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Old August 7, 2014, 03:48 PM   #1
Chain Smoker
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.357 handguns on big northern bucks?

I'm in the market for a new hunting handgun for deer season this year here in New Hampshire, and I'm torn between a .44 Magnum and a .357 Magnum.

The .357 has countless important practical advantages to me, but I'm not certain how it would do on the relatively large whitetails we have up here. 300 pounders are not uncommon.

Does anyone have any experiences putting down monster bucks with .357 Magnum HANDGUNS (not carbines)?
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Old August 7, 2014, 04:54 PM   #2
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No experience with the “300 pounders” but have used the 357
to take upwards of ten 90 to 130 pounders field dressed in Texas.
Taken at least as many as backup shooter for people as a guide.
A pistol is just easier to carry into and out of a canyon.
I have also used the 44mag equally in the same manner and for the same reasons.

I don’t know your “practical advantages” but my recommendation would
be the 44mag in a 7.5” barrel. It is fairly easy to carry in a shoulder rig and
a much better deer gun.

Is of course just my opinion.
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Old August 7, 2014, 05:05 PM   #3
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After using both on hogs and deer, my opinion is the same as ky8's opinion. .44 is the way to go. Be fair with the deer. They don't need to run off and wind up as buzzard food.
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Old August 7, 2014, 05:12 PM   #4
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The .357 is marginal out of the "carbines" for deer. If you haven't bought the thing yet are you going to be good enough with it to hunt? Think Ruger SupeRedhawk.
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Old August 7, 2014, 08:28 PM   #5
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Marginal out of CARBINES? Let me dis that notion, I get nearly 1900 fps out of my 20" Rossi Carbine from a 165 grain Keith style gas checked SWC over 16.8 grains of Lil Gun. It will break 1900 fps with a maximum load. That's pretty much a light .30-30 load and is easily good to 100 yards on any deer anywhere in the US. No, it's not a 400 yard gun, of course. Neither is the .30-30.

I've taken a 200 lb hog at 60 yards with a 6.5" Blackhawk. I think I was stretching range limits, but it did the job quite well.
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Old August 7, 2014, 08:38 PM   #6
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Used properly, within it's parameters and limitations, a .357 is just as effective on 300 pound bucks as a .44 or even a .454. Projectile choice and limiting range are the two most important factors when using a .357 for deer size game. This is figuring one is proficient with the firearm and knows where to place the shot.

A .44 will legitimately give you another 30-40 yards over a .357. That extra yardage means nuttin' if you can't hit the target at that range.
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Old August 7, 2014, 08:53 PM   #7
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neither is better or worse. .357 is merely alot easier to get proficient with. theres lots of stories that would say yes and no to it. but....

its not hard to find a tale online or in print of how their perfect deer got up and ran off never to be found after shooting it with a .357 magnum. But those come in every caliber you can imagine.
Ive read of deer hit by 357, 44 magnum, and even 45-70 and 30-06 get up after getting hit and running a 1/4 or more before dropping.

people buy the 30-06 for the extra power, then go get the reduced recoil ammunition that takes it back down to a 150 ayrd 30-30 or 30/40 krag status.
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Old August 7, 2014, 09:01 PM   #8
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I took my very first deer, a tad over 200 pounds, with a Colt Trooper MK III in .357 magnum (6-inch). It was from a tree stand, about a 15 yard shot, and it pretty much dropped in its tracks. I broke out my "Deer Hunting Handbook," propped it up on a rock, and using my Scrade LB-7, followed the step-by-step instructions on how to field dress a deer. It probably took close to an hour!

I mostly hunt with a rifle these days, but still carry my Trooper as a sidearm in an X-15 shoulder holster.
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Old August 7, 2014, 10:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SleazyRider View Post
I took my very first deer, a tad over 200 pounds, with a Colt Trooper MK III in .357 magnum (6-inch). It was from a tree stand, about a 15 yard shot, and it pretty much dropped in its tracks. I broke out my "Deer Hunting Handbook," propped it up on a rock, and using my Scrade LB-7, followed the step-by-step instructions on how to field dress a deer. It probably took close to an hour!

I mostly hunt with a rifle these days, but still carry my Trooper as a sidearm in an X-15 shoulder holster.
I'm curious, why do you carry a handgun in addition to a much more powerful rifle? I handgun hunt exclusively (unless I'm in Canada) I've never understood the need to carry something that adds weight and gets in your way.
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Old August 7, 2014, 11:01 PM   #10
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I have taken at least 8 deer with a .357.
In my experience, if you havent bought your gun yet, go bigger. .44mag or .45Colt.
I lost some respect for my .357mags by the poor performance they had on deer.
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Old August 8, 2014, 04:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
I lost some respect for my .357mags by the poor performance they had on deer.
Care to share any of your experiences in more detail?
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Old August 8, 2014, 04:35 PM   #12
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Quote:
I took my very first deer, a tad over 200 pounds, with a Colt Trooper MK III in .357 magnum (6-inch).
What sort of load did you use?
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Old August 8, 2014, 05:54 PM   #13
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It sounds like you've already made up your mind and are looking for our blessing. You won't get it from me.
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Old August 8, 2014, 07:57 PM   #14
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If you will practice more and shoot better (might these be your practical reasons?) with the .357, get it. If you can honestly shoot a .44 just as well, get it. Many people, I suspect would make better shots with the .357 so that would be my vote. The way I figure, a good shot with a .357 beats a bad shot with a .44.
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Old August 8, 2014, 08:29 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Chain Smoker View Post
What sort of load did you use?
Believe it or not, I still have the bright yellow plastic box, about half full, in my ammo cabinet even though that was roughly 40 years ago! It was CCI "Lawman" 140 grain jacketed hollow point.
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Old August 8, 2014, 08:36 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bush Pilot View Post
I'm curious, why do you carry a handgun in addition to a much more powerful rifle? I handgun hunt exclusively (unless I'm in Canada) I've never understood the need to carry something that adds weight and gets in your way.
I always thought it a more civilized way to dispatch a downed animal that was still alive, though I have to admit it probably doesn't justify totin' it around on a long hike.
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Old August 8, 2014, 08:40 PM   #17
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Just to be clear, I'm not endorsing the .357 for deer hunting; that is simply what I owned at the time. When I hunt handgun only, I use a Model 29 S&W with a 8-3/8 inch barrel, no scope.
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Old August 8, 2014, 10:45 PM   #18
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My favorite hunting handgun is a .30-30 Contender with 2x optic. I HAVE, however, successfully used a .357 revolver on both deer and hogs.
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Old August 9, 2014, 01:17 AM   #19
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Quote:
Care to share any of your experiences in more detail?
I was always confident in the accuracy of my .357 handloads, and that's what I used for deer hunting. Illinois first handgun seasons were "doe only", so 100-150lb d. oes were the norm back then.
1 made a good shot but the deer ran out of the woods into an open meadow and laid down, and took forever the expire. I was afraid to approach with range for fear it would get away.
2. shot a doe almost point blank through the chest, had to track it down and shoot it again.
3,shot one as it stepped over the log I was sitting on. I managed to shoot her three or four times. Very little blood, almost gave up finding her.
4. Made a good shot on a big doe. She ran directly to the only house for a couple of miles and dutifully died in the yard.
5. and the best one....I shot a big doe about 75 yds away(yea, pretty far for open sights). She bucked and disappeared over a hill. After 20min or so I began to look for blood. None. There was snow on so I tracked footprints as far as I could. No blood. I gave it up as a miss. Later I was able to make a shot on a smaller doe. She cut a long arcing trail across the woods. While following her trail....I found the first doe that I shot earlier lying dead not too far from the second doe...also dead.
After writing these stories, I remember a few othwer .357 deer that were clean kills.
Along about this time, Illinois allowed handguns during regular gun season. Since I know first hand how hard those big bucks are to kill, I went ahead and bought a .45Colt and have been more satisfied.
I enjoy handgun hunting because of the challenge and the freedom.
On a side note, my deer hunting experiences with the .357 also led me to switch to a .45acp as a ccw instead of a .357. I went from a SP101 to a compact 1911.

Oh yea, I forgot to mention the ear-splitting blast from the .357. Two of my guns are ported, so.....wow. Earplugs.
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Last edited by kbbailey; August 9, 2014 at 01:42 AM.
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Old August 9, 2014, 03:07 AM   #20
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Our mule deer out here are pretty darn big, and I've seen two large bucks taken with a .357 mag,. One was an unbelievable head shot at about 100 yds. or so with a 158 gr. Gold Dot, and a stout 296 charge. In and out, dropped him right there.

The other was either a Gold Dot or an XTP, one or the other, also 158 gr. and stout 296 / H110 charge.This was a lung shot, in and out, leaving a pretty large exit wound, dropped right there also . But my Son that shot that one, insists it was my 125 gr. XTP loads though, which are really cooking at the muzzle. could have been?

Both were shot with revolvers, one was a 4" Taurus 608. The other a S&W snubby, and only because that was the only firearm available at that particular moment.

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Old August 9, 2014, 08:02 AM   #21
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It's a myth that big bucks are harder to kill than smaller bucks. Chest wall thickness is not much different. Any good soft tip bullet which crashes through the chest wall will tear through the chest organs causing much lethal damage. Doesn't really matter upon the size of the deer.

TR
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Old August 9, 2014, 08:41 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T.R. View Post
It's a myth that big bucks are harder to kill than smaller bucks. Chest wall thickness is not much different. Any good soft tip bullet which crashes through the chest wall will tear through the chest organs causing much lethal damage. Doesn't really matter upon the size of the deer.

TR

^^^This. Difference lies with a wounded deer. Older, more mature bucks will go farther and thru thicker crap when wounded, than younger deer. Doing this before bedding down increases the odds they will not be recovered and leads to the misconception they are harder to kill.
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Old August 9, 2014, 12:54 PM   #23
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BS
Big bucks are tougher and have a will to fight and survive.
I have seen them that have been shot through and through and survived to breed another season. I know this for a fact. I have seen a broadhead imbedded in the spine of a healthy buck killed with a slug while chasing does. They get tough and determined the older they get. Especially during the rut.
I have been hunting deer for 40yrs, and I quit shooting young bucks a loooong time ago. I have seen far too many example of big bucks dying hard to believe anything different.
Big bucks are hard to kill. I've been saying that for 25yrs, and I have several on the walls, but there were several that didn't make it on the wall.
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Old August 9, 2014, 07:00 PM   #24
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Have taken several mid-west corn fed whitetails over the years in the 325-350 lb range.....and they are brutes. Heavier muscle mass and bone structure. Can't say how a .357 would do on them, but a .44 mag does work.
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Old August 10, 2014, 02:07 AM   #25
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I too have seen some amazing examples of game, not just deer, that have survived for at least another hunting season.

My Son killed a buck that had a broad head embedded in it's skull. The broad head had penetrated behind the ear, it then stopped right behind the eye, blinding the deer in that eye. It was a mess on that side of his skull, and presumably caused the antler on that side to grow two main beams, and the rest of that side was the most bizarre looking antler growth I've seen.

Also one that had part of a carbon shaft broken off in one shoulder, the bone had grown around it. And the broad head was in the lung. He appeared to still have some degree of lung function in that particular lung too.

And the list goes on. I've found mushroomed projectiles in hips, shoulders, and skulls significantly damaged by pass through, and embedded projectiles that have healed over.

Also a bear with two major injuries that healed. He had a 12 gauge slug that had shattered his hips, and he also had a high powered rifle projectile that had passed through both shoulders, and stopped just under the hide.

If your uneasy about going with a .357, step up to a larger cartridge.

GS
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