By David Parrish
If you’ve ever sat around a campfire telling hunting stories, the subject of Texas hogs has probably come up. You’ve no doubt heard tell of both the fantastic and the failures involved in seeking and destroying these fast-moving, land-ravaging beasts.
Being quick and elusive, it’s usually only when the setting is just right that these porkers are easily put down. I’ve shot many a pig on Texas ranches, including in my own backyard, and I’ve used a variety of caliber to do it. Even been hog hunting with the occasional bow. But being up for a challenge, I set out to try something new; hunt; piggies with a handgun.
My weapon of choice: Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum single action revolver loaded with Barnes .44 Magnum 225 grain HP factory ammo. My Ruger’s topped with a Picatinny rail and a Burris FastFire III red dot sight. The sight takes some getting used to so I was happy to shoot several boxes of Barnes while working out my issues.
The .44 Magnum can be a tad intimidating, but it’s the minimum caliber I’d use for pigs. It really doesn’t take much to get used to and pinging steel at 100 yards with that red dot isn’t difficult from a bench or shooting sticks.
After a few weeks of diligent practice shooting from seated, standing and kneeling positions, I figured I was ready. Practicing shots from odd angles and stances prepares you for the unknown. Pigs never seem to cooperate and that perfect bench shot is rarely an option. It’s always a sudden swing left or right just off-center that seems to be the case, at least for me.
Thinking I was well prepared, I scheduled a pig hunt at my favorite swine smashing ranch, the Kaian Vista Ranch in Lometa, Texas. I put on a full camo ghille suit and face mask for the event, much like a turkey hunt. The shot I was planning would be close up and personal. Close enough to smell them…or get gored by a real bruiser of a boar.
I sat and watched just about every species that walked off Noah’s Arc come stroll by, but not one single pig. It was just one of those days. Later that afternoon we saw pics of pigs all over the other side of the ranch. So that’s where we headed for the evening hunt. Watching the sun set and the light dim I didn’t spot a single hog.
Next morning I setup again, nestled in some trees and brush near a well-known pig party location. Again, not a single sighting. Feeling frustrated, the ranch owner decided to make this a real hunt and go out after the pigs at night.
My pistol at the ready, we zig-zagged through the ranch’s open and treed areas in a Polaris Ranger in search of sausage fixins. After about 45 minutes, the lights cutting through the darkness and exposing every type of wild life…PIGS!
Slumbering under a cedar tree, about 10 porkers lurched up and started quartering away from the lights of the oncoming Polaris. We gave chase. At full speed, we approached the pigs and matched their pace and trajectory. I picked out a likely target, took shaky aim in the bouncing Polaris and BOOM!
The first shot missed and kicked up dirt near a sow. The small herd suddenly shifted direction and we did as well. The sights were difficult to find with all the movement so I went full cowboy, relying on instinct shooting.
A nice young boar was now positioned on the edge of the herd. My new target was in a serious hurry to get away from the Ranger but we stayed with him. Nearly 20 yards away from the front passenger tire, I held on to the bouncing vehicle with one hand leaned out, cocked the single action Ruger and squeezed one off. The .44 Mag Barnes slammed into the pig’s hindquarter sending him sideways then skidding to a stop. I really have to work on this shot, but the result was a downed pig.
High fives and fist bumps ensued as we celebrated. Back at the campsite I cleaned and prepared him for the processor and eventually the breakfast table. While skinning the boar I noticed the slug was still embedded in the chest fat just under the skin. I recovered the round and cleaned it up for examination.
The slug weighed 224.9 grains after traveling through the left leg of the pig, including a leg bone, into and all the way through the body cavity shredding everything in its path. It finally stopped after dumping its final bit of energy through the breastplate and resting in the fat just beneath the skin. That’s 99.95% weight retention with nearly perfect petals.
That single well-engineered Barnes round turned a less-than-perfect shot at a fast-moving target into pounds of sausage and bacon. Not a bad trade.
I am surprised that the bullet apparently went “stem to stern” on that hog, given:
— low (for caliber) advertised muzzle velocity
— from a revolver with a short-ish barrel
— a somewhat light-for-caliber bullet
— an expanding bullet
If I ever go hog hunting, I am taking a .44 Magnum revolver with at least a 6.5 inch barrel and 240 grain jacketed softpoint bullets with a muzzle velocity of at least 1350 fps.
Regardless, I cannot argue with success!
Bullet construction and materials are at least if not more important than weight or velocity. Copper penetrates better than lead even at lower weight and velocity. If you can get all three that would be ideal. Witness the M1 Abrams tank tungsten penetrator: About 55-5900 fps with a chisel point 10 lb dart. A mere 4.4 million ft/lbs of energy! Check out Underwood ammo loading Lehigh Defense bullets in copper and brass in a variety of calibers.
That pig is a good eating size, probably only 50lbs. I killed 100 pigs in 90 days this year, maybe 10 of them were over 100lbs. It doesn’t take much to kill an average sized hog. It just takes a lot to kill the big ones.
I’ve been extreamly impressed with the 140 grain .357 vortex rounds. (I don’t have any experience with this bullet in any other caliber.)
They seem to burn clean, and hit hard. With manageable recoil in .357.
I have some friends who trap hogs and hit them point blank in the head. They’ve tried out a few different calibers, but have chosen to stick w .357 out of a lever action.
Keep punching the pigs brother! 👍🏼
1911 works for me…… when the K98 went dry.
I have used 10mm in commiefornia before we left. Most shots were 50 yards+, 10mm did thr job. Chasing them like that wasn’t an option.
A coworker from years ago liked to use his Colt Delta Elite on pigs – he boasted to shooting more than he could count but also boasted that he had never recovered a bullet; clean pass-through every time.
That story came to mind immediately when Ruger announced a while back they were bringing the SR1911 out in 10mm… (sigh) the wish list just never stops growing, doesn’t it?
Question for David. Does the picatany rail use the rear sight holes or did you have to drill into the top strap? Also who makes the rail? Thanks
Yes the holes were already on the pistol. The rail was ordered off of Brownells, not sure of the brand. If you look at the pic it is a little long for the pistol. I plan on machining it off and matching the curve of the cylinder frame for a better look. I can ping 100 yard targets with it from the bench or sticks all day. Solid platform. I still want to get that shot hiding in the brush and trees. I do like getting up close and personal with the piggies. 👍🏻
Piggie popping with a .44 mag? Preferably a Ruger? Yes, please!
Y on God’s green worth would u need all that shit on top of yur shooter? Never mind. more stuff to buy after I’ve bot my stuff that really didn’t need stuff stuck on top of my stuff.. I like living under my rock,,, when did Ruger start making Super Blackhawks with fluted cylinders? ..
Your a dummie ironicatbest, me looked it up, I ll be damned evidently the 5 1/2 does have fluted cylinders. Back to my hole under rock.
Oh here is something I learned the other day, The Native Americans also raised swine.
Swine are not native to North America. They were brought in by the Spaniards. There are very few native domesticated animals in the Americas, turkey, ducks, llamas and Guinea Pigs as I recall. So they may have raised them but only after they were introduced from Europe, like horses. Initially it was a big problem for the native peoples as the pigs tore up their fields then as they do today. they didn’t have the firepower we have today to deal with it.
Javelinas look a lot like Eurasian pigs, only a bit smaller, and they’re native to the Americas. I believe some natives domesticated them, still do for that matter.
I certainly hope he asked the pig this: “bein as this is a .44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, pig? …
I think it’s illegal to ask that while holding a Ruger.
My personal best on a handgun was 80 yards on a small hog with a 9mm. That’s probably more skill than luck, but we’re overrun, and you don’t let them get away. We can’t get ahead of the birth rate no matter how hard we try.
Got two more sows (about 120lbs and 140lbs) last night with a 270 after they ran off three bucks from in front of me in a clearing.
Hank, that’s a great shot! 80 yards with a 9mm to drop a walking pork chop! Congratulations!
The 270 is a fantastic caliber as well. Really does the job on deer and pigs. My brother and I actually reload for 270 using Barnes Bullets and the accuracy and lethality are excellent.
I just traded for an XDM in .45 that was converted to 460 Rowland. Genuine Rowland conversion. Shoots wonderfully. Can’t wait to get a hog in front of it. Took it deer hunting and saw 8 Turkeys….figures. Using Underwood 230 grain HP. 1400 fps.
One minor edIt
KAIAN VISTA RANCH is at
I was dove hunting with my son and his wife this season. They got up to leave for dinner, walked about 75 yards away and spooked a pack of 12-15 hogs bedded down. The pigs started trotting in my direction. I had my FN 5.7 on my hip, 20 ga. O/U shottie, no rifle. I waited until the pigs were about 40 yards away, and took aim off-hand at the biggest sow in the pack. Hit her twice, then the screaming and running started!
I proceeded to fire maybe 12 more rounds, prolly hit another couple of pigs. None dropped, but as long as they wind up dying that’s fine. It was a lot of fun for me, and we hopefully got rid of a couple pests. Those damned things have ruined acres of pasture.
I got out of the truck to open the gate one night after a deer hunt, and a sow and her litter came out if the bushes. As I reached back into the truck for my AR, the piglets panicked and ran my direction. By the time I could start to take aim at the sow, they were at my feet, bumping my legs. Momma wasn’t happy and started charging my way. The third round dropped her, about six feet away. That’s too close.
I’ve had two times where hogs ran up on me while I was field dressing a deer. I may start sending ammo receipts to Spain for reimbursement.
I was at a wedding recently and a pig hunt broke out. I took one little boar with a 45ACP sub gun, still in my tux. Another guy took one with a bow. Reminded me of why I love my people.
Full auto. The Song Of His People.
That is the best story yet! At a wedding and a pig hunt broke out. God loves rednecks!
My friend, Sydney, in Chireno, Texas popped a sow this weekend from horseback with her 9mm 1911.
I think I’m 😍 love. These are all great stories. Is she using and STI?
Some years ago my shooting buddy and I went to a huge hunting preserve in TN to pistol- hunt wild boar. He used a Ruger .44 mag single action and I used my S&W M57 (.41 mag with 8-3/8″ barrel). Just as I fired at one at about a hundred yards he moved forward and my bullet hit him in the ham. We tracked him down and I finished him from twenty yards with a head shot. I probably put five thousand rounds through that M57 before it was stolen. It did start to spit lead sideways from time to time well into its life. Cylinder timing was off I suppose. Used it mostly in IHMSA matches. Now have a M657 in .41 with a 7.5 inch barrel. Will kill anything you can hunt here in KY with one well placed shot if you don’t get stupid about too long a range. All of those 200 meter IHMSA matches were great for for making 100 meter shots easier. Lord, but the .41 is is a wonderful round!
Seen numerous hogs killed by .357 magnum easily