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January 06, 2011

My First Handgun Deer

By Phil Bourjaily

Last night I went handgun hunting for the first time ever. I have to admit that when I realized this doe was going to walk into range, my heart raced the way it did to when I used to bowhunt 20 years ago.

I got some pointers on handgun shooting during my visit to Smith & Wesson in September. I practiced with this .357 revolver a fair amount this fall before I took it out to my cousin’s place last night. From a rest, I am dangerous to 30 to 40 yards at most, so I had to be much more patient (and by “patient” I mean shaking uncontrollably while trying to remain inwardly calm) than I ever would have with a slug gun or muzzleloader as I waited for the deer to come close.

After standing behind a tree seemingly forever, the deer stepped out and gave me a broadside shot at 35 steps. I rested the revolver on the shooting rail in the treestand and put the dot just behind the shoulder. The doe went about 50 yards before falling over.

The revolver is a S&W 627 from their performance shop. I mounted the excellent Burris FastFire reflex sight on top and shot Federal Premium ammo loaded with 140 grain Barnes Expander copper bullets. I found the bullet in the hide on the far side of the deer. It weighed 138.2 grains on my reloading scale which is pretty close to the advertised 100% weight retention.

I have always told my editors at F&S that I bet a lot of our readers hunt with handguns, which is a topic we rarely cover. Here’s your chance to speak up and prove me right. After last night, I can see why you like this handgun hunting thing.

Comments (68)

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from VAturkeyhunter wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

sounds fun and thats a big ol doe

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I've been hunting with a handgun for quite some time; ever since Illinois opened up the handgun season in mid January. I believe this season was introduced around 1995. This season has turned into a "late antlerless" season that allows you to use a slug gun or muzzleloader but I still choose to take my smith and wesson 629 .44 magnum. I have a 2x burris scope on top of the 8 and 3/8 inch barrel. I really enjoy this hunt, changes it up a little bit and presents a big challenge. This time of year in west central Illinois the deer are herded up. You typically see zero, or double digit numbers. With shooting sticks, I can hit a paper plate every time at 80 yards but I keep my shots down to about half that distance. If you have the opportunity to try a handgun hunt you should take advantage of it; its a really good experience.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Moose1980 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Way to go Phil. I've always wanted to try handgun hunting but never had the oppurtunity, maybe I'll make it happen.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hunter Savage wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congratulations and welcome to handgun hunting . Now do you see a contender or encore in your future as well , you just have to get a .44 mag as well ha ha. Hopefully we may see a few more articles in F&S .
Tell me do you feel like a showoff,braggart,poseur,or hack ? Thats what I thought. If you dont get what I am pointing at go back and read cheers & jeers from October and then December as well.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Beekeeper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Isn't it great to find something that adds to the thrill! Well done! I used to hunt a great deal with a Ruger Blackhawk in .44 magnum. I enjoyed it greatly and found the handgun ideal for the several stand sites. I still use old Blackie on ocassion and still find the hunt quite rewarding.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congratulations Phil! If you ever feel the need to get a more powerful handgun, you might want to look into a 41 magnum. I load mine with Hornady XTPs and they really open up. My S&W Mod. 57 is one of the more accurate handguns that I have and it seems to kick less than a 44 mag. but delivers more than enough power for deer. By the way, I praise your self-control in letting the animal get close before shooting. Too many hunters get impatient and start banging away when their animal is too far out.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Nothing better than carrying the T/C Contender for squirrels in early fall, either a 10" .22 magnum or .410 barrel. I'm also going rabbit hunting with the .410 handgun for rabbits later this month. I've taken a few deer with the T/C as well with barrels chambered to either .30 Herret or .35 Remington and hope to take a bear with the .35 some time. My son also handgun hunts and my daughter wants to get into it. Welcome to the handgun clan! Ditto Cooner in referring to that moronic letter in the earlier printed edition.

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from 007 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Forgot to add, we also like to hunt groundhogs with either the .22 magnum or a 14" .222 Remington barrel in place.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Levi Banks wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil, given the new laws in Iowa, did you carry that handgun concealed?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from LutherMartin1517 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have a friend who shot a Boon and Crockette buck with a .357 and he nearly lost it. I don't remember if he shot it 5 or 6 times but one bullet lodge in the skin barely. A couple others were just under the skin. The thing ran 400 yards. He bought a 44 magnum the next year and never hada problem again. I say anything less than 41 Magnum should not be used for deer.

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from LutherMartin1517 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have a friend who shot a Boon and Crockette buck with a .357 and he nearly lost it. I don't remember if he shot it 5 or 6 times but one bullet lodge in the skin barely. A couple others were just under the skin. The thing ran 400 yards. He bought a 44 magnum the next year and never hada problem again. I say anything less than 41 Magnum should not be used for deer.

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from idduckhntr wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

We are now allowed to use handguns in our short range units. Been thinkin about a Magnum Research BFR in 454 and puting in for a moose hunt. Congrats Phil, looks like a fun hunt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from mad_dog9999 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Good job Phil. My aunt's brother in law and son used to handgun hunt where I hunt at. Unfortunately he passed away and the son is now in afganistan. And I don't have a handgun yet. I'd like to go though

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congratulations Phil!

I also shot my first handgun deer this year. I was in a tree stand with my scoped Ruger SBH in .44 mag. Sometime before dusk a doe came strolling by nose down at 74 yards (range finder reference). I had been practicing all summer shooting out to 100 yds and was able to place all shots in the kill zone. So I rested my wrists on the rail, got the scope on the sweet spot, took and let out a deep breath, and touched it off. That deer did a leap, made a heck of a kick and went about 35 yards and dropped. I was shooting Hornady's 240 grain XTP/HP in one of my own loads and they did the job.

I had been practicing all summer in hopes of getting a shot like that and the hunting gods smiled on me that day.

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from buckshot89 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

congrats phil, thats an impressive doe. i have always wanted to use a 357 mag for a deer. we have a couple that would be legal for deer hunting here in ohio, but i've never been able to put down my 870 for a handgun hunt. i'm looking forward to trying one next year.

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from ishawooa wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Way back when I was young and my 3 screw Super Blackhawk was just a Ruger, I managed to shoot a decent mulie buck that really just happened to walk by me. Using hard cast 240 gr bullets I shot him through the chest causing him to run like a rocket. I thought I missed but my hunting partner swore that he saw "meat come out the other side". The buck slowed down at about 75 yards so I shot him in the butt. He dropped immediately and had expired by the time we approached. What I found was a 4 x 4 buck with a sizeable hole in the left hip which proceeded through the body cavity and exited the right front shoulder. Of course the first shot somehow went through the left front shoulder as placement was a bit forward. This left me with backstrap, tenderloin, a small rack, and one good quarter with no bullet hole. Not the best shooting I have ever done.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tony C. wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil,

I'm wanting to take up handgun hunting. I'd like to know more about your equipment. I think I like the idea of a .357 since the recoil isn't as much as the bigger bores.

Also, is that a red dot on top of the gun and how do you like it?

A think a future post on the equipment pictured would be right on time for some of us who want to handgun hunt and also have a set-up like this for home defense or whatever.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from -Bob wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congrats on a very nice doe, Phil.

Here's my question, which other may have already touched on -- does a .357 reliably generate enough energy to humanely dispatch a deer-sized game animal? Honestly, I don't know the answer to that question.

"Conventional wisdom" has always held the .44Mag as the minimum, although it doesn't produce the magic 1,000 ft. lbs. of energy even at the muzzle. I've taken three thus far using a 6" barreled Dan Wesson .44 with fairly stout handloads. None of them went more than a few steps.

Would I see the same results with a .357?

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from spiaailtli wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

A handgun was all I used for over 10 years. I've shot them from up close in your lap to well past 100 yards. I only use open sights though and wondered about scopes and such. If you're keep the distance under 50 yards don't be afraid to use the best round of all time for your 357. That 125gr SJHP at 1450 fps will do much more damage than the heavier "tougher" bullets poking along at a snails pace. Don't be alarmed by finding the bullet under the hide on the off side. No matter the distance or bullet size you'll always get that result with the 357. Heck even when I hunted with a muzzleloader the 50 caliber round ball would do the same from 5 feet to 150 yards out. If you would have shot the deer head on in the chest you would have found that bullet in the ham. I've had end to end penetration on quite a few over the years.

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from philbourjaily wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Bob --
Having shot all of one deer with a handgun, I am no authority. And, as a novice handgun shooter, I chose the .357 because I knew I would practice more with inexpensive, light-recoiling .38 special ammo than I would with a .44 magnum and .44 specials.

I figured being able to hit what I was shooting at with a premium bullet and limiting myself only to close, broadside shots was better than shooting badly with a bigger gun.

At the range I shot the doe the bullet only retained 500 foot/pounds of energy, but it broke an upper leg bone, went through the heart and into the far ribs. I don't see how a heavier, faster bullet would have killed it any quicker in this particular instance.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from fng wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil; Thank you! great article! I've always wanted to try this, but as Canadian gun laws (and some of their wildlife ones) are moronic, handgun hunting is a no-no, even though its perfectly moral and safe. Besides, I've been staring at .454 Casul cases ever since I first fired one :)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from JD wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Nice doe, Phil! Branching out from handguns, how about allowing handgun cartridge rifles as well in shotgun only areas?
I love my Ruger Blackhawk in .44 mag, but would love to carry my Winchester 1892 rifle in that caliber as well. Can I "outshoot" it with my slug gun? Absolutely! Shoots farther, hits harder blah blah blah...I just prefer hunting with a rifle, even if limited to handgun ammo.

What are your thoughts? Think this could catch on?

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from HogBlog wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Nice! I've killed a blacktail deer and a few hogs with my .44, but nowadays I don't have time or opportunity to practice with it enough to stay sharp under hunting conditions. I mostly only carry it now as a backup while guiding hog hunters (shots are at powderburn range on wounded or bayed hogs).

It's definitely a great and rewarding challenge if you can contain yourself and keep your shots at reasonable ranges.

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from -Bob wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil, thanks for the explanation. I agree with your rationale entirely. -Bob

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from 007 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Richard Metcalf of "Shooting Times" fame once wrote that he was comfortable with the .357 magnum for whitetails within reasonable range and with heavier bullets (180 grains if memory serves), and Phil's experience bears this out. I personally prefer a .44 magnum but I also have experience with that round and don't mind the muzzle blast and recoil. Phil, time to shop for a Contender or Encore, you know you want one! Welcome to the handgun hunting family.

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from wgiles wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I am very impressed with the performance of the Barnes solid copper bullets. I had my choice of shotgun slug, muzzleloader or handgun for deer hunting this fall. I ended up taking my deer with a 3/4 Oz. Barnes solid copper sabot slug and I was shooting 250 Gr. Barnes T-EZ solid copper sabots in my muzzleloader. I didn't have the right loads for my handguns, 357 and 41 magnums, so I didn't take them. I'm going to get some of the Federal Premium ammunition with the Barnes bullets before next fall.

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from jbird wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I've shot 2 deer with my .44 mag. My favorite handgun hunting cartridge is the .41 mag. I'd recommend one to anyone. Very accurate, lots of knock-down power, and very little recoil. Congrats on your first pistol deer.

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from mountaindew732 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

my dad just traded in his rifle for a tc contender this year and took it out during rifle. And believe it or not, he actually got a deer! We were all chiding him that there was no way he was going to get one, but sure enough, a nice doe came within range and he made a good shot that dropped the deer instantly

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I do not handgun hunt but I always carry a sidearm in the forest, either 357 or 45LC revolver. I was surprised to see the level of penetration that Phil got from the 357 cartridge. I carry 357 confident that it will penetrate like that in an emergency against a dangerous animal, but I don't hunt with it for fear that it won't! Is that crazy or what? Maybe I should see a therapist about this...

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from ishawooa wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have an old friend down south who has hunted with a 5 inch M-27 using 125 gr Keith style bullets at least since 1973. I suppose he has killed a truckload of whitetails and another of hogs. Many were one shot kills and few animals travel very far. All his shots are close from a tree stand and he is a very careful fellow. I don't remember him ever feeling that he needed more gun.
I have never shot a deer with my .357 but I know I can definately shoot tighter groups with it at 50 or at 100 yards than I can accomplish with my .44 Rem Mag or my .45 ACP.

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from wgiles wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Oddly enough, the one cartridge that I have no confidence in as a hunting cartridge is the .45 ACP.

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil:

Congratulations on your first handgun deer! And (no offense to anyone) you did it with a real handgun that fits in a holster, shooting a round that was working long before the world ever heard of the .500 S & W!

Check out this website.

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=20

The heavier bullets will do in any deer that walks. Lighter bullets in the .357 are for self-defense; penetration is a sin there. But it is a virtue when shooting deer. No accident that Federal's deer ammo for magnum handguns is heavy for the caliber (.357= 180 grains, I believe). Keep us posted!

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil:

Congratulations on your first handgun deer! And (no offense to anyone) you did it with a real handgun that fits in a holster, shooting a round that was working long before the world ever heard of the .500 S & W!

Check out this website.

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=20

The heavier bullets will do in any deer that walks. Lighter bullets in the .357 are for self-defense; penetration is a sin there. But it is a virtue when shooting deer. No accident that Federal's deer ammo for magnum handguns is heavy for the caliber (.357= 180 grains, I believe). Keep us posted!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Satisfying feeling isn't it? Was wondering how those Barnes handgun bullets would work in smaller calibers. Next thing you know you'll be adding more handguns to your gun collection.

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from mejohnhunter wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

You're correct Phil, there are a lot of handgun hunters. I took my first whitetail, a large doe, in 1978. It was the first year handguns were allowed for big game in New York's southern zone and I was one of two hunters statewide to score that opening day using a handgun. The gun was a S&W Model 19 .357 Magnum with a six inch tube, factory iron sights and handloads using Speer 160 gr. JHP's. The doe was hit in the sweet spot at 35 yards. She ran about 15 yards before going lights out. I still have that gun and it has accounted for a number of other deer as have my S&W Models 25-5 and 57.

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from Sanjuancb wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congrats! I've been wanting to get into the sport of handgun-hunting but haven't made it there yet. Hopefully soon! I've been eyeing a Ruger Redhawk in .44 mag for a while.

Oddly enough, I know quite a few people who have had excellent luck with the .45 ACP (usually in a 1911) on whitetails.

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from charlie elk wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congrats on your first handgun deer it is much more challenging way to hunt. 357 is a little light for deer. Had you used a 44 at 35 steps the deer would not have gone 50 yards. It would have been laying at point of impact.
I gave up on the 357 for deer years ago converting to the 44 and never looked back.

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from Mac in Mo wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congrats Phil. Another challenge you could try is .22 pistol for squirrel and/or rabbit. I love to go out and collect a few bushy tails with my Ruger MKII, might get tomorrow now that I mention it.

Kevin

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from Randy S. Breth wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

.357 is plenty for Deer at normal (close) handgun range, IF you practice and can actually hit the spot you're aiming at. After that, it all depends on bullet performance. I use handloaded 158-grain Hornady XTP's - they exit on broadside shots like you had there Phil.
I don't like how the petals on that Barnes X folded over on themselves, but it worked, didn't it?

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

That sow must be as long as a "Cadillac Cah!".
Congrats, Phil.
I've been wanting to take a deer with a handgun. So far, it's the only method I've not used. Rifle, bow, black powder and shotgun. I've got an 8 3/8 Mod 57 S&W that I am proficient with out to 50 yards easy. Maybe next fall!

Bubba

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from duff wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Nice job Phil! I use a .44 Rem Mag Super Redhawk; results are excellent. Can you describe the view/adjustability if any, through the site you used? I do not use but the iron sites on mine.
Thanks.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Thanks Phil for breaking new ground (subject)

Finding the bullet in the hide on the far side even under the skin is a sign of a good load for a handgun.

When a storm front comes in raining so hard you think the rain is coming from the ground, I just carry my Ruger Super Blackhawk® loaded with a Elmer Keith load, 250 grain cast with 21.0 grains of 2400. Sometimes I dig out the 357 Single Six loaded with 200 grain Round Nose Cast loaded with H110. I've found better performance with 180 plus bullets for longer range in the 357.

Sir Phil, adding Handgun Hunting to F&S is way past due, thanks for blazing a new trail!

Look forward to more information from you!

Last Wednesday out at Jacks Place my cell phone went off just as I raised my bow. I've found the Turkey Gobble to be the most effective. Didn't spook the doe at all, it just looked up out of curiosity stared at me for 20 seconds then went back to eating giving me the shot I needed.

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Good on YA Phil.

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from Tim Platt wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have always wanted to try this, especially because I hunt in thick woods and all of my deer are taken at close range. The problem is my only handguns are .22 and .40 caliber. Besides that every time I shoot a .44 mag I can't hit the side of a barn at twenty paces.

It's things like this that keep hunting interesting, though, especially when your hair starts turning white and you have shot more deer than you can count. I am often tempted to try my .40 cal in the woods, but every time I think "what if this is the day I see the big one?" I'll cry the rest of my life that I didn't have an'06.... decisions decisions decisions.

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from Bill Stryker wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Well done Phil. Getting a deer with a handgun is a real thrill and real accomplishment.

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from dasmith wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

My first hunting handgun kill was in the Catskill Mountains of NY. I was using a S&W .357 Combat Magnum with a 4 inch barrel, with Federal 158 Hydra Shock JHP. A doe presented me with a nice broad side shot at 25-30 yards. One shot just behind the shoulder, (even had time to put on shooting muffs) fell in place and then a finishing shot to the head. Even though it was a doe, I so proud to see my name in the local paper stating I took it with a handgun. Shot placement is important and I would recommend the factory Federal 158 Hydra Shok round. I do now carry a S&W 29 .44 Mag 6" with either 210 STHP or 240 JHP. But, wouldn't hesitate to use the .357 if that what I was carrying. CONGRADULATIONS on your first one.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

That Barnes worked as designed for a handgun bullet :)

Question Sir Phil,

Have you ever come across anything like this?

About 11'ish years ago at a Gunsmith in Ft Smith AR on Rogers AVE, I was showed a 45ACP round intended for FBI and US Marshal use. At first glance it looked just like any other 230gr Ball. He showed me an identical fired bullet and it had the best mushroom you have ever seen especially for a 45 or any other handgun round. What was different was nothing I ever seen before or even thought of; the bullet by external specifications is in fact a full metal jacket by definition with tiny etched latitude lines in the ogive. But what made it drastically different is, it was actually a cross between an exceptionally large cavity hollow point and a full metal jacket where upon impact, the nose would collapse creating the perfect mushroom.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

By the way, your absolutely right telling the editors at F&S a lot of readers hunt with handguns!

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from nc30-06 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Fantastic Phil. Congratulations. I've got to take the Model 29 or the 66 out for a hunt. I would love to get a coyote with the .357, but getting one to come within range would be tough.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

nc30-06, how close do you want them? :)

Been thinking of loading up some sizzling 110's for the single six

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from nelsol wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Another good choice is the 10mm loaded with factory 180 grain Speer Gold Dot HP's @ 1350 fps from Buffalo Bore, or Hornady 180 grain XTP's. The Glock model 20 is an excellent choice as well as the Kimber Eclipse in 10mm (if you can afford the $$). Offers quick follow-up shots if needed (particularly with big hogs like we have in southern Arkansas).

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from elmer f. wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

i have been handgun hunting on and off for better than 20 years now. so, EDITORS, PAY ATTENTION! YES, WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE ABOUT HANDGUN HUNTING! my first deer was also a nice doe with a 357 smith & wesson 686. open sights (i could see much better then) with a 6" barrel. it took me 4 shots (only 1 hit), as the only shot that presented itself was as she jumped over a fence through a 20 foot wide coridore. she went about 60 yards before she droped and died. now that i am older, i realize how lucky i was that it was private property that no one else was on.

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from MReeder wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I own a couple of handguns -- 1911 Colt and a Dan Wesson .357 -- but I've never shot anything more lively than tin cans with them. It would be a different story if Texas had a special handgun season. I do hunt every year with a bow, because Texas does have a special archery season and it gives me more time to hunt. I know that conventional wisdom holds that nothing less than a .44 mag should be used for deer, but I have a hard time believing a well-constructed pistol bullet won't kill as cleanly as a well-placed arrow, which generates a whale of a lot less energy than a .357. Main point, being "well-placed." That means getting close and practicing, which is the whole point of short-range and/or primitive weapons. I must say I have a lot of trouble believing a .357 bullet simply lodges in the skin of whitetails, as someone claimed. Evidently, you must hunt in an area where the deer wear Kevlar body armor. Reminds me of that mule deer Elmer Keith always claimed ran away after being shot six or seven times in the chest with a .30-06. One wonders if something else wasn't at play there...

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from julia520 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

great site with testking 642-357 good post….i really appreciated your work

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from philbourjaily wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Clay Cooper -- The .45 bullet you describe sounds very effective. I have never heard of such a thing, but remember, this handgun shooting is all new to me. By the way, my mom reads the blog sometimes, and you've got her calling me Sir Phil!

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from CCMJS wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have 2 hunting handguns, a Ruger Redhawk .44 mag with Leupold scope and a S&W 29 .44mag. Two great guns.

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from Zermoid wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Don't know if you count this as "handgun hunting" or not, but I always have a revolver on me, a 22LR in small game and a 44Mag in deer, and I'm dangerous to about 50 yds with both, my old eyes just can't see them very well past that! And I do consider it a secondary gun, if I get a close shot I'll use the pistol, longer and I go to the rifle. We have alot of those sapling covered areas which were clearcut many years ago. Easier to swing and aim a handgun than a rifle in that stuff!

Blew a chance at a nice buck a few years back due to my being stupid and leaving my rifle scope on 9x and not having a handgun BU weapon. At under 50 yds and all the dang saplings I couldn't find the deer in the scope!
Everytime I mounted the rifle all I saw was tree trunks!

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from Tim Platt wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

They don't let you carry two weapons in Tennessee or I would have shot one with a pistol by now.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Sir Phil! (crack me up your Mom does but you deserve it!)

All jokes aside and by the way, I'm impressed that you blazed a new trail into the shooting world and good for you no joke I can't think of a better Sportsman!!!

For handgun shooting is all new to you, you will find new and improved ways, means and products us old timers would have overlooked.

Seriously looking forward to your PB(UL)Listed Products!

73's & M1A's!

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from 99explorer wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

No offense to anyone, but Skeeter Skelton once observed that the velocity of the .357 falls off to .38 Special levels at less than 100 yards.
I would not easily forgive myself for wounding and losing a deer in attempting to gain the satisfaction of taking one with a .357 Magnum revolver.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

99, 158 grain isn't the best to use.

007 is onto something, I've found 180 grain to 200 works best especially at longer ranges out to 100 to 125 yards and farther if you can hit that far but I wouldn't push it past 150.

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

99:

The .357 gets a bad rap because it isn't intended to be used for the 100 yard shots that the scope sighted single shot boys, .454 Silhouette crowd, etc. routinely make. Use it at bow range like Phil did (which is about as far as you can put a bullet right where you want it, in the field, with a iron sighted "normal" handgun)and a .357 will do in any deer. How many of us have had a deer run 35 yards when we shot it with a magnum rifle?

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from wgiles wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

The next time deer season rolls around, I intend to hunt with muzzleloader and handgun. At present, I can carry my muzzleloader and a handgun, during firearm season. Most of my shots have been 10 to 25 yards. If I get a close in shot, I'll use the handgun, if not I'll use the muzzleloader. I have confidence in it well past 100 yards. When the weather improves, I'll probably try some penetration tests with my handguns and the Barnes copper bullets.

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from 99explorer wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

focusfront-
You have a valid point. I was thinking about a comment Dave Petzal made a while back about how few of us could restrain ourselves from stretching the range a bit on the last day of the season.
I think he absolutely guaranteed us that we could not.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Sir Phil,

Food for thought for the Hand Gunner Edition.

Cast vs jacketed bullets for hunting.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

focusfront

I have some 200 grain round nose that will change your mind for 100 yards for the 357 Magnum when loaded with H110, great for silhouette too!!

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from capnball45 wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

My 1st handgun deer came in 1995. Other 1st's, 1987 Deer taken with .50 cal side hammer muzzleloader, today I still do not own any inlines. 2002 Turkey with 12ga dbbl muzzleloading shotgun. squirrel with .36 cal muzzleloading rifle. 2009, deer .45 cal flintlock rifle.
Dec 11th 2010 My 1st cow elk taken in my home state of kentucky with Mod 70 30-06. Upland birds with muzzleloading shotguns and traditional side by sides. F&S readers have many ways to harvest game.

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from Steiny7070 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I recently inherited a Dan Wesson .357 from my Grandfather (may he rest in peace) and have been debating about taking it deer hunting this fall. After reading your article I think I will. I can just see my Grandpa sitting on his cloud and chuckling if I successfully harvest a deer (or blowing an opportunity with my luck). And I couldn't think of a better way to honor his memory than to take an animal with the exact gun he taught me to shoot so many years ago. If i do rest assured it will be hanging on the wall, right next to a picture of him and I at the range from 15 years ago.

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from jay wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I've been hunting with a handgun for quite some time; ever since Illinois opened up the handgun season in mid January. I believe this season was introduced around 1995. This season has turned into a "late antlerless" season that allows you to use a slug gun or muzzleloader but I still choose to take my smith and wesson 629 .44 magnum. I have a 2x burris scope on top of the 8 and 3/8 inch barrel. I really enjoy this hunt, changes it up a little bit and presents a big challenge. This time of year in west central Illinois the deer are herded up. You typically see zero, or double digit numbers. With shooting sticks, I can hit a paper plate every time at 80 yards but I keep my shots down to about half that distance. If you have the opportunity to try a handgun hunt you should take advantage of it; its a really good experience.

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from Harold wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congratulations Phil! If you ever feel the need to get a more powerful handgun, you might want to look into a 41 magnum. I load mine with Hornady XTPs and they really open up. My S&W Mod. 57 is one of the more accurate handguns that I have and it seems to kick less than a 44 mag. but delivers more than enough power for deer. By the way, I praise your self-control in letting the animal get close before shooting. Too many hunters get impatient and start banging away when their animal is too far out.

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from philbourjaily wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Bob --
Having shot all of one deer with a handgun, I am no authority. And, as a novice handgun shooter, I chose the .357 because I knew I would practice more with inexpensive, light-recoiling .38 special ammo than I would with a .44 magnum and .44 specials.

I figured being able to hit what I was shooting at with a premium bullet and limiting myself only to close, broadside shots was better than shooting badly with a bigger gun.

At the range I shot the doe the bullet only retained 500 foot/pounds of energy, but it broke an upper leg bone, went through the heart and into the far ribs. I don't see how a heavier, faster bullet would have killed it any quicker in this particular instance.

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from Beekeeper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Isn't it great to find something that adds to the thrill! Well done! I used to hunt a great deal with a Ruger Blackhawk in .44 magnum. I enjoyed it greatly and found the handgun ideal for the several stand sites. I still use old Blackie on ocassion and still find the hunt quite rewarding.

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from 007 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Richard Metcalf of "Shooting Times" fame once wrote that he was comfortable with the .357 magnum for whitetails within reasonable range and with heavier bullets (180 grains if memory serves), and Phil's experience bears this out. I personally prefer a .44 magnum but I also have experience with that round and don't mind the muzzle blast and recoil. Phil, time to shop for a Contender or Encore, you know you want one! Welcome to the handgun hunting family.

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from Moose1980 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Way to go Phil. I've always wanted to try handgun hunting but never had the oppurtunity, maybe I'll make it happen.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Thanks Phil for breaking new ground (subject)

Finding the bullet in the hide on the far side even under the skin is a sign of a good load for a handgun.

When a storm front comes in raining so hard you think the rain is coming from the ground, I just carry my Ruger Super Blackhawk® loaded with a Elmer Keith load, 250 grain cast with 21.0 grains of 2400. Sometimes I dig out the 357 Single Six loaded with 200 grain Round Nose Cast loaded with H110. I've found better performance with 180 plus bullets for longer range in the 357.

Sir Phil, adding Handgun Hunting to F&S is way past due, thanks for blazing a new trail!

Look forward to more information from you!

Last Wednesday out at Jacks Place my cell phone went off just as I raised my bow. I've found the Turkey Gobble to be the most effective. Didn't spook the doe at all, it just looked up out of curiosity stared at me for 20 seconds then went back to eating giving me the shot I needed.

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from Carney wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I do not handgun hunt but I always carry a sidearm in the forest, either 357 or 45LC revolver. I was surprised to see the level of penetration that Phil got from the 357 cartridge. I carry 357 confident that it will penetrate like that in an emergency against a dangerous animal, but I don't hunt with it for fear that it won't! Is that crazy or what? Maybe I should see a therapist about this...

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from ishawooa wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Way back when I was young and my 3 screw Super Blackhawk was just a Ruger, I managed to shoot a decent mulie buck that really just happened to walk by me. Using hard cast 240 gr bullets I shot him through the chest causing him to run like a rocket. I thought I missed but my hunting partner swore that he saw "meat come out the other side". The buck slowed down at about 75 yards so I shot him in the butt. He dropped immediately and had expired by the time we approached. What I found was a 4 x 4 buck with a sizeable hole in the left hip which proceeded through the body cavity and exited the right front shoulder. Of course the first shot somehow went through the left front shoulder as placement was a bit forward. This left me with backstrap, tenderloin, a small rack, and one good quarter with no bullet hole. Not the best shooting I have ever done.

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from ishawooa wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have an old friend down south who has hunted with a 5 inch M-27 using 125 gr Keith style bullets at least since 1973. I suppose he has killed a truckload of whitetails and another of hogs. Many were one shot kills and few animals travel very far. All his shots are close from a tree stand and he is a very careful fellow. I don't remember him ever feeling that he needed more gun.
I have never shot a deer with my .357 but I know I can definately shoot tighter groups with it at 50 or at 100 yards than I can accomplish with my .44 Rem Mag or my .45 ACP.

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from Hunter Savage wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congratulations and welcome to handgun hunting . Now do you see a contender or encore in your future as well , you just have to get a .44 mag as well ha ha. Hopefully we may see a few more articles in F&S .
Tell me do you feel like a showoff,braggart,poseur,or hack ? Thats what I thought. If you dont get what I am pointing at go back and read cheers & jeers from October and then December as well.

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from charlie elk wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congrats on your first handgun deer it is much more challenging way to hunt. 357 is a little light for deer. Had you used a 44 at 35 steps the deer would not have gone 50 yards. It would have been laying at point of impact.
I gave up on the 357 for deer years ago converting to the 44 and never looked back.

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from fng wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil; Thank you! great article! I've always wanted to try this, but as Canadian gun laws (and some of their wildlife ones) are moronic, handgun hunting is a no-no, even though its perfectly moral and safe. Besides, I've been staring at .454 Casul cases ever since I first fired one :)

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from mejohnhunter wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

You're correct Phil, there are a lot of handgun hunters. I took my first whitetail, a large doe, in 1978. It was the first year handguns were allowed for big game in New York's southern zone and I was one of two hunters statewide to score that opening day using a handgun. The gun was a S&W Model 19 .357 Magnum with a six inch tube, factory iron sights and handloads using Speer 160 gr. JHP's. The doe was hit in the sweet spot at 35 yards. She ran about 15 yards before going lights out. I still have that gun and it has accounted for a number of other deer as have my S&W Models 25-5 and 57.

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from VAturkeyhunter wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

sounds fun and thats a big ol doe

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from NHshtr wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congratulations Phil!

I also shot my first handgun deer this year. I was in a tree stand with my scoped Ruger SBH in .44 mag. Sometime before dusk a doe came strolling by nose down at 74 yards (range finder reference). I had been practicing all summer shooting out to 100 yds and was able to place all shots in the kill zone. So I rested my wrists on the rail, got the scope on the sweet spot, took and let out a deep breath, and touched it off. That deer did a leap, made a heck of a kick and went about 35 yards and dropped. I was shooting Hornady's 240 grain XTP/HP in one of my own loads and they did the job.

I had been practicing all summer in hopes of getting a shot like that and the hunting gods smiled on me that day.

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from philbourjaily wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Clay Cooper -- The .45 bullet you describe sounds very effective. I have never heard of such a thing, but remember, this handgun shooting is all new to me. By the way, my mom reads the blog sometimes, and you've got her calling me Sir Phil!

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from MLH wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Satisfying feeling isn't it? Was wondering how those Barnes handgun bullets would work in smaller calibers. Next thing you know you'll be adding more handguns to your gun collection.

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil:

Congratulations on your first handgun deer! And (no offense to anyone) you did it with a real handgun that fits in a holster, shooting a round that was working long before the world ever heard of the .500 S & W!

Check out this website.

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=20

The heavier bullets will do in any deer that walks. Lighter bullets in the .357 are for self-defense; penetration is a sin there. But it is a virtue when shooting deer. No accident that Federal's deer ammo for magnum handguns is heavy for the caliber (.357= 180 grains, I believe). Keep us posted!

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil:

Congratulations on your first handgun deer! And (no offense to anyone) you did it with a real handgun that fits in a holster, shooting a round that was working long before the world ever heard of the .500 S & W!

Check out this website.

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=20

The heavier bullets will do in any deer that walks. Lighter bullets in the .357 are for self-defense; penetration is a sin there. But it is a virtue when shooting deer. No accident that Federal's deer ammo for magnum handguns is heavy for the caliber (.357= 180 grains, I believe). Keep us posted!

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

99:

The .357 gets a bad rap because it isn't intended to be used for the 100 yard shots that the scope sighted single shot boys, .454 Silhouette crowd, etc. routinely make. Use it at bow range like Phil did (which is about as far as you can put a bullet right where you want it, in the field, with a iron sighted "normal" handgun)and a .357 will do in any deer. How many of us have had a deer run 35 yards when we shot it with a magnum rifle?

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from -Bob wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congrats on a very nice doe, Phil.

Here's my question, which other may have already touched on -- does a .357 reliably generate enough energy to humanely dispatch a deer-sized game animal? Honestly, I don't know the answer to that question.

"Conventional wisdom" has always held the .44Mag as the minimum, although it doesn't produce the magic 1,000 ft. lbs. of energy even at the muzzle. I've taken three thus far using a 6" barreled Dan Wesson .44 with fairly stout handloads. None of them went more than a few steps.

Would I see the same results with a .357?

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from -Bob wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil, thanks for the explanation. I agree with your rationale entirely. -Bob

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from HogBlog wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Nice! I've killed a blacktail deer and a few hogs with my .44, but nowadays I don't have time or opportunity to practice with it enough to stay sharp under hunting conditions. I mostly only carry it now as a backup while guiding hog hunters (shots are at powderburn range on wounded or bayed hogs).

It's definitely a great and rewarding challenge if you can contain yourself and keep your shots at reasonable ranges.

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from Levi Banks wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil, given the new laws in Iowa, did you carry that handgun concealed?

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from duff wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Nice job Phil! I use a .44 Rem Mag Super Redhawk; results are excellent. Can you describe the view/adjustability if any, through the site you used? I do not use but the iron sites on mine.
Thanks.

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from buckshot89 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

congrats phil, thats an impressive doe. i have always wanted to use a 357 mag for a deer. we have a couple that would be legal for deer hunting here in ohio, but i've never been able to put down my 870 for a handgun hunt. i'm looking forward to trying one next year.

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from idduckhntr wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

We are now allowed to use handguns in our short range units. Been thinkin about a Magnum Research BFR in 454 and puting in for a moose hunt. Congrats Phil, looks like a fun hunt.

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from 007 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Nothing better than carrying the T/C Contender for squirrels in early fall, either a 10" .22 magnum or .410 barrel. I'm also going rabbit hunting with the .410 handgun for rabbits later this month. I've taken a few deer with the T/C as well with barrels chambered to either .30 Herret or .35 Remington and hope to take a bear with the .35 some time. My son also handgun hunts and my daughter wants to get into it. Welcome to the handgun clan! Ditto Cooner in referring to that moronic letter in the earlier printed edition.

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from 007 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Forgot to add, we also like to hunt groundhogs with either the .22 magnum or a 14" .222 Remington barrel in place.

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from jbird wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I've shot 2 deer with my .44 mag. My favorite handgun hunting cartridge is the .41 mag. I'd recommend one to anyone. Very accurate, lots of knock-down power, and very little recoil. Congrats on your first pistol deer.

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from JD wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Nice doe, Phil! Branching out from handguns, how about allowing handgun cartridge rifles as well in shotgun only areas?
I love my Ruger Blackhawk in .44 mag, but would love to carry my Winchester 1892 rifle in that caliber as well. Can I "outshoot" it with my slug gun? Absolutely! Shoots farther, hits harder blah blah blah...I just prefer hunting with a rifle, even if limited to handgun ammo.

What are your thoughts? Think this could catch on?

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from Mac in Mo wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congrats Phil. Another challenge you could try is .22 pistol for squirrel and/or rabbit. I love to go out and collect a few bushy tails with my Ruger MKII, might get tomorrow now that I mention it.

Kevin

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from Sanjuancb wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Congrats! I've been wanting to get into the sport of handgun-hunting but haven't made it there yet. Hopefully soon! I've been eyeing a Ruger Redhawk in .44 mag for a while.

Oddly enough, I know quite a few people who have had excellent luck with the .45 ACP (usually in a 1911) on whitetails.

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from Tony C. wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Phil,

I'm wanting to take up handgun hunting. I'd like to know more about your equipment. I think I like the idea of a .357 since the recoil isn't as much as the bigger bores.

Also, is that a red dot on top of the gun and how do you like it?

A think a future post on the equipment pictured would be right on time for some of us who want to handgun hunt and also have a set-up like this for home defense or whatever.

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from wgiles wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I am very impressed with the performance of the Barnes solid copper bullets. I had my choice of shotgun slug, muzzleloader or handgun for deer hunting this fall. I ended up taking my deer with a 3/4 Oz. Barnes solid copper sabot slug and I was shooting 250 Gr. Barnes T-EZ solid copper sabots in my muzzleloader. I didn't have the right loads for my handguns, 357 and 41 magnums, so I didn't take them. I'm going to get some of the Federal Premium ammunition with the Barnes bullets before next fall.

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from wgiles wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Oddly enough, the one cartridge that I have no confidence in as a hunting cartridge is the .45 ACP.

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

That sow must be as long as a "Cadillac Cah!".
Congrats, Phil.
I've been wanting to take a deer with a handgun. So far, it's the only method I've not used. Rifle, bow, black powder and shotgun. I've got an 8 3/8 Mod 57 S&W that I am proficient with out to 50 yards easy. Maybe next fall!

Bubba

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from mad_dog9999 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Good job Phil. My aunt's brother in law and son used to handgun hunt where I hunt at. Unfortunately he passed away and the son is now in afganistan. And I don't have a handgun yet. I'd like to go though

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from mountaindew732 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

my dad just traded in his rifle for a tc contender this year and took it out during rifle. And believe it or not, he actually got a deer! We were all chiding him that there was no way he was going to get one, but sure enough, a nice doe came within range and he made a good shot that dropped the deer instantly

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from Randy S. Breth wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

.357 is plenty for Deer at normal (close) handgun range, IF you practice and can actually hit the spot you're aiming at. After that, it all depends on bullet performance. I use handloaded 158-grain Hornady XTP's - they exit on broadside shots like you had there Phil.
I don't like how the petals on that Barnes X folded over on themselves, but it worked, didn't it?

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from spiaailtli wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

A handgun was all I used for over 10 years. I've shot them from up close in your lap to well past 100 yards. I only use open sights though and wondered about scopes and such. If you're keep the distance under 50 yards don't be afraid to use the best round of all time for your 357. That 125gr SJHP at 1450 fps will do much more damage than the heavier "tougher" bullets poking along at a snails pace. Don't be alarmed by finding the bullet under the hide on the off side. No matter the distance or bullet size you'll always get that result with the 357. Heck even when I hunted with a muzzleloader the 50 caliber round ball would do the same from 5 feet to 150 yards out. If you would have shot the deer head on in the chest you would have found that bullet in the ham. I've had end to end penetration on quite a few over the years.

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from CCMJS wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have 2 hunting handguns, a Ruger Redhawk .44 mag with Leupold scope and a S&W 29 .44mag. Two great guns.

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from MReeder wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I own a couple of handguns -- 1911 Colt and a Dan Wesson .357 -- but I've never shot anything more lively than tin cans with them. It would be a different story if Texas had a special handgun season. I do hunt every year with a bow, because Texas does have a special archery season and it gives me more time to hunt. I know that conventional wisdom holds that nothing less than a .44 mag should be used for deer, but I have a hard time believing a well-constructed pistol bullet won't kill as cleanly as a well-placed arrow, which generates a whale of a lot less energy than a .357. Main point, being "well-placed." That means getting close and practicing, which is the whole point of short-range and/or primitive weapons. I must say I have a lot of trouble believing a .357 bullet simply lodges in the skin of whitetails, as someone claimed. Evidently, you must hunt in an area where the deer wear Kevlar body armor. Reminds me of that mule deer Elmer Keith always claimed ran away after being shot six or seven times in the chest with a .30-06. One wonders if something else wasn't at play there...

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from Tim Platt wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have always wanted to try this, especially because I hunt in thick woods and all of my deer are taken at close range. The problem is my only handguns are .22 and .40 caliber. Besides that every time I shoot a .44 mag I can't hit the side of a barn at twenty paces.

It's things like this that keep hunting interesting, though, especially when your hair starts turning white and you have shot more deer than you can count. I am often tempted to try my .40 cal in the woods, but every time I think "what if this is the day I see the big one?" I'll cry the rest of my life that I didn't have an'06.... decisions decisions decisions.

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from Tim Platt wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

They don't let you carry two weapons in Tennessee or I would have shot one with a pistol by now.

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from nc30-06 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Fantastic Phil. Congratulations. I've got to take the Model 29 or the 66 out for a hunt. I would love to get a coyote with the .357, but getting one to come within range would be tough.

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from Zermoid wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Don't know if you count this as "handgun hunting" or not, but I always have a revolver on me, a 22LR in small game and a 44Mag in deer, and I'm dangerous to about 50 yds with both, my old eyes just can't see them very well past that! And I do consider it a secondary gun, if I get a close shot I'll use the pistol, longer and I go to the rifle. We have alot of those sapling covered areas which were clearcut many years ago. Easier to swing and aim a handgun than a rifle in that stuff!

Blew a chance at a nice buck a few years back due to my being stupid and leaving my rifle scope on 9x and not having a handgun BU weapon. At under 50 yds and all the dang saplings I couldn't find the deer in the scope!
Everytime I mounted the rifle all I saw was tree trunks!

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from elmer f. wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

i have been handgun hunting on and off for better than 20 years now. so, EDITORS, PAY ATTENTION! YES, WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE ABOUT HANDGUN HUNTING! my first deer was also a nice doe with a 357 smith & wesson 686. open sights (i could see much better then) with a 6" barrel. it took me 4 shots (only 1 hit), as the only shot that presented itself was as she jumped over a fence through a 20 foot wide coridore. she went about 60 yards before she droped and died. now that i am older, i realize how lucky i was that it was private property that no one else was on.

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from LutherMartin1517 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have a friend who shot a Boon and Crockette buck with a .357 and he nearly lost it. I don't remember if he shot it 5 or 6 times but one bullet lodge in the skin barely. A couple others were just under the skin. The thing ran 400 yards. He bought a 44 magnum the next year and never hada problem again. I say anything less than 41 Magnum should not be used for deer.

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from LutherMartin1517 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

I have a friend who shot a Boon and Crockette buck with a .357 and he nearly lost it. I don't remember if he shot it 5 or 6 times but one bullet lodge in the skin barely. A couple others were just under the skin. The thing ran 400 yards. He bought a 44 magnum the next year and never hada problem again. I say anything less than 41 Magnum should not be used for deer.

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Good on YA Phil.

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from nelsol wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Another good choice is the 10mm loaded with factory 180 grain Speer Gold Dot HP's @ 1350 fps from Buffalo Bore, or Hornady 180 grain XTP's. The Glock model 20 is an excellent choice as well as the Kimber Eclipse in 10mm (if you can afford the $$). Offers quick follow-up shots if needed (particularly with big hogs like we have in southern Arkansas).

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from wgiles wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

The next time deer season rolls around, I intend to hunt with muzzleloader and handgun. At present, I can carry my muzzleloader and a handgun, during firearm season. Most of my shots have been 10 to 25 yards. If I get a close in shot, I'll use the handgun, if not I'll use the muzzleloader. I have confidence in it well past 100 yards. When the weather improves, I'll probably try some penetration tests with my handguns and the Barnes copper bullets.

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from 99explorer wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

No offense to anyone, but Skeeter Skelton once observed that the velocity of the .357 falls off to .38 Special levels at less than 100 yards.
I would not easily forgive myself for wounding and losing a deer in attempting to gain the satisfaction of taking one with a .357 Magnum revolver.

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from 99explorer wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

focusfront-
You have a valid point. I was thinking about a comment Dave Petzal made a while back about how few of us could restrain ourselves from stretching the range a bit on the last day of the season.
I think he absolutely guaranteed us that we could not.

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from dasmith wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

My first hunting handgun kill was in the Catskill Mountains of NY. I was using a S&W .357 Combat Magnum with a 4 inch barrel, with Federal 158 Hydra Shock JHP. A doe presented me with a nice broad side shot at 25-30 yards. One shot just behind the shoulder, (even had time to put on shooting muffs) fell in place and then a finishing shot to the head. Even though it was a doe, I so proud to see my name in the local paper stating I took it with a handgun. Shot placement is important and I would recommend the factory Federal 158 Hydra Shok round. I do now carry a S&W 29 .44 Mag 6" with either 210 STHP or 240 JHP. But, wouldn't hesitate to use the .357 if that what I was carrying. CONGRADULATIONS on your first one.

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from Bill Stryker wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Well done Phil. Getting a deer with a handgun is a real thrill and real accomplishment.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

That Barnes worked as designed for a handgun bullet :)

Question Sir Phil,

Have you ever come across anything like this?

About 11'ish years ago at a Gunsmith in Ft Smith AR on Rogers AVE, I was showed a 45ACP round intended for FBI and US Marshal use. At first glance it looked just like any other 230gr Ball. He showed me an identical fired bullet and it had the best mushroom you have ever seen especially for a 45 or any other handgun round. What was different was nothing I ever seen before or even thought of; the bullet by external specifications is in fact a full metal jacket by definition with tiny etched latitude lines in the ogive. But what made it drastically different is, it was actually a cross between an exceptionally large cavity hollow point and a full metal jacket where upon impact, the nose would collapse creating the perfect mushroom.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

By the way, your absolutely right telling the editors at F&S a lot of readers hunt with handguns!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

nc30-06, how close do you want them? :)

Been thinking of loading up some sizzling 110's for the single six

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Sir Phil! (crack me up your Mom does but you deserve it!)

All jokes aside and by the way, I'm impressed that you blazed a new trail into the shooting world and good for you no joke I can't think of a better Sportsman!!!

For handgun shooting is all new to you, you will find new and improved ways, means and products us old timers would have overlooked.

Seriously looking forward to your PB(UL)Listed Products!

73's & M1A's!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

99, 158 grain isn't the best to use.

007 is onto something, I've found 180 grain to 200 works best especially at longer ranges out to 100 to 125 yards and farther if you can hit that far but I wouldn't push it past 150.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

Sir Phil,

Food for thought for the Hand Gunner Edition.

Cast vs jacketed bullets for hunting.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

focusfront

I have some 200 grain round nose that will change your mind for 100 yards for the 357 Magnum when loaded with H110, great for silhouette too!!

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from julia520 wrote 3 years 14 weeks ago

great site with testking 642-357 good post….i really appreciated your work

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from capnball45 wrote 3 years 13 weeks ago

My 1st handgun deer came in 1995. Other 1st's, 1987 Deer taken with .50 cal side hammer muzzleloader, today I still do not own any inlines. 2002 Turkey with 12ga dbbl muzzleloading shotgun. squirrel with .36 cal muzzleloading rifle. 2009, deer .45 cal flintlock rifle.
Dec 11th 2010 My 1st cow elk taken in my home state of kentucky with Mod 70 30-06. Upland birds with muzzleloading shotguns and traditional side by sides. F&S readers have many ways to harvest game.

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from Steiny7070 wrote 2 years 51 weeks ago

I recently inherited a Dan Wesson .357 from my Grandfather (may he rest in peace) and have been debating about taking it deer hunting this fall. After reading your article I think I will. I can just see my Grandpa sitting on his cloud and chuckling if I successfully harvest a deer (or blowing an opportunity with my luck). And I couldn't think of a better way to honor his memory than to take an animal with the exact gun he taught me to shoot so many years ago. If i do rest assured it will be hanging on the wall, right next to a picture of him and I at the range from 15 years ago.

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