44 Mag questions for hunters


December 28, 2011, 07:44 AM
I'm about to pick up a S&W 29-3 with an 8 3/8" barrel. Its assigned use will be accompanying my daughter this November on her first deer hunt - I just don't think there's enough room in a 2-man ladder stand for 2 people, a pack, and 2 rifles. Primarily I will be using this for follow up shots.

All that being said - from the research I've done there are 2 schools of thought on the use of this round for deer hunting.

First - "it's a 44 Mag, any load will work for deer"

Second - "the heavier the bullet the better"

Any shot taken will be withing 40-45 yards due to trees and shrubbery.

Any advice from those that use this round for hunting can offer me?

I appreciate the assistance!

If you enjoyed reading about "44 Mag questions for hunters" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
December 28, 2011, 07:51 AM
Go for what is most accurate in your revolver. For me it's 240 gr. bullets (jacketed hollow points) but 180 gr. bullets would probably work fine as would heavier ones.

December 28, 2011, 07:58 AM
I would use a SWC 250 or there about.

December 28, 2011, 09:20 AM
in a 2-man ladder stand for 2 people 44 mag. Watch that the venting gas from between barrel & cylinder are not going in the direction of your daughter. Tell her to hold her ears before you shoot. this november. ? You do know what month this is? Right? :D

December 28, 2011, 09:26 AM
I like to get my loads dialed in and have lots of time to practice. I'm just not comfortable hunting with a load I haven't shot 200+ times. I want to know exactly where each round is going.

December 28, 2011, 09:28 AM
At 40-45 yards, it really does not matter what bullet you use, any commercially available .44mag round will be 100% lethal for deer sized game.

Grumulkin had it correct, shoot what is most accurate in your revolver and be done with it.

If you are not a reloader then your selection of bullets heavier than 240gr will be significantly narrower than those of us that do reload. I would say that something like a 240gr Hornady XTP would work perfectly for your intended purpose and as long as the accuracy is there.

Stay away from the really heavy for caliber/hot loads (300+ gr) offered by places like Cor-Bon, Buffalo Bore, Grizzly, Double Tap, etc... The S&W is not built to handle these top end max loads. Not to say you will grenade your gun but rather you will end up shooting it loose (excessive endshake) if you feed it a steady diet of them.

December 28, 2011, 06:48 PM
I like a 240 gr JSP over H110/W296. If you gotta go factory, WW White box 240gr JSPs are hard to beat.

Make sure your daughter and you wear ear protection. Having a handgun go off next to you in a deer stand is a very loud experience.

Metal Tiger
December 28, 2011, 07:17 PM
Hey Fat46,
If you ever are unhappy with that 29-3 with 8 3/8 barrel give me a call. I'm sure we could work something out. Love that pistol oooops I mean revolver.

December 28, 2011, 07:44 PM
240 gr. XTP out of my Super Blackhack Bisley pushed by 11.8 grs. Unique does the trick.

December 28, 2011, 07:46 PM
Use a 240 or lighter JHP.
Speer Gold Dot, or Hornady XTP for a little more penetration.

An average deer is no thicker then a real big dog, and easier to kill.

No reason to punch a clean .44 cal hole through one with a SP or SWC and expend all the energy in the dirt behind it.

A JHP will expand and destroy both lungs.
Then when the deer runs 50-70 yards before it knows it is dead?

You have a big frothy blood trail to follow to find it.

And a big plus+ on your daughter not getting in the way of the cylinder / barrel gap blast, or the muzzle blast without hearing protection!


December 28, 2011, 08:41 PM
I have to agree that a 240 GR JHP over H110 is just the ticket.:D My 10.5 inch SBH likes the max load. For deer I prefer it over the 30-30 where I hunt.

December 29, 2011, 04:39 PM
A 200 gr or 225 gr. JHP will do just fine. And a middle of the road H110 or 296 powder charge will also take care of any pesty deer at that distance.

December 29, 2011, 04:46 PM
Thanks all - I'm going to start with the 240GR XTP over H110 and play with the charge to see where the revolver likes it.

Also - thanks for the advice regarding barrel/cylinder and muzzle blast. Hearing protection is mandatory for me, and being right handed I'll make sure she sits on my left to minimize the gap blast

December 30, 2011, 09:40 AM
i have read someplace that bullets over 250 grains are not the bast choice for Smith and Wesson 44 magnums. i do not remember their reasoning, but i am thinking it had to do with longevity of the gun. i have never shot anything over 240's out of mine. that is plenty of recoil for me. and plenty of bullet for a whitetail. if i were going to go after bear with it, i might try something heavier, but the only way i will be shooting at bear is if one is going to attack me. i just have no interest in bear hunting.

December 31, 2011, 12:16 AM
Any advice from those that use this round for hunting can offer me?
Handgun hunting is not something that should be undertaken willy nilly. I would suggest a hell of a lot more shooting than 200rds before pointing it at a critter. Actually, 200rds a month would be considered hardly adequate.

The XTP and Gold Dot bullets are good ones, I prefer Speers due to their bonded design. Too many horror stories of jacket/core seperation with XTP's. I would suggest no lighter than 240gr. Heavier won't hurt. I prefer to use a good cast bullet because they are extremely effective and much more reliable. Yes, I do want an exit wound because two holes bleed better than one. You ain't shooting a rifle, a big bore sixgun kills differently and can't be expected to flatten deer like a .300Mag. It will, however, work very well.

December 31, 2011, 05:51 AM
Your choice of 240 XTP is spot on. I suspect your gun will shoot it just great. Good luck with it. Handgun is highly addictive, so beware! (And a plus one on the hearing protection for your daughter!)

December 31, 2011, 07:21 AM
I'd have to concur that a 240 grain XTP if accurate would be the choice for me. I use this recipe as a side arm when deer hunting with a 5 1/2" SBH.

20.5 grains 2400
Winchester brass
Winchester LP Primer
240 grain Hornady XTP

It shoot great, but has a fireball from the cylinder gap and muzzle. SO be cautious when shooting with passengers. :)

If you enjoyed reading about "44 Mag questions for hunters" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!