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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, with all the magnum big-bores available, I realize that a .357 might not be the first choice to pursue big game with.

I'm just curious "why?". Sometimes the reasoning can be as simple as "there's better stuff available". I'm looking for reasons beyond this line of thought.

I'm looking for some "horror stories". Have people moved on to the bigger and better because of some woeful inadequacies of the .357?

You don't have to give me the "bullet placement" song and dance, I've heard it, I've sang it, I've danced it.

What it boils down to is knowing your ability and choosing a tool to serve that ability. I prefer a weapon that can be counted on to penetrate shoulder muscle and bone and continue through to make a lethal wound.
 

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What it boils down to is that most people do not work at getting close enough to their quarry by really hunting or they do not have the skill necessary to apply the tool of their choice. Provided one uses a heavy cast bullet of the 180 grain persuasion, a .357 mag will do fairly well as a deer killer.

I for one am glad that deer do not read ballistics charts, 'cause there would be a whole lot of deer that would know they weren't supposed to die with what I shot them with.

Because you claim to know about placement; I'l give you another "P". Penetration is vital if your are going to put game down. One simply has to get the bullet into the vitals or through enough of the skeleton to stop an animal. Most of the time, a .357 is marginal at best in the penetration department.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Exactly! Penetration to the vitals IS vital.

Getting within lethal range is not my concern. Penetration through muscle and bone is more of a concern.

A hunter can do an excellent job hunting "in close". But if the only shot presented at 15-25 yards is through the shoulder and bone. . . Can the .357 do it?

Is the .357 notorious for failing on shoulder shots?
 

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I have never used one, but they are legal in my state so I would say it is up to the task. I would venture to say that at 50 yards or less, it is going to make a hole on both sides of the deer the same as a bigger caliber.
 

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357 for deer

Ok, here's my experience. I've only shot one deer with a .357. That was at a measured 70 yds with a 6" smith. Bullet was a 140 gr silvertip. It entered the chest behind the shoulder, the buck ran about 75 yds and piled up. (with a chest shot, it don't seem to matter much what you use: they still seem to run 50-75 yds!) I could not find the bullet. It did not exit. The lungs and the vessels at the top of the heart were shredded. On that shot, the bullet did exactly what it is supposed to do. Had I hit the shoulder instead, who knows? I would feel much better with a good cast bullet over a warm handload. My father hunted deer for years with an old 1873 win in 32-20. Always said,"didn't have much power, but if you get close enough and place your shot correctly, it will do the job" Nuff said! Personally, I prefer a heavier caliber, but if that is all you have or like me, you just want to take a deer with a particular gun, have at it. It will do the job. Stay Safe. 44 Man
 

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I have shot two big mule deer with a 357 mag. The first was at 40yards with a 4" security six. I hit just a little two far back and the bullet didn't hit anything vital and it ran about 400 yards up the mountain and laid down. I tracked it and shot it in the head. It never got up. I was useing a 180gr cast bullet.

The next one was another big mullie doe that was running broadside at about 70 yards. I was useing a Marlin 1894 lever gun, one of the first 357s to come out back in the 70s. I was useing a load from the Speer #9 book which consisted of a good dose of 296 and a speer 180gr 35 cal rifle bullet at about 1750 fps. I had two boys with me and they both said I hit her in the hams, which we found out later was wrong. She ran another 20 or 30 yards and stopped and looked back over her back at us. She was facing streight away. I shot her in the neck and she went down right there. When I field dressed her, her heart was gone and her lungs were in bad shape. When she stopped to look back at us, she probably wasn't going anywhere else.

That said, I still prefer a 44 mag for deer.

Sixgun
 

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here's the truth as I see it...mammals get tougher with age.I can prove it.back when the 357 first came about,it was used for whitetail, elk, bear, etc. it was the darling of gunwriters/handgunhunters.the recoil was said to be almost too much,a frail person was in danger of wrist fractures.then by a little known natural process,the mammals got tougher.(about the time of the .44 magnum).then, the 357 was not enough for elk or bear, and on whitetails was just marginal.also wrists got stronger in humans, no more reports of broken wrists.now, (well, about the time of the 475 linebaugh,ssk hand cannons, etc)the game is even harder to kill.wrists are massive!the 357 will hardly raise the hand, much less harm the wrist.whitetails are impervious to anything below the 454 casull!people, if this keeps up, in ten years squirrels will be tough enough to uproot whole hickory nut trees,it'll take a 300 weatherby to kill a jackrabbit,and god knows what can take down that size-of-a-goat-but ever-tougher whitetail!!
 

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i find the 180gr bullet range to be the best, though i use the 180 XTP hp. 163lb (fielddressed) 8 point buck. double lung at 25yards, and out the otherside at about 50-60cal. deer ran 25yards and died in midstride load is 180XTP/15gr lilgun.
just a note on that load. i tried going overmax but the accuracy decreased so bad that i backed down to max of 15gr.
makes a nices deer load, but i wouldnt try the shoulder shot with a HP maybe a heavy cast but i think that the lung shot is better
 

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357s and Whitetail

Fellas: nobody has yet mentioned the 200 grain bullet in the 357 - whazza matta, everybody get lost at the 180 grain mark?

Few people seem to know about this bullet weight in the 357s. Lots of folks talk up the 180s but they do not perform the way I would think a 180 grain 357 diameter bullet should - perhaps it is the bullet design, as either a soft point or hollow-point.

The 200 grain bullet comes in a couple of configurations: you can get the gas checked bullet for the 35 caliber rifles - that works nicely for practice and general plinking; you can get a round nose flat point bullet that has shown excellent penetration from even short barrelled revolvers, and you can get this bullet weight in the semi-wadcutter configuration. Cast hard, these heavies penetrate through the chest of a whitetail out to 100 yds. Out to 50 yds, from my 3 and 1/2 inch Model 27 they will bust through the shoulder of a whitetail and continue on through the chest.

I think the 200 grainer has just enough forward weight and center of gravity to aid its penetrative capabilities, moreso than the 180s or even Elmer Keith's favorite 168-170 grain swc. I use a Winchester factory charge of 12.4 grains of 296 powder for a stated (not chrono-ed) velocity of 1335 at only 35K pressure (lower than the factory 158 grain load). It is easy to shoot and doesn't break my wrist under recoil. On the silhouette range these take the ram at 200 yds and competetion is easier than with some of the larger handcannons.

I think this load would perform even better from some of the carbine or rifle length critters out now and should do just as well from the long barrelled Encore/Contenders. I guess we just have to shoot more often, huh.

Mikey.
 

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The 357 will work with the good shot placement and range and ammo. Some of the problem is that alot of ammo is home defence ammo designed to expand rapidly and not penerate. Stay with stout bullets and you willbe OK. I recommend a 357 for people getting in to big bore handguns. It is easier and cheaper to shoot. I would rather see some one hunt that has practiced with a 357 than someone running around the woods with a 454 beacuse it has power "I don't need to practice " attitude.

Food for thought. The meplat on the 357 LBT WFN is the same as the standard 44 Keith. The meplat is what does wound channel width. The weight is what is the factor for the depth of the channel

Hcliff
 

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This is the oldest discussion in the history of handgun hunting.
If the question is: "Can you kill deer with a .357 Magnum?"
The answer is yes! But you can kill a deer with a rimfire 22 also.
If the question is: "Should I use a .357 Magnum to kill a deer?"
The answer is NO! (if you have to ask it is not the right weapon to choose)

My point here is that there are hunters that can humanely kill deer with a 357 and there are those who hunt who can't kill humanely with a 300 Winchester magnum. If you have to shoot twice, you are showing disrespect for that animal. It has a right to die quickly to give it's life to nourish yours. If I got a clean, broadside shot at a deer at no more than 50 yards I would have no hesitation in shooting to kill a deer. I choose NOT to hunt within the limitations of the 357 Magnum because I am not that good a hunter. Is that plain enough? For those, like my brother, who are good enough to get close to a deer the 357 Magnum is a fine choice - not the ultimate choice but a valid one.

My final argument on this topic is this:
Most "hunters" that I see "sighting in" their weapons at the range, group their bullets at about eight inches at 100 yards with a rifle from the bench. Those at the pistol range have about the same size groups at 25 yards while resting on the bench. I don't think these folks should be hunting at all! When the question is raised about whether a specific caliber is good for hunting, I always see this large group of people, without a bench "blasting away" at some poor animal that has offered itself to support their life, being wounded and sometimes just given to the crows and coyotes because the "hunter" involved couldn't follow a blood trail if there was one.
(Rev. Paul steps off the soap box and sits down)

PaulS
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Oh Paul, I suppose then a bow and arrow is completely inadequate for hunting deer? Yet thousands of people use them.

You just have to know the capabilities of the weapon.

What I wanted to know was more factual information on whether a .357 mag was capable of penetrating the shoulder and bone of a deer within reasonable range.

Oh well, at least I know what your opinion is. :)
 

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Of course the .357 is adequate. Too many people have done it for it to be otherwise. Granted, it takes more skill, but isn't that the fun of this sport? The challange? I prefer the .44 mag., others the .45 Colt, and there are the hand cannons. Each one takes a different set of skills and practice. My tactical firearms instructor was a former national champion revolver shooter. He made fun of us who were taking the course with automatics and preceeded to show us what a good S&W could do. Humbled me. I asked him if he had taken any deer with his .357 and he said three. One at 40 yards, and one at 60 yards. When I pressed him about the third, he said he had holstered his gun and was eating some peanutbutter crackers when a hungry buck smelled them and decided he wanted some, too. It charged right into the thicked where he was, and had to shoot it in self defense.

Just read Alice Cooper's reply again. It was priceless and oh so correct!
 

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my experience (one) with shooting whitetails with 357 is this: broadside shot, 20 yards, no brush, very supported position, very accurate gun. no way i missed. i guareentee that deer died. but it left no blood trail. everyone use what you want ( god bless ya). my experience has been that a bigger hole would have done me better. i never recovered the deer, so i could not tell you what went wrong. all i know is i stood there with a stupid look on my face when the deer ran off without a blood trail. and where i hunt, if you aint got a blod trail, you aint gonna find your deer.
 

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I have never killed a whitetail with a 357 mag. My first was with a 30-30 and my last was with a 308. I have killed 3 mule deer with a 357 mag though and they got dead real quick. A real short blood trail. The first was about 70 yards and the next 2 at 40 to 50 yards.

When I go after mule deer and am packing a 357 mag, I always use a load that will kill a mule deer. I use a bullet heavier than a 158gr hp, and use a healthy dose of 296 or h110. I have never recovered a bullet cause they just go on through and the deer and blood goes out both sides. I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a mule deer at 100 yards with my 4" revolver if I had a good shot. It isn't my regular silhouette gun but it has knocked over enough 100 meter rams that I am confident of my bullet placement. That is shooting standing 2 handed without a rest.

After 100 yards that 357 mag looses steam really fast so I don't think I would try anything much byond that. I may go out to 150 yards with a rifle, but I would have to test it first.

Sixgun
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
100 yards! Wow, Sixgun, that's some shootin'.

Again, I'm not so interested in "how far" as I am in "what angle".

Can the .357 punch through shoulder and bone at say, 50 yards?

The biggest thing I don't like about deer hunting isn't the getting close part, it's the "perfect shot" part.

I don't have trouble getting within 50 yards. But in thick brush/timber, getting a clear shot to the boiler room behind the shoulder gets a bit too much.
 

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Black Jaque,

You gotta realize that where I hunt, it is much different than where you hunt. It isn't rolling hills with heavy brush. It is very steep hills with sagebrush on them and heavy brush in the bottom of the gullies. Mule deer very seldom run out of the country when you flush them out of the gullies. They run just far enough to get a good look at you over the brush, stand and look at you then get the **** out of there.

Usually, if a hunter is walking up a gully, the deer will flush out the other side and run up the side and then stop and look at you. Shots are quick and usually not more than 60 to 80 yards, sometimes even shorter. They will usually be standing, looking right at you presenting a broadside or quartering shot. That is how I have shot all of my mule deer with a handgun.

I might add that I usually don't hunt deer with a handgun. I usually carry a rifle and have the handgun along. If shots get out to around 100 yards, I always use the rifle.


Sixgun
 

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.357 for Whitetails..

I have taken one whitetail doe with my Dan Wesson 8" .357. The shot was approx 40 yds with a rest against a tree. I was using 158grn jacketed softpoint Remington factory loads. I had the pistol for backup. I was hunting in rifle season with my flintlock. Setting on a rock against a tree eating my lunch and my flinter resting about 3 steps away. I spotted the doe coming through the timber and couldn't get to my flinter. Pulled the .357 from my shoulder holster and leaned against the tree. When she cleared a tree I whistled. She stopped and I put one right behind her shoulder center from back to belly. She bucked and spun around, heading back the way she came. I jumped up and heard her crash in the creek.
She rain about 30 yards. The bullet took out both lungs and broke a rib on exit. It can be done but I used to shoot this pistol every week. I would do it again if I had the chance. Shot placement and distance is the key that has to be considered.
This doe hadn't heard about the .44 yet so it was not a problem.
Liked Alice Coopers post.

Mike
 

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Alice Cooper said:
here's the truth as I see it...mammals get tougher with age.I can prove it.back when the 357 first came about,it was used for whitetail, elk, bear, etc. it was the darling of gunwriters/handgunhunters.the recoil was said to be almost too much,a frail person was in danger of wrist fractures.then by a little known natural process,the mammals got tougher.(about the time of the .44 magnum).then, the 357 was not enough for elk or bear, and on whitetails was just marginal.also wrists got stronger in humans, no more reports of broken wrists.now, (well, about the time of the 475 linebaugh,ssk hand cannons, etc)the game is even harder to kill.wrists are massive!the 357 will hardly raise the hand, much less harm the wrist.whitetails are impervious to anything below the 454 casull!people, if this keeps up, in ten years squirrels will be tough enough to uproot whole hickory nut trees,it'll take a 300 weatherby to kill a jackrabbit,and god knows what can take down that size-of-a-goat-but ever-tougher whitetail!!
The post above is priceless! Thanks Alice.

I've taken one small doe at 40 yds with a 357 mag. I had just moved to Illinois and a 357 Max is not legal so I used a 357 Mag out of my Contender 357 Max barrel. Shot was broadside through both lungs using a 170 cast SWC. Deer ran off no more than 50 yds, spun around in a circle and laid down and died. It will work, but is not my first choice. I wouldn't hold for the shoulder though, I'd hold for a lung shot.
 

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I have killed two dear with one not my first choice but if it was good enough for Bill Jordan its good enough for me. Game alot bigger then dear were taken with it with good results. Just stay away from condom bullets and use a good heavy hard cast bullet.
 
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