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.357 magnum shootout

7026 Views 22 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  barber
Many of the big bore boys may well scoff at this post....but, meat on the ground doesn't lie. last summer we started preparing to test various calibers and bullet weights on game under actual hunting conditions.We got some snide remarks when we said we would be testing the .357 magnum with heavy bullets. Thr bullets chosen were...Remington's 180 gr. jacked round, Marshall's 185 gr LBt, and Contender's 175 gr OWC.
After variuos load testing for accuracy (in S&W 686's) we can up with 16 grs of WW296 with the BTB 185, 13.5 grs of AA9 with Contender's 175 OWC. All this in the 1400 fps bracket.
The final tally as pf todays has been 12 animals down, no losses. and comprised og deer, hogs, and River Pests. There has been almost 400 bullets fired in testing (most) and game (the least).
General comments were that these three bullets put the .357 into a game class. I asked one shooter/hunter...what about blood trails? His answer there were none, as all fell within sight.
There were a variaty of angles and didtances. I don't think a shot was over 75 yards and most within 50 yards.Animal weight range ran between 100 pounds and 300 pounds. There were three RP 180's that stopped under the offside hide on hogs. Also a couple of 175 OWC's on angle shots. It must be remembered that many of the shots went through both shields (sides) of hogs.
It was felt that the 175 OWC's were the most accurate, followed by the 185 BTB, with the RP 180 last. Penetration went to the 185 BTB hands down.
Wound channels were a little harder to nail down. Many thought the extra large meplat of the 175 OWC caused larger PWC's on deer, but one could not tell much difference in the hog muscle. The RP caused a larger cavity upfront, but petered out tp a small channel as velocity dropped.
All in all......I think to boys did a great job. I have no intention of saying anythig except.....More shooters should consider the .357 Mag, with the heavy bullets, if the game in their areas run in the 100 to 400 pound class. No, threr are no Griz bears in the South East, but we have some big hags that will stain your pants for you.  The ability to shoot fast and smooth, with control and recovery is of prime concern!
Best Regards, James
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First handgun deer killed with a Ruger Blackhawk .357, 6.5" barrel, load was the 180gr cast that James mentioned.  It does work!

The 175gr. OWC sounds very interesting for a deer load.

I have carried the .357 on several hog hunts but have yet to get the opportunity for a shot with it.
Personally... with the Beartooth 185 FNGC, I've had good results with as little as 14.0 gr. WW296 / Fed small pistol mag primer.  You may get large velocity spreads at this low of a charge, though.  I'd just work up from 14 grains and stop when it was accurate enough or the chrono shows low extreme spreads.
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