View Full Version : handgun deer hunting

04-15-2009, 07:33 AM
is hunting deer with a handgun legal in your state? there are so many deer here in iowa i wish they would open or extend deer season to a handgun season... what caliber would you or do you use to hunt whitetail with? i think i would load up some 158 gr. sjhp pretty hot to hunt deer with my 6" s&w model 27...... i have never handgun hunted before but i believe this would do the trick with the right placed shot..... input??


04-15-2009, 02:51 PM
.357mag in a revolver, even a really strong one like a m27, is a short range proposition for deer and you have to avoid quartering shots. I would not consider using it much beyond 50yds. With a Contender, I can seat 180gr bullets to a much greater OAL and use charges of BlueDot that would be very unsafe in a revolver, but still I would be hesitant at 100yds and want a good broadside shot. That's the reason .44mag is so much more popular - an easy 100yd killer, and maybe a bit more if you can shoot it that far accurately. Then there are the biggger revolver cartridges. With a Contender or an Encore you have the option of rifle cartridges and may be able to get a practical range of 200yds or more, depending on yor cartridge choice, though shooting a handgun in the field with that level of accuracy at very long ranges is something very few hunters are capable of, except in their dreams. :D I certainly am not one of them.

04-16-2009, 10:32 AM
I deer hunt using a gp-100 using 180 gr xtp with 13.5 grains h110 and I take deer at 70 yards with 3" groups using a red dot.Im looking for a load using 128 gr barns bullet.

04-17-2009, 02:04 AM
we have an any weapons season instead of a rifle season.
kinda cool as i can take my lever actions in a thick cover area a handgun in the really thick stuff and the long range guns and sit on ridgetops if i wannna.

08-25-2009, 04:33 AM
In Utah, handguns are legal during the any weapons season as long as it produces 500 ft/lbs energy at the muzzle (for deer and pronghorn) or 500 ft/lbs energy at 100 yds for elk and moose. It also must be at least a .24 caliber and shoot expanding type projectiles.

I carry a .357 revolver loaded with 158gr JHP as a backup to my '06. I am just starting into casting my own, so will be carrying cast loads in the .357 on my next hunt. I am casting from a Lyman 358429 giving a 170gr SWC.

08-25-2009, 02:36 PM
I've used a 357, 41, 44 mag. I've got a T/C Contender with a 14" bull barrel in 6X47MM International Match that does a superb job if I do my part.

08-27-2009, 08:59 AM
Here in Washington State, we can use handguns during Modern Firearm season, and in firearm restriction areas. I carry a Redhawk 44 mag. Shooting handloads. Have taken two deer, and an elk so far. I want a bear up close and personal so I can get one with my revolver.

09-08-2009, 12:07 AM
up in new york only carry my 44 mag for deer season .loading 300 gr jhp over win 296 damm it makes a big hole .shooting a 6''colt anaconda with a ported barrel and a sweet trigger job . good luck to everyone this year BE SAFE

09-14-2009, 09:40 PM
Dutchess County New York, I use 44 mag. either a Ruger SBH or a SRH both 7.5 " both shooting my cast 245,s or 300's . This year I'm going to use an Old Army during regular season, shoots a 220 gr conical. Most of my shots are under 50 yd's. Shoot them in the neck with a handgun, they don't go far.

10-02-2009, 07:48 PM
I agree with what versifier said....

Handgun hunting is legal in Oregon and I have hunted big game with them for more decades than I want to remember. I've taken several mature bull elk and bear as well as many deer during that time. I have used both .41 and .44 S&W mags with great success. From my experience, a .41 mag is marginal but usable for all the animals mentioned. A .357mag is impractical and could probably be considered inadequate beyond 50 yards.

I'm from the "school" that believes you apply the firearm to the game hunted as well as the normal range of hunting conditions you will probably encounter. If you're going to challenge your hunting experience with the limits of using a handgun, do it in a way that is appropriate and doesn't risk leaving wounded animals out in the woods.

You'll likely hear from people who will say they used everything from a BB gun to slingshot to hunt big game and they are "all you really need.." Your Mod 27 Smith is one of my favorite handguns of all time. The .357 N frame is a fine pistol and caliber for defensive use and has a long history of success in doing the close range job they were intended for. Just ask yourself if that caliber, or one smaller, is really what you want to use as a potentially longer range hunting arm.....



10-08-2009, 12:43 PM
I think that the .357 would be fine if used within it's limitations (50ish yards max). However if I were shooting beyond 30 yards, I would not want to have to count on bullet expansion. I would use a nice, heavy LFN or SWC (I like the 358429-173 grn SWC). I am always concerned about boolit placement and penetration. If you have those two, then the deer will be yours.

I hunt with a Ruger Blackhawk in .45 Colt (scoped) or in .41 Mag (open sights). Depending on the range and conditions that are expected for that day.

Regardless of which gun I use, I use heavy, cast boolits. I'm very happy with the results they deliver.

I don't use a .357 only because my longest bbl revolver in .357 is 3 3/4". If I had a nice, 6" accurate gun, it would be fine for the areas I hunt. (Max range us usually 35 yards or so).

All that being said; pick a good, heavy, accurate boolit/load combo and practice, practice, practice.

Remember, whether you are talking about hunting or self defense, the priorities are the same:

Shot placement is king; penetration is queen; everything else is just angels dancing on the head of a pin.

01-09-2010, 10:09 PM
Here in Michigan Handguns are legal. "Zone 3" which is roughly the southern half of the lower peninsula is limited to straight case/no bottleneck .35 cal. or larger, the rest of the state does not have that limitation.
Indiana also allows handguns. Does not have the straight case limitation of michigan in their shotgun zones that I know of.
I agree with some of the above that .357 is marginal. I also prefer heavy for caliber cast. Using .41 Mag Blackhawk and a custom 245 GR. right now.


01-16-2010, 04:50 AM
I have a few handguns to hunt deer here in Western Pa. I have a Encore contender 44mag,- DanWesson 44mag, -S&W 44mag.- S&W 41mag. -Ruger Blackhawk 45LC. All of these will take deer. I have shot a couple of deer withe the S&W 44mag and one with a Ruger Super Redhawk 9 1/2" 44mag. which I sold recently. If using a 357mag I would use a 180gr and be good enough with it to place the shot where it counts.

04-21-2010, 01:26 AM
Legal here in Pa. Any expanding centerfire cartridge is legal. Must use a revolver or single shot though, no auto's.

04-21-2010, 01:31 AM
I started out with a RSB,stainless steel,2x Leupold scope. Went up to a contender in 375 win.,now I own a S&W 629 classic with a 2x Burris,bought a S&W XVR 460 with a 4x Leupold, newest addition is a Magnum Research BFR in 454 with a 4x Leupold.

06-15-2010, 07:17 PM
Here in Nevada the law says for handgun hunting big game " a centerfire cartridge of 24 cal.or larger with a minimum case of that of the 44 Remington magnum",which makes it legal to hunt elk and big horn sheep with a .256(?) Winchester mag (a .357 case necked to .257) ,"with at least a 4" bbl". To me excluding griz/large brown bear country the 357 mag is plenty for deer at bow ranges (50 yds or less that being my self impossed limit). To me hunting hand gun means personal defense with a long bbl and some accuracy tweeks not short bbl benchrest rifle in a pistol stock. I think for me a contender is my limit for handgun , who wants to shoot a pistol chambered in 30-06',or 35 Whelen for weekend fun? Currently I prefer my RBH 45 Colts although I've killed 2 mule deer with my 6" Security Six .

12-25-2010, 09:01 PM
We can hunt critters here in Alabama with centerfire pistols. I've taken deer with 223, 30-30, and 308 in a TC, 357 mag, 44 mag, 45 LC and 500 mag in a revolver. I keep 357 mag revolver shots in the 50 yard or so range but with a closed chamber gun like a TC a 357 mag really scoots. I set up a 1/4 inch plate of mild steel at 100 yards at our shooting range for a dinger. My wife and I shot it with a 10 inch Contender and 158 JSP's. I thought we were missing it till I walked down and saw that we were shooting thru it.

12-26-2010, 12:29 AM
Here in Ohio 38 cal. or larger straight walled only, min. 5" barrel length.
Have taken many of deer with 44mag.
Pistol hunting and hunting on Sundays was illegal in this state up until about 20 years ago.
You can shoot any game in this state with high power rifle except deer. figure that one out.[smilie=1:

Tom W.
12-26-2010, 06:23 PM
I have several, connected with a 30-06 encore once, and missed twice with a .480. I'm currently carrying a .454 Encore and a .44 mag. Gotta leave the rifle at home if I plan to kill anything with the handguns...

01-11-2011, 06:56 AM
454 casull my way to go plenty of power , goes through 4 1/2-5 feet of meat and bone.....hoo rah as gunny would say

02-03-2011, 08:05 PM
I hunted with a handgun in Iowa for 9 seasons with my TC Encore. I split it between the .454 Casull with cast boolits and the .357 Maximum with cast boolits. I never had any long range opportunities with the .454, but it sure did the job well up close (50 yds or less). The .357 Max was hell on deer out to 166 yds, which is the farthest I killed one with it, several over 100 yds. the 166 yd kill was one shot DRT with a 215 gr. SWC GC at 1800 fps.

02-05-2011, 11:29 AM
Central Alabama here. 10" Contender in 30-30 with 150gr. cast fp (lee 309-150fp gc over Varget , and a 12" Magnaported 44 mag with 300 grain boolits over Blue Dot.
Took a decent 6 pointer with the 30-30 @ 139 yds(laser range finder measured) and 2 very healthy old does with the 44 at less than 50 yds. That homemade sausage is eatin' mighty good with biscuits

02-23-2011, 07:45 PM
I plan on using my Rossi rifles in .357mag and .44Mag on deer this fall. Not quite teh same thing but using handgun cartridges. Deer on the Queen Charlottes are quite small - not much bigger than a Great Dane so either cartridge will be ample.

Take Care


02-22-2012, 06:21 PM
My .44 Magnum single action will take anything < 50 yards, if I do my part...
For the 50 to 100 yard shots I rely on the same bullet out of my Winchester 1894 lever action.