View Full Version : Hunting & Self Defense 41 Mag & 44 mag

June 24, 2005, 10:01 PM
I have been doing some reading (never stop actually)... read an article by Dick Metcalf on whitetail hunting with handguns (Fall 1987 Shooting Times Handgun Quarterly). I don't have a great deal of experience with this topic, but am trying to learn.

Metcalf takes a look at using the three magnums of the time; 357, 41 and 44 Mags for deer. He mentioned that the 44 magnum (240 gr JHP) was too "heavy bulleted". His experience was that the larger weight 41 and 44 bullets simply passed straight through whitetail deer (chest shots) out to about 100 yards. He recommended using the 180gr JHP in 41 Mag and 175 gr JHP in 44 mag for deer hunting as the bullet expands and does more tissue damage. Hence, the hunter is more likely to have the deer go down immediately rather than run for 100 yards until it bleeds out a bit. Any thought on this?

Certainly, shooting the lower weight bullets would be more comfortable that the heavier rounds.

This whole topic makes sense to me as the same argument would or could apply to self defense with bad guys with the 41 and 44 mag rounds. Again, any thoughts?

June 24, 2005, 11:52 PM
Since 1987 there have been some new offerings in .41 Mag from the ammo companies.

* Winchester's 175gr Silvertip JHP : 1250fps
* Speer's 210gr Gold Dot JHP : 1280fps - 764 ft-lbs
* Federal's 210gr JHP : 1300fps - 788
* Federal 250gr CastCore : 1250fps - 867
* PMC 210gr JHP : 1289fps - 774

For my money, I'd probably consider either the Winchester 175 or the Speer 210 Gold Dot.

June 25, 2005, 12:38 PM
I knew that there were (today) the two sub-200 grain hp offerings in 41mag and 44mag. I had always gravitated to the old 210 JSP or JHP rounds in 41 mag. Ofcourse there are some of the new heavier weighted bullets (solids) now. With bear or some kind of thicker bodied animal, I can understand the heavy bullets. The argument is do you use a bullet that just penetrates and makes a "hole" or do you look at bullet expansion and tissue damage?

I don't reload (yet), so it is pretty much factory loadings.

June 25, 2005, 05:58 PM
I am sure that Dick Metcalf knows his stuff. After all, making your living as a gunzine writer for 25 years has to give you some experience.
However, in my experience, he is wrong. I find that heavy bullets work best for game, including whitetails. Lightly constructed bullets tend to crater, and not penetrate. If my Speer 270 grain GDSP exits the deer, after taking out the heart,one lung, and several ribs, so be it.

June 27, 2005, 02:23 PM
I started a similar post recently when Jeff Quinn from Gunblast recomended a 165 grain special load would be perfect for whitetails. I will be hunting whitetails for the first time this season with a handgun(.44 mag sbh hunter).The consesus in this forum definetly swung toward slow and heavy over light and expansive.When there are experts in disagreement its hard for me to be convinced one way or the other. I've drawn the conclusion in my own mind that shot placement is the key here. I think as long as a load has proven accurate with your gun it will be worth trying out. I plan on experimenting with different bullets as long as I can place them perfectly.I guess theres no substitute for personal experience.

June 27, 2005, 03:14 PM
I have only used the Speer 225 JSWCHP in44 mag on deer. I've recovered only one bullet . That bullet went through a rib then through 25-30" of deer expanding to 50 Cal.That to me is perfect performance. I want full penetration. I think the 'expend all the energy inside the animal ' is nonsense. With that Speer bullet I don't have to worry about waiting for perfect broadside shots and I will have an exit hole to let more blood out and more air in and if I have to track it will be easier [ though they've never gone more than 75 yds]. BTW lung shots with rifle or handgun in my experience -they run 50 yds ,big deal !

July 7, 2005, 08:53 AM
I too fall into the "old school" thought...I like to see a big hole going in and a big hole coming out the other side, regardless the game animal and regardless the angle of the shot.


July 18, 2005, 09:37 AM
I too fall into the "old school" thought...I like to see a big hole going in and a big hole coming out the other side, regardless the game animal and regardless the angle of the shot.


Boarhunter makes a great point. You need penetration for angled shots. Animals don't know that they are supposed to stand perfectly perpendicular to the hunter. ;)

July 18, 2005, 08:30 PM
Jeff Quinn at Gunblast in his review of a super blackhawk hunter reccomends using a 165 gr Corbon .44 special load for whitetail deer.Cor-Bon's 165 grain .44 special load was among the author's favorite loads for the Super Blackhawk Hunter. Clocking at 1255 FPS, this should prove an exceptional factory load for whitetail deer. The debate rages on. Heres a link to the review.....http://www.gunblast.com/SBHunter.htm

July 26, 2005, 11:52 AM
Any load/cartridge that gets the bullet thorugh and out the other side of the deer gets my vote. If it doesn't leave an exit hole, then it quit before it finished an important task.

As far as some .44s not expanding enough or some such nonsense, it is a .429" diameter, it doesn't NEED to expand its diameter by very much, if at all.

This doesn't mean that .357 or .41 need take a backseat, but there is no such thing as "too powerful" for hunting, unless the hunter cannot handle the cartridge. Any excess foot pounds will leave with the bullet as it exits.