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Novelty Threshold: where does the practicality end?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by el Godfather, Jun 12, 2020.

  1. el Godfather

    el Godfather Member

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    Hello
    A few weeks back I had posted a thread on 357 Magnum with folks discussing its limitations and power. A vast majority considered it a powerful enough caliber for SD/HD. Many also considered it as a viable option for hunting, and then there were those who considered it weak and limited against the large game.

    While reading many of the responses, I noticed that people who considered it weak were, generally, partial to 44 Remington Magnum. Thus, my question is how powerful a handgun caliber (generally, but not exclusively, shooting out of a revolver) has to be before it becomes a novelty? In my opinion, 44 Magnum is the most practical upper limit in a handgun caliber. Anything over and above is simply not necessary, therefore, making them a novelty or a personal preference for collecting and shooting etc. I would reluctantly say that the only exception might be 454 Casull, but again I do not believe there is anything it can do that 44 cannot against a predator of any sort.

    This is not to say or suggest by any means that there should be no large calibers. Its a free market and demand drives supply where people like different things. The more the better to be able chose what we like at different times. Preferences change and collection bug has no cure! It is simply a discussion from practicality point of view.

    Therefore, would it be reasonable to say that for all practical purposes 44 Magnum is the upper limit in a handgun caliber?

    Thanks
     
  2. Meeks36

    Meeks36 Member

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    The bigger the animal the bigger the bullet. Those that handgun hunt in africa don't carry 44 mags. Sure elephants and rhino's have been killed with them. But if I have 1000+ pound animal trying to trample me I want something bigger.
     
  3. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    Handgun hunting itself is a novelty, but in this country on non dangerous game I would agree with you on .44mag, or in my case .45C hot loads.
     
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  4. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Hey, MaxP, turns out you've wasted a whole bunch of time! :rofl:
     
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  5. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Why? To what end?

    I like the .44 Magnum. It's adequate for most North American big game. Other cartridges - up to and including the .50 calibers - are demonstrably more effective. Some people like that.

    Beyond that, I would not use a .44 against our largest animals, including buffalo and the great bears. It has worked and will work again, but in my opinion is asking a boy to do a man's job. That goes double for African dangerous game.

    I personally think the .30-'06 is a great rifle cartridge. It is adequate for any of the animals I have so far hunted, and because I am sensitive to rifle recoil, it is the largest cartridge I can handle effectively. I cannot imagine, though, telling folks that it is the upper limit of practicality and that anything bigger is a novelty.
     
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  6. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    Everything is a novelty to someone who has no use for it. For someone whose needs are met by a .22lr, .22 magnum is a novelty.

    So the question becomes, does anyone have a use for a more powerful handgun. The .460S&W is said to be somewhat popular with people who want to do long range handgun hunting for example. They put a scope and a bipod on a 10” revolver and use it for game that would drop just fine if hit with .45c but won’t let them get within 100 yards.
     
  7. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    It’s relative. A 22lr is very much useful for a squirrel hunter, whereas a 30-06 rifle or a 357mag revolver is a novelty. Similarly, a 22 is a novelty for the deer hunter who is using that exact same 30-06 and .357, but also considered a novelty is an African safari rifle and a 500sw, but then that guy chasing buff in Africa have a legit use for that same rifle and 500 revolver. The only point that I think would by consensus be a novelty would be a gun too ludicrous in size (large or small) to make it hard or impossible to shoot well. 22 short ring gun, yeah novelty. 577 nitro express pistol, yeah that’s a novelty too but a much more powerful one. Both are dangerous because of how hard they are to control.
     
  8. Pudge

    Pudge Member

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    Anything over .44 mag is a novelty for me. In reality, .44 mag is really a novelty for me. What about multiples of some calibers? I mean how many .357's or .38's can you have before the next one is a novelty?

    The reality is, while I can't see myself hunting a cape buffalo at all, much less with a handgun, if that's what you do, something BIG, significantly more than a .44 mag, isn't a novelty. It's a hobby, a pursuit, maybe it's all a novelty.
     
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  9. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    The 30-06 is a much worthier candidate of being an “everything in North America” cartridge than the 44 Magnum.

    If I didn’t like these big bore straight wall cartridges so much, a 30-06 class cartridge would be my. max as well.
     
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  10. Mosin77

    Mosin77 Member

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    Pretty sure I’ll never have a practical use for a .44 mag. I don’t hunt much with a rifle, still less with a handgun. And I’m certainly not hunting anything with a handgun that would “need” the punch of a hot .44, let alone a .500 Magnum or whatever.

    That said, a .44 Mag is great for what it’s designed for. You could also easily buy a .454 and load it down, making for a very adequate .45 Colt type load that didn’t recoil as much, getting you more power and less recoil, at the cost of a bigger and heavier pistol. So, even the largest and most “impractical” caliber has its uses...
     
  11. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I'm not interested in handgun hunting, If I'm hunting it is with a rifle or shotgun. But I have no doubt that a 357 will take anything in North America, including the largest bear, as long as the right loads are used.

    That said, I prefer the 44 mag if carrying a full size revolver. It does take it to another level of power with full size revolvers, and full size of 357 and 44 magnum revolvers are virtually the same. There is no real downside to using a 44 for woods protection. Even for 2 legged predators mid level 44 mag loads or hotter 44 Special loads have less recoil and blast than full power 357 loads so for me the 44 is the more versatile round.

    The cartridges bigger than 357 or 44 mag might add a bit more insurance on really big stuff, or add to the useful range, but the downsides outweigh the advantages for me. If I need a heavy long barreled revolver to get the job done I'll take a short barreled, compact rifle 10 times out of 10. If I'm carrying a handgun, it is going to be something with no more than a 4" barrel.

    With the criteria calling for a smaller gun, I normally just use either a 9mm or 10mm pistol depending on the situation. The better 10mm loads will match anything you can do with a 4" or shorter 357. And while the numbers look better on paper, 10mm comes close enough to short barreled 44 mag loads for me.
     
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  12. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    I thinknit depends on your criteria. I don't hunt. I will never hunt. I dont really care about taking big game or tree rats. For me, a gun is a defensive tool. My needs pretty much top out at .357 for woods carry and .45 acp for day to day urban carry.

    I dont have a need or want for a .44 magnum or anything larger.
     
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  13. Obturation
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    Obturation Contributing Member

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    This. Except one thing, 454 casull revolvers are generally the same weight or lighter than their 44 mag counterparts. Sometimes an couple ounces more exact same size though.

    I don't prefer the long cylinder revolvers (bfr & x frame), I have a 500 jrh bfr high on my list of gotta gotta have it. Do I need it? Nope. But I technically don't need my 454 revolvers either, but they did remove any possible use for a 44 mag in my collection.

    Bigger cases hold more powder & longer (heavier) bullets, what's not to love?
     
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  14. el Godfather

    el Godfather Member

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    That is pretty evident larger container will hold more stuff.

    The question is that of practical application in daily routine or even when you are camping or taking a walk in the woods. Or even when you are in the wild and carry a handgun for just in case - not necessarily actively going after a ferocious beast in which case one is choosing handgun to a rifle’s job: not very practical approach either.

    Size, weight, recoil, etc while carrying on person are attributes to be considered for practicality.

    There will always be those odd ball situations, but how many of you have recently visited Africa on a Safari chasing Cape Buffalos or were attacked by a Rhino where you had to pull out your 6000 Magnum to do the job or you found the small 44 Magnum inadequate?

    Whereas, some you may have encountered Grizzlies etc in the North country and for that 44 Mag is just ok.
     
  15. 35 Whelen
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    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    This is a really good post and poses a really good question.

    I've used the .357 some on game and view it as marginal for a game cartridge which means one must use the right bullet and pick their shots carefully.

    I personally think that the .44 Magnum is beyond the upper limit of your average casual handgun shooter simply because said shooter(s) don't acquire and maintain the necessary skills to be proficient with heavy recoiling revolvers such as .44 Magnums. IMHO anything larger and more powerful than a .44 Magnum is a novelty and used for novel purposes. Clever marketing has convinced we males that we need 3/4 ton, 4x4 diesel pickups for an 8 mile commute to work on paved roads, chainsaws with 18" bars with which to trim our trees, barbeque grills with the capacity to grill 86 hamburger patties at once, houses large enough to raise Jim Duggar's kids, and revolvers chambered in cartridges with power enough to penetrate 10 bull elk standing nose to tail.

    Very true. The original purpose of a handgun was for such times when a rifle wasn't available or practical to carry, but their use has now morphed into the novelty of handgun hunting. Folks are now carrying gigantic revolvers on which they have mounted scopes or electronic sights and are chambered in equally gigantic cartridges. Nothing at all practical about a setup such as this, but if one wants to shoot large game with a handgun, such a setup is what they need.

    I normally shoot at least one deer per year with a handgun and it is something of a novelty for me, but I also carry a handgun a lot as there exist plenty of targets of opportunity where I live. As such I attempt to remain proficient with the handgun because of what it is to me; a tool of opportunity and one that offers a challenge when hunting. However, if/when I truly think I may encounter something that may bite me, that cannot be dealt with using a heavy .44 or .45 caliber cast SWC at 950-1000 fps, the novelty of using a handgun goes out the window and a good lever action carbine of sufficient power takes its place.

    35W
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2020
  16. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I think Ed is spot on.

    To answer this question you need to look at the practical gains offered by a cartridge over another, and then whether or not the end user has a need.

    Is a 45 or 50 caliber bullet going to kill anything deader than a 42 caliber bullet? No. But it may kill it faster which is important for dangerous animals. Will a faster cartridge make a difference? It may depending on the required effective range.

    Personally I don’t feel there is a practical upper limit that becomes a novelty. Practicality of the cartridge or gun it’s shot from certainly comes into play, but there are only three factors we can change to increase ballistic effectiveness, bullet speed, bullet size and weight, and bullet construction. So bigger, faster, and better penetration and/or expansion matter.

    The only restricting factors are personal needs and the NFA.
     
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  17. el Godfather

    el Godfather Member

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    Spot on- the entire marketing strategy is to convince a person to buy something he does not need. There is no end to wants but thats has nothing to do with the practical perspective.


    I do understand your point. However, what large animal in North America you cannot put down with a .44 Magnum?

    If one makes an argument for the Big Game in Africa (although I think adequately loaded 44 Mag will do the job), but for the sake of argument if I agree: how many of those hauling around large handguns hang around in the African jungles?

    Like ‘35Whelen’ said clever marketing. Bigger projectile will kill faster but would that not mean that we kill every animal with the largest caliber that we can find? Just kidding.
     
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  18. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    What large animal in North America can you not put down with a .22LR? For some years the record grizzly was one killed by a 63 year old woman using a single shot .22LR rifle.

    https://www.ammoland.com/2017/06/bella-twin-the-22-used-to-take-the-1953-world-record-grizzly-and-more/#:~:text=Bella Twin, the .,World Record Grizzly, and More&text=Arizona -(Ammoland.com)-,She was 63 years old.

    I'm not saying that .22LR is a good choice for hunting big game, just that poking deep holes in an animal in the right place can take it down--even if the holes are very small in diameter and the animal is vary large.

    The answer is that there is no large animal in North America that cannot be put down with a .44 Magnum, but the answer provides no useful information in terms of solving the presented problem. Because it is also true that there is no large animal in North America that cannot be put down with a single shot .22LR rifle, as Bella Twin demonstrated.

    Back when .357Mag was the new kid on the block and at the top of the power spectrum for handgun cartridges, Major Douglas Wesson used the caliber to kill moose, elk and grizzly. So maybe it's the .357Mag that's really the reasonable limit in handgun power--the one that can do anything that is really practical for a handgun.

    Or maybe it's the .45LC?

    There's no denying that some folks have handguns that have no practical value for many of us--maybe even no practical value for their owners. I have an old .38ACP pistol that I will never shoot--it has no practical value for me, but it was owned by my great grandfather. I'm sure there are people who have .460Magnums who will never shoot them at anything but paper. And maybe some others who will hunt with them but will never shoot any game with them that couldn't have been just as efficiently and humanely taken with a much smaller caliber. But others may hunt very large animals where something like the .460Mag is considered to be very appropriate.

    There are some folks for whom a .44Mag is a novelty. Some of us might see the .357Mag in that light. I used to have a .357Mag on self-defense duty, but I would choose other handguns/calibers for that purpose now. So maybe my .357Mag is really a novelty for me.

    There might even be some folks for whom any self-defense caliber handgun would be a novelty. They might shoot only for recreational purposes or pest control and find that a .22LR is all they want or need.

    I don't think it's possible to reach any kind of consensus on this topic. It is interesting to see other people's perspectives, and the discussion, I'm sure, will be entertaining; but it's not the kind of a discussion where there is any realistic possibility of anyone actually finding "the one right answer".
     
  19. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    Again, looking at the .460, the argument is that - when sighted at 200 yards - it stays within 5” of point of aim from 0 out to 250 yards.

    .44 magnum might be able to - if sighted in at 100 yards or so - make the same claim out to 140 or so (that’s just a guess from memory and I could easily be off by 20% either way, doesn’t change the point).

    If you’re hunting game that won’t let you get within 140 yards, the .460 is going to give you options the .44 doesn’t, even if the .44 would be perfectly acceptable within the 140 yards. The fact that the .460 is also delivering about twice the energy down range is incidental but welcome.

    Concentrating on the power aspect of these weapons misses a big part of their appeal.
     
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  20. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    I agree as well. Everyone has their preferences and they have rounds or guns that they consider “novelties” or perhaps rounds or guns they would never consider owning, buying or even shooting given the chance.

    I may never own a .44 Magnum. I have no need or desire for one but I do not discount it as something I would never own. If I need a cartridge / gun more powerful than that I would use a rifle. I no longer hunt but may after retirement, but after shooting some high powered handguns outfitted with scopes I would prefer a rifle. Handguns with scopes are just plain awkward to me. I think they’re cool but they aren’t for me.
     
  21. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    You can kill any North American animal with a 44, but there’s more to it than just lethality. By that measure you could say the same about a 9mm or smaller.

    But what distance are you shooting at? Can the animal reach you in time if wounded to harm you?

    Strictly speaking about lethality and “power” is only one aspect of the argument, and if taken out of context really can’t answer the question. You need to look at it holistically to come to a logical conclusion.
     
  22. Archie

    Archie Member

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    I agree with the proposition .44 Magnum is about the biggest handgun I would ever need. I'm getting old and a bit loose and touchy in my forearms and fingers. I still have a couple ( Super Blackhawk and a pinned S&W M29), but I don't shoot them much. I have no urge to hunt with a handgun anymore and do to location and choice, deer is going to be my primary game. For self defense, .45 ACP, .45 AR, .44 Special is going to do for me.

    When I was younger, I did some work with .44 Magnum and got pretty good at it. I am aware some people would like to hunt with a handgun, more power to them.
     
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  23. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    From the perspective of someone who doesn't hunt, anymore.
    I prefer a semi auto pistol over a revolver for SD - against two legged, but would roll with it for predatory 4 legged as well.
    IMO the upper limit and overall good choice is a Glock 20SF - 10mm
    Recoil even with "full power" loads is very manageable, on par with 45 acp +P
    There are 10mm HP bullets that generate 600+# KE penetrate 18'' or less for SD against two legged, other bullets available for 4 legged.
    Any version of "handguns suck at stopping" is a loathsome beaten cliche, but assuredly 10mm sucks less than lesser calibers.
     
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  24. Daveboone

    Daveboone Member

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    I have been handgunning since the late seventies, usually just target, cc but used to hunt whitetails. At many clubs on many occasions I observed firsthand that the vast majority of handgunners (ok, me probably included)...suck. They can not consistently hit the broadside of a barn, more less a deers vitals at 50 (or whatever) yards. The more recoil, the poorer the shot. My earned belief is that most hand cannons are acquired with wishful thinking/ golden dreams, and soon set aside or carried strictly for bragging rights and dramatic effect.
    I had and loved a Ruger Super Blackhawk that I shot very well. The first day I carried it hunting, I had a splendid mature 14 pt buck walking through the open hardwoods right to me...my first thought was how lucky I was to bag a mature white tail the first day out with it. That buck suddenly elevated, did a 180 and proceeded to disappear very quickly. I had a hail mary shot that went wild, then looked at the Ruger and realized if I had any of my rifles I would have had the deer. If I am serious about hunting, stay serious, and I went back to my rifle.
    That said, of course there are guys out there who are very proficient hunters who embrace the handgun limits. They take it seriously and practice seriously.
     
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  25. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I personally find sufficiently tangible differences between many of these cartridges such there isn’t any boundary of “novelty” for me. Admittedly, the extreme size and weight of the X-Frame is substantially unappealing such I will forsake the range advantages of the 460 and 500 S&W in favor of a lighter frame, despite a less powerful cartridge.

    The 480 Ruger and 475 Linebaugh, and other big heavies like the 500JRH, Line, or Max, offer about the same scale of extra short range punch over the 44mag that the 44 offers over the 357 - “substantial.”

    The “super magnums” like 454 casull, 445 super mag, and the S&W magnums don’t tend to increase bullet weight substantially over their standard magnum brethren, but rather only increase velocity. They might not offer as significant of step change in punch as the heavyweights mentioned above, but they offer commensurate increases in range.

    So take your pick - want to hit harder for larger game and more reliable, faster anchoring at “standard” ranges? Pick a heavyweight. Want to reach out farther without sacrificing anchoring performance? Pick a high velocity super magnum.
     
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