View Full Version : Handgun hunting laws

September 8, 1999, 02:22 PM
I'm curious as to what the various handgun laws are in each state. Here are are few that I've gleaned thus far:

Colorado: 500 ft-lbs of energy retained at 50 yards.
Georgia: 500 ft-lbs of energy retained at 100 yards.
Idaho: Any non rimfire cartridge.
Iowa: Straight cased cartridges in calibers of .375 or larger.
Oklahoma: Any cartridge with a case length of at least 1.25".
Texas: Any non .22 caliber rimfire cartridge.
Washington: 500 ft-lbs of energy retained at 100 yards.
Wyoming: 357 Remington Maximum, .41 and .44 Remington Magnum, .44 Auto Magnum, .45 Winchester Magnum, .454 Casull and .50 Action Express.

Anybody know any others? Especially really silly ones like Iowa's and Oklahoma's :) So far, my .50 AE Desert Eagle is legal in every state allowing handgun hunting whereas more powerful cartridges such as .440 Cor-bon, .475 Linebaugh, and .500 Linebaugh aren't. Weird.

David Curry

Art Eatman
September 8, 1999, 04:38 PM
Actually, from a "silly" standpoint, it looks like Idaho's law takes the prize. "Any non-rimfire" includes the .25 ACP...At least the Okleyhomey law keeps out the purely pipsqueakish...

What states disallow such as the .440 CorBon? Any reason given?

Later, Art

September 8, 1999, 05:05 PM
Both Texas and Idaho are a bit to lenient in my book as well. In both of these states, one can hunt big game with a .25 ACP or a .22 Hornet! In Iowa, one can use a .40 S&W, but not a .357 Maximum.

Iowa disallows the .440 Cor-bon because it is not a straight case (what *do* they have against bottle-necked cartridges?!) and Wyoming disallows it because it is not one of the 7 cartridges on its "approved" list.

David Curry

Art Eatman
September 8, 1999, 10:52 PM
Yeah, I'd never looked closely at the Texas TP&W book. No game animal with .22 rimfire, and end of story. They worry more on how to put a tag on a deer than what gun you use!

Shhh! Don't tell 'em!

:), Art

Long Path
September 8, 1999, 11:34 PM
Art-- it's interesting to note that a couple of years ago, in a change of philosophy, TX P&W started to repeal even the non .22 rimfire rule. TP&W did go ahead and repeal the prohibition on crossbows for this change in philosophy, which was: "We make regulations regarding game management, period." The hunter uproar was so furious about the .22 rf's, though, they went ahead and re-inserted it. Frankly, I'm one of the uproaring hunters. I don't want some yahoo out there wounding deer with his 10/22 (for example).

I do find it amusing that my late friend Wilson was hunting legally when he went stalking javelina and hogs in the thick low brush on his hands and knees armed only with a matched pair of Colt .41 rimfire derringers! [snicker]

I'm sort of ticked about the fact that the rules in CO will not allow one to hunt with any .45 LC, despite the fact it can be handloaded to meet and exceed .44 magnum. I've never been big-game hunting with factory centerfire ammo! (I don't think javelina count, and that was .38 special, anyway.)

Okay, okay, how about this one for silly: N.Y. state and Illinois, and maybe some others, disallow hunting with rifle, but allow hangun hunting, regardless of caliber!! Thus, by their logic, the population is too dense to allow you to hunt with a Steyer Scout with it's 19", but you can load the same .308 ammo in an XP100 pistol with a 14" barrel, and be legal as can be. Huh?

It would seem to me that you can more easily control where your round is going with a long gun than a pistol...

September 9, 1999, 08:41 AM
David, It was probably just a typo, but the minimum caliber in Iowa is .357, not .375.
We Hawkeye's like the big boomers, but not quite that stout...



September 9, 1999, 09:06 AM
North Carolina's Regulation
Deer, bear and wild boar may be taken with a handgun during the established gun hunting season providing that the handgun has a barrel length at least 5½ inches in length, that metallic center-fire cartridges firing single projectiles be used, that straight-walled ammunition must be as powerful as .357 and no less than .357 caliber (.38 special excluded), and that bottleneck ammunition must be no less than .24 caliber with a total length including the projectile of no less than 2 inches. Muzzleloading pistols are not legal for hunting.

September 9, 1999, 11:07 AM
Boy, ain't this a hoot! So, North Carolina doesn't allow the .440 Cor-bon either (bottleneck cartridge, length < 2"). I find it odd how one of the most powerful pistol cartridges out there is banned in many states .

Here a couple more:
Arkansas: Barrel at least 4" long, no rimfire, military, or Full Metal Jacket ammunition.
Arizona: Any centerfire handgun, no FMJ or tracer ammunition.

Sorry about Iowa! I must be getting dyslexic. I also left out that the barrel must be at least 4" and no FMJ ammunition.

Long Path, I think that you may have mistaken Wyoming's laws for Colorado's. Your .45 LC handloads should be welcome there :) I also screwed up Colorado's law (I must of been half asleep). It is:

Colorado: Minimum of 550 ft-lbs of energy at 50 yards, at least 4" barrel, and at least .24 caliber.

You know the one thing I've began to notice is how some states make it very difficult to locate the state's hunting and fishing agency and others put it right on the first page. Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, and Idaho, for example, give high visibility to hunting. As for Florida, I still haven't been able to locate their regulations---maybe hunting embarresses them. Sad, because they have great hunting opportunities.

David Curry

Matt VDW
September 9, 1999, 02:58 PM
Ohio's requirements for handgun hunting for deer:

Any action type, barrel of at least 5", caliber must be .357 Mag, .41 Mag, .44 Mag, .45 Colt or .357 Max. There's no energy requirement, so 148 grain wadcutters at 650 fps are legal.

I don't like having to pick a cartridge from the approved list, but I suppose it does make the game wardens' job easier.

Long Path
September 9, 1999, 06:07 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Your .45 LC handloads should be welcome there I also screwed up Colorado's law (I must of been half asleep). It is:

Colorado: Minimum of 550 ft-lbs of energy at 50 yards, at least 4" barrel, and at least .24 caliber.[/quote]

Last time I checked, they meant that to mean factory loading in that caliber. I.E.: .44 mag, .41 mag (?), 50 AE, .454 Casull, and any rifle cartridges. Supposedly, the game warden shouldn't have to perform tests to know whether your .45 LC is loaded romp'em stomp'em, or "cowboy action poofter level" (no offense, CAS guys!). But wait-- who's to say that my pet handload in .44 magnum cases isn't a 180g bullet at 900? (read: poooooofter load!)

I TEND to think the game wardens are pragmatists who would give you no flack if you were carrying a .45 LC with a .300 grain hard-cast SWC over 20 gr of 2400, and could quote the load and velocity out of your Blackhawk, but I hate to depend on the kindness of strangers. Maybe they changed it a little. If it's ambiguous enough that it could now be interpreted as ANY load that is &gt;550 fp @ 50 yards, then my .45 LC would fly, now. I'd love to think so.

It's all a game. But I play by the rules.

Of course, this foot pound business is silly, if you consider how they'll allow arrows with far, FAR fewer foot pounds of energy (David, would you rather we used "slugs"? :) [just as arcane a unit of E.]), yet do the job handily.

A BIG, heavy bullet at moderate velocities won't make much in the way of foot pounds (energy), but will have immense inertia (momentum) (MV), and can do major damage, just like that arrow does as it cuts through the vitals. By the 550+fp requirement, your factory-loaded 185g hot .44 mag HP could be used for elk, but not your factory Kieth-style hard-cast SWC 255g at 1000 (I think somebody loads one now...). Frankly, I'd rather have the latter.


By the way, I kind of like the fact that Texas doesn't meddle much in our cartridge selection. Much as I hate the fools who use too little for too much, I hate even more the fools who take any semblence of discretion away from me "for our greater good." The main reason, as I understand it, that .22 rimfire was originally banned from deer hunting was that it was a favorite of poachers for it's low report. This was why crossbows were banned in Texas for a long time. Centerfire cartridges make enough report, generally, to advertise your location.

Will you, too, be one who stands in the gap?

September 11, 1999, 08:19 AM
Nebraska: handguns that deliver at least 400 ft. lbs. of energy at 50 yards.
rifles must deliver at least 900 ft.lbs of energy at 100 yds., so you cannot use a pistol caliber carbine unless it meets the rifle requirements. This means that a .44 mag is okay for pistol, but no-no in a carbine even for hunting in areas where your longest shot might be 50 yds.

Long Path
September 11, 1999, 08:46 AM
Okay. That is dumb. So carry a .44 mag pistol with you, too, and you can say, HEY! I was going to shoot it with the pistol and use the rifle as backup/coup de gras!
Makes as much sense.

September 11, 1999, 07:41 PM
I believe here in NY it's anything over 22 caliber that is "prudent" power-wise. Also 16" bbl or less.

It used to be handguns 35 cal. and larger but that could mean a 380 auto could be used where a 30/30 Contender couldn't. Even the new law is a bit ambiguous.

This is just a case of the laws not keeping up with the cartridge development.

Long Path, SHHHHHHHHH,keep it under your hat. ;)

[This message has been edited by Contender (edited September 11, 1999).]