View Full Version : .357 Magnum Rifle for Hunting

October 24, 2009, 01:27 PM
I want to learn from those experience hunter who have used 357 mag in a rifle for hunting. I want to know how much this cartridge is more effective through rifle than when its fired from a handgun? What are its limitations and practical use in hunting?

October 24, 2009, 06:47 PM
Shooting a magnum pistol cartridge through a rifle gives it about the amount of power from a typical handgun's barrel at the muzzle around 100 yds. Not a bad round for medium game at shorter ranges (100-150 yds). And the compact rifles you generally find chambered for 357 Mag make great woodland stalking rifles. Small and light.

October 24, 2009, 08:21 PM
OK for small deer at close range. My youngest brother dumped a full mag. (Marlin) into a fair sized hog and it only ticked it off, two 30-06 rounds dropped it.

October 25, 2009, 02:38 AM
My use of the carbine on game has been limited to ground hogs, coyotes and similar sized ferals. Most of this has been done w/ .357 , 125 gr jhp.

From a carbine, the 125's are truly destructive on critters this size. The slugs are traveling in excess of 2000 fps, and were intended to expand at about 1300. Huge exit wounds and avulsed tissue. I used to groundhog hunt w/ a 6' M27, and dispatched quite a few road crippled deer w/ 4" K and L frames, same load, and did not see the same effects.

Were I to hunt small/medium deer w/ a .357 carbine, it would be w/ the hardest, heaviest bullet my rifle would shoot well. The 180 partions by Nosler might have been ideal, but just speculation. I would not choose anything lighter than 158 gr mags, and lean towards soft points, believing they would not expand too rapidly and rob me of penetration. I'd pick my shots carefully, and stay under 100 yds.

October 25, 2009, 10:46 AM
I am about to try it out this year... I have a marlin 1894 with a 16 or 18 inch barrel. I shot it the other day at the range, and with cheap 158 grain jacketed hollowpoints, I was hitting a 12" steel disc at 100 yards consistantly, offhand. I was just screwing around, but I have no doubt off a rest of some sorts, I could shoot a 5-6 inch group at 100 yards.

for hunting, I'm going to use some 180 grain corbon loads... I'm going to try it out on some hogs and javelinas for certain, and possibly a doe.

October 25, 2009, 01:11 PM
What is th optimum lenght of barrel for this caliber, after which you start loosing velocity?

October 25, 2009, 01:18 PM
I don't know about actually losing velocity with longer barrels, but the 357 is a pistol round, and probably designed for optimum performance with a barrel length around 6" give or take... you will get a little mroe velocity with rifle length barrels, but it is not a linear relationship.

Old Grump
October 25, 2009, 01:40 PM
Going by dinosaur memory I think maximum velocity depending on load and powder used is around 16-18" so a 20" carbine length barrel should give you all the power you can wring out of that caliber. I practice at 100 yards and have confidence in it with my revolver so there is no reason why you shouldn't get at least that amount of range in a long arm.

October 25, 2009, 08:04 PM
What is th optimum lenght of barrel for this caliber, after which you start loosing velocity?
here is a nice little chart on the .357 http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html

The velocity downgrades gradually from 18" to 4" barrels with .357,but below a 4" the velocity dropps right off.A snub nose .357 is really a waste.Velocity per inch I would have to say that a 6" is about the best.

James R. Burke
October 26, 2009, 07:32 PM
I load for a cousins .357 mag rifle. She has got a few, and wounded a few. I think they can work o.k. on deer at close range, and very good shot placement, that you should have with any caliber. Just myself it is a pistol round, and I would go into a rifle type caliber for deer. But that is just myself.

November 5, 2015, 11:47 PM
Does anyone have experience and good penetrating load recommendation with 357 on hogs? Leverevolution maybe?

November 6, 2015, 12:58 AM
180gr. LFN-GC.

November 6, 2015, 01:01 AM
I can get the same energy out of a hot loaded 357 lever as I can from an average or slightly anemic 30-30. Which is really very good. Ballistic coefficient and range is less but the lever revolution ammo may change that.

November 6, 2015, 08:14 AM
Last year was Ohio's first deer hunt with legal pistol caliber rifles. .357 is very popular. From the revolver you are limited to pretty close range, but the added 300-400fps in rifle is effective at most practical off hand open sight distances.

The heavier XTP has almost become a standard for a pistol hunting bullet for deer. The old school Jacketed soft points seem to work okay too. Avoid semi jacketed or half jacketed hollow points. Stick with 158gr or heavier. The Leverevolution bullets don't seem to get used much here. I have heard they don't expand as easily as XTPs so might be a better choice for rifle at closer ranges or where lack of penetration is concern.

Would probably help to know specifically what OP means by "hunting".

November 6, 2015, 08:55 AM
I can get the same energy out of a hot loaded 357 lever as I can from an average or slightly anemic 30-30. Which is really very good. Ballistic coefficient and range is less but the lever revolution ammo may change that.

..... :rolleyes:

....and you could get even more energy than that out of a .38 special .....ONCE ....... if you fill the case with plastic explosives .....

The logic is is the same, just exagerated a bit : gunbeating, casewrecking loads vs. "slightly anemic" loads just ain't exactly apples to apples, now is it?

Most lever guns are inherently weaker than most other action types, because they (most of them, anyway-there are a few exceptions) lock at the rear, and the lugs that lock the bolt in place are not that stout. Stress them if you want to: it's your face, after all ..... but please refrain from posting such claims on a public forum, lest some less new handloader try it because he read it was done on the internetz.....

November 6, 2015, 01:02 PM
A 357 rifle is no were near a 30-30.

November 6, 2015, 03:46 PM
Out to about 75-100 yards a 357 mag loaded with 158, 180, or 200 gr bullets is every bit as effective on deer as a 30-30 loaded with typical 150-170 gr bullets. At longer ranges a 30-30 wins handily, but at closer ranges a properly loaded 357 is quite effective.

November 6, 2015, 09:00 PM
Jimbob86 check out ballistics by the inch or some other data before you rolleyes at me *wink wink*
I'm speaking of factory ammo, not reloading. The additional velocity comes from the barrel length, not reloading ammo in an unsafe way. You can also reference the buffalo bore website and look at the velocities they have listed for their ammo out of a lever gun. It rivals an anemic factory 30-30. The numbers are there if you care to look at them. You can ignore the numbers if you want, but these are published velocities.
Buffalo bore 125 gn 357 mag does 2298 fps out of a 18.5 inch marlin (see their info for item 19D/20)
Buffalo bore 158 gn 357 mag does 2153 fps out of the same gun. (Item 19C/20)
Remington core-lokt PSP 125 gn 30-30 does 2175 fps from a 20 inch rifle (see ballistics101.com)
Remington copper solid tip 150 gn 30-30 does 2220 fps (ballistics101.com)

So . . . yes a hot factory 357 mag from a lever action WILL rival an anemic 30-30 load. But, as I said, the ballistics of a 357 bullet shape means it loses velocity more rapidly and does not perform as well at longer distances.

November 7, 2015, 12:13 AM
As a youngster I used a marlin 1894 in 357 for deer hunting. I shot 158 grain semi jacketed hollow points and never lost a deer. Not the best for penetration but it sure killed them with very short tracking jobs. A many of hogs fell victim to these same loads but I usually use full Metal jackets on them now days. Still doesn't always pass thru but always a dead hog. Before I get criticized for this I must say I use them because stalking pigs n the swamp doesn't always present you with a good shot. I prefer penetration over energy transfer on chest shots or Texas heart shots. ( stove pipe ) or whatever u want to call it. I seldom use that rifle anymore but it sure was one of my favorites growing up.

November 7, 2015, 01:44 AM
These look promising.


November 7, 2015, 04:22 AM
100 years ago, the 32 WCF (aka 32-20) was considered an entirely adequate deer cartridge (deer being kind of on the smallish end of "big game"). I have a friend who grew up in Idaho who killed his first deer with a Remington 14 in 25-20 and no one thought it was unusual or inadequate. Of course, he got pretty close to do it. Lots and lots of animals killed with 44-40. Before that, black powder front-stuffers killed everything imaginable, Lewis and Clark even took on grizzlies with them. So I will go out on a limb and say that a 357 mag carbine/rifle can do the job out to about as far as the shooter can land a slug in the deer's ribs.

November 7, 2015, 06:47 AM
The penetration of a .307 150gr or 170gr is going much greater in the instance of a less than perfect shot angle. A 357 carbine will do it under the right conditions but to say it is ballistically the same as a 30-30 is a stretch.

Jack O'Conner
November 7, 2015, 06:57 AM
357 MAG has a mighty punch at typical archery distances. But beyond 50 yards or so this cartridge has limitations that must be respected. After all, this is a revolver cartridge and not in the same class as a true rifle cartridge such as the mentioned 30-30 cartridge.


Unlicensed Dremel
November 7, 2015, 11:46 PM
.357 mag is very odd in that it gains a tremendous, inordinate amount of extra velocity in a rifle length barrel, quite unlike other handgun rounds, with certain Buffalo Bore 158s reaching over 1800 fps in an 18" bbl, and 125s reaching well over 2000 fps. This round becomes a real rifle round in a rifle. Almost approaching the .30-30 realm.

So I'd say you get definite material gains out to at least 18 or 19. My Timberwolf is 18.5, and I wouldn't want to cut it any shorter than 16, even if there were no silly SBR restrictions and the mag was easy to modify.


Deja vu
November 8, 2015, 12:51 AM
I have killed about 50ish deer in my days. id bet about 60% of those where killed with a 16 inch 357 magnum marlin. It works fine so long as you do your part.

These are Idaho mule deer I have killed.

November 8, 2015, 06:01 AM
Deja vu, of those 30 Idaho mule deer what ranges were they taken at out of curiosity?

Deja vu
November 8, 2015, 11:17 PM
typically 50-100 yards. I dont think I would go much farther than that (may be 120) I have gotten them as close as 10 yards before.

Where I hunt up near the selway the area is very wooded so not a lot of chances for long shot unlike most of Idaho.

since my son has my old marlin I went and got a new 357 magnum rifle. This one is a Ruger 77/357 and its scoped with a Leupold CDS dial and it even has a suppressor! I still kept iron sights on it just in case.

44 AMP
November 12, 2015, 06:00 PM
A 357 rifle is no were near a 30-30.

No, but it handily matches the published data for an AK 47 :D

I've clocked 125gr JHP at over 2200fps from the .357 Marlin carbine. Plenty fast enough and plenty of energy.

HOWEVER, the drawback with the .357 in a carbine is FACTORY AMMO, loaded with PISTOL bullets.

Particularly the 125s. The are optimized for performance from 4-6" and from an 18" carbine they are going too fast to do well when they hit. They tend to "blow up", and some guns just won't shoot them accurately.

The 158s are generally better performers, not being driven as fast, and so closer to their designed velocity performance range.

If you want penetration and consistent performance, go with either a FMJ or better, a hard cast SWC. Forget expansion with these bullets.

My youngest brother dumped a full mag. (Marlin) into a fair sized hog and it only ticked it off, two 30-06 rounds dropped it.

Which only proves your brother is a poor shot and the guy with the 06 wasn't. :D

I watched a friend put 3 158gr Luballoy SWC in a skunk without stopping it. CLose range (dozen yards, or less). All shots went in aft the diaphragm. HE gut shot it. 3 times. Nothing wrong with the rifle (marlin) or the ammo (Winchester) the fault was ENTIRELY with the shooter.

I won't hunt with him, or even dispatch varmints with him, as after 3 tries and fails he begged me to finish the skunk. Disgusting. yes, I did, one .45Colt to the head ended the poor beasts suffering.

Anytime I hear about this or that round failing, I think of this, and how 99.99% of the time, its neither the gun nor the ammo at fault.

November 12, 2015, 08:31 PM
.357 sure gains mightily from the longer smoke pole, no questions there.

It'd be good for deer and MAYBE even lightly built pigs at distances under 50 yards, but no more. Just not enough power IMHO.

November 13, 2015, 09:44 AM
It'd be good for deer and MAYBE even lightly built pigs at distances under 50 yards, but no more.

If its effective deer range from a rifle is under 50 yeards, then what do you consider it's effective range from a 6" revolver?

November 13, 2015, 02:11 PM
Within it's parameters and the skill level of the shooter, a .357 rifle is just as effective on deer size game as any other caliber. No different than a bow or crossbow. Anyone who disputes this does not know what the 'ell they are talking about. Problems arise when folks without the skills needed, shooting at excessive distances and using improper bullets for the job, take to the field with one. No different than with any other caliber or platform. I've taken several deer with a .357 revolver and none went more than 40 yards. I've also taken a couple with a .357 carbine. Same ending.

44 AMP
November 13, 2015, 07:12 PM
The paramount factor is the skill of the shooter, both in their knowledge of deer anatomy AND their ability to put the shot in just the right place, for the weapon used at the range needed.

Fail in any of this, with ANYTHING and you fail to cleanly take the game.

Many, many deer have been killed with guns of lower power than the .357 Magnum. The energy is not the issue, the shooter's ability to deliver it properly is.

And that includes choosing a suitable bullet (and speed) for the shot to be taken. If you don't have a bullet that will reliably punch through heavy bone, DON'T SHOOT through heavy bone. Its really that simple.

If that means you pass on some shots, then that's what an ethical hunter does.

November 14, 2015, 08:57 AM
I know an ex green beret who shoots deer in the head with a 22 magnum rifle.

44 AMP
November 14, 2015, 06:22 PM
I know an ex green beret who shoots deer in the head with a 22 magnum rifle.

And I knew an old hillbilly who ate venison year round because he was deadly with a .22LR.

Also met an old fellow in his early 80s who had just taken his 6th elk with a .243Win. And I have heard that Inuit consider the .243 to be a "heavy" round and use it for polar bear.

What you use isn't as important as being able to use it well.

November 15, 2015, 01:04 PM
I know an ex green beret who shoots deer in the head with a 22 magnum rifle.

Don't know what that has to do with legally hunting deer with a .357 rifle. Poachers around here regularly do it with .22 shorts.....less noise, doubt very much if any of them were Green berets tho. What does being a Green Beret have to do with it? Does that make it legal or a good thing?

November 16, 2015, 03:51 AM
Just means shooting a deer in the head with a 357 ought to get'er done.

November 16, 2015, 06:56 PM
if you are useing custom loaded shells in a .357 rifle, lets use custom loads in a 30-30 rifle. a 125gr 30 cal bullet can be pushed over 2600fps at 35,000 cup and a 150gr 30 cal bullet at 2400 fps at 38,000 cup with out breaking any thing. and if you use pointed bullets in a 30-30 bolt action(rem-788-savage 340) or (H&R handi rifle) single shot rifle, the 357 mag don,t look so hot. eastbank.

November 18, 2015, 05:47 PM

Hard, heavy, and relatively cheap compared to other boutique heavy 357 ammo like Buffalo Bore and DoubleTap.

Matt M
November 20, 2015, 09:06 AM
Has anyone tried the Lehigh xtreme penetrator? Underwood Ammunition loads those bullets hot so I hear. It looks like it may be a good hunting round.


November 20, 2015, 09:55 AM
As mentioned in an earlier post, if the OP would be comfortable as to the lethality of
a 357MAG handgun put right up to the chest of a White Tail and trigger pulled, then
he gets the same result w/ a rifle out to ~75 yards.

The game is then all about shot placement & discipline.