View Full Version : 44 magnum deer hunting ?

May 8, 2009, 10:18 PM
so, for the first time in many years, i have decided to try pistol hunting for whitetails. the first time, over 15 years ago, i was lucky enough to hit and kill a trotting whitetail @ roughly 40 yards. i shot at it 3 times, hitting it twice. it "ran" another 60 yards or so before dropping. i will limit my shots to around 40 yards (and hopefully not moving this time). i am wondering about the best bullet style for hunting these. i have a box of soft points, and i have a couple of boxes of bullets and powder to load with. i am wondering if i should use the heavier (240g) flat nose soft point, or go to a lighter or heavier JHP style bullet.

May 8, 2009, 10:58 PM
I think the 44 Mag is a good pistol round for deer hunting at reasonable range, (here that could mean shooting them off the back porch when they are raiding wifes bird feeders or stealing my horse hay).

For a pistol to be legal for big game hunting in Wyoming, the round has to develope 500 Ft Lbs @ 100 yards. The 44 Mag fits that bill, My 240 grn SWC comes out of my 6 in Model 29 @ 1328 fps. Thats about 619 ft lbs at 100 yards.

I like the cast SWC for hunting. It gets the penitration I've found lacking in the HP style bullets at the same velocitys.

When I was with APD, we had a lot of moose/car encounters often requiring the moose to be put down. I carried a Model 28 Smith, with 158 Grn lead SWCs and they worked great on the eight I had to put down in my 20 years on the dept.

Some will call for heavier bullets. I can't say much about them because I've never used them. I just figure the 44s were designed for 240 grns and the 357s for 158, I'll not buck the trend. They work for me and I see no reason to fix what isnt broke.

May 8, 2009, 11:28 PM
I understand the Ruger .44 carbine was very popular in the eastern states as a "brush gun" for deer hunting. Also, about the only thing available at the time (other than cast bullets) was 240gr JSP bullets. Ruger designed the rifle to shoot this round.

I'm going on the recommendations of others, using the Speer #1004457, which is a 240gr JSP. I'm using this in both the Ruger .44 carbine and a Ruger .44 SBH. Velocity should be high enough to get this to expand.

Others say that hollow points like the Hornady XTP work great.

I don't have enough experience to tell one way or the other, but I know the 240 gr JSP has been used successfully for many, many years.

May 8, 2009, 11:57 PM
I think I have shot about a half-dozen with the .44 using everything from 240 SWC's through 300 XTP's. If I were going to pick, I'd use a good SWC or Sierra's plain-jane 240 JHP, goosed to 1200 fps or better, and I'd try and nail the spine at the shoulder. Penetration in the right spot beats expansion in the wrong spot, ever time.

May 9, 2009, 06:20 AM
Hornady XTP's....either 240 or 300 grain are excellent deer rounds. I use them in both handgun and blackpowder.

May 9, 2009, 12:19 PM
ive used the hornadys in 300 gr on a couple. they do a great job on the heavy whitetails we have around here.

May 11, 2009, 03:04 PM
I'll second the 240gr. SWC. Great medicine for deer or just about any big game for that matter.

Jack O'Conner
May 11, 2009, 05:47 PM

This coastal blacktail buck was felled at approx 90 yards with my 44 MAG carbine built by Marlin. My handload featured Hornaday's 200 grain XTP bullet. XTP is short for Extreme Terminal Performance.

XTP is available in 180, 240, and 300 grain offerings. I suggest hunt with whatever weight is most accurate in your firearm. Weight is not really relevant because a deer's chest wall is relatively thin and easy to penetrate. Once the XTP is inside the chest, organs are smashed and torn into unserviceable condition very rapidly.

Good hunting to yopu.


May 11, 2009, 08:23 PM
I load the 240gr XTP in my ruger 44 carbine, and the results are unbelievable. I use Lil'gun and my loads chrono right at 2000fps in the 18.5 inch barrel. Shot a smallish buck last year at 70 yards and got full pass through, beautiful exit and the insides were jelly.

I have heard that the lighter (180gr) xtp's aren't made to be fired at higher rifle velocities and there have been cases of them blowing up on rubs and not penetrating. I have no idea if this is true or not, just thought I'd pass it along. My 240gr work so well I don't have any reason to try anything else on deer!

Black Frog
May 12, 2009, 08:34 AM
I've used the Ruger 96/44 Levers and 99/44 Deerfields for many years with great results- keeping shots limited to 100yds. Normally have been using Hornday's 240gr ammo.

Been thinking about trying Hornadys new LeveRevolution ammo which is supposed go have a little more velocity/energy/accuracy from a handgun caliber loaded in an rifle. Anyone try this in .44 yet?