.357 and deer hunting


November 3, 2003, 07:56 PM
Before I start this, let me say that I know that there are better calibers for deer hunting, I am simply looking for actual experiences. How many of you have actually killed a deer with a .357 magnum? What were the particulars? How was the deer facing, what was the barrel length and bullet, etc. I know several guys that carry one as a back up while deer hunting, but no one I know has actually used it. I personally carry a .44, but some of these guys do not have anything besides a .357. Thanks.

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November 3, 2003, 09:56 PM
Not deer but hog (in AR). Check the 'penetration test' thread just below. I fully believe it would work on deer up to 50 yds or so if well placed.

Al Thompson
November 3, 2003, 10:30 PM
Stephen Camp has shot several deer with his 9mms and (probably) .357s. If you'll do a search, you can get some good info.

November 3, 2003, 10:59 PM
I have shot several deer with a 357, and some larger animals as well.

Shot placement is everything, just like ANY handgun hunting. If you can shoot, they will die quickly. If you cannot hit an apple at the range the deer is from you, you should NOT shoot.

357 is a plain KILLER, a bigtime killer if you do your part. A double lung hit with a 125 HP at 30 yards makes a 300 win mag with 150s look like a toy when it hits......

November 4, 2003, 02:22 PM
I've taken one buck with a .357 magnum. It was last year (2002). With only one I'm no expert, but with good shot placement, the buck I took ran less than any deer I've ever taken with muzzleloader or shotgun. He accuatly fell closer to me than where he was when I took the shot.

The particulars; S&W 686 with 4 inch barrel, 125gr JHP, buck stopped and standing. I was at his ten o'clock, roughly. He was around 15 yards away. I put the bullet in his chest, just in front of his left shoulder hopping to cross the chest cavity and exit the other side behind the right shoulder. Deer went forwards coming closer to me, but not right at me, stopped turned around almost 180 degree's and fell against a tree.

As I was skinning it, I found the bullet. It had went across the chest cavity and out the otherside of the ribs, but failed to get through the skin on the right side.

November 10, 2003, 03:45 PM
I've always used my S&W 686 - 1st gen with 4" barrel.

1st deer was taken with 158 grain Remington SJHPs. Four hits total, but the first was the killing shot. Hit him at about 15 yards and took out the bottom of the heart.

2nd was at approximately 20 yards, neck shot. 125 grain Federal SJHP. One shot, she bled out about 150 yards away. Nice sized doe, hit her while running broadside past me. I'm in a fence row, she's in the field.

3rd was also at approximately 20 yards. 4 point buck, walking broadside shot. Used the infamous Black Talons this time. First shot through the heart, second one, while he was running, just destroyed a leg.

Know your distance that you can keep them ALL on a 6" paper plate and go for it.

November 11, 2003, 02:38 AM
Last year I took a large doe at 63yds with a 6"GP100 using Winchester partition gold 180 grain. Missed the ribs, took out both lungs and just kept going (the bullet that is). The doe dropped like a rock!

November 11, 2003, 10:12 AM
I took my first deer with a handgun on my 21st birthday. (Don't ask the year!) I used an S&W M27 with a 5" barrel, a Sierra 150 grain jacketed hollow cavity, and a maximum charge of 2400 powder.

One shot, the deer went about 10-15 yards. Bullet hit just in front of his right shoulder and quartered backward towards his left hip. Range was about 20 yards.

Advice - just pick your shots, and be aware that few .357's will penetrate like a .30/06.

November 11, 2003, 12:42 PM
Yes, about ten years ago I shot a 4-point mule deer with my 4" GP-100 loaded with a 150gr. Nosler JSP @ 1450fps. It was a beautiful broadside shot @ 25yds. Took a half a dozen steps and fell.

November 17, 2003, 07:23 PM
I have taken two deer with 357's. The first was at 70 yards with a 6in Colt Python and 158grn semiwadcutters it ran about fifty yards then had to finished off with a second shot. Then second was a running side shot through both lungs at about 30 yrds -the gun was a 4in 686 with Eldorado Starfire HP's made a mess out of the lungs, that ran less than fifty yards and expired. IMHO shot placement is the key thing.

November 21, 2003, 11:19 PM
my first deer harvest was a doe with my 4 1/2" magnaport S&W 66. dead nuts through left brisket to behind right shoulder.... ran like fire for 15-20 yds and dropped .... popped her a couple more times, (most likely needless,
there was a ton of blood in the chest cavity.
Super X jhp ('silver bullet')

November 23, 2003, 05:52 PM
Has anyone hunted with a .357 Magnum lever-action rifle? With some of the slower powders, you can get that .357 bullet up to smokin' speeds, more than enough to take a deer.

Baron Holbach4
November 23, 2003, 06:33 PM
I reiterate Oracle's question of whether anyone has taken a deer
with a lever-action in .357 magnum? Obviously, the evidence
indicates that .357 magnum revolvers can also be used to take deer.
If not .357 revolvers, then why not .357 lever-action rifles?

November 23, 2003, 07:38 PM
Welcome to THR! I seem to remember Paco Kelly over at Sixgunner.com writing about taking a few with .357 rifle.

January 15, 2007, 03:22 AM
While searching archives tonight, I found this thread.

I found several very useful bits of information in here (see below), but was left hanging on a crucial point. Specifically, on this question by Baron Holbach4.

I reiterate Oracle's question of whether anyone has taken a deer
with a lever-action in .357 magnum? Obviously, the evidence
indicates that .357 magnum revolvers can also be used to take deer.
If not .357 revolvers, then why not .357 lever-action rifles?No answer ever came forth to that question, so I've revived this thread in search of an answer.

Here's some background on why. (Note: this is very similar to a post I just made in another thread (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=244473) about the same general topic. Apologies for the redundancy.)

I've been making noises for the last few months about getting a Marlin 336 (probably A or C) in .30-30 as my main (really, only *) centerfire rifle. It's main use would be deer. One can find several threads in THR that were started by me or with me as a partipant about that issue.

(* My only centerfire rifle? Yes, I'm a minimalist, looking for that optimal small toolkit, especially for emergency SHTF type scenarios. I'm also semi-nomadic, so a small toolkit is desirable. The optimal toolkit for me is one shotgun {got it}, one rimfire rifle {working on it}, one centerfire rifle {either .30-30 or ...well, read on}, and one or two handguns {see below}.)

In the last 24 hours, I've started considering a .357 handgun, probably something like a SW 686, SW 620 or a Ruger GP100. (I'm now considering selling a K9 and replacing it with a .357 mag revolver.)

I'd like to use said .357 mag revolver for both SD (in addition to my 642 in .38) and possibly for short range deer hunting. I'd prefer a 4" barrel for general all-round use, but am open to a 6" if it's substantially more effective for deer at 30 yds or less.

I've spent the evening reading threads on the .357 mag, and it's sufficiency for deer hunting, especially in a handgun (the answer is unequivocally "yes"), and whether a 4" barrel would be sufficient. In most threads on that caliber for deer, I'm finding that most recommend a 6" barrel for a .357 for deer. That makes sense in terms of extra velocity and sight radius.

Yet I was fascinated to read some surprising comments in this thread about the adequacy of a 4" .357 for deer, especially for shorter ranges.

I like the idea of having only limited types of ammo to deal with. Depending on the outcome of this research, for me, that could be 12 ga, .22 LR and .357/.38 spl. (Admittedly, even if I go with a .30-30 rifle, that's still not many types of ammo to deal with. But if I could make do without .30-30, then all the better.)

So, to my question: I can't find a reliable source of info anywhere comparing the ballistics of .357 mag out of an 1894C with the .30-30 from a 336. The Remington ballistics page (http://www.remington.com/products/ammunition/ballistics/) doesn't deal with handgun calibers.

I've read several comments in this and other threads to the effect of, "With appropriately hot rnds (e.g., Buffalo Bore), a .357 mag out of a carbine will rival a .30-30, at least inside 100 yds."

Could anyone offer up more information about that topic? For example, why only to 100 yds? My suspicion is that the .30-30 is still going to be more effective on deer past 100 yds, at least to, say, 150. But I'm no ballistics expert.

Any information comparing .357 mag in a carbine to .30-30 will be great, including links to good essays comparing those calibers, especially for deer, at modest ranges.

Opinions welcome.


January 15, 2007, 11:00 AM
I took a smallish antlerless male a month or so ago with an old Marlin 1894 in .357. The distance was about 45 yards, a broadside shot through one rib, then the lungs, through another rib and the back of the offside leg, and then downrange. There was no blood at the scene, but I was able to pick up a blood trail about ten yards from the point of impact. The deer was found about forty yards away in heavy brush.

I have made virtually identical shots with 30-06 and 30-30, so I can kind of use those results for a comparison. With the 30-06, there was tremendous internal damage, in some cases "blowing up" the deer. Part of that is due to the bullet used, I suppose. The 30-30 creates less damage, but disassembles everything in the chest cavity as it goes through. The .357 really just poked a hole all the way through, and damage to the heart and lungs was limited to within an inch or two of the wound channel. The end effect was the same in all cases though. Surprisingly, one of the deer hit with the 30-06, at closer range no less, ran twice as far as the one hit with the .357. There are so many variables that it is hard to make any firm conclusions.

So in a nutshell, the .357 works just fine if it is a good shot within a reasonable distance. For a ballistics comparison, my 30-30 loads send a 170gr flat point down range at 2000 fps (could be loaded hotter) out of my 336. The .357 loads in the 1894 send a 158gr load out at 1950 fps (with the exception of Buffalo Bore ammo, I don't think you can duplicate these results with factory .357 ammo). The real difference is downrange performance. The .357 slows rapidly. Using a ballistics program, the .357 above gives you 900 ft-lbs at 100 yds, and 600 ft-lbs at 200. The 30-30 above is 1,175 ft-lbs and 900 ft-lbs respectively. Remember, those values are calculated, and I would think the .357 values are a bit optimistic. I personally use 100 yards as my maximum range for the 1894/.357 simply because the trajectory past 100 yards requires more skill than I have in estimating distance.

As for choosing between 30-30 and .357, I would think that comes down to your preference in the rifles that shoot those rounds. Personally, if I were not a hunter and could only choose one, I would take the .357 based on its lighter recoil and slightly cheaper ammo. If I were a hunter and could choose only one, I would take the 30-30 based on its flatter trajectory and greater power, at the expense of slightly greater noise/recoil and cost of ammo. Given that most deer in the U.S. are taken at 100 yards or less, I would not put too much emphasis on effective range. Both calibers are available in quality, reasonably-priced, readily-available, accurate lever actions that are also a lot of fun. If you are looking for a used rifle, I have seen a lot more 30-30 levers than .357 levers available, simply because so many more 30-30's have been made (in the millions).

I also use only flat point bullets in the 1894 based on what I have read about the performace of hollow points out of a rifle. Apparently most .357 hollow points were designed to expand at downrange velocities provided by handguns, not at the higher rifle velocities, resulting in bullets that come apart rather then penetrate. Since I haven't used the hollowpoints, I can't confirm this.

Hope this helps.

January 15, 2007, 11:09 AM
I own a 20" Rossi M92 Carbine with which I've taken a doe at 80 yards. I cannot get .30-30 ballistics out of it, I can tell ya that. I've seen Buffalo Bore's claims on their site, the source of the "just like a .30-30" claims, and I am sceptical. Those rounds are hard to get (have to order 'em) and they're high, so I haven't ordered any to shoot over my chronograph.

The load I used on that doe is my 158 grain Lee gas check SWC hard cast and annealed over 14.5 grains of 2400. That's a hot load. It shoots 1827 fps at 1171 ft lbs. That ain't .30-30 territory, sorry guys, but it does a good job on whitetail out to 100 yards anyway. It's a lot more energy than my 6.5" blackhawk (765 ft lbs) with the same load and I've killed deer to 50 yards with the blackhawk.

Frankly, I have a lot better hunting rifles, keep the little Rossi because it's a hoot at the range as a plinker. It's about 4moa accurate with its ghost ring apperture sights and it's just fun to kill tin cans with. :D Of course, my .22s are fun, but they don't make the bang that Rossi does. But, in the .30-30 comparo, to put it in perspective, I get 2029 fps out of a 150 grain Nosler Ballistic tip out of my 12" TC Contender (favorite hunting handgun). It's packin' 1371 ft lbs at the muzzle and is STILL packin' as much at 100 yards as that .357 20" carbine does at the muzzle. At 200 yards it's packin' 962 ft lbs/1699 fps. Can you see why I'm sceptical of the Buffalo Bore claims? They may have found a better powder. 2400 isn't the newest powder on the market for .357, but I haven't been able to do any better with some of the newer stuff, specifically AA#9. But, Buffalo Bore could be using some magic concoction like Hornady does with that light magnum ammo, special powder dumping technique to pack in an overcharge of slower powder. I don't know, but I remain sceptical until I try some over my chrony. Since I'm a reloader, I can't find it in me to pay that much for ammo, though. LOL! Hell, I wouldn't use the stuff even if it is better. My .308 is still a superior hunting caliber to a .30-30 after all.

Anywho, as a practical matter for your SHTF stuff, yeah, a .357 carbine can hunt deer out to 100 yards just fine. Just don't stretch the range. That's a long ways for iron sights anyhow. I wouldn't recommend the gun as a first deer hunting rifle, but that's not the application. There is some merit in having common ammo with your handgun in such a situation and the .38/.357 is available at Walmarts everywhere. Super caliber to reload, too, if you get into that someday. It shoots cast bullets well. I originally got my carbine because I was hunting the piney woods of east Texas a lot and thought it'd be adequate and liked the idea of sharing ammo with my revolvers. I don't hunt those thickets anymore, but the idea of sharing ammo with a rifle for range plinking is still pretty cool.

That's my $.02 on the subject, anyway.

January 16, 2007, 03:44 AM
Kas and MC,

Thanks. From your posts, and those in another thread that I asked similar questions (MC is there, too), I'm thinking that the .30 or .35 may be the best rnd for this job.

.357 is likely to be one of my revolvers. But I'm feeling like sticking with .30 or .35 for the rifle. (Interesting that I could use .357 in the .35.)

January 16, 2007, 09:12 AM
I own a timberwolf carbine in 357 and shot a deer with it this year. It worked like a charm. I have hunted deer for more than 30 years and can honestly say that 99% of the deer I have shot were at distances that a 357 handgun or carbine would handle just fine. 50 yards or less. The 357 uses basically a flat nosed bullet and slows down rapidly compared to a 30-30 rifle round.

This is the reason for the limiting the range when using a handgun. BTW, in most states a hunting handgun has to have a longer barrel. In my state it is a 6 inch requirement. Check into it before you purchase a 4 incher to hunt with..

As to the ballistics comparison of a 30-30 to the 357 in a carbine it looks like this...
30-30 170 grain speer bullet at 2150 fps (this is my hunting load) zeroed at 100 yards (open sights).
Energy at the muzzle 1745 foot pounds. energy at 100 yards= 1271 foot pounds.
drop at 150 = -3.5 inches. energy at 150 yard = 1078 foot pounds.

The 357 mag fired from my 20 inch barrel timberwolf carbine...
I use the 158 grain soft point bullet for better penetration. speer 158 jsp at 1800 fps gives 1136 foot pounds at the muzzle at 50 yards it is only 887 foot pounds. at 100 yards it is it down to 690 foot pounds. At 150 yards it has dropped 6 inches below line of sight and has energy of only 543 foot pounds.

As you can see, the 357 starts out pretty good but looses energy rapidly. Experts used to say that to humanely hunt you should have a minimum of 1000 foot pounds at the range you are shooting to reliably kill a deer.

I have tried to stick close to this figure in planning my hunts. As you can see from the information above, the 30-30 starts out above this figure and stays above it all the way beyond 150 yards. The 357 mag fired from a carbine starts above that figure and is WAY below it at 150 yards. In fact it is below 1000 foot pounds at 30 yards. Other loads for the 357, such as the 125s slow down even quicker. I hope this helps, if I can be of any assistance just ask. BTW 357 bullets can be used in the 35, not the cartridges.

January 16, 2007, 04:21 PM

Very useful information. Thanks.

I'm becoming more convinced that whereas I want a .357 revolver (yes, I confess, I've got the fever), perhaps even for deer hunting as a back up and for thickets, I'm probably going to stick with either a .30 or .35 for the lever rifle.

I hear (and agree with) what everyone is saying about most deer being taken at 50 yds or less. I've never shot one, but my experience in the woods with them when backpacking or hiking is that I spot most of them close in.

Still, I would like to have that option of reaching out to 100-150 should the need arise, and it clearly looks like the .357 would be iffy at best for that for us average shooters.


CSA 357
January 16, 2007, 06:35 PM
well in the state of alabama you cant hunt deer with a 357, it must be 40 cal or larger, who comes up with these laws? i have killed deer with 45 acp, 44 mag, but never 357, why? i dont know i only have 5 357 magnums , i would use the 158 gr sp loaded hot! csa:neener:

January 16, 2007, 10:31 PM
Try a 158 XTP with about 16.6 grains of Lil-Gun. I'm shooting them at about 1700 fps out of my 10" TC Contender. The recoil from a few of those is enough to make a Marine friend of mine say "ouch" and give me my gun back. That load is below the maximum posted on the Hodgdon web site, and I'm sure it would speed up in a rifle.


January 17, 2007, 12:30 AM
Kansas uses both bullet diameter and case length to "set" regulations. For rifles, .357 meets both requirements, as does .45 Long Colt. The .45 ACP case it too short to qualify.

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