subsonic hunting

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Jun 17, 2007
Looking for input from people who tried hunting with subsonic ammo. Trying to get a load worked up for my 77/357 using a heavy rifle bullet but not sure which bullet to choose. Seems like most of them need speed to work.
Looks like the only heavy pistol bullet that might open up at low speed is Hornady 180 gr xtp.
Have any of you tried 225 gr Sierra gameking or simular?
I've done it with 22 lr only. With a hollow point and all shots were within about 30 yards or so. I wouldn't risk it, but that's just me. I have alot of mil-surps and large cartridges that cover hunting.
Ive done it with .308; range awareness it paramount when hunting with subsonics. Because the trajectory is like slow pitch softball you really need to know what range your target is at, it can make it very easy to miss by miss judging even a few yards.
Many hunters use 1000ft lbs for a bullet as a minimum for humane kills

In many cases, a subsonic bullet will have difficulty achieving that or even near that amount
What are you wanting to hunt with it? Squirrels? Coyotes? Deer? A wad-cutter will punch a nice round hole in most things.
People kill deer with a bow, then turn around and suddenly need a 300 Win Mag when it's rifle season.

I'm no expert on deer hunting, but I would say that like shooting anything with a heartbeat, shot placement is key. A subsonic in the boiler room is better than a supersonic in the gut. The only issue with subsonics is the fact that they drop fast and fly slow, so there is more skill & effort required to make a clean kill.
Go heavy, slow, wadcutters for penetration. Through and through holes leave to places to leak blood for trailing. Should be a short trail.
If you want a more accurate comparison of archery tackle vs subsonic'll probably need to look at arrows with field points.

Broadheads are the deer legal type of arrow points and they make big nasty holes. Often all the way through.

Yes, big slow bullets kill deer. They simply bleed 'em out (through the big deep hole) or break structurers and bleed them out.

IMHO a .357 does not make a big hole

I do wonder about the frontal area vs axis length and contact of structure, if that would slow it way more (reduce penetration) and or cause the bullet to veer off intended path.

Have only taken one deer with .357, fifty yards facing away. Spined it.
Hell a .22 mag would have dropped it with such placement.

Did recover my bullet......just behind the nose. It did bonk the side of the skull under the eye, went under brain pan...........dunno if it slid between two vert or took a chunk out of one (did not examine spine for damage).

I got the bullet when a bud did a Euro mount........pleasant surprise :)

6" revolver, Hornday Leverevolution 140 gr.

Buddy runs hot 180's in a Marlin lever gun. Said to 100 yards it works great (does not shoot movers, is a neck shooter- if the shot isn't perfect he won't ake it). Had a .357 Max, said he doesn't need that much oomph for the shots he takes. Went back to reg .357mag.


I went up to .35 Rem :D
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The 225gr GameKing won't do what you want. It's designed for 2,400-2,800fps muzzle velocity. Minimum expansion velocity is about 1,800fps.

You're overthinking it. My 77/357 shot best with 125gr and 158gr jacketed pistol bullets. Cast bullets were a bust due to chamber throat. I never warmed up to it.
My favorite load was also my favorite for other .357's, long and hand guns: 158gr jktd over 17.8gr of Lil'Gun and small pistol primer (not magnum). It got 2,100 fps from 20" Win M94, and 2,000fps from Ruger.
If desiring a heavier bullet ( I didn't, a 158gr Spt's works very well), I'd get the Hornady 180gr XTP, load with Lil'Gun to Hornady listed max, sight in 1" high at 50 yds and go hunting.
I've hunted extensively with the .35Rem. Most of the rifle bullets are too hard for it. My favorite jacketed bullets are the Sierra 200gr Round Nose, and 200gr Corlokt Round Nose.
Neither will expand from the .357mag. Don't discount the 125gr jsp's. At 2,200fps over 20.0gr of H110/Win296, it will do a job on white tails.
I think you will wound and then lose a lot of deer trying to go subsonic in a 357

It's fine for small game, but deer sized animals are easier to put down quickly with higher speed bullets that will do more damage and still penetrate completely
I have killed things with subsonic ammunition out of lots of stuff from a pellet gun all the way to 458 socom.

The only way to get more energy when you set a speed limit is mass. That said it also depends on what your trying to kill.

A 14.3 gn pellet won't work for deer but a 405 grain .458 bullet at subsonic speeds will.

What you have, with subsonic ammunition will actually be about the same as a 300 blk at usable ranges. If I were going in that direction I would be using very heavy cast bullets or just good full house 357 mag loads.

Going supersonic for one shot won't make any difference as the bullet will hit the deer before the sound spooks it. Not like your going after varmints where your after as many as you can get at once.
I am a little conflicted on this topic. I spend a lot of time in the woods hunting both MN and WI firearms seasons. Each hunter needs to know their skill level with their equipment. There are many hunters who honestly can barely manage a clean kill with a .30-06.

That being said, you are flirting with the bottom line with lighter subsonic loads.

Yes I know shot placement and distance and hunter skill all play a major role in harvesting a deer with a clean kill.

With my luck, I would run into that grizzled old swamp buck I have been waiting for my whole life and I wouldn't have my .30-06 with me to close the deal.

I remember reading an article about the .300 Whisper which discussed the terminal ballistics of the Sierra 220 (or 240?) grain Matchking bullet.

It didn't expand in the classical sense at subsonic velocity, but it was marginally stable when it left the muzzle; after impact, it became unstable and tumbled. According to the article, the post-impact tumbling greatly improved terminal ballistics.

So . . . using a subsonic .357 bullet, I'd see if I could work up a load with the heaviest, longest bullet I could get my hands on and drive it to a velocity which would barely be stable in flight; odds are, it would then become unstable on impact and tumble, so expansion wouldn't be essential. It remains to be seen how straight the path of the tumbling bullet would remain . . .

I've killed deer with a .357, but my loads were not subsonic - I used JHPs in the 150 grain range at max velocity out of a revolver.
Does the bullet really need to be subsonic? Or is this just an exercise?

I shoot critters in my yard all the time with my suppressed .223 AR, with full power ammo (Nosler 55 grain BT's at 3000fps), and while there is a sonic crack, there is no muzzle blast (I shoot from my carport with no hearing protection), and I can hear the round hit, and the resultant, loud, "balloon pop" of the bullet causing the critter explode. Something you dont normally hear, when shooting without a suppressor.

The sonic crack really isnt all that loud, and the sound varies with distance.
Well i guess it doesnt have to be sobsonic. 158 gr trucking alone at 1800fps would be a great deer load.
the 300 blackout site has a forum for hunting. There are now subsonic 300 blackout rounds designed to fragment at subsonic speeds such as the lehigh defense maximum expansion.

I have some but I have only used supersonics.

I would only use it under about 75 yards.
On .35 rem bullets too stiff.... I'd heard of that.

200gr Hornady round nose in my .35 Rem came apart. Deer hit on edge of shoulder quartering to (tried to hit it there to start bullet upset). Nuked lung, ground a nasty path through liver and chipped offside rib at diaphragm. Biggest chunk o' bullet was maybe 50 gr. And I dug around for some time. No pass into offside chest wall, rib stopped it.

16.25" bbl. Load was pretty hot though. Just at edge of sticking in Contender.

Buddy used a Barnes of some sort. His 200# dressed 150" took 3 steps. Hit was behind shoulder, bullet found under hide on opp side (went into offside shoulder). Shot D there was 50 yards as well. His bbl 20".
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