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Old August 14, 2021, 03:03 PM   #1
Andy1
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.357 Magnum rifle for new PA deer regs

In case any Pennsylvania residents aren't aware, the Game Commission just legalized straight walled cartridges for deer season in the Special Regulation Areas.

I just picked up a Henry Single Shot in .357 magnum. I mounted a Weaver K6 6x38mm fixed power scope on Talley one piece ring mounts. And got an RLO Custom leather stock cover with ammo loops. I'm still deciding on what ammo to use because most.357 bullets aren't designed to hold together at rifle velocities.
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Old August 14, 2021, 03:41 PM   #2
eastbank
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you will have no trouble with regular .357 mag ammo, i have used .357 mag 158gr hp ammo in a marlin .357 carbine for years.
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Old August 14, 2021, 03:44 PM   #3
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Any jacketed .357 bullet you put through a rifle will hold together at the velocities you can get out of a .357mag rifle. I shoot a ton of .357max and I’ve shot a LOT of deer with rifles in the .357max using pistol bullets. In the max you have to get them over 2300fps to come apart. I’ve shot a good amount of deer with .357mag in both handgun and rifle and it’s very effective out to around 125 yards. After that distance the bullets don’t expand as well….although they still expand some. Why not send your rifle out and get it reamed to the .357max cartridge. It’s fairly cheap to do and people like Mike Bellm have made a good living doing it. Last year I shot two deer at a measured 190 yards and both dropped in sight.

Last edited by NoSecondBest; August 14, 2021 at 07:05 PM.
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Old August 14, 2021, 05:02 PM   #4
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Any jacketed .357 bullet you put through a rifle will hold together at the velocities you can get out of a .357mag rifle.
This has not been my experience with 125gr JHP's at 2200fps from a Marlin carbine. OF course, your definition of "hold together" might be different from mine.

They don't come apart in the air. They do expand violently (some say explosively) when they hit something and do not penetrate well when they do that. Really good for blowing up water filled jugs, not so good for deer.

The 158s, on the other hand aren't driven as fast and are still usually within their proper expansion velocity range, though at the upper end from a carbine. I'd chose the JSP over the JHP in that weight.

Out at 100yds, the velocity has dropped enough that the 125s MAY give decent performance, I can't say, never shot a deer at that range with my carbine. At close range, the 125 JHP (which is optimized for handgun speeds) isn't a good choice for deer.

Use the right bullet, don't stretch the range beyond what you can do, and you won't have problems taking whitetails. DO remember you're using something a bit less powerful than a .30-30, and stay within its limitations and its all good.
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Old August 15, 2021, 02:49 PM   #5
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yup!

I've never shot a deer with a .357 carbine, but I have shot a lot of varmints and ferals with a Marlin carbine and 125 gr JHP and will vouch that it is indeed explosive. From a carbine, you are approaching 1000 fps OVER the velocities that the projectiles expansion range and the the results I've seen are beyond dynamic. Whitetails aren't bullet proof, and I've no doubt that deer have been taken cleanly with 125's applied on broadside shots to the ribs. But a strike on the shoulder, or some type of quartering shot may not give the same results.

Over the years, my little carbine has seen a wide variety of loads, depending on what I saw it's role to be at the time. These days, it's zeroed for 158 JHP, and partnered with a Ruger B-hawk launching the same bullet. Intended target......whitetails.....but I rarely carry either.
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Old August 15, 2021, 10:52 PM   #6
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you are approaching 1000 fps OVER the velocities that the projectiles expansion range and the the results I've seen are beyond dynamic.
Another example is to run a .30-30 bullet at 300 magnum speeds. Very "dynamic" expansion...

and another on, one most shooters won't ever see personally, is to take the .458" 400gr Speer JSP (intended for controlled expansion at .45-70 speeds) and shoot in from a .458 Win Mag at 2100fps (or even higher )

"Dynamic" doesn't even come close.

Recoil, on the other hand, I find on the painful side of "stout", particularly in a light (8lb) rifle.

Stick with 158gr JSP or JHP or even a solid SWC, in a .357carbine, put your shot in the right place, it will work just fine.
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Old August 16, 2021, 07:21 AM   #7
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I’ve found that the Hornady 180 XTP actually works better in a rifle than the 158g. It penetrates better at longer distances and out of a rifle you still get pretty good expansion. Talking .357mag here, not .357max.
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Old August 16, 2021, 11:31 AM   #8
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The Speer 180 sp designed for the 35 Rem would be a good choice. Speer has loading data for this bullet in the Contender single shot.
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Old August 16, 2021, 12:59 PM   #9
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Hunting whitetails in Georgia, I saw deer taken cleanly with .357.
Ranges where I was hunting were rarely over a hundred yards, and the deer weren't very big and it worked fine.
Popular loads among the people I hunted with were 158gr factory or reloads.
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Old August 29, 2021, 03:30 PM   #10
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I sighted in the. 357 right today. I tested three factory loads. I find PMC 158 JSPs at my local shop for $35. I had some Underwood 120 extreme hunter and 140 extreme penetrator for comparison. The PMC ran 1700fps, Underwood 140 ran 2000fps and Underwood 120 ran 2135fps. The PMC 158 jsp at 1700 is plenty for southeastern PA. My average shot is only 50 yards. I can't use the Underwood loads because PA requires expanding style bullets for hunting. I used them for comparative purpose. I prefer lead free ammo and found some 158 grain Maker P-Rex I have on backorder. I'll try those when they come in.
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Old August 29, 2021, 05:57 PM   #11
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At 50 yards probably all are good enough for deer hunting but did you find any shot tighter groups? I guess what I'm asking is what were the group sizes of the different brands.
Good luck.
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Old August 30, 2021, 08:03 AM   #12
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[QUOTE][This has not been my experience with 125gr JHP's at 2200fps from a Marlin carbine. OF course, your definition of "hold together" might be different from mine.

They don't come apart in the air. They do expand violently (some say explosively) when they hit something and do not penetrate well when they do that. Really good for blowing up water filled jugs, not so good for deer./QUOTE]
No one should be hunting deer with 125g bullets out of a rifle (or handgun) begin with. As far as “holding together”, I’ve shot loads out of the .357max that fragmented the 158g bullets at the rate of 30% before hitting the target. After getting a new box of Hornady XTP-JP 158 grain bullets, the new box fragmented before hitting the target at twenty-five yards. The target face had small holes in several locations all over the target face, and in some cases no holes of any kind at all. These loads were loads suggested by some of the most respected .357max experts who really promote this cartridge. All my loads were loaded individually and each powder charge was dipped and trickled up to desired weight. Yes, they can and will come apart in the air. FWIW, they were chronographed at close to 2400 fps. Backing off to 2300 they worked just fine.

Last edited by NoSecondBest; August 30, 2021 at 08:13 AM.
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Old August 30, 2021, 09:17 AM   #13
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Extreme penetrator won't blow apart.
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Old August 30, 2021, 10:05 AM   #14
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Or another option is to load for 38 Special velocities and use hardcast LSWC.

If you like copper, Cutting Edge Bullets (located in PA) offers monos. Not cheap, but perform well!
Hollow point design. Petals are designed to shear off after about an inch of penetration and radiate outwards, while the ragged edged base keeps going straight.
Deadly on things with 4, or 2 legs.
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Old August 30, 2021, 01:07 PM   #15
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No one should be hunting deer with 125g bullets out of a rifle (or handgun) begin with.
Provided you are only talking about the standard jacketed .38 caliber pistol bullets commonly available, designed for expansion at pistol speeds, I'll agree.

It is entirely possible to design and build a 125gr bullet to hold up at rifle speeds. Its not often done in .35 cal because there is so little market. Simply switching to the 158JSP solves the problem of the 125gr JHP at carbine velocity.

Problems with the 158gr at .357 Max speeds is similar. Any expanding bullet will come apart too soon if driven too fast. If you want another and even more extreme example, try loading a 125 or 158 pistol bullet in a .350 Rem Mag and pushing it to top possible speed.

SOMETIMES jacket fragments will hit a close target, usually what you see is a grey puff of smoke as the bullet vaporizes on its way downrange.

Using a differently built bullet, one designed for that speed will give normal results. Its all a matter of properly matching bullet construction to velocity in order to get the desired results.

Using a 158gr slug in a Marlin carbine (for example) will do fine for PA whitetail within suitable range. the rifle need only be "minute of deer" accurate in order to bring home the venison.

I've hunted deep in "God's Country", used to have relatives who lived there. While I carried a different rifle, had I carried a .357 marlin lever gun, the results would have been the same.
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Old September 22, 2021, 12:20 PM   #16
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Hornady XTP has a very good reputation for downing deer sized animals.

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Old October 12, 2021, 11:13 PM   #17
Brian Williams
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I have used 180gr LRNFPGC that I cast myself out of my Marlin. It hits hard and stays together at the highest I desired to push it. It worked in both my 1894 and in the various K and L frames I have. Never shot a deer with this combo but the ground hogs I did shoot had quite a reaction upon being hit center mass.
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Old October 14, 2021, 03:57 PM   #18
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I'm hunting with the lehigh 120 extreme defenders this year. Getting 1475fps with my hand loads in a 6in revolver. They won't deform. The 140 extreme penetrators will pass through. Tnoutdroors9 did a test with the 115g 9mm. He did gel tests with 4 layers of denim, two 22in , and two 32in pass throughs on the gel. He also tested the 9mm 90g extreme defenders, same setup, and got about 16in of penetration. The 120g extreme defenders at rifle velocities will get the job done no question. The 140g extreme penetrators would probably be adequate for bear.

The 125g xtp are too light in my opinion and will most likely over expand and under penetrate. But the 158 or 180 would be a great choice too. I have some of the 158s loaded up, if have time to fill a second tag I'm going to try then.

The pmc 158sp should work well. The expanding criteria is odd. Indiana only restricts full metal jacket ammo, does not require expanding. Sounds like you need to write your representatives.
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