View Full Version : Solids or hollow-points for whitetails in .44 mag?

Don Gwinn
January 11, 2001, 04:37 PM
Hey all, I'm going handgun deer hunting for the first time on Saturday. I'll be using a Taurus .44 magnum with a 6.5 inch barrel.
Illinois law prohibits FMJ ammunition for deer but that seems to be the only restriction. Since I decided to use the Taurus I've been practicing with it and I feel pretty confident with it. However, I've been wondering what the best bullet choice would be. Whitetails are large where I'm going; a doe in the 150-200 lb range wouldn't be out of the question. I don't plan to take a shot farther than 30 yards unless I have to.
Should I opt for jacketed hollow points (I have some 240gr) semi-jacketed solids, or lead? Semi-Jacketed solids with soft lead noses seem like the best choice, and I've practiced with the 300gr variety from a local company enough to know I can hit well with them.

My theory is that since overpenetration is not a problem and stopping power may be lacking compared to the trusty shotgun, better to stick with a solid to have a better chance of breaking bone and of an exit wound. I'd like to hear your opinions. I'm heading to the range to check the zero and practice one more time tomorrow, and I'd like to do it with the ammo I plan to use. Thanks!

January 11, 2001, 05:37 PM

i would say that shot placement is key here. If you wait on the right shot (double lung) you shouldnt have any problems at all. Now hunting being what it is we all know the perfect shot doesnt always present itself. Ive not hunted with a handgun, but it would seem that your 30 yard rule is a good one. Certainly don't take any shots at distances which you havent practiced. A 300 grain hollow point should definately do the trick with good shot placement at the ranges you specified. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Don Gwinn
January 11, 2001, 09:11 PM
I'm not worried about shot placement. I've never had trouble grouping around 4-6" at 24 yards with this gun. Not spectacular but good enough to take deer. I'll be hunting out of my shotgun stand which is at the junction of two trails and two fencerows. During shotgun season I killed one of a group of four does at about 40 yds as they crossed the open section, not thinking they'd come any closer. The remaining three, after spooking a bit, proceeded with their trip but followed the fence line rather than crossing it, which brought them directly under the stand. I'm hoping for something similar.

January 11, 2001, 11:53 PM
Don, just yesterday I shot the second of two whitetails this season with my 44mag Redhawk. Both were shot once with factory Winchester 240gr. Jacketed Soft Points.

The biggest, a 225lb.+/- buck was hit in the shoulder while quartering away at 50 yards. The bullet smashed through the bone, made JELLO out of the lungs, and exited in front of the offside shoulder leaving a hole roughly the size of a golfball. Needless to say, the buck lived about another 5 seconds. It did ruin most of the meat on the near side shoulder, there was a bruise the size of a good sized grapefruit.

The second was a yearling doe weighing maybe 135lbs. She was broadside at 45 yards. The bullet smashed through both shoulders, again making JELLO out of the lungs, and again exiting roughly the size of a golfball. Again ruining most of the meat in both shoulders. She too lived about 5 seconds.

Try to avoid direct shots on the shoulders, messes up a bunch of meat. The buck was running so I've an excuse there. But the doe was just standing there, I tried to put it just behind the shoulder but kinda missed. I was very impressed with the damage these did. I'm not too sure I'd want to shoot one with a hollow point unless I was just curious as to the damage it would do.

Good luck.

January 12, 2001, 02:14 AM
I would say it depends on your type of shot placement. Alot of people seem to like to shoot through the shoulders. For this I would use some variation of a solid, to get through the shoulder, the bone, and still into the lung/heart area. I however, like to shoot behind the shoulder into the lungs. For this I would use a jacketed hollow point, for fast expansion, and a large wound, after all, you won't be messing up any meat. Either bullet is going to kill just fine at 30 yards if you put it in the kill zone, so it's really not too big of a concern. Good luck!

January 12, 2001, 08:56 AM
Shot placement is most important! I have only taken 1 deer with my 44 and I was using Winchester Black Talons when you could still get them. That bullet broke part of the shoulder, the spine, and stopped just under the hide on the opposite side meaning 100% energy dumped into the animal. Needless to say that deer dropped on the spot. I now use Partition Golds as I shoot the best with them. Just my 2 cents.
Whatever you are most confident with should be your primary concern.

January 12, 2001, 10:58 AM
I've killed four whitetail with my .44 Ruger Blackhawk (5 1/2" bbl, open sights). All were shot at less than 50 yards and all the bullets (240 gr cast SWC, 20 or so gr 2400) completely penetrated the deer. All left a short, easy to follow blood trail. I believe they would be just as dead if I had shot them with JHPs. I practice and plink with cast bullets, so I hunt with cast bullets (revelovers anyway).

Paul B.
January 12, 2001, 01:23 PM
I've only shot two deer with a .44 magnum. The first was with a 240 gr. Remington hollow point. The bullet hit the left shoulder, leaving the jacket imbedded in the shoulder blade, the lead core continuing through both lungs and lodging against the off shoulder blade. Deer ran maybe 15 yards and dropped.
Second deer was about 25 yards away, behind some brush. All I could see was about half the neck and head. Bullet was a hard cast 245 gr. Keith type semi-wadcutter. Bullet struck deer at the base of the skull, just behind the ear. Dropped like he was poleaxed.
Gun in both cases was a Ruger Super Blackhawk with 7.5 inch barrel.
My first .44 was a 5 screw S&W, purchased in late 1956. Jacketed bullets were still a gleam in some designers eye at the time, so all that was available was lead bullets. I cast my own from wheelweight metal. After I sold the gun is was 44less for a while. In 1976, I got the Ruger for use as a trail gun. Still shot my cast lead bullets though, and many a jackrabbit felt it's bite. Then deer hunting with a handgun was opened up in 1977, if I remember right. (In Nevada) I bought a couple of boxes of the jacketed ammo mentioned above, and used that. I was not too impressed with the shed jacket, although striking velocity at about 35-40 yards was still fairly high. I went back to cast bullets and have stayed there ever since. I am sure, that if I do my part, any deer I shoot at is meat in the pot.
Paul B.

Hot Core
January 12, 2001, 01:24 PM
Hey Don, Almost didn't post due to the number of excellent responses you are receiving.

Thought about it overnight and decided to jump in. If the spot you were hunting was "relatively open", I'd have said to just don't worry about it and use any of the bullets you mentioned.

However, if your surrounding terrain is similar to what we have here in the Southeast, you will absolutely want an "Exit". So my recommendation would be in this order:
1. The 300gr bullet.
2. A 270gr Speer Gold Dot-SP.
3. A 240gr SWC(if it is hard-cast).
4. A 240gr SP.
5. A 240gr HP.

Good hunting and clean 1-shot kills, Hot Core

January 13, 2001, 01:36 PM
For deer I don't think any 44 mag load would fail to perform well. I think it is more of a question of what type of performance you want from the bullet. A 240 or 180 JHP would give more dramatic performance...but would probably mess up more meat.

I just found out this week that the Federal Castcore's that I would prefer to use her in MN are not legal. Since legal hunting bullets here must be softpoint or hollowpoint bullets designed to expand. So next year when I go hunting with my 4" 629 I will load it with Winchester's 210 STHP mainly because I want to see how that load works on deer [it is a goblin load].

When I get a longer barrel 44 I plan to use either Speer's 240 GDHP @ 1400 or the Speer 270 [factory load] or 300 grain unicor softpoints.

January 14, 2001, 12:22 AM
Real Easy.

Buy the 300 Grain Federal SWC rounds and use them.

You will never need another load for deer.