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Old March 16, 2019, 05:10 PM   #1
Joe L.
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.357 mag Deer Loads

Hi There,

Hoping to spend this year honing my revolver shooting skills and harvest a deer this fall with a .357mag GP-100. I reload, and have worked up an accurate load with 158 gr XTP bullets, however, wondering is there are any opinions out there related to the 180 gr XTP or a similar weight hard cast bullet.

I realize the limitations of the cartridge, and plan to scout an area in the timber that will hopefully result in a shot opportunity of 50 yds or less.

Thanks for the input,
joe
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Old March 16, 2019, 06:29 PM   #2
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Joe, I've shot and recovered over fifty deer with the .357mag using a handgun over the last forty+ years. I've also shot quite a few others using 44mag, 7tcu, and 30-30 in various handguns. The 357mag is probably my favorite handgun cartridge. Most of the deer I harvested were taken with Hornady XTP bullets and the majority of those were with the 158g bullets. I've taken probably a dozen with the 180g using a handgun and another eight or nine using the 180g in a couple of .357mag and .357max single shot rifles. Over the years I've used cast, and other jacketed brands at different times and I've never found a bullet that worked better than the Hornady XTP's. I've recovered quite a few and the ones I recovered demonstrated excellent expansion when fired at handgun distances. In addition, they retained most of their weight and held together very well. Even fired out of my TC Encore .357max barrel at very high velocities they held together well and again kept most of their weight. Trying different things is always a lot of fun, especially if you like shooting and hunting with handguns. All that being said, I've never found a better bullet for deer hunting than the XTP. I'd recommend using the 158g for deer hunting as a first choice and the 180g as a second choice. The 180 doesn't expand quite as well and penetration isn't all that much better. Good luck.
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Old March 16, 2019, 06:30 PM   #3
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I have found the 180s to be kind of slow. Personally, I load 158 XTP for my 4" GP-100. Those should be sufficient.
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Old March 16, 2019, 07:45 PM   #4
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Thanks Folks!
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Old March 17, 2019, 01:06 AM   #5
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gotta love it

You just have to love a post that is talking deer loads, when deer season is 9 mo away. Joe L. , go get'em man.

Back in the day, when .357 and .44 were the handgun hunting rounds, 158 JHP was the recommended load for whitetails. Lots of writers said so in print, the 180 load wasn't even on the market. As Secondbest has noted, lots of deer subsequently got turned into venison as a result.

I hope you drop a whitetail with your .357. It's been on my list for years, (handgun deer kill) but I have never got it done.
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Old March 17, 2019, 10:03 AM   #6
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yep......hard to beat a good 158gr JSP or XTP-FP(not their HP) over a hefty load of H110/W296 for deer in either a revolver or a carbine.
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Old March 19, 2019, 01:59 PM   #7
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Agreed on the 158 gr XTP-FP variation (rather than the XTP-HP)
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Old March 19, 2019, 03:51 PM   #8
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I actually prefer the HP in a handgun. Even in my max at 2300+fps the HP's have held up well. Perfect mushrooms and weight retention. The FP's will allow another 200fps, but it's not needed.
https://thefiringline.com/forums/att...1&d=1553029297
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Old March 19, 2019, 05:07 PM   #9
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The older type of 158 grain bullets have downed many animals including this cow elk.

Jack

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Old April 23, 2019, 07:41 PM   #10
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Will comment on the XTP HP/FP issue.

The HP is rated up to 1400 fps impact velocity, while the FP is only rated down to 1200 fps.

For Handgun velocities, the HP is the way to go.

Save the FP for the Carbines.




Red
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Old April 23, 2019, 10:57 PM   #11
NoSecondBest
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Quote:
Will comment on the XTP HP/FP issue.

The HP is rated up to 1400 fps impact velocity, while the FP is only rated down to 1200 fps.

For Handgun velocities, the HP is the way to go.

Save the FP for the Carbines.
I think you have those backwards. The FP is rated for a higher velocity. Either way, both can be shot at deer at a lot more than that. Here's a bullet (one of many I have) that was shot at 2400fps out of my Encore .357max last year and recovered.
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Old April 24, 2019, 06:23 AM   #12
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I've personally never seen a 158 SP expand much at handgun velocities so I have serious doubts of the 180 doing much expanding either. I used 158 JHP in 4-6.5" revolvers to kill a few deer effectively.
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Old April 24, 2019, 06:47 AM   #13
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The Hornady XTP 158 and the 180g will expand to some pretty decent sizes, but they don't do it well as distance increases. Out to around 50-60 yards they do rather well. Beyond that they lose enough speed that the expansion starts to rapidly decrease. I have a photo I posted on here once before showing two bullets from the same gun into the same deer. One shot at thirty-five yards and one at ninety yards. One bullet is around .60 and the second around .45" diameter. For some reason I can't repost the photo, it just keeps popping up I have it in another post. FWIW, I've never lost a deer with the .357mag and I've shot over fifty with just the handgun. It all comes down to shot placement. In the boiler room and it's dead with about any handgun. I've shot a dozen or so with the .44mag and they weren't any deader and didn't die any sooner. Both work well if shot well.
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Old April 24, 2019, 08:14 AM   #14
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Big difference between a .357 max and a .357 mag. Same for the difference from a 4" revolver and a 20" carbine. With a .357 mag we are talking relatively short range.......probably a max of 40 yards with a revolver, especially for those that use barrels less than 6". What is more important(IMHO) than expansion when hunting with .357 mag, is penetration. You want an exit wound. An bullet more intended for SD or all purpose, will mor' than likely expand and dump it's energy without exiting. A .357 max has a lot more velocity and energy to dump than a .357 mag, thus it get better penetration, even with extreme expansion. A 180 gr in a .357 mag revolver is not going to give you more expansion, nor with it's reduced velocity, going to give you more penetration, again, especially in a barrel less than 6". Hornody's velocities in their manuals give velocities from a 8" barrel. Boiler room shots are a must with .357, and avoiding the shoulder while doing so helps. A good blood trail helps, thus the desire for me to have two holes leaking blood. No exit wound from a shot taken from an elevated stand means little or no blood trail.

JMTCs.
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Old April 24, 2019, 03:47 PM   #15
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Well, in 40+ years of using the 357mag, I've killed over fifty deer with that caliber alone. I've gotten quite a few more with 44mag, 7tcu, and 30-30. To date the Hornady has worked well for me and I haven't lost a single deer yet with the .357mag or with the Hornady 158g or 180g. Many of those deer only had one hole in them and they all died relatively close to where they were shot. Most withing twenty or thirty yards. I don't care what caliber you use, if they aren't hit in the vitals muzzle energy isn't going to kill them. My point about the Hornady's holding up in a .357max (not mag, max) is that if they hold up with that caliber in a rifle, they'll certainly hold up in a six inch barreled hand gun. For forty years I gun hunted exclusively with handguns and shot a lot of deer during that time. I've kind of figured out what works and what doesn't based on actual experience. I don't hand out advice based on what I've read others write.
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Old April 25, 2019, 12:05 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoSecondBest View Post
I think you have those backwards. The FP is rated for a higher velocity. Either way, both can be shot at deer at a lot more than that. Here's a bullet (one of many I have) that was shot at 2400fps out of my Encore .357max last year and recovered.
Nope.


The HP is rated up to 1400 fps impact velocity, while the FP is only rated down to 1200 fps.

For Handgun velocities, the HP is the way to go.

Save the FP for the Carbines.




Red
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Old April 25, 2019, 08:13 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Devil View Post

The HP is rated up to 1400 fps impact velocity, while the FP is only rated down to 1200 fps.

For Handgun velocities, the HP is the way to go.

Save the FP for the Carbines.




Red
iffin' you actually look at the chart you posted......you will see that the FPs are rated down to 1150fps. Which is about the velocity of a .357 hunting load out at 50- 75 yards. Even that is long range for most .357 revolver shooters when hunting deer. The 158 gr XTP begins it's expansion at 700 fps, basically an anemic .38 special load.



Quote:
Originally Posted by NoSecondBest View Post
I don't hand out advice based on what I've read others write.
Yet....you expect others to take your advice as Gospel.

Unlike you want us all to believe, you are not the only one here with experience hunting deer with a handgun. Along with almost 4 decades of hunting deer with a handgun, I also have hunted deer with a stick and string for over 50 years, taking my first buck in 1966 with a Shakespeare Super Necedah. I consider hunting with a .357 handgun very similar to a old recurve bow. A 40 yard or less weapon where one looks to avoid the shoulder and only take high percentage shots. Like with a handgun/rifle, with a bow I hope for a pass thru and an exit wound. Exit wounds do not just mean more blood on the ground, but they also mean excellent penetration.

While I respect your and Red's opinions, they are not Gospel, nor are they the definitive. They are, opinions, just like mine. You folks have found what works best for you, and I suggest you continue to use what works best for you(in your opinion). But I also ask folks with little or not experience to not focus one option, from one source, until they themselves find "the one" for them. Just as I suggest no one here take my word as Gospel. Back in the late 80s, I took a buck with an old CCI Blazer aluminum cased JHP. A very anemic round with a projectile not really intended for hunting. It was all I had. Worked well and the buck dropped within 40 yards from a shot at 12 yards. While that combo worked very well for me then, I would never recommend it or use iit myself again. Experience. Your not the only one with it.

Just sayin'.
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Old April 25, 2019, 10:31 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by buck460XVR View Post
iffin' you actually look at the chart you posted......you will see that the FPs are rated down to 1150fps. Which is about the velocity of a .357 hunting load out at 50- 75 yards. Even that is long range for most .357 revolver shooters when hunting deer. The 158 gr XTP begins it's expansion at 700 fps, basically an anemic .38 special load...
You will be relying on optimum conditions - for minimum expansion.

Why?

The hollow-points start out great... and then get better.

That is what they were designed for - Handgun Hunting.




Red
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Old April 26, 2019, 07:42 AM   #19
buck460XVR
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You will be relying on optimum conditions - for minimum expansion.

Why?

The hollow-points start out great... and then get better.

That is what they were designed for - Handgun Hunting.




Red
Iffin you read Hornady's description, they are also designed for SD .......and according to the chart, at anemic .38 special velocities. This is the problem with most 158 gr HPs for .357, they are primarily designed for SD. That is why most manufacturers also have a SP in their line at that weight. Exception is Speer's 158 gr Deep Curl HP, but that is a bonded/plated bullet and not a traditional cup and core jacketed like the XTP. As I said earlier, I prefer a bullet in .357 for deer, that expands minimally and penetrates deeply. The 158gr. .357 bullet is low on weight, low on velocity and thus, low on momentum. Dumping that minimal amount of momentum by expansion means less penetration. A minimal amount of expansion, IMHO and a .40 caliber hole all the way thru a deer, is better than a .45 caliber hole halfway thru, or stuck in the shoulder. Others are free to feel differently. I don't have a problem with what other folks use or their opinion. We all have different scenarios as to how and where we hunt. Blood trailing a deer over a snow covered field is different than blood trailing one thru deep cover and swamps. The buck I shot back in the late 80s was shot from a tree stand. It was shot behind the shoulder from a slight rear angle. I watched it drop right before I lost sight of it in the swamp. Because of the high entry wound and no exit wound, there was no blood trail at all. When I opened the deer up to field dress it, the body cavity was full of blood from a double lung shot. A few yards more could have meant a unrecovered deer without a blood trail. The little bit of difference of expansion would have made no difference. An exit wound would have.

Again, folks need to use what works for them, what they feel confident with and what they are most proficient with. They also need to respect the right of others to do the same without chastising or questioning the experience of someone they don't have a clue about.
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Old April 26, 2019, 07:51 AM   #20
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Check out David Whites forum. He and Mike Bellm are pretty dedicated specialists who promote cartridges like the .357max and use bullets such as the XTP in many of their loads. Both gentleman have years of experience in this area. They also recommend other bullets and loads also. David White uses the Hornady XTP's and drives them at high velocities as I do. If they'll hold up to 2300-2600fps in a rifle, they won't come apart in a handgun. I'm sorry if I come across as egotistical, but I've been loading, hunting, and testing these bullets for many, many years with great success. Is anyone wants to disagree they are free to do so. However, I'll stand on my personal experience and the experience of others who've done the same thing and report the same results.
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Old April 26, 2019, 08:14 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by NoSecondBest View Post
Check out David Whites forum. He and Mike Bellm are pretty dedicated specialists who promote cartridges like the .357max and use bullets such as the XTP in many of their loads. Both gentleman have years of experience in this area. They also recommend other bullets and loads also. David White uses the Hornady XTP's and drives them at high velocities as I do. If they'll hold up to 2300-2600fps in a rifle, they won't come apart in a handgun. I'm sorry if I come across as egotistical, but I've been loading, hunting, and testing these bullets for many, many years with great success. Is anyone wants to disagree they are free to do so. However, I'll stand on my personal experience and the experience of others who've done the same thing and report the same results.
I never said anything at all about the bullet failing because of it's chances of "coming apart". My reasoning is solely based upon penetration at .357 handgun velocities. You insist upon continuously introducing the .357 max shot from a rifle at velocities of at least twice that of a .357 from a revolver, as proof one should use the same bullet. Kinda like comparing a .177 pellet pistol to a .17 HMR rifle, just cause they use a similar diameter projectile. Guess maybe all of us with .17HMRs should use a BB, eh? Like you, I stand on my opinion, but unlike you, I won't dismiss your opinion as incorrect, because it's just something I'm just repeating from the internet, altho it sounds like this is what you are doing when mentioning the David White's forum. I too have a lot of experience with XTPs in not only .357, but every other handgun caliber I shoot. While they are a good bullet for the money, they are a far cry from the best there is. Many folks who hunt whitetails extensively with .357 handguns prefer a Hardcast bullet, not for the expansion, but because of the penetration. I mentioned Speer's Deep Curl line of bullets. In .357, I prefer them over even the 159 XTP-FP for deer. They just seem a tad more accurate, a give me a tad more velocity with the same powder charge. They also are designed not for rapid expansion, but controlled expansion with deep penetration.

Your experience with .357 max is extensive, but really has little or no bearing here.
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Old April 26, 2019, 10:29 AM   #22
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I'm not going to continue beleaguering the point here. After shooting over fifty white tails with the .357mag using a handgun, I've come to actually believe I'm somewhat of an expert myself. I know there's probably someone, or several people out there, who've shot more deer with a .357mag than I have......I just haven't met them yet. Anyway, since you seem to be determined to be the expert here with the last word.....just take it and be done. I'll stand on my history with this cartridge in actual use. Bye.
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Old April 26, 2019, 10:30 AM   #23
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Iffin you read Hornady's description, they are also designed for SD .......and according to the chart, at anemic .38 special velocities. This is the problem with most 158 gr HPs for .357, they are primarily designed for SD. That is why most manufacturers also have a SP in their line at that weight. Exception is Speer's 158 gr Deep Curl HP, but that is a bonded/plated bullet and not a traditional cup and core jacketed like the XTP. As I said earlier, I prefer a bullet in .357 for deer, that expands minimally and penetrates deeply. The 158gr. .357 bullet is low on weight, low on velocity and thus, low on momentum. Dumping that minimal amount of momentum by expansion means less penetration. A minimal amount of expansion, IMHO and a .40 caliber hole all the way thru a deer, is better than a .45 caliber hole halfway thru, or stuck in the shoulder. Others are free to feel differently. I don't have a problem with what other folks use or their opinion. We all have different scenarios as to how and where we hunt. Blood trailing a deer over a snow covered field is different than blood trailing one thru deep cover and swamps. The buck I shot back in the late 80s was shot from a tree stand. It was shot behind the shoulder from a slight rear angle. I watched it drop right before I lost sight of it in the swamp. Because of the high entry wound and no exit wound, there was no blood trail at all. When I opened the deer up to field dress it, the body cavity was full of blood from a double lung shot. A few yards more could have meant a unrecovered deer without a blood trail. The little bit of difference of expansion would have made no difference. An exit wound would have.

Again, folks need to use what works for them, what they feel confident with and what they are most proficient with. They also need to respect the right of others to do the same without chastising or questioning the experience of someone they don't have a clue about.
According to the engineers at Hornady - the XTP hollow-point was designed as a field round.


And even when you drive them 100 fps past their design impact velocity?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJk_YHO6hDk

They still performs beautifully.




Red
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Old April 26, 2019, 12:32 PM   #24
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Pretty chart, would be nice if there was some explanation of what "Performance" meant.

All I see is a list of bullets and velocities, which doesn't mean much to me.

I shoot .357 out of 6" and longer barrels, Up to an 18" carbine. And for serious things I shoot loads that aren't suitable for ALL .357s. My experience is that a 158gr JSP opens up a bit less than a JHP at the same speed.

I've never found a need for 180gr .357 bullets (and the only use I have for them is light weight bullets for .35 cal rifles.

Put the bullet in the right place, expand, or not, and you will get the deer. But best way to get to the exact right place differs due to bullet construction, and velocity. Choose a bullet intended for what you want to do.

And choose the shot to match that. IF you lose a deer because "the bullet failed", consider if it really was the bullet's failure, or that of the shooter, choosing to take a shot beyond the ability of what he was shooting.
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Old April 26, 2019, 12:40 PM   #25
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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I don't know where as I would use 180 gr bullet for pistol deer hunting at close range. 158 gr. would be a better choice~ I think. Don't take much bullet weight to roll a unsuspecting deer under 100 yrds ~just a well placed single shot to the ribs at first squeeze.

My suggested powder for 357 use.
296 or AA #7_ Both I found will give acceptable {hunting range} accuracy.
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