deer hunting handgun


July 21, 2009, 08:39 PM
OK, this is probably a frequently asked question, but what does everyone think is the best deer handgun? Thanks!

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July 21, 2009, 09:23 PM
TC Contender... in whatever caliber you like the most.... :)

I'm thinking about taking out my Ruger Redhawk in 44mag.

July 21, 2009, 10:42 PM
What format, revolver, semi, bolt, break action, falling block, cannon breech? What range, close, far, mid? How are you in handling recoil? Your question is a tad vague. I have many "best" handguns for deer, in every format above except falling block. I shoot "deer" calibers in .243 Win, 7-30 Waters, .284 Win, .308 Win, .357 Max, .375 Win, .41 Mag, .444 Marlin, .45LC, .454 Cassul, 45/70 Gov't, .475 Linebaugh, .480 Ruger and .50 Alaskan, plus a couple of my own wildcats that have no designation. All in various handguns and all great for deer. The point being there is no "best" one, just lots of greats ;-)

As long as you can hit accurately at a range suitable for the cartridge, you have the best.

July 21, 2009, 10:46 PM
.454 Cassull, I think I am going to take mine hunting this fall.

The .44 mag works pretty well, I got my first deer with a .44 mag but it was pretty close around 30 yards.

July 21, 2009, 10:49 PM
Both of the above post hit it on the nose. I personally use a .44 mag super redhawk 7 1/2" for fairly close shots. For longer shots I purcahsed a T/C Encore .308 win 15". A steady rest of some sort will prove to be very valuable for anything over 50 yards.

July 21, 2009, 10:50 PM
OK, thank you for such a great response, I guess I should add more info. It will be used in southern Michigan, and the states law requires it to be a straight walled cartridge. It will be used in cornfields and woods, so a variety of ranges would be great. I really don't think it will be used passed 100 yds. The gun must be enjoyable to shoot, so 475 linebaugh is out of the question. I reload, so cost of caliber is not the biggest issue. The type of gun is not such a issue. I know there is no "best" but I am looking for what others consider their favorite.

July 21, 2009, 11:20 PM
My SRH in .454 Casull has taken several deer and a bunch of pigs as well as other misc. game. It has a Burris 2x scope on it and I've since put on Hogue grips, which tame the recoil some.

July 21, 2009, 11:22 PM
I've deer hunted with a 629 six inch for years. Used everything from a 240 grain bullet to what I use now a 275 grain Keith Style bullet. I don't know how many deer I've taken with it, I'd say and average of two a year since some time in the early to mid eighties.

July 21, 2009, 11:28 PM
Your hunting requirements sound similar to mine. I started with a 7mm-08 with a 15in barrel on my encore frame but it was just too long. I have since switched to a 10in 44 mag and am in love. light, easy to shoot, with a long enough barrel to get some good performance. a 10 or 12 in tube in 44 mag would probably suit your needs for a 100 yd and in gun well. The encore frame is a good bit heavier than the contender, so it does help soak up recoil as well- but not so much as to be prohibitive to carry.

July 21, 2009, 11:29 PM
There was a similar discussion not to long ago about the need for a straight walled cartridge. I think the OP settled on a 45/70 in a T/C Encore. Inside a 100 yards the .44 mag will perform if you do your part. The gun you buy will have alot to do with how enjoyble any given caliber will handle. A 475 Linebaugh is not bad in a heavy framed gun. Check into blackhawks or redhawks in .44 mag, .41, or 454 casual. Encores or Contenders are a fine choice as well. If you were to decide on a rifle cartridge over a handugn cartridge i would strongly suggest the Encore over the Contender. A longer barrel length and alot heavier overall. I have fired a 45/70 from a 15" encore and didn't think it was all to bad. I have not fired the same from a contender but I do own one in .35 rem. Not terrible but not really that comfortable either.

July 22, 2009, 07:53 AM
My hunting handgun is a Freedom Arms Model 83 in .454 Casull. My current model is a 7.5" Premier grade gun and is the third M83 I have owned. The first was a Field Grade in .454 with the same barrel length that I bought in 1995, and the second was a 4-5/8" .44 Magnum Premier Grade in 1997. Those two are gone, replaced by the current gun. There is a lesson there somewhere for me.

For deer, I load something closer to a hot .45 Colt than to a full-power .454 load. For deer in Michigan, a 250-grain Hornady HP/XP bullet at 1200 fps is more than sufficient. Now that I am in Alabama where the deer are smaller (my last one weighed less than 120 pounds), I have dropped the velocity down to 1100 fps. No need to load a 260-grain hard cast slug at 1800 fps for deer -- unless you have two of them lined up and are filling your tag with one shot. :neener: In all seriousness, the purpose-specific .454 bullets are hard and penetrate as well as anything.

I like the FA revolver because it is easy to carry in the field, accurate enough for any hunting situation I can find, handles loads for a wide variety of game, and a joy to shoot. I can load it down for small game or up for pigs. Brass is easy to find, a wide variety of .451/.452 bullets exist, and loading data is plentiful.

I would look for used models as they are prevalent and sell at a hefty discount to the original sales price. I picked up an immaculate M83 Field Grade for less than $900 not too long ago. That is not too much more money than a new Super Redhawk in the same caliber. It is going to be my father-in-law's Christmas present.

July 22, 2009, 08:43 AM
the states law requires it to be a straight walled cartridge

That eliminates a lot of options but there are still many to choose from. I like my 12" Contender (14" cut down, for carry) in .375 Winchester for an all-around big game getter. Everything from deer to moose out to 150 yards and beyond. In the Contender you could also look at the .357 Maximum which is ballistically superior to the .44 Mag with less perceived recoil. The 45/70 is a real hammer, on both ends, but will take any game animal on this continent.
The 44 Mag starts to hit the wall at 100 yards but will work and ammo is available everywhere should you have the need, as is .454 Cassul although recoil gets bit stout. One of my favorite revolvers is a Ruger Bisley in 45LC loaded to the max+ which nears the Cassul (with factory ammo) in performance.
On the big kickers you can have a muzzle brake installed to reduce the recoil, but the noise level increases exponentially and hearing protection is then a must, although it is always recommended.

July 22, 2009, 06:48 PM
In the Contender you could also look at the .357 Maximum which is ballistically superior to the .44 Mag with less perceived recoil.

Is there any other handguns available in 357 maximum? That sounds like a good idea, as it would use the same reloading stuff as 357 mag, but is brass available for it?

July 22, 2009, 07:37 PM
I gues there is all kinds of handgun hunting for deer. Eastern woods shots on whitetails, Western shots on mulies at 250 yards. A .44 magnum is stretching it on a mule deer at 125 yards. However, when I think of handgun, I think a gun that fits in a holster, for convenience sake. I have lugged a Contender around, and it just ain't the same. Give me a holster gun, and let me stalk or hold my shot for the better range.

steel shooter
July 22, 2009, 08:57 PM
Even though you are limited to a straight wall case,I truly love shooting my T/C Contender 14'' 30-30win with reduced loads.With a scope on it,one can easily( with some practice) shoot off hand standing.My silhouette shooting is out to 200m but I think one can do at least 150yrs rested no problem on game and be effective.Of couse if you can handle it,Ithink T/C made or still does make a 444marlin bbl.That is a straight wall case

July 22, 2009, 09:39 PM
If I had to shoot a straight wall cartridge, I'd get a .45-70 barrel for my Contender. Texas has no such requirement and my .30-30 (12" hunter barrel) has knocked down 5 so far. 3" groups at 200 yards with a 2x scope. Put that down your revolver pipe and smoke it.:neener:

BTW, get an uncle mike's shoulder holster. I've even conceal carried my TC into a convenience store for coffee after a morning on the stand. :D Belt holsters are stupid sitting in a stand's seat, anyway, just get in the way.

BTW...edit...I haven't looked at TC barrels in a while, but the "hunter" compensated barrel, if it's still offered, really quells recoil a LOT. My .30-30 feels more like a .38 in a K frame, VERY mild recoil. It's loud and in a box blind for sure, I'll take my hearing protection. Ain't bad in the open, though. Always wear hearing protection even with .22s at the range.

A little spike I took at 90 yards with the gun....

July 22, 2009, 09:45 PM
.375 H&H Magnum

July 22, 2009, 09:52 PM
witch ever you decide on pratice and pratice and then pratice some more and when you think that your good enough pratice again a rule of thumb is myour max range is how ever far you can keep all six in a 10'' paper plate and then that is your max range. I shoot a SBH in 44mag and 50 yds is my max range. I also use a contender in 7-30waters and 44mag with it scoped and off a rest my max now is 100 yds I have shot a 1/2 in groop 3 times with the 7-30. So a 10'' paper plate every time now. but it took me some time to get there..

July 22, 2009, 11:28 PM
Is there any other handguns available in 357 maximum?

Ruger made a long cylinder Blackhawk single action in .357 Max many years back but stopped as there was a problem with flame cutting the top strap. There are a lot out there and they come up for sale now and again, check GunBroker and AuctionArms often. You could expect to shell out around $750 for one and with normal hunting use they will last just fine fine.

FLIPAJIG.......Great advise :-)

.38 Special
July 23, 2009, 12:03 AM
My preference is a revolver, and it's hard for me to imagine a better general-purpose hunting revolver than the Ruger Bisley in .45 Colt. The Bisley grip handles recoil better than any other I am familiar with, and the old Colt -- in the strong Ruger guns -- can be loaded with anything from "cowboy" plinking loads all the way up to fire-breathing dangerous game loads that approach .454 levels.

July 23, 2009, 06:41 AM
I personally use a Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44 magnum. I took a doe with it at 90 yards last November. The hollow point I shot her with passed all the way through and she only went about 30 yards. I would say the .44 has more than enough power

July 23, 2009, 03:29 PM
Mine for over 2 decades is this stainless 7.5" Ruger Redhawk in .41mag with a 2x Leuopold EER Scope. I have taken dozens of Texas Whitetails, 3 Mule Deer and a record book Fallow Deer. Lets not even get started on all the hogs I have taken with this gun.

July 23, 2009, 03:38 PM
I vote .44/.45 Blackhawk. Even with factory sights, mine is very accurate at 100 yards. With good ammo,it should stop any deer.

July 23, 2009, 03:41 PM
Far as I can tell, deer aren't any harder to kill today then they were 100 years ago.

Back then a 38-40 or 44-40 Winchester was plenty of deer gun.

Today, a .41 Mag, .44 Mag, or 45 Colt is plenty enough gun if you can handle the recoil well enough to put the bullet where it needs to go.
Any of the three put the 44-40 in the shade.

There is absolutely no need for more power then that to put a bullet clear through a deer.

More recoil & blast then they produce is more then many folks can shoot accurately.
And all the power in the world does no good if you flench and make a gut shot, or miss entirely!


July 23, 2009, 04:36 PM
Actually, I've killed several with the .357 Mag and it did a great job. I'm getting just shy of 800 ft lbs at the muzzle of my 6.5" Blackhawk with my handloads. Still prefer the Contender, though. It gives me at least 3 times the effective range from my stand's rest. I limit handgun shots with the .357 to 50 yards. The Contender can shoot as far as I can see out there and is surgically accurate. That thing will embarrass your run of the mill deer RIFLE, let alone handgun.

steel shooter
July 23, 2009, 07:47 PM
41 Mag.Yes I forgot all about them.I personally do not have one but a friend of mine does and we are starting to work up some hand loads for it.Many people that have them truly love them.Slightly more recoil than a 357 with almost the punch of a 44mag.Should and probably be the right choice.Very accurate also I'm told

July 23, 2009, 09:43 PM
Did someone say .41 Mag?

July 24, 2009, 01:55 AM
Thanks everyone, there have been many great suggestions so far!

July 26, 2009, 02:17 PM
A few years back I went looking for a handgun for deer hunting for the same reasons that you are. I tried a 7 1/2" Super Redhawk in 44 mag and didn't like it. Reasonably accurate and built like a tank. However for me it was just to heavy, not well balanced, and just plain never felt right in the hand. It remains the only handgun I have ever gotten rid of. After that I went with an Encore with a 10" 454 barrel and a Burris 2-7 scope. I like the additional range you get with the 454 and it is scary accurate. The recoil is manageable, plus you have to ability to use any number of different barrels. I also use an iron sighted 6" 629. I find it to be every thing that the Super Redhawk is not; well balanced, not to heavy, carries well on the hip, feels perfect in the hand. To my mind to perfect 44 mag revolver and a great complement to the Encore.

July 26, 2009, 02:38 PM
Straight walled cartridge rules out rifle cartridges in things like the TC Contender/Encore. If you think the 475 Linebaugh is too much, I suspect the 454 casull is also too much unless you have a fair amount of experience shooting the harder recoiling handguns. Deer hunting with a handgun is a blast! I love it and feel quite capable out to 75 yds. I would take a 100 yd shot from a stready rest however if necessary.

I use a scoped Ruger Super Redhawk in 480 Ruger as my current deer hunting handgun. It packs a punch. I also have used a 41 mag revolver which is what I recommend for you to get used to; that or a 44 mag. Choose one with a barrel length of around 6" for easier mobility. I used a Smith Model 57 with 8 3/8" barrel but it was harder to carry. The new Model 57 Classic would be an excellent choice in 41 mag and since you reload, that will eventually make it easier for you to tailor your loads. Keep the bullet weight under 250 grs in general. My hunting woods carry when I am hunting with a rifle is a 4" Model 57 Mountain Gun carried in a belt holster. It is there for targets of opportunity. I hunt mostly woods, so I rarely have a shot over 75 yds and the handgun works well for that.

July 26, 2009, 03:21 PM
I've only killed one deer with a 9mm, however it was very close and a percise shot.

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