Question of the Day: Do You Hunt with A Pistol Caliber Firearm?

Hi Point 10mm carbine

“On Thursday, January 18, Senate Bill 20 passed the Indiana state Senate by a vote of 47-2 and will now move to the House,” nraila.org reports. “SB 20 will ensure that rifle hunting with pistol caliber cartridges is protected throughout Indiana. This bill safeguards previously established hunting opportunities that many Hoosiers have enjoyed during past hunting seasons.” So . . .

do you hunt with a pistol caliber firearm? If so, what, where, when and how? If not, why not?

 

comments

  1. avatar AaronW says:

    Yes! The whitetail I hunt in Sullivan County NY arent especially big. I hunt with an iron sighted 6” GP-100 and use a .357 factory hunting load
    I feel that I can move through the terrain far more adroitly with a holstered handgun than with a rifle or shotty on my back.

  2. avatar Mr.Savage says:

    sure, .44 mag, super blackhawk bisley, whenever, and wherever and whatever, coyote or bigger.

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      .44 Rem Mag FTW! Ruger Vaquero for myself, I’d love to have a Henry Big Boy to pair with it and I’d cheerfully use that on anything out to 150 yards or so I felt needed a bullet. Too many expenses this year to make that dream come true.
      🤠

      1. avatar Mr.Savage says:

        I too am in the market for a henry big boy steel large loop .44, but I keep buying other stuff, 30/30 lever for the wife, ar10 and mini14 for me, and the evil cycle of gun collecting continues!

      2. avatar TX_Lawyer says:

        I’d like that pairing in .357, myself. I don’t have a good reason for it other than “I want,” so I won’t be getting either anytime soon.

        So many other “I wants” that would be useful, or at least more fun.

  3. avatar FedUp says:

    There’s not much you can do in the woods with a 30-30 that you can’t do with a .357 Maximum or .445 Supermag.

  4. avatar MyName says:

    Does .22LR count?

    Serious answer is no, I don’t. I’ve never hunted with a handgun and I don’t own a centerfire pistol caliber rifle. Though, I have been considering a .357 magnum lever gun and some tinkering with loads for it as a new diversion.

  5. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Yes,in 44 and 45 caliber black powder cartridge.

  6. avatar Nflez says:

    Hunt deer with .44 mag Marlin 1894.

    1. avatar Tim says:

      Another vote for the Marlin 1894 (mine in .357, using 158gr softpoints at 1750fps) for deer. I’ve only shot one with it, but it went down with no problems. My primary rifle is a .243 Remington 700, but the 1894 is my “walking around” rifle.

      Easy to carry, lightweight, 9 shots. Right now, I’m using the Skinner peep sights (awesome!), but my eyes are getting bad enough that I’m contemplating a low-power scope. (Sacrilegious, I know!)

      And, I had the seven year old out yesterday banging steel targets with the 1894 using .38 Special 125gr softpoints at 25 yards. He hit four targets in seven shots, which wasn’t bad for his first time with it.

    2. I bought a Marlin 1894 last year in 44 Magnum.
      But all the lever-gun makers use the wrong twist rate for 44 Magnum, 1:38 instead of 1:20 like it should be, so even at 25 yards it was wildly inaccurate, because bullets were flipping sideways and keyholing through the target! I was using Hornady LeverEvolution (225 grain FTX), which is specifically made for lever-action rifles.
      That Marlin 1894 was so inaccurate that I sold it just a few months later.
      I don’t know why lever-gun makers still use 1:38 twist for 44 Magnum instead of 1:20 twist. Perhaps it’s to be “historically accurate” (based on the old 44-40 black powder guns), and because .44 Special cowboy loads do okay with the slow twist. Single shot 44 Magnum rifles use the correct twist rate of 1:20, but until lever-gun makers start using the correct twist rate, I’m only buying lever-actions chambered in 357 Magnum and 45 Colt, not 44 Magnum anymore! Another good alternative is .41 Magnum, which is about as powerful as 44 Magnum and shoots flatter, but it’s hard to find .41 Magnum ammunition.

      1. avatar Tim says:

        Yikes! I never knew that about the twist rates, so thank you for the heads-up! I see the 1894 in .45 Colt also has a 1:38 twist, and now I’m bummed. I talked my dad into one of those (since they’re not making the .357 at this point AFAIK) but I haven’t shot his past 25 yards.

        My 250gr XTP .45 Colt pistol load (over 2400, for 1250fps out of a 7.5″ barrel Blackhawk) seems like it would be a good fit for the 1894 as well, and it will be interesting to see what it will do out of his 1894 at 100 yards.

        With my bad eyes, and open sights, I was getting paper plate-sized groups at 100 yards with the 158s in .357, but I’m sure that was more me than the gun.

        For what it’s worth, the fit and finish on the new 1894s seems better than the “bad” run of Remlins, although I still think my 1996 vintage is nicer, side-by-side.

        1. The twist rate on the Henry .45 Colt lever guns is 1:16, not 1:38, so the .45 Colt should be accurate (unlike the .44 Magnum rifles with their slow 1:38 twist rate).
          Marlin’s new website says the twist rate on their 1894 in .45 Colt is 1:38, but I suspect it’s a misprint copied from their .44 Magnum listings, because I used to own a Marlin 1894 in .45 Colt, and it had the correct twist rate of 1:16 and was pretty accurate. I decided I like Henrys better, though, so I’m selling my last Marlin 1894 (an 1894C in 357 Magnum, JM-stamped, manufactured 2004) on Gunbroker now, see https://www.gunbroker.com/item/740337289

  7. avatar Ogre says:

    I’ve got a .45 Colt replica Win 92 carbine and a replica Colt Lightning in the same caliber. Haven’t had them hunting yet.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      I don’t hunt, but if I did, I have a Winchester 1892 (Miroku) in .45 Colt with a 24″ barrel that would do the trick quite nicely.

  8. avatar JFrame says:

    I use the model 44/77 Ruger bolt action for deer hunting the last 3 years. 5 deer and all one shot kills. Winchester 240 SP. I think they are almost too soft at rifle speeds. They do some damage. Topped with a Nikon 3×9 and it is perfect little pop gun.
    All ranges under 100 yard so It was more that enough gun for these 120 lb. Texas deer in the Hill Country.

  9. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

    I’m not a hunter and don’t know very much about it, so I’d defer to others’ experience on this one.

    When most people think of a pistol caliber carbines, they’re probably thinking in terms of 9mm, .45acp, and .357 magnum, though PCCs in other calibers are popular, too. So my comment focuses on those three calibers.

    Mention was made of .357 and small whitetail deer. Aside from that, it seems that PCCs may be more suited to dispatching pests, than taking true game. Granted, if you’re hungry enough, even pests become game, or you hunt larger game with the gun you have, regardless. Does that sound about right for these calibers?

    1. avatar BLoving says:

      Good point – magnum revolver cartridges are quite different from pistol cartridges out of carbine barrels.
      For tiny Texas piney woods deer (yes they are, admit it) a 9mm carbine would still be almost too small – shot placement would be an absolute must. .45 auto carbine would fare much better and 10mm could be used with complete confidence.
      Hogs? Who cares? Shoot em’ in the butt with a .22 and hope that nasty thing dies of infection. Use a 9mm on them if it makes you happy and it might get it done but I’ll not shed a tear if it doesn’t.
      🤠

    2. avatar M2AP says:

      Current IN law requires cartridges to be between 1.16″ and 3″ in case length firing a bullet over .243″ in diameter. That pretty much rules out all of the rimless auto calibers that are fired in PCCs, but allows stuff like .357 Mag, .44 Special, etc. The .38 Special is also a bit too short.

  10. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Got started about 1976 at 13 hunting squirrels with a Smith model 35.

    Took my first deer at 25 yards with a Smith model 28 in 357 with 125 grain JHP.

    Couldnt hunt where i lived with rifle but the game warden told me i could hunt with my revolvers and then laughed. Look shocked when i turned the tag in for the deer.

    I also hunt with a Marlin 94 in 357 and a Winchester 94 in 45 Colt. The 45 is a hammer on pigs with good handload.

    I hunt close so i have never used a scoped firearm.

  11. avatar GS650G says:

    .44 super redhawk. 8 inch pipe. Leopold scope.

  12. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Firearm deer season in Illinois is limited to shotguns, muzzleloaders and handguns (‘cuz rifles are so scary!).

    Lots of folks choose a scoped revolver in .357 Magnum for that task. It’s easier to haul up into a tree stand than a long gun. And a lever gun in .357 Magnum would be illegal. Go figure.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I can’t imagine having to deal with such bizarre laws and regs as you have there in Illinois.

  13. avatar Alabama LeverGuy says:

    In December, killed a 200+ pound 17.5″ 8pt with my .357 mag Henry Big Boy Steel with 158gr Blazer Brass ammo.one shot knocked him down where he stood about 50 yards away. Put him down for good with a follow-up when he tried to get up as I approached. I’d use the same combo out to 150 yards. I think .357 mag is a good “woods” round and the Henry Big Boy Steel is a sweet gun. Its an “heirloom hunter” meaning my son hunted with it this season and eventually his kids and maybe their kids will too.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Alabama LeverGuy,

      I love the .357 Magnum lever-gun platform for deer hunting — especially if you limit your range to 100 yards or even better 75 yards. (Sadly, I do not yet have a .357 Magnum lever-gun.)

      Please consider using hotter loads. I believe the Blazer Brass loads are about as weak as you can buy and have fairly low muzzle velocities. If you are willing to pay somewhat of a premium, DoubleTap Ammuntion, Underwood Ammunition, and BuffaloBore Ammunition all make nice (close to, if not, full power) loads for hunting. And I imagine that some of the bigger manufacturers have some hotter loads as well.

      1. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

        FYI. I’ve chronographed blazer brass and alumnium. The brass was about 300 fps faster than the alumnium. The alumnium was clocking in at 38+p speeds.

      2. avatar Alabama LeverGuy says:

        I’m planning to develop a hand load this year with Sierra 158gr JHC Sports Master bullet. I’ve already bought the bullets, but life happened late summer and early fall so I ran out of time. Blazer Brass .357 mag is very available in my area and I’d already sighted the gun in with them. Where would I get ammo from one of these manufacturers? I’ve mostly just used Walmart ammo or ammo from my LGS (which doesn’t carry these brands). For whitetail hunting previously I’ve just used more traditional rifle calibers and factory ammo. I always wanted a Henry .357mag and finally got one last year. It sure puts a smile on my face to shoot. I encourage you to save up and get one.

  14. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I hunt white-tailed deer with a rifle chambered in .44 Magnum — specifically an H&R Handi-rifle which is a break-action rifle with a 22 inch barrel.

    And I use Winchester white-box 240 grain jacketed soft points which hit like a semi-truck. I chronographed those leaving the muzzle at 1,900 fps which is over 1,900 ft-lbs energy. Out to 150 yards, that BIG HEAVY bullet is still travelling at something like 1,300 fps and still has 900 ft-lbs energy.

    I would feel comfortable hunting (out to 100 yards maximum range) everything in North America with the exception of polar bears and Kodiac brown bears in excess of 1,200 pounds.

  15. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    The reg in Wyoming on this is “at least .35 in diameter, with a cartridge OAL of 1.5 inches, using an expanding bullet.”

    So that would be cartridges such as the .357 Mag, .41 Mag, .44 Mag and .45 Colt (loaded for a modern rifle) to fit this requirement.

    I’ve started to notice more people taking 1892 and similar repro’s out into the field for whitetail, mulies, pronghorn, etc. For elk, sheep, goats, bison – I think everyone is going to stick with more conventional big game rifles. There are some hard-core handgun hunters in Wyoming, which is what you’d expect with our having hand-cannon guys like Freedom Arms and John Linebaugh in our state, but many of those hunters left the .44 Mag behind awhile back. Many of the handgun hunters are packing some ferocious handgun loads…

  16. avatar Rumblestrip says:

    A Henry in 450 Bushmaster. For Michigan, near perfection.

  17. avatar RCC says:

    Everything from .22 to 44 mag on feral pigs over the years. Shot placement and being close to enough are important.

  18. avatar Rimfire says:

    Yes, absolutely! New Winchester 1892 in .44 Magnum. Great gun, wish you’d review one soon. Side loading gate as God intended. Smooth as glass action right out of the box, too! Check one out at your dealer, you won’t be disappointed.

  19. avatar ironicatbest says:

    ,44 SuperBlackhawk 10.5 inch barrel, 180-240 gr. Iron sights, Shoulder holster. IMO it’s better then 30-30 within fifty yards

  20. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    7 1/ 2″ .44 mag pistol in southern wisconsin and southern illinois.
    same in a 16″ lever gun for indiana.

  21. avatar Darkman says:

    Used a 450 Bushmaster Ruger American Ranch Rifle this year. Great firearm. Didn’t care for the FDE stock so I did a custom paint job on it.

  22. avatar adverse5 says:

    Not if I had a choice.

  23. avatar Charlie says:

    I have not, but I would if the opportunity presented itself, and the game were the appropriate size.

    We have a Sig MPX carbine in 9mm, and use it as our camp carbine (meaning that it’s around in the morning and evening when we’re preparing food and getting in and out of the sack). It sports a Vortex Viper 2.5-10X44 and makes a mess out of tin cans. Sometimes it goes on hikes too.

    Motive, target, and opportunity.

    Charlie

  24. avatar Idahoguy says:

    Yes, I shot a mule deer at a little under 150 yards with a scoped Ruger PC4 Firing spear 155 gr gold dot Bullets, muzzle velocity 1560 ft./s . ( they were hot reloads )
    I had planned on A closer shot but that is what presented itself. Shot placement was through the ribs and heart. The bullet exited the deer and work flawlessly with a one-shot kill. I was quite impressed with the performance

  25. avatar tiger says:

    Doesn’t anybody hunt small game? There is life beyond Deer & Bear season. A PCC will stop stuff a .22lr might not reach. So rabbits & groundhogs beware.

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