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Have you ever hunted deer with a .38 Special?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Macchina, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. varodd

    varodd Member

    I would not use a 38spl to take a deer personally. It's just not enough at any kind of range. If you using it for small cridder protection or to put down a wounded dear that is down but still kicking you should be ok. If I were building a load for that I would look at a med weight hard cast, that way you should get penetration on a wounded deer and would definitely detour any smaller cridders.
  2. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    ArchAngelCD, the load data for the 125 gr. JHP / Longshot is published as +P and chronographs in the 1200's fps, and is not into typical .357 mag. pressures. As for the 158 gr. JHP, I was mistaken, after going through my chrono log I see I was only getting a bit under 1100 fps.. I've shot those loads mostly through .357 mag. pistols, mostly, but I have put a few through my 10-5 without problems.
  3. 336A

    336A Well-Known Member

    Never hunted nor shot a deer with the .38 SPL myself. Maybe these threads will answer your questions. http://www.defensivecarry.com/forum...cs/107972-some-38-special-velocity-tests.html


    I would not use either the 2400 load or the 4756 load or even think of it. Those may have been ok by the 1960's standards but I wouldn't even think about putting them in a .38 SPL unless it was a old S&W .38-44.

    The load containing 5.4gr of Unique and a 158gr SWC is still lised in Lyman's current cast bullet manual, and it's a good load. It is a MAX load so work up to it carefully. Another bullet worth considering is the ol' Lyman 358429 Keith bullet that weighs around 170gr depending on alloy.
  4. john wall

    john wall Well-Known Member

    When I had my farm I harvested a bunch of them. Took the shot just under the ear at around 20-30 yds with a Target 38 wheelgun, 158 gr SWC at allowable speed.

    The 200 gr bullet at near 900 fps will do a through-and-through if shot behind the shoulders up close. This speed is obtainable in a 6" gun with acceptable pressures. The 38 handles heavy bullets very well.

    Depends on the shooter, keep range at 30 yds and under. I am a good shot, and pick my shots. YMMV
  5. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Well-Known Member

    If I were loading 38 special rounds for maximum effectiveness against deer sized game I would use the ammo that has been shown to be most effective similarly sized people.

    If Massad Ayoob is to be believed that would be a 158 grain hollow point lead SWC driven at +P velocity.
  6. Madcap_Magician

    Madcap_Magician Well-Known Member

    Buffalo Bore has their Outdoorsman SWC hardcast load that is a 158-gr. SWC at 1100 fps, IIRC. That would do it, but even then, close range and shot placement...
  7. tnelson31

    tnelson31 Well-Known Member

    Develop a load close to the pressure limit of your caliber/firearm and choose a bullet and go for it?

    Sounds like no one has hunted (large critters) with 38 special, nor would they. And neither are you.
  8. JerryND

    JerryND Well-Known Member

    My first pistol deer was with a 357. Neck shot, actually broke bone, but he got up on his back legs and tried to get away. Next 3 with 41 mag were all one shot kills. Even the 357 is not adequate for deer. My choice for a "woods carry" would be "The Judge" or S&W equiv. Covers all bases.
  9. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

    That's 1250 out of a 6".
  10. silicosys4

    silicosys4 Well-Known Member

    .38 spcl is a trapline gun at best. I put wadcutters in them to hunt grouse as well. I would consider it inhumane to use a caliber that is marginal AT BEST on a deer. "responsible outdoorsman, humane kill" and all that. If you have bigger guns, use them. I tend to agree with state minimum caliber and energy regulations, since most people can't shoot well enough to be absolutely sure of a neck vertebrae or brain shot.
  11. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Well-Known Member

    For many years I carried a state issued .357mag. I typically carried a speed strip with some .38spl +p SWC-HP's (reloads.... too cheap and poor to buy "factory"), for dispatching road-hit deer.
    Due to lack of penetration on all the head-shot deer I dispatched, "hunting" with the .38spl ain't a great idea; even if it's legal. It'll do in a "pinch" or "subsistance" situation where it's all you've got. But they're quieter and less recoil than a full-loaded magnum, so made shooting an already incapacitated deer more practical where an over-penetrating .357 could cause a richochet hazard on pavement/asphalt. I never had a .38spl exit, regardless of shot placement though I ususally targeted heads.

    I did arrest a subject one day that had taken a doe out of season, on a closed management area. (.38spl was also a specifically prohibited cartridge). I was checking fishing licenses in the area and heard the first shot. I went looking and heard the second shot 1-2min later. When I found the subject, he was dragging the doe under the fence/firebreak at the property line. He'd shot the deer with an S&W Mod14 6"bbl with Winchester 125gr +P JHP's. First shot broke deer's neck (approx 25yd shot from a portable ladder/deer stand on firebreak). Second shot was to dispatch the still writhing deer. That was a very expensive deer. Inmates got to eat it, too...

    Funniest epsiode of .38spl shot deer was by my captain. He drove up one night on a car wreck/deer-scene. The Sheriffs deputy on the scene ascertained if it was "ok" to dispatch the deer that was in median of divided 4-lane that was "thashing and bleating" to the dismay of bystander/passerby's. 'Sup' said "go ahead". The deputy shot the deer in the neck with a 9mm S&W Mod 659 w/115gr JHP. Deer got up and ran into opposing lane of traffic and started kicking and bleating louder..... My 'sup' walked over to the deer and in disgust aimed his 2" S&W mod 60 w/158gr +P SWC and shot the deer between the eyes whereupon it layed down, let out a final gasp and gave up the ghost....

    He was something of a celebrety for a while around the coffee pots. (it even made local news paper as a reporter was at scene). About 6mos later, the S.O. traded in their 9's and went to .40's..... also a dept. policy of NOT shooting injured wildlife.....
    But in all honesty, it wasn't the 9mm's fault. It was poor shot placement... The 9's no better or worse than the .38spl....
  12. Welding Rod

    Welding Rod Well-Known Member

    Many years ago I made the mistake of trying to help out a friend who needed his child biting Chow dog put down. We took him out into a isolated area and tied him to some brush. I shot him square in the chest at close range with a 38 special wadcutter - don't remember the exact load.

    The dog instantly went birzirk in pain and agony, tumbling and rolling and howling and so forth. I put 5 more in his torso as quickly as I could do so accurately. He was moving way too much to make a head shot.

    After, he was still alive, but barely, when I finished him off with the biggest rock I could find to the head.

    I felt very badly about how things went that day, and still do. I would do things a lot differently now, but in no case would I shoot a living thing with a 38 special again if I had a choice in the matter.
  13. bluetopper

    bluetopper Well-Known Member

    I do know for a fact however that Chuck Norris goes bear hunting with a switch.

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