View Full Version : Handgun for Big Game

November 23, 2004, 01:10 AM
I'm looking for handgun recommendations for big game. I live and hunt in MI primarily for whitetail, but I am looking for a gun that will be flexible enough for a range of big game should the opportunity arise for a special hunt. I am considering a .44 Mag or a .454 Casull right now.

What I'm wondering is whether there is enough performance increase to warrant moving up to a .454 from a .44 Mag (my minimum consideration) or if it is just a passing fad. I am open to suggestions as to other options as well. I am looking primarily at a long barrel (8-10in) revolver, but if someone has another idea for this situation, I'm all ears.

Thanks for the input.

November 23, 2004, 11:51 AM
IMHO a.44mag is more then enough handgun for white tails anyhting larger I would consider over kill.
Properly scoped 44s can hit and bring down deer at ranges of over 200 yrds and for use as a brush gun it's light compared to a rifle and still has a heavy enough slug to punch trough the sticks and stay on target.
Then there's the ammo availablility factor.

November 23, 2004, 12:24 PM
A .44 Mag is fine for Whitetails. I own one and moved up to a .454 a few years ago. I've been very happy with the .454 (some would say full-house loads are a bit of overkill, but my .454 never leaves me wondering on quartering shots, and is more than enough for moose/bear/elk, etc). My .44 mag still gets lots of use, but the .454 is my primary big game wheelgun. One downside to the .454 is ammo cost. I reload, and the recommendation on full-house loads it to reload a case twice, then throw it away or do not use it for full-house loads again. Me, I didn't buy a Ferrari to pull a plow. :D

Rich Lucibella
November 23, 2004, 01:02 PM
If you like the 44 mag, don't rule out the 45 Colt.
Tim Sundles is now offering a hellacious round for this caliber...325gr at 1325 fps! http://www.buffalobore.com/ammunition/default.htm#45colt

I mention this because I just "found" a New Model Blackhawk with 45 Colt and 45 ACP cylinders in my safe yesterday. I had taken it in from a friend who moved to Canada and never shot it before. Light as it is w/ 4.5" bbl, I don't know I'd wish to try the Buffalo Bore rounds in it....Sundles has already granted me a world class flinch due to my refusal to stop firing my 500 Linebaugh.

I've been playing with this Blackhawk in 45 ACP for two days now and it's a blast to shoot. Practice with the 45 ACP is certainly cheap enough. I'm looking forward to working up some loads for the 45 Colt cylinder.

Back to the 44 Mag:
Randy Garrett is offering a 44 Mag +P super hard cast. 330 Gr at 1400 fps. I gotta believe that'll put a meaningful hurt on anything that moves in North America.

November 23, 2004, 02:26 PM
Rich great point. The .45 Long Colt can be loaded quite hot in a modern handgun (Ruger single actions work well, have long cylinders that allow you to seat the bullet further out, making more room for poweder). :cool:

November 23, 2004, 05:02 PM
The point about the .45 LC is one of the reasons I am considering the .454 Casull. I know Ruger makes a fine revolver and I am looking at the Super Redhawk which will handle both. My dad has been hunting with their Super Blackhawk in .44 Mag for years now and it is a sweet gun.

My primary hunting area is below the rifle line in Michigan which is why I am looking into a good revolver. I like a DA but I am not sold exclusively to one. I'll probably scope it when I can afford to do so on my college student budget.

Does anybody have experience with other models? I know Taurus has a large line of magnum revovlers but I haven't heard any reviews on them and there is the BFR line from Magnum Research. I am looking for quality that will last not a trendy gun.

I appreciate the input from you all and I am soaking it all in.

the possum
November 23, 2004, 09:28 PM
Well, it's hard to go wrong with a .44, but don't shy away from the .454 if that's what you want. It can of course do everything the .44 can, and more. Especially if you get the .454 though, handloading is basically required. This way you can shoot plenty of cheap practice ammo (and hunting with a handgun requires LOTS of practice!) or make mild loads for less important stuff. It seems commonly accepted that any of the big bore revolver calibers will shoot through a deer with hardcast bullets. However, the bigger ones can do the same with the proper expanding bullets for an even bigger hole, whereas the lesser cannot.

Don't let anyone tell you the bigger pistols are overkill. They are certainly no more powerful than lots of common big game rifles. I never heard anyone say a 20 gauge deer slug is "overkill", and that's about the kind of ballistics we're talking about. Heck, I just shot a little doe with my .454 last weekend, and she took off running even though my bullet went right through her heart. I shot her again when she was running 35 yards away, which put her down for good. I've seen plenty of deer go a long way after taking solid hit(s) from bigger rounds.

By the way, big revolvers have been around for a long time. They will continue to be, so don't worry about "fads".

I think if you're really serious about handgun hunting, the best thing you can do is to take it hunting for smaller game first. Recently I've taken 4 different guys out coon hunting with me, and even though all were decent shots on paper, their marksmanship against real targets was less than stellar. Make note of how many times even small animals run off when hit. Make note of how many times you miss, even when you were sure you made a good shot. More than likely, such experiences will be a real eye opener for you.

November 23, 2004, 11:05 PM
If you handload, hard to go wrong with a .454 casull. They're more expensive an initial layout than a .44 mag gun, but they're nearly double the muzzle energy potentially, and thus extremely versatile. That said, if you'll likely not go after anything larger than whitetails or mulies, the .44 mag or .45 colt will be about optimum, I would think. If you don't reload, then the .44 mag is nice because CCI blazer has .44 spec ammo that is only $12 for 50 at Academy, for practice/plinking, and self-defense as well - it's a JHP load.

December 5, 2004, 11:41 AM
Have to agree with most of the responses, believe the 44 mag is your best choice, cost and availability of ammo is a big issue if you don't handload, a good 44mag can be purchased for less than a 454, and having shot both I believe shot placement under field conditions will be much better with the more manageable 44. In recent years some great hunting loads for the 44 have appeared making it a truly legitimate hunter for whitetail, black bear, and even elk. I thought about moving up to a 454 but it just didn't make sense. My scoped Anaconda has cleanly taken deer out to 125yds, and when rifle hunting my 3" model 629 that I always wear on the hip has taken deer in cover too heavy to swing the rifle quickly out to 60 yds. The versatility of the 44 mag for deer size game makes it my clear choice