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Old September 29, 2005, 11:14 AM   #1
tube_ee
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22LR or 38 Special for rabbits?

Which would be the preferred round for handgun hunting for small game:

22LR hollowpoint or 38 special? If 38, what load?

Criteria are a quick clean kill and minimum meat damage. Assume equal accuracy for both guns, since I'm the limiting factor, not the gun.

Thanks,

--Shannon
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Old September 29, 2005, 11:39 AM   #2
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If it were up to me, I'd go with a lightly loaded .38 spl with WC or SWC ammo. Nice, clean holes, little wasted meat, etc. But it isn't up to me. I was reading the game laws a few weeks ago, and I found that it seems that here in Ga you have to use either a .22lr or a shotgun for small game hunting. Oh, well, I've got a .22lr so I guess that makes it a moot point. That, and since the bunnies are so small around here, a .22lr would make more sense -- these dinky bunnies don't need much. Back home in the Tx coastal region we hunted for much larger swamp rabbits (and nutria and such) where the .38 makes more sense.
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Old September 29, 2005, 11:40 AM   #3
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I guess it would depend on the size of the rabbit .

It's not what you use but how well you place the shot. I hunt rabbit with my buckmark, .38 may be alittle overkill, I don't know but it would seem as such.

Just my .02

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Old September 29, 2005, 11:53 AM   #4
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"I guess it would depend on the size of the rabbit"

Yep. Swamp rabbits are quite a bit bigger than your average run of the mill cottontails. Not as long or tall as a jackrabbit, and not quite as heavy, but still heavier than a standard cottontail. Yes, it is a different species than your average bunny. Note the weight, they go heavier than 6 lbs -- that's one hefty bunny in the wild.
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Old September 29, 2005, 12:59 PM   #5
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.38 +P gold dots. You won't even have to clean them. Just pick up the pieces.
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Old September 29, 2005, 01:10 PM   #6
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".38 +P gold dots. You won't even have to clean them. Just pick up the pieces."

Heh! Sounds like something I did as a teenager once. We were dove hunting, I had my old single shot full choke 16 ga loaded up all nice with birdshot, and stumbled upon this bunny -- a little cottontail, not a swamp rabbit this time -- that was about 10 feet away, just "frozen" like they do sometimes. Woo Hoo, easy pickings, right? Blam! Eeew! Well, I got a head and a couple of front feet that were connected by a couple of strips to a hindquarters. What was left was pretty pitiful, actually.
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Old September 29, 2005, 02:27 PM   #7
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.38 +P gold dots. You won't even have to clean them. Just pick up the pieces.
I prefer to make my rabbit stew in the crock-pot, rather than in the field.


I'm thinking that a 125 gr JHP over a stout load of Lil' Gun out of my 1894C would just about vaporize a ground squirrel... But that's another thread...

As to my original question, I guess I'm gonna have to pack both, and see what happens. I'll let you all know

--Shannon
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Old September 29, 2005, 02:54 PM   #8
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The Holy Hand Grenade!
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Old September 29, 2005, 04:45 PM   #9
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... And "Three" shall be the number of thy counting. Thou shalt not count "Four". Niether shall thou cont "Two", unless immediately followed by "Three." "Five" is right out.
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Old September 29, 2005, 04:50 PM   #10
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I have used .38 Short Colt, .38 wadcutters & SWC's, and lots of bigger centerfires, loaded light, on rabbits and other small game. All worked well, if the bullet landed where I intended it to go. .38 wadcutters are hard to beat in a .38 or .357 when used on these critters.
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Old September 29, 2005, 05:10 PM   #11
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.38 wadcutters are hard to beat in a .38 or .357 when used on these critters.
Have you also shot them with a .22 HP? If so, which did you prefer, and why?

--Shannon
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Old September 29, 2005, 06:57 PM   #12
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Meh. Your choice, really. I think bringing both sounds like a nifty idea.
.22 is of course cheaper if you plan to do a lot of hunting. I'm not really sure which would do more damage. A lot of the hi velocity .22 hollowpoints really mess up (bloodshot) meat, thought the .38 aught to make a bigger permanent hole. Maybe use lead round nose from the .38? 'Round here, I'd bring the .38 just because there's a chance you might jump up or encounter a coyote. Whichever one you can hit better with, so you can take a head shot if they sit still.

FWIW, I have had rabbits run and hide after being hit with 185 grain Gold Dots from my .45, and also .22 Win Mag from a rifle.
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Old September 29, 2005, 07:20 PM   #13
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FWIW, I have had rabbits run and hide after being hit with 185 grain Gold Dots from my .45, and also .22 Win Mag from a rifle.
I've also seen them do little dust-kicking circles on their sides when hit from 25-30 yards out with a 1 1/8 oz #8 dove load. Dead in about 10 seconds. Not the ideal rabbit load, I know, but I was dove hunting in a shotgun-only state wildlife area, and that's what was in the gun. That rabbit saved me from getting skunked that day, and he's marinating right now....

I think ol' Peter ain't so tough to kill. Sometines hard to hit, however...

--Shannon
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Old September 29, 2005, 08:10 PM   #14
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Re:gb In Ga

You must have some pretty sissy rabbits down there. Are we to believe that at ten feet your birdshot actually destroyed the rabbit. I thought they would have made a shallow wound only to have the rabbit hop off and die a slow cruel death.
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Old September 29, 2005, 08:53 PM   #15
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"You must have some pretty sissy rabbits down there. Are we to believe that at ten feet your birdshot actually destroyed the rabbit. I thought they would have made a shallow wound only to have the rabbit hop off and die a slow cruel death."

A> This wasn't in Ga, it was back home in Tx -- central part of the state.

B> A full choke shotgun at 10 ft doesn't have enough room for the shot pattern to spread out. Shallow wound? Not hardly. I'd estimate that the shot pattern was just about 4 inches in diameter, and even bird shot will penetrate several inches. Full grown cottontails aren't that big. As I recall, we were mainly pass shooting over stock tanks that day, and I was loaded up with #6 shot -- birdshot, yes, but larger birdshot. Plenty enough to shred that bunny at that range. For that matter, that is a pretty good load for bunnies on the run -- just not that close in.
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Old September 29, 2005, 09:02 PM   #16
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Deleted duplicate post.
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Old September 29, 2005, 10:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
.38 wadcutters are hard to beat in a .38 or .357 when used on these critters.



Have you also shot them with a .22 HP? If so, which did you prefer, and why?

--Shannon
Yes I have used both, and it's more a matter of what I had on me at the time than anything else. I was carrying .357 DA duty guns in those days, and small game hunting with them was a good way to stay sharp.
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Old September 29, 2005, 10:59 PM   #18
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I've shot cottontails with many different .22 lrs. Also with my SW40F, Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 mag with 250 gr handloads, my .357s - S&W 686 and Taurus 669 both with 4" barrels using both .357 mag and .38 spl loads. So long as you hit them in the head (the only place I aim for on bunnies) they all work equally well...

The only time I ever shot running rabbits was with my shotgun or my Rossi Gallery gun - 22 lr. There was a time I could shot that Rossi that well - still only took head shots and made them regularly. Wish I still could do that...

Swamp rabbits? I'll just get out the ol' Blackhawk - still have some 250 grers around here. Somewhere...
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Old September 29, 2005, 11:13 PM   #19
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Woo Hoo, easy pickings, right? Blam! Eeew!
I don't know why but this is EXTREMELY amusing to me , after I got done laughing I looked again and started laughing.

Hello my name is psycho nut and I am psycho (according to my mom ).
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Old September 29, 2005, 11:51 PM   #20
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I use the .22lr and solid bullets not hollowpoints. Our Cottontails aren't tough and give up fairly easy when hit with a decent shot. Our Swamp rabbits will also roll over when hit in the head with .22lr solids. I guess others have much tougher rabbits than what we have around me to need a .38spl to kill them.
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Old September 30, 2005, 04:37 AM   #21
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The CCI Small Game Bullet (SGB) will whack'em as hard as needed and you can eat right up to the hole.
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Old September 30, 2005, 09:44 AM   #22
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While I have no problem with using a 22lr (btw -- I use solids as well) for small game, invssgt brings up a really good reason to go with the .38: hunting with your primary carry weapon sharpens your skill with it. For that matter, I think it would be a good idea to use a 9mm with ball ammo if that is your primary carry. Oh, BTW -- it really does help if you handload, you can load them down to where they don't tear up the bunnies too bad.

Along those lines, I've also heard (but not tried) of people who load their centerfire rifles used for deer hunting lightly with cast bullets and use them for squirrel hunting, you could do the same thing with bunnies. Again, it helps your proficiency with the weapon.
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Old September 30, 2005, 10:35 AM   #23
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I like a 454 Casull for squirrel and of course a .45-70 for bunnies. They're pretty big in Tennessee. That 405 grain bullet puts a pretty good Arkansas size hole in him.
Just use a .22lr with CCI SGB, Mini Mags, or if you want a little more "oomph", go with the Stingers.
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Old September 30, 2005, 10:50 AM   #24
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22 LR is pkenty sufficient for rabbits from cotten tails to jacks. I prefer the HP as they make a quicker kill in my experience. Anything bigger is overkill.

That being said, I'm a big fan of overkill. I usually use a .41 mag with jackrabbit loads (220 gr swc @ 1000fps).

Hunting rabbits gives me an opportunity to shoot guns I like to shoot at interesting targets that compete with the livestock. I'm happy, the rancher is happy, the cows are happy, the coyotes that get a free dinner are happy, everybody is happy! Well,... I guess the rabbits may not be that happy about it.
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Old September 30, 2005, 11:00 AM   #25
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Be they be rabbits with HUGE claws and nashing TEETH ?

Hiding behind little white picket fences or perhaps a shrubbery....

I'd dbl tap 'em with a .22 - Just because I could !
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