.38 and Small Game

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Peakbagger46, May 21, 2022.

  1. Peakbagger46

    Peakbagger46 Member

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    Anyone use their .38 special for small game? I’m strongly considering using my 3” King Cobra this fall for edible targets of opportunity (grouse and cottontail). Would my 158g LSWC reloads be OK? What shot placement would be good for grouse since I’m probably not good enough for headshots?
     
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  2. Fyrstyk

    Fyrstyk Member

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    Before they changed the law here in CT, I used to hunt squirrels with my S&W model 15 using 148 grain wad cutters on state land. Now I can only use .22 rimfires on State land, but can use centerfire handguns on private land If you can get permission. Most of my shooting was 25 yards or less, and head shots on squirrels were favored. Never lost a squirrel that was hit with the wad cutter.
     
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  3. NeroM

    NeroM Member

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    For rabbits and birds, I've loaded a 140 gr TCFP to around 850 fps from an M10,
    it is effective, quiet and many times more of a hunting challenge.
    Fish and Game dept rules may not support using something other than shotgun for birds,
    that said - have been taking all manner of game with a 38 Spl revolver for years.
     
  4. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Check your State laws first to be sure it is ok. If so, the lighter powered RN should be good for what you want to use it for without causing a lot of meat damage.

    I shoot a coated hardcast 148 gr Eggleston RN over 2.8 gr Bullseye as a light steel plate load (easier to speed-load than WC.) This would be a great squirrel/ grouse load if you aren’t going to be taking headshots exclusively.

    Stay safe.
     
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  5. Alte Schule

    Alte Schule Member

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    Try Hornady Critical Defense Lite 90 grain if you can find it. Nailed an armadillo that was tearing up my yard with a Model 10 at about 50 feet. Clean through and through. And no I didn't eat it although I have known a few folks that do.
     
  6. ca13860

    ca13860 Member

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    Probably not the norm. But the.38 special has been known to take down some BIG & some small critters.
     

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  7. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    I carried my 4” Model 15 for years while afield. It served as a good gun for coup de gras shots on Deer. It was known to take targets of opportunity like rabbits and squirrels as well. Just a standard pressure 158 SWC over 4.6 grains of Unique. Accurate enough for head shots at reasonable distance if I did my job. Never shot birds with it though, not sure if that is even okay to do where I have hunted. I don’t see why not as long as it is within legal parameters. Just know where to shoot the animal as to not destroy too much meat.
     
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  8. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    Shooting mountain grouse, Ruffed and Dusky ("fool hens") grouse with handguns and rifles is perfectly legal (during the season) here in Idaho. For that matter, it's even legal to shoot them with air rifles and pistols.
    I've shot dozens of them with my big game rifles over the years, and I've shot dozens more with various handguns - .22s, .38s (.357s), and .44s. I always just get close enough to "snip" their heads off by aiming right where their heads connect to their necks.
    Those Speer shot-shell capsules full of #8 shot work too - IF you're close enough. I always figured if I was close enough to kill a mountain grouse with Speer shot-shell capsule though, I was close enough to shoot its head off with a real bullet.
    DON'T shoot low! There isn't much left of a fool hen when you hit it in the breast with a .270 Winchester. :eek: ;)
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2022
  9. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Last year I shot a ground hog on our farm with a 22 long rifle revolver. It took several hits to put the critter down for good.

    We have more ground hogs around our property but I do not have the patience to "hunt" them but I have a 32 Fed mag SP101 sighted in for when I have the opportunity to dispatch one. The load is a 110 SWC loaded to 32 H&R Mag levels so we will see how they perform.

    If the 32 caliber rounds are not effective, I'll give a 38 Special a try.

    We have outdoor cats and opossums and raccoons sometimes help themselves to the cat food. I trap them then send them to Valhalla with a 22RF head shot. It is not as effective as I'd hope so maybe I need to up the caliber for these duties.

    Opossums carry deceases that very bad for horses so they are not welcome on our farm. When our #1 daughter was five or six, she had a friend that thought there were live "possums" and road kill, dead "no-possums".:)
     
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  10. gobsauce

    gobsauce Member

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    So what do you do with the corpse?
     
  11. bernie

    bernie Member

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    In Arkansas, where I reside, you cannot use centerfire for small game unless there is an open firearms deer season. That being said, I have been known to take a K Frame with 148 gr. wadcutters during deer season. The 148 gr. wadcutters do a number on a squirrel.
     
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  12. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    I cast Lee 124gr RNL and load those in 9mm cases and also in 38 cases with a light charge of powder. Usually around 3.2grs of Bullseye. Its a great 38 practice round and would be just fine for small game shooting. I have shot one Armadillo with a 158gr SWC lead bullet and it did the job. I really didn't look too close to see how much meat damage it did. But it killed quick. I killed a medium sized goat with the same load and bullet. Dropped it in just two steps.
     
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  13. savagelover

    savagelover Member

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    I use the 148 gr wad cutters in my 38/357 Rossi 92 lever. It's fun. Go for it.enjoy
     
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  14. savagelover

    savagelover Member

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    Damn that's one big ass squirrel..
     
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  15. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    I do. I use my all purpose load of 125 TC cast over 4.5 HP-38. Damage to edible parts is minimal, as the bullet passes through without any expansion. Grouse and snowshoe hare are my usual targets. I find it more enjoyable than taking them with the Ruger 22/45 which would admittedly be a superior tool for the job.

    Your 158 LSWC should do fine. I usually try to target the back or the low neck (the thicker part above the breast) on grouse. Most of the organs are close to the back of the bird above the wings with little good meat there.
     
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  16. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    As I recall, you can use centerfire for small game during coyote season, too. And that's most of the year.
     
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  17. Frulk

    Frulk Member

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    I’ve hunted grouse for 40 years in 3 states and come go the conclusion that there are two types. Those you see on opening day and almost trip over (were I guess the fool hen monicker comes from) and then all the rest.

    I’ve taken a few of the opening day variety with a Ruger Mark 2 with a 6.5 barrel but after a grouse has been shot at once they get spooked and the further you go into the season the worse that gets. Now, I suppose if you’re hunting remote high country or deep woods such as in northern Maine or Minnesota with little hunting pressure you’ll have the potential to see more ‘fool hens’ deeper into the season.

    With a .38 you’ll need to get good at those head shots as there isn’t much room for about anything else before you start hitting breast meat below the neck.

    Grouse hunting is the one hunting I still do and I’m specifically looking to bag them. It’s about a 2500 foot vertical gain on the trail I use to get to prime habitat where I know I’ll run into them…Approx 7600-7800 feet in elevation. The climb gets harder every year. For that reason I want to maximize my chances of success and bring with me a BPS English stocked 20 gauge with a 24 inch barrel.

    On rare occasions late in the season when the leaves have dropped and fresh snow is covering the ground I’ve been known to carry a .22 Rifle as It’s a hair easier to spot them at distance and the rifle works well under those conditions.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2022
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  18. bernie

    bernie Member

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    Mr. Humphry, you just made my day! I was not aware of the coyote season exception. Coyote season runs from sunup January 1 to sundown December 31. It is legal for the entire squirrel season to use my .38! Thank you so much for that input!
     
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  19. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    SWEET BABY JANE! that's a big hog! I've taken some 150 pound pigs with a .38Spl and heavy LSWC's but that's a monster!
    Three shots. Pretty good!
     
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  20. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    I hunted Jackrabbits in Nevada for a couple of years using a Ruger Blackhawk shooting .38s. Best shot was 130 yards with 125 grain round nose over 4.5 grns of Unique. I then started using black powder revolvers and that was a lot of fun.
     
  21. ATCDoktor

    ATCDoktor Member

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    I’ve used all manner of handgun for rabbits and the 38 special works just fine within ranges your comfortable with.

    S&W Pre Model 27 from the mid 1950’s 8 3/8” barrel 4.5 grains HP 38 158 grain SWC at around 50 yards.
    7E432BC0-28FC-416B-9D8E-5BECC6E7EAD8.jpg

    That load runs about 900 fps out of that long barrel and it puts them down without busting them up too much.

    9mm is another option that works well for rabbits:
    59E9F2B9-6FFB-439F-B066-91DA0147C7E9.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2022
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  22. Peakbagger46

    Peakbagger46 Member

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    Thanks all. Here out west grouse hunting pressure is pretty low and we can carry and use centerfire handguns all season long. Obviously most of the cylinder will be loaded with much hotter bear loads.
     
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  23. SteadyD

    SteadyD Member

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    I once needed 8 rounds of 22LR (from a Ruger MKIII) to take out a tubby groundhog. Now, I didn’t make a good shot obviously (due to interesting circumstances) but those dang things are pretty tough!
     
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  24. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    That's a situation that calls for a 148 grain .357 wadcutter at around 7-800 fps. On small animals, those suckers hit like the hammer of Thor.
     
  25. Remington1911

    Remington1911 Member

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    Hunting, no my eyes are just not that good for that anymore. Dispatch an unwanted pest animal sure.
     
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