View Full Version : .357 Mag applications

October 28, 1999, 01:26 PM
I'd like to do some hunting with my recently acquired Ruger GP100. What game can I take down with a .357 Mag, and what loads should I try out? I am not new to hunting, but my 7mm Rem Mag, .243 (24"), and 12-gauge have been doing the dirty work. I will be out for deer, hogs, javelina, bobcats, etc.. Thanks.

Rocky Road
October 29, 1999, 12:13 PM
Sugar Dog---

if you are serious about hunting with your Ruger, I do hope it has a six-inch barrel or better--

For the sake of yourself, your companions, and your humanely-hunted game, please always remember this primary fact: The .357 mag is nothing more nor less than a hyped-up .38 Special. The extra velocity is more an aid to precise placement, due to flatter trajectory, than a super duper wham-bam, knock 'em on the floor power boost. Just as the Super .38 is naught but an overpressure 9 mm Luger, the .357 is just an overpressure .38 special.

Okay--there are some added foot pounds of energy--But please don't even let the phrase "Hydrostatic shock" cross your mind--nor "nerve shock" in the sense of the slamming impact of the powerful magnum bullet immediately incapacitating ANY game animal. Neither of these phrases have any meaning at anything below center fire smokeless powder RIFLE velocities. (Disregarding what some of the factory hype ads from the 1940s and 50s told us.)

The .357 is perhaps THE prime example of barrel length making a difference in power. Someone did a chart, comparing .357 in 2-1/2, 4, 6, 7-1/2 and 8-3/8 barrels, and the biggest jump, in both the 160 gr range and the 125 gr range was guess where? between the 4 and 6 inch.

So---are you using four or six inch? There are ways to optimize both. I don't pretent to be the guhru on this but I do have a couple of favorite handloads and also factory loads for each length. And, this si done without any particular pride of authorship. I KNOW there are several on the forum with greater knowledge than me, and will be happy to bow to them.

In any case--SMALL white tail deer at CLOSE range are about as large a game animal as you want to go for with a four-inch iron sighted .357. Stretching the capabilities of the gun/load combination is a sure way to crippled game and personal regrets.

Don't ger me wrong, friend--I have two different four-inch .357s and have a lot of fun with them both, but I recognize the limitations.

Let us hear from you---


---The Second Amendment ensures the rest of the Bill of Rights---

October 29, 1999, 03:20 PM
Yeah, mine is a 4" barrel. I didn't buy this gun with the intention of hunting with it, but after I got it, I was wondering if it would be worth the try. Central Texas white-tails would be the largest thing that I would be shooting at with this pistol. My guess was that this caliber would provide the penetration necessary at close range (100 yards absolute max) to take down game without watching them hop a fence and run a few miles before bleeding to death. Just as a sidenote: I do have experience with handguns of various types and calibers - just not .357 Mags.

Long Path
October 31, 1999, 05:09 AM
With a .357 Magnum at deer-sized animals, 100 yards is not close range. It is not intermediate range. It is not merely long range.

It is a stunt.

Keep them at a range that you can reliably, from field position, put an entire cylinderful into a paper plate. If you can do that at 100 yards with field sights and a heavy bullet deerkilling load and from a somewhat unknown distance...

You're a better shot than me. And I'm good. ;)

November 1, 1999, 01:13 PM
Oops, brainfart alert! Not 100 yards max - it should read 100 FEET max (approx 30 yards) in heavy brush. I am comfortable shooting in the field up to that distance. Thanks for the upfront responses.

Long Path
November 1, 1999, 09:49 PM
Ah! That's more like it! Still takes some damn good shooting, but with a rest, sure, why not? :)

Neural flatulance is something of a specialty of mine, too...

Ron L
November 3, 1999, 05:43 PM
I've taken my Dan Wesson with an 8 inch barrel and scope and didn't feel undergunned because I worked up some handloads that I felt would perform best and kept the range short to intermediate. Like it's been said before, keep your ranges in mind and know where and how hard your ammo will hit.


Detroit Area Chapter
Terra-Haute Torque & Recoil Scoiety

Rocky Road
November 6, 1999, 03:12 PM
Ron L--

Accepted--As I stated in my original reply last week, .357 Mag is one caliber where barrell length makes a BUNCH of difference.

My old Colt Three-Fifty-Seven (pre-Trooper) four-inch and my S&W Model 19 four-inch revolvers are entirely different guns from your DW eight-inch with scope. It is almost coincidental that they will chamber the same cartridges, so different can be the burning characteristics of powders in long and short barrels.

I have a couple of loads tailored for my four-inch guns--Unique powder with 162 gr LSWC and 2400 with 158 Hornady XTP-HP--which are accurate and powerful thru my revolvers. But the same load would show only modest improvement through your long bbl. BUT--I imagine it wouldn't take more than one weekend for me to work up a load which would use your eight-inch tube to good advantage, whether or not it did well in my short barrels. You already probably have such a load, and, if you've taken the trouble, you're likely plenty ethical enough to have sought out and discovered your limitations.
Sugar Dog--I applaud your 100 FOOT maximum range decision. In the field, a lot of shooters lose sight of the fact that the target is not the DEER but a specific ten-inch circle ON the deer.

Using Long Path's criteria, my limitation with the .357 used to be about 40 yards. that was a decade or two past. For the past yen years, my limitation is more like 25 yards. Can I shoot tighter than this with perfect conditions and a bench rest? Sure I can--But the deer seldom grant you ideal circumstances.

Come on out to North Texas, Ron, and we'll wager Cokes and lunch and maybe a dollar or two, on cardboard or paper or milk jugs. We'll shoot 'em at fanciful ranges with each other's loads in handguns and rifles and maybe shotguns. But we don't have to try to track up after a marginally-hit paper plate or plastic bottle.

Good discussion, guys.


---The Second Amendment ensures the rest of the Bill of Rights---

Ron L
November 10, 1999, 08:52 PM
Rocky, when the weather this coming January is in the double digits below zero here in Michigan, Northern Texas is going to look mighty nice. If it weren't for work, school, kids, and church functions, I'd love to take you up on your offer. Forget betting for cokes, I'll buy the first two rounds. :)

And yes, I've worked up a 158 grain JHP load with WW 296 that works quite well. On another note, I was the one that worked up the chart showing velocities for the different barrel lengths for several calibers. That came about when a few folks were discussing shooting pistol calibers in lever guns. It was quite a while ago and I think it was posted in the General Discussions Forum. If you can't find it and you're still interested, email me directly and I'll see if I can dredge the info back up.


Detroit Area Chapter
Terra-Haute Torque & Recoil Society

November 13, 1999, 08:20 PM
I have hunted deer with a Dan Wesson .357 in Ohio. Using factory loads. This was back in 95 & 96. I hit three deer (small even)in those two seasons, no shot longer than 40yrds. None of these deer were recovered. I can shot well & my traking skills are very good (lots of bow kills under my belt). These deer i belive were not the victim of bad hits.
The following year I aquired a S&W 44mag. 12" barrel, open sights, the first shot I had was two bucks sparing at about 70yrds at least. First shot was in the heart of buck #1 & it fell to ground. Deer #2 stood still confused. Not for long "hehe". Nervous, my second shot hit buck # 2 in rump & it ran about 60yrds before giving in. I have since purchased a Desert Eagle 44mag. semi-auto 14" barrel & scope, I have taken deer at over 100 yards. I now feel terrible for wounding those deer with a mere .357 No offense intended see for yourself on those big Texas bucks. [email protected]

November 14, 1999, 08:14 AM
P.S. My brother tagged the other buck! he tracked it while I gutted buck #1

Robert the41MagFan
November 18, 1999, 03:04 PM
The .357 Magnum is a weird caliber for deer size game. It has the power to drop a deer, but seems to lack the external damage needed to track a less than perfectly placed shot. Instead of 6" target placement, you really only have 4". If you don't hit him in the heart, he gonna run (he is going to run anyway, but not as far). Making recovery difficult. If you are going to use .357 Magnum, use a 4 inch target to determine your maximum shooting distance and then cut that buy 1/3. That will virtually guaranty that there will be no grief later about losing a animal.


November 18, 1999, 04:34 PM
Quite a few of us use a .357 as a companion for shot range shots, less than 25 yds quite regularly.
A friend hunts from a tripod stand and took one that was under the stands, between the legs. He couldn't have taken the shot with his rifle.
Personally I've never shot one with a .357 but do carry just in case.


Root Hog or Die Poor