View Full Version : 100 yard handgun question

January 28, 2008, 01:00 PM
I am starting to get interested in going to a handgun for hunting mule deer. All of the mulies I have taken with my 30-06 have been within 100 yds. Is 100 yds realistic with a handgun? I am talking about "traditional" handguns, not something chambered in a rifle cartridge.

Scope/no scope? Caliber? anything else you want to share?



January 28, 2008, 01:48 PM
I'd keep it with a scope. 100yds is a LONG shot for a handgun regardless of manufacturer.

If you really want to reach out that far with a pistol round, consider a Thompson Center Encore with one of the 15" barrels. They have a barrel for .500S&W, or you can get them straight from the factory with .44 mag. You may be able to get it straight from the factory with the .500, but I think you may have to make some calls.

If that's not what you'd consider traditional enough of a pistol... here's a monster of a wheelgun made for hunting.

January 28, 2008, 03:02 PM
Man! That is a beast!!

January 28, 2008, 03:26 PM
For Mule Deer you don't need the S&W 500 - I used mine for Cape Buffalo. The S&W 460 is outstanding for your game at 100 yards. Scope it, using a Warne mount and a Bushnell scope with rainguard. The mount and scope will hold up to the recoil of the heavy loadings, should you need them for bigger game. Hornady makes an excellent round for deer at 200 gr with their SST bullet. You can also use the lighter .454 and .45LC in this revolver. I suggest the 8 3/4" bbl for hunting at 100 yards. These S&W X Frame revolvers are truely an incredible design and are a pleasure to shoot.

Uncle Mike's or Bianchi both make a soft shoulder holster to fit the gun with scope which will provide protection.

January 28, 2008, 04:19 PM
LionHunter, Thanks for the info. That gets me started in the right direction.

If you shoot the lighter loads for practice - say the 45 LC, how far off will you be when you move up to the .454 or the .460? I would assume a lot, with the step up, but that is just my assumption.

Thanks again!

January 28, 2008, 04:31 PM
I've taken whitetail here in Texas with my Model 29 8 3/8" barrel, no scopes at fifty to sixty yards. Have taken smaller whitetail (does) with my 686 8 3/8" barrel at around forty yards with a 180 bullet.

I carry one or the other in a shoulder rig when hunting in case a deer "pops up" at a range that I think would just flat be unsporting to shoot with a long gun.


January 28, 2008, 04:41 PM
LionHunter (or anyone with personal knowledge) -

Do you have the integral base (compensated hunter) or the standard? On the website, I can't tell if the standard is tapped or not..

I would probably go with a Leupold scope, unless you have a reason not to.

January 28, 2008, 04:53 PM
I have the standard 8 3/4" in both the 500 and 460. I wouldn't pay the premium for the Custom Shop guns as these X-Frames are really accurate out of the box. The Warne mount is installed by removing the rear sight, putting the mount in place and re-installing the rear sight. A very simple operation and it allows you to remove the scope and use the iron sights, if necessary.

I have Leupold scopes on almost all my firearms and it would do well for you. I just like the firefly and rainguard features on the Bushnell. I use quick detachable rings and also have an EOTech I use if hunting in heavy brush where quick shots are required.

And yes, your point of impact will change with the different loads.

Good luck, and let us know what you go with.

January 28, 2008, 05:12 PM
I am mulling over the financing as I type and wondering what I have that I can part with to raise some cash...

I can see you are sold on the Warnes, and by your various posts, I can respect that. Do you have any experience with the S-W mount that can be viewed at


Looks as if you can shoot sights under the scope. Again, no experience in this game, so forgive the questions.

January 28, 2008, 08:01 PM
When using a handgun at longer distances remember in handgun calibers the trajectory is like a rainbow. Bullet drop is significant when going beyond 50 yards. Best to select the range you're proficient at and find a mulie at that distance. Several ways to judge this, use a range finder or know what the deer will look like in relationship to the crosshairs. Practice at this range until you can consistantly get about 6-8" groups.

Elmer Kieth took game with a .44mag at 600 yards. I'm no Elmer Kieth, but I have taken Antelope and Mulies out to 200 yards with a .44 mag. It's all about your skill level and proficientcy. My favorites are the Desert Eagle and Performance Center .44.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v405/Rembrandt51/DesertEagle14.jpg


January 28, 2008, 08:27 PM
The Warne base was recommended to me by the S&W Chief of the X-Frame design team. I used the Warne quick release rings so that I couls remove the scope quickly if needed or to replace it with the EOTech if desired. Many mounts and scopes would not hold up to the recoil of the heavy 500 magnum rounds, but the Warne did. He also spoke highly of the Bushnell 3200 Elite as a scope that also took the recoil without damage. He had a room full of damaged scopes that could not hold up. This was a few years ago, prior to S&W making their own mounts and rings. I have no experience with the S&W mount/rings.

By way of experience, I have taken a new world record #1 Red Duiker, a #3 Puku, a #1 Chobe Bushbuck and a Cape Buffalo in Africa, all with the S&W X-Frame revolver.

Yeah, I really, really like the S&W X-Frame revolvers. Currently have 3 and thinking about another if I sell the 8 3/8" 500.

January 28, 2008, 10:27 PM
Your choice depends on your experience level with the bigger recoiling handguns. Lots of choices. I generally feel the 454 Casull is more power (hence recoil) than you need for deer or most 4-legged animals. I used a Smith Model 57 8 3/8" (41 mag) for a number of years. I always felt capable to 100 yds if I needed to. My current handgun is a Ruger Super Redhawk (SRH) in 480 Ruger. It is a good caliber. Check into it. The SRH is one of the least expensive of the big bore handguns. 44 mag will work, but I wouldn't choose a SRH for that caliber. I'm currently thinking about a BFR revolver in 475 Linebaugh/480 Ruger but I will probably shoot it mostly in 480. Enjoy.

January 28, 2008, 10:58 PM
AMT automag 3 might be what you are looking for. It is chambered in .30 carbine. Less recoil than my XD45

January 29, 2008, 11:47 AM
I owned and shot a Ruger .44 mag Super Redhawk for several years, but was not interested in using it for hunting back then and eventually sold it (:o). So I am not recoil shy. But how much more recoil is there stepping from the 44 Mag to the .454 or the .460?

Man, it never ceases to amaze me how many smart people are on this board!!

I started to do some preliminary work with WildAlaska on purchasing.....

January 29, 2008, 11:54 AM
This is a picture of my first group from my blackhawk hunter. I fired 2 cylinders (12 shots) at 100 yards from a kneeling position resting my none firing elbow on my knee. The 8 ring is 8 inches and all but one landed in it. The flier was the last shot out of the second cylinder and I felt myself flinch on it. I used the iron sights on it, I do have a scope but I can't get use to it and I find that at the average distance that I will be shooting at whitetails in my area I do not need a scope and I shoot better without the scope.

I was shooting pretty hot hand loads of 255gr gas checked cast performance bullets over h110 using mag primers. I have become a lot better with it the more I practice. I would rather shoot a buck at the 50 to 70 yard range but I feel confident enough that if I take my time and focus and make that first shot count I can kill a buck at 100 yards. I recommend the gun if you like single actions it handles recoil very well. There is also a bisley hunter too if you like that grip better. I was going to shoot my Maine moose last season with it but I never came across a bull.

I think the .460 and 500 are cool but are not needed at 100 yards for deer. Hey but if you like them use them.

Art Eatman
January 29, 2008, 12:00 PM
The trajectory of a .44 Mag isn't particularly bad for 100-yard shots. Without looking at the tables, I'd figure on a 75-yard zero, giving approximately a 125-yard "point it and pull" capability.

240-grain, big meplat.

And practice with lighter loads until you can pretty much always hit a beer can at 100 yards. Get yourself "all married up" with the gun.


January 29, 2008, 01:10 PM
NeverTooManyGuns - nice shooting!

Art - As always, on time - on target, Thanks.

BTW - what is meplat :confused:

I figure I will shoot the heck out of it with the .45 LC for form and function and then move up to the .454 and the .460s.

Looks like time to get some new reloading dies for my buddy...:D

January 29, 2008, 04:43 PM
There are plenty of revolvers capable of taking deer at 100 yards. Any S&W M29 or M629, or X-frame. Any Ruger Redhawk, Super Redhawk, or Blackhawk in an appropriate caliber.

The question is not whether the handgun is accurate enough. The question is are you accurate enough.

Lot's of practice. Some people may not be able to do it even with lot's of practice. Especially older folks whose eyes aren't what they used to be.

I've shot one deer with a handgun. One round at 92 yards with an iron-sighted M500 S&W. No, a .500 isn't needed on deer, but I shot very well with that particular handgun. No doubt the long sight radius and very nice trigger helped. Typical groups at 100 yards are 4" to 6" for 3 rounds. Not like shooting a rifle, but it's good enough for deer, at least if they are in the open.

I'd suggest whichever brand of revolver you like in .44 Magnum or .454 Casull and lots of practice. After a little while you'll find out just how far you can shoot well enough to kill a deer with it. I can tell you that it will spice up your hunting.

January 29, 2008, 05:00 PM
Bitmap - good reason to spend more time on the range!

I bow hunt elk every year, so understand the "know your limit" rule of shooting.

I am seriously in need of some "spice". Last year, my deer season lasted 1/2 hour: get up, cup of coffee, head out, see buck, 30-06, bang, done.

LionHunter - do you use speed loaders or ??

January 29, 2008, 05:26 PM
It's true Elmer Keith took game at 600yds with his .44 mag. He also was partial to open sights. :eek: I dont use my revolver for anything over 75-100yards. I suppose if it was scoped I might. My deer revolver is a ruger redhawk .44mag with open sights 5.5". It sure is handy for toting around the woods.

January 29, 2008, 05:31 PM
Using a handgun as your primary deer gun will definitely spice up your hunts. It's like bow hunting with just a bit more reach. Since you might consider elk hunting with the handgun, I opt for something in 480 Ruger, 454 Casull, 460 S&W or 500 S&W. The 454 kicks alot. The 500 is tolerable to about 300 or so gr loads. Never shot a 460. You have to practice often with these as you are not likely to shoot many shots in a given shooting session. That is one of the strong pluses of using a 41 or 44 mag revolver as you can practice more and improve your shooting skills.

Not taking anything away from Elmer Keith and his shooting abilities, but he primarily used handguns for targets of opportunity rather than his primary gun on a hunt. As I recall, he walked his shots into the game at 600 yds. I believe that was a carbou. He shot a lot.

January 29, 2008, 06:18 PM
Sorry, didn't mean to limit responses to just one peson - do any of you who hunt with a handgun use speed loaders or ?? Not that I am thinking "rapid reload", more just about carrying extra rounds.

Bitmap - "probably" (famous last words) will stick with bowhunting for elk. The unit we hunt is over-the-counter tags for bow elk, no drawing. Been hunting the same piece of ground enough years to know it well and there are a lot of elk (since I never kill any...:rolleyes:).

I am pretty sure I am going to the SW 460. I will pick up bulk .45 LC to shoot the heck out of, then step up.

Ready for hunting ammo suggestions now....

January 29, 2008, 06:53 PM
It's true Elmer Keith took game at 600yds with his .44 mag.

The way I recall it, from reading "Hell, I was there." is that it was a mule deer with one leg broken running away and likely to escape. He had nothing to loose by shooting at it. That is a little different than shooting at an unwounded animal.

Still, hitting it with 2 out of 4 shots is amazing.

Art Eatman
January 29, 2008, 09:04 PM
The meplat is the flat part of the nose of a bullet. Per Ross Seyfried, larger is better. IIRC, he prefers hard-cast lead over jacketed.

Jim Wilson at Shooting Times magazine (online) is pretty good about answering such questions about ammo type. Lord knows, he does enough handgun hunting. :) (I just wish he'd finish his second CD and finish his book.)


January 30, 2008, 01:05 AM

Very good shooting, sir. Very good.


January 30, 2008, 08:02 AM
davlandrum & TexasSeaRay,

Thanks for the complements on my shooting. Like Art Eatman stated you have to keep practicing. I find that if I don't shoot it for a month or so my groups open up some so I shoot as often as I can. When deer season is about 2 months away I go out almost everyday, I reload so it is much more affordable. What I do now for practice is that I take out a bunch of wooden stakes and staple paper plates to them. Then I go out and set them up at various distances out to 100 yards. Next, I shoot one shot at each pie plate from different field positions and try to make that first shot count. This has helped me out a lot. I like shooting groups too but I find making that first shot count more realistic. Hand gun hunting is a lot like bow hunting which I do too. They are not as forgiving as rifles and you need to practice a lot. Art Eatman is also right about the hard cast bullets with a big flat meplat. The .41, .44 mag and on up calibers already make a big hole so expansion is not that important. The hard cast bullets with a big meplat penetrate and break through big bones very effectively and also create a lot of tissue damage on the way through. So no matter what gun you choose and no matter how big of a caliber you choose you need to practice. A poor shot with a .500 or
.460 is no better than a poor shot with a .44., you need to hit the vitals no matter what you are using. Good luck on what you choose and post pics of your first deer with a hand gun.

January 30, 2008, 11:44 AM
I tried to google handgun hunting shooting positions, but did not find much helpful that I was not going to have to register or pay for. Obivously there is standing, and sitting using off-knee for support - need some help with others and how to use a handy tree for support.

Thanks in advance,


January 30, 2008, 05:40 PM
Be very careful about using trees as a rest when firing a large caliber revolver! You can easily end up with a face - and eyes - full of splintered tree bark. The revolver discharges gases between the forward cylinder face and the barrel. This gap is necessary to allow the cylinder to rotate correctly and cannot be eliminated. This is also a reason to grip the revolver appropriately so as to avoid hand burns. This side blast can be very strong with the big bore revolver cartridges.

I wear both glasses and earplugs whether at the range or hunting. I now use electronic plugs by E.A.R. that are waterproof and allow normal or enhanced hearing and then close down in a fraction of a second when the firearm is discharged.

Art Eatman
January 30, 2008, 07:03 PM
Whether rifle or pistol, I've generally found that if I can lean a shoulder against something solid--tree, large boulder--I can hold pretty steady. I use a Weaver hold with a handgun...


January 30, 2008, 08:07 PM
LH - Roger that on the tree-brace danger, that is why I was curious. I like Art's idea of a tree leaning post to brace your body, but keep the gun away from the tree.

This is going to be a fun learning process.

Quickdraw Limpsalot
January 31, 2008, 01:40 AM
Also, if you're using a rest off a bench or something similar... try anchoring on your elbows or forearms rather than too close to your wrists. Large caliber handguns need a little "room to move." You'll wanna let those wrists move with the gun. :D

44 Deerslayer
January 31, 2008, 05:31 PM
I've been using handguns for deer hunting for close to 30 years now. I never shoot beyond 50 yards. I regard hunting with a handgun similar to hunting with a bow. The idea is to get close enough to the animal to make a CLEAN KILL. I got tired of long range kills with a scoped rifle. It just didn't seem sporting anymore. To respect the animal you hunt you must be sure of a killing shot, not a wounding that causes a lot of needless suffering. I don't believe 100 yard shots with a handgun, no matter how good a shot you are (I'm quite good myself) is reasonable.

I've seen too many wounded deer get away from people that just shot to hit the animal and did not place the shot in a good area. They just went on to shoot another.

Handgun hunting is for people to hone their hunting skills, not just another way to kill (or more likely wound) at a long distance.

If you don't have the desire to develop the skills to get close enough to the game to ensure a clean kill with a handgun, just stick to your rifle.

January 31, 2008, 05:56 PM
44 - I am a bow hunter as well, and was a Bow Hunter Education instructor for several years.

Trust me, I have never, and will never shoot just to hit an animal.

February 2, 2008, 12:04 AM
Whatever you decide to use, practice, practice, practice at different ranges up to your maximum. Know what your gun can and can't do. Know what YOU can and can't do.

February 11, 2008, 04:01 PM
All -

Thanks for all the input.

I have a new S&W 460 on its way, courtesy of WildAlaska. Going to shoot it a while without a scope and see how I like it that way.

Weather is starting to get nice here (probably just a freak break in the weather to tease me...) so hope to be shooting very soon.

February 11, 2008, 05:14 PM
Ditto on the S&W .460. Hundred yard shots at deer-sized game (or even elk) is exactly what that gun was designed for. It's flatter shooting than a 500 and harder hitting than a .454. It's probably the most optimal hunting handgun ever made. That said, I own a S&W 500 but it's for 10 yard "That bear's going to eat me!!!" shots when out and about.


February 11, 2008, 05:41 PM
davlandrum; Good choice in the 460. I have a SRH in 454 and reload the 45LC pretty hot. As you know the SRH comes with intregal scope mounts and rings. I tried several scopes on mine before I found one they would not take the recoil. It's the Bushnell Elite 3200 series that I ended up with, it's advertised as surviving 1000rds of 454. I practice out to 100yds as that is about as far as I can make a clean kill on my lease. Not only do you have a great deer/elk handgun you also have a really nice pig gun. They are just as much fun to hunt and boy do they taste great.

February 11, 2008, 05:46 PM

Do you have the "shorty" 500? That looks like a beast to shoot!

February 11, 2008, 10:06 PM
I can't shoot any handgun that far - but people have done it with this:


I have one, but like I said - I could never shoot that far with a handgun. My eyes are not good enough. I have a hard time doing a decent group at 100 yards with a rifle using an EOtech.

February 11, 2008, 10:23 PM
I agree with 44deerslayer

I took two deer this year, one with a 260 Remington mountain rifle and one with my Ruger hunter model blackhawk. I shot the deer at close to 50 yards. Last year, I shot one at about 30 yards. When I am in the heavy brush, I will shoot a lever action if I think I might need a shot over 75 yards and if the country is open, I use a 260 or 308.

You can shoot a deer with a 44 magnum at 100 yards, it has the power, but you will need to practice at that distance and sight it in for that distance. I had a Casull and I see no real advantage on deer size game. I can’t speak for the 500 or 460 S&W, but I think they are more suited as defense against a large bear, or hunting large game. That I have never done with a handgun, deer and black bear fall easy to a 44 magnum.