Do You Need 1,000 Foot/Pounds to Take a Deer?

Before we get to our discussion question, here's a little about the picture: Last month I wrote about the excitement of hunting a deer with a handgun, and a few of you asked for a closeup of the revolver and sight I used on the hunt. I shot a S&W 627, an eight-shot .357 magnum built on the large "N" frame normally used for the 629 .44 mag. I chose it because as a novice handgunner I figured a more massive revolver combined with a load milder than a .44 magnum would be a good way to start, and because I could practice a lot with cheap, low-recoiling .38 special ammo. I figured a good hit with a smaller bullet would beat a bad hit with a bigger bullet.

I mounted a Weaver base and a Burris FastFire reflex sight, a setup that made it easier and faster to get on target than I could with iron sights. The FastFire has a 4MOA dot with a sensor that automatically brightens and dims the dot. I used it all fall and haven't yet found conditions bright enough to wash out the dot. It runs on one CR2032 battery which can last up to five years. The sight is very compact and weighs about an ounce and a half and lists for about $300.

Now, to our discussion question:

Many would consider a .357 with a five-inch barrel marginal for medium size game, especially given the old standard 1,000 foot/ pound minimum recommended for cleanly killing deer. My Federal Barnes Expander retained around 500 foot/pounds of energy when it hit my deer, which went no more than 30 yards. Several years ago I shot a deer with a muzzleloader and a .45 caliber round ball that I am sure retained less than 500 foot pounds of energy on impact, yet that deer went just 80 yards before falling over. As I remember it, the ball went in one side and out the other.

I have seen the 1,000 foot/pound minimum recommendation repeated in print a million times yet I have no idea who arrived at that figure and how, or if it has any validity at all. Did some gunwriter make it up? Does it mean anything? Is it outdated because we now have better bullets? I don't know the answer. Enlighten me.