dear. I do it all the time with my Winchester .308. I have to agree with the statement about the blood trail, two holes more blood dropping to find. My dad has a lever action .44mag rifle and we use American eagle HP ammo (it's half jacketed for some reason) and man the damage that round does is devastating. I am not sure the grain of the bullets never did pay attention, but I know what it does when it hits. Bang-thud nuff said.

BTW why is it illegal in some/most states to use FMJ when hunting??? over-pen is my guess but still why???

Steve in PA
April 15, 2008, 07:59 AM
Lack of clean kills. A non-expanding bullet does very little damage other than putting a couple of rather small holes in the animal.

I would never hunt a deer or bear with FMJ ammo.

April 15, 2008, 08:48 AM
I have not used the Hornady 240 Gr XTP on game, but it is a good bullet. I would call Hornady and ask them how it will hold up at rifle velocities.

I do know the 270 Gold Dot will hold up and drop them real well. I load them with AA #9. I recently gave my older son my Winchester .44 mag, like I promised some years ago. I would like to replace it with a Marlin one of these days. Great caliber for short shots (150 yds and in) around here. Not many use it, but it works real well.

April 15, 2008, 09:33 AM
I use the 240 XTP in a load that works well in both my handgun and my Winchester lever rifle. effective and convenient.

Cocked & Locked
April 15, 2008, 10:11 AM
My dad has a lever action .44mag rifle and we use American eagle HP ammo (it's half jacketed for some reason) and man the damage that round does is devastating.

That is a JSP (jacketed soft point), designed to expand and penetrate. Those are my preference for .44 rifle hunting deer.

I handload and shoot 240 grain XTP JHP's, but my deer hunting preference is Winchester White Box 240 grain jacketed Soft Points. The Winchester ones leave two holes.




April 22, 2008, 06:32 PM
I'm moving to Indiana and they only allow basically straight-wall rifle or shotgun slugs. As such, I will likely be trying to hunt with a Ruger 96/44. I've only ever hunted with 270 or 30-06 high-powered rifles...what is the effective range of .44 Mag on whitetail assuming quality ammunition?

Thanks for answering a newbie's question!

April 22, 2008, 06:54 PM
FMJ on deer or any bigger game animal is irresponsible in my opinon.
You want the bullet to expand at the correct depth and cause a fatal injury immediately. FMJ's "go thru" fast.... not causing a humane strike.
Opt for an expanding bullet please....

April 22, 2008, 07:15 PM
I have only slight experience myself at hunting (one russian boar with a 44 handgun) but everything I have read leads me to believe that cast bullets are good killers in a 44. If you think about it the 44 bullet is allready about the size one would hope a 243 or even a 308 would expand to.
I wouldn't run them in a Marlin "micro Grove" barrel but in my Marlin cowboy with cut rifleing (as I believe the newer marlins are) Lead is all I run and I wouldn't hesitate to hunt with it. again this is from what I read,not personal experience.
The semi wadcutter is supposed to cut a decent wound and the cast bullet will mash some but still have the toughfness to smash thru bone.
In my Marlin a 240 plain base commercial cast semi wadcutter backed by a stiff load of 2400 is very accurate and gets going at a decent clip.
Now a 44 mag has terrible balistics if you compare it to say a 30-06 or a 7mm mag (on paper)but the deer or boar won't know this and if you take the time to learn how the trajectory works anything within 150 yards is dinner on the table

North of 49th
April 22, 2008, 10:37 PM
Would never use a FMJ on any animal. It not only over-penetrates but also will not give you the same chances for a quick kill. Never-mind it being illegal in Canada not to mention much of the US too.

Personally I think that .44 is a bit big for deer. That being said it would use a Jacked Soft Point. (Good penetration and not too much expansion.)

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