.357mag for deer?


October 8, 2008, 08:14 PM
I picked up a Winchester Model 94AE in .357mag with a 16 inch barrel. What would be the effective range for deer with this carbine? 50-60 yards? What would be a good load in .357mag for deer?

These loads from Buffalo Bore look impressive:

18.5 inch Marlin 1894

a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard Cast = 1851 fps
b. Item 19B/20-170gr. JHC = 1860 fps
c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Speer Uni Core = 2153 fps---- Can you believe this?!!!
d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Speer Uni Core = 2298 fps---- Or this?!!!

They say that load c., the 158gr Speer Uni Core exceeds 30-30 energies!

What say y'all?


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October 8, 2008, 10:53 PM
The 357 mag from a rifle has about the same energy at 100 yards as a 6" barreled revolver has at the muzzle.

A 357 in a handgun is considered a 50-75 yard deer round. In theory the rifle would be effective to about 150 yards. I think I would consider a 100-125 yard range as the max.

The sights are more of a limiter than the round.

Congrats on your find. I bet you end up really liking that rifle. My Marlin 357 is my favorite rifle.

October 8, 2008, 11:11 PM
I have a 44 mag with 20 inch octagon barrel.
The more i shoot that thing, the more I think i should have gotten the .357.
Maybe Christmas:)

October 8, 2008, 11:40 PM
A 357 in a handgun is considered a 50-75 yard deer round. In theory the rifle would be effective to about 150 yards. I think I would consider a 100-125 yard range as the max.

I agree.....I have taken deer with my Model 19 and Aimpoint MKlll at 60yards....my Rossi 357 lever gun was good to 125 yds

October 8, 2008, 11:55 PM
They say that load c., the 158gr Speer Uni Core exceeds 30-30 energies

From a muzzle energy standpoint, that round comes up about 15% less energy than your "standard" 30-30 round ((150gr @ 2390))

October 9, 2008, 09:00 AM
I would be inclined to go with load "B" as long as it is accurate.


October 9, 2008, 11:22 AM
I would go with A, B or C not D. Use at least a 158 grain bullet. Any of the three should do the trick to at least 125 yds.

October 9, 2008, 12:09 PM
Yep, I'd stay away from the lighter bullets - I'd want 158 grains as a starting point, and think with the more modern bullets you'd actually have a good chance at expansion at 100 yards. Heavy SWC would be my second choice to an expanding bullet, but the 125 grain, to me, is something for BGs and varmints, (haha, that's redundant, isn't it :D).

October 10, 2008, 08:37 AM
Thanks all!

Couple of follow up questions.

1. Can I shoot .38 specials out of my Winchester 94AE Carbine?

2. What range should I sight it in for? 100 yards? Less? What would be the 50 yard point of impact to get it sighted in at 100 yards, 1.5 or 2 inchs high? (I can shoot 50 yards safely in the backyard)

As an aside, I'm thinking of taking my GF's son deer hunting with it. He is 10 yrs old, but quite small for his age. I don't think he's big enough to shoot my .243 or 30-30 yet.



October 10, 2008, 11:03 AM
1. Can I shoot .38 specials out of my Winchester 94AE Carbine?

2. What range should I sight it in for? 100 yards? Less? What would be the 50 yard point of impact to get it sighted in at 100 yards, 1.5 or 2 inchs high? (I can shoot 50 yards safely in the backyard)

Answer 1 - Absolutely. Shoot 'em all day long and have fun. Your lever action won't likely feed full wadcutter ammo though. Mine doesn't. I don't know if the Winchester's mag will give you "one more" in the magazine with 38, since the 38 is about a tenth of an inch shorter, but you'll find shooting 38 ammo will be very easy on your budget and fine for small animals and plinking.

2 - That depends on where you figure you will actually be engaging targets. I have my 357 Puma (a '92 copy) sighted two inches high at 50 yards, but with lots of ammo, it'll drop more than 2 inches between the 50 yards and 100. That's all a matter of which load you're using, though. If I were deer hunting with it and figured for 100 yards, I'd start by zeroing a couple inches high at 50 yards then checking it by actually shooting targets at 100. Some of us have ballistic software that can calculate the actual drop, but we'd need actual data to do that - or for a lot of factory loads, you can find the trajectory tables online.

Oh by the way - your GF's son will probably really appreciate it if you start him with .38 ammo like lead 158's or something even lighter if you can find Cowboy Action ammo. My Puma, with it's hard buttplate, is a bit unpleasant for my 12-year old to shoot with full power .357 hunting ammo. Better to get him comfy with it at the range first, then see the difference between plinking and hunting ammo, than to make it unpleasant for him and get him flinching. Good of you to take him, he may like you a lot more for it.

October 10, 2008, 11:39 AM
Oh by the way - your GF's son will probably really appreciate it if you start him with .38 ammo

I would definitely start him out with .38 ammo!!

I'm thinking about using this load (for actual hunting):

c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Speer Uni Core = 2153 fps

2 inches high at 50 yards or would I need less elevation with this load? Do you think the advertised ballistics are legit? I'd be using the 16" barrel, not the 18.5 inch buffalo bore tested the load with.

October 10, 2008, 11:53 AM
That load will give you max penetration from any angle and limit tissue destruction.

October 10, 2008, 11:54 AM
The 158 grain bullet at 2150 FPS (oooh, hot, hot!) won't be dropping the six inches I'd expect at a hundred yards. I don't have my ballistic calculator with me (at work) but if you're zeroed two inches high at fifty, you'd probably get close to four inches drop at 100, maybe less, so you'd be a couple inches low. I'll have to fire up a ballistics program later to get more precise.

2150 FPS is just smoking for a .357/158. Gads. Make sure YOU try shooting this one first before you hand it over to a 10-year old. That carbine's light and the load is impressive. Want to try Junior with factory Speer (or similar) 158-grain hollow points or something a bit more tame first? I doubt my boy would like the Buffalo Bore ammo, worthy as it is for you or me.

The usual "ladder type" elevation on lever actions make it difficult to get much more precise, but that should get you in the right direction. If you're hunting in woods so the 100 yard shot will never happen, feel free to zero at fifty.

The published ballistics are pretty close - they're hard to duplicate precisely even between two rifles with same barrel length. For all practical purposes, though, since this isn't a match rifle or sniper rifle deal, and a ten year old shooter, my bet is you'll have more flinch and "buck fever" to deal with than raw ballistics. Should be fun, though, and a great "male bonding" experience.

October 10, 2008, 02:18 PM
Look up Hornatty (spellin ?) Lever-ution. They have a scope/bullets combo so you can shoot with a .357 rifle out too 300 yds.

October 10, 2008, 02:22 PM
Ow, jeez! :what:

October 10, 2008, 02:44 PM
Should be fine for normal woods ranges. I'd use A or C. Probably easier to find the 180 grain hard cast.

I would also sight it in at 50 yds a little high; 1 or 2". Should be pretty good out to 100 yds. I would shoot a little at that range to see where it hits however.

October 10, 2008, 07:59 PM
Thanks all!

My Winchester 94 30-30 weighs 6lbs 4oz, the 357 carbine an even 6lbs. Do you think that Buffalo Bore load C (158gr speer unicore@2150fps) might recoil pretty close to my 30-30 with 150gr loads? I kinda like that load since I think it would double real well as a "home defense carbine" load and a "truck gun" load. But if it kicks too much, he probably will be intimidated by it. He was a little intimidated by my AR-15 in 5.56/.223 when I let him shoot a few rounds. The AR doesn't really recoil much, but I think maybe the significantly increased noise over his youth .22lr might be a large part of the problem. I would definitely start with .38 special and work have him work his way up! He needs to be able to demonstrate that he can hit a deer vital sized target consistenly at 50yards or so though, so if the recoil is likely to be too much, I'll need to reconsider my plan. I'd like to take him hunting, not wounding!!


October 10, 2008, 08:03 PM
I guess what I need is a .357 load that will reliably and cleanly take deer at, say 50-60yards, but does not recoil too much for a small 10year old boy to handle.



October 10, 2008, 10:56 PM
I had a look at the Speer 158 grain hunting loads listed on their website. I think what they sell may be a good choice for the younger man. The Buffalo Bore stuff is impressive, but it may be overkill for a young lad just learning. I'd get the Speer (or simlar manufacturer;s standard ammo and see how that works. Maybe junior will surprise you with a need for more firepower like the Buffalo Bore - but I don't think many kids could handle it without developing a flinch.

October 11, 2008, 07:56 AM
Well, I think you're on the right track. I've trained new shooters and young hunters... and working them up is the way to go, for sure.

Starting with 38 and seeing how that goes makes lots of sense. There's plenty of .357 ammo short of the Buffalo Bore stuff that you can try.

My whole point was that it's a big jump, and to err on the side of caution, I'd want to try at least one load in .357 somewherere between the .38 and Buffalo Bore - at the range - just to see how things are going. Hey, if the lad gets happy over the Speer or Hornady (whatever) .357 loads, go for it.

You're right on about going hunting, not wounding. Best of luck - both hunting and doing right by the young fellow. :D

October 11, 2008, 09:14 AM
Well, it appears that Speer's 158gr load is the "personal protection" Gold Dot with the thinner jacket, not the "hunting" Gold Dot Unicore with the thicker jacket. Would the 158gr load work well or would it fragment and not penetrate well at the higher carbine barrel velocity? The only "hunting" load they offer is a 170gr Gold Dot Soft Point at MV 1180fps. Maybe this would be a better bet? Or would the recoil be a lot more with the heavier bullet? The similar Buffalo Bore 170gr load runs at MV 1411fps. Both MV figures are from 4" barrels.


October 11, 2008, 09:33 AM
This looks promising, good reviews:

Federal Fusion 158gr JHP, MV 1240, ME 540


October 11, 2008, 10:42 AM
Hi BPL...

Here is a good online ballistics calculator for you....


... and an online recoil calculator at .....


"I guess what I need is a .357 load that will reliably and cleanly take deer at, say 50-60yards, but does not recoil too much for a small 10year old boy to handle."

I'll offer this line of thinking...

Loads for your young friend may well need to be with one of the assorted 125gr. JSP (or cast lead) bullets.

At the 50-60yd. max. that you should enforce, even a moderate-paced 125-grainer will do the job if the lad can place it right.

As you have noted when he shot your other centerfires - he will likely be bothered a lot more by the noise than by any real recoil. Almost all young/new shooters are. Unfortunately the 16" barrel on your AE is going to contribute negatively to that. So...

By dropping the bullet weight and not trying to squeeze all possible velocity from the load you will significantly reduce muzzle blast as well as recoil. And after all - you're talking shots at only 50-60 yds. so there is no need for a max-velocity load and at those distances a 125-grainer will be ample for deer - if the shot is placed well. nd it sounds as if you intend to see to it that there are no shots that aren't placed well.

Hopefully you'll be able to have headphones on him while he's practicing - they are great "anti-flinch protection". You might also have him practice wearing hunting cloths that offer him a bit more pad at the shoulder than street clothes do.

Good Luck !

Brett Byers AKA Slow
October 11, 2008, 10:56 AM
Ditto What Ratshooter Said

October 11, 2008, 01:00 PM
you should make sure that it is legal to use a 357 rifle in the first place to hunt deer with the game department. In Nebraska a rifle caliber has to have 900 ft lbs of energy at 100 yards to be legal. I don't believe there is any 357 load made that will do that out of a rifle at 100 yards. in a handgun the 357 would have to have 400 ft lbs of energy at 50 yards and while there are 357 loads that will meet that it isn't by much

October 11, 2008, 02:20 PM
In PA, the only caliber limitation for centerfire firearms is .27cal or higher for elk. For deer and black bear you may use "manually operated centerfire rifles, handguns and shotguns with all lead bullet or ball, or a bullet designed to expand on impact." We used to have a .24cal mimimum for deer, but it appears they dropped that restriction. There are minimum caliber/equipment requirements for muzzleloader, flintlock and archery hunting though. Always good to check though, as they do change the regs periodically!


October 11, 2008, 02:24 PM

I have trouble using those online recoil calculators because I never know the powder weight since that is not advertised. I'm not a reloader.



October 11, 2008, 02:39 PM
If you are not a reloader, then by all means consider the LeverEvolution from Hornady. I have talked to several people here in Wyoming this hunting season that have used it and love it. One gentleman was waiting to get his mulee and antelope into the processing joint. His antelope was at 145yds and his mulee was at around 135yds according to his Nikon rangefinder (oh daddy wants). Both were one shot one kill, said the mullee dropped in his tracks, the goat went about 20yrds before keeling over.

I personally have no experience with these bullets but the theory on them seems solid, and all of the reports from people I know and don't know, have been positive...both from levers and wheelies.


October 11, 2008, 05:03 PM
Hi BPL...

The Hornady 125gr. HP/XTP should be worth a try. It will produce 500+ ft./lbs of energy at 50yds even though it is underloaded for that bulet weight.
The recoil is nominally 3.0 ft./lbs.

That 3-lb. recoil is the same as a moderate 223 load with 50gr. bullets.

The 158gr. ammo loaded to produce the same energy at 50yds. as the 125gr. ammo will have a nominal recoil of slightly less than 5 lbs.

As I mentioned before, it is most likely the muzzle blast that will bother your young friend, not the recoil.

To get 1650fps - the 125-grainer will require 8grs. of powder (Unique) and the 158-grainers require 10 grains powder (Unique).


October 11, 2008, 05:08 PM
in a 357 mag the only bullets weights I would consider for deer hunting would be either a 158 grain or 180 grain bullet. no other bullet weight is going to give you the penetration

October 11, 2008, 08:43 PM

I'm a little leary of going too light with the bullet. I think I'd prefer the 158gr bullet as the minimum. You know, misjudge distance a little, maybe hit a shoulder instead of ribs. I'd like it DRT! What about the 158gr Hornady HP/XTP load, recoil less than 5lbs you say. Maybe that would work, or the 158gr Fusion load (which is cheaper!!).

If he can't accurately shoot a load that I feel is capable of reliably and cleanly taking a deer at 50-60 yards, maybe he needs to stick with the .22 and squirrels this season?? But, maybe after a few range sessions with .38 special...then try the 158gr .357! Earplugs and muffs. I have a PAST recoil pad as well. He's been shooting a youth .410 shotgun with his dad, but I don't know how accurately. I've also never fired a .410, so I don't know about the recoil.


October 11, 2008, 08:58 PM
Agreed - the 125-grainer offers no placement margin.

Both of the 158gr. factory loads you named ought to work at 50-75yds. and it will be very hard to find a factory load with sufficient power and less recoil. The .410 he's shooting may be a bit heavier than your rifle so it's hard to guess at a comparison but it seems unlikely the recoil will bother him much. Placement is still crucial with the 158-grainers but they will be better against bone.

Good luck

October 11, 2008, 11:01 PM
Not a bad idea! I mean, the crux of much of this conversation is how to get enough 'bang' for a fairly lightweight shooter to reliably nail a whitetail, with
no wish for wounding an animal.

I agree that 125 is too light - it's not a "deer bullet" in my opinion. My line of thinking was that while the Buffalo Bore stuff might be a bit stout, maybe something with a little less recoil would work for the young man. I'd forgotten about the LeverEvolution ammo. I haven't tried that yet. It's an idea that has merit.

I'm not saying the lad shouldn't shoot the Buffalo Bore stuff - my whole point was that between the .38 stuff to practice with and the ultimate BB ammo, it would be interesting so see how he did with, say, .357 mag @ 158 or so. I know that if I let my son shoot .38 in my carbine then handed him something at the far end of the spectrum, he'd think I'd sucker-punched him. :scrutiny:

October 12, 2008, 02:04 PM
Now, the Hornady LeveRevolution offering in .357mag is a 140gr FTX.


Presumable the FTX bullet is a hunting bullet, but since they don't release it to reloaders, I can't read about the bullet itself on their website. Here are their .357cal bullets:


It is also a bit difficult to compare with other loads as Hornady tests their handgun loads from an 8" barrel and the other manufacturers I've looked at use a 4" barrel. Anyway, isn't the LeveRevolution strength the ability to shoot a bit flatter at longer range? Would you still recommend it knowing that the sole offering is a 140gr bullet?



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