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Old February 9, 2006, 04:35 PM   #1
Doug.38PR
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.357 good for BIG game

Another post from the HC Magnum Modern Marvel special. I have heard it said by modern gunnies that nothing less than a .41 magnum is good for BIG game hunting and .357 is fine for deer and such. BUT according to HC, showing old pictures and documenting sources, the .357 magnum's one place of primary acceptance was with BIG game hunters. Shows them with pictures of their .357s standing next to dead jungle cats and such. One incident is quoted by a Catholic priest in Alaska who writes a letter to S&W thanking them for producing the .357 magnum as it was instrumental in saving the lives of the eskimos of his parish as they relied on walrus for hunting and food. One such Walrus they bagged that season was the largest of that year and was 2000 pounds or more (2000 was average) and it was taken down by 1-3 rounds from the .357 magnum.
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Old February 9, 2006, 05:24 PM   #2
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Adequate in the hands of a highly skilled operator vs. Good are two diffirent things.

Though the 357 with a hard cast has some decent penetration I would not argue that it was GOOD for big game esp. relative to what else is out there. That being said yes those experinced with it and with some hot stuff have taken larger game. .
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Old February 9, 2006, 05:38 PM   #3
22-rimfire
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Aim Small--Miss Small. That pretty much sums up my feelings about the 357 for deer sized game from a handgun.
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Old February 9, 2006, 05:44 PM   #4
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And the .17 is just the ticket for brown bear

And the .17 is just the ticket for brown bear; the .22 HiPower can't be beat for big cats and so it goes.
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Old February 9, 2006, 06:01 PM   #5
AlaskaMike
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I don't know about taking walrus with a .357, but typically when people talk about big game here in Alaska, they're talking brown bear, moose or caribou. Using a .357 for a final killing shot on an animal which was wounded and downed by a rifle shot is fine, but if anyone tried to hunt the big stuff up here solely with a .357, he'd be ridiculed far and wide.

While I personally know people who have taken multiple big brown bear with .44 mags, they're still very much the exception. Now, on Sitka blacktail deer, a .357 might be okay.

Also, native Alaskans have been hunting walrus for a *lot* longer than S&W has been making handguns, so I wouldn't put much stock in the legitimacy of the catholic priest story

Mike

Last edited by AlaskaMike; February 9, 2006 at 06:48 PM.
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Old February 9, 2006, 06:45 PM   #6
cje1980
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I'm with AlaskaMike on this one. I don't really think any handgun could be classified as being good for big game short of the monster hand cannons like the 454Cas and 500S&W. The 357 really should only be used up to about deer sized game and even then is still considered to be the minimum for deer. I think the 41Mag is one heck of a deer cartridge but wouldn't want to try hunting big game with it. It would be a stunt to hunt anything larger with a 357 but people have pulled it off. The 44Mag would be better for big game but I would still rather have a 454Cas or better yet, a rifle.
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Old February 9, 2006, 07:43 PM   #7
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I have been a handgun hunter for over 30 years here in Oregon. I have used a 357 for both coastal blacktail and mule deer and have taken both species of deer with it. Based on my experience I have come to feel quite strongly that the 357 is a marginal round for hunting deer sized animals. When I shoot a deer I want it to go down right now for practical and humane reasons and the 357 just does not give that kind of performance.
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Old February 9, 2006, 08:26 PM   #8
Doug.38PR
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Also, native Alaskans have been hunting walrus for a *lot* longer than S&W has been making handguns, so I wouldn't put much stock in the legitimacy of the catholic priest story
He didn't say it was teh first walrus they ever got. I'd have to go back and rehear the whole letter the HC man read but I think he was saying that it was a bad season and the S&W .357 magnums made hunting among the eskimos much easier and said (I think) that 3 shots from the .357 got the biggest walrus they had got that season. The priest didn't say what size but 2000 was the average according to this HC man.

I wouldn't see any reason to doubt the story. It was a letter written to S&W back in 1935 by a priest in Alaska among eskimos. Quite expensive (and in the depression era and in a more or less frontier area) and a lot of trouble for a priest (of all people) to mail a lie to a gun company to thank them for something that didn't happen.

Last edited by Doug.38PR; February 9, 2006 at 09:55 PM.
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Old February 9, 2006, 11:12 PM   #9
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1935 changes everything... the 357 Mag at that time was the most powerful handgun cartridge and that is about when it was introduced as I recall.
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Old February 9, 2006, 11:29 PM   #10
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1935 changes everything
You mean animals were easier to kill back then . Somehow, when the 357Mag came out it worked pretty well on game animals but now animals have somehow gotten tougher and now you need a 500S&W to kill a 150lbs deer. How good a shot you are is going to determine everything. I would say the 357Mag is adequate for small-medium sized game. Definitely not for big game. We need to define Big Game. Deer are not considered Big Game. The same thing goes on with the rifle crowd. There will always be a huge argument as to what caliber is adequate for certain game animals.
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Old February 9, 2006, 11:42 PM   #11
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When it was introduced, it was the end-all beat-all caliber. Loadings in 45LC, 44 Russian, 44 Special may have been alittle more powerful with handloads in such revolvers as the Colt New Service. People like Elmer Keith developed hot loads for the 45 and 44 spec. But most people just went to the store and bought a box of shells. I suspect that just about every game animal was killed with the 357 mag after it was released. The same game animals have been killed with the 22LR.

The appropriateness of the various calibers does seem to change over time. Now everyone talks about 454 Casull, 460 and 500 S&W etc for Alaska game and the 44 mag is too small all of a sudden. I personally would feel very comfortable with my 41 mag in Alaska 99% of the time. The difference is that I am not going to hunt BIG game in Alaska with a handgun. It would be for backup purposes. The priest was probably not using the 357 for hunting; it was for defensive purposes and I suspect he was just helping out with the walrus. Frankly, I would lean toward a 375 H&H rifle with the 338 being the lowest power rifle caliber.
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Old February 10, 2006, 01:29 AM   #12
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The same game animals have been killed with the 22LR.
When reading this thread earlier, I was thinking the EXACT same thing. I don't have any data or specific instances to back it up. But, I just thought to myself, you know I bet if you go back far enough, someone has taken just about anything there is to take with the 22LR as well.

The question is, would you want to try it? I know I sure wouldn't. And although I love my .357s dearly, there are a lot of animals that I just would not feel comfortable with it as even a backup. Certainly, it could kill presumably some pretty crazy big stuff given the right shot on the right day. And for some of the game mentioned, it could be probably be easily repeatable with the right shooter. It just wouldn't be for me or most shooters out there I would guess.

However, I do also agree with some who have stated that perceptions change so much over time. Suddenly, the .44 has been downgraded from even being NEAR the top of the heap when it comes to power. The .454 has likewise "fallen in the shadow" of newer developments. In the process, people tend to think that cartridges, like the .44, are maybe the marginal minimum for game which it used to be the standard.

There ARE limits though, I am not questioning that. Just saying that they sometimes get lowered as years go by and newer cartridges are brought out.

It sounds like I kinda flip flopped there during the course of the post. I am kinda mixed on this one anyway. I think it's cause I have such a hard time admitting that the .357 is simply inadequate for some tasks. I want someone to just say, SURE you can take a blue whale with a .357...lots have done it. But then I just know better...sigh....

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Old February 10, 2006, 04:57 AM   #13
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I haven't hunted deer with my 357 but I have shot wild dogs with it. Knocks the dogs off their feet even at 50 yards. The 158 jhps worked better on the dogs, but I've heard the 140 grain jhps are a good compromise for weight, penetration and expansion. The 180 grain will be the ticket for penetration, now if you are hunting deer, I'd go with a 180 grain cast with the widest meplat. A 44 magnum is all of the sudden inadequate? A 305 grain hard cast at 1250 will be my choice for Alaska. I think you have to hit the game before it can count. I see too many guys on the range with 454s can't even hit paper at 25 yards when shooting off hand. Remember, no bench and sandbags out there when you're hunting. If you can shoot the gun off hand and hit 3" groups at 25 yards and 8" groups at 50 yards then you are ready to step up to a bigger caliber if you wish. What I'm getting at is better hit with a 357 than a miss with a 500 S&W. josh
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Old February 10, 2006, 06:32 AM   #14
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Anybody that thinks a 357 in Alaska hasnt had 1000lbs of teeth and claws charging them at over 30 mph. I watched that burnout they called the Grizzly Man on tv the other nite. He played with those bears and they carried what was left of him home in a 5 gal. bucket. You would have to be close to get a kill shot with a 357 and that is the last place you want to be. When a bear charges you have to hit it in the head or have enough power to penetrate their chest muscle and get to vital organs. We did a penatration test couple years back at deer camp. We took a piece of iron about 8x8 inchs and hung it about 75 yds out. Then we shot at it with different calibers, a 357 just made a gong sound and a dent a 44 mag 240 gr bullit made slight penatration about 1/8 of inch deep, a 30-30 barely went thru and pushed a pimple out the backside, now a 308, 30-06, 280 burned a hole right thru the metal. Now this metal was at least 1/2 inch thick maybe 7/16. All I,m getting at is killing game is all about killing fast. You could shoot anything with a 22 and it would probably bleed out and die. Small calibers just leed to wounded animals and lost game.
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Old February 10, 2006, 11:25 AM   #15
AlaskaMike
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Doug.38PR, I apologize--I didn't read your initial post as well as I should have when I posted my earlier message. It sounds as if you read the catholic priest story as part of a magazine article (I'm not sure what the abbrieviation "HC" is). That certainly lends more credibility to it vs. a story passed on by someone who heard it from a buddy who got it from a friend of his, which is how most stories on web forums seem to come about.

Sorry if I ruffled any feathers. I'm sure in 1935 a .357 would have been just the ticket to make taking a walrus a *much* easier job when the alternative was a spear.

Mike
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Old February 10, 2006, 11:52 AM   #16
Doug.38PR
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Quote:
Doug.38PR, I apologize--I didn't read your initial post as well as I should have when I posted my earlier message. It sounds as if you read the catholic priest story as part of a magazine article (I'm not sure what the abbrieviation "HC" is). That certainly lends more credibility to it vs. a story passed on by someone who heard it from a buddy who got it from a friend of his, which is how most stories on web forums seem to come about.

Sorry if I ruffled any feathers. I'm sure in 1935 a .357 would have been just the ticket to make taking a walrus a *much* easier job when the alternative was a spear.

Mike
OH YOU DIDN'T RUFFLE ANY FEATHERS. Not a problem. I just saw that you misunderstood and sought to clarify. HC is short for History Channel. One historian they interviewed, I think (again I would have to go back and rehear what was said, was reading directly from THE letter the catholic priest wrote to Smith and Wesson.
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Old February 10, 2006, 02:15 PM   #17
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However, I do also agree with some who have stated that perceptions change so much over time. Suddenly, the .44 has been downgraded from even being NEAR the top of the heap when it comes to power.
That's not a matter of perception but a matter of fact. No matter which way you look at it. There are handgun cartridges available today that blow the 44Mag out of the water. The 44Mag was introduced to be more appropriate for hunting deer possibly up to Elk sized game in the right hands. It was never really intended to take on Alaskan Big Game or anything like that. The 44Mag never officially was at anytime the most powerful handgun in the world. Maybe for a year or so. The 454Casull was introduced at the same exact time. The 454 Casull is simply a much better choice for larger critters as well as hunting at longer ranges.
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Old February 10, 2006, 06:54 PM   #18
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cje1980 - I am not disputing the fact that there are more powerful cartridges out there today. I KNOW that. Everyone on the board knows that. What I am saying, is that there are so many more powerful cartridges out there now that the .44 mag has lost most of its mystique with most of the shooting public. Although it may or may not have been the end all most powerful at any time, it was certainly the most powerful readily available cartridge to most of the public. By that I mean, there were factory revolvers chambered for it, and factory loads made for it. I also know that the .45 Colt could be handloaded to equal or surpass it. But again, what percent of shooters reload and even further what percent of the population in general reloads or even knows about it. I am talking general perceptions here. I am also not saying that I would chose to carry it in Alaska. I never even mentioned Alaska in my post. Nor, was I directing any of these comments to anyone on this board. I am talking more about the general public, people who are more or less in the dark about guns. I was commenting on the fact that when something like the .500 comes out you have a rush of people running out to get it, because they feel that they have to have the biggest when a .44 might do. Hell, even when the .44 came out and then Dirty Harry came out, a huge crowd of people rushed out to get it that probably had no need for it.

Before that miffs anybody, I am not saying that you must have a need in order to buy a hand cannon. Lord knows I am not saying that. I have a .475 Linebaugh, that really I basically have no specialized need for, but it sure is fun to shoot. Actually I probably don't even need any of my .44s but I certainly wouldn't part with them.

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Old February 10, 2006, 07:52 PM   #19
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You also have to remember that the initial .357 Magnum loads were a lot hotter than what's offered over the counter now--near to .357 Maximum performance with lead and jacketed bullets.

The lawyers and fear of "wrist-breaking recoil" led to the toning-down of most factory loads...

Now, for a handloader who has a strong-framed revolver or T/C Contender in .357 Magnum or Maximum...
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Old February 11, 2006, 12:42 AM   #20
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The 357 Magnum reigned as the most powerful factory loaded handgun cartridge for about 20 years (1935-1955). It's intended purpose was law enforcement. I'm sure it was also used for hunting to some degree. Like the Ruger Alaskan of today or a 4" S&W 500 Mag revolver, the priest was carrying the most powerful handgun of the day (357) in Alaska. The story is probably true.

Elmer Keith was probably most responsible for development of the 44 Magnum. But he was a man who used more gun than many feel necessary for hunting (not less). He hunted on horse back a lot and always had the six shooter handy. He took game with the 44 Special magnum, but it was probably more a case of opportunistic shooting than setting out to hunt say elk with the six gun. Development took 30 years for the most part.

The 44 Magnum was introduced in 1955 and it really was the most powerful production revolver caliber of its day. The 454 Casull didn't show up until the early 1970's and they were essentially custom made guns with a "wildcat caliber". North American Arms made some. The first Freedom Arms 454's that were factory produced showed up around 1983 even though the 454 was being experimented with in the late 1950's. So, the 44 Magnum gained the upper hand for about 25 years as the most powerful commercial handgun caliber.

Now we have an almost common place acceptance of these powerful calibers in handguns and people are taking them out specifically for use with dangerous game. I bet Dick Casull or Wayne Baker (Freedom Arms) didn't hunt grizzly without a rifle backup even though the pictures show one of the Freedom Arms revolvers posed with the shooter over the animal. Handgun hunting (for sporting purposes) only really started in the 1950's and is only today beginning to reach some acceptance with hunters.

Enter the 460 and 500 S&W calibers. Clearly the most powerful handgun calibers unless you consider a 45-70 a handgun caliber in the BFR or contenders.

The point of all this that you need to put the discussion of caliber in perspective of history. It is easy to say that the 500 makes the 44 common place in power. I doubt that many can spend a day at the range shooting 44's comfortably. The 44 magnum remains very powerful and with heavy solids is fairly practical backup for dangerous game, or a gun to carry camping or fishing where you might encounter one of these beasts in an unsocialable mood. It is a very effective caliber with a wide range of commercial loadings. (But I still prefer the 41 magnum. )

Last edited by 22-rimfire; February 11, 2006 at 08:29 AM.
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