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Old December 3, 2021, 12:13 PM   #1
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44 magnum and the Sierra 240 JHC on whitetail

Hello everyone, first time poster here. I wanted to ask for some opinions while also giving my own experience hunting with the Henry 44 mag.

I have taken more than a few deer with the 44, it quickly became my favorite deer rifle after my first season with it. For the area I hunt, it just seems to be very effective. Now the 30-06, 270, and 7mm collect a bit of dust.

My preferred load for whitetail has been a 200 grain xtp over a stout charge of h110 and it has worked wonders on whitetail. This off season while doing some load development and range work, I found the most accurate load in my rifle so far (roughly 1.5 MOA) using a 240 grain Sierra JHC over h110. So I decided to use this new load for hunting this season.

I took my best buck yet on the opening morning of PA rifle season, a 21.5” wide inside 8 point. I was able to get a clean shot off into the vitals of this buck from roughly 100 yards out. The shot hit just behind the shoulder, through the heart, and into the opposite shoulder with no exit. I found the intact bullet under the hide on the opposite shoulder.

While the buck did expire quickly, I am a little concerned with the lack of pass through on this buck using the new to me Sierra’s. All the deer I’ve taken with the xtp’s and Winchester white box SP’s have been clean pass throughs.

Is the lack of pass through something to be worried about? Should I switch back to the xtp? What bullets do you guys run out of your 44’s for whitetail?

Thanks for looking everyone! I’ll try to post a picture of the buck shortly.

Last edited by Jib24; December 3, 2021 at 12:40 PM.
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Old December 3, 2021, 12:19 PM   #2
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Here's the buck!
Attached Images
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Last edited by Jib24; December 3, 2021 at 12:36 PM.
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Old December 3, 2021, 05:00 PM   #3
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welcome to TFL

The bullet worked just fine, why worry??

There are always a lot of factors involved in this, one being, just how "intact" was that recovered bullet??

Penetration was obviously adequate, was the bullet expanded? I little? a lot?

You are firing a pistol bullet from a rifle, which gives more speed, but it was 100yds, which means less speed possibly back down to pistol speed, possibly even slightly lower. Still, the bullet did what it was supposed to do, anchored the buck.

Nice buck, btw!

Its common for a 240gr to go all the way through at closer ranges, from a pistol. I don't see lack of a pass through to be troubling, once in a while. A shot at a different angle might have resulted in a complete pass through. One shot isn't enough data to be certain of a trend.

You know your load works, and did so without exiting (this time) next time it could very well exit. As long as you get your buck, I don't see the exit a necessary requirement.

After my Dad took his second buck with his S&W M29 6.5" shooting Rem factory 240gr JHP at Adirondack woods ranges (50yds and under) he asked me if there was a .44 Mag load that wouldn't go all the way through, and said MAYBE, thinking maybe a 180gr. Sadly, never got a chance for him to find out. And, that was over 30 years ago, so I'd expect some improvements since then. Maybe that Sierra JHC (they are good bullets) might do that all the time, at that range with that shot, maybe not. Try it again next season and see!
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old December 3, 2021, 05:57 PM   #4
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Thank you! It was a good hunt!

The bullet did expand and did its job of putting venison in the freezer beautifully. It expanded to .7” and retained about 60% of its original weight. The recovered bullet weighs 140 grains. I ran the ballistics and it shows that bullet was moving somewhere around 1450 fps at 100 yards, which is faster than most revolvers at the muzzle.

I was just a little shocked by finding the bullet in the hide when this hadn’t happened before using lighter bullets. You’re right about the sample size of one being too small, good thing I’ve got a doe tag to fill. If I’m lucky enough to fill that tag I’ll give an update on these bullets’ performance within the next week!

Last edited by Jib24; December 3, 2021 at 06:02 PM.
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Old December 3, 2021, 07:27 PM   #5
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With that king of expansion I would expect it to so exactly what it did: kill the buck an not pass through.

That said, .44AMP is right about there being many variables. I've seen a 7 mag do the same thing on a mulie doe at 80 yards. I've seen a 30-30 make a front-to-back raking shot. I've seen a lucky buckshot pellet kill one outright (it hit the heart), and Ive seen a deer corss a river leaving it's heart on the ground.
These and about every result in between.
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Old December 3, 2021, 09:19 PM   #6
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Nice buck.
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Old December 3, 2021, 10:12 PM   #7
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I would be happy with that buck congrats.
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Old December 4, 2021, 11:46 AM   #8
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At 100 yards, you are probably down to about 1300 FPS with your combo. Getting a complete pass-thru on a large mature buck would be difficult at that velocity. I'm surprised it got that much expansion. Probably because they are designed to still expand at .44 Special velocities. I personally prefer a JSP for hunting deer with my .44 carbines, to get more penetration and to reduce expansion at short range. Most .44 caliber bullets are deigned for revolver velocities and expansion at higher carbine velocities reflect that. The 200 gr. Hornady XTPs are rated to only about 1600 FPS, thus at short range, may tend to over expand, IMHO at carbine velocities(I get about 2100 FPS from my 77/44 with 200 grainers). I've had issues with the 240 gr XTPs at short range separating in deer and they are rated to about 1800 FPS. My Grand-Daughter took a large doe at 20 yards from a treestand during the youth hunt this year. Was a perfect behind the shoulder shot using Nosler 240gr JSPs. Even without hitting shoulder it did not penetrate completely. Doe went 40 yards and expired blowing blood everywhere. Body was full of blood because entry hole was high and there was no exit hole. Lungs were basically non-existent. Found the bullet on the opposite side, just under the skin, pretty much intact, but about a much expansion as one could expect without separation. I'm guessing the large amount of expansion at such a short range dumped most of the energy. Had it been another twenty yards out, there may have been an exit hole. Bullets do funny things, but as long as they do what is expected of them, they are performing terminally.

Nice buck by the way.....
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Old December 6, 2021, 10:33 AM   #9
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.44 carbine bullets

That is a dandy buck.......fifty yrs ago as a kid, I hunted in PA and it was not unusual on opening day to see 40-50 deer and no antlers. If you did see a buck, it was a spike or small forky. PA deer management has changed and your buck is proof.....what a trophy.

In those days, late 70's, my Dad hunted with a Win'94 .44 mag. He shot what ammo he could find.....all .240 grain. Shots were close and pass throughs were the norm, soft point or HP. I suspect the distance of your shot had reduced velocity to the point that you did not get an exit, but I would not be surprised by that at the distance you describe. Plus, that is a whoppin' big buck, pushing 175 lbs live I suspect, maybe more.

I've hunted a Ruger .44 auto carbine for years, and the 200 grain XTP bullet is the most accurate from my vintage rifle. My experience is the opposite of yours with that bullet. Typically, I do not get an exit and find the bullets under the hide on the off side. The few pass throughs I've gotten were in excess of 50 yds, and I suspect the velocity on my slugs has slowed to the point where expansion had decreased and the bullet punched on thru.

All this to say that I would not worry about your bullet performance and your combo will be fine. If my old Ruger,s would shoot 240's I'd use them, but accuracy with that bullet weight in my rifles is not accceptable.
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Old December 8, 2021, 08:31 AM   #10
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Congrats on the great buck.

IMO: The need for an exit wound is overstated.

Killed numerous whitetail deer and scores of wild hogs using the excellent Hornady 240 .430 grain XTP bullet fired from a sabot by my .50 muzzleloader at about the same velocity as the .44 magnum rifle. That bullet performs much like the 240 grain JHC.

Started at a velocity just over 1,800 fps from my muzzleloader, the Hornady 240 grain bullet is making 1,400-1,450 fps at 100 yards.

Keep on doing what you're doing. Would also limit my shooting distance to about 100 yards.
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Old December 8, 2021, 10:17 PM   #11
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I like two holes for a good trail. I would use the 240XTP over the Sierra. I've always found Sierra bullets to be softer.
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Old December 9, 2021, 11:19 PM   #12
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I like the 240 grain XTP with H110. I think you’ll find 240’s fly the best out of 44’s. Nothing wrong with your bullets performance, it expelled all its energy in the target. I used to use Remington 240 grain SP’s in the 70’s and 80’s, very accurate, mushroomed well and penetrated well, stayed intact. I switched to the Hornady’s whenever they came out.
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Old December 10, 2021, 11:47 PM   #13
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I've posted many times before that .44 mag carbine accuracy can be a so-so thing, rifle to rifle. Along with all the issues that can affect accuracy in all types of rifles, a lot of .44 mag carbines came with a twist rate of 1-38", that is SLOW. Some guys get good accuracy with that twist rate and 240 grain slugs, but my two vintage Rugers do NOT. My Dad's model '94 Win in .44 mag (1-38") was not all that accurate either. Note that revolver twist rates for .44 mag are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-18" !!!!!

Ruger corrected their twist rates with the 99/96 family, going to 1-20". It will be interesting to see if and when Ruger gets around to 1894 Marlins in .44, what twist rate they will use?
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Old December 11, 2021, 07:00 AM   #14
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Dandy of a Bruiser!
Load worked perfect
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Old December 21, 2021, 10:36 AM   #15
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Nice buck, man. Congrats!

That's a big deer... I'm guessing your shot likely would have penetrated through most others.
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Old December 21, 2021, 07:17 PM   #16
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Congrats on the fine buck. Limit your shots with the .44 magnum rifle to 100 yards and don't change anything.
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Old January 23, 2022, 06:45 AM   #17
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Great buck. I am on the hunt for a Henry in 45LC to use for PA deer in the woods/thick areas.
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Old January 23, 2022, 07:32 AM   #18
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i used a ruger 77/44 on two doe with 200 gr hornady bullets with H-110 at close to 2000 fps, both were double lung shots at under 100 yards standing. they jumped and rolled about 10 yards with very nasty bloody wounds, lungs were complety shredded.
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Old January 24, 2022, 11:37 PM   #19
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I'd never set my 270 aside for 44. Made to many neck and spine shots I know for certain a 44 couldn't match. Reason being I owned at one time a 44 Win Trapper pre Reagan era and a Ruger 44 carbine of which both long ago left this house. Gave the Ruger to my son. Win 44 sold to a co worker. He in-turn traded it for a Savage 17 cal bolt something or another. But my story is no matter. I applaud you Jib24 for getting involved in the shooting sports and this Form. It appears you have good judgement young feller. Toting anything in the woods for game taking is a whole lot better than getting fat/soft headed watching TV when a person could be out in the fresh air strolling thru the quite woods. As for bullets that work in a 44. I shot everything made at one time. Only bullet weights that preformed I found Ok. 240 gr. h.P in my rifles / 210gr G/c cast for my RedHawk. Thanks for the Pix. " dandy buck young-man"
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Old January 31, 2022, 06:39 PM   #20
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very nice buck. I am a 44M fan also. I started with a Ruger super black hawk with a 10 1/2" barrel. Although it is much more slower to get on target off hand. 185gr Speer JHP, H110. My first Deer was 100 Yds. went clean through lungs, no bones. It walked of 75 Yds. When I hit it again at 50 feet. That shot knocked it down. bullet hit it in the back straps and down it went. The bullet lost the exposed nose. Maby 40% in the dense meat. It went only 10". That was 30+ years ago. I recently picked up a Ruger 77/44 It is a darn good shooter. From a rest it surprised me how accurate it is. I decided to work up loads. W-296 and 240 gr. XTP.
I wanted a bullet with more energy out to 150 yds. Don't forget if you cant hit a smaller target you probably won't get what you are trying for. To me a lost deer is the worst thing. The 240gr. slug has more energy at farther distances. When the bullet passes through the lungs and vents out the other side popping the balloon. Its yours.

Congratulations a gain
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