DANWESSON357MAG

My dad has an old Dan Wesson .357 (above). It’s in pretty good shape, and while visiting him recently, I asked if I could borrow it to take to the range for some, um, ‘testing.’ You know, just to make sure it works. It just makes sense for me to do the testing for him, since I have to drive 30 minutes to my local range, while he has to walk all the way to his back yard. Fortunately, he must’ve been in a good mood–visiting with his granddaughter tends to have that effect–so he eagerly retrieved the revolver and bade me well with it . . .

Curious about its history (there’s no date stamped on it,) I asked him where he procured this fine piece of American iron; he averred that he’d acquired it from my grandfather. “I think he used it for hunting deer.” he said.

It’s a Dan Wesson, so it does has the DW trademark interchangeable barrels. My dad uses it as a nightstand/occasional-carry-while-out-fishing gun, so he keeps the 2.5″ barrel installed, but I think he has a 4″ or a 6″ in the box. The lack of a scope or other sighting apparatus beyond the iron sights (with a surprisingly visible red insert) doesn’t surprise me — my grandfather was the kind of outdoorsman who would tackle almost any game, any time, with any equipment, and have a nice meal at the end of the day, then devastate the competition at skeet shooting on Sunday. That’s in sharp contrast to his progeny on our side of the family, where we pat ourselves on the back for ‘minute-of-bad-guy’ accuracy with a 9mm.

His using it for hunting doesn’t seem outrageous in the slightest. But still, is .357 Magnum enough to reliably (and humanely) take down Bambi? I know it’s a powerful round and all, and shot placement is everything, but I was a little skeptical that it packed enough of a punch to bring down a big animal.

A little searching of the Internets revealed a 2011 article from guns.com that concludes: “Yes and no given all the variables.” So there’s that. (The author also says he wouldn’t do it with anything but his own handloads, and not over 75 yds.) I also found a video of outdoorsman Fred Eichler taking down an antelope with a Taurus .357 Magnum revolver, at 133 yards, no less. I guess I can call that proof-of-concept.

I’m curious: has anyone in our TTAG community taken down a deer (humanely) with an iron sight .357 before? Care to share the details?

79 Responses to Question of the Day: Is .357 Magnum Enough for Deer Hunting? 

    • That’s what I was thinking. Its a fine hunting round, but not from a 2″ barrel. I would prefer a 18″ lever action.

  1. Absofreakinglutely as we say in Da Bronx. In an 8″ gun like a Python or a Smith with hard cast 158 or heavier bullets it will ruin a deer’s day to 75 yard under very good conditions and under almost all conditions 50+ yd.
    In a carbine like a Henry it is a DEADLY 100 yard brush gun, lightweight and handy.

    Just because torqued up .45Colt and .44 mag loads get all the press don’t sell the .357 short. It was killing deer before the .44 mag existed.

    Ray

  2. Well for one thing it’s a well known fact that .357 magnum ammo goes bad when you keep it too close to an Apple product… so… ;3

    All sillyness aside that while the ballistics of .357 magnum is just fine for hunting game like Whitetrail and maybe Mule deer. I just don’t know if using a handgun for hunting is just all that good of an option compared to more traditionally used long arms.

    • I’ll have to add that to my list of reasons to not buy Apple products. Stick it in right under ‘overpriced’.

      • Hehe. Yeah pretty much. Plus sooner or later I’ll want to tinker with it or have to fix it. Two which Apple makes it really really hard to do.

      • Yeah!!! Don’t be a conformist, go out and buy the same plastic clad android that everyone else has instead!

        • It’s been my observation that you can always tell the people who believe they can set themselves apart as individuals by paying 3x as much for something as mundane as a phone. They’re the ones with the iPhones.

    • Yup, well known fact re: the Apple. I absolutely hate the mandatory and dangerous touch-bullet interface when close to Win 8, and I swear it takes far too many steps to fire next to Linux. I choose to run mine downgraded to a .38 special paired with Win 7 and await the next Win release… The Windows 10(mm)! 😉

    • OMG! Apple vs. Microsoft flame war! Welcome back to 2006! Is John Hodgman going to show up, too?

      Since you guys are dying to know, I bought the MacBook Air in 2013, when I spent a bit of time training clients who petulantly insisted on using their Macs with my company’s software, and also traveling for work was something that I did on a fairly regular basis. (Every try to use a Lenovo ThinkPad while sitting in coach? In a middle seat? Yeah, eff that noise.)

      Of course, the first thing I did was install Parallels + Win7, SQL Server, etc.

      My needs have changed since then…I do N O T use my firm’s hardware/network for personal projects (like TTAG), so I need something that’s easy to carry and quickly turn on, write something up, and turn off. While the MacBook has been decent for this task, I’m wondering if the MS Surface might work better…especially since it seems to come with its own built-in 4G LTE. I really hate going to take a break, boot up the MacBook and spending any time at all fiddling with it to connect to WiFi. (The life of an attorney who bills his clients in six minute increments….) Any opinions on the Surface pro or con?

      [I can tell you what *doesn’t* work that well: a 1st-gen iPad Mini. Without an external keyboard, it’s a harmless toy. Editing anything of importance is a waste of time. Its primary purpose lately is to serve as a bluetooth hotspot for the MacBook.]

    • Many people don’t fully appreciate what a hot .357 load is capable of when shot out of a carbine (and you’d want a carbine for hunting anyway, if only because aiming it is way easier). Check out some of the stuff that Buffalo Bore sells:

      https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=102

      A 158gr bullet travelling at over 2100 ft/s. 1600 ft lbs of energy at the muzzle! This is pretty much the same as 7.62×39, and just slightly under .30-30 with light bullets. I don’t think anyone has ever disputed the capacity of either of those rounds to dispatch deer. Granted, .357 bullets have worse BC, so they’ll lose their velocity faster. But under 100 yards that won’t matter all that much.

  3. It’s more than enough. The poacher weapon of choice is a .22lr to the head. It takes far less to kill a deer than most people think. The goal isn’t to use the biggest caliber possible and pulverize as much meat as you can.

    • Of course it doesn’t take much to kill a deer, when shooting a .22lr to the head.

      You just have to hit the brain. Good.

      And if you fuck it up. Well, nevermind it won’t be running through the woods with a piece of lead inside your jaw.
      It won’t bother you at all, when that stupid bambi goes down 60km and 1 week later.

      Damn man, bring such an idea at a hunt in Germany and you are gonna be nailed to a cross and fed to the boars.

  4. One more kudo. You can load CHEAP .38 ammo and shoot all day for pittance. It can also handle light .38’s in a revolver or carbine for defensive use. The pistol carbines are underrated. I am FB friends with a lady who once stopped 3 goons who kicked in her door in CA about 35 yrs ago to kidnap her godchild who was in her care as part of a custody battle. A naked Mormon just out of a show does not frighten most people but a naked Mormon lade with a .44 mag Marlin carbine in their face made them remember urgent appointments elsewhere.

    Ray

    • Here in the Northeast where a shot past 100 yd is almost unkown a .357 Python or 686 with an 8″ barrel has accounted for a small herd of deer. The key is not only shot placement but GOOD bullet selection such as a very hard cast hunting bullet such as sold in loaded form by Cor-Bon or Double Tap.

      Ray

      • I’ve killed plenty of deer with my 4inch 357 pistol. I keep my shots under 50 yards and its deadly. I’ve also shot plenty of deer with my Rossi 92 357. On the carbine I limit my shots to 125 yards. Deer aren’t that tough, it’s all about shot placement.

  5. With the right loads .357 is fine (IMHO). There are a lot of light loads out there. You should stick to the full maximum pressure loads like Double Tap or Buffalo Bore. And maybe avoid quartering shots. There are lesser rounds out there that are still legal.

    I haven’t taken a deer with one myself, but I’ve been thinking about giving it a try. Unfortunately handgun hunting is second season muzzle loader here and I really, really hate the cold. My choices are a stainless 6″ GP100 or a Blackhawk in .44 magnum and I’m leaning toward the .357. Tried shooting from a rest at 100 yards for the first time last week and 3 were on target. I think I was overcompensating on the drop because the 3 were within about 4 inches of each other toward the top of the target. I’m sure with a little practice I can keep all 6 on a 12″ target at that range. I’m no Jerry Miculek, but it’s quite a thrill to shoot a (open sighted) handgun at 100 yards and find holes in your paper. My Double Taps should still be hitting with over 500 lb/ft at 100 yards. That would definitely be the max range.

    • “And maybe avoid quartering shots.”

      I think this is hugely important with .357 Magnum when hunting deer. That round is marginal for deer hunting and isn’t designed nor intended to shoot a mammal “stem to stern”. Stick to broadside shots only.

      • You might get away with a quartering shot with 180 or 200gr. hardcasts, but I’d prefer to use a 158+ gr. hollow point to punch a bigger hole on broadside shots. I’d think they’d make it though both lungs if the bullet doesn’t have to break through a rib first. If you get both lungs the deer will run over the nearest hill and bed down. Wait 10 minutes and he should be done. Again I’m thinking of the maximum pressure loads that will put out 750-800 lb/ft at the muzzle from a 6″ barrel.

      • Got to remember Doug Wesson killed every animal that walked in North America, including a grizzly at 100 yards 1 shot, and a moose with 1 shot all using the Winchester 158 gr Soft point bullet with a 8 inch barreled .357 mag.

        The .357 mag is the granddaddy of all the magnum handguns and just because its old and smaller than the modern stuff such as the .454 cas , 500 Smith and Wesson, dose not mean its not just as deadly as the new guys. If you can shoot your .357 mag its just as deadly as the big magnums. Bang flop , has been proven time and time again don’t be little the .357 magnum.

  6. I carry a 4 inch SW 586 on my side in gun season . 40 years of hunting them with a 12ga and now since we became rifle a .270.

    I’m be taken a few with it at bow range from a stand , broadside standing shots only .I’ve read all the pros and cons of 357 and when I hunted with just with a pistol it was a 8 inch Dan Wesson .44 mag .

    I use Black Talons ( yes I still have a few boxes, although I only need one round per deer). Idk seemed to kill them dead enough .

  7. I would never consider hunting deer, or any other creature with a short barreled handgun. If you must use a “handgun” cartridge, at least use it in a suitable firearm, such as a lever action rifle.
    Just an opinion, .02 worth.

    • There are handguns, and there are handguns. A 8″ revolver chambered in .454 Casull has more energy at the muzzle than an AK, and a heavier/larger bullet.

  8. To my mind, the question isn’t “Can this caliber kill a deer (or whatever game animal is in question)?” The question is, “Does the hunter have the skill to use this caliber effectively for a quick, human kill?” Almost any firearm, with the right shot placement, could kill a deer. In general, the more powerful the weapon, the less “perfect” the shot has to be for a quick kill. In the right hands, that Wesson revolver (especially with the 6″ barrel installed) would definitely do the job. In the wrong hands, you’ve got a suffering animal and a long blood trail to track.

    • Amen to that. If you’re going to try and take an animal with a handgun you need to do the time at the range and know your limitations. For some that might be 15 yards, for others it might be 100. Either way, a .357 magnum heart shot deer is going to drop much faster than a gut shot deer with a .300 Win mag.

    • I agree with the need to be really sure you can hit what you are aiming at with the bullets you intend to hunt with. I would also add that saying “deer” leaves you with a wide variety of possible correct answers. In my neck of the woods, a “big buck” will dress out around 90 lbs, damn right a .357 will put him down! Other places I have heard of deer dressing out over 200 lbs,, the question gets more iffy.

  9. My buddy Josh has taken 4 whitetail deer with a 6″ Colt Python .357 revolver. Each deer was recovered, and all required multiple shots. The largest were 6 point bucks, the smallest was a 2-3 year old doe. The longest shot was about 40 yards. Loads were full power 158 and 180 grain JHPs. Energy levels were about 600 FPE.

    I’ve helped him track and pull the deer out of the woods. WI whitetails are tough animals, and can certainly get up and run after getting hit by a .308. A good hit from a .454 Casull 240 grain JHP (from me at 40 yards) put a 6 point buck down with authority. A deer hit by a .357 revolver is probably going to take off running. His certainly did.

    So if you’ve got an awesome revolver like a Python or Dan Wesson, you can definitely take it into the woods to chase Bambi. Just don’t expect that deer to go down and stay down with a single shot.

    Of course a .357 out of a lever gun increases velocity and power considerably – to levels similar to a .30-30. A bigger rifle will increase your chances of putting meat in the freezer, increase accuracy in the field, and generally make a successful hunt a whole lot easier. But that isn’t always the point, is it?

  10. One thing I’ve found is in general guys who hunt ” the West” where it’s always been rifles and shots 200 yards beyond are not uncommon ,think your nuts for using a handgun .

    While those of us in the east where we take a lot of deer in gun season well under 50 yards and heck 10 yards for that matter , think sure it’s not hard to double lung a standing deer two trees over.

    • That’s the key isn’t it? Range. 50 yards or less and 357 is fine. I know of deer being killed by 45acp at 30 yards. Handgun Hunting is similar to bow. You need more skill and have to wait for them to get closer.

      • i gave encounterd half a dozen to 15 deer at a time well within 50 yards in the eastern sierras and just west of owyhwee reservoir…..all could have been taken with a 357 carbine. quickly

  11. From ChuckHawks.com:

    “.357 Magnum – This is a revolver cartridge adequate for shooting deer to about 50 yards. A great all-around handgun cartridge, but a poor choice for deer rifles, since the much more capable .30-30 can be had in rifles similar to those chambered for the .357 Mag.”

    Then I found an article on a nifty website called The Truth About Guns that seems to agree with Chuck Hawks:

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2011/05/chris-dumm/lever-action-ballistics-30-30-vs-357-magnum/

    Yeah, those opinions are talking about rifles or carbines, but .357 in a handgun is obviously going to be even weaker ballistically.

    • Except…in my state (Ohio) we don’t have the option of a rifle cartridge. And last deer season was the first we could use pistol cartridge carbines. So for us, to use a rifle is to use a pistol caliber cartridge.

    • The problem is, they haven’t tested the right things. You can get ~1600 ft lbs out of a .357 carbine with hotter .357 loads, which puts it in the same ballpark as .30-30.

  12. Big Ol’ Ruger Blackhawk with a long barrel works great at close “ish” range. For a short(er) barrel? I’d want it very close. 10yds or less. As previously posted, unless you want to track for a while.

  13. We killed deer with arrows and spears for a couple million years, and we still do.
    As long as you do your part, the gun will do hers.

  14. Here are my thoughts on hunting deer with a .357 Magnum revolver:
    – minimum barrel length == 6 inches
    – minimum bullet weight == 180 grains
    – minimum muzzle velocity == 1300 fps
    – maximum range == 40 yards
    – maximum group size == 8 inches @ 40 yards
    – maximum deer weight == 200 pounds
    – bullet design == hardcast lead only
    – and broadside shots only!

    I believe the above standard defines the limits for ethical, humane hunting of whitetailed deer with a .357 Magnum revolver in the hands of average hunters and marksman. Have people “violated” that standard and successfully killed deer? Sure! Have people violated that standard, wounded deer, and never recovered them? Absolutely!

    Notes:
    Hollowpoint bullets generally do not create enough damage to drop a deer quickly. While they can certainly produce a mortal wound, it is useless and inhumane if the deer dies a mile away the next day. Heavy bullets are necessary for sufficient penetration and hardcast is necessary to guarantee that penetration. Of course you also need sufficient velocity for a heavy bullet to penetrate adequately. The long barrel (6 inch) enables powder to burn longer and produce higher muzzle velocities. Long barrels also improve accuracy.

    • Probably picking nits here, but your criteria can easily be achieved with a 4″ barrel. I’ve got a 3″ Wiley Clapp which is too short to legally hunt with, but accuracy wise 8″ groups at 40 yards is no problem. Find a decent rest and I could cut that in half.

      Not an expert on terminal ballistics, but there are a lot of hollow point .357 loads marketed as ‘hunting’ loads (most of them are no where near maximum pressure either). I would keep it to at least 158gr. and only broadside shots if you’re using hollow points. Lungs are pretty delicate though.

      • Gov.,

        A 158 grain hollowpoint will probably always kill a deer shot broadside. The important question is if such a load can kill a deer quickly almost every time. I am not confident that it can — especially if the bullet hits a rib on the way in.

        Hardcast bullets are virtually guaranteed to go through-and-through — which means both an entry and an exit wound for the deer to bleed out quickly. And bones basically have no effect on hardcast lead bullets. Add in the fact that hardcast lead bullets (with large flat meplats) would make something like a 3/4 inch diameter hole (assuming a 1300 fps muzzle velocity and ranges within 40 yards), that definitely tips the scales for hardcast bullets.

        If you do go with a hollowpoint bullet, at least try to find one described as limited expansion. That could help a lot.

        • The round I had in mind, maybe, is one which I already have on hand, Double Tap 158gr. Nosler SJHP which they describe as ‘controlled expansion’. And yes, only for a broadside shot. DT advertises this round at 1520fps out of a 6″ GP100. Realistically it should put out over 500 lb/ft. of energy out to 100 yards (a range at which I’m not yet proficient enough to hunt at, but can see the potential). I have found these to be very accurate.

          My thought is, and I’m working on theory here, that if you partially hit a rib the (semi-jacketed) hollow point will glance off, having the hollow cavity crushed, it will act like a soft point. If you hit the rib square with 700 lb/ft of energy it should be enough to shatter the rib and utterly destroy one lung and hopefully perforate the other. Missing the ribs the bullet should expand nicely and make a large wound though and through. A heavier, slower, non expanding bullet probably won’t do quite as much damage, broadside (non rib hit division). From what I’ve seen, soft point bullets don’t expand much at all, but maybe they’re the best compromise. Perhaps the best strategy is to have something like the Double Taps and some full pressure hard cast bullets alternating in the cylinder. keep the hollow points ready, and if you’re thinking of a quartering or frontal shot, you’ll have to quietly open the crane and rotate the cylinder a notch to ready a HC. And if you hit broadside and feel compelled to fire another round at the deer as it runs away you’ll have the HC up next, although if you’re first shot was properly placed the deer will run over the first hill and bed down to bleed out.

          Anyway, like I said, there are a lot of HP rounds advertised for hunting. Frankly, between some dude on the internet and Winchester or Federal, I’m leaning toward trusting the dude on the internet, especially when you consider the major ammo manufacturers are selling relatively light .357 ‘magnum’ loads for hunting deer. Still, I’m guessing there are a lot of deer taken every year with less than optimal hollow point .357 magnum ammo. Ultimately shot placement is probably the most important factor.

    • The.357 Magnum handgun with a 180 grain bullet at 1300 FPS delivers the same blow as a 10mm Glock handgun or a .38-40 black powder round out of a Winchester 1873 lever action rifle.

      Deer guns all – within the ability of the user to deliver that power accurately!

  15. I have hunted deer for 40 yrs . seen them killed with everything from arrow to howitzer. do yourself a favor and get a pistol scope or a good red dot and it will extend your range.

  16. My Dad and I would often carry our .357s for backup when deer hunting in Central Oregon. Not much chance at typical deer ranges there of using the revolver for the primary gun, but Dad did once find himself face to antlers in a slot canyon with a deer that another member of our party had wounded. Single, face on shot to the chest at about 15 yards flattened the buck.

  17. Definitely! I took my first white tail with a 6″ Security Six at about 25 yards in the early 80s. A 225 pound 10 pointer walked up to my while leaning against an apple tree. I didn’t dare reach for my 870 Wingmaster and instead slowly drew my Ruger and brought it up to fire while the unsuspecting buck was scavenging apples off the ground.

    One shot between two tree branches took both lungs. It turned, took a few steps and dropped. It was a quick and humane shot. At that range it was as effective as any other gun I might have used.

    I don’t hunt too much, but I usually have a .357 with whatever long or shotgun I’m using as my primary.

  18. Well the Indians killed game with homemade bows and arrows…sticks and stones, so yes you can. I shot a small doe at 40/yards with my six inch 686. I don’t hunt with it normally, but if done within your comfort level with the firearm, certainly. I would not try a longer shot over 40 yards with a revolver, I wouldn’t be comfortable with that. Others who practice often with a revolver, well….sure

  19. A bit off topic; I knew some fellows when stationed in Florida who liked to hunt feral pigs with Ruger .44 single action revolvers. I thought they were nuts, but never turned down an invite to the pig roast afterwards!

  20. Seems a little irresponsible to be shooting at that range at that size game with a pistol and open sights, even with a rest.

  21. Yes…with a 158 lead hard cast…4″ barrel…through and through….

    Learned long ago that lead wad cutters don’t expand…but they are great for lung shots.

    All 6 deer were within 50 yards, most were around 20 yards.

  22. I’m curious: has anyone in our TTAG community taken down a deer (humanely) with an iron sight .357 before? Friend did handgun hunting in Indiana. .357 handgun is legal in Indiana and will work. Dan Wessons used to popular for hunting.

    • My dad has an old Dan Wesson .357 (above). The way I remember things is that the Dan Wessons usually came with longer barrels and I think the barrels were interchangeable for different lengths.

    • Yes, I have taken 3 with my 6″ Python over the years. I roll my own ammo, cast my own Keith Style bullets for that gun. I have also taken several with a bow and many with a rifle. My Python has killed one with a scope attached and the other two with iron sights. One from a tree stand another during a stalk. The third was happenstance while on a short camping trip. All relatively close range, all clean kills (they did not drop in their tracks). All of my handgun hunts were during younger years when my eyes were wonderful. Where I come from, we used to play around shooting at those big river bouey’s at about 400 or 500 yards with our handguns. We could hear them clang with the hit. My shooting buddies were packing .44 mag or .41 mag. I shot the little fellow .357. I miss my great eyesight more than I can say.

  23. I killed an Oklahoma size (about 80 pounds field dressed) four point at about 40 yards with a 6 inch Smith 586. 158 grain jacketed soft point reload. One shot luckily in the heart and he was dead within no more than 10 yards. We forget that the .357 had a great reputation for putting 200 pound plus bad guys down. Why would it not work on lighter bodied deer who aren’t drunk, high or crazy? I’ll agree that prudent hunters will keep the range as short as possible, use a hot load with a soft point or expanding bullet, and practice, practice and practice. I prefer the .357 in a lever action carbine, and if I really want to hunt with a pistol I’ll carry my 8″ Super Redhawk loaded with 300 grain hollow points. That gives me a longer barrel and lots more energy. Still if all I had was that old Smith I wouldn’t feel that I was poorly armed.

    • I could argue that both ways. First, if a 3″ 9mm is ‘good enough’ to fend off a large and belligerent man when your life depends on it, then a .357 revolver must be an awesome tool for hunting 1200 lb. moose. On the other hand, I had one experience that showed me that drugged out humans have nothing compared to a scared and wounded deer. A friend of mine had shot a medium sized buck during shotgun season and broke his front shoulder, but couldn’t find a blood trail and he got away. Two days later we spied him in a field a half mile away and got permission to go after him. I managed a lung shot, but being young and stupid, we kept jumping him before he could bed down and bleed out. We chased him for several hours until the freezing rain started and and he took off over plowed ground. My buddy found him about 5 miles out the next day.

      Bottom line is it’s much more important to hit the deer in the vitals and then let them bed down and bleed out before disturbing them, than what caliber of weapon you use.

      • None of three deer I’ve heart shot with .45-70 Hornady LeverEvolution 325 grains at over 2000 FPS have done anything other than fall down. None even managed a step. Ditto with my buddy and his 300 WSM with 150 grain ballistic tips. It’s plenty possible to knock whitetails down and keep them that way by going up to an unnecessarily large caliber and decent shot placement.

        The same is probably possible with Elk and .338 Lapua. You’ll ruin meat but your animal isn’t going far. YMMV. I’m not a caliber nazi.

  24. Better keep the shot limited. Under 40 yards. placement is huge for low power hunting weapons.

  25. My dad took a giant 9 point in central MO with a gp100 6″ barrel at 75 yards, 2 shots 1st broke spine, second in the boiler, he is using hard cast reloads he has left over from the early 90’s. I purchased a .44 mag for this season I can get 1 inch groups at 25 yards so far only shot it once.

  26. In the early 80’s I used a 4″ Python with Speer 140gr JHP ammo to take a spike at about 15 yds in heavy timber where a 50 yd shot would’ve be a stretch. A couple of reasons I opted to use that 357 mag revolver was that the hunting trip was an unplanned last minute invitation and I felt fairly confident with the Python out to about 40 or 50 yds, but the main reason was that the only rifle available to me at the time hadn’t been zeroed. A few years later I took a doe with a Marlin 1894 Carbine 357 mag using 125gr JSP ammo with open sights at about 40yds after walking up the deer while while scouting out some heavy timber on a hunting lease.

    Luckily, both times I was able to take the deer with one shot placed in the kill spot just behind the shoulder. Even though I’ve had success with the 357 mag, both times were at close range and when I honestly didn’t even expect to see a deer much less get a chance at a clean shot. The dozens of other whitetail bucks and does I’ve taken were mostly with my trusty Ruger 77 in 25-06 with a Leupold 3×9, a couple more using a Ruger 77 in 7mag with a Leupold 3×9, and one using a Marlin 1895 Guide Gun in 45-70 with a Docter II red dot.

    So, if a 357 mag pistol or rifle is all you’ve got or just what you happen to have in your hand when given an opportunity at a reasonable distance (25 yds or less with a pistol, 50 yds or less with a rifle), the 357 mag with a well placed shot and good ammo will get the job done, but it never has or never will be the best choice for deer hunting if you have the option to instead use a long gun that fires a potent rifle cartridge designed for deer hunting.

  27. Ballistics by the Inch says going down to 2 inches of barrel costs you more than half your energy. Laws of momentum say if you use a heavier bullet it will perform better at greater distances. A scope will help you with shot placement. Factoring those in, a .357 mag will kill a human deader than a doornail. People weigh about 120-400+ lbs, well within the range of all Deer, including Red Deer.

    Barrel length though, that’s a top priority for handgun hunting. You are always seeing the 10mm, 44 mag, and 357 mag pistols with 5-10″ barrels, especially 6″ and 8″ types. Performance center barrels are all longer than usual.

  28. if you can get close to the animal or from a stand: sure. Not my choice for a deer gun but i have no doubt a 357 to the boiler room or noggin would take down dinner.

  29. Effectively yes. I took 3 deer in one sweep with a 1911 while they were on the run. Distance about 30 yards. They were running at me.

    I have taken two deer in separate occasions with a .357 with a 4 inch barrel while hunting in coal pits which only affords you a shot inside of 40 yards. Lots of climbing and thick brush so a shotgun/rifle can be a bit unwieldy in those pits.

    All instances the deer went down like they would if they were taken with a rifle/shotgun.

  30. The question really shouldn’t be about caliber, it should be what are you and the area you capable of. What is the most likely distance scenario for where I’m hunting.

    I’ve take two deer here in western PA with a 6 inch GP100. Both were less then 20 yards from a ground blind. One went about 40 yards, the other went less than 10. I was shooting bullseye and silhouette competitions with it, weekly and was very confident with it. Both shots were with a 125 grain Buffalo bore going 1700 fps. Both shots were pass through and good placement. I shoot for the heart and lungs, but one of the rounds hit the shoulder on the opposite side as it was passing through and pretty much ruined the whole shoulder. The entrance wound through the ribs was the size of a silver dollar.

    I think a rifle in .357 would be ideal for wooded areas and let you stretch the range out a little more.

    I also shot a deer with a .223 Ruger American, Barnes TSX bullet. About 25 yards. Another very quick recovery. I’m often thinking to myself what the hell is going on as I hear multiple shots from the same direction, same gun. My club does a sight in day before the season starts and there are often guys who show up and say they haven’t shot since last years sight in day. Make sure you get off the bench. Shoot off a tree, a log, sticks, shoot sitting, standing, etc.

  31. Haven’t shot a deer with a .357 Mag, but have shot a 100 lb hog with a 6″ .357 Mag at about 35 yds and it dropped in it’s tracks. I used a 158 gr JSP load…went clean through the hog.

  32. Handgun hunting can be alot of fun, especially if u hunt with some people who are bow hunters who set there blinds 25 yards or so away from the expected quarry. I have killed half a dozen deer and hogz with a s&w model 60 357, and also a glock 40. Shot placement is key. Biggest hog i ever shot was with a glock 23 in 40. Put the lazer on his forehead pulled the trigger and he was stone dead before he hit the ground. He didnt even kick. I have also dispached many wound deer, or deer hung up in fences with a 40 or 357. They do an excellent job of ending those animals suffering. Remeber bow hunters work with 300 foot pounds of energy which is very little, good shot placement, and also be prepared to trail wounded animals. After the shot try to remember as much as u can about where they run. I have seen solid lung shot deer run several hundred yards so even goid placement will still require several hours of tracking. If legal in your state i think its important to know of people with tracking dogs to call if you cant recover a wounded deer.

  33. Johannes, fine revolver there, I’ve owned several. Ditch the short barrel (too much muzzle blast) & use the 4″ for defense & the 6-8″ brls. are great for target & hunting. Any weapon has limitations, especially for deer. .357 Mag. is fine for deer ‘within its’ limitations’, learn them well & practice extensively! I’ve preferred the 8″ barrel with 140 Speer JHP & 140 Sierra JHC (1980’s & 90’s) though my 10″ Contender is fine too. 158-180 gr. bullets may be fine but for me the 140 JHP’s are reliable killers. I suppose newer XTPs & Bonded bullets may be better? My limitations – short-range brush country (< 60 yds.), quartering & broad-side shots & primarily for 'meat deer' (Non Trophy Hunting). Stretching these limitations is for experts only! Hone your skills with that .357 & 'Protect Your Ears'!

  34. I do not understand most people. The bottom line is this. If you hit an animal in the vitals with a bullet that will penetrate you will kill said animal. When I was a child, game laws did not allow the use of the 223 remington for deer. Although the round was designed to kill humans, average weight 180 lbs, with a 55 grain non expanding bullet, it was considered to small and under powered to kill a 140 lb deer with an expanding bullet. We kill 1500lb steers at our slaughter house every day with a 22 rimfire. In 1968 I carried a 357 mag pistol for protection against bear in Alaska. I killed a medium to small size Grizzly with a 158 grain hard cast semi wadcutter of Elmer Keith design. I don’t think the bear realized he was not supposed to die from such an anemic round. As for deer I have killed many with the pistol and a converted model 92 Winchester. Never had an issue and ranges ran from right under the tree stand to a tad over 100 yds. The bottom line is the 357 mag will kill deer if you do your job. I use the Lee 158 grain rnfp cast from quenched wheel weights with homemade lube from both the rifle and revolver. Use 125 grain hollow points for home defense.

  35. Have taken 2 deer w my Taurus Tracker 4 inch barrel 7 shot. Although it only took one.About 60 yards on one and a little under 100 on the other. They dropped just like I hit em w Ole Death Wind, which is the name for my Remy 700 chambered in aught 6. If u do research on 357 u will see where the father of our beloved magnum took it out and harvested Grizzly Bear w it so yeah. I think it’s safe to say it’s just fine for deer

  36. This is such a stupid argument! Gee I don’t think a person on the planet would argue against a 357 mag stopping a would be attacker dead in his tracks right. Well hello how do whitetails compare in size to humans….lol. If you are hunting with an iron sighted 357 keep your shots to bow range and good to go. Are there better calibers? Of course there are but it will get the job done.

  37. I have taken two deer with my Taurus 357 with a 6.5 in barrel. Both were deer previously hit by others in the leg. The first was 20 yards on full run. The second was standing at 65 yard. Both dropped where they stood. I would not have taken either shot if they were not wounded, but both were clean kills.

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