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Old July 2, 2017, 07:21 AM   #1
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Handgun hunting bullets: cast, jacketed, or mono

I am more of a caliber freak than a handgun hunter, but I might give it a try if I can get my shooting up to par. Right now, I'm having fun getting some revolvers to "all that they can be". I hunt Pennsylvania mostly, so revolvers only.

What is your opinion, or better, experience with jacketed HP or SP, cast and monolithic bullets for big game?

From a paper punching perspective, I have had good results with 158 Hornady XTP and 140 Barnes XPB in .357 Mag. I was a little disappointed in 180 Cast Performance (seemed to lose more velocity than I liked), but maybe I didn't give them enough of a chance.

For .41 and .44 Mag, I have only loaded 210 and 240 JHP, with good results. For whatever reason, I never tried anything else. Should I?

The .45 Colt (Blackhawk) has only seen cast, with one exception. I tried a published "Ruger only" load with 300 Hornady XTP, and sure enough, it ran 1,200. But it seems sacrilegious. Cast up to 360s work well.

As if that weren't enough, I am fixin' to test 325 XTP and 410 Cast Performance in a .480 Ruger Super Redhawk. There are fewer bullets available in .475, suggestions welcome.

I have read a lot about the virtues of big flat-nosed cast bullets for game. I have seen very little about the monolithic bullets in handguns, although many, myself included, have seen good results in rifles. I guess the XTP and Gold Dot bullets are standards for a reason, but I haven't seen a lot of comparison among all these. What are you shooting?
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Old July 2, 2017, 08:04 AM   #2
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I've shot over fifty whitetails with the 357mag and about a dozen other deer with 44mags, and a couple with a TC in 30-30. Almost all of them were shot with Hornady XTP 158g JHP, some with the 180 XTP JHP, and a couple with Speer 146g JSP (these ones go waaay back and I don't think they're made any more). The only deer I ever lost was with the 44mag and that was due to making a poor shot. The single biggest thing you can do wrong with a handgun in any caliber is not make a good shot. If you can't keep all of your bullets in a kill zone target at the farthest distance you will be shooting at, don't take the shot or don't hunt with a handgun. It's not a stunt to hunt with a handgun, it's unethical if you don't have the ability to shoot the gun well enough. This is a general statement, not directed at you. My point is this about handgun hunting: it's not about the bullet or the caliber selected, it's about the shooter sending that bullet down range. Any bullet suitable enough to kill big game will do so if the bullet is placed in the vitals. Good luck and practice, practice, practice.
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Old July 2, 2017, 08:29 AM   #3
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I don't hunt with revolvers but I have shot some fairly large critters with my Service Revolver (4 in Model 28 S&W).

As a cop in Anchorage we got a lot of large animal calls. Bear and Moose at school bus stops, moose in yards, but mostly vehicle-moose encounters where the moose had to be put down.

When I hired on the issue ammo was 158 gr 38 RN cast and loaded by trustees. I decided that wasn't for me so I carried my own reloads, I used the 150 grn Hornady 358477 LSWC bullet in 357 Mag.

Later the Dept did start issuing then Winchester 125 gr HPs.

I shot a lot of moose in my carrier, I would shoot them in the neck where the spin enters the brain. The problem was the moose's neck if quite tuff. (Have to be to pack around that massive rack, and use it to bash other bulls while fighting over the ladies).

Penetration was needed. I tried the Dept. issue Win. 125 gr and it didn't work as well as the LSWC bullets.

I've long since retired but still use the Hornady bullet. I load it in my Smith 642 pocket revolver. I've finished off many of deer/antelope/elk with the little 38. Also had to put down a horse that was crippled when put through a fence by a mountain lion.

Even killed a Buffalo I had bought at auction for meat, but that was out of my old service revolver the Dept. gifted me when I retired.

This guy was charging my patrol car when I was trying to get him off the hi-way.

Kraig Stuart
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
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Old July 2, 2017, 08:58 AM   #4
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With 41, 44, and 45, you don't need expansion to be effective. The Keith style SWC has been proven for a generation, and will give full penetration from most any angle at 1000-1100fps. As stated earlier, don't shoot unless you can place all your shots in 8".
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Old July 2, 2017, 12:14 PM   #5
Art Eatman
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Ross Seifreid used to write about his hunting experiences, using a revolver on large game. He said he found the best results with a hard-cast lead bullet with a large meplat.

One of his kills was on an Australian water buffalo, using a .454 Casull. Bullet went all the way through.
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Old July 2, 2017, 12:48 PM   #6
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kraigwy, Is that moose missing his right side antler or is it just the angle of the photo that gives the illusion that he is missing it?
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Old July 2, 2017, 03:05 PM   #7
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I've killed lots of deer with various Hornady XTP's and have always had excellent performance.

I also had good results with the Speer half-jacket 44 cal 225 grain, but it's no longer made.
One shot, one kill
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Old July 2, 2017, 03:59 PM   #8
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kraigwy, Is that moose missing his right side antler or is it just the angle of the photo that gives the illusion that he is missing it?
No its there, in the snow. It was hanging in the Fish and Game office until I retired. Don't know where it is now.
Kraig Stuart
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
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Old July 2, 2017, 04:08 PM   #9
Capt Rick Hiott
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You need to read this book about caliber and bullet type. Its a good read!!!

I hunt with a .454 and use a SJFN 260Gr Magtech bullet. It will put a hog DOWN!
A wide Meplat is important! I don't like hollow points for hogs.
Capt Rick Hiott
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Old July 2, 2017, 08:44 PM   #10
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In my experience the most consistent killer in a handgun is a heavy hard lead slug with a big meplate. They just penetrate straight and deep with a generous wound channel. My 280gr .44 has never left a bullet in a deer regardless of the angle and always shattered shoulders leaving an obvious 20-30 yard blood trail.

Hollow points are nice if you don't hit a heavy bone, but passthroughs with my 7 1/2 SBH are not guaranteed. If you always have the opportunity to wait for that broadside shot and place the bullet in the ribs they may bring down the animal slightly quicker but if there isn't an exit the blood trail is much harder to follow.
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